Friday, 31 January 2014

Thor is here.

First draft of the main characters head.

Took ages learning different techniques for hair but now I have a bunch to use for the future, just a case of refining said technique and getting quicker.

Also, need to look into doing better renders.

Hair is a pain

Alright so hair is taking ages for me to get right. I have been messing around with different techniques for the passed few days with different results however trying to bend the sculpt in the way I wanted was getting quite difficult. Problem was, really, that I didn't do a paint-over of the model to help solidify where I want it to go, and now after doing this one (below) I have a good idea on how to sculpt it. 
Also I raised the pupils in a paint-over which made it instantly better (on the model they're dead center). On top of that I've noticed the bags under his eyes are probably a little too big for someone so young so I'll look into that. 
Annnd apparently he looks more like a girl than a boy, which I had my suspicions with so that's another thing I'm going to look into however right now I just want to get this hair looking right. At least the basic shapes and then go from there.

Thor Sculpt, Hair Paint-over. (Ignore the neck)

I'm glad I did this little paintover as it certainly helped solidify where I want to take this model. I'm going to do another one to target the eye lids and lack of boyishness over the weekend.-

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


My characters hair is going to be sculpted in so it looks thick rather than using Fibermesh where it is all wiry. 

Using the standard head model that comes with Zbrush as a base I bulked out the major forms of the hair with a customized Claybuildup brush, refined the flow with an alpha'd Trimdynamic brush and finished up by drawing in some individual hairs with an inverted Dam_standard. 
This came out pretty messy and hectic, there's too much going on for the look I want. So I'm going to rely more on the major shapes and curls of the hair and less on the finer strands as having really detailed hair could distract from the face where really all I want it to do is frame it.

Zbrush Practice

Sculpted this while listening to a podcast on how global warming is a lie. Conspiracies maaan. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Morning drawings

 Doing the same thing everyday can be boring so I spent this morning drawing.
I think I have a thing for Rams...
'Twisted Tree'
This was a Spitpaint:

Time ran out before I could add colour or a scene. I need to get quicker at generating an idea. Considering composition, conscious design and colours/tone is a very hard thing to do when pressed for time but its nice to be forced to think fast. Looking at this now I should have lowered the angle to looking up at the monster as right now he doesn't seem that intimidating, just creepy like a goblin.

On to Zbrush.

Monday, 27 January 2014


Been drawing Thor some more to help engrave the character into my head so that I can hopefully draw him whenever I want without having to look back at my other drawings.

Also decided this is the overall look for him. Pretty simple, but he's not meant to look incredible, just clean and fresh-faced. The hammer design is just me messing around as the final design for Mjolnir won't be as grave. The ram heads aren't so arbitrary either as according to Norse legend, Thor had two rams that pulled his chariot across the sky; Tanngrisni and Tanngnost, or Gap-tooth and Tooth-grinder respectively.
Not very nice to slap their skulls on his weapon but if I were to go ahead with something like this I would have these made from stone or metal. Like, chiselled n stuff.

Other than more doodling I'm still looking up Zbrush stuff and practicing that. Nothing to show from it as it is all practice stuff so quite ham-handed. I'll have something nice by the end of the week.

Friday, 24 January 2014


Quick update just to say today has been spent mostly developing Zbrush technique and learning about folds. Yes. Folds.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thor Production

 Finally started some 3D, a little rusty after doing 2D for past couple weeks but it's going good, learnt some new tricks for Zbrush which was what I wanted to take a few days out to do but I figure I can do it while working on Thor.
I expect this character to take by far the longest as I predict making many mistakes along the way. The high poly needs to look crisp for the AO and normal. The texturing phase of my characters shouldnt take a long long time as the AO should do a lot of the work so taking longer on the modelling to get it right sounds like a good strategy for me.
What you see here is the last of a few trial and error scenarios for me with how-to Zbrush. generally the same technique just more refined and a better contingency for later levels. The inital tool had problems with DynaMesh whereas now it should be fine. I'm sure another problem will resurface soon but looking along the right lines so far. Hands and head will be modeled seperately.

Here's the Orthos. A little off but it was meant mostly for a base mesh as well as good practice for generating orthographics.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Along the lines

This look has the right feel for me when I first imagined this character. The other silhouette on the previous post may have been stronger, it just wasn't what I was looking for. This captures the right sort of clothing:  medieval-esque, big gloves and boots as well as a sort of 'wintery' style. The little horns add to the 'child' part of the design echoing the fact our hero is still young and has a lot of growing to do. If this were to be a game, the helmets he wore would have progressively larger horns on them.


Thor's Silhouette

Main considerations:
  • Looks like a kid
  • Has horns/noticeably adorned head (helmet)
  • Exaggerated feet and hands.

While doing these I was considering the fact he is a prince of sorts, a chieftain's son; also considering the environment which I would like to be snowy in which case our boy here would probably be grateful for some winter clothing. 
Some of these don't consider that mind because I believe when we see someone in the snow without winterclothing, say chest exposed, it makes them look tougher. Depends how its communicated of course maybe it is more to do with their body language than anything. If someone isn't shivering, are they cold?

An example of what I mean:

Diablo III Barbarians
By Phroilan:

Do you see what I mean? Neither characters really looks that cold, or if they are they're not showing any sign of weakness. As I consider this it seems more about the body language the artist chose to display more than the environment, however I look at this and don't even recognize that they might be cold, it is as though they are used to it. Maybe, in a backward way, adding furs and many layers makes the character look as though they are cold? Because our brains deduce the reasoning for the furs in the first place. I dunno, just a thought.

I digress.
I've yet to put out my silhouettes to a wide range of people but here is a development on one with a bunch of varied horns.

Silhouette changed too much trying to make him more wintery.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Face progression, horns and angle gamut.

The face of Thor

I've gone through a bunch of drawings today and have settled on a face and therefore the style guide for my characters. This first page I found the character to look too much like a girl which actually made me stop and consider putting that forward, or possibly the option of a unisex character. Doesnt matter though because I'm sticking with the boy idea.

Amazingly, all I had to do was take the hair up a bit and suddenly it looked more like a boy, I also angled the jaw a little better as well as softer features are generally more feminine, especially a tapered, heart-shaped head. So yeah, I pronounced the chin and jaw line a little more and took up the hair. Its not quite finalized yet but I like the overall silhouette which means I can start modelling. Also a quick thought on all these horns, perhaps I could have that as a customizable feature.

That masked 'man mode power' face was initially just dabbling with covering up the face however I like the idea of a 'power up' which are popular in design (perhaps cliché), whereby what happens is when Thor gains enough, lets say rage, he can activate 'man mode' and suddenly this mask drops over his face and he is ready to go to work.
The design choice here is that because this story is about coming of age, becoming a man, Thor's power gives him a mask that has a bearded face on it cast in metal so as to be metaphoric of becoming a man briefly. Though to say being a man is about cracking skulls is pretty shameful, I just want a bit of fun in the design because Thor cant grow his own beard yet, he must where his Mask of +10 Manliness.

This is something I found interesting to apply, I'm not so well-versed in compositional techniques however I believe this is called an 'angle gamut' whereby you limit the amount of angles you use in your paintings which, if I'm not mistaken, adds an underlying consistency and repetition to the painting that works as a coincidence - by which I mean it ties everything together creating relationships between parts of the painting.

As you can see I'm only using four angles at the moment, I'm unsure if I'm doing it correctly yet I'm happy about doing it because I'm consciously deciding on all angles, not just waving my stylus around willy-nilly.


I've been dabbling with new techniques over the weekend, I don't think I get watercolours but it instantly makes drawings more enticing though maybe I could've gone for a warmer colour.

I really like the idea of horns and animal trophies adorning my warrior character. It makes him seem accomplished and notable. I was indulging myself Stoic Studios recent and fantastic release, The Banners Saga. Which I found very inspiring, if you haven't played it I highly recommend you do.

Also I like the idea of an actual horn, the kind you blow in (behave), as that is a sign of command and importance. Everything else is just random dribblings but I know I definately want an ornate helmet and a big bushy beard!

 Thor, however, is proving quite difficult. I need to keep the style consistent amongst all three characters and seeing as the story focuses around him, he should be the one to dictate style. How do I create a visual style that encapsulates this naive yet audacious character who is both innocent and bloodied? the next few days will be an interesting adventure into this but once his design is done, the other two should be relatively simple afterall, the story is about Thor, and the others are simply support.

Pseudo-realism or cartoon?

Dabbled with making Thor a girl

Friday, 17 January 2014

Style direction.

Interesting visual style is really important; clichéd looks are generally good enough but aren't very noticeable or impressive. It's when an expert knowledge is applied interesting outcomes are achieved - even if they miss the mark, they still aimed high and the result is respectable. Good examples of this are Fable, inspired by Norman Rockwell, and Team Fortress 2 by Leyendecker. Both of these didn't quite hit the mark but are reputable even then for having great style.

My point here is that I want to study and apply Rockwell's style to my own designs and even though I know for certain I simply won't hit anywhere near him, I believe that through trying I will find a decent approach of my own. On top of that it shoves me out of my comfort zone which is both terrifying and exciting.

What I like most about Rockwell's characters are the faces and how emotive they are. There's a pseudo-realism going on as they look like actual people but with a little exaggeration that lends to both intrigue and discomfort from the viewer (uncanny valley). I love this painting, and I'm sure that's because Rockwell has used many magical techniques to dazzle my simple brain with and it is that magic I need to figure out and apply to my own character designs. Composition, contrast, tonal values, colour, proportions - I've rarely considered composition as a design element for characters but might have been doing it anyway such as asymmetry and silhouette. 

Other artists I am looking at are Chris Appelhans (Rise of the Guardians, Monster House) and the aforementioned Leyendecker. Also going to compare my designs against Fable to see how I stand-up to another who attempted it before.



Hence this is going to be a mind-raking project. I really hope my time investment now into a new, undiscovered area for me will pay off and not screw me over. High risk, high reward I suppose.

Extended Scope

I'm going to put my three characters into a small playable level; a larger set-piece if you like. I'm definite on this because it's simply not enough to make three characters I want to show that I can make a playable game even if it is on a very small scale.

I don't want to think about this too much yet as it isn't a current priority, just wanted to mention I am absolute on where I want to take it.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Change of Plans

Although I'm very much interested in continuing this anatomy thing I realised yesterday that both my human characters will be mostly covered up so learning the finer details of anatomy right now isn't much of a priority. All I wanted from this one week of studies was to better ground my awareness of the human form so that I wasn't sort of winging it; which I recon I've got sorted now with regards to proportions.

The plan now is to simply get started designing my characters which I've started by breezing through some Feng Zhu videos to reaffirm what I know. My goal for this project really is to eliminate any doubts I have throughout my process; anatomy, design, modeling, texturing etc. These are things I waved over in the past due to many reasons (one being ignorance) and now its time to solidify my foundation so I can say with confidence: "I can do that."

Here's some doodles:

The wolf on the bottom right is the direction I want to take Fenrir (actual wolf above). The proportions are a little more squished and bent; I did this to make it feel more like he's growing a little erratically, as though his body is struggling to pace it's growth so its sort of bursting. Like when you look at a body-builder, the body doesn't get any taller so the only way they can grow is out and so they look fit to burst.
I mean this is only the first doodle so I shouldnt embelish it but the overall look; muscular, fierce and exagerated, is where I want to go. However, Fenrir is going to be around the same age as Thor (not fixed to an actual wolf's lifespan) so I want him to look young AND fierce. 'Cus puppies ain't fierce. 
I have some ideas on how to do this like keeping the furr fluffyish and the colours relatively saturated, so not greying.

Moving on. On the bottom of the same picture is a dude sat in a seat, chilling with a brew and a rather elaborate helmet. This is something I'm looking into for Odin. He's really up in the air at the moment because I'm undecided if I want him to look like a knight, hunter, sorcerer etc and all these will dictate his design. On this doodle he looks like a warrior, due to the helm and stacked arms; yet also elements of a hunter with regards to the animal trophies (horns). I know for sure that I really want his helmet, and general head area, to look magnificent as he is to be portrayed as a king/leader (hence the stone-circlet crown).
On top of which I'm toying between making him either a glorious, gallant hero or a weathered, wise veteran; where this picture portrays that of a weathered lord relaxing yet caught in thought... or at least it should.

Finally, I have a quick sketch of Thor, pretty much the same as I posted at the end of my design document (earlier post). I like the idea of shorts and clothes that don't seem to fit much as that shows he's still growing, or rather, not fully grown while also making his hands and feet appear larger which should help him look stronger in a sense without giving him muscles. Reason I want him to look relatively strong is because he would be slaying some beasties. Albeit smaller ones and with the help of Fenrir.

Using a suspender as a holster

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


 Carrying on from my studies of proportion and surface landmarks I've moved onto the muscles over the past couple days starting with the abdomen. Pectorals (major and minor), Rectus Abdominus and the Obliques (external, internal and transverse).

This is just another basic update to let you know I am actually doing something and not just sat on my gluts ( anatomical joke in an anatomy post +5 points); on top of which I have done a lot more pages and drawings than the few I have shown as I do not feel the need to shower you with the confetti of my labours so much as reveal the ankle from under the frock of which my sexy know-how layeth.

Dat sass

I didn't update this yesterday (Tuesday) as I was just doing the same thing as on Monday as well as going on a massive tangent (below). The same today really however I felt an update was necessary just to keep whatever sorry soul who reads this updated. Here's to you!... which, lets face it, is probably me re-reading my own blog. 

Pretty much covered up all the stuff I learnt and then applied to these forms, but just take a moment to appreciate those unmentionables. 

Next time on The Adventures of Scott and the Kings of Vi! Ecorche paintovers.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


First off let us appreciate my ludicrous excel skills.


Down to business. This is generally an arse-over-elbows timeplan as I have but the vaguest idea of how long all this will take. Nevertheless! I aim to have it all done by the first week of April which would give me that entire month and the start of May to work on extended scope.

Not decided quite yet on where to push it but I'm dabbling with the idea of a small area to run around in as one of the characters (others being stationary). Reasons being is that 1) How cool is that? and 2) I would learn the basics of making an actual playable game rather than just making doodads.

This just means getting the three characters designed and modelled in just over two months as well as the week or two sabbatical I'm currently on studying core skills such as anatomy, composition and colour. Which is a tall order however I'm confident in succeeding as I know I'll be spending many, many hours over these next few months. I've marked the final month as 'buffer' because mainly I want to make sure my characters are finished properly, that is the priority, I don't want to get distracted by extending my scope until everything else is done. That said, not doing something extra like making a mini level or working on animations, adding VFX etc would just be disappointing, not to mention a wasted opportunity.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Update 13/01/2014

Today is Monday, and thus the start of another productive week. I had a nice relaxed weekend and now I'm looking forward to studying some more anatomy.

Today I started reading Figure Drawing For All It's Worth by Andrew Loomis (link below) which is a damn good book full of not just brilliant techniques but also some pretty spot on philosophies on being an artist, or at least trying to be one.

If ever you need a well compiled and clear book on getting proportions correct then this really is the book. (Its also free)

Loomis' angle on drawing the figure isnt about getting the exact form how you see it, but on how to make it look ideal and how you want it to look yet reinforces the fact that even though it is good to create an 'ideal' body, you still 100% need to apply anatomy and proportions because without this solid grounding your drawings will just look horrendous. An example of this is that Loomis himself drew characters with 8 heads tall, instead of the standard 7.5. This made the character look taller and more, as he puts it, 'ideal'.

Good read so far, still need to finish the first chapter (so much information) and print off his proportion guides. Gold stuff.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Anatomy Studies

Today has mostly been spent watching anatomy tutorials. This is honestly something that should have been grounded in my head years ago but I feel its also one of those things that once you have a rough idea you kind of assume that's all you need. Well at least now my anatomical knowledge has become a hell of a lot sturdier thanks to the study of 'land marks' on the body.

Can't wait to see how much I've learned this time next week along with composition and colour theory.

Here's a scan of some studies.

Design Spec

­Design Document
The Kings of Vi
(Working title)

Scott Bennett
Game Art and Design Year Three
The King has been betrayed, his power divided; the quest to recover it lies at your feet.
The Kings of Vi (working title) is a story inspired by Norse legend focusing on the character of a young prince. At the barest bones of it: A powerful artefact is lost where you the hero must find it and in doing so become powerful.

This is a coming of age story where the hero develops from a young boy, all the way to adulthood where the King's power is a metaphor for mature attributes found in, but not limited to, adults; such as responsibility, control (managing emotions) and patience – which a child coming of age will have to seek out and face.  In order to obtain the divided power the player is tested in the form of boss fights and morale choices.  Despite the story being about coming of age and the child hero becoming a man, the visual look of the character will be a man for a large portion of the story, this is to imply that just because you look like an adult, it doesn't mean you are done learning and developing.

The power itself is divided amongst several villains who will be dealt with throughout the game and further the development of the protagonist.

With world-building there is such a plethora of interesting and exciting ideas to choose from, yet I have always loved creating my own characters and giving them their own stories; therefore for my final project, I will be focusing on three characters on their own little set-piece to make them look like little ornaments that you can turn around to view.

Visual Style
As it is a coming of age story and therefore aimed at a younger audience (12+) the style needs to be more playful and exaggerated while not being too realistic. A large part of the story is losing that youthful innocence, so having the game start out more playful will give the player a false sense of security to which can then be taken advantage of for the first story beat where something terrible happens.
Good examples of using a playful visual style and gameplay alongside a sad and often dark story being: Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft universe, Lionhead Studio’s Fable saga and even despite the lack of colour;  Limbo by Playdead. Or even the majority of Disney movies; the older ones especially such as Lion King or Fox and the Hound.
The overall feel is to be able to read emotion without the use of dialogue which demands the faces be highly emotive and the body/silhouette showing off that characters overall personality. For example: Superman is heroic, therefore he stands in  a heroic/triumphant pose.

Technical Specification
Each character will be limited to:
15,000 triangles (excluding background elements / pedestal)
1 x 1024 x 1024 Diffuse, Normal, Specular
1 x 512 x 512 Diffuse, Normal, Specular (for the head)
1 x 512 x 512 Alpha (if required)

Characters will be modelled with arms at around 30 degrees and bent slightly (relaxed)
Rigged and posed with a simple animation to show that it can be animated effectively.
Pedestals / background elements have no triangle limit as they are for presentation purposes; however they will be consistent with the geometry level and texture density of the characters.

Here are the designs: 

Welcome to my three month long adventure!

Hello, and welcome!

Pull up a seat and and get comfy, because this is going to be updated a fair for many moons to come (three months) as I endeavour to create three lovely models with a pseudo-realistic styling based off the characters from Norse Mythology.

 A retelling of a legend; following a young prince whose father is murdered for power; cast out he must survive the world, question morales and test loyalties as he grows from a naive, audacious boy into a veteran of the real world.

Updates may be slow over next couple weeks as I study up before going all out.

Stay tuned.