In the Beginning
The initial idea to put a spin on the amazing aesthetics of Dune came to me in 2017. I dabbled in some early concepts back then, trying to figure out the graphic design style that would suit the psychedelic, alien nature of Dune the most.
As always, the project started with a reference board. I wanted to gather imagery that would be simultaneously vibrant and a bit hostile, abstract, grainy. I was inspired by the rusty works of Russell Mills, aerial photography of David Maisel, Jackson Pollock’s paintings. The movie Beyond the Black Rainbow by Panos Cosmatos provided mostly musical influence but had some incredible imagery too.
The notion of Spice of Arrakis as a drug, maybe not too dissimilar to LSD felt like a fitting one for this kind of imagery.
These early mockups were mostly about trying to find the best contrast between the “textured” and “interface” layers in the work. I wanted the typography to feel very stark, clean, futuristic, to balance the grimy backgrounds with the hi-tech, clean overlay.
I didn’t feel like the idea was fully formed so I shelved it for some time.
Return to the Project
After finishing my Dark Forces Reimagining in late 2019 I decided to get back to my Dune concept with a more decisive approach. I wanted to finish the project as a Dune II reimagining but this time I wanted to make it “classy”.
These were the core visual design pillars this time – textured, slick, classy.
I decided to add more ornate accents and serif typefaces to convey the idea of “classiness”, since Dune’s universe is very much a feudal one, with aristocracy, sacred bloodlines, Great Houses, etc.
These accents and colors felt much closer to the desired feel. However there was a certain blockiness that felt a bit boring, not too fitting for the idea.
Building the Flow
And it all came down to the design of the Title Screen. The roundness in the logo, the accents around it made we want to iterate more until I’ve stopped on the orbit motif. This was the most crucial element that dictated the rest of the project, its transitions and interactions.
I’ve played some more DUNE II and studied its screens to figure out the chunk of UI that would be suitable for the reimagining. It was a simple flow, starting with the Title Screen and Main Menu then House Select, World Map and eventually the Gameplay with the HUD.
The HUD layout and the potential UX was very much inspired by Halo Wars 1 and 2 – which are really cool console RTS games, I think. Mapping the RTS controls to gamepad isn’t an easy task and Halo Wars do provide an interesting solution to it.
DUNE II – Reimagined proved to be a delightful project to work on. I was lucky to have my friends help me out with the presentation, providing musical and 3D pieces for it. And in the end it received a warm welcome by the design community and Dune fans alike.
This is definitely not the last such experiment from me and if you’d like to see more works like this be sure to check out my as well as my co-authors’ portfolios
Marina Nechaeva – 3D Artist, VFX
Lead UX Designer at Massive - a Ubisoft studio
Creator of GDKeys
Founder at Territory Studio
Senior UI Artist at Gameloft
Lead UI Designer at Behaviour Interactive
Senior UI Artist at King
Beautiful but flawed By Aiden Le Santo
UI/UX Lead at Psyonix