Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dichotomous Duos Post Mortem

Q: Did my end result represent what I wanted for this project?

For the most part yes. Though I didn't get to explore  my original idea of having particle effects for the hair portion of my model, I like how it all turned out. I managed two of my stretch goals, rigging my character and trying out the 3D coat software. Things  really came together near the end of my project when I started my paint-overs. I would have liked to have come to my end idea sooner, but with the concept stage being rushed through on this project it was difficult to do.  I had to stop concepting at the orthographic stage and begin modelling so I did not know how this was going to turn out exactly. Rough ideas were enough to progress, but not having something concrete and finished to work from is stressful.

Q: Strengths I found during this project

I'm still happy with how I texture, going into 3D coat has definitely sped up my process and improved my painting.  I'm fairly proud of the whole 2D aspect of this project as well, especially my ambient occlusion paint-over and initial sketch line up. Those were also the parts f this project that I enjoyed the most, so I guess it shows.

Q: Weaknesses I found during this project

Well I'm still not confident in my modelling especially when it comes to faces so I need to work on that. Also as much work as I did with the visual design aspect of this project I still feel like I could have done more exploration with my characters. I iterated my characters, but I stopped to move onto orthographic drawings I think a little bit too soon, or at least I didn't explore what I wanted to. I focused on the clothing and shapes of my characters, but I don't think I got enough personality into them. I would have liked to just sketch out a page or two of my duo to really feel for who they were as characters, so I could show some personality and charm between them. I'd like people to be able to tell what my characters are about when they look at them, and I don't think I can really convey that through value iterations and T- poses.

Q: What did you learn?

I learnt some basics of the 3D coat software.

Q: Things I'd do differently if I were to do this project again

Honestly I'm not sure, improvements on my characters and models would  just come about from more design experience/knowledge, my decisions could have been different, and produced better results but I don't feel like the decisions that I made were "wrong".  For instance I played with the idea of making the hair of my model out of fire particle effects, but I have no idea if that would actually make my model better, and the hand painted hair still looks good.

Finding a style to emulate/study from would have helped my when it came to my 3D modelling. I had a tonne of style guides and inspiration in the 2D aspect of this project, but none for the 3D aspect so I felt lost throughout that process.

Q: Was this project successful?

Definitely! I like my end characters and bar the few hiccups at the end, did everything I set out to do. It was a pretty fun project in the end and I now can't look at any game or cartoon without seeing the dichotomous  duos in them.

With that all wrapped up I can now begin the holidays! Have a good one, see everyone in January!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Week11- Dichotomous Duo submission

The final week of this term, and the deadline for the Character Project has just passed, and I'm feeling alright with how things turned out. Texturing and final rendering/polishing were the last stages of my character creation. Painting the diffuse texture, as always was my favourite part of the modelling, and with my previous paint over to work from it went by a lot faster than normal. I also dipped into the 3D coat software which really helped me paint out the seams of my texture. Though I did struggle with texturing the hair of my character, but I honestly had problems with that hair from the beginning so it wasn't much of a surprise.

Diffuse Texture
Unfortunately I caught a stomach bug that week, which completely wrecked any chance of productivity for a few days. This meant I did not get to do more than a diffuse and normal map from my texturing. I also could not polish up my model and do proper renderings, which sucks but I'm glad the bulk of my texturing was finished before I became ill.

Finished Model

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Week 10- Almost Done

More on the character project progress! Last week I ended the blog with the finished orthographic of my characters and over the weekend I began to model my fire character in 3D. I found that diving straight into 3d without at least some plan as to how I was going to build this character was a big mistake. especially considering how long it had been since I modelled a human. Se my initial 3d model was bad, to the point of it being terrifying. So I scrapped it and started again taking my time with the topology and overall form of the character.

With my second attempt there weren't as many hiccups though the face took forever to make, this is something I should practise more as its a recurring problem for me. In the middle of the I went in for review of my progress which went very well. By this time I had a finished 3d model and ideas for the colour pallet of my character.

The feedback from this session was very helpful, all I really needed to do was to go back and make my model look more like my 2d orthographic, as I'd slipped slightly in the torso proportions, I also remade the hair which I found was annoyingly difficult to model and unwrap, as cool as it looked. By the end of the week I had a 3d model that I was happy with.

After I finished my 3D model I rigged it into a pose and turbo smoothed it temporarily.This allowed me to bake out some ambient occlusion shadows. With a render of my characters ambient shadows I could quickly test out my colour pallets on my model, and decide which one I wanted to develop,

Colour pallets with AO overlay

True colours
I ended up going with the second colour pallet shown as it had some of the traditional colours of fire, with a slight purple tint that made it a little more appealing than the other pallets. This tint was something I noticed when looking at volcanoes. The gas and light produced by lava would react with the rest of the environment and mix into a lovely purple/pink smoke.
From there I started painting over my render, finishing off the week with a complete concept that I can take into texturing next week.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Week 9- Picking a Pair

Continuing from my character line up from last week I picked two "final" designs. This was a difficult process as I liked nearly all of my line-up characters, each for different reasons. With my Ice character I went with my gut feeling and just picked my favourite. Fire was a lot more tricky for me as those characters showed the most variation and personality. In the end I asked others what they thought of my characters and let that help me with my decision. From here I had a good base to develop my characters further.
Left- Ice, Right- Fire
I produced a few value iterations trying to develop  my characters clothing and overall look. I wanted to give Ice an angular and jagged look all around so I focused on sharp, geometric shapes and patterns to decorate her dress. Again Fire proved to be a problem for me as I could not get a definite look down for her dress. After asking for feedback I combined elements from the iterations that worked, and discarding those that didn't.

After that I began my orthographic drawings for my Ice character, during this time I found that I no longer liked how this character looked, so I changes a few things and iterated further. The main changes being:
Hair- I switched out the big hair to a neat short cut, to further contrast my Fire character.
Proportions- I elongated Ice's proportions to make her significantly taller than Fire as opposed to being the same height.
Accessories- I found that my original design did not give out a sense of cold, so I added some fur garments to Ice. I also played around with the idea of giving her a real fox scarf, to further emphasise her cruel personality (to contrast Fire's warmer personality.)

Further Iteration  
Final orthographic
At this point I was putting off the orthographic drawing of my fire character as I felt that she was no longer as strong of a character as Ice was. Fortunately I got some good advice from my tutor Heather, who showed me the designs Sandra Backland whose designs beautifully knitted outfits. Something that stood out to me the most were the bulky, slitted sleeves of these garments. looking at this knit work reminded me of the shapes that lava makes when it flows, linking it back to my character nicely. 

I also briefly looked at chiffon cloth whilst iterating my Fire character and in the end came up with a final orthographic that I'm going to take to 3D in the coming week. 

Fire Orthographic
To close here is my picture of the week:

As I've been feeling super rushed in my past few life drawing sessions, and also with this  character project, I decided to take the time to just do some one hour studies of the figure, to wind down a bit.

Reference list:    
Sandra Backlund 1, viewed 30 November 2014, <>
Sandra Backlund 2, viewed 30 November 2014  <>.
Lava Flow, viewed 30 November 2014

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Week 8 - Dichotomy Duo

So last week I began the first character project of second year. I started a little later than some as the beginning of this project overlapped with the end of the sentry turret project, but that hasn't seemed to upset things much. The project brief is fairly open ended, with the only official requirements being that my pair of characters have to fit the theme of dichotomy.

"Design a pair of characters which work well together and clearly belong in the same world; whilst visually demonstrating their contrasts in as many ways as possible. Both characters must have a clear, recognisable connection with storytelling potential."
I decided to set a theme for myself of "Fire and Ice." This would give me a certain level of direction in this project to go along with all of this freedom. I started as always with some mind map notes and several mood boards, looking into fashion, art style, colour and interesting body types for my duo. After Mind mapping I decided that I wanted fire to either be a large aggressive character to fit the fierceness of fire, or in contrast a very calm and serine character, similar to a candle  flame. For ice I wanted a thin, character with a jagged silhouette resembling an icicle. Since I tend to be lacking when it comes to dressing my characters I also took out  a few fashion books for inspiration. with a good amount of reference and an idea of where I wanted to go with my duo I began thumbnailing.

I found in the sentry turret project that making a bash kit, or relying purely on block shape silhouettes isn't something that worked well for me, so instead this time round I went back to my regular method of thumb nailing. I also decided early in this project that the majority of my concepting would be done in my sketchbook, as I've found that I am a lot more fluid with my drawing and generally produce better work when I start off that way.

I picked the strongest thumbnails, paired them up, then began to put some faces to these thumbnails to build up my character a bit more.

From there I just kept going, matching bodies with faces, and by Thursday I had a line up that I was fairly happy with. On the Friday I had to present my current work for feedback, unfortunately there wasn't much I could take away from the session and I felt I did not get the same level of feedback that others who present before me may have gotten (damn being last on the register.)

Regardless I kept pushing my designs, Inspired by the "Art of Kung Fu Panda 2"book, specifically the art of Nicolas Marlet, I pushed the overall shapes of my characters and created a line up or varied characters to pick from. The goal for next week is to narrow down 2 designs to take into the orthographic drawings and later and 3d.
The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2, "Po"
As I'm pretty chuffed with how this turned out, I'm going to go ahead and make this my picture of the week =)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Week 7: The Wild Flower Sentry Turret- Post Mortem

So as the week ends so does the sentry turret project, and I'm very happy with the results. The week started out with me finishing the paint overs of my turret (in which I picked the first one to model) and from there I could fall into the familiar process of modelling, unwrapping and texturing.

Being able to move onto the texture side of my turret pretty much relax me as it's one of my favourite parts of creating assets, and gave me the opportunity to just sit and paint for the day, something I haven't really been able to do since I came back to university. It was nice to have a good finished painting, even if it is just parts of a texture.

From there it was a lot of tweaking in UE4 to get my turret to work the way that I wanted. I was also taught how to use emissive maps, which added a cool glow to my model and really helped to bring it together. Unfortunately the glow doesn't show in actual game-play (however it does show in simulation) so that's an issue to be addressed.
As an extra part of the project we were asked to make a little promotional poster for our turrets, Since my turret concept is kind of out there I found this really difficult. How cold I put a glowing blue plant with a creature inside of it in a real world setting? I first thought of doing a little shop of horrors type movie poster to showcase my turret, then a bio hazard waning sign. But then I thought it would be a good idea to segment my turret into a more day to day setting, so I settled on the idea of portraying it as a regular garden seed packet.

Overall my turret turned out well. There was a lot of frustration and issues in the concepting stage of this project and having to start again half way through the project obviously isn't ideal. I ended up with a turret I really like, but I can also see ways in which I can bring it up a level when we come back to it. I feel like my concept needs further developing at this moment as my turret sits in pretty much a vacuum in ue4, when I go back to the turret I'd like to make a simple environment to house it, so the concept does not seem so out of place. At the beginning of this project I was also trying a new process of working when it came to finding silhouettes and thumbnailing. Though I produced interesting results I detached quite a bit from my ideas and in the end could not bring them back to a concept that I liked, so I started again. Obviously the solution to that isn't to stop trying new ways of working so there's not much I can do to fix that issue within my project. When we come back to this project I'd like to mess around more in ue4 since I want to include sounds in my model, and improve the particle effects I currently have. I also did not get round to putting in an animated texture for the eyes on my turret, so I could get them to blink, another goal for next time.  As much as I love how my texture turned out  I think I would add a bit more colour variation to it so it isn't all just blue. Maybe add some reds or pinks into it.

So that's the Sentry turret project, though there were a lot of mess ups during the beginning of this project, which slashed my development time in half, it doesn't really bother me that much, I made decisions, and after a couple of days found out that they were the wrongs ones, can't be helped, live and learn.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Week 6- When in Doubt Sketch it Out.

So this week was a fairly hectic one for my sentry turret project despite not having any official lessons. Throughout this week my turret  has gone through so many iterations it's not even funny, in fact it was downright frustrating, I just could not find a design that worked.  I tried to speed up the process a bit by bringing some contenders into 3DS max, and I found that it was possible to make all of them without much difficulty, so that didn't really help in narrowing things down. So I just went screw it and skipped a couple of my steps and brought colour into my iterations, and that made a tonne of difference. From that I had more of a solid idea to work on I also tried to incorporate some features of Tesla coils into my final design thinking back to one of my 3 main ideas I had during the beginning of this project.
For there I started thinking of how this turret would work on a mechanical level, mainly focusing on the pivots as they're the things that did not make sense to me. As my turret sits on a rock I would need something that would bite or latch onto the surface easily, so I though a drill would be the best thing to start with. I remembered doing woodwork years ago at school and not being aloud to use regular power drills, instead we had these old hand powered drills, a quick search for these, lead to me finding the right shape for the pivots and stand of my turret. from there I tried to move into getting a solid line work of my turret, but I really could find something that worked. My previous iterations lacked something to me and I just could not get that nagging feeling that this turret was not the right idea to go with. A this point I have no enthusiasm about my ideas because none of them were that strong to me. So in the end I scraped my turret and started again.

So I spent an afternoon just with my mood board in front of me sketching out whatever I could, which actually really helped things. I think I do work best when I just sit down and sketch, though kit bashing thumbnail images produced a lot of iterations for me I think I detached a little from my work because of it. It was a good way to work, but I guess I'll need to tweak it a little. After sketching I found some things that I could work with and refine. So in 2 days found my new turret design that I took forward into 3D.

I choose idea 1 as a basis for my turret.
My current 3D model

With a quick test in engine I find that my model works and I am back on track with this project. Right now I have started some paintovers to figure out my textures for this sentry turret and everything's going well (knock on wood). So this is where I'm at, I'm going to continue with my paintovers, pick a design, then make any changes to my model. From there I can hopefully speed through the unwrap and texturing stages of this and get everything out on time!

Work in progress

Monday, 3 November 2014

Music Video Madness!

This week was a great week for animated music videos as 2 amazing videos were released this week. The first is the official music video of "Freak of the Week" designed and spearheaded by Juanjo Guarnido, a former Disney animator and the artist behind BLACKSAD.  So think traditional Disney style animation mixed with heavy metal. This is a project I remember following from the kickstarter stage and the end product is amazing.

The second is a 2D anthropomorphic fan animated video by the talented Vivienne Medrano who has quite a few lovely animations so check her out as well.

I love both  of these animations immensely just because of the level of skill and pure energy coming off both of them. Anyway Enjoy!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Week 5: Sentry Turrets!

With the film Room Project now completed and behind me, it's time to move on to the Sentry Turret Project! This is the first solo project of the year and we've pretty much been given free rein to design our own turret. I came into this project with a lot of ambition, but over the course of the week I've had to dial things down a little. My initial thoughts were to do a poisonous/carnivorous plant type turret along with ideas for a Tesla coil type turret. While Gathering images and research on my main inspirations for this project I was shown some images of perfume bottles, which in many cases looked like gun barrels in themselves. so I incorporated that into my research as well. At the end of this I produced a stupidly large board.

Having completed my mood board I began  the frankly tedious process extracting silhouettes from parts of the images to later use in thumb nailing.  I had a few issues with this as a lot of the initial interesting shapes and patterns were lost in extraction. And looking back at this now I really should have honed in on a few strong images as I took way too many on for this initial stage. But I did manage to get some cool looking turrets from the silhouettes I took.

From here I took a few that I liked and iterated them slightly, but at this point I'm loosing a lot of the drive I had going into this project, so for next week I need to go into some colour and 3D. Renew myself a little.