Category: Reflective Post

Industry Workshop Demo Day & Self Reflection

I was at the IW_Demo_Day yesterday and watched a variety of artists doing live demos showcasing their workflows. Needless to say it was inspiring to see the best at their craft, and helped ‘de-mystify’ a lot of their processes.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a portfolio review from one of my favourite artists, Noah Bradley at the IW_Demo day. He remarked on the strength of my sketches, but weakness of painting. I’ve received similar feedback from Frank Victoria, although he was not quite as forceful in his insistence that I divorce myself from my beloved linework. As such, I’ve taken a 30 day hiatus from drawing, and instead will be painting in my daily images. Identifying a weakness and working on it is crucial for artistic development.

Here is day 1, and the rest will be on my Instagram as the challenge progresses

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Artist Profile – Ted Beargeon

I’ve been blown away by the amazing concepts of Ted Beargeon, and in particular his approach to the presentation of these designs. As just one good example on his ArtStation profile, his Warhammer 40k Orcs…

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He uses symmetry to a strong degree in his work, which makes his iterative process easier. This is something that I have been taking into my own practice with my work as well, I just need to keep practicing my painting skills to reach a higher level of rendering:

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Artist Profile – Pascal Blanché

Pascal Blanché is a Senior Art Director at Ubisoft Montreal, his personal 3D work is pretty striking for its rich vibrancy of colours and materials.

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In a lot of his work he discusses experimentations with shaders and has a lot of very dynamic usage of colour. In a 2015 interview with 3Dtotal magazine he discusses his process, which is a combination of kitbashing, sculpting and playing with shaders.

I decided to have a quick go at something similar, and kitbashed together a fox skull (from public domain 3D scan data), as well as some ‘splash’ brushes from BadKing and started pushing shapes around in ZBrush. I then imported to Keyshot and played around with material settings.

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Although not as bold as Pascal in terms of vibrancy of colour choices, this was my first time playing outside of default materials within keyshot and tinkering with settings, and I feel that I can afford to be more experimental in the future.

Toothless the Vampire

So, following on from a fairly successful run of 3D character sketches (successful in the sense that I’m now far more comfortable jumping straight into 3D and pulling and pushing a sphere into something visually interesting, I decided to spend a few days on one creature and get a design together.

For the Final Major Project I’ll be once again working alongside Lee (characters) and Joe (environments), and we have a big scope planned. A lot of it will involve creatures, so this is the first sculpt of one of them that I’d like to appear in the game.

At the beginning of this I was shown the work of Jelmer Boskma, a fantastic Vancouver-based creature designer, whose aesthetic definitely helped shape the character

Base sculpt:

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Refining shapes (the name ‘Toothless’ is now a lie as it has two teeth):

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Refining ear shape:

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Torso & test rendering in Keyshot with skin shader materials and default HDRI

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Posed model rendered out. Taking a note from my earlier observations in artists work (Tom Rhodes) that posed characters make for more visual interest:

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Views – screenshots in ZBrush:

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Model turnaround:

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This is still a work in progress, and I will be revisiting the project and pushing it further as the FMP progresses, but for now I feel that I have a solid base to begin with.

Kitbashing & Creating IMM Brushes

Observing the work of other concept artists and designers who work just in 3D, such as the masterful Vitaly Bulgarov, it’s evident to me that they’ve generated a lot of speed from the ‘kitbashing’ technique, whereby they use pre-modelled assets in a new and interesting way as part of their designs to create something new. It’s not a technique that’s unique to  digital 3D modelling – famously it was used in the original Star Wars films to create a lot of detail on their ships.

Vitaly is renowned for this, but he spends a lot of time actually making the assets himself. Although this technique is primarily suited to hard-surface designs, I wondered if I could take the theory and apply it to organic forms, and in doing so utilise a ‘kitbash’ method to creature design.

So I made some IMM curve brush tentacles following this tutorial

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Applying them to a model…

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And another set based on Starfish Tentacles

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I hope that investing the time into creating these assets will pay dividends in future projects.

Creature Sculpts – 3D Challenge

Never be comfortable!

The importance of challenging myself to pursue new methods of working always has yielded results, however small. With some self reflection, I realised that although I had an understanding of 3D with the Red chases Blue project and Carnivorous Fungal Colony previous projects, these had outcomes that were in 3D after a lot of 2D development and sketch work towards them.

I wanted to change this and do more 3D ‘sketching’, so I’ve set about doing creature sketches (as it’s what I’m naturally drawn to).

These were sketched out in ZBrush and then rendered in Keyshot using basic default materials and HDRI spheres (the intent of the project is just to focus on modelling, so default materials are just fine to showcase the work).

Concepting in 3D is not a new prospect to me, but the thought of doing it straight away and replacing a sketch stage is fairly alien and takes me outside of my comfort zone. However, it does provide the benefit of creating much more intricate designs straight off the bat, and causes me to design and think in a way that would be slightly different to when I concept sketch straight in 2D.

I came across this idea from a fantastic tutorial by Henning Sanden and Morten Jæger on creature design, where they discuss a process of starting a design in 3D, then refining the silhouette and shapes in 2D with an iterative paintover, and then taking the design back into Zbrush to finish it up.

Mech Design

The focal point of this environment is a semi-constructed Mech that our Cyberpunk mechanic character is working on. I knew that I wanted to take this into 3D and do a paintover, based on the same methods that Peter Konig and Adam Baker utilise.

I had my Mech design, with a variety of different materials that I wanted to render, and I wanted to tackle these using a combination of 2D and 3D.

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So here is the base model of the mech with the stomach covering plate removed to show the inner ‘organs’.

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I discovered that Keyshot had a function whereby I could assign materials to specific subtools, so I had a ‘cover plate’ section that went over the stomach, which was it’s own subtool and had a glass material assigned to it. Everything else was a combination of matte/gloss metals with colours that matched the scheme of the room.

I then took it into photoshop and used a photo of a leather jacket warped and stretched over the torso to give it the final ‘material’ layer, including a corset type fitting on the back.

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I also looked at the possibility of creating a custom HDRI sphere for the correct reflections in the scene, but it came down to a timing issue, and so the lighting I just painted on based on my room colours. As it’s only a concept, and the lighting is not hugely complex within this scene, I think I got away with it.