Sunday, 30 November 2014

Dynamic Duo I - All the Dichotomy FTW

New project again! This time though we a centering around creating characters, two of them in fact. This project is titled the 'Dichotomous Duo Project' and we have been tasked to concept two characters that work as a duo but contrast in different ways using shape language, colour and values. We also have to take forward one of the designs through to a textured model within a reasonable tri budget.

The contrast of the characters is the most important part of this project as we have to make sure that they have personality and look like they have storytelling potential, in a nutshell it's making sure they are different enough while still making them look like they belong in the same world. Some good examples are Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc, R2D2 and C3P0 and Batman and Robin.

I started by looking on Pinterest and through my reference image folders to put together a load of stuff I like and see if there was anything cool that jumped out, I also looked at some fashion and a lot of designs from animated studios to see if I can find anything that's a bit different.

I written down a list of opposite keywords and did some other brainstorming in the hope that I can narrow down my options of what I liked, I tried to see if I can make any connections between these different themes and cut out anything that didn't work. I ended up with 3 things I wanted to research: 60s, Pirates, and pulp science fiction.

Going by a piece of advice from Mike Kelly I created a moodboard for each theme and then created a mega moodboard for everything that I used to draw connections between things and filter out even more of the clutter until I got a more refined idea. Eventually the idea taken shape as doing 60s era 'Pirate Radio' characters that could be radio presenters, with the sci fi element as a possible backdrop. What would it be like if a duo of 60s radio presenters were broadcasting tunes down to earth from a rogue orbiting satellite? How could I make it work?

Joint moodboard 


I began by just doing some loose sketches and some shape exploration, I did a load of thumbnails aswell and tried using the shapes and size to help come up with a duo of silhouettes that work well together.

A handful of thumbnails
Handful of sketches
Next I tried to develop the thumbnails using the sketches as a basis for the details, I realised this approach didn't quite work though as I lost a lot of the original energy which was in the thumbnails. So I created value buildups instead so I could rely on the separation of values to create details.

The drawover designs which didn't quite work out
Value buildup from thumbnails, this helped create details while still keeping the energy of the thumbnails.
From these I created a basic line drawing with using the supporting sketches and reference to improve the design.

Value finished plus line drawing after tweaks
I then did some basic colour dropping on my design with some value adjustments to fix it, I then picked a colour scheme from these.

Final colours before feedback
Next up, my response to feedback, and reflecting on my designs. :) Oh and maybe some 3d.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sentry Turret III - FACEMELTING!

Ok I imported my turret into engine and set it up with the blueprint template which was provided. It was good but there was something missing... the lava. At the moment it was just firing cubes so I had to create a projectile mesh and an emissive material that I can use to emulate the lava. However this still wasn't quite enough to make it seem like the turret was shooting blobs so I created a lava particle effect using the same projectile mesh and attached that to the projectile blueprint aswell as a pointlight so it lights the ground up underneath while it shoots.

Some other things I added:

  • 3 Extra Barrels (4 Total)
  • Changed rotation speed and firing rate with testing
  • Added sound but then later removed because it would not play correctly with the firing rate and the sound did not fit the blobs as it was ripped of the first person controller.
  • Ejector socket and blueprint removed to fit design
  • Created a room that better shown off the emissive qualities of the turret and particles
The results were pretty darn cool.

Rapid Fire Action! Fun for all ages! Facemelt your neighbour's cat!
Here is a shot showing off the firing in action:

Action shot of the blobs in flight.

The hardest part of the engine was trying to get the lava working properly in the tanks as I experimented with different ways to get the blobs in the tanks animating like a proper lavalamp. The material was also another pain in the ass as I wanted the colour to change as the lava rose to the top of the tank but after a lot of experimentation I couldn't get it working like I wanted, the best I could do was get the colour to change slightly over the Z of each individual mesh.


After a lot of trial and error on different things I came to a result that looked decent and reflected my original concept. If I were to do something different I would say I would spend less time on concepting, which would have given me more engine time aswell as spending more time on the high poly model which caused a lot of problems. The issue with the high poly model is the bake generated seams at the edges where I wanted the nice chamfering between faces but it didn't work out, also a lot of detail was lost in the normal from some of the smaller bevels which I think is due to to the details being too small for the bake to pick it up. Something to take forward I guess.

When talking about the engine I will say that I love the blueprinting and particle system. I had a lot of fun tinkering with all the options and actually the engine stuff is my most favourite part of the projects so far, I really want to expand my knowledge in this area further because UE4 is awesome.

So with that, heres a promotional poster. Facemelter 3000 is coming your local toy retailer in time for the holidays!

Should be posting a proper post-mortem and self-evaluation later this week aswell, So stay tuned as always.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sentry Turret II - Final Concepting and Modelling

Hi again! Continuing my concepting work from last week I created some more refined designs and made some value buildups based from them. I then used these to create some basic blockmeshing.

Refined Thumbnails with multiple iterations
Value buildups, here the turret is beginning to take more shape
For the blockmesh I imported the value buildups onto a plane in 3dsmax and created some simple geometry and then kitbashed some different ideas again from the bottom row, the iteration is strong in this one. :D

I got some opinions from other students on which design  looked better, I found that the bottom right corner design kitbashed with the second along from the bottom left looked best and I taken this to colour.

Colour Comps

The colour stage was an important one on this project as I wanted to have that awesome, 'space age' 80s plastic toy feel, plus it was a personal goal of mine to make something super colourful for once so I drawn from from a tonne of colour palettes to get something cool. 

You better like colour comps because here is the motherload... 

Colour Comps I - First draft of colour schemes, at this point just trying different things out to see what would work and what I liked.
Page 2, just variations on the previous page - messed around with inverting the colour placement and using Adobe Kuler to correct the palettes.

More of the same, some of the colour schemes here reminded me of the kind of colours that retro video games consoles used to be (especially the top left and bottom left)
After these I created on more page where I gathered together the different variations I liked and compare them to the idea I was going for, I was originally going to go with glow-in-the-dark plating but then decided the light on the lava might be enough as a highlight, also I wanted to give my sentry turret a retro Nerf gun kinda feel with the decals and colouring so this allowed me to focus my colour design down.

Final Colour Comps - Here the colours are more narrowed and I picked my final palette for moving forward, I got a piece of advice from my teacher about not going to saturated with all the colours to it doesn't overpower the palette, this is done by staying within an imaginary circle within the colour picker so the saturation isn't too high on all the other colours.
Next I created some Decal comps on the colour scheme I chosen, I referred back to my moodboard for this stage to create some designs that scream '80s toy' and tried to replicate some of the iconography on 80s posters and toy boxes.


Next I used the blockmesh in 3ds max to create a multitude of render passes for the concept paintover: this included the creation of a 'clown render' which is just flat colours applied to the object which could be used to mask out different materials when painting over in photoshop. I rendered out this plus a lighting pass, a flat value pass, a mask and a ZDepth pass which I can use as a mask to control fog effects or DOF in photoshop.

Here is my final paintover, plus a little embellishment text. :)

Final Paintover concept.


Next stage was creating the model. A stretch goal I had for this project was to create a high poly bake using turbosmooth in 3ds max so I can add on really nice smoothing to the plastic and nice surface details like bolts, cables and vents. Most of the work was already done on the model from where I did the blockmesh so all I had to do was cleanup the mesh and add details from the paintover. 

Then I used the low poly as I base for the high poly... which was extremely hard, so far on this project the high poly has been the  most difficult and time consuming thing. I just hate how turbosmooth affects topology so much, though on the flipside it does help me learn what good topology is meant to be like. :D


Texturing was also easier as I could just colour drop from my concept and copy my decals straight over, the later thumbnails were based from the blockmesh which made transferring the decals super easy. Most of the effort was taken to creating the emissives and to the roughness maps, to which I added a darker value towards the edges of the metal areas for a more worn effect.

Wireframe model with texture applied. 
At this point my turret is ready to move into engine, apart from some some work on the texture and the high poly. Now time for the UE4 cool stuff where I can facemelt things with lava...

Next issue! Engine time...