Winners announced for Rookie Awards 2021
The Wishing Tree

The Wishing Tree

Laura Higgins
by laura041 on 10 Mar 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

A 6-week university project for a small team of 3rd years at Escape Studios. Based around a courtyard in Hongcun, China. With the main focus being a wishing tree. As every year, billions of people gather to toss their red ribbons up into the tree with the hope that it will stick and their wish will come true.

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Welcome to The Wishing Tree…

The Chinese wishing tree is a big part of Chinese New Year festivities. Every year, billions of people around the world gather to toss their red ribbons up into the wishing tree with the hope that it will stick and their wish will come true for good fortune in the coming year. 

Interactive exploration Chinese courtyard tied together with diegetic storytelling through props and set dressing.

The Brief 

As a team of 10, we had 6 weeks to create a "Courtyard" themed environment. We had 1 week of pre-production where we came up with various ideas and thorough research. Over 5 weeks of production time we were to create an environment that included a rich mix of materials and diegetic storytelling. Receiving mentorship from Improbable (Ian Palmer - Art Director)


During our research, we focused on immersion in a believable space. Finding a great reference location of an old shrine in Hongcun, China. Using this site as a reference we were able to not only be inspired by how the space was set dressed but use photogrammetry to get the realistic materials such as the plaster and moss.

The mood and atmosphere we wanted to create was very similar to "Red Dead Redemption 2" by Rockstar, so we aimed for this to be our quality benchmark to work towards.

 Art Bible Pages

Below you can view some of our key art bible pages outlining what we were aiming for in the courtyard. As well as visual inspiration for the wishing tree itself. 

All videos edited together by team member Laura Higgins.
Music by Klaus Schønning.
Logo Design by Miguel Teixeira.

Team Roles:

Kieran Wilson – Art Director, Prop Artist
Laura Higgins – Producer, VFX, Foliage, Level Editor
Lee Smith-Anderson – Lead Prop Artist, Technical Artist, Level Editor
Antonio Coelho Chester – Prop Artist
Charlotte Hearn – Lead Environment Artist
Mahamud Usman – Environment Artist
James Snell – Lead Material, Technical Artist
Claudia Gonzalez-Casales – Material Artist
Nadia Asani – Lead Lighting Artist
Kain Do – Lighting Artist

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