Thursday, 15 May 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Where to go from here.

Deadline has passed and everything is handed in. So any additions here on in will not be marked however in a months time there is a degree show; it would therefore be prudent of me to spruce up my characters a little for that.

Even though my characters could do with a lot more added to them, in terms of texturing and geometry, I feel that calling them done would be the better platform to which I can jump forward instead of dwelling behind.

What I mean by this is I'll be focusing on exterior flare such as better pedestals, idle animations and hopefully a little environment that will help to present my characters in a more interesting light as oppose to them rotating on a pedestal; which is boring. Fine. Just boring.

I've had my post-hand-in break and am now ready to get some more work done. As much as I would like to see the back of this project an extra few weeks will be well worth it. So, what do add exactly?

Odin
Weapon! Gungnir, the mighty spear of Odin that never misses!
Idle Animation (standing)
Extended scope:
Idle Animation#2
Idle Animation#3

To expand on the idle animations: I want them all to be standing there in a pose, the animation for this will be generic breathing and the slight movement this brings. Typical idle animation really. The other two which I'll add when everything else is done are just to break up his idle animation cycle; so every now and then he'll look around, or feel the weight of his weapon.

Thor
Idle Animation #1
Extended scope:
Idle Animation #2
Idle Animation #3

Fenrir
Idle Animation #1
Extended scope:
Idle Animation #2

Environment
This is what I had originally planned (poorly) to do alongside the three characters. After being really disappointed having to cut it from the project I'm really looking forward to doing some environment art again.

It's only going to be a little set-piece where the player can just move around to get a look at the characters. At the degree show I'll have two screen sat next to each other so one will have this playable piece on and the other will have concepts, including the turntables.

The set itself will be a sort of middle-ages hut mead/hall. Stonewalls, thick wooden beams, cobblestone floor complete with a firepit, tables, food and Odin's very own throne. So lots of wood, stone and furs. It's only going to be a small hall, so nothing crazy. I'll have some concepts up within a week hopefully depending how long it takes to work on some of these animations. Something along the lines of this:

Joravaskr Skyrim



Friday, 9 May 2014

Fenrir


Fenrir
Wildcard! Haven't created an animal before, barely even drawn em. I figured he was either going to take longer than the others, or a lot less due having never done it before I had no idea how difficult it'd be; on top of that I needed to learn canine anatomy. 

The real nail in the coffin here was that I only had one week left to make him in and at one point I was 100% sold on forgetting about this guy and just brushing up the other two. Fortunately I decided to give myself a chance on this and after completing the sculpt on the first day I was confident I could get it done; which I did! Yeah!

Was tough and required me to work about 80+ hours. Worth.

Process
Due to my lack of confidence with animals and a general lack of know-how I thought it best to start completely in Zbrush, no base mesh. Reason for this is so I could pull out forms easier, which Zbrush is a lot better for than Max. So:
-Zbrush for sculpting
-3DSMax to finish up gemoetry (fur on back, claws and sharpteeth)
-3DSMax for retop
-3DCoat for Unwrap
-3Dcoat for Texturing Diffuse
-Photoshop for tweaking bakes from Xnormal and creating specular.
-Rigged in 3DSMax
-Rendered in Marmoset

3DCoat
http://3d-coat.com/
After finishing up Odin's textures on a friends 3DCoat I really wanted to adopt it into my workflow. Apparently it can do a hell of a lot more than just painting directly onto the model (Max's ViewportCanvas pales in comparison) like sculpting, modelling, re-topping and some such. I have no doubt that on those particular things it's probably not as good as such established programs as Max and Zbrush however I found out about unwrapping while looking up how to paint and I have to say it's very good. On top of that because you're painting directly onto the model, seams aren't a big problem. Of course you shouldn't have tons of seams and you still need a concise unwrap yet with that said it really takes the pain of of trying to line textures up properly in Photoshop.

3DCoat is by no means a replacement, but something to be supplemented into your workflow. I couldn't recommend it more.

Hindsight
As I mentioned earlier, the fur took a lot longer than I anticipated. Obviously, painting fur clump by clump is pretty time-consuming and not to mention insanity-inducing. 
Other than that my only regret with this character is that I didn't leave myself enough time to really polish it and try out some other avenues. I was really flying by the seat of my pants on this one; calling steps done and moving on without pause. I just didn't have the time left-oover to try iterating.

How I feel
Love it. So happy. I'm not the greatest visual design artist so when I finally got the hang of fur AND good hue variation it really meant a lot. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious about not getting this done.

Where to go now?
Post coming soon

Odin


Odin
This character was for me. I purposely left a slot open for a burly Viking dude and out the other end of that came Odin! 

This guy was meant to designed within a day but ended up taking a few as my initial plan of doing a typical muscular armour-clad barbarian evaporated as I took it a little more seriously. One of the first major design mile stones was adding a belly. Basically he's this old war hero who earned his crown through legendary feats and deeds, but after sitting the throne all he did all day was sit and listen to the common-folk whine about a lack of crops or missing geese all the while continuing to eat as much as he did when he was a warrior which resulting in him cultivating a little too much mass around the belly. Still needed to look like he could rip a man's head off though. 

So the overall theme of him was 'big'. The belt is thick and heavy looking, the sword is wide and ridiculously oversized, the antlers are a massive 'Hey, look at me!' and the cape lends itself to blocking out his frame. I even aimed to get this across with his boots by making them with right-angles (considered to add strength in composition).

Process
Same as Thor's:
-Base mesh in Max
-Sculpt in Zbrush
-Retop in Max
-Unwrap in Max
-Texure in Photoshop testing textures in UDK
-Final texture tweaks done in 3DCoat (will talk more about it in Fenrir's post)
-Rig in Max
-Render in Marmoset

Hindsight
This guy got off to a great start. I had the head sculpt done in four hours, and the rest with in a couple days, re-topping and unwrapping was all on schedule (under a week) but then I presented my work where I received some very good criticisms. This was only meant to be a week more of work to cut in however it ended up being two. There were exterior reasons which affected this as well but mostly it was the fur taking a lot longer than I had anticipated (a recurring theme for me). Firstly I didn't know how to go about it; do I use alphas? Do I sculpt it or just model it in? Alphas weren't working very well initially so I ended up trying sculpting and just making yet all looked terrible! Despair was settling in a little when I decided to give alphas another go, which thankfully turned out quite nicely. Although my technique has improved since then so they look a little hammy looking back.

Critiques are good.


Other than that Odin was a pretty awesome experience that served to bolster my confidence quite a bit. Which I really needed haha. Very proud of this.

Where to go from here
Post coming soon

Thor



Thor
When I started this project I knew I wanted a variety of content which would push me to move outside of my comfort zone; this is when the idea of Thor being a boy came in. It may not seem like anything special to design and create an adolescent, yet when all you ever draw are machismo males I thought it best to respect that it was not as easy as it seemed (as things often are, and conversely, aren't).

After a few days studying up on proportions a from such sources as Loomis or google (never felt more tension than when I googled child anatomy) I felt I had a good amount of confidence with regards to making a boy actually look like a boy, as it's not as simple as just scaling down an adult. For example the head looks larger in proportion to the rest of the body the younger a person is.

Moving forward with that knowledge and messing around with a few designs here and there I finally settled and began modelling. A brief run-down of the process as follows:
-3DSMax for base mesh
-Zbrush for sculpting detail and pulling out forms
-Back to 3DSMax to retop using the freeform modelling tools
-Unwrap in Max
-Texture using Photoshop checking textures in UDK
-Rig and animate in 3DSMax
-Final renders done in Marmoset

This is the general process I used for all other projects.

Some Hindsight
I dawdled far too long on this character; taking a week just to decide on the one liked as I was going back and forth between iterations. After doing this project it was really driven home that I need to decide and just move on, as in the industry you don't get five weeks to make a character.

The reason this took me so long to decide is the obvious one that I imagine most people share; that you're not happy with it. So this got me thinking whether or not artists in the industry see there stuff go out the door that they're really not happy with. It's a common trait amongst artists, or people in general really, to see the worst parts in your creations, yet other people don't see it in the same way, or simply don't notice. So yeah I was just pondering about that, if people would really care about the right type of nose, or the paler skin or if they'd just take that as the design choice or just not care either way. I'm not talking about anatomically incorrect, obviously if that's wrong its wrong, I'm talking about variations. Big nose, small nose etc.

It's a bit cheesey to say it, and I don't think I am but perhaps its perfectionism. I consider it more along the lines of self-doubt, not believing its good enough, rather than it not being perfect.

But how is it really?
I honestly really liked this guy in the end. In the final week I hastily gave him a facial expression and a pose and boom, miles better than before. It's amazing how little changes like that can just make something so much more. It reminds me of a level I made that looked isolated, that how after placing in a flat plane of a mountain brought it all together.
Oh and I really like the folds on the arms which you can't really see with this pose. I know, why pose him like that then? Ah dunno, hammers n stuff.

Where to go from here?
Post coming soon

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Fenrir Texturing Update

This is so time-consuming. I've been doing this for about 30 hours now and I still have what seems like another 5 or so left. Fortunately I feel like I'm on the downward part of the hill now closing in on the finish line but damn, this fur. Honestly thought it would take me too long. 

All that said; really happy with the outcome so far. The hind legs are done so that's what the front should look like, there's not a lot of detail or fur on the lower portion which is to not create too much contrast and then drag the eye away. Did toy with the idea of making them a flat colour with an emissive on as to focus purely on the silhouette making the feet look like some sort of void which would add to Fenrir's somewhat unnatural, seemingly otherworldness. Though I think the blue fur will have to suffice.
Other than that I have the teeth, hairbands and bracer to do and then the mammoth task of making the clumps of fur on his shoulders look decent. I'm reaaaaally not looking forward to that. 

Final 30 odd hours! Gotta get this all done, then rig him and Odin and finally make some pedestals. Somewhere in all that I need to find time to to renders, turntables and turn it all into a presentation.

 I. AM. GOING. TO. DIE!

How many energy drinks was it before it killed you? 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Fur



Happy accidents are great. The head on the left shows how I was originally going to paint the fur which, honestly, I didn't think looked all that bad - in fact I was quite pleased. Then I started blocking in some colours for the rest of it with a typical round brush when, with a little refinement, looked great! So on the left is how I'm going to do the fur. Unbelievably happy with this as avoiding too much noise was one of my main priorities and this has helped that fantastically. 

Should also mention the colour palette. It changed a little while working but generally it's a hue shift from purple through to a blue/blue-teal for the fur, going darker on the extremities inward to relatively lighter hues. Having green for the iris and will later add some orange-red for some cloth strips, dulling it down for the teeth and his bracer. The ears are a mixture of these. 

Also, check out that new and improved logo. Awww yiss.