Ubisoft Live Brief – Tell Me A Story – Research

For our live brief as part of Practice 2, we have been set the task by Ubisoft to tell a story through an environment or character design. The limitation of this assignment being that we must tell this story through one rendered image of the environment/character. Originally, my idea was to create a bathroom environment which would contain two sinks, a his and hers. The story would have come through only including the his items in the environment, thus leaving the question of where the her items were and what had happened to the couple. However, following a discussion with my tutor, we felt that this idea was not interesting enough as it did not tell a story of the world in which the characters inhabited (was this just the real world, or has an event occurred? Was this a post apocalyptic setting for example?). As such, I suggested another idea which was inspired from my recent viewing of the film 1917 (1917, 2019), in which I would create a World War One trench complete with the various assets that one would see in this environment, thus telling the story of struggle and hardship that the men in this situation would have endured.

Following my feedback from the previous semester in regards to research, I wanted to ensure that I had adequate reference images and mood boards before beginning the concept and creation of this environment and so I started this project with a reference gathering trip to the Imperial War Museum in London. Whilst there was very little in regards to the trench layout at the museum, I found this trip to be inspiring as a whole, whilst also providing me with reference images for the various assets I would include around the environment (helmets, uniforms, weapons and other items such as first aid kits, rations etc.). I then began to work on a mood board for all of the key features that I intend to include.

Reference images gathered for trench composition and layout.

I began the mood board by gathering as many images as I could that would depict the various layouts of trenches in World War One. At this stage, I knew that I wanted to create a British trench (as I am British, the film 1917 is set from a British perspective, and there appears to be more readily available reference of the British trenches). I was able to gather numerous photographs from the time period of the life within these trenches, as well reconstructions of various trenches and diagrams/cross section mock ups of how the trenches were laid out. This should hopefully stand me in good stead for the composition of my environment and ensure it is historically accurate.

Various artworks created by World War One artists.

My next place for research images was to look at the various artworks that had been created depicting World War One. In particular, I was inspired by the work of Paul Nash and William Orpen, who not only show various details of the trenches, but also capture the horror of the war as a whole. I hope to use these as inspiration to create the same emotions and feelings of desperation in my environment.

Reference images gathered from the films 1917 (1917, 2019) and War Horse (War Horse, 2011)
Reference images gathered from the games Battlefield 1 (EA DICE, 2016) and Verdun (M2H, 2016).
Reference images gathered from Artstation of other environment artsists depiction of World War One trenches.

Following this, I continued my research of World War One in various cultural forms by looking at it’s depiction in films and video games as my hope was that these would give me accurate representations of how the trenches would have looked, but in full colour. In particular, I liked the more drab colour scheme found in 1917 (1917, 2019) and Verdun (M2H, 2016), where the other references had used significantly more dynamic colours that I felt were unrealistic. My intention is therefore to try to emulate the more muted colour scheme, utilising more browns and greens within my environment to capture the monotony of life within the trenches.

I then continued this research on Artstation to look at how other environment artists had tackled the composition of the trenches. I found that the work of Jonathan Lester resembled the composition that I was planning to create in my environment and as such, I will be using his work heavily as inspiration for my project. I knew that I wanted to include an inset area in which a soldier would have slept in order to add a personal feel to the environment and the story, and this was evident in his environment also.

A close up of the environment created by Jonathan Lester (Lester, J. 2018) which included the composition I am looking to achieve with my environment, along with the sleeping quarters for a soldier and muted colour scheme.

I then continued my research to include the various assets I would need to populate the environment and tell the story. These would include weapons, first aid kits, uniforms, armour, tools and rations. This part of the mood board included photographs I had taken myself at the Imperial War Museum as well as reference images taken online.

Reference images of British and German uniforms in the World War One era.
Reference images for British, German and French weapons in the World War One era.
Reference images for the armour design specifically for trench raiding in World War One.
Reference images for various miscellaneous items used in World War One, including first aid, rations, wire cutters and a gas attack warning “clacker”.

At this stage, I believe that I have collected enough reference and inspiration to begin concepting and blocking out my environment. I have a basic idea of the story that I want to tell; one of horror, desperation but also monotony and unease in the trenches. To this end, I want to include the brutal oddities of World War One (such as the trench clubs and sheet metal armour) in the environment, alongside the more homely aspects of the trench such as sleeping quarters, rations and letters home. My hope is that this juxtaposition will create the feeling of an attempt of comfort set against the constant unease at the expectation of a trench raid, and thus set the scene for a compelling story.


Trench Layout

REDDIT (2018) WWI Trenches [Online] Available at https://www.reddit.com/r/dancarlin/comments/6pjfee/wwi_trenches/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

HOWITWORKSDAILY (2015) Life in a World War One trench [Online] Available at https://www.howitworksdaily.com/life-in-a-world-war-one-trench/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

LONGLONGTRAIL (2015) Life in the Trenches of the First World War (Online) Available at https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Q667.jpg [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2020) Trench Warfare [Online] Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trench_warfare [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

THESUN (2018) Trenches in Colour [Online] Available at https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7143041/colourised-world-war-one-pictures-trenches/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

LIVERPOOLECHO (2014) Ahead of Remembrance Day… [Online] Available at https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/ahead-remembrance-day-use-search-7525572 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

IMGUR (2016) Untitled [Online] Available at https://imgur.com/a/TMup3 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

SITES.GOOGLE (2016) WW1 In The Trenches [Online] Available at https://sites.google.com/site/histoiregeographiegv/home/3e/clil/01-ww1-in-the-trenches [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

TELEGRAPH (2014) Life and Death in Britian’s WWI Trenches [Online] Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/inside-first-world-war/part-ten/10862647/life-first-world-war-trenches.html [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

IWM (2018) 10 Photos of Life in the Trenches [Online] Available at https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/10-photos-of-life-in-the-trenches [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

THE GREAT WAR (2014) Photos: Life in the Trenches [Online] Available at http://ww1.canada.com/battlefront/images-life-in-the-trenches [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

ENCYLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA (Unknown) Does Trench Warfare Still Exist? [Online] Available at https://www.britannica.com/story/did-trench-warfare-end-with-world-war-i [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

ATLAS OBSCURA (2015) The Perfectly Preserved World War I Trench [Online] Available at https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/sanctuary-wood [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WW1 REVISITED (2014) Champagne: WW1 Trenches at Massiges [Online] Available at https://ww1revisited.com/2014/11/28/champagne-ww1-trenches-at-massiges/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]


DAILY MAIL (2019) Lost sketch of British Tommies… [Online] Available at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7702975/Lost-sketch-official-WWI-war-artist-Paul-Nash-unearthed-102-years.html [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

NASH, P (1918-19) Wire (Watercolour) 38x728x858mm. Imperial War Museum. London.

NASH, P (1918) Spring in the Trenches, Ridgewood 1917 (Oil on Canvas) 60x835x740mm. Imperial War Museum. London.

ORPEN, W (1918) Dead Germans in a Trench (Oil on Canvas) 100x1155x1005mm. Imperial War Museum. London

DIX, O (1932) The War (Oil on Wood) 204x204cm. Galerie Neue Meister. Dresden.

BRIERLEY HILL (2015) Brierley Hill WW1 hero’s story which inspired painting (Online) Available at http://www.brierleyhill.org/blog/2015/07/02/brierley-hill-ww1-heros-story-which-inspired-painting/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]


FLASHBAK (2015) World War 1 Body Armor: 1914-1918 (Online) Available at https://flashbak.com/world-war-1-body-armor-1914-1918-32670/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

HENRYSMILITARYCOLLECTIBLES (2019) WW1 German Trench Armour-Complete Set (Online) Available at http://www.henrysmilitarycollectables.com.au/products/sold-items/ww1-german-trench-armour-complete-set-sold.aspx [Accessed on 18/02/2020]


WIKIPEDIA (2020) Lee Enfield (Online) Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee–Enfield [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

THOUGHTCO (2019) World War I/II: Lee-Enfield Rifle (Online) Available at https://www.thoughtco.com/lee-enfield-rifle-2361243 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

THEFIELD (2014) The Lee-Enfield rifle, WWI’s iconic firearm (Online) Available at https://www.thefield.co.uk/shooting/lee-enfield-rifle-25484 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2020) Gewehr 98 (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gewehr_98 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2020) Berthier Rifle (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berthier_rifle [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2020) Vickers machine gun (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickers_machine_gun [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

BBC (2014) Crayford, Kent: The Home of the Vickers Machine Gun (Online) Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ws9vq [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2019) Enfield Revolver (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enfield_revolver [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2020) Mauser C96 (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauser_C96 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2019) Pattern 1897 infantry officer’s sword (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattern_1897_infantry_officer%27s_sword [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WIKIPEDIA (2020) Trench raiding club (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trench_raiding_club [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

IWM (2020) Trench Club (Online) Available at https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30001746 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM (2020) Trench Weapons (Online) Available at https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/battles-and-fighting/weapons-on-land/trench-weapons/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]


WIKIPEDIA (2020) British Army uniform and equipment in World War I (Online) Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Army_uniform_and_equipment_in_World_War_I [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

QUORA (2017) What was the difference between a British WW1 solider… (Online) Available at https://www.quora.com/What-was-different-between-a-British-WW1-soldier-and-a-WW2-one-in-terms-of-uniform-equipment-and-training [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

TIME TRAVELER MILITARIA (2020) WW1 British 56th London Helmet (Online) Available at https://www.ttmilitaria.com/product/hm308/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WARHATS (2020) WW1 British Brodie Helmet Fusiliers (Online) Available at https://www.warhats.com/ww1-british-brodie-helmet-fusiliers.html#/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

PINTEREST (2020) World War 1 Uniforms Gas Mask British (Online) Available at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/542191242626873987/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

WARRELICS (2014) Early WW1 British Cloth Gas Mask (Online) Available at http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/ww1-allies-great-britain-france-usa-etc-1914-1918/early-ww1-british-cloth-gas-mask-has-anyone-got-one-87528-4/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

REDDIT (2019) My great grandfather in uniform for the German army during WW1 in 1915 (Online) Available at https://www.reddit.com/r/MilitaryPorn/comments/b7oly8/my_great_great_grandfather_in_uniform_for_the/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

REDDIT (2019) Can anyone help me figure out what type of WW1 German uniform my great-great grandfather is wearing? (Online) Available at https://www.reddit.com/r/whatisthisthing/comments/91bdcj/can_anyone_help_me_figure_out_what_type_of_ww1/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

BSR MILITARIA (2020) Original German WWI Complete M17 Steel Helmet With Liner (Online) Available at https://bsrmilitaria.com/product/original-german-wwi-complete-m17-steel-helmet-with-liner/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

MJL MILITARIA (2020) Original WW1 German Felt Ersatz Pickelhaube (Online) Available at http://eshop.mjlmilitaria.com/Original-WW1-German-Felt-Ersatz-Pickelhaube [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

THE EYEWEAR BLOG (2014) To see or to breathe? The dilemma of eyewear at the front. WW1 Part2. (Online) Available at http://theeyewearblog.com/to-see-or-to-breathe-the-dilemma-of-eyewear-at-the-front-wwi-part-2/ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

CIVILIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE GROUP (2017) The GM-15 (Gummimaske) 1916. Germany’s First WW1 Gas Mask. (Online) Available at https://civilianmilitaryintelligencegroup.com/23088/gm-15-gummimaske-1916-germanys-firt-wwi-gas-mask [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

Miscellaneous Items

EXPRESS (2014) The battle to feed Tommy: New exhibition looks at diet of WW1 solider. (Online) Available at https://www.express.co.uk/news/world-war-1/502452/The-Battle-to-feed-Tommy-The-diet-of-a-WW1-soldier [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

TOMMYSPACKFILLERS (2020) Rations In The Trench (Online) Available at http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/gallery/medpopup.php?imageNo=1080 [Accessed on 18/02/2020]


1917 (2019) Film. Directed by Sam Mendes. (DVD). UK: Entertainment One Films.

WAR HORSE (2011) Film. Directed by Steven Spielberg. (DVD). US: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.


EA DICE (2016) Battlefield 1 [DISC] PC. US: Electronic Arts.

M2H/BLACKMILL GAMES (2016) Verdun [Download] PC. Netherlands: M2H.


LESTER, J (2018) Artstation – WW1 Trench (Online) Available at https://www.artstation.com/artwork/zZy1Z [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

TAYLOR, R (2018) Artstation – WW1 Trench (Online) Available at https://www.artstation.com/artwork/dq3NJ [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

GALLOWAY, C (2019) Artstation – Lest We Forget – WW1 Trench (Online) Available at https://www.artstation.com/artwork/DxQ1NR [Accessed on 18/02/2020]

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