Call of Duty - Infinite Warfare UI by Ash Thorp

Here is the latest UI work for the upcoming instalment of Call of Duty, Infinite Warfare by Ash Thorp (Ender’s Game, Total Recall). It is the first time the franchise has ventured into space, and as such introduced the need to design a whole new suite of HUDs and GUIs.

As you can imagine, this could have taken many forms, but I’m so pleased to see it manifest itself in Ash’s capable hands. Included in this project are a number of startup screen designs as well as various HUDs and GUIs. The design aesthetic has even continued into the start screen designs and as a result the UI design style has become the encompassing look and feel for the game.

What I really love about these designs is that Ash has obviously attempted to create something new. The end product is unique, and has a strong distinct character, which brings to mind a world that’s a cross between Ghost-in-the-shell and Metal Gear Solid.

Boot-up screens

These are a series of boot-up sequences that relates to a particular character or machine the user has selected. Here are just a few choice images, there is much more over on Ash's site.

According to Ash, these were inspired by the designs and body lines of concept designer, Aaron Beck's characters (see below, images from Aaron Beck's blog).

With regards to the boot-up screen designs, I like how they start as strong, relatively minimalist thin lines that build up in layers to become more rich and complex. It’s really interesting to look at the details that make up each design. Each one uses slightly different element styles and formations, which give it it’s own personality. Some are like chemical structures whereas others are more like circuit diagrams.

The designs are very clean, organised and symmetrical making them feel more like artwork than something functional. The varying colour palettes are used nicely to distinguish the different concepts. I particularly like the subtle colour palettes that favour more muted colours, which work equally well if not better than the high contrast palettes.

You can see Ash has played with shapes as another way to differentiate the designs, changing from hexagons to octagons to change up the weight, and then moving to completely irregular shapes to push it even further

This is a very good example of how you can use recurring elements and create different looks by the way you arrange them and by altering them slightly. These frames are quite a rich source of inspiration.

What particularly stood out for me were the frames that had parts of the UI shaded in, which sort of verged on pattern design. I was surprised how well the flat shaded areas could work for an interface. Quite often we’re used to seeing glows and vignettes, but perhaps this flat shaded style actually looks more modern in my opinion.


These HUD designs are great, I'm really drawn to the unexpected mix of large and small elements and the experiments to completely change the shape of the reticle to move into more rectangular designs.

It's really helpful to see the original vector designs before seeing them with colour, distortions and effects applied to them. It gives you a hint at the process involved and the how these frames are put together.

I was pleasantly surprised to see such a complex looking HUD that includes lots of little marks and details scattered around the screen. It’s interesting to see that when the design is composited into live footage, most of those details fade back. I would really love to see how camera movement would affect the visibility of those too. Would they become distracting or would they add welcoming detail to the overall feel?

Overall I think the UI designs for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare are fantastic! Each design has a unique look and feel yet still remaining as a cohesive whole. There is lots of experimentation and plenty of new ideas in those designs, so it's worth checking out closely if you haven't already.

There is a whole lot more on Ash's Infinite Warfare page: Visit Ash Thorp's project page
See more of Ash Thorp's work on his site: Visit Ash Thorp's site
Ash also has a UI design course online: Visit UI and Data Design for Film


Client: Infinity Ward
Art Director: Thomas Szakolczay
Design: Ash Thorp
Animation: Alasdair Willson