Make It and Show It – Hand In (23rd May)

This is the last update I will be making on my BAGA303 since today is the hand-in for the project.  Overall, I haven’t been able to fully complete the project as I had hoped to due to my lack of foresight when it comes to the plan I created.  One of the major issues with the plan was that I didn’t take into consideration how monstrous the task of creating a single character could be.  On the one hand, the Alien character took a week to model and two days to do the re-topology.  On the other hand, the Female character took around six weeks to create, then an additional week to do the re-topology. This severely cut into my plans and has resulted in only two of the three characters I had planned to create and texture to be done.

I feel I didn’t take into consideration the issues that could come with creating in ZBrush, the first of which being crashes.  There were multiple occasions where, even during the later stages where I was working on the characters topology where the program would crash without me saving the work I had already done.  This lead to days worth of work being lost in an instant.  While I managed to find a temporary work around during the creation of the female character, it was still an issue that would get in the way of progressing the project.  This wasn’t just an issue in ZBrush either.  As I used 3DS Max to texture of the two models, I still had issues where my work would crash leading me to saving constantly to avoid more crashes during production.

Another setback during production was the fact that multiple files corrupted on my memory stick.  In the end, I just started saving straight to my computers hard drive.  Originally, I was saving to my memory stick to make it easier to carry the files from one computer to another.

The final setback was the stress I was encountering while working on the project.  Overall, I feel it would have been a better idea to have only created two character models rather than three simply because if I had only focused my time on two, I would have had the models finished for display during the summer show.

Summer Show

I have changed my plans as to what I am presenting during the summer show.  Since I haven’t completed enough concept art to warrant a concept art book, I have decided to not create and place on on my table.  I have also decided against displaying a clay model of my characters because creating the model went on the back burner as I worked on the 3D Models.  During production, I felt that it was more important to display my ability to use digital sculpting techniques rather than physical ones.

I have also made changes to my plans when it comes to displaying my characters.  I will only be using one frame displaying the female character since I feel that is the strongest example of my ability to model characters.  It also took the longest to create.  Here is the image that I will be using during the summer show:

Robert_Barrass_Render.jpg

I wont be using the textured models since I feel that the models look better rendered as a turntable in ZBrush then they do rendered in 3DS Max with the textures.  I will be suing these models as part of a showreel to display my skills as an artist.

 

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Make It and Show It – Week 13 (19th May)

During this week I have decided to create texture maps for the characters that I have already worked on the topology for.  My reason for doing so is simply so that I can at least one of the three models textured before the hand in date.  To do this I have used 3DS Max, Photoshop and Xnormal.

In 3DS Max, I have used a number of different tools to try and ensure that the models are ready to be exported into Xnormal.  The first is the selection tool that allows me to automatically highlight N-Gons since XNormal refuses to work with those kinds of polygons.  I did this by selecting the option that allows me to find any faces with more then four corners.  I also used the Unwrap UVW tool to identify the faces that aren’t connected together for whatever reason.  After identifying flaws in the models, I then used the Target Weld tool to join together points that need joining together.

To get a base for my textures, I needed to use XNormal to create both Normal and Occlusion maps for my model.  To make sure it had a framework to work from, I then used the Unwrap UVW tool to create an unwrap of my model.  Afterwords, I exported the model named “(Insert Name Here)_For_Xnormal” so that I knew which models were to be used in XNormal.

After doing all the previous steps, I then import both a high polygon and low polygon model into XNormal.  This way, XNormal creates both Normal and Occlusion maps to be rendered in 3DS Max.  Overall, this process has created fairly useful reference material when it comes to creating textures of my models.

Overall, the creation of my models textures has been reletively mundane.  It mostly involves taking an Occlusion map into Photoshop and placing color over it using the Color option to allow the computer to create both light and dark shades of color.  I then went over the color with a brush to add details to the characters like Lipstick for the female character.  Afterwords, I saved the texture maps as a PNG and imported them into 3DS Max along with the Normal maps to create the bumps on the model.textures.png

Outside of that, there are a hand full of seperate models that have had additional work done to them.  As I mentioned previously, the female characters face has had additional work done to it to layer on color.  Another example would be the bit of pinup art on the side of the Gun.  As I was looking at the model, I found that there really wasn’t anything on the side of the weapon so I decided having a bit of art would look nice.  I was inspired by the various different poses I found on Google image search.  Afterwords, I quickly drew the sketch in a separate file.

Gun Pinup 1

Gun_occlusion_Map.png

Overall, while I am happy with the textures, I won’t be using them as part of the Showreel for the summer show.  Upon reflection, I prefer the ZBrush files simply because they are a lot more detailed than the textured models.

Colour Model Artboard.png

While working on the textures I also came across a couple of issues, most of which revolving around crashes.  3DS Max would crash every so often resulting in lost work.  This is part of the reason why I haven’t managed to create a large amount of texture’s for my other characters.

 

Plymouth College of Art Alumni

Today we had a talk from the Plymouth College of Art Careers Support to give a brief summary of what the Plymouth College of Art Alumni entails.  The benefits of being a Alumni includes access to the Plymouth College of Art work space, online tutorials, networking events which they are planning on trying to spread country wide and finally the ability to attend talks with industry professionals along with the ability to talk about your experience to students so long as the Course Manager allows it.

Overall, I feel that even if I am planning on moving back to Wales after my course has ended, having the support would still be an invaluable asset to me.

Body Chan Model

Body Chan ManikinThe other day, I decided to spend some money on this model only for it to arrive today.  At first, I bought it thinking that I would receive both the male and female variants only to find out after I have paid for both the model and packaging, I had only paid for one model not both.  My reason for purchasing this is because I want to have a better source of reference material.  Overall, the quality of the model seems fine.  Its a little fragile feeling for the price with the plastic used feeling rather cheap (it came to roughly around £40 including postage and packaging).  Also, the left shoulder of the model seems to have popped out at some point between being made and delivered.  I would try to fix this myself but I am too afraid I may just break the arm off.  Another issue is that the hands don’t exactly fit the model that well.  they may need a little widening before use.  When trying to attach the hand that can be used to hold the gun the hand joint fell off so I had to find the hand joint, reattach it using pliers and then widen the gap on the inside of the hand to make it possible to attach it to the arm.  Finally, I feel that the Katana model frequently falls out the models hand.  Aside from these setbacks, I still feel that the model may help in my ability to create future character concept art since it will be a more malleable piece of reference material when compared to my wooden manikin.

 

Pro Indie Dev Conference – Day 1

The first day of the Pro Indie Dev online conference had Mike Bithell (Tomas was Alone, Volume), Ryan Clark (Crypt of the Necrodancer, Incredibots) and Eduardo Lamhunt (Holodrive) give talks about their experience in creating video games.  The talks were fairly informative and packed full of advice for an aspiring Indie developer.

The first talk was given by Mike Bithell who talked about his experience creating the game Tomas was Alone.  The main points I took away from the talk was that it is a good idea to have some kind of constant revenue stream like a job rather than to go fulltime indie expecting to make money off your projects.  He also mentioned that there really isn’t much of a winning formula when creating games because of how over saturated the indie market currently is.  If you work in a team, you need to be useful. Another is that you should clean up your twitter account to avoid looking like an asshole online tarnishing your reputation as a professional.  He also mentioned that you should find spaces where there aren’t really that many games however, the drawback on that is that the platform you have built your game for may fail commercially.  Overall, the points he has really made is that you shouldn’t make Indie games to be successful, you should make them because you want to make them.  Also, that you shouldn’t wait around for someone to tell you to make games, you should just make them.

The second talk was by Ryan Clark who said things in contrast to what Mike Bithell said.  Ryan Clark believes that there is a winning formula and that you can make games that you know will be successful.  An example that he gives is of Darkest Dungeon and how the Art Style stood out to him as something that would make that game successful.  He talked about Crypt of the Necrodancer and the many reasons why perused the project which he described as ‘Hooks’ to draw the player in.  These were the name is a pun, it has a soundtrack by someone who has made successful music in the past, the games art has personality, you can play the game with a none-traditional control setup (a dance pad) and it has a good catchy trailer.  He mentined that it is a good idea to observe trends and figure out what is currently popular or what is going to be popular in the future.  He also mentioned to avoid marketplaces where people only play one specific game like MOBA’s.

The final talk was done by Eduardo Lamhunt who talked about the inner workings of his company.  He mentioned that the company, Bitcake, is a 7 person team.  He talked about how he and his workers both work on the game and do contract work in their spare time.  He also mentioned how he has a PR person who is competent enough to get PR done for the company.  Like Bithell, he mentioned that you shouldn’t just abandon your job to work as an Indie and that you shouold get another job.  He mentioned that games like Undertale is a complete outlier and that it doesn’t represent the entire industry as a whole.  Finally, he mentioned that you should test the game idea before making it.

Overall, the first day of talks has been really useful in terms of informing me on how the Indie scene works.  It will definitely come in useful when it comes to examining whether or not I want to peruse a future in Indie development or if I want to go with a Tripple A company.

Personal Reflection and Going into Year 3

Overall, I feel that the work produced this year has been to a better standard then what was produced last year.  My skills with creating characters has definitely improves, so has my use of character silhouettes.  I also feel that if I was to put more work into my level designs, they would look much better then they currently are.

One major aspect about this year that needs to be improved is my time management skills.  A large portion of my problems coming from this year is a lack of planning when it comes to creating artwork for games.  While I say this every year when it comes to time management, it may be useful to set up some kind of document to help manage the amount of time spent working on an aspect of the project.

Another major setback for this year was the lack of home access I had to vital programs such as ZBrush.  With how much time I spent working on the character models and not on the level, I wasted a good few weeks not doing anything constructive to the level work.  This is something that needs to be resolved going into Year 3

Something else I need to start doing is frequently uploading my work to my social medias to expand my audience reach.  It may also be a good idea to actually work on ensuring that my personal development blog is continuously updated and worked on.

Plans for Summer

Given we have around 18 weeks or 126 days, over the Summer break it may be useful to work on some of my skills for next year and to teach my self the software I will need for the project I am planning on.  Some of the tasks I need to do next year are:

Practice Conceptual art for characters and environments

While I am mostly interested in the character aspect of game design, it would be useful to be able to design environments too.  Some of my plans as to how I could improve both of these are:

  • Draw characters with randomly generated character descriptions
  • Draw real people
  • Draw real landscapes
  • Draw character T Poses

Overall, by practicing over the holidays, I will hopefully improve on what I have already done this year.

Practice modeling characters and environments

It may also be important to work on my 3D modeling skills since it seems to be a requirement for the job that I am planning on doing in the future.  This may mean that I will have to buy ZBrush so I have been looking around for the cheapest price for the program.  So far, I have found it going for around £345 for an Educational License and £550 for a Personal Licence.  Getting ZBrush will be useful since I could also use it to help create assets out of classes since that was one of the major setbacks I had this year.

Learn more Unity

While my plans for the future aren’t going to involve much use of Unity as a program, it Character_Ideawould be nice to know the program so that I could create something to display any work I do next year in, rather than just having a static model for people to look at.  I could do this by looking up tutorials on the internet and using them to help build better characters

Work on my ideas

Overall, I don’t have much of an idea of what I would like to build next year.  I have something in mind but nothing concrete just yet.  That is another task I could spend the holiday doing; refining the idea that I currently have.  I have already worked on a little bit of art work based around the idea but aside from that, I still need to work on it.

Character and Level Hand-In

Overall, my opinion on my personal development throughout BAGA 201 and BAGA 202 has been alright.  Not good, not bad but a plain alright.  My problem with both level and character is that I tend to have a ‘if I can do it, I’ll do it now and if I can’t do it, I’ll do it later’ attitude to my workflow.  This is evident in most of the work that I have done throughout the course of this year.

Character

Model_render

Generally, I like the work that has been produced in character.  I feel that the amount of time I spent on it has shown in the quality of both the Princess and Main Character ZBrush models because of the amount of detail that is contained in both.  Unlike level, I spent a long time working on looking at different items of clothing, working on character concept art and making the models which shows in the final models of the characters.

Final_Renders

However, if there is one thing I have to say I dislike about the characters I produced, it would be the texture work on the main character in that it took too long to finally texture the model meaning that I spent more time on that rather than working on other projects.  I think it would be useful to try and get use to making models have a lower topology in ZBrush over the summer break simply because spending weeks just working on one model is not something I want to do next year.  It may also be worth buying ZBrush to ensure I have the program at home for ease of access.

Level 

sneliawn.png

I am quite ashamed and disappointed at how level ended up.  I just felt early on that I couldn’t work on level concept art so I didn’t work on the level, which then lead to me working up until the deadline just texturing the level rather then having it done a week in advance.  This is something I definitely want to improve going into next year.  This is not to mention my lack of level fly-through because of both a lack of time to make the fly-through and a lack of knowledge on how to do the fly-through.

I think putting some time aside to learn perspective and how to photobash may be useful over the summer break.  I should also make time to learn more Unity just to make sure I have some understanding of the program so that next year, I can at least try and have a level done for the end of year show.

Visiting Artist – Jack Eves (Rebellion Games) teaches Photobashing

Learned how to use some techniques to photobash in photoshop.  Basically what I learned was that the best way to photobash is to block out the areas that made up the area that you were trying to build using black and white, then to overlay the photos on top of the black and white and add highlights were necessary.

While doing this, I was doing work on my Blue Peter Model for BAGA 201.  Upon reflection, I should have been following along with what he was saying on screen…

Level Presentation (19/01/2017)

On the 19th of January I had to give a presentation on the ideas that I have created for my level for the BAGA 202: Level Creation Project.  Overall, the presentation was 23 slides long, showing the influences for the game that I am creating along with level and enemy designs.

Overall, the presentation was a success in some ways.  some criticism that I would give about the presentation is the fact that I was not confident in the work that I was presenting.  During the presentation I criticised some of my work for not being that good.  However, according to some feedback, I now know that the problem may just be from me being overly critical of my work.

Some of the feedback I got was that the level sketches need to be refined.  Anther piece of feedback I received was that I needed to refine the design for the clown.  Since it is some of the first concept art that I created for the game, the final design looks like its apart of a different game compared to the artwork done for the main character and princess.

Something that was well received was the silhouettes that I created for the main character.   Apparently they look good.  A criticism against my criticism of my skills was that the anatomy of the characters are fine.  Personally, I feel that some of the concept art that has been produced for the main character and the Princess have some proportions that look wrong.  That may just be me being overly critical of my work.

Some research that I was recommended to do was on games such as Mafia 3 and Left 4 Dead 2.

Visiting Artist – Jack Eaves

The basic gist of this presentation was that the industry is hard to get into and that you should tailor your portfolio to the company that you want to work with.  Also that just because you may apply for a company who’s games you aren’t exactly interested in doesn’t meant that you aren’t going to enjoy working for them.

He also showed off some of his work.  One thing I learned from him was how art is treat in the games industry, than anything designed or made in a design studio is then the property of the company that you created it for.