Friday, 24 May 2013

End of year personal review

It's hard to believe (and somewhat troubling to think) that another year of my life has gone by; and it has done so without me. I feel over the last couple of months I have truly worked hard. I dedicated myself to the work I had to do, I improved myself in areas which I found I was weakest and I learned to gain more satisfaction for what I did. When I say the year has gone by without me, I am simply stating the realisation that for the last couple of months I have been in what I can only describe as a sort of limbo. An area in which I hadn't the time for a lot of things, for where work was the most important thing on my mind constantly and for where my stress levels had probably hit an all time high. Reading this would probably give the impression that I'm borderline suicidal, however that couldn't be further from the truth. Through working hard and pushing myself further I have found a strength inside me I wasn't aware of. And with that a desire which I haven't truly felt until now: to get myself into the games industry one way or another.

I honestly up until fairly recently held no belief that I would make it in this business, or that I would finish this course for that matter. I am surprised with the way I'm handling this as well. Now that I'm finally done for the year I half expected myself to veg out and seek to catch up on the months of social life I had missed out on. However, I'm already contemplating the prospects of what summer projects I can set myself and how I can improve upon the work I had done this year. Its this realisation that made me understand that I want this more than I think.

So what has university done for me? I believe it has provided the catalyst in which I was able to alter my mindset from student to career-seeker. I found I have matured a lot since first starting at university. I've learned more life lessons in the past couple of years than I have most my life. I've learnt to live away from my parents and take care of myself. I've also learnt to deal with the harshness of real life.

I expected to come to university and leave with a degree and hopefully a job soon afterwards. But I realise as well that it isn't as simple as that. Its a lot harder work than I had anticipated, and that if I'm serious about this career option then I best be prepared to work hard. I am also excited at the prospects of what I might gain upon completing my degree and discovering what options would be available to me.

At the moment I sit here, knackered out of my head after having pulled yet another all-nighter to make sure all of my work is up to date and ready for hand-in. I'm tired and would love for nothing more than to crash into my bed right as this moment but I also can't help but remain excited for whats ahead and the prospects of improving myself and getting better. Whether I end up working in the games industry after this course is still a mystery to me, however I believe the lessons I have learned during the process will prove invaluable for the rest of my life.

Queen's building part 4

The flythrough for our group projects level. Very proud of everyone and all the work we put into it.

Underneath are screenshots of my own personal scene I made using the assets I authored:

Queens building part 3

My final blog entry on the group blog detailing all of the assets I had made:

My main responsibility as far as the group project was concerned was to contribute to the growing list of assets required for our level. Many of these included simple objects such as a chair or a table but others were more interesting and challenging to model. Underneath I will go over every asset I have produced for the project.

The first asset I made was a a leather bench; decayed and tattered as one might expect out of an abandonned asylum. I decided to design the piece as five seperate assets which may be interchanged or used independantly in order to add variety.

I used my own refference photos along with some free-to-use photoshop brushes I downloaded. I am pleased with the overall effect and feel the piece is successful in its execution.

The second asset(s) I created were a set of doors to be used in the long corridor as well as the examination room. I wanted to ensure reusing the doors wouldnt be noticable, so I made sure not to leave any distinctive markings on their surfaces. I also wanted the reverse side of the padded cell doors to reflect ther interiors and remembered not to include a handle.

I am pleased with the end result and I was content with the work I did on the alpha maps to ensure the windows were transluscent. Unfortunately UDK requires alphas to be placed in seperate map channels (which I was unaware of at the time) and editing along with a secondary texture map had to be used once exporting them.

I created a fairly simple folding chair to which I made a second variation in which it is in a broken state. It was failry easy to model and texture and I think the end result is good.

An asset that gave me a bit of trouble was the nurses desk in which I had to remake once due to not making it long enough in dimensions. The desk is meant to look weathered and derelict, like the environment it is placed in. I decided to warp the door slightly to restrict player access and also to avoid the notion of it being yet another locked door. In fact, locked doors were something we all wanted to avoid whilst designing our level as we understood how frustrating it would be to the player. Instead we tried to think up imaginitive ways of blocking off routes. 

One of the assets I wanted to build for the examination room was the sink; something no surgical environment would be able to function without. I wanted it too look in poor condition and the basin to be very unhygenic. As usual I used my own reference photos which I have edited with brushes. I was also sure to create taps and spouts and position them in the appropriate above the sink.

I am pleased with the asset and feel it is one of my better pieces of work.

I produced a table to match the folding chair I made earlier. It was a fairly simple piece to make and it didnt take me very long. I have ensured that I made my assets slightly chunkier than in real life as I wanted the models to look more noticeable.

The trolley was also a pretty easy and enjoyable asset to produce. I enjoyed making it look grungy and dirty. I copied the lower shelf as an instance to make the top shelf; in doing so saving on the texture budget.

 I thought it would be important to have some form of speaker system in the asylum. Playing a game called "Fatal Frame 4" which dealt with a similar theme and environment had speakers placed in their corridors which resembled the asset I produced. I had to remember to place the picot point in the appropriate area so it could be fitted on the wall.

This was another asset I wanted to produce for the examination room. I felt it would be a nice set piece and perhaps offer an insight into what exactly happened in the asylum. The most challenging part was to hand paint the xrays in photoshop. Obviously I couldn't use reference material from online and I didn't have any x-rays handy so using a picture of a skull I found I decided to hand draw it.

I feel pleased witht he job I did. I also hope the little easter egg (the spider inside the skull) gets some airtime on the presentation video. This is also the only asset I produced ambient occlusion for.

Underneath are some fairly simple, low poly medicine bottles of different shapes and sizes I produced. I wanted their to be a good variety and also a sense of accuracy to them. These were fairly straight forward to make and wasn't too taxing on the texture/triangle budget.

I took alot more care over modelling and texturing the examination table than I had with the folding one. I used reference pictures of an old examination table from the 50's as inspiration and my own reference photos (which I edited) to produce the textures.

I am pleased with the end result and feel it works.

The surgical lamp was alot more challenging as at times I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to model it. I used a few reference pictures as guides and also tried to include some of my own ideas. Keeping the trianlge budget to a minimum was also challenging which is what fueled my decision to allow the normal map to define the individual lamps.

I feel the lamp does its job but overall isn't of a high enough quality when compared to the previous assets I had produced.

The final and most challenging asset I had to produce was the medical head. Whilst I was comfortable modelling the human side of the model I was pretty lost lost with modelling the skull section. I decided to plane model it but unfortunately managed to stack up quite the tri-count. However I was pleased with the model. The brain itself was just a quarter of an edited sphere.

I feel the texturing let down this asset. It was literally the last piece I had to model and was texturing against the clock. However, I think as a representation of something that is meant to be made from plastic it is satisfactory. 

Overally I feel pleased with the work I had produced. There were a few setbacks that might have slowed me down but eventually all the assets (along with new ones appointed to me closer to the deadline) were completed on time. 

Queens building part 2

Underneath are two pieces of concept art I put together for rooms within our level.

Padded cell

Examination room

Group project - Queens building part 1

Underneath is the initial blogpost I wrote on our group blog to instruct the group on how we should use colour in our textures for our assets:

Seeing as we're moving onto texturing our first assets soon and I've been appointed the "colour guy" I thought I'd work out a colour palette for us to follow. The asylum is a derilict, abbandonned environment; a most unwelcoming place so first and foremost we need to ensure the colours reflect this. I was thinking we could range between blues and greens, with blue remaining the primary colour. We can also verge into muddy browns and dull oranges for metal work that may have rusted. However, this isn't to say that we need to stick to these colours religiously; materials like wood is primarily brown so instead of completely swapping out the colour for a shade of blue we can just add a hint of either green or blue. Underneath are the inital paintings I made which should only really be used as a concept as such; not so much a reference. It was more intended as a mood study. However, they're hopefully still of some use.

Underneath are some slightly more literal studies where I've taken photographs of various surfaces, not disimilar to the textures we will surely be producing, and tweaked in photoshop. Hopefully these might prove more helpful when it comes to producing our own textures.  

So when producing our own textures it isn't necesarry to completely wash out the colours or alter them completely. As long as they give off a hue that is somewhat coherrent with our pallette it will ensure that our assets work along side eachother. The fact that our work will inevitably look different from one-anothers means this should also help making our finished assets look as if they belong in the same world. Underneath I've placed a few colour swatches together to help give a better idea of the colours we should use:

The top four sets of colours should make use for the majority of or environmental assets including the walls and floors. However I figured the webs for the spiders should be more stark and stand out against the backgroud. The bottom left colours could be used for webbing and any eggs attatched to them. However I believe we can use RED to draw the players eye towards certain places. This colour should be used very sparringly however; I would reccomend using it on maybe the spiders' eyes and some of the smaller assets on the wall. Only use this colour if it serves a purpose though. You don't want to draw the players eye towards something that has little purpose.  

Thursday, 23 May 2013

War of the Worlds project

Okay, I admit it. I left this project rather late. Whether its the half-finished finish of the model or the lack of sleep I faced when painting the final piece the night before hand-in, the result screams half-assed! This however wasn't my intention; I had all sorts of ideas for this project. Unfotunately the group project was far more demanding leaving me little time for Visual Design (or this blog for that matter).

Despite these shortcomings Im glad I was at least able to finish the work on time.

In my sleep-deprived, delerious state I convinced myself what I was painting around my model were "trees"

Moonshine project

As part of our class group project the census decided to go with a 1920's hillbilly aesthetic. Personally, I was unhappy with this decision as I had little interest with the subject. Despite this I made my best effort to produce work of a good quality.

I began by making numerous moodboards to give me a good idea of how to approach the idea.

I then moved on to producing some character sketches using a Britsh actor (who's name escapes me now) as a basis for his look.

I then made some digital interpretations of my character's face with different hairstyle and a full-body pose detailing different clothing ideas.

I then moved onto the final piece which I admittedly rushed due to time constraints. I tried to give the piece a sort of aged look, not disimilar to the photographs in the moodboards I had produced earlier. I believe spending more time on this piece would have been beneficial; my lack of knowledge on photoshop and digital painting in general made this challenging.