I contemplated for quite a while in regards to what I wanted to focus on for my personal project. I have been looking forward to this for quite some time now and I decided to focus on possibly one of my favourite genres of both films and games… Apocalyptic…
I decided to make this a modelling and sculpting project in which I would focus on the car design. Ever since I was a child I have always had a great interest and adoration for two main car classifications, the muscle car and the off-road 4×4 car. They are both ideal for the genre I am planning on working on.
Research wise, I will focus primarily on –
Film – Mad Max: Fury Road
Game – Crossout – Targem Games
Game – The Crew – Ubisoft
Brands – Land Rover
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max is both for genre research as well as vehicle design research. Mad Max is possibly the most applicable movie for the genre and the style which I want to use within my project.
I would like my end design to look like it is from the same Apocalyptic genre as the Mad Max series of films (except maybe be more of a custom made vehicle able to be batch produced).
I have recently started playing this game and I found it to be both entertaining and educational in terms of vehicle design. This will be the biggest reference for me in terms of Film or Game research.
While researching this, I came across one of the artists who worked on the advert, his name is Mathias Zamęcki… I found this work to be inspirational as an aspiring artist, gamer and custom car enthusiast.
This research led me to more of his personal work, which has such a diverse range in styles/workflows and theme. Here is an example of one of the 3D pieces that he uploaded to his Instagram page.
I found the way that the car assembles itself in the beginning and throughout this trailer to be inspirational (as well as very helpful in understanding how a vehicle is put together). I feel that it has helped me understand both the complexity of the parts and how to make my design more realistic.
It made me both sit back in my chair as well as really want to do it. However, I am trying to be realistic with my current capabilities as well as push them further and improve upon them. This is one of the reasons why I am using The Crew as a reference within this project.
I thought that this was the perfect vehicle brand for the Off-Road 4×4 category. My favourite car from this category and the car I will use for the rough base structure is the Defender.
I started by coming up with a rough sketch based initially on the 4×4 Land Rover Defender (pick-up). While drawing this, I had the idea that it could be part of the Land Rover brand – An apocalyptic car design for those who wanted to survive in style.
The name Avenger came to mind when thinking of how Land Rover actually name their cars. It felt like the opposite of Defender – Not built to defend, built to avenge and destroy.
I refined my the line work down and drew out the Land Rover font.
I personally am very pleased with this design and this is how I had pictured it whenever I was initially started thinking about it. In my opinion, it looks like it could fit in alongside the Land Rover series of cars. It looks rough and ready for a fight, but not super unrealistic with ridiculous proportions.
This project has been running alongside our 3D Environment task, for this project we were given two rigs to work from (one female/one male). The rigs were called Jack and Jill.
For this project, we have to make a Walk Cycle and General Body Mechanic Movements of our choice.
First of all, I created a few poses (non-animated) just to test the rigs… Here they are below.
Posing the Rig
“Hmmm… What’s for lunch?” –
“Yeah! Get in there!” –
“Bang! Bang! He shot me down!” –
“Oppa Gangnam Style!” –
I enjoyed making these and the last one was just for the humorous aspect of it. Although I didn’t get to record myself doing these actions, I did pose myself to help me get the grasps of the positions.
Here are a few of the references I was thinking of while making these…
Next I moved on to the walk cycle, this was a lot more challenging than I initially anticipated and lead to me questioning how I walk on multiple occasions…
This was definitely the most useful reference that I used (below).
However, in getting a realistic looking walk, the 12 Principles came in useful yet again.
The follow through/slow in and out can be seen in the wrist flicks, the feet and the head bob.
I made use of exaggeration slightly within my walk cycle to give the model a bit more character. (The rest of them also feature in some aspect, but I won’t go into all 12 of them.)
Below was an interesting as well as entertaining reference that I found quite useful.
Although it is a 2D version of a walk cycle Alan Becker’s video (below) is very useful in helping to understand the walk cycle a little more…
His video series on the 12 Principles of Animation is also very good and useful…
Below is my walk cycle (I made it into a GIF and uploaded it to YouTube) –
This is the graph editor of the full rig (looking reasonably clean and tidy thankfully).
Here is my walk cycle in the same style as the Richard Williams Walk Cycle Reference…
Repeating Back Flip –
(Uncompleted – Decided to change movements)
The first movement that I went for was a double/triple back flip… The reference that I found for it didn’t look natural, so it ended up that my back flip animations didn’t look that natural either, so I decided to move on and try something else instead…
I unfortunately lost the reference video. However, I got the basics of it, I just decided to do something else instead. I actually started on this before making the walk cycle, when I was initially messing around with the rig. If I spent more time on it, I would have been able to finish it, but I decided to do a couple of other movements instead…
I created a sneak movement, mainly from my imagination to be honest and from general knowledge from playing a lot of stealth games and from watching films. Well I guess the sneak from the ‘100 different ways to walk (Animation Reference)’ video earlier also helped a bit.
The gist of this movement is obviously a sneak. but my animation is supposed to be of a leader of a group. (I would picture the group being reasonably young and childish). He is sneaking along until one of the others makes a noise. He then turns around to signal to be quiet, he checks the other way, sees the coast is clear and tells the group to move.
I am pleased with how the animation turned out and I feel that there is character expressed within the rigs movements.
Here is an example of how I was walking around while making this… (Me in the video).
Below is the graph editor for the sneak cycle…
Here is my sneak cycle in the same style as the Richard Williams Walk Cycle Reference…
I wanted to create a unique movement, I had looked at other classmates movements and previous years movements, I didn’t see any of them making their rig drive, so I thought I would give it a go…
This was probably one of the most fun to animate, and again, I didn’t really need a reference for this as I drive in to Uni every day. I literally sat at my chair in Uni and pretended like I was driving to get the positioning of the car components right.
“Dancehall” Dance –
I used a game as a reference for this, in Bungie’s/Blizzard’s Destiny 2, the emotes are amazing. I thought it would be great to try and replicate one of them. The one that I wanted to replicate though, I couldn’t quite find a suitable reference video for, so I chose another interesting one.
I made a GIF of the dance from Destiny 2 that I was trying to create… Unfortunately, I hadn’t found this reference when I was making it initially…
Here is my attempt at it, due to the looming deadlines for multiple projects, I wasn’t able to devote as much time to this as I would have liked to it, but I still like it…
Here is a older playblast with the reference on planes behind it.
Below is the reference I used in the background of the video above, as you can see it’s pretty jumpy… I came across the nice video that I made a GIF of afterwards unfortunately.
This is one of the parts of our ‘Creative Development Assignment’. On day one we fired a load of initial ideas on to a whiteboard, here they are…
The ideas that I preferred were –
The Abandoned Arcade/Theatre
The Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Concepts
The Viking Long Hall
We wanted to pick our idea early on, therefore, allowing us to get stuck into the concept art and design phase… The next day we had a group meeting where we decided to combine a few concepts together. The Viking Long Hall was one of the top concepts on all of our lists, for that reason we decided to merge it with another favourite which was the Space/Sci-Fi theme.
This will hopefully allow us to generate more of our own unique ideas as we try to merge a futuristic Sci-Fi universe with a more primitive Viking universe.
TEAM – Dermott Burns, Glenn O’Neill, Ryan Loughran.
As I have mentioned before, the gaming industry is possibly the largest influence for me within my work. I find it so intriguing and interesting, hence why I would like to work in it one day.
However, the reasoning I feel that it is applicable to this section is simple… The shear bulk load of art, creativity and style crammed into the majority of the games coming out lately, could easily fill multiple blog posts full of research…
Sorry in advance for all these sections of research by the way… I am just trying to record what I find when I find it…
Bethesda – ‘Elde Scrolls‘ franchise – Ray Lederer (Concept Artist)
This is possibly the most obvious one that comes to mind when I mention Vikings, or any similar type of warrior for that matter. Honestly, this was the case… However, the fact can not be ignored that the series of games (particularly the later ones) are both stunning graphically and in content.
One of the first influential Concept Artists I found is called Ray Lederer, his work within the Elder Scrolls series of games was focused upon ‘Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘ particularly.
More of his work and the images within this section can be found by clicking either of the links below –
I will break some of his concepts up into several sections, first of all a few landscapes/environmental concepts…
These are very helpful in grasping the feel of a Viking village, which is a feeling that we aim to keep within our ship… The buildings look big, imposing and strong, you wouldn’t want to raid this village, these are more aspects that we obviously want to capture within our environment design. We will hopefully be using more futuristic sci-fi adaptations of these kinds of designs and applying/combining them with Viking longboats designs. However, the most influential and applicable environmental piece that I found of Ray Lederers’ work would have to be this one below.
The reasoning for this would is the view of the interior of the house. When I look at this, I can picture it being suitable for the interior of a ship (as it will be in space, it will be enclosed). The details, functionality and warmth perfectly captions how I would picture a Viking household/building.
Next, he also worked on character designs/concepts…
Now, I think that these are great, and I feel that many aspects from these armour sets and scenes could be applied to some of the gear within our scene. They both resemble an older style of armour alongside a more futuristic sci-fi style of armour with the carved gear plates and highly detailed bulky pauldrons. The concept of mages/shamans also comes to mind when we think of more pagan Vikings.
However, as before, I do have my own preference of his concepts. (Shown below).
As an avid gamer myself, this has always been the style of armour that I have been most impressed by… The detail, shape and use of colour to bring out the glow, reflecting both strength and power would be something I can see a Space Viking wearing. Obviously, it would need adapted to incorporate a more traditional style and sense as well, but if it could give of half the sense of intensity and brute force that this set does, I would be very pleased (provided we make armour/Vikings).
Finally, I would like to mention the grand statues, centerpieces and shrines that Ray worked on and are so clearly important in Nordic/Viking times…
If you look closely at these images, the statue/shrine concepts usually include a figure to relate it to an average human size, displaying both the shear size and importance to their history/lore. Particularly within the top right image, the small red figure that is around ankle height in relation to the shrine. I feel a large centerpiece or statue would have been of much importance to the Vikings. Whether it is a reminder, shrine, figurehead or trophy, I feel that the would have had them within their ships.
However, my favourite Ray Lederer shrine/statue concept of is this one below.
The detail, different levels of light and the overwhelming feeling that this statue portrays is incredible. The fact that it is dug into the cavern wall is another very interesting and unique factor. I am considering whether incorporating a throne into the shrine/statue of the ship would be a good idea. It is a necessary concept that will need considered, the Vikings having a leader. A throne built into the centerpiece of the ship would create a new setting and aspect to the narrative of our story, the idea of the leader.
Anyways, I could talk much longer on the influences that both the artist as well as the game series have given me, but I feel I should move on to a few more Sci-Fi based concepts…
(Again, if you want to check more of Ray Lederers’ work or you want to see where I got the images from, please follow the links below)
2. Bungie/Blizzard – ‘Destiny‘ franchise – Joseph Cross (Concept Artist)
Destiny is possibly one of the best games of 2017 in my opinion. The detail, variance, characters and environments all merit it this for me. However, I don’t mention it here because I like the game, I am mentioning it as I particularly want to focus on both the Space Ships and the Titan class, as for me it sort of captions what a Space Viking could be like (it is the middle one in the image above).
There were many amazing concept artists and designers who worked on this game. However, the Concept Artist I chose to talk about is called Joseph Cross, he has worked on both games within the ‘Destiny‘ series. I also found his Kong Skull Island concept art to be very interesting as well as his Personal concept pieces.
If you want to see more of his work, please follow the links below…
Below is the a great example of a piece of concept art piece that makes me feel that the ‘Titan’ represent a good basis for Space Vikings. The Energy Shield, one of the concepts which I feel is important. It shows that they aren’t just regular old Vikings, they are an intelligent enough race to allow them to be in space…
Proportionally, the image above accurately represents the strong bulky figure and armour type that I would expect in a Space Viking. The sense of pace and power can be felt within this piece through the blur, glow and stance of the Titan. Even the use of a primarily defensive weapon in an offensive stance would represent the aggressive fighting style of a Viking.
The next piece represents more of an offensive weapon, an Energy Staff/Spear. I found this piece below to be incredible, the balance between position, colour and light represents the characters agile speed perfectly. Although it isn’t a strong Titan figure, the Vikings still would have possessed more agile qualities. This is so clearly represented by the quick and nimble Hunter below…
Below is a more relaxed pose that shows the full figure of the large Titan class. The image makes the character look heroic and large suggesting the role of a protector through his stance, shape and the background. (Joseph Cross also worked on Logos during his time at Destiny). Although the image represents the character in a positive light, it can be clearly seen how he could be seen as an intimidating figure and one to be feared by his enemies. These are further attributes we would want to be suggested in our Space Viking characters.
The next couple of pieces are directly from his website, the first is an interesting and possible consideration for a control panel style within our ship. The following one is a representation of a Titan helmet design representing the green glow coming out of the helmet.
Joseph Cross also worked on some incredible ship layouts which vary in both shape and colour providing each of them with different attributes both visually and practically.
I feel these could be useful for us when considering slick or bulky concepts in relation to our ship and possible escape pods.
Joseph Cross worked on many logo designs as well. The all depict different meanings and serve different purposes.
Obviously the work of ‘Destiny‘ verges much to far on the futuristic/sci-fi section in our project. Although, it is useful to see two very different sides of the spectrum managed it (Elder Scrolls – Traditional and Destiny – Futuristic).
3. SIE Santa Monica Studio – God Of War series
This is back to a more traditional style of Vikings… I will keep this section a little shorter.
If you could watch the video from around 2:00 to 3:30 you will get a rough idea of how I would picture the fighting style/weaponry of our Space Vikings.
If you don’t feel like watching it, I screenshotted a few of the more important frames… However, you would get a much better idea from watching the video.
I know the task is to create the environment and this is a lot of character/gear/weaponry research, but researching the character helps me when thinking of where they would live and the type of environment they would be in. Anyways, I think I am focusing more on assets within the ship rather than the actual ship itself.
Anthony Jones (Concept Artist)
Anthony Jones is a concept artist that I found who worked on the series. His work isn’t as relevant as the other previous artists I mentioned so far. However, I really like his style and the layout of his work.
4. Digital Extremes – Warframe – Roger Adams (Concept Artist)
Back to a more Sci-Fi based game, where I will focus mainly upon the Ship designs and layouts within this section.
Warframe is a game that I don’t own. However, while searching through the internet to find useful designs I stumbled upon it. Based on the concept art I found, I could easily be tempted to play it. Absolutely stunning…
I looked into the work of Roger Adams for this section, who is a Canadian Concept Artist who as you can probably guess, worked on Warframe. His style within the pieces I am going to mention is extremely clean, detailed and professional. He does work on more abstract artwork as well.
If you are interested in finding out more about Roger Adams or you want to see where the images within this section are found please visit –
I found it very interesting how Roger focuses on varying sections of the ship that could be replicated to add variance and detail while maintaining a quick work flow.
Above are 3 varying floor sections, which you can see put into action in the initial piece of this section. The amount of detail within them allows them to be duplicated and for it to be barely noticeable. This is such an effective way of creating a scene and it is a perfect example of the gaming industry workflow.
Below he repeats the same process in creating these walls. The detail form and process for these metallic sections would work fantastically within our scene when combined with a more traditional style.
Below is another section of his work where he is designing full room scenes and they just look incredible. The use of minimalist colour, the use of light and the shear detail within each piece is exactly why I chose to mention his work within this section.
Roger Adams also worked on a range of major scene components and assets (shown below).
Although these on a much more futuristic sci-fi level in relation to where we are going, each asset is still very interesting and fascinating to look at. They all could go on to inspire an asset within our scene, whether it is a generator, an engine or a duplicated panel of lights/floors/walls.
End of this section of research…
I better move on to some of my ideas that I was working on before/during/after researching all these great and inspirational pieces of artwork.
A BIT OF MY CHARACTER/ARMOUR CONCEPT ART
I drew this image below when we started talking about Space Vikings, this was to help me get the grasp of it and start practicing drawing again. I drew him with more of an exaggerated figure, the typical cartoony style Viking – Bulky Shoulders, Tall in height, strong, intimidating and fearless. Although I barely looked at any references for it, I had the Blizzard Art Style in the back of my mind while drawing it.
This piece would be more of a traditional ‘God of War‘/’Elder Scrolls‘style of Viking Warrior with the huge, crude two handed axe, single skull shoulder piece and ram-horn helmet.
After this piece I moved on to a colour piece, I still focused on the Viking character at this stage rather than the environment. However, the aim of this piece was to capture an essence of the narrative we were considering at the stage.
I began with the rough line art which I went on to clean up and use to help decide upon colours…
As you can see from here this is more of a Sci-Fi based Viking, this is the sort of level between the two themes (Traditional Viking and Sci-Fi Space) I would like to work in…
I would hope you can see the rough idea I was going for within this piece… The ship has been breached, a comrade or ally has been grabbed by the space creature (which at this point we are considering it to be a large squid/octopus like creature). The Space Viking in his strength and fearlessness charges straight in, head first into the fight to attempt to free his ally who is being crushed by the large tentacle.
As you can see this is more of a futuristic sci-fi Viking Soldier, closer to the style of Destiny 2 or Halo 5. I was experimenting with the idea of futuristic weapons here, since they are more developed than regularly Vikings, I felt that this would need reflected within their weaponry… Therefore, I drew the traditional equipment except in a futuristic energy weapon style. I really enjoyed drawing this and I feel that my experience in Life Drawing last year has really benefited my art style and proportions.
Below is the small mood board I created to help me with this piece…
I talked to my team about it and we felt that the style should possibly be somewhere more in the middle and a little less complex. Therefore, I tried to draw a clearer armour set in somewhere in this range.
This is a lot more basic and cleaner than the other I think… I also designed a possible logo or crest for the clan, I felt a double headed wolf could be applicable as it goes quite nicely with the narrative idea.
Current Narrative Idea – The Vikings are either blessed with knowledge and advanced craftsmanship skills by Aliens that visit Earth or else they discover it from them. We felt this was an interesting and unique way to describe the reasoning for Vikings in space. The Vikings in their brutish ways then leave Earth to hunt Aliens to advance further in their knowledge.
One of my teammates Glenn drew up a tapestry to help describe the narrative, which we plan on inputting into the scene… Here it is below. (Sourced from https://glennloneill.wordpress.com/)
As I was saying, my two headed wolf then represents the clan well. They are fierce and strong like the wolf. However, they are two-faced (or two-headed) and want to hunt the Aliens that helped them discover a new level of knowledge.
THE VIKING LONGSHIP
Viking longships were mainly used in battle as they were long, light and slender. Therefore, they possessed both easy maneuverability as well as speed and agility.
Below is a decent example of a Viking Longboat blueprint…
Here is another blueprint of a Viking Longship…
And based upon both of these blueprints, I would say that our ship would fit for the description of a Longship. (Although our ship is intended to be used for all purposes – Combat/Cargo/Quick Travel/General Living).
I found a very nice piece by Spiros Karkavelas of a beached Viking Longship… It is very nicely designed and it shows a great perspective of a possible rough size for our ship (except ours might be a bit larger).
OUR SHIP LAYOUT
After working on more character based concept art for quite a while, I decided to move onto ship profiles… Having done Technology and Engineering for A-Level, I can grasp the concept of technical drawings and enjoy doing them.
I got the rough design idea from Dermott’s early ship concepts and ‘photo-mashes’…
The next 3 images below are rough profile layouts of my own based on Dermott’s previous style of ship. I didn’t like the first one as much, so I changed it a bit altering the front of the ship and putting additional brace frames on it to strengthen the hull of the ship.
We hadn’t decided on rooms as yet for the ship, at this stage the ship is to be one long hall styled room. However, in the image above I do layout roughly where I feel the “Hull/Engine” area would be. This is where I started to consider the idea of pistons and rotating turbines… Something mechanical like my idea for the engine with moving pistons/cogs/turbines would be both interesting and enjoyable to make.
Moving on… After this design we changed it into a style more like the one shown below. I enjoyed drawing this, I built it up in layers to allow me to look inside the ship and create a perception of depth.
The group liked the engine and piston idea, so we are considering keeping the Oars (maintaining a more traditional Viking style) and attaching them to pistons. This would create the idea of motion and the oars would most likely have solar panels to give further reason to their usage. This would simulate the traditional means of movement being re-purposed to fulfill a similar source of power for the movement (instead of kinetic energy being used, solar would be used instead.
I tried to designed a possible differentiating feature about him. I thought it was important for the leader to have a different head piece in particularly, possibly even a completely different set of gear.
I would intend for this to mix more royal colours, I would expect the bird shape side sections to be made from gold. I had Azgarde from Marvel’s ‘Thor‘ in the back of my mind while creating this. How would their royalty and leadership be dressed/equipped?
This also slightly influenced my idea around the lighting of the ship… I was considering how traditional Vikings lit their houses/establishments. Back in those days, Torches and Fires would have been the main source of light. Therefore, I designed a few different Sci-Fi based lighting techniques that could possibly work in a torch (below).
BACK TO WEAPONS!
Back to weapon designs, I worked on quite a few designs until my team was happy enough with the mixture between Traditional Viking and Futuristic Sci-Fi Warrior…
My initial weapon design was in the first colour concept piece I did…
This was apparently a tad too futuristic, so I tried to dull the next designs down a bit. However, it didn’t have the traditional Viking feel to them that I was particularly aiming for… However, I really do like them and may still model them at some stage.
Therefore, I brought my designs back to the basic traditional Viking style… Just to have a decent basis to work from… I researched a number of Viking Weapons to get a decent feel for these and make them reasonably accurate.
Below are a random assortment of Viking weapons that I found to use as real-life examples.
However, one of my favourite pieces was by Erick Altensleben, showing a range of varying Viking Axes… I found this very useful and interesting. Here it is below…
Another artist that I found on DeviantArt.Com called ‘Etrelley’, creates 3D weapons (frequently fan art based weapons). However, I found her work very intriguing and detailed. Please find some of her work in the link below.
However, my team-mate Ryan designed a class looking set of shield designs. I felt it would be great to keep a consistent style within the weapons. Therefore, within my Axe design I tried to use similar features and colours within it.
Here is the set of shields Ryan designed below…
Eventually, I designed an Axe that we were all happy with. In my opinion it is in the right place for Space Vikings, that area in between Traditional and Sci-Fi. It fits into the same style as Ryan’s shield as well so it will give a better sense of consistency within the weapons/scene. I named the two-handed axe, “Olde’ Faithful”.
I then went on to model this weapon on Maya, I did consider ZBrush for this. However, Maya was definitely an easier way to create it for me at this stage. While modelling I realised that the handle didn’t quite seem long enough, so I extended it in the model.
After creating this and UV mapping it, I decided to re-use the already mapped components and parts to create a smaller one-handed axe.
However, after doing this, I realised that I would like it to be able to open up, for example when the Space Viking Warrior would unsheathe the weapon, what animation would it do? This meant that I had to re-model the head components of the model.
This is it original basic model –
This is the re-modelled version –
I had to redo the UV on this piece.
Here are the UVs all laid out for each component of the axe (individual objects/meshes).
I then animated it and duplicated the model and the animation over onto the other side of the head (to keep the symmetry aspect to it).
Here is a GIF of the animation I created for it, made from my Youtube Video (also shown below).
Below is the same animation but rendered and put in a GIF.
After this, I felt that the Vikings may need more weapons, so I drew up a few more concepts for weapons. I focused upon swords for this part.
Then I began modelling, I tried making use of a majority of the same pieces on the hilt and handle to create the sword, this ensured they looked like they were from the same set of weapons and it would save time in the UV mapping stage.
I then created the other swords and went on to create a dagger.
To differentiate the swords, I made them all different sizes, using different components, adding bits here and taking away bits there. However, to make the two-handed sword completely different from the others, I added two more sides to it.
I began animating it again, I deleted the extra two sides during this stage as it made it easier to animate… I then re-added them after I had finished making the animation for one side (X-Axis) through the duplicate special which transferred the animation along with it. Below is a rendered version in a GIF of the sword animation.
Below is the rendered video of both the sword and axe animation.
I drew up this concept as an idea of how the weapons could be stored. This shows them in a wall mounted case behind a reinforced glass plane (opening up with the access terminal to the right hand side).
I did use this as a reference while modelling. However, during the process, we were reminded that our Space Viking ship was too Sci-Fi based and there wasn’t enough Traditional Viking in there. Therefore, I changed it up, making the shape more like a storage container and I added in a few more basic traditionally styled Viking racks.
I was influenced by two main designs, one futuristic, one traditional (shown below).
Using my design of a storage area for the weapons, I crafted an armoury on the ship underneath the main floor of the ship. We decided for one container to be ruptured, causing all the weapons to flow out of it. The other was covered by an energy barrier keeping them all inside and in position. I also modelled a quick target dummy for this armoury area.
This was actually one of the first models I made for this project. It is a very simple model in relation to my others…
I took influence from Elder Scrolls target dummies –
I also found the target dummies from Kung Fu Panda to be inspirational also…
Anyways, here is my target dummy… (It was a quick model to show the concept, I didn’t get to go back and update/fix it.)
This was one of the earlier models, so I was still getting to grip with UVs… I UV’d parts of it better than others in this. This wasn’t really a very important part of the scene, it is just going to sit in a dark corner of the room. However, it was a real pain to UV due to the way I created it. I would definitely make it a lot better if I had more time (both the UV and the model).
I began to model the throne design that I had drawn earlier on as my team really seemed to like it. This took up the most of my time, as it maybe should have, since it is intended to be one of the main center pieces of the ship. Here is the concept to remind you of how it looks…
Below is a bit of a moodboard that I created for my throne influences…
I made this in ZBrush instead of Maya, as it was a piece of software I wanted to improve my skills in. I also thought it would be a lot easier to get more detail into its more organic shape. I began with the skull…
I then added the horns/beak/brain sections and details.
Ok, here is where the annoying bit comes in… UVs/Normal Maps/Re-Topology etc. Thankfully after many attempts and many hours of trial and error, I figured out how to –
Lower the polygons (while maintaining quads) – ZBrush
Create UV’s – ZBrush
Create Normal Maps – ZBrush
Export it all from ZBrush and Import into Maya (Low Poly/High Poly) – ZBrush/Maya
Bake Normal Maps on Low Poly Meshes – Maya
Obviously, I had to follow a few tutorials along the way, but I have officially learned the entire process from having to do it around 10-15 times (for all my assets and then doing it for/showing other teammates how to do it (I also did the same for other classmates not in my team)).
The tentacle followed pretty much the exact same process of creation… Here are the images.
Main section –
Joint Section –
End Section –
All Three Sections Of Tentacle Joined Together –
High Poly Baked onto Low Poly –
Building the Tentacle –
Positioning the Tentacles –
After doing all this, I started to block out the throne on Maya with the intention of taking into ZBrush later… Here is the stairway/inner/outer throne blocked out.
I then took the steps and throne into ZBrush (after much time spent fixing up the topology on the original Maya steps).
We ended up not going with these steps and outer chair style after all, it didn’t really work out unfortunately.
However, we did go with this actual throne seat wise. Looking at it though, the edges aren’t very stiff, I would probably re-make this on Maya if I were to do it again…
The stairs and outer chair needed to be fixed, they didn’t match the style that the ship was being modeled in. The hard surface modelling was key to the throne (at least to its steps and outer chair), therefore I made it in Maya instead, using more of the processes that Dermott used in the design of the ship panels.
Using the curve tool, I designed the patterns on the sides of the ascend to the throne. I UV’d it all as well…
Full Throne Renders –
After we presented, Alec (our tutor) suggested that we need more of a traditional Viking feel to it, at that time the percentage of Futuristic Space to Traditional Viking was significantly higher… Therefore, we had to bring it back by adding more Viking based aspects to the ship. Thankfully we hadn’t added in all of our models/”clutter” to the renders at that point, so we didn’t need to completely revamp the ship. However, one thing that I had designed earlier was the two-headed wolf crest (below for a reminder).
My team, agreed that the banners would be a good idea and they liked the meaning behind the crest. Therefore, I did it up a bit, making it look more detailed and more importantly, more norse (Viking).
I had a look at Viking banners as well, how they looked, and I found things like this…
I wanted the banner to almost look a bit like a sail as well, so we went for the long banner design rather than the corner banner design as it allows us to hang them more casually from several pillars/rungs at once.
I made a basic model the same shape as this, UV’d it and then fired the logo on with a extension on the edges to cover the sides. The UV was stacked to allow the banner to be on exactly the same place on both sides.
Below is the map I made on Photoshop using the UV.
Long Banner UV –
Cameras… Lights… Render!
Although most of us don’t consider these alongside the major aspects of the project such as the concepts, modelling and the animation. These are vital points to consider in the scene set up, and they drain so much time. However, they can make or break the final output.
We initially started of by cleaning up the materials in the Hypershader, to make sure that we didn’t have a load of the same shader after the import and we tried to adjust to suit similar materials.
We wanted our blues to glow through our Norse symbols along the pillars/walls/floor/throne and pop out, we made this initially through adjusting the incandescence and glow in the material attributes. However, that caused our render times to increase dramatically. Therefore, we ended up going with Surface Shaders instead.
We set up a few basic blue lights and the render time wasn’t too bad… However, some aspects of the scene aren’t as clear as we would have wanted and there isn’t many clear focal points for the eye to be drawn to. (The room is very blue in our scene below.)
(Above – These were renders of our old lights as well as the old ship layout…)
We wanted to make use of a foggy type environment within our scene and it took ages to get it to work and then to get it to work on multiple computers. (We spent many hours trying to fix it, Dermott somehow managed to sort out the fog and lights) We ended up using Volumetric Scattering and Dermott set up a range of lights to make our scene easier to see.
Since we decided not to move our scene into Unreal Engine we had to make our own flame in Maya as Ryans Unreal Engine flame obviously didn’t work. For that reason, we had to make a new flame, it was at this point that I remembered about the Data Stream idea. I made the flame with Dermott and I used Rocket League for inspiration while making it.
Glenn had the idea of setting up a 360° camera to allow it work in VR. Therefore, that is what he ended up doing. We then had a look around our scene after rendering it out in Glenn’s VR Headset.
After doing so, we thought it would be cool to show of some of our animations inside and have some things moving around. I set up the animations and placed and moved more floating assets into our scene (moving the panels, banners even the cutlery in the background etc.) and Dermott animated his tentacles.
VR Rotation –
If this was a longer project, I would happily continue to better this scene, as there are still so many areas we could improve upon. Between my team and I we kept pushing each other one step further. I would have really enjoyed pushing the project a few more steps further (as would my team). This project had my team and I up into the early morning hours on quite a number of occasions throughout the entire process (not just at the end), and none of us really minded, well except for when the presentation was the next day.
To conclude this blog post, I am very pleased with the outcome of our project, I really enjoyed working on it and my team was great. I have learned so much while doing it, I have improved in my ability at both Maya and ZBrush and have learned many new techniques and skills. I look forward to the next project where I can hopefully focus more on character design and rigging.
We were split into groups and asked to each find a new method for seeking a job. As a group we decided on Self-Branding as our as our focus for the presentation and how it can help when getting a job.
My sub-topics within the presentation were the Brand Positioning (Online and Offline) and Naming the brand.
I found this topic quite interesting to research, it was nearly more verging on a marketing research task. Which in a way is an important part of Animation in the industry particularly while working in Free-Lance.
Below are my slides, we decided as a group to go with the simple sleek presentation design by utilizing an applicable picture for each of our slides. We felt it was more appropriate and it would be more enjoyable to look at and listen to for the audience as the wouldn’t have to read bulks of text…
I had a look at many different websites and sources, and had a bit of a look into Social Media, Networking and other topics, but there is only so much you can say within a couple of minutes of presenting.
Anyways, here were the main points I aimed to cover within my section of the presentation…
Brand Positioning – Online
Within the animation industry we offer less of a product and more of a service.
The client is paying for your individual creativity and style. Therefore, as an animator the first place for us to think about positioning our brand is online, somewhere we can showcase the quality of our work through show reels, drawings and animations.
Therefore, many animators initially establish their presence through art websites, social media and art forums. Once their name is out there a little more, a personal website becomes gradually more useful and important.
Brand Positioning – Offline
Getting your name and brand known locally can be just as important as getting it known online.
When people can attach a voice or face to the brand, it can allow them to see your personality and flair through your work.
Therefore, animation conferences and events can be vital to positioning your brand and getting your name out there. Sometimes word of mouth can get you noticed a lot quicker than stumbling upon it online.
First impressions count, the name and logo are usually the first aspects of the brand the client sees.
The name should reflect the values you want to portray, is it a professional company? Do you work alone or with others? Should it explain what your business does?
If it is abstract, does it mean something else in another language? (It might be worth a google translate just to find out) Does it sound professional?
Naming is crucial in terms of self-branding and Animation wise, the name of the brand needs to remain both professional and memorable, if a potential client forgets it or thinks it sounds unprofessional, they will most likely go on somewhere else.
After trying out Mudbox last year, I wanted to try out some more 3D Sculpting. Therefore, I opened up ZBrush as it seems to be the universal 3D Sculpting Software of the industry, so I felt I needed to practice it. Another reason for practicing it was for our first group project of the year, we are intending on modelling in Maya and sculpting in ZBrush to get a higher level of detail into our 3D Environment.
Anyways, the interface of ZBrush is completely different to any other software that I have seen before. It was for that reason I looked up a beginners tutorial on it, to teach me the basics. (I thought it would be applicable, as I am a beginner.)
As I have heard others recommend, “have fun with it”, “practice with no intention of making anything”. With those two things in mind, I just decided to mess around with it until it started to resemble something, so I decided to just go with it. After around an hour or so, here is the result…
I was going along with the tutorial initially, listening out for all the navigational things and the shortcuts for the brushes… However, once I tried the move tool, I pulled out the snout and just went with it, and so this weird rat creature was born… Honestly, after the move tool, I sort of lost concentration on the tutorial, so I will probably have to go back and re-watch it, but I enjoyed making this and I think it looks alright for my first time at ZBrush. Yeah, I definitely look forward to using ZBrush again.
We had to model a class member’s head for our next Imaging and Data Visualisation task. We were required to make their likeness in a 3D sculpture and then use retopology to reconstruct their head in Maya.
For this task I modeled David’s head (images below).
After following many of James Taylor’s tutorials, I was about to follow his Maya Head Sculpting guide… However, after watching multiple class mates struggle with this process and have to restart in Mudbox. I decided to avoid it and focus on the Mudbox modeling from the beginning.
Here was the Maya tutorial I considered using:
I mainly tried to figure it out myself without using a tutorial. However, I listened to this James Taylor sculpt video (below) during part of the sculpting process to find out which tools were best to use.
For achieving the rough shape, I used mainly a combination of the tools below at varying strengths and sizes.
Wax Tool – For Adding Material
Foamy Tool – Taking Material Away
Grab Tool – Movement/Placement Of Material
Here are a few images of the rough blocking out stage…
Below is a perfect example of the reference image errors. It is particularly visible within the failed ear attempts (while using the reference images on front/side planes). As you can see, as I fixed it for one image, it messed it up as soon as I switched camera angle.
At this stage particularly is when I realised that my reference images weren’t great. They are both at angles and were difficult to match up evenly. Therefore, I later started to create it more by eye with the reference images at the side of the screen. Personally, I found this a lot easier to manage and work with.
However, here is another failed attempt at the ears using reference images (yet still a better attempt than the previous one).
Once I started making it by eye and not relying on the camera planes with the reference images is when I feel it began to look more like the subject (David). I actually took new reference images as well which I didn’t use on the camera planes.
I just couldn’t seem to take the photos correctly though, but by this stage it didn’t really matter an awful lot as I was quite far through the sculpt already. Therefore, these images sat alongside the others at the side of my screen as references during the sculpting process.
Anyways, I redid the ear and adjusted the face some more. I decided to block in the hair for a reference to help place the ear and other features.
I found this to be very useful in the placement of the ear and other features. It really just brought it all to life and created a resemblance closer to David.
I used the same tools that I mentioned earlier throughout the entire sculpting process. However, some other tools were key in achieving the smaller details and finishing touches. Such as:
The Pinch Tool – Creating curves and receding facial features e.g. Lips, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Cheeks.
The Smooth Tool – Removing rough surfaces/edges/bumps/marks.
The Flatten Tool – Removing rough surfaces/edges/bumps/marks.
Here is the final Mudbox Sculpt:
Taking A Break
As you can probably see, I prefer working with more exaggerated proportions in my art. This can be seen throughout almost all of my artwork. Therefore, while taking a bit of a break from trying to achieve a close to realistic likeness sculpt… I decided to make a few caricatures out of the sculpt. This started as a joke as I was sitting beside David, the “sculptee”. However, they developed into a few rather interesting quick caricatures. Here are three of my favourite…
The Evil Cartoon Character
The Green Goblin
All of the above are obviously not likeness’s of David.
However, they were entertaining to make and were quick models made as I went along with no other references.
The topology, unlike the Sculpt, required a tutorial for me to understand, in fact, a couple of tutorials. Unfortunately, I came to this conclusion the hard way resulting in a few unsuccessful topology attempts. However, I learned from my mistakes and moved on.
After researching and talking to several class mates, second years as well as my tutor. I built up a small library of topology reference images and videos to look at and follow. Some of which were good, some of which weren’t as good. However, here are the ones that I found most useful…
I printed out a few reference images to ensure I was following the proper workflow in my topology.
I decided to keep my character with the hair in the topology. I felt that this would make it more visually interesting to look at and work with.
Here is the initial face topology without the ears. I tried to keep it reasonably low-poly to begin with. At this point, it is sitting at just over 1200 polygons.
After getting the main facial features done I went on to work on the ear. The tutorial I used as a reference, sort of skipped through this section and didn’t cover it very well… So I sort of had to work on it myself with no guide. It went rather successfully with the first ear.
However, the second ear was where I had issues, due to the other side not being completely symmetrical, it created a number of errors which I tried to fix but it didn’t work properly.
I kept the first ear that worked and then I deleted and replaced the verts and quads in the second ear.
And this was the end of my Lower-Poly Mesh Topology.
However, when shown with the actual head sculpt alongside/beneath, it lacked a severe amount of detail and didn’t match the contours of the sculpt well enough for my liking.
At this point it was sitting at 1426 faces/polygons, which was nowhere near the limit of 10,000 polygons. Therefore, I created a higher-poly sculpt as well from this one.
I went on to add much more detail to the mesh through edge loops and other tools. Smoothed out the curves and relaxed the verts into place. Allowing them to settle on nicely and fit the curvature of the face more accurately. I added in such things as a hairline and a better detailed surface.
Below is a rotation of the Higher-Poly Mesh Topology.
Here is the finished head sculpt topology with around 6000 Polygons being used…
Reflecting back over the year of Imaging and Data Visualisation, I can’t help but see a definite change within my Maya work. I have learned new processes and ways of tackling issues. I feel that I caught on to Maya reasonably quickly. However, it was through being set interesting and unique tasks that inspired me to latch on to it. I feel that the group work and environment of the class really help in learning and enjoying the whole process.
I especially enjoyed the Floating City in terms of group projects. I feel that this was because of the possibilities and freedom of the task, and due to the fact that we were able to pick our own teams. The group work helps each of us as individuals as well as a team. It builds general group cohesion, motivation and confidence allowing everyone to work to each others strengths as well as their weaknesses.
Although I enjoyed the group tasks, I found the Head Modelling task to be very enjoyable also. It was a nice change and allowed me to build upon my skills individually and try out a new piece of software (Mudbox). I found the modelling of the head to be a far more pleasant and entertaining process in comparison to the re-topology process. Although, I am glad that I have experienced and now have a better understanding of the Maya topology process.
Overall, I feel that my general Maya skills and knowledge of the program have been vastly improved by studying Imaging and Data Visualisation. I personally feel that the classes and tasks have benefited my in a vast amount of areas both practical and theoretical.