Here’s a quick update of my current progress =]
I’m currently texturing and trying to get tertiary details into her skin, clothing and armour.
Here’s a quick update of my current progress =]
I’m currently texturing and trying to get tertiary details into her skin, clothing and armour.
It’s been a while since my last post, as I haven’t had much time to spend on personal work recently, but here it is! Admittedly I’m struggling more and more to get my laptop to do what I want – I have to be careful with the size of my high poly sculpts in zbrush and extremely patient and careful when using UE4 which is becoming quite a hindrance in my workflow. For now, I’m having to just take my time and be as efficient as possible in terms of what my laptop can process, though it does make it difficult learning new things in UE4 – eventually I’m hoping to have Kindzi animated in UE4 with a nice moody, atmospheric scene to go with her. I’m just hoping my laptop will be able to get to the end result!
Kindzi Fan Art
So here’s my progress of Kindzi so far – I’ve spent some time rigging before I go back to texturing again.
Generally with texturing, I plan on:
Here is how she appears in Marmoset Toolbag – I’m quite happy with how her hair has turned out so far, it’s the best hair I’ve managed to do so far.
However I have quite a long way to go before I get a similar result in UE4.
Currently, I also have a basic setup in UE4, however progress has been painfully slow, as my laptop can’t really handle UE4 😦 Eventually, the end result will be to have a basic animation of her moving into an attack stance with jaws wide and mutant teeth extended – I’m relearning/remembering how to import characters and animations into UE4 and also how to set up a basic environment as I have less practice at that.
This video shows my basic rig testing with her pose at the end.
Currently I’m unsure why her jumpsuit texture has turned black during the walk cycle animation (there’s always something! xD), but sometimes during skinning the shading goes a bit weird and doesn’t return to normal when coming out of the skin modifier. Hopefully this won’t carry through into UE4 but I’ll have to see when I get there!
Here’s a quick render of my progress with the Journey. I’m not very pleased with the design of this project, but I feel proud of my progress with the texturing and so I’m a little undecided where to go from here – I do kinda feel like I’m polishing a turd, but I’ve invested a lot of time and learnt a lot and so it feels worth it to carry on.
So far I plan on:
The Journey Challenge
I’m currently working on my entry for The Journey Challenge on Artstation. I’ve decided to go for a kind of modern day shamanic healer / witch.
For this project, I’m not trying to do anything overly complicated, so that I can focus on each element carefully and get all the necessary details in good time. At this stage, I’ve created a basic concept with no real tertiary details, as I’m going to bring the model up to this basic stage first, then do paintovers and mess around from there.
I’ve been having a bit of a bad time with her back but I’ve forced myself to move on, otherwise I’ll be faffing forever.
I’ve made a quick curly hair alpha but I doubt it’s going to work all that well! If it looks dreadful then I think I’m going to be making a curly/afro hair strand from scratch in zbrush – fun fun fun!
Quick scribble-over to get my brain working
Currently, all items are made ready for texturing/rigging, excluding her bangle chains, eyelash alphas, book and crow familiar. I also need to remember to fix her back before baking!
Before I started the Journey Challenge, I was working on Kindzi again, where she is currently at the texturing stage. I’m trying to take my time with texturing, to really identify stages/ processes that I’m not comfortable/familiar with, in an effort to work out the kinks now to allow a smoother workflow in the future.
So far I’ve been focusing on her clothes and armour, as I have less experience with clothing than I do with skin.
JGC WIP Render
I’ve also rendered a quick video of my progress with my game. All progress so far is engine work – everything else is placeholder, as I will be making the dragon and other assets at a later date.
With this I’m looking forward to working on more stylised creature characters and environments as it’ll allow me to go with the flow a bit more instead of noodling over realism. It’ll also allow me to have a bit more fun with texturing.
Whilst I was off to a good start with this guy, personal life managed to take a huuuge bite out of my time with this project and I once again fell short on texturing. I had big plans for repeating patterns and really wanted to nail the texturing as it was good practice for organic materials.Still, I’ve found ways of speeding up the sculpting/modelling/rigging pipeline, so it was frustrating that I couldn’t pull the final textures out of the bag in the last few days of the challenge. However by this point, the work/life balance was well out of whack, so I cut my loses, submitted my design, then ignored 3D for a few days to recuperate!
It was tricky deciding how I was going to make the parts of the monster and in what order, but it was also nice being able to sculpt creepy skulls/body parts which helped keep the frustration at bay.
By the time of the second WIP screenshot, I was starting to run out of time. Morale was at a low too and the productive, enthusiastic energy I’d recently gained had disappeared into thin air. A week before the challenge deadline, I didn’t really have any energy left. After retopping and unwrapping, I think I had 3-4 days (a weekend?) left to texture, which at the time felt like loooads of time (“It’s gonna be fiiiiiine”).
When it actually got into texturing however, I felt at a loss. Texturing is one of the only areas that isn’t up to the standard I’d like, and I haven’t developed many quick, efficient workflows that leave me time to add those finer details. With the monster, I tried to quickly throw on base textures, then work the details up. However, I’d also missed out on a lot of paintovers where I’d planned on finalising the colour palette (to a colour scheme from a dream I had as a kid :3 ) and tertiary details, so I generally lacked direction, no matter how much I tried to speed up the process.
I dream of a new super computer, that allows me to have more than 3 programs open at once and render 4k textures, but for now, I’m going back to basics and revising how to simplify the texturing process with the Kindzi Project.
I also sent off my first t-shirt design for critique and feedback on Threadless. My “colouring-in” skills still need work and so I’m trying to get more digi painting practice in. Whilst I didn’t get a lot of feedback, someone commented that the gradient may not have helped the design and I have to agree with them. I’m still a noob at this, just gotta get it wrong a few times before I can get it right!
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.
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
3. Kindzi Project
Happy New Year!
This month has been a strange one, but it ended with an amazing night out on New Year’s Eve and I began 2016 happy and optimistic (and drunk of course).
Earlier in the month, I went to my Grandma’s funeral with my family, where we were joined by a mass of people whose lives she had touched. She didn’t want it to be religious and the songs she chose were amazing, but she saved the best till last – Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd! It had me and undoubtedly others mentally dancing as we remembered her, imagining her dancing too. It was brilliant, like she knew just the song to cheer us up and help ease our grief.
If you’re a gamer, you may know this song from GTA 😉 For me, it reminds me of flying various aircraft into the sunset whilst listening to K-Dst and this song was one of my favourites 🙂
Naturally this month my work has come on a little slower, but what I have achieved has come along in short bursts. Since my last post, my (short term)tasks were:
– Make new lower poly IMM strands
-Add Hair strips
– Make two sets of teeth
-Make the 2 outfits.
Created some new IMM hair strips from scratch again, this time lower poly. I spent around two hours meticulously placing the newer hair strips over the hair mass I was using as a placeholder/guide.
I had some fun making the teeth whilst I pondered what I could do with the animation if everything goes right (Haaaa) and how I’m going to render Kindzi to bring out the best of my work. With my FMP, the lighting let my characters down and so with Kindzi I plan to spend a lot of time experimenting with lighting and atmosphere.
I’ve not yet made her second set of teeth yet, as I decided I’d do more research on facial rigging beforehand. If I remember rightly, I know there are things that I can do with morph targets in 3ds Max that would save me from having to make the second set. Also, as I’d been working on the teeth and jaw, I ended up tweaking the face too.
I did some texture tests on the hair strips to find that without the placeholder I was using to place the strips on, there were awkward gaps between some strips breaking the consistency of the rest of the hair.
Whilst I was quite impressed with most of it, I decided it’d be best to just do them again. I’d also remade new hair alphas with variations on thickness and wave, which when tested made the gaps even worse. Hurray for another so many hours of meticulous placing! ^_^
With that, I jumped back to the clothes again. I had another go sculpting clothes folds again, then I had another go in Marvelous Designer. I made the jumpsuit, but wasn’t getting many convincing details out of the simulations. I took screenshots, scribbled and experimented again but eventually spent my energy.
So I hit a dead end, got stuck and at some point decided to improve my portfolio during the Christmas period by doing some more informative renders and getting the texture maps on. I’ve noticed I don’t have any detailed In Situ/Beauty renders on my portfolio and so that’s something I have to make up for with Kindzi.
So when it came to improving the male study images on my portfolio, I went back to the idea of giving him some clothes (the reason I hadn’t done this before was because the project had dragged on too long).
I had some fun with it and collected a duck load of sewing patterns on Pinterest, then made them in Marvelous and simulated. The only difficulties I had were with size, but I learned a lot about how to simulate better clothes and why it didn’t work out so well in previous attempts.
I could have gone further with the clothes, importing them to zbrush, adding additional folds etc., but I thought I’d leave it as a side project when I get bored or frustrated with my current project.
After this, I switched back to my current project, reviewed my previous attempts with Kindzi’s clothing and again found some patterns for jumpsuits. I had another go at making her jumpsuit, before deciding it’d be best (and more fun) to start with her dress and so I saved out a basic file and put it to rest.
This is as far as I got before celebrating the New Year!
Over the weekend, I came back to my project and went over all of the things that had been delayed between Christmas and New Year to bring them up to speed. I’m really excited to add in the final tertiary details and start texturing so obviously I want to get old tasks out of the way asap.
I feel like I’ve levelled up my sculpting skills, next are the texturing and rendering skills!
So using a sewing template that best matched the style of Kindzi’s dress, I faffed and experimented until I reached something that I liked.
Then, after setting up the dress up in Zbrush, I compared the two outfits and also started redoing the jumpsuit in MD again. Whilst the jumpsuit is quite thick and doesn’t show heavy wrinkles in the reference, I’d still quite like to get in some more folds to get more contrast between the materials.
One thing that has been nagging at me for a while is the fact that there is going to be SO much PURPLE in this project, so I’m going to have to try and do something clever with the colour palette to prevent this project from becoming flat.
By my next post, I’d like to have moved onto polypainting, retopping and unwrapping. Between now and then, my tasks are:
– Redo the hair strips (Aghhh… it’s fine.)
– Finish the jumpsuit, make adjustments to dress.
– Make my own tileable texture for the jumpsuit.
– Add tertiary details to clothes and armour, i.e. seams, noise, wear and tear.
– Merge the body and add tertiary details to skin (and fix those arms!).
– I may even bring her arms down a bit, to more of an A-Pose – It might make more of a difference in the MD simulations.
It’s been 10 days since my last blog post, a lot sooner than the last post. This morning, my grandma passed away after fulfilling her wish of making it to her birthday, November 25th (which was also a full moon) and so it felt right to write a post and mark down this day. She was a strong lady and didn’t want us to be sad, so I’m going to try and channel our loss into creative energy instead.
I love you Brenda, I will miss you always!
Rest in Peace
So, since my last post I’ve added in the details to Kindzi’s armour, created her necklace, created a better likeness, had a go at the folds of her dress and tested out the IMM strands.
Before getting into the armour, I threw together another moodboard of her hair to help me decide how to make the hair alphas. I decided I’d need 3 variations of hair, long, short and medium and that I will find out further in the process whether the 3 variations can be used across the different lengths or whether the stretching and distortion will be too obvious.
I threw together another image giving me a better idea of what’s going on with the armour. I couldn’t find any good references for the back of her armour at the time so knew I’d need to improvise.
I had a lot of fun (not without a slight headache) making the neck jewellery by following a tutorial and makng my own adjustments. It’s not perfect but it definitely does the job!
The details for the armour was the biggest challenge as I couldn’t quite get the panels right. I’d thought about making the panels and polygroups in 3ds Max, but thought the holes could be a bit fiddly and that I was having too much fun in zbrush. So I stuck with it and had fun figuring out why things were going wrong (as usual), screenshotting and taking notes. Eventually, something happened that looked kinda-good-but-not-quite-but-I-guess-that-will-do, so I worked backwards to figure out what it was I did, then went back and did it all over again.
I repeated this for all of the armour pieces, though I was aware that I hadn’t quite got the design right – the indents aren’t as sharp, but with the method I was using I would end up with holes in my mesh if I added too much bevel. Now I’ve gone through the method I know whereabouts in the process 3ds Max would have been most helpful. I’m also aware of the fact that when ti comes to baking, the indents might not show up very well and so I’m already thinking of ways around it, if it comes to that.
After this I faffed around with her dress. I figured out how to get the arrangement points working in Marvelous , but after making the clothing patterns and sewing etc, I wasn’t getting any decent results and seeing as I’d already made the armour I thought I might aswell try sculpting folds. Again, I did some rough versions and screenshotted them to get an idea of what looks right. What with it being rough, I tried to improvise the folds as a way of remembering what I’d learnt from the folds tutorial (in a previous post). I’d like to try improving a few more times before gathering some more reference and trying for the final sculpt.
I was also trying to bear in the mind the rigging implications – What with going for a full-length dress again (not intentional!!) I know too well from my fmp that the rigging is going to be a pain. However, with the pose that I’m going for I’m hoping it won’t be too much of a problem. I’ve also decided that I’m going to create a second outfit for her, as it would be good practice, especially with rigging.
For now though, here’s where I’m at. I also added in some more placeholder hair, this time my own IMM hair strips from earlier hair tests.
I’m going to make some more though, as the current strips are too high poly to work with. I also have other bits left to do, such as making her two sets of teeth (which will be lots of fun!) and finishing off the hands and head, then joining them to the body. Once everything is joined, I plan on doing a final pass of likeness and proportions, before moving onto retopping and unwrapping 🙂
Soo I’m in the midst of my new project, which for now I will call the “Kindzi Project”. If you have ever watched Defiance (to the end), you know exactly who I mean, but for those who haven’t, you’re gonna get some pictures anyway.
I chose to model the Omec Kindzi from Defiance, because she’s a badass, end of. =p
In all seriousness though, I really needed a project that I was going to enjoy the whole way through, one that wasn’t going to put too much pressure on me mentally, yet could still have high expectations. With this project I can practise the new things I have learnt on a portfolio piece.
I also thought it’d be fun to mess around with purple skin and strange eyes.
This is a rough moodboard of the kind of pose I am going for. I plan on rigging her into a creepy pose with jaws wide revealing her fangs, meaning I’m going to have a go at facial rigging… I don’t know what I’m up against yet but no doubt it’ll be fun to learn. As a note to myself, I think I’ll try researching morph targets in animation for her teeth, so I can mimic her second set of fangs morphing out of her 1st human set.
At first with this project, I wasn’t finding it all that fun and I think it’s simply because I was sculpting anatomy all over again. With the Male Study, it went on that long that it took all of the fun out and part of this feeling carried over into the start of this project.
However, at some point I seemed to have a break through. I was already aware that trying to get everything perfect was killing my creativity and fun, so at some point I just sat down, stopped thinking about it and just sculpted. Instead of trying to sculpt the whole body together, I split the body into parts and focused on one part at a time, spending maybe an hour or two on each. I still had my 3D reference on the 2nd screen, but I simply stopped trying to get things perfect.
Basically, I managed to find a more intuitive way of working, ignoring the perfectionist in my brain and allowing the fun to creep back through.
I threw on placeholder hair whilst sculpting the facial features to help me check the likeness between my model and Kindzi. I also threw on some colour for the same reasons. Both will be upgraded later obviously 🙂
I managed to achieve this during the midnight-morning hours of the past week, as opposed to the painstaking progress of the previous project (oo alliteration), which literally went on forever. So, as a way of keeping up with this newfound mindset and momentum, I went on to making the basic panels for her armour pieces, whilst wondering how to create the cloth underneath. I made another quick moodboard and scribbled so I could understand how the clothing was going to work, then set to it.
During my elf guard project, I learned a lot about dynameshing, panel loops and zremesher and how I can use them to force a basic shape and so I used this knowledge to produce shapes I needed. So far I have remeshed the neckbrace to be low poly, whilst I still have the rest of the armour pieces to either create or remesh.
Soo since this post the plan is to carry on creating basic panels for the armour and have a go in Marvelous to figure out the best way of making the cloth underneath. Then, when I have all of the main primary shapes in (Body, clothes, hair), I’m going to go back to the face and improve the likeness.
Okay so the plan was to post this on the 15th, one month since my last blog post. It literally slipped my mind as my grandma has taken a turn for the worse. I don’t like talking about personal stuff on my blog, so I wrote and rewrote this paragraph until I deleted most of it to say at little as possible. Anyway, despite everything that’s going on right now, somehow I managing to still enjoy my work and I’m making more progress now than I have since I left Uni. Looking back, I’ve transformed a lot this year.
I’ve also started teaching a friend the ropes of 3ds Max online, writing tutorials, doing paintovers and giving advice. It’s been refreshing to work in 3ds Max again after being in zbrush so long and it’s been great to see how far I’ve come since first starting game art.
Anyway, here’s where I’m at now. I’ve gotten the face to a better likeness, though it still needs work. I also wanted to import a crunched down version of my model into Marvelous Designer, but I’m having problems with the arrangement points and so can’t get the patterns to curve around my custom avatar. I’ve had to revert back to zbrush until I can figure out what’s going on. I still need to make the back panel of her dress. During the Male Study project, I don’t remember this being an issue, but I didn’t save the file so I can’t investigate. But that’s game art for you! 😀