Art Update – Designing the Aircraft in Tail Drift

Hey Everyone, Elliot here.

Long ago, I used to draw pictures of space-ships and aircraft in the sides of my maths notebook, instead of paying attention. This has come back to bite me because games are all about math at heart, but it also turned out to have been awesome.

Here I am, 12 years later, modelling aircraft for a game. 😀 Dreams really do come true.

So today I thought I’d give you a brief overview of some of the planes we’ve come up with to date, and one set we’ve fleshed out.

Below is a narrowed set of aircraft variants, including a few sets that have ‘evolved’. Only in silhouette form though, we don’t want to give too much away just yet! Silhouettes are a really good way of getting a fast overview of your work, without getting caught up in details.


You can easily see which ones work and which ones do not. I started off with a simple one winged WW1 Aircraft (Bottom Right). This then evolved into bi-planes, Tri-planes and then from there, branched out into twin-boom aircraft, such as the P38 Lightning.  From there, we decided to move a bit sideways. Propellers started going on the backs of planes, or supported over the wings like tiny spaceship nacelles. We then moved away from propellers altogether, and started making some jet engine based designs, as well as some spaceship inspired racing types. The eagle eyed among you may notice a paper aircraft shape in there. Other than drawing them as a kid, I certainly made a lot of those. Once we had roughed out a large set of variants, we whittled back a bit and settled on a base design for a set. You can see their current evolution on the top row.

Of all those silhouettes, which is your favourite?

For all the modelling that I do, there’s nothing as helpful as testing the models in game. For example, putting in one of the standard tri-plane models into Unity and trying it in game mode instantly showed me that the thin, accurate fuselage just didn’t translate well on screen. It felt feeble and had no weight to it. So, from there I adjusted the wings and the fuselage to make it more chunky. This not only made it feel good to fly, but also gave it much more character. And character is what we want! Below is a screenshot of the before and after, with an approximate game-view camera angle. While the standard version looks fine, it just doesn’t have much character!


So, back to silhouette town, here’s a better view of that top set, labelled the ‘Chibi’ set for now. We’re aiming to model sets based off made-up manufacturers, each with their own set of styles and shapes, these will be easily identifiable across each class of plane. If you saw these in a line up, how could you not want that big one?


And here’s a three quarter quick rendered view of the set. Those shapes at the front are propeller guides for later. Keep in mind that this is all WIP and subject to change!


And yes, those propellers have propellers.

From here, we chose one of them to move forward with and try to nail down a texture direction. After a few iterations, and inspirations taken from 1970’s rally cars, this is where we’re at; more than rough, less than finished:

Chibi Texture Pass
What do you think? Personally I think it needs 15 more stripes.



2 thoughts on “Art Update – Designing the Aircraft in Tail Drift

  1. I like the 1930s “Gee Bee” style.

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