Saturday, 31 October 2015

Weapons project 3 - Getting to grips with substance painter

So after all the hassle last week with the high poly and the reconcepting I finally got into the texturing stage and baked had all my maps baked out.

This is the first time I've made a high poly model which actually worked, thank god. The normal map came out reasonably well and it makes the model look remarkably smoother. I added some basic material separation to the model inside substance painter just to get an idea of what it might look like.

The next stage was just making sure everything had the right materials. This required some repainting of the ID maps to fix baking issues plus adding in separation according to normal map details, for example the vent on the side of the saw.

 The decals were very fun to create, I created them all in photoshop and then used projection tool in painter to lay them onto the model, as you can see I did this with the dice above and the stickers below. The stickers I enjoyed in particular, I was very tempted to try and get them printed off as actual stickers! 

 Texturing is admittedly my weakest area, so I got a lot of feedback form the tutors on what to do with it. I was told to include more wear in areas where it will get put down or hit along with some more general wear. This was quite a hard thing to do as if I went too far with the grunge then it might kill the look of the gun but it still needed some extra eye-candy, I continued to add wear and then take bits away to keep the gun within the semi-stylized ballpark. This is something I may end up correcting more for the polish week.

After some more polish I moved the gun over the marmoset and did my renders, the rest here is just an art dump. :)

Project Conclusion

This project has been quite an interesting one and a massive learning experience, it was a real lesson in management and I have learnt some technical skills that I have been looking to learn for ages. I planned this as a warmup project to learn some new techniques, before moving onto the bigger environments. The high poly workflow and using things like substance painter will become extremely useful when it comes to the high poly sci-fi environment.

My next project however will be quite different. I will be working on a low poly, hand painted environment so I can go back and learn some more basic texturing skills and quick asset modelling. There are some basics like colour and form I need to brush up on too, a handpainted project seemed like the best way to do that. Good preparation for FMP I hope. :)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Weapon project 2 - Making things interesting

In this project I am so far enjoying my progress and how quick I am getting through a lot of the stages, but earlier in the week I did have a bit of a hurdle: mainly relating to the high poly model and the design direction.

Last week I got into modelling fairly quick so I could focus on kitbashing the gun from the concept and correct the design using the references I put together on my moodboard but there were a few issues, I still only had a side view which didn't help in terms of fleshing out the 3d model and overall the design still looked boring to me, I also had no idea how to attach some of the parts of the gun together so I decided to take a day to go back and do some overpaints.

After receiving some criticism from Stas (one of our tutors here at DMU) I looked more into improvised weaponry and how they are assembled, so I created another refboard that I could apply to some paintovers. This fixes the main criticism of my model so far in that it still felt like separate pieces.

 The model before overpaints, here I did some parts in high poly based of the earlier concept I did but I hit a brick wall with how the design actually fit together because of the flat nature of the concept.

That was the moodboard for the bolts included with some other reference images. Casto (Another tutor) said I should try and make the design a bit more wacky, which is kind of where I wanted to go with it anyway. I looked at weapons from Sunset Overdrive and childhood favourite Kids Next Door with their '2x4 technology' in order to gain some design inspiration.

I suddenly had fresh idea of what the gun could be, and then I stumbled across an image of a kids bike which I included into the design, I had the idea of maybe using a sawn off bicycle handle bar for the top handle of the gun which uses the brake pad rewired into the saw to activate it rather than a typical switch, making the weapon functional but still keeping it fairly outlandish to use.


 These are my paintovers, I experimented with some different colour schemes and directions but found the blue and yellow to be a bit more all-rounded and it has a nice summery feel to it which is quite nice. The sketch to the side is what I envision a power source looking like, with a drill battery fitted into a pouch on a belt, with a cable attached connecting it to the gun.

High Poly

Once I had the concept done to a nice standard I could continue modelling, it started by blocking out the other main sections on the model first that were added in the concept before moving onto the complex geometry of the highpoly. 

The important part was that the main forms were completely blocked out this time and that the model felt bolted together, the extra ref definitely helped here! 

The next step after this was mainly detailing and adding in remaining support loops. For details I created some little nuts and bolts and placed them onto the mesh using object paint which was a really speedy process. The majority of time was actually spent doing the support loops and making sure the high poly smoothed correctly on the saw engine and length, there was some really complex geometry here and I had to redo it a few times to make sure it was ok. Switching wireframes on and off constantly has become second nature after this project.

The following image I believe is my final wireframe apart from the hanging cord which I later decided to delete, the next step was to apply material IDs, Jonah told me a way that I could bake normals in 3ds max by matching material ID so I dont have to waste time exploding my mesh or go through having to bake my normals in substance painter.

The next few steps I'm going to breeze through a bit quicker as there is a lot in the following steps, next are my material ids for normal matching, my low poly I created very quickly using a graphite tool in max called optimize (Thanks again Jonah!) and then a test little bake once unwrapping was complete. :)


The bake was just of the engine part but it has almost pretty much the exact look I wanted with the soft edged plastic mold, the normal map really does makes a difference in the model, last time I attemped this was during my sentry turret project but it didn't really work out too well as the normals smoothed the mesh incorrectly. If the rest of the normals bake as well as this did then I will be happy.

My schedule

I know this post is getting long but this is the last bit I promise. :) My planning was a bit on the slow side towards the start of this project, I just wanted to dive in and model things, after the little hickup with the concepting though I reorganised myself and planned my days out a bit better. 

My current goal is making sure texture maps are baked out for monday (They are baking as I type so should be good) ready to begin texturing. Here is my plan alongside where I actually am each day. This allows me to see how much work I have to do to catch up by a certain time, plus I get a little leeway for the weekends incase things don't work out 

I think that brings me up to speed, I'll do a quick image post maybe when base materials are applied tomorrow afternoon.

Until then, see ya.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Third year! Not long now until I get forcefully booted into proper adulthood, the course so far has flew by but at the moment I am simultaneously scared and excited for what this year brings. We have got some more staff this year and since we are based in the upstairs studio now we get a bit more time with tutors aswell to make sure we are progressing as much as we should, which is extremely welcome.

The project

Our first project of the year is up to us, kinda. We have a list of briefs ranging from realistic to stylised covering different subject areas, we pick three and spend 3 weeks on each project giving us plenty of things to work on. I was originally looking at the realistic briefs but the problem with them was that there wasn't too much creative freedom to change up the scenery. One of the briefs was to create a New York rooftop as an fps map using provided reference which to me personally is a bit boring since it's a type of environment which is done to death on games and portfolios and there isn't many ways you can shake up a New York rooftop apart from adding the same old air vent units.

So what did I pick? My first project is a semi-stylised apocalyptic weapons project which I will go into more detail with below. The second is stylised shop front that will have prebaked lighting which should be quite different from my usual stuff and the third is  project where we are given a sci-fi-esque doorway and we have to create what could be beyond it in high poly and with procederal texturing. The last one I want to play around with a bit and not just make it a generic sci-fi corridor so I'm going to try and create some zany concepts to compensate.

So for my first project I will be working on a semi-stylised weapon in the vein of dead-rising and bioshock. My current progress is creating the highpoly model from the concept but using good reference to fill in the design blanks.

I started by choosing one of the base designs provided in the brief then finding related reference images, I tried to look at some different kinds of tools and machinery in a hope to bulk out the design holes. One consideration was how do I power the saw on the gun so I thought of ways I could use improvised technology within the concept, my idea was to have the gun wired up to a drill battery or something similar which could be strapped onto the player. I also tried to keep stylistic references from the games mentioned in the brief so the gun stays in that visual style.

Reference board used to fill in design blanks and stylistic direction.
Here is my current progress, showing some previous iterations of the model which used different methods of holding. They didn't keep the silhouette as much as they should have thus I have my current design. The most recent model here in the chain uses high poly modelling to create extra details.

Design iterations.

At the moment the main challenge is making sure the model has enough visual interest, a lot of the design could be done through overpainting the 3d model once complete and rely on texture work. That's where I will be putting a lot of my focus, I will be texturing using substance painter which I'm hoping will give me the flexibility I need. I'm aiming to have my high poly model finished within the next few days and then I can review it and then begin the process of creating the low poly. :)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Art Dump #2

Here is a quick warmup model I did based from the thrusters on Nostromo from Alien, taken round 15 minutes modelling and 30 minutes playing around with the renderer. Used the architecture and design mental ray shader with smooth edges so I can get a high poly look without creating the additional geometry.

Inspired by the thrusters on the Nostromo from Alien (1979)
And here is a concept painting I did a few weeks back for a potential environment project, I want to come back to this as I like the idea but at the moment I don't think it's wise to approach a whole environment in my own time, smaller things seem to be the way forward at the moment. The idea was to create an old indoor swimming pool that a bunch of kids use as a sort of 'den', I used the colour script paintings from Toy Story 3 as an inspiration.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Teleporters and EGX

Hi again, remember last time when I said this blog will be updated more frequently? That hasn't happened as much as I planned at all, despite actually writing out some posts I just never uploaded them because I thought they didn't have enough content. Anyway, it turns out I actually do have quite a bit to cover. This week I have started my third year at De Montfort University, plus over the last few weeks I have been up to a few things like going to EGX in Birmingham for example. (Which was incredible by the way.)

I have been working on some new stuff recently, namely a remake of a teleporter design I made in my second year of college. I decided to try it again using high poly techniques which is what I'm trying to wrap my head around at the moment. The plan is to use substance painter and designer aswell to texture so I can cover a bit of learning in those programs. Here is a early render though: :)


I went to my first ever expo and it was absolutely fantastic, I'm already looking forward to the next time I can go and see everything. There was a large presence there from all corners of the industry, especially those from indie game development. I had a chance to play some new games with interesting concepts. One I liked a lot was a game called Four Sided Fantasy which uses a mechanic which freezes the 2d camera in place and allows travel from one side of the screen to another. (Rubbish explanation, look at the link and you will see what I mean.)

Also Star Wars Battlefront had a large presence there and I was pretty excited to about it. However I was unable to actually play the game as the queue was too long and it was too late in the day but I did get this cool picture of the life size tie fighter they had there.

The highlight of EGX though was the careers fair, a group of us went and spoke to some guys from other universities (I tried out a student project for the Oculus Rift) as well as having in depth discussion and portfolio review from the guys at Creative Assembly. The advice I got was valuable and has given me the focus I needed to continue in the direction of environment art, my current focus has been shifted to doing smaller, more quality assets rather than trying to cram a whole environment project into my free time so I am not as easily overwhelmed. (Also my portfolio was noted as having too many paintings and not enough environment models for someone who wants to be an environment artist some change is really needed!)

In the next post I will talk about the start of the new term and our new project! Also I hope you enjoy the new look of the blog as well, I spent a whole night delving into the blogger html and css to get rid of the massive white border around the header. So I hope it's an improvement, there is a list of other stuff I'm looking into aswell to make it better. My next step is more organisation of posts and more obvious links to my portfolio, twitter, youtube, etc. That should be done in the next few weeks. :)