Monday, 7 July 2014

Constructing the focal point, blocking out the floor.

Over the weekend, I focussed on putting together a sculpt of the Statue of Liberty's head. Starting with a base-mesh, I re-topologised the model using this guide, pushing and pulling it around until I had something I was happy with. As mainly a Environments/Props guy, doing facial stuff was hugely difficult. I managed to sculpt the statue to a degree that would atleast, when converted to a wire-frame view, resemble the statue's head.
Playing around with some ideas..

An ex-colleague suggested that looking into some kind of point-cloud data effect could provide an even more high tech look to the exhibit. After decimating my sculpt, I used the lattice modifier in Max to create geometry from the model's vertices, allowing me to bake out textures from the model. I then put together a fairly complex shader (it will need some optimization before I'm done..) that would allow me to use a very dense point cloud texture in the areas of occlusion (it stands to reason that these area's would be the most dense) and a less dense texture in the areas that are not occluded. I then used a camera-depth shader to allow me to increase and decrease the amount of vertices shown depending on the player/camera's distance from the head. At a great distance, the head would simply resemble a cloud of points, and up-close it would have much more fidelity.
In retrospect, I think I might invert the depth node, as the points look noisy at a distance. 

An example of point-cloud-data. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Environment construction - Modular pieces

Over the weekend I began to construct the scene from blueprints, creating the relevant modular pieces as I go. The wall and ceiling blueprints are more or less complete (minus texture polish), but the centre of the room and the exhibit are very WIP, (the Liberty Head is actually from Turbosquid so..that will change!)

UE4's blueprint system is really powerful, I found myself creating 1 master blueprint, and then subsequent blueprints with slight changes in order to create interesting variants. Hopefully as the project goes on ill be able to put together multiple versatile variants of these blueprints to fit any situation, saving myself time and effort.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

More work on the modular chunks + fixed concrete panels.

A quick update, I have spent the last couple of weeks reworking some of the bakes and going through one by and one and doing a first pass on the textures/specular maps so that I can polish them off once I have made the rest of the scene. I have also been putting together all of the modular sets, pipes, cables, concrete panels etc, basically a solid foundation for the rest of the scene. I'm abit more confident in the close-up fidelity, as previously some of the areas (particularly the concrete panels) looked pretty ropey up close due to generally trying to map them in a backwards fashion that UE4 didn't really like.

I am now using more polies in the edges of the concrete, rather than relying on normal maps. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

New project! Learning UE4 + Sci-fi

So, I realised recently that I have a gap in my folio, so I decided that a new scene would be needed to address it. Over the last year or so I have been actively trying to push myself outside of my comfort zone by doing things that either challenge or scare me. The Harry Potter stuff was an example of this, and I definitely feel better having tried my hand at it.

I have never attempted to do any Sci-Fi, so I figured with the recent release of UE4 that it would be a good way to stretch my legs, work with some friends and challenge myself to doing something that I wouldn't normally try.

To start, I put together a block-out..well about 15 blockouts. I wanted to create something sleek and very sci-fi, without being too cliché. I had been working on the Harry Potter stuff and putting together a base for a diorama, this featured a Gothic window with Geometric Tracery which started my cogs turning about maybe incorporating a similar Gothic style into a Sci-Fi scene. I wanted to try and incorporate these gothic arches and buttress' wherever possible.

I wanted to create a space that would house a device, loosely based on a similar concept to the website "The Way-back Machine" ( an archive of the internet, that allows you to take a look back in time at how the internet looked years ago. This machine, housed in a museum of the future, would bring back relics of significance from the past into the present by opening a portal to the past, all whilst keeping the past in tact. My good friend Al Crutchley did a paint-over of my concept, to give me something to work from.

From here, I put together the modular walls, floors and ceilings that would make up the scene. 

I will keep posting my progress here until the progress reaches completion. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

First post + Hard Surface Challenges

Afternoon all,

So after a while of thinking, I realised that I integrate my less..portfolio worthy art into my portfolio. So, from now onwards I will be putting all of my WIP art onto this blog before I finalise each piece and integrate it into my portfolio.

A few weeks ago, myself and an ex-colleague Chris Brown ( decided that we would take part in the "Hard Surface Challenge". Rather than taking it vanilla, we would try and incorporate an element of discovery into it. We are both huge fans of Zbrush, but we decided that Chris would use Zbrush only, and I would use 3dsmax only. We would time ourselves and then compare both the accuracy of our recreations and the time it takes to put it together.

The concept:
My offering: (modelled in 3dsmax and rendered with Keyshot)

Chris' entry can be seen here.

Chris' entry was put together in 5 1/2 hours, where mine took close to 14 hours to model and render. After some discussion we both agreed that a method that takes into account both 3dsmax and Zbrush would give the best combination of speed, accuracy and cleanliness of the model.