fredag 24 april 2015

Dance Dance!

As I said in my wall of text last time, I skinned and rigged the almost complete lowpoly-model of Tamarrion and sent it into motionbuilder to apply some animations so that we could test in the engine. This morning we managed to get both characters with the animations of the character we created during the last course applied to them sent to the coders to add into the Unity project.

This is what they did.

onsdag 22 april 2015

Tamarrion Low-Poly

Yesterday I finished the work on the low-poly mesh of the character that I am working on. There may still need to be some adjustments to do on the main body but it is nearly complete and I added the boots and her face. The only thing left is her hair before moving on to create her armour pieces, I already started a bit with the leather corset that she will be wearing.

As I had already created a base mesh that I used to create the high-poly in z-brush I used that as a base for my low-poly, adjusting it on top of the high-poly. The boots showed me the same problem that I previously had with the pants, which was to create the creases. It turned out to be  far trickier than I first thought as I want to use the typology that I have rather than just adding more and more polys. As she will be animated I also ave to consider the edgeflow so that there will be no strange deformations. I tried solving the problem by creating the main shapes of the folds, including the breaks in silhouette while leaving all details to maps. Perhaps there are still things that can be improved both on the boots and legs but I believe that it will work as it is now.

Another problematic area were the hands. The typology was initially pretty much chaos. I looked for references on hand typology that I used to get a better idea of how the edgeflow should be. For this I had some help from one of my team mates that had faced the same problems in the previous course. Again, it could probably be improved but it looks ok and hopefully it will work as her hands are an essential part of the game, being used both to hold her weapon and to cast spells. Here I believe I have some advantage as her glove will be quite dark which will help to hide errors.

In opposite of what I have done with her body and boots I decided not to use the head of the base mesh, instead I deleted it and started from scratch from planes. The reasoning behind this was to create a functional edge flow. When creating the base mesh I only focused on getting the silhouette fast so that I could get started with z-brush, with little thought of the typology.

Planning turned out a lot harder than  planned.

The face did prove to be a challenge but in the end I think that the edge flow came out ok, although it is not perfect. The first thing I did was to open a close up of her face in Photoshop, trying to think of approximately how to place the edgeflow. I drew on top of it to get a general idea and remember how it should look. I also took some time to find some examples among the tutorials we have been suggested in previous 3D courses.


I started the modeling with a single plane on the edge of her upper eyelid and extruding it to the sides to circle the eye, all the while making sure that the loops matched vertically and that I had the same amount of polys on both eyelids. From there I continued circling her eye, moving towards the nose and cheek, this is where the problems started to line up with starshapes and triangles while trying to follow the shape of her face. I did have to stop and think several times to think of how to continue and where the loops should go.

Since the character will mostly be seen from the back I did not want to spend too many polygons on the face. I did however want the face to still look good as it might be useful for later stages. Perhaps if we decide that we want to continue working on the game we might want to add things where she will be seen from the front. We might also want to have her visible in the inventory menu, so that the player can actually see the character that they are playing as. If we need to make adjustments to the camera her face might also be visible more often, the way it is now it will be occasionally when turning. Another reason is promotional material, while creating cinematics and trailers we will very likely want to show her face. For these reasons I have also added bones to her face to accommodate for facial animations although I deem it very unlikely to be entered into the vertical slice that we are developing now.

When the hair is complete and I want to start assembling all the pieces of her together I will probably delete some of the polygons that now forms her head as they will not be necessary. At this point we just want the low-poly to be complete as soon as possible so the coders get something to work with, this means that she will be bald for a while. As I still need to do a high-poly for it I decided to complete the most necessary parts of the low-poly so that it can be tested inside the game as all other parts can just be added to it since the rig is already complete and waiting for them.

The rig is one of the things that I continued working on today as we wanted to get the pretty much finished low-poly into the engine to test. It was done for the base mesh so it needed some small adjustments to hands and ankles as well as the braid which I did as a "tail" rather than just regular bones. I also added weapon attachments to both her hands as I had forgotten to do that previously and bones for her face. I still need to add weapon attachment bones to her hip and perhaps her back so that she will be able to sheathe her blade. I am just now starting to think that maybe I should add a bone to her left arm so that we will be able to give her a shield, should we decide to continue with the game. I realize how important to get the rig right at this point, because once it is done and animations are applied to it, it cannot be changed, at the risk of having to redo all animations. Therefore I think it important to accommodate for all possibilities that we might want to add now, even though we might not need it right away.

I also worked on the hair today, yesterday I made tiny adjustments to the top part of the braid to make it a bit bore asymetrical. today I started trying to figure out how to create the hair. Up until now I have created a "helmet" so that I would have some thickness and volume to work with in z-brush. I am however very uncertain of how to continue on from here, much because I have never modeled hair before. I have very limited knowledge of where to even start. I am thinking that maybe I should create a high-poly in z-brush with what I have now and then create it from planes based on that. It could probably work to keep what I have though, so that I can keep the volume, as having it as just one piece works with the art style that we have chosen and add perhaps one plane on each side for the bangs and maybe another to break up the silhouette. I had a look at World of Warcraft models and they seem to model the hair as one piece (ponytails) and add a few planes, I may not have the skills that the people working there just yet but I think I could try to create something similar.

There are still so many things to be said but this is getting extremely long and my hands are starting to hurt from typing so I will just have to continue working on the model and discuss my problems another time.

fredag 17 april 2015

End of Week 3

Now the 3rd week of the project has come to an end, it has gone by really fast and it feels like it should be Wednesday and not Friday. So where are we in the planning? The coders are still doing really well and it looks like we will be able to make our ALPHA-deadline next Friday. On the art side all items needed for the environments have at least base meshes although some still need polishing on the high-polys. The characters are slowly coming along, again I would have liked to come further at this point, but I managed to complete the high-poly of the body yesterday morning. This meant that I managed to make the mid-week deadline for it that I hoped to make and that I could start creating a base mesh for her hair.

I also did a basic rig and quick skinning yesterday although it somehow got broken in Max and I had to redo it today. I also threw the skinned and rigged character into MotionBuilder to test it with some mocap-data I have with sword fighters. It looked real good and it does not seem as if her armour will cause much problems since they are so close fitting on her body.

When I had done that I started reworking the base mesh to create a low-poly so that I can give it to the coders to put in the game with some rough animations. I did not get too far with it though as I also had to spend some time discussing the boss's name with the designer and team, the lighting and colours in the scene as well as design of floor and walls with the environmental artists and giving feedback on the boss character's development.

I also have to form a synopsis for the report that I will be writing on the project in order to get my degree. I need to form a testable hypothesis, question or statement, state what methods I will use to test it and what literature I will reference. It is supposed to reflect what I have done on the project and my learning across the 2 years of school. I have no idea what to choose. Should I go with something producer-related or art? Perhaps something about working two separate roles? If I go with something about art, which part? I will not work on one single thing on the project, but will rather have to divide my attention on a great amount of vastly different tasks, including planning, character design and development, building a background story and world, designing UI and menus as well as logos and ordering t-shirts. It just seems so difficult to choose and I think no matter what part I choose it will not be something that I will spend all of the 8 weeks doing.

måndag 13 april 2015

Week 3

We ended last week with a team meeting where we discussed how the project had gone so far, focusing on last week. It was mostly the leads informing the other sections on the team on what our own section had done and how that correlates to the original planning and scheduling. All team members also had the chance to take up any issues that had occurred during the first two weeks.

One reason for having this meeting was that we had come to our internal deadline for the playable prototype. Since we already had something close to that within a few days of the project we felt that the planning and first two weeks had been a success. It was only, as mentioned in previous posts, in the art section that the artists seem to be slightly behind. We do however hope that the work we are doing now will decrease the time needed on texturing tremendously, which will put us back on schedule.

Ingame Prototype as of Last Week

As today is Monday and the start of a new week, we had a weekly morning meeting where we went through what we need for the ALPHA (internal), which we have planned for in two weeks, and what of that is to be complete within this week. Our meeting structure is so that we have morning meetings daily, in those meetings all team members will one by one say what they will be doing that day as well as bring up any questions or problems that might be of interest of the entire team. The team is of course encourage to ask immediately whenever a problem or question occurs, programmers and artists answer to their respective leads which answer to the designer and the producer. On monday mornings we have a longer meeting where we go through the entire week's goals before discussing what all members are doing that day. Fridays we have another weekly meeting where we will discuss how it went with what we had planned, how far we have come and whatever problems occurred. At the end of each day, before leaving, I, as the producer, ask the team if there is anything they need to bring up or ask, if not it is left until the morning.

Mondays are also the days of meeting with teachers to check up on our progress, this meant that I spent the entire midmorning in meetings, first with the team, then in a producer meeting and finally in an artist meeting. In the producer meeting we discussed how far we have come with the project, if there were any hardware or programs that we might need as well as had a look at the project plan and design document. Everything seemed to be in order, all documents looking good and the teacher happy with the fact that the programmers are at this point 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.

Ingame Prototype as of Last Week

The art meeting felt a bit short, we did not have time to show everything and fully explain, I think it might have been to an advantage if the teachers had had a look at our vertical slice prior to the meeting. They did give us a lot of valuable help though, they confirmed our idea of experimenting with the placement of the camera to make visible the proportions of the characters. They also questioned the choice of letting the player direct the camera which means that everything must look good from 360 degrees. This is something that the designer is quite set upon though and is important to gameplay and we will only be doing one indoor environment so hopefully it will not be a problem.

They also advised us to think a lot about the colour palettes and perhaps split complementary colours. They suggested that we do mockups and slide around the HSB-meters in Photoshop and take screens and compare what looks best. Something that we have thought a lot about was also mentioned, that the colours of the main character must fit with all levels that we want to make.

I thought about adding something about my progress on the high-poly but this turned out so long that it will have to be short. Z-Brush seems to work for us although it is a challenge and takes some time. I still have quite a lot to do with it, for instance I have not yet started on the face, hair and armour pieces which makes me feel a bit stressed. I have though done the groundwork on the body, legs, hands and feet, although the latter two still need some attention. On the other parts it is mostly a matter of sharpening up the details which I will not do until the entire model is at that stage.

onsdag 8 april 2015


Yesterday I continued on the mesh of the main character in 3DS Max, at the end of the day I had reached the point that I was ready to take it into z-brush and have a go at it. I had blocked in all the armour pieces but decided to only export the body itself, leaving the armour for modeling separately at a later point so they are not in the way.

I managed to get far enough to export the mesh from Max and importing it as a tool in Z-Brush, that was when things started to get tricky. It is a program that I have never used before, but I managed to figure out how to move the camera around and enter edit mode before giving up for the night.

This morning I asked for a crash course from one of my fellow artists who is very familiar with the program, this allowed me to start sculpting although it did not work out exactly as I wanted. I do find the controls a bit clumsy and the tools a bit tricky to use, but I imagine that it might just be that it needs some time getting used to.

One of the things that I tried to work on was the leather corset, it has the very basic details although I could not manage to create the sharp edges that I want, everything just seems to smudge together. Perhaps I need higher resolution on the mesh, or perhaps I smoothed the character to much before. I think that smoothing her was not a bad idea though, as I needed to remove the very square shapes and form her body. Most likely it is just due to my inexperience with the tools, I hope I get the hang of it tomorrow.

I do think that it is a bit of a risk using a new software in a project that only takes place in such a short period of time. Had not one of the team members been experienced with the program I might have decided differently.

I will have to rethink parts of the schedule as this method slightly changes the pipeline, in a way I could say that the base meshes are complete and that I should add High-Poly cards for the assets to the SCRUM. At the moment we are only continuing on the base mesh cards, which does make it seem as if we are more behind schedule than we are as they are due this week. This means creating a low-polymesh for the final meshes but we will be able to use these models to create textures.

The reason for choosing to do it this way was that I believe it can have a big impact on the textures and, if we are lucky, help us out a lot with the textures later. I was very much inspired by a tutorial I found by an environmental artist's work on World of Warcraft and was very interested in trying out that method of texturing. Another reason was having discussed with my fellow artists, especially the environmental artist who felt that our artstyle would benefit from using Z-Brush and wanted to use it himself.

If we manage to control the program to a satisfactory level in a short time period I will think of it as successful, but we do have a plan B as well which is closer to the pipeline that we have followed in previous 3D-courses. This means doing all modeling in Max (base mesh to low-poly) and then handpainting all textures in Photoshop.

måndag 6 april 2015

Base Mesh

As I finished the turnaround for our main character last week and did a quick colouring during the weekend it was time to start working on the base mesh. It was originally supposed to be due today, but I rearranged the schedule slightly to accommodate for the increased time spent on the concept art. I did manage to get quite far though, and might get it done tomorrow if everything goes well. Today was quite laid back and the offices quite empty, since it is still Easter. Most of us made it down to the office anyway for another relaxed day of work, in spite of it being a holiday.

Coloured version of Tamarrion

Before starting on the mesh I helped a sick team member out by making some last adjustments to the turnaround of the antagonist. There was mainly an issue of the pose being to straight and stiff, also some parts were lacking a bit of thickness. As we need to get started on the mesh I decided to not clean it up to perfection. I got the basics down and any details will have to get addressed during the modeling, we do not have any more time to spend on it at this point.

I also did some producer tasks, which meant adding all of the environment assets to our scrum now that the concept art for the level is done. We have waited until that to add the items to the list so that we would know exactly what we need. I still need to add deadlines for them, which I might get done tonight.

I started out the modeling by creating planes on which I projected the four different angles from the turnaround (front, back, left, right). Then I created a box, starting on the clavicles on the shoulders, ending by the armpit. From there I used extrusion to create, first the body, and then from the body arm, leg and finally neck and head.

Very first basic mesh

When I had the very first basic shapes, I started adding some loops across the body to get the general shapes, adding more as I went and moving on onto moving vertices and lines. I spent most of the time on fine tuning on the lower part of the leg and foot as that was where the biggest problems were. At the end of the day the leg started to look better but I still need to do a lot of adjustments.

Base Mesh at end of day

The next step will be to adjust the body, arm, and finally, the booty, as it can be a tricky area I want to save it until the other shapes are starting to look complete. I am thinking of trying to create a highpoly in z-brush once I have the base mesh down, I have only ever opened the program once though, so I will have to see how that will turn out.

fredag 3 april 2015

Week 1

The first week of production has now come to an end. Some of us met up for a voluntary day of casual work in the office, because of it being a holiday it was very relaxed and we had a few visitors come by to hang out and look at what we are doing.

Although it could still do with some additional cleaning I finished the turnaround of the main character today. Mostly I have just cleaned up the lines a bit to make it easier to see when it is time to model, I do not feel at this point that it is worth the time to clean it further, it would only be for promotional purposes that it might be necessary. When I was done with the turnaround I started testing out some colouring but I will need to continue with that during the weekend.

It does concern me a bit that we are not further along with the concepts, I would have wanted to start modeling this week, and we still have to do concepts for the weapons. I think that we will have to step up the pace a bit next week, this first one has been somewhat of a trial, learning to work together as a team. Another reason for falling a bit behind is probably because we have only had three full days of work this week and for me personally that I have had other tasks that comes with being producer, such as project plan and answering questions/giving feedback.
The concept art for the level is pretty much done though and the artist has started working on details which will be very important for the level. All that needs to be done there is to add the list of items needed into the backlog and perhaps look a bit at the colourscheme so we can coordinate it with the characters.

The boss character is also coming along although there are still some issues with it, I do believe that it will be finished during the weekend which means that we will have to do some real quick decisions on colours on Monday.

The programmers seem to be doing well on their schedule, unity seems to be making things easy for them and they have a functional camera, a character which you can control and an attackable character with a basic UI displaying stats. All UI elements and inventory are scheduled to be completed not until the end of the project as the gameplay is more important. After some discussion between designer and coders it was decided that they would create a very basic one at this point to aid the designer in his work. Things does not always go as intended though and when one of our coders was testing attacking, which he had been working on today, he found that something strange had happened. :)

This would be the most OP boss ever, attack him and he multiplies!

I hope that laying down the foundations of the project, having done a lot of planning and organisational work will give me a lot more time to produce art which I believe is necessary for us to finish. I do have a lot of faith in my team though, they are very talented, easy to work with and so far we seem to get along well.

onsdag 1 april 2015

Day 2

It is the second day in the office. We are almost out of cookies.

Today we finally got our extra monitors, TV and keyboards and stuff, we just need more sockets so that we can plug all of them in and organise the office so we do not trip over the flying cords that for a labyrinth around the table.

I have spent much of the day working on our project plan which I have also handed in, it consists of weekly plans - which is something we had already written down and added into our scrum - dates of internal deadlines, the biggest risks we face and how we plan to solve them if they should occur. I also added a short summary of how we plan on organising our meetings.

The rest of the day has been spent on listening to a few of the pitches of the rest of the class, answering questions and giving feedback to the artists and working on the Concept Art for the main character. I realise that I have to spend a lot of time, being both Producer and Lead Artist, going back and forth between the artists and coders, giving feedback as well as answering questions. I think that by doing proper preproduction work, making sure that the concepts are solid and that everything is written down as well as planning well will allow me to spend the necessary time on creating art assets.

To make the Concept Art of the main character a bit more cohesive I have rounded up the edges of her boots slightly so that it will match the curves of the chestpiece and belt, as well as the armour pieces on her boots which were clashing a bit with their pointy silhouette. I also decided to make them a bit broader and drew her face.

What still needs to be done is adjusting the belt a bit, it is slightly too wide at the moment as it looks thicker than her chestpiece. Then I also have to focus on how she will look from the side, and most importantly from the back. Her backside will need a lot of time and thought on the details as that is what the player will be spending the most time looking at.