From around 5th Jan – Present
This blog post is well overdue and a lot has happened/changed since the last, but to cut a long story short, I was lucky enough to get a 6-week internship, where I gained confidence and re-found my creativity. I’ve gotten back in touch with my inner child and I’m trying out old things from my childhood (such as poetry), and embracing new things (where the poetry leads) to keep me inspired.
During the internship, I had 5 projects and produced 7 modelled characters, 1 game idea and various clothing designs/logos (which beforehand I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of in 6 weeks) but for me the most valuable thing I gained was the ability to work under pressure, whilst having fun. Doing this allowed me to create many new ideas and connections whilst keeping in the time frame – keeping the pressure at bay was helping me work better. When things weren’t going right, I took extra time to go even slower, just to refocus and actually make some progress, rather than stressing and trying to do everything at once.
Project 1 – Bandera Characters
For my first project I was tasked with creating a series of low poly characters, each with a unique personality and character. I decided I’d push for 4 characters, so I had to be clever about how to make them to be as efficient as possible.
So I had a photobash to get a feel for their personalities and had fun finding references. Though my photobashing skills aren’t up to the standard I’d like (all in good time), I stopped when I felt I had enough information within the image to create from.
I started with 1 base mesh, the model for the generic male. I went through the usual process of modelling and unwrapping to get a basic model, which I saved out and then duplicated for the 4 individual adjustments.
Then when each had been tweaked into their respective forms, I brought them to the center pivot again, set up a biped, rigged the generic male, then again duplicated the biped 3 times and copied across the envelopes. Somewhere along this process the rig broke and began doing strange stuff under symmetry, so I had to quickly re-rig them again, but overall this process proved to be very efficient. The rig probably broke due to the layers I was keeping; some of the biped nubs were left in the wrong groups when I checked back.
As usual, texturing was a bit of a hiccup for me, but in this project I did a quick test with Substance Painter which renewed my confidence in speeding up the process. At first however it was a bit tricky to use, so I reverted back to polypainting and baking with my usual programs. It was also different to my usual workflow as this time there was no high poly information to bake, so it threw me off a little when I had to adjust to a different way of working.
Project 2 – Game Idea / JGC
I was asked if I had any game ideas and one night whilst having a nap (not sleeping!) I had the idea for Jungle Grub and Chase, a mini eat and grow game, combined with a few other elements.
I’d rather not post up everything until I’ve finished the demo level, but project that is on hold at the moment, as I’m working my monster for The Game Challenge =]
Project 3 – Clothing Range/T-Shirt Designs
I was also tasked with creating some abstract clothing designs, which is right up my street (m88). I’ve never really tried something like this before, but whilst designing the JGC game I found a more relaxed way of working, so when it came to trying this, I just went with the flow.
I basically experiemented with shapes and words, copying and pasting in a random fashion, then making something out of the randomness.
It was quite a fun process where I felt there were no rules and so ended up making quite a few random images (with my own meaning applied).
I haven’t posted them all, but these are pretty much my favourites, or at least the ones I had the most fun making. It’s helped me decide what kind of art I like doing…. Abstract, of course and it lead the way to a whole new method of working. Mainly scribbling everywhere then carefully making sense and adding to it later.
Project 4 – Scrounger (during end of Project 5)
I was given this project as an optional side project for the animators, but basically once I said yes I had to come through.
Another low poly character, but this time I was juggling it with my own project (2 realistic characters) and so the pressure was on. There’s a few things I’m not happy with, but I think it’s because I don’t have much practice/experience with low poly characters for mobile games. I did learn something through one of the other interns through email, about animation preferences such as necessary bones, exporting for animators and exporting whole related scene files in a .zip package. This in particular was quite tricky, as I had no idea what I was doing and I had no idea if I’d done it right as I couldn’t see what they’d received on the other side.
Unlike the Bandera chars, the Scrounger uses all typical PBR textures, as opposed to Bandera’s diffuse only. I did it this way, as I was unsure of the animators preferences and time was of the essence. Personally I prefer the Scrounger with albedo only, but these are all things to learn from at a later date (maybe JGC).
Project 5 – Realistic Chars
I was given this project before the Scrounger, and again I tried to push myself for 2 characters in 2 weeks if I remember rightly, but it may have stretched into 3 weeks during tweak time.
This project was a challenge because I didn’t have that much of an emotional attachment to the character design – They’re meant for a realistic GTA/COD style game, so thinking on my feet I decided on an army guy and a 90’s chick. I didn’t get to do many concepts and no photobashes, only brief scribbles and paintovers with a thrown-tgoether moodboard. I didn’t get to work into the tertiary details (always the damn stitches and dirt!!) but I’m proud of how far I’ve come since uni and now I have some varied characters to put on my portfolio.
I also fully acknowledged the power of beauty shots and how they can make decent characters look poop and poop characters look decent. At least that’s how I feel about these characters – They were off to a good start and then kinda lost momentum after a while. I had to change the female’s hair last minute as the old hair looked a nightmare to create a model to steal normals from.
I didn’t get to work into the roughness maps as much as I wanted to, as I always seem to fall short on the texturing in the final weeks of a project. This time though it wasn’t spent on design, but a second project, so I’m chuffed that I got to try both. Must get to grips with tertiary deets and texturing though.
I had fun with the renders in marmoset, making my characters look better in the lighting and had a go with a circular frame instead of a rectangle, but I’m undecided on how much I like it.
I also enjoyed painting black skin with the new things I’ve learned since FMP. Overall I’m happy with these characters mainly because before the internship I didn’t think I’d be able to make so much in 6 weeks.
Current / Ongoing Projects:
1. Monster Challenge
This is my going to be my entry for TGC Monster Challenge, my Interdimensional Entity. The entity forces it’s way through the dream world/dimensions/astral plane into ours, but doing so causes it to manifest in an unconventional way. The entity feeds on your fears and must be banished from our realm through psychic powers, else it spreads like a psychic disease, sucking life from souls.
- Currently hanging between pre-dev and development stage. Need to sculpt the basic individual parts, do some quick paintovers to decide on the final forms and tertiaries. Already have a colour scheme decided, just need to iterate.
Here’s my main, initial moodboard. I’ve been doodling a lot more to quickly get down my ideas, then later I’ve taken a picture of the doodly, then iterated outwards as I’ve sketched and explored. This messy way of working is actually really helpful, as it can always be sifted through and organised later; the order in the creative chaos!
The moodboard also contains inspirations, themes and a few of my old drawings too, where I’d like to use the same/ a similar colour theme to create the abstract/psychedelic effect. I’m undecided on how I’m going to render him as yet (and I’m aware of how much time is left!), but I’ll keep doing paintovers and scribbles as I go along.
2. Jungle Grub and Chase Level
- Started re-learning UE4. Started with the basic flying blueprint and have been learning to tweak as I have gone along. Currently I have a basic placeholder dragon, and so far I’ve learned how to create pickups with sound, turn them into a points system, then duplicate them along the spline like a rollercoaster track to save me from placing them one by one.
- I still have to learn how to: Import morph targets into UE4, and have them change per amount of grub eaten (say 20 grub = evolution 1) to create the eat and grow aspect; Create the dragon baby and evolution 1 (or full on badass version); Create my own animations per direction (ie. w=fly up, s=down etc); and import those into UE4. At the moment it seems quite daunting but the fun is in the challenge, screaming at the computer and coaxing it to work until that moment of eureka, when something so simple pops into existence (like grubs on splines working) and you feel like a god xD. As always I have no idea what I’m in for, but it’ll be worth it 🙂
3. Kindzi Project
- Kindzi seems like such a long time ago – I started this project sometime last year, back when things were tougher. I’m looking forward to finally getting back round to her after everything that I’ve learned before, during and after the internship. I already know how I’m going to get her teeth working and now I know I can work slower but more efficiently, I’m excited to see her progress. But I think it could be a long time away!