Älemm is a concept art project designed around the focus on environment and set design. Using four different biomes (desert, arctic, coastline, and swamp), I wanted to create different world maps based upon these distinct areas. In order to create an all encompassing and convincing world, the project includes: landscapes, key images, and outfit line up for each of the biomes.

This project was actually created as a semester long thesis at my last semester at MICA. Since my main focus during my career at MICA was character design and lifestyles, I wanted to practice my hand at environment design. I chose environment design because every good concept artist has skills within the character and environment within a fictional world. Since I only really had good practice with the character aspect, I wanted to dedicate a long term project on create believable and working environments.
I started off deciding it would be best to choose environments at random and just start creating worlds based on them. I tried to go into the project cold and not create any preconceived notions on what I wanted to create or have favoritism among any I chose. I went look through Pinterest, tumblr, and even my own collection of movie visual development books like The Force Awakens and Pacific Rim to build a reference collection that I could use for these project. While my style is just something I have built over time, finding color palettes that were visually engaging was something that was difficult for me. In the end, I wanted each of the environments to have their own highlight color and then started choosing palettes based on that.

In the beginning, I would do a rough sketch of each of my pieces directly into my sketchbook with a pencil and pen. I would do about 5+ thumbnails per piece in order to get a good composition started. What was great about having this project during my time at MICA was that I could utilize the critique of my teachers and classmates. From perspective to composition, I got a lot of help from them in order to create visually compelling pieces. Once the sketches were satisfactory, I would scan these images and start working on them with Adobe Photoshop and my Wacom Intuos tablet. All the inks, colors, and textures were done digitally through that program. When I created a mini- book for this series, I created the layout in Adobe InDesign.

I got a lot of great feedback from classmates, teachers, and other illustrators and I am glad I was able to proudly show this project at my commencement show at MICA. The intention of this project was so that I would be able to practice environment design and have a chance to reach out of my comfort zone and I am happy I was able to do it. I learned a lot during this process and I believe it helped me understand the world of concept and visual development better. It was fun to use the processes I use for character design but interpret them in a way to successfully design a world instead.

While this project is complete, I hope to use all I have learned to create even more visually compelling worlds and stories for people to view. And maybe in the future, dive into the world of comics and graphic novels.
I love using instagram (misha.doodles) and tumblr (mishadoodles) to post sketches and post majority of my pieces on my main website (mbozenda.com). Thanks for taking your time to read and browse!

Michelle Bozenda

Michelle is an illustrator from Chicago and recent graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She works digitally with her wacom tablet and focuses on character design, lifestyles, visual development, and narrative pieces. Her weaknesses include: dogs, hockey, and iced coffee.