Out with the Old, in with the New

So I’ve finally finished the Male Anatomy Study! Or, should I say, I’ve finally decided to put it to rest and render it, regardless of flaws. I’ve spent far too long on this project (even though I’ve only managed to get in so many hours a day) and I think it’s come to a point where I’m not doing a great deal to improve it, even making some things worse as it’s come along.

Malestudy_frontback

Besides learning and improving on the main things, such as anatomy and processes within Zbrush, this project has taught me the importance of having a more strict time limit on my personal projects. Obviously I’m aware of the importance of time-management within a job, but with this project, I ended up giving myself more and more leeway, until I finally decided that “it’d be finished when it’s finished”. At the start of the project, all those months ago, I was finding it extremely difficult adapting to current situations in my life and my 3D was being pushed aside. Some days I didn’t get any hours in at all and with everything going on, the added guilt of not doing enough began grinding me into the ground. Eventually, I adapted and became happier, but mainly because I went easy on myself, with an “Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow” kind of attitude. I became more grateful of the little progress I was making, as it was better than nothing.

malestudyprogress_01malestudyprogress_02

With a newfound positivity and rebirth of confidence, my determination came back. I’ve started working till early morning again just to get those extra hours in. Though not a good habit to be getting back into, I think this has helped a lot, as I seem to work better in the night hours than in the day – the tranquillity and the darkness calms me and I’m able to concentrate more easily. I’ve started doodling more too, which I’ll hopefully make into 3d models one day!

malestudyprogress_03a

At some point during this time, my work seemed improved – It helped that I’d found a 3D body scan that I could set up in Marmoset and use as reference. Being more confident again, I tried pushing myself to make this study the best it could be.

malestudyprogress_05malestudyprogress_06
I continued working, spending more time with no real end, until I realised I wasn’t making a considerable difference, then called it quits a couple of days ago.

I’ve learnt a lot of things during this project, but the main thing I’ve learnt is to limit the time for the sake of keeping the project fun. Much like the Side-Scroller taught me not to “polish a turd”, this anatomy study has taught me not to “flog a dead horse”. With no real deadline ahead, I could have been fixing and tweaking into infinity.

Malestudy_360

Life After Graduation

Welcome to my new blog! As I’ve now graduated, it felt only right to round off my University blog of 3 years and start anew! This blog will be used primarily for recording my progress, reflecting on the stuff I’ve learnt and sharing it too.

Since graduation, settling back into “normal” life has been tricky. Everybody used to talk of how we underestimated how much time we had at University, that we had so much of it. I haven’t even made it to Jobland yet and I already miss having the whole day to sit and work. To say the least, I’ve had a lot to deal with (which I’m not discussing here) and life has been tough since graduating up to September, probably the toughest time of my life so far in terms of challenging my mental strength.
Lunar_eclipse_September_27_2015_greatest_Alfredo_Garcia_Jr
Eventually though, I started going out again and I made a conscious effort to appreciate the little things. A couple of days ago, I read a post on the internet that stated “You have to balance the amount of F*cks you give” and that’s exactly what I did. I went to some affordable festivals and spent time appreciating the countryside, nature and the freedom, saw some shooting stars and began to feel myself again. I recently watched the Blood Moon (and saw more shooting stars!) which was phenomenal and now I look forward to the Draconid meteor shower this October! Despite personal situations being the same and one inevitably getting worse, I’ve developed a more positive outlook on life and the law of attraction appears to be true.
During this time, I’ve been working on a few things which I’ve been meaning to write up for a long time now.

Campsite 
tentsite_screenie

Shortly after my Final Major Project, I decided to have a go at a Campsite Diorama Brief where you make the diorama from a given concept. I wanted a bit of a change from characters and I also wanted to do something closer to nature.

-Tiling in Zbrush
I found a tutorial on creating tileable textures in Zbrush and used it to create the terrain. I must say it was quite fiddly – I wasn’t working in Draw Mode and I had to remember to pan a certain way and do certain things in a certain way otherwise I’d knacker it up. I created the leaf subtools from images.
As it was my first try I concentrated on the process rather than the outcome. Even still, I was impressed with the result of the normals and with a bit more practice and attention to detail, this technique will prove to be very useful.

– Folds patterns
For the tent, I created basic elements in 3ds Max and then sculpted details in Zbrush. I wanted to understand folds better as it’s something that I struggle with and so found a brilliant tutorial on the dynamics of folds.

I followed along and sketched down what I learnt as I went. By the end I felt like I had a better understanding and that I could improvise folds with more confidence.

-Orb cracks and working from primitives
I also had some fun making a basic log. Again, I was focusing on the process and technique rather than the outcome and I wanted to experiment with the Orb Cracks brush too. It’s not the best log but I did really enjoy hacking into the basic cylinder, throwing on some noise and hacking away some more!

tentsite_log_screenie


Elf Guard

eternalguardproject_screenies

The Elf Guard was a practise piece designed by a friend from University. The idea was to create a realistic interpretation from a hand-painted miniature.
I’d already started following the Grassetti anatomy tutorials and so I simply cut out the head and torso to get a bust and went from there.

-Grassetti anatomy
From the grassetti tutorials, I began learning a better workflow for character creation and a better understanding of human anatomy. I learnt the main basic shapes that make up the human form and easier, more efficient ways of creating them.

– Better panel loops
For the leather armour, I spent more time using Panel Loops. Through a hell of a lot of trial and error, I gained a better understanding of how to apply them.

– Folds again
I continued to practice clothing folds.

– Better understanding of dynamesh
Prior to this project, I didn’t really have a good understanding of Dynamesh and it’s applications. Through this project, I learned to start with Dynamesh, working my way up in resolution, allowing me to detach elements, work on them separately and then glue them back together.

– Bridge brush, move topological and trim brush
I learned of the Bridge, Move Topological and Trim Brushes during this project.

-Better flexibility
All in all I gained a better flexibility with Zbrush and feel more proficient with it. When I first began using Zbrush, it was hard getting the results I wanted because I simply didn’t know what Zbrush could do. Now, I can successfully problem-solve within the program.


Hair Testing

hairtesting_screenies

I had a go at creating better hair alphas. I bumped into an amazing tutorial that described a relatively simple but effective method for creating real-time hair.

With this, I learned how to create my own IMM hair strands, how to set up the textures in Marmoset Toolbag 2 and how to correctly transfer vertex normals to alphas (which I could have known since first year, but I just seemed to have missed for all this time!!).

Check out the tutorial here if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it!
zbrush_hairzbrush_hair_16
http://www.3dartistonline.com/news/2015/04/how-do-i-create-real-time-hair-for-games/


Male Anatomy Study (Current project)

malestudy_screenies

This is a project that I’ve been working on for some time now. From when I first started it, it has considerably improved, but until I rendered out the WIP screenshots it didn’t really look like I’d made a lot of progress! Honestly, I’ve been working on this project for so long (getting the time in has been difficult in itself) that I just want it out of the way. It’s meant to be a piece for my portfolio to demonstrate my understanding of anatomy and recently I’ve been wondering if it was worth it. I’ve noticed that Zbrush has a different field of view to Marmoset (which I’ve been using on my second screen for 3d references) and I think this could have skewed my judgement on the quality of my model. I’m aware that it still needs work (I’ve been struggling with the arms mainly) but it looks far better than what I’d initially thought and I feel a lot closer to finishing it. After tweaking the anatomy some more, I plan on giving him some boxers to finish off. I might also sculpt some jeans and a top if I’m not completely sick of it by then!

I still have a lot of projects that I’d like to do and there’s still a lot of experiments I’d like to try, but I’ve finally decided what project to do next, though it’s a secret for now.  Soon hopefully, the male study will be up on my portfolio and I can get stuck into my new project. I can’t wait! 😀