Thursday, 26 May 2011

Starting the Racetrack

I've done extensive research for my racetrack project and started some concept paintings and 3D models to try out some styles. I'm thinking of designing the track based on 'Cuc Phuong' national park in Vietnam, it really is beautiful. A focus on natural elements and reflections should make it interesting.

Mood Boards:


3D Work:

I think the cel shaded style is something I would like to replicate around the entire track. It is similar to the style of Okami, like an ancient oriental ink painting. I've never attempted anything stylised like this before so this should be a good challenge.

This archway is designed as an entrance to a lake area where the track will be covered by a thin layer of water. Surrounding this area will be traditional fishing boats and rock structures. As the track requires two levels of elevation, I plan to have one half up in the hills surrounded by villages, and the other half near to the water.

45 Minute Paints:

These are awful, I wasn't even going to upload them...

I also went on a trip to the British Museum and the Natural History museum. I've got some pencil sketches from the museums which I'll upload next week when I get hold of a scanner. I think it's safe to say I will be designing my final major project around the Mesozoic era - dinosaurs were incredible and I've collected plenty of reference. It's visits like that which I find really inspirational, maybe becoming a creature artist would be more down my street than a character artist. Making that lizard last week was some of the most fun I've had in 3D.

This week I'd like to make some foliage and traditional Vietnamese plants whilst sticking to the painterly style of the archway. Thick black outlines are cool. Also, instead of doing my 45 minute speed paints, I'm going to concentrate on digital life drawings and drawing friends from life. Thanks for reading please leave some crits!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lizard and Sketches

This week I tried out some new styles and colours for my head a day challenge. I need to paint two extra before next Thursday to make up for my laziness this week! Here they all are in chronological order:

Not so happy with the middle two, but I think the colours in the last one are quite effective. I find older faces easier as the facial lines act as guides and landmarks. The smoothness of young, female faces is something I need to work on as they are less angular and more challenging.

I sketched some of my friends in 20 minute portrait sessions:

I went to the motorbike race at Mallory Park for inspiration for this week's 3D project. Tried to sketch the bikes but they were too fast so just ended up drawing my friends again and myself in the mirror.

My 3D project of the week was my lovely lizard, weighing in at 2,000 triangles, with a 1024 specular, normal and diffuse.

Here he is rigged using 3DS Max CAT (which is awesome fun).

The feet still need some work, just getting to grips with this rigging system. However, I'm very happy with my texturing and unwrapping this week, all the scales have been painstakingly lined up, and I can't see any visible seams. I've learned a lot from this weekly project but I think I need to concentrate on becoming more efficient which just entails a higher quantity of work. By using an iterative process I should be able to iron out my flaws.

This week I plan to make a start on the professional brief for Lee Piper. I'm planning to work on some vehicle concepts, low poly foliage and assets for a racetrack. I'd like to work collaboratively with some friends so I'll see who I can get interested. Thanks again for reading and please leave crits! :)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Dino Statue and Lots of Heads

This past week I've struggled to keep to my 3D schedule; I think one 3D model a week is good enough progress and I'll speed up as I get better. I'll give myself longer for high poly assets like characters, maybe up to three weeks. I managed to keep up to date with my half hour daily speed paints though - here are this week's 'head a day' challenge paintings:

This is my favourite so far, and the most recent. It's awesome how a good expression can give a portrait so much more character!

The final two paintings took one and a half hours each. I allowed myself extra time due to the complexity of the facial expressions. My reference images this week were from and a photographer known as 'JoSchwab' on DeviantArt. I'm going to attempt some figurative speed paints this week, and maybe do some environment work.

Now on to 3D. There's no avoiding it, I'm no good at it and I need to be! I need to compare myself to industry and realise I only have one year to get to that standard. This week I created a model based on a statue concept in James Gurney's brilliant illustrated book, 'Dinotopia'.

I scanned in the concept and painted topology over using Photoshop.

Created a base mesh from the reference in 3DS Max.

Used Zbrush to create surface detail (this needs practice)

Created normal map using Xnormal and baked the map, then painted diffuse using Normal map information for the shadowed areas. The normal map was not as prominent as I wanted it to be, I need to watch some baking tutorials. I also created an AO map.

Final render using Marmoset for the first time, there are some problems with the seams and texture maps in this tool kit which were not present in 3DS max, so I'll watch some Marmoset tutorials.

What did I struggle most with?
Undoubtedly my biggest issue was with unwrapping. Next week I'll try using a new program like Headus UV or UV Layout to help speed up the process. Badly unwrapping my models means the texturing stage really suffers, so I need to get better at creating human readable UV layouts. I also need to practice my texturing - I tend to get distracted about 50% of the way through and don't put in as much time as I should. I also need to look at industry standard normal and specular maps to see what I'm doing wrong. I would like to do more work on this model, but the week is over and I failed my deadline by not completing it. At least lessons have been learned about time management :(

Next week:
I plan to model, texture and rig a low polygon lizard, it should be good practice as I've only rigged human characters before. I'll also try to keep up to date with my daily speed paints.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave any crits :)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The 'Head a Day' Challenge

Every day I'm going to paint a portrait from reference images using Adobe Photoshop. Here are some of the previous paintings I've completed in a 45 minute time limit, I'll upload more this Thursday with my week's progress. I hope to gain a better understanding of facial proportions and skin tones whilst also becoming more efficient in digital art programs.

Day 2 to day 5, I'm seeing some improvements already :)

It begins...

This blog is designed to be my personal motivator. I have a very long summer break from university, beginning now and ending in October, so I need to schedule my time properly to get the best results. I've written out a weekly planner and I'll try my best to stick to it - I'll be uploading my weekly progress every Thursday if everything goes to plan.

I recently had an interview with Rare games in Birmingham for an internship. Their studio is fantastic and I was really happy to be invited for interview, but unfortunately I was not offered the position, mainly due to lack of knowledge in their preferred program Autodesk Maya, but also because my 3D work is not yet up to standard. This summer I hope to learn Maya, improve my knowledge of materials, rigging and Zbrush, but also keep up my practice of 2D art. This is currently my strongest area, but still needs a lot of improvement.

I'll begin by posting up some of what I believe to be the best 2D and 3D work I produced this year so I have something to look back at and compare to.

Life drawing in chalk pastels, 45 minutes

Tribal home in Egypt Photoshop painting, 5 hours

Fruit observations in pencil, 1 hour 30 minutes each.

Low poly Chinese Opera singer, 7 days

Labyrinth Worm, 5 days

Low poly head, 7 days

This week I plan to model and texture one of James Gurney's 'Dinotopia' concepts for a statue using 3DS Max and Zbrush. I'm going to try to adhere to a three day time limit to practice sticking to tight deadlines. I'll write a conclusion after completing the asset to analyse what I need to learn to a higher standard.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy following my progress :)