Friday, November 25, 2011

Beast of England: 3D Renders

For the sake of my own improvement and reflection I decided to do a brief write up. I spare a lot of details but this is a shortened version of my review and explanation of the process of creation:

These are the final renders for my portfolio game character. There were a lot of successes while working on it but also a lot of failures. Although the concepts weren't as thorough as they could have been, I feel like I didn't completely capture the gritty, detailed and unique feel of the design. While I focused in on detail like skin pores and fabric, I could have spend more time on larger details.

As mentioned some of the shortcomings are due to me putting a cut off on production. I was dragging too much due to my professional work consuming a lot of my time. So I had to stop at some point and make the best of the sculpt in the texturing process which went well. It is missing some of the large details that would make the character feel more iconic. Particularly I could have spent more time in the tattoo patterns which could have informed the design of the clothing and accessories. It would have been cool to put more time into a distinct design that could have been worked into carvings into the handle, patterns in clothes and a logo on the belt. That way the clothing would have a better balance of positive and negative space, making that area of the character pop a little more. Currently as I see it, nothing is very striking about the characters attire.

I was happy with the effect of the butchered pig mask. While under pressure of a self inflicted deadline I was able to churn out a decent sculpt. The meaty parts underneath the sculpt could have benefited from more attention and time. The eyes, ears and skin came out decent. The mask as a whole does stand out and does an acceptable job at getting the idea of the characters strangeness across. It is a bit eerie and a bit intimidating which was the point. As always, some more time and also better planning on my part could have really put the character over the top in quality. Live and learn.

This sheet is a overview of the characters production stages. How it looks leaving Maya, how it looked sculpted and painted in ZBrush and how it looks when put back together in Maya. While I'm still learning a lot and figuring out my personal  production pipeline, I feel good about my texturing process. I am getting better at really getting the most out of it. I am now able to make up for shortcomings in sculpting and also making additions that help bring the materials to life. Still need work on nailing down the unique look and feel of different materials (smooth skin versus rough skin, denim versus clothe versus leather etc). However I definitely feel I'm getting closer. My work flow in this area is smoother which is a step in the right direction.

Currently, I bring my character into ZBrush and get the sculpt as close to final as I can. Recently I have been saving things like seams, some buttons and minor details for a script called Ndo in Photoshop that generates a normal map. I can bring in a photo of a button, place it and generate the sculpt detail that way. After I finish the sculpt I polypaint it in ZBrush and try and get it as close to my desire look as possible. I even paint in hints of Ambient Occlusion. 

After that I bounce the altered mesh back into Maya to lay out the UV's (My next progression is taking time to retopo the mesh to maximize the efficiency of the baking process). Once that is done it goes back to ZBrush and X Normal so I can bake out maps. I bring in the maps into Photoshop and start filtering in some photo textures, painting in details and fixing any weird hiccups. For this I actually bounce it back and forth between Photoshop and ZBrush to make sure there are no seams in the texture.

Finally I set up my lights for mental ray rendering. This go around I got a lot of help from fellow Columbia College Alumn Ryan Blake. We work together on a lot of things and he is a great artist as well as a great eye to have for an outside perspective (check out is work here

That was a longer write up than I expected. kudos if you made it through the boring details. I recently completed a wave of work so stay tuned for plenty of updates.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Beast of England: Rough concepts

Below are composites of older concept sheets for a game character I decided to develop for my portfolio. They were done over the summer. It is based on a comic idea I have filed away and may work on in the future after my current projects our wrapped up. I think the character has a lot of potential in her back story and I could easily see yet another revisiting of the concept. The images cover everything from early sketches and silhouettes all the way to some what final concepts. Usually a proper concept sheet would have  the character from multiple angles, but through out the process of making the character I was very busy with my contract work. Thus some corners were cut.

Looking back on the concepts I see so many issues that I could have handled better. However the last 6 months have been a great time of learning and can't wait to start my new concept and do it right. I will have more time to work on it which should render even better results which has me excited.

I will be posting the Maya and Z Brush renders in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Free Sculpt and Poly Paint

These are renders of a sculpt that started with me playing around with a blob in Z Brush for fun. It went from a demon, to soldier, to alien and ended up being this old pioneer looking guy. I cut and slapped layers on until I started to find a silhouette I liked and pushed that until it developed into a stylized bust.  

The sculpt took a little over an hour and a little over an hour for the poly paint. I then went back after showing some people and put a couple more hours into it. I was happy with the result so I had no issue going back and refining it.

As I got a clear vision of what he was going to look like I started thinking of it as a rough concept for a nemesis to my game character I'm currently working on (almost finished with it. I will post it here). It didn't get to far into the territory but the branding on his neck and streak of grayish hairs is a hint of me working that out a bit.

I'm currently rigging and posing my current game character. So once I finalize that I will post up some renders of the new portfolio piece.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Challenge Day 15: Memory

Wish I could have out in more time but work was picking up. This one I had fun and when with more of Tex Avery (Droopy/Looney Tunes) and Kohn Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) influence. The slapstick cartoons and animators had a huge influence in why I do what I am doing. This is no longer an actual memory for it has slipped out of my conscious mind. However there is still photo evidence of me at 4 years old or so, being forced to dress as a devil and hating it so much I began to bawl like a baby. Maybe this is why I hated dressing up for Halloween, outside of Ninja costumes of course.