Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mortal Kombat X: Flying Oni


(The Flying Oni reigns death from above and wonders why Skeletor doesn't call him anymore.)

     Taking concepts to the 3D stage can be fun. It helped improve the ability to sculpt as well as concept for 3D. Netherrealm's Character Artist team is insanely talented and being able to get their feedback was critical. Every sculpt was a step forward and their guidance was a big part of that. Reaching out for constant feedback outside of the usual set of eyes is important. Sometimes someone seeing something out of context is very revealing. The truth of a piece of work can be revealed in a passing statement. Most critiques grow from the initial gut reaction.

(The back view of the sculpt with some snazzy lighting and comping to try and make up for the shortcomings of the sculpt.)

        I was very lucky, I can get bored quickly when working on a task if there isn't something else to juggle alongside of it. Most of the time it is a matter of soldiering through that. However, at Netherrealm it was fun to get sudden shifts in gears from 3D to 2D. There was no getting bored. There were often sudden changes in subject matter and tight deadlines that required quick thinking. Reaching out to awesome artists like Ian Nuad and Jonathon Sabella really helped push the quality of sculpts. 

(Close up shots of the sculpt with quick shifting in values to identify changes in material. When comping a sculpt you realize quickly all the touch up in the world won't save you. This sculpt uffers from a lack of balance between noise and rest. Something to consider for the next one.)

     This sculpt ended up being changed quite a bit after I left. This is probably due to the mistake of  piling on too many busy details. At first it was disappointing, but looking at the final changes it made complete sense. The design seen here calls for some extra work in weighting and rigging. The bone plating on the torso is a tricky area and the segmented jaw requires a specialized rig. All fine, if this were a more of a major player in regards to screen time. The final design simplified the body and face which makes for a shorter pipeline to the engine. Stylistically the darker shade and glowing elements read better in context of the scene. This design had a better chance of survival if I put a little more thought it to potential technical issues that become bigger issues on tightening schedules. Simpler design does not mean less design, in some cases it means smarter more efficient design. The other solution would have been to put in extra hours to rig and weight the creature myself, unfortunately I had to move onto other tasks which also required extra hours.

(Quick turnaround of the full sculpt. A ground element and a little more time on the pose could help improve presentation. At this point this is an old piece and figured time would be better spent on newer pieces currently in development.)

    Dusting this off and reviewing it leads to quite a few cringing faces. The large wings will establish a strong shape, but designing the silhouette so it is equally as strong without wings could have helped. The balance between areas of rest and noise also could use more nuance. Although I am not satisfied with the end result I am satisfied with the step forward it represented. I have a bit of way to go with my sculpting but have way more tools at my disposal. Hoping to finish up some new pieces in the next month or so. I'm coming out of a 6 month hiatus from sculpting so looking forward to firing up that part of the brain. 

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