Reflection ♯10: Overwatch

Overwatch (Blizzard, 2016) is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment. I played it on PC but it was also released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

It has very good playability with considerable and growing list of available characters. Its playing system have a very high and smooth curve of progress that gives good times to both, casual and hardcore players. In general the game is very polished and it has been a great success on the genre.
I have chosen to make an overview of this game due to the amount of references about Blizzard and others’ videogames that it has, linking this fact to one of the topics of the article I chose for my critical analysis, nostalgia.

First of all, it shares the game mechanics with the famous Team Fortress 2 (Valve, 2007) which was a great success and it is still played by a huge amount of players. Also, there are others elements inside the game, like the character selection screen with illustration of the character’s faces which portraits reminds character selection menu from fighting videogames like The King of Fighters (SNK, 1994). Moreover, inside the maps we found lots of references to other videogames, videogame’s culture and others Blizzard’s games. There is a map where we find an arcade full of machines as initial point, each one of them with references to blizzard’s characters in videogames that look like Metal Slug (Nazca Corporation, 1996) a classic space battle game like Halley Wars (ITL, 1991), Golden Axe (Sega, 1989), Arcanoid (Taito, 1986) and Street Fighter II (Capcom, 1987).  There are character’s designs that also have lots of references from videogames community, like D.Va which personality and phrases are related to videogames behaviour and jokes. Moreover, she wears a jumpsuit with Brand logos that remembers Professional Videogame players. There are even a direct reference to the Dark Souls’ Bonefire (FromSoftware, 2011).There are also gaming mechanics, like Soldier 76 or Widowmaker’s ultimate, which design have had inspiration on videogame’s cheaters behaviour like auto-aim or to seeing through walls.

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Another thing that I found interesting about the videogame is the animation of the characters and their design. Are very well characterised, the aesthetic have its own style and the animations are smooth and very fluid. It seems that they used a type of rigging that allows squash, stretch and deformation of character’s bones which allows a closer approach to how classic cartoons are animated.

Video from Youtube made by InorashiLoL (2016) about Overwatch’s Character deformations:

Conclusion

This game is so packed with Videogame and media references that I could continue adding examples for pages. As the article I read for my critical analysis say, it is obvious that part of the appealing of Overwatch is the use of references from other nostalgic videogames, thing that, at the least brings a smile to old gamer’s faces. The use of other videogame media or videogame world’s facts as references may bring appealing ideas to the design of characters creating new mechanics or concepts in some cases which can benefit the game as a whole. It is interesting to have this in mind when I am creating characters and environment designs so they will look more appealing to players. Also, it would be interesting to look how to make and use the type of rigging used in Overwatch which allows character deformation.

Bibliography

Overwatch (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://playoverwatch.com/es-es/ > [Accessed 13/12/2016].

Overwatch Wiki (n.d.) Easter Eggs [Online]. Overwatch Wiki. Available from: <http://overwatch.gamepedia.com/Easter_eggs > [Accessed 13/12/2016].

PCGamesN (n.d.) Overwatch Easter Eggs – StarCraft, WoW and More [Online]. PCGamesN. Available from: <http://www.pcgamesn.com/overwatch/overwatch-easter-eggs > [Accessed 13/12/2016].

InorashiLoL (n.d.) I Have Seen The Face of Death [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OMGog_W-2c > [Accessed 13/12/2016].

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Reflection ♯9: Zbrush Summit 2016 – Anatomy tools

I found a very interesting talk in Youtube (LINK) about anatomy modelling as part of the 2016 Zbrush summit that took place from September 30th – October 2nd at Gnomon School facilities in Los Angeles.
In it, Andrew Cawrse, founder of Anatomy tools, goes over his brilliant professional career trajectory as modeller in the Film industry working on films like Star Wars or Avatar explaining what it took to get there, how was the technology on that period and the incredible improvement that Zbrush brought to the model development in the industry.
After several years on film industry, having great opportunities of improvement, he decided to follow his own dream and founded AnatomyTools (2003), a company that tries to create the best anatomy physical desktop models available to give artists reliable sources of reference together with anatomy sources and courses to improve the comprehension and results of artist’s works. His human anatomy figures had a great success and then, he started to give courses to famous companies like Epic, Blizzard, Valve or Pixar. Nowadays, they are starting to work on more than twenty anatomy animal models.

After this, He starts what I consider the most interesting part in the talk that is the tips and advices on anatomy and 3D modelling that usually people do wrong.

First, the use of a correct Field of View (FOW) is necessary when sculpting in programs like Zbrush due to the distortion and deformation it cause in the final product. So he recommends an angle of view of 28 on Zbrush equivalent to the angle of view of humans (70-80 mm). He also recommends restudying all the muscle connections to the bones and sculpting from a living model as the optimal reference.

Second, He goes throw several mistakes made by artists like make cross-eyed characters (the model should look at a distant point at 10-15ft), The non-linearity of the muscles shapes “there are not horizontal lines in the nature” and the need of mastering the proportions of the skull, the ribcage, the hipbone and the scapula because they determine the shape of the rest of the body.

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The most interesting tip is the use of a modified Leonardo Davinci’s magic measurement technique consisting on taking the measurement of the width of the head (five eyelid width) and using it to track several important anatomy points no matter the position of the model. You then can use this measurement on Zbrush as unit of measurement and quickly determine the correct proportions of the model having a very quick, reliable and useful tool to assess your work.

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From the Question and Answer, it was interesting the tip about working on Zbrush in low resolution as far as you can to save time smoothing the model and the reference of Carlos Huante as a good artist that mixes different animal’s anatomy to create new creatures.

Carlos Huante’s work:

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Conclusion
In my opinion the part where he talks about his career trajectory was interesting as a reference of what to do to be promoted inside the film industry and also, even after achieve such goal, be able to consider changing job being brave and trying to success following your own dream it is also inspirational. It is also interesting to know about the anatomy physical desktop models they offer and the type of references some professionals use to make its own work. Regarding the utility of this talk in my own work, I will use the techniques and tips explained on it in my future work to improve them and have my character’s proportion right using a very reliable tool to assess my models.

Bibliography

Pixologic (n.d.) Official ZBrush Summit 2016 Presentation – Anatomy Tools [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6KKp8UpjYI > [Accessed 03/12/2016].

AnatomyTools.com (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://www.anatomytools.com/ > [Accessed 03/12/2016].

ZBrush Summit (n.d.) ZBrush Summit 2016 [Online]. ZBrush Summit. Available from: <http://summit.pixologic.com > [Accessed 03/12/2016].

Carlos Huante Art (n.d.) Artwork [Online]. Carlos Huante Art. Available from: <http://www.carlos-huante-monstruo.com/ > [Accessed 03/12/2016].

Reflection ♯8: Project “3D Printing”

The topic for the last week was “3D printing”. We had to make a 3D model and prepare it to be printed in a 3D printing machine. In the classroom we had a presentation of a functional and led illuminated Iron Man helmet printed on a 3D machine as an example of one of its uses, in this case to make films props. It also came a University member of the 3D printing department to make a presentation of the several types of 3D printers that the university have at our disposal and the specifications needed to print a 3D model on a 3D printer (STL file, minimum thickness of 2mm, hollow inside, maximum size). After the presentation we went to the 3D printing studio where we saw the 3D printers, several 3d printed examples and the different possible materials that can be used.

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As this project was very open and It was all about modelling I decided to focus on learning properly how to model on Zbrush and using the Dynamesh tool since it was necessary to make proper models. I had already issues in previous projects due to have not enough knowledge about this programme .

I started learning through a series of tutorials named “Introduction to Zbrush 4R2” made by Ryan Kingslien, founder of Zbrush Workshops spending two-three days watching this tutorials (around 30 hours of videos).

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Meanwhile, I was thinking what type of model I should do, a famous comic or videogame character or a mythological creature.

Some references from Google Images about several famous characters I was thinking to do as 3D printable model:

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As always I loved to draw dragons, I finally decided to do a bust of one. I took my own drawings as reference and selected the design I liked the most.

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I also looked for some reference of dragons on Google Images but I already liked my own drawing as they were so I didn’t make any change to them based on others work.

Other artists’ work on dragons:

After learning how to use Dynamesh, I really started to enjoy the process of sculpting in Zbrush. Finally, I could do what I had in my head and projected it on my model. Nevertheless, there were some issues with Dynamesh. Dynamesh is a tool that redistributes the polygons on the surface of the model depending on the resolution chosen. As you go up in detail is recommended increasing the amount of resolution. It is great when you do big deformations or add shapes. Nevertheless, it tends to blur or even wipe out the detail and texture having to retouch the detail each time you use it in order to not lose more and more detail each time. Alongside Dynamesh, I also used different brushes and techniques that I learned on the tutorials like creating teeth or the neck of the dragon with the Curvetube brush, cut surfaces with the Slicecurve brush or masking surfaces. I started by doing the skull of the dragon because the head was the most important and detailed part, then the jaw and finally the neck. After having the main shape, I started to add details like the teeth, horns and scales. Arrived to a point where I can’t achieve more detail with Dynamesh, I started then to subdivide the mesh, thing that  I used to use from the beginning of the process forcing the limits of the programme and my computer resources limiting the quantity of detail I could get.

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After having the model finished, I added a base to the model and started to adjust the model to print. First, I  I scaled the model to a 100mm size (the high of a standard mug that was the recommended size for the printing) then I created a reference image of a 100x100mm square on Photoshop with a 98x98mm centred on it so I knew the thickness that the model should had to have between the exterior and the interior of the shell then, I used the deflation tool and the move brush over a copy of the model till adjust it to the 2mm reference. One of the problems I had not into account was that, not only the shell had to have 2mm thick but also, the thinner part of any part of the model should be 2mm. Therefore, I used the inflate tool to try to fix the model but, as the fangs have a cone shape it was impossible to maintain that shape because it ends into a point. I liked the look the fangs I had at the beginning but, as it wouldn’t print properly, I also used the inflate brush on them.

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For the presentation, I made the postproduction using Premier 2015 (Adobe) using the videos of a turn around of the model in Zbrush and  a recording of the skyfolding process using Preform (Form Labs) with the “Main Theme” of Baldur’s Gate (Bioware, 1998) as background:

 

Conclusion

I still have to ask to the 3D printing department if my model is a viable model to be printed but, I should have chosen a better type of model to do from the start due to the 2 mm thickness printing requirements. I imagine that the best option should have been a rounded shape without borders or pointed protrusions (like fangs or horns) for example a bust of a bold human or a rounded cartoon character. Nevertheless, as my aim in this project was learning as much Zbrush modelling as I could and understand the use of Dynamesh till the point to have certain control on the model’s resolution, I think I have accomplished my objective. Of course I have still a lot of things on Zbrush to learn but understanding the use of Dynamesh has been a great step in the good direction.

 

Biblyography

ZBrushWorkshops (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://www.zbrushworkshops.com/ > [Accessed 13/11/2016].

Ryan Kingslien (n.d.) ZBrush 4R2 Tip # 1: DynaMesh / Remesh [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzCBQoD55y8 > [Accessed 13/11/2016].

Reflection ♯7: Project “VR-Zen”

The last week project’s topic was “Virtual Reality-Zen”. The objective was to create a 3D environment where the spectator feel a sensation of relaxation, tranquillity and meditation through different simple elements, slow animations, light, colours and transitions that induce relaxation and themes related with Zen thematic.

We had an introduction to the Oculus head set, a new technologic device that allow the user to visualize and play within virtual environments with a total immersion. We also had examples of virtual reality beyond this type of device like the Hatsume Miku concerts, where the singer is a holographic projection of a anime cartoon.

As the topic cover so many possibilities, I started by doing a list of relaxing things that I could include in my project:

-Fish pond, crickets and slosh sounds.
-Sea scene.
-Beach.
-Slowly geometry movement.
-Rocks flying around and maybe colliding.
-Butterflies flying.
-Rain.
-Some structure deconstructing itself and constructing again.
-Clouds in movement.
-Aurora Borealis
-ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). This refers to a biological phenomenon caused by a series of sounds, like whispering or tapping the nails on a surface, that triggers and causes tingling and relaxing sensations that are felt only by a percentage of people, not everybody.

Finally, I decided to use geometric shapes that move and transform themselves slowly. I took geometric wood games, rubic’s cube and geometric origami references from Google Images for the dodecahedron and pyramid shape and movement. I also took the Tamara Kvesitadze’s “Man and Woman” moving sculpture as reference to make a cylinder made of different layers that join together to make new shapes and planetary spinners for a concentric circle figure.

Images gathered using Google Images:

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I did the modelling and animation of each piece on Maya, baked the animation and exported it to Unreal Engine. I did first all the process with the dodecahedron and I found an issue with the timeline playback on Maya, where the baked animation was slower than the previsualization playback. This was because as default Maya playback speed doesn’t come as “real-time” speed. I fixed the problem for this animation on unreal by speeding up the animation and setting it to “real-time” speed on Maya for the rest of animations.

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I decided to use a spaceship environment because I have always found the space very relaxing and it fitted very well with my slow, floating geometry figures. I modelled the spaceship room on Maya and looked for a tutorial on internet about how to change the sky sphere to a space full of stars and nebulas. I found and followed a very interesting tutorial  on FRAG Level Design Youtube channel that introduce to Spacescape (Alex Peterson), a free application that generates a good quality space skybox and how to use it on Unreal Engine.

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I duplicated some models that were not big enough to fill an entire side of the room (like the dodecahedron or the cylinder). Nevertheless, I had some problems with the size and space of the room because the animated figures went through the ceiling or the floor in some parts of the animation. Therefore, I made some adjustments on the room’s height on Maya and re-imported them to Unreal Engine.

As I wanted that the figures cast shadows while they move, I put Spot Light lightning  on each figure from above and below of each one so they cast shadows on the floor and the ceiling. I also added some yellow illumination on each one of the corners to lit the room a bit more using the last week’s recommendation of using a multiplier node on an emissive material.

I wanted to use one material for each geometry shape like metals, plastic and glass. I wanted very shinny and reflective materials that interact with the light.  I took a look for first time to Substance (Allegorithmic) and took some default materials like plastic, aluminium and gold  from it and, as I didn’t find any option on Substance that allow me to create a transparent material I looked for a tutorial on Youtube to create one directly on Unreal with blueprints. I found one on MetalGameStudios Youtube channel but after complete the tutorial the material didn’t convince me because was too transparent and it did not look as I wanted. Therefore, I started to tweak the different nodes trying to adjust the transparency. Finally, I ended creating a holographic material from the tutorial’s original glass material which fitted perfectly with the scene theme. I applied it to the spinner and two of the three cylinders.

I finally figure out how to record properly with Matinee (Unreal Engine). The problem I had was that in the Play details of the Matinee Camera Actor I had to check the option “Play on Level Load” so the camera follows the path once the recording is launched instead of stay static. I made the post-production on Premiere (Adobe) and added the song “Rainstorms and Rainbows” by Jake Chudnow to the background because its relaxing electronic music reminded me the space and fitted perfectly in the scene.

This is the final result:

 

Conclusion
In my opinion, this project has redeemed me of the bad result I think I had in the light and shadow’s project. I liked the lighting and the cast shadows I have achieved in this one. As in the Light and Shadow project, I feel that I have learnt a lot (animation baking, unreal lightning, animation, materials and skybox and also substance). I still feel quite a bit lost with the Unreal’s blueprint system. On one hand, I am not a programmer and I don’t intend to be one in the future so I feel that knowing how to use it would not improve my design skills or models as a character artist. On the other hand, Unreal engine gives a great look to the models and would be very good to know how to use it for presentations. I will learn more about it in the future because is a programme required for this course and for games in general.

 

Bibliography
Love Anime (n.d.) Let’s Go… Shake It! Hatsune Miku Live Magical Mirai 2014 in Osaka [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqJgwYSh4Co > [Accessed 02/11/2016].

Oculus (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://www.oculus.com/ > [Accessed 02/11/2016].

VIVETM United Kingdom | Discover Virtual Reality Beyond Imagination (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://www.vive.com/uk/ > [Accessed 02/11/2016].

FRAG Level Design (n.d.) Unreal Engine 4 Tutorial: Space Skybox Creation [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSRsQpRfDlk > [Accessed 06/11/2016].

Alex Peterson | Spacescape (n.d.) [Online blog]. Available from: <http://alexcpeterson.com/spacescape/ > [Accessed 06/11/2016].

MetalGameStudios (n.d.) Unreal Engine 4 Tutorial: Glass Material (English) [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRQ5z8i_SV8 > [Accessed 06/11/2016].

Reflection ♯6: Project “Light and Shadows”

The topic for the last week project was “Light and Shadow”. In this project will be only assessed the lightning and effect of shadows in the scene with special interest in the projection of long shadows, silhouettes shaped by very bright lights and anything related to lighting and shadows that improve the atmosphere of the scene.
We had the chiaroscuro’s Dutch painters of the 17th and 18th centuries, like Gerrit van Honthorst or Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as several films like Casablanca (1942), Sin City (2005) or the Hitchcock’s films as examples and ideas of what to do. As examples of videogames that have an extensive use of shadows and lighting as part of the aesthetic of the game we had Limbo (Playdead, 2010), Inside (Playdead, 2016) and Metro 2033 (4A Games, 2010) among others.

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Game references:

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I am not very confident whit the area of lightning since I am not very acquainted with it. Also for doing this task it was almost mandatory the use of Unreal Engine for the light rendering part. I had not used it yet so I had to expend several hours studying the programme which delayed a lot the development of the project.
I started by gathering some references of L.A. Noire as well as old noire films shoots. I was interested in the the street props, wanting to recreate a 50’s American street where an accident or a crime happened.

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Then, I started to modelling this props of the street, like the buildings and lampposts trying to do modular elements that I could easily multiply to create a big scene. As the modelling part of the project wasn’t going to be in consideration I borrowed some models from internet that helped to save time. It was incredibly difficult to find free models that fits on my project, for example, I wanted a private detective dressing a gabardine and a fedora for the main character but I could find anything similar so, I ended taking a police officer instead, Policeman (frugurt, 2013) from TF3DM website. I also took the models Revolver (3dregenerator, 2012) and a car, Ford Thunderbird (alex38, 2013) to complete my scene, both from TF3DM website.

I had not to much problem with the revolver and the car but, for the policeman, as it did not have a skeleton I had to put in position, holding the revolver and having a more natural pose, by hand. In order to do that I used the smooth selection tool in Maya and move each part at a time (fingers, arms, shoulder,…) selecting and rotating the correct vertexes each time with a trial and error process.

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I exported my street elements to Zbrush in order to give them some protrusions to the surface so they cast shadows when they will be lit. Nevertheless, I had some issues trying to export the normal maps due to the High subdivided mesh that made crash the programme each time I tried to create them. As I was short on time, I decided to go on and do the lightning and leave the Zbrush model.

 

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When I had all the components ready, I used Unreal Engine to establish the scene by copy and pasting the modular elements to create a street in “T” shape to cut the depth of the camera shooting. After this, I put the police officer and the cars in position. Then, I started to lightning the scene by using point light (spherical projection) for the lampposts light and spotlight (cone projection) for the car lights which aimed the police officer, creating a long cast shadow and a shadow silhouette seen when the camera was behind him. I have some problems and doubts on how to make the source of the light bright since the light tools on unreal don’t make the source to be lit, like the glasses of the car, the lamppost or the street’s windows, it only give the projected illumination effect. In order to solve this problem I had to create the UVs back on Maya and create an Alpha layer to select these parts exclusively. My original idea was not create UVs and use the same material for everything as it was going to be a sort of black and white scene but due to this problem I had to go back and spend more time creating the UVs. Back again on unreal engine, I create emissive materials with the alpha layers added to each object (lamppost, building’s windows and car’s lights). I have also problems with the colour of the illumination of the building’s window because I wanted a light similar as the light going throw curtains but I could not achieve the attenuated level of light I wanted, it was too bright, so I ended using a yellowish colour instead the dark reddish colour I wanted.

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The last day I had, I tried using the Matinee tool to record a walk through the scene for the project’s presentation,   but I couldn’t figure out why the camera did not move while recording so I gave up on that. I will give it another try on future projects.

Conclusion
I am not happy with the result, but to be the first time using Unreal engine I think I have learnt a lot so, while I am not happy with the result, I am very encouraged by the process to continue learning this programme. I also lost too much time on the Zbrush modelling the wall not being able to use it at the final project. Moreover, I didn’t have in consideration that the modelling part was not going to be assessed so I could have used the time better  in things that really matter instead. After the presentation of the project, they recommended me to apply a multiplier node in the blueprint of the alpha material to create an emissive projection of the light. So, for future projects I have pending using this technique, learning how to use Matinee and improve my lighting skills on Unreal Engine.

Bibliography

Policeman – 3d Model – .obj, .c4d (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/policeman-28689.html > [Accessed 28/10/2016].

Revolver – 3d Model – .obj, .dae (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/revolver-67457.html > [Accessed 28/10/2016].

Ford Thunderbird – 3d Model – .3ds, .obj, .blend (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://tf3dm.com/3d-model/ford-thunderbird-77027.html > [Accessed 28/10/2016].

Reflection ♯5: Project “Memory and nostalgia”

For this week’s Media Project assignment the topic it is about “Memory and Nostalgia”. In order to get some ideas and examples on how to get ideas to this project the lecturers suggested us to think in the deepest memory we had, the first we can recall. Mine was playing at nursery school with sand of different colours taken from different parts of the playground. For game art and design master’s students they also suggested to take some game that remind us our childhood or bring us good memories and make our own version of it. I decided to use this last resource and gather some games that not only I remember as good games but also had some memory associated to them.
I took Simon the Sorcerer (Adventure Soft, 1993), it was one of the earliest games I recall to play, The curse of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1997), which I first time played with my sister and replayed it lots of times, and Baldur’s Gate (BioWare, 1998), which was my first contact with role playing games which I love since then, and Grim Fandango (LucasArts, 1998), the last graphic adventure I really enjoyed playing (I used to play almost only graphic adventures). From this list I chose Monkey Island because was the one which I had the fondest memories about.

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I’d started gathering some references about the characters and the different games of the saga instead of doing my own sketches first because, as the project is redoing or reconcepting a character game that already exist I thought was better to start from the source.
I decided to give the design of the characters a realistic approach to try bringing it to a more present graphic style, I took the 3D animated Tintin film, the adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011) as reference on how a 2D character becomes a realistic 3D one. Nevertheless, I decided to maintain some cartoonish features like proportions and  stylized design.

I draw the concept art of the two main characters, the hero, Guybrush Threepwood using the The curse of Monkey Island design and the villain, LeChuck, this last one using the design of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (LucasArts, 1991) with a more frightening, zombify and evil looking but maintaining the essence of the character.

 

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The result of the concept art:

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I decided to continue using Zbrush to try to get better with it but, this time starting with a high poly 3D modelled character to try getting more definition. In order to do that, I used the character “Blue” I already had from the “red chases blue” project as base because both characters share a slender body and cartoonish look. First, I modified the model in Maya to adjust the ears and head shape. Then I imported the obj. file to Zbrush and started modelling it in a more realistic way and approaching the design to my concept of Guybrush Threepwood. During the process I followed the tutorial on Faolinfalalay’s youtube channel to learn how to create cloths in Zbrush with Panel Loops.

Sculpting process:

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After modelling the cloths I used Polypaint to paint the character in Zbrush trying to use different materials (like sketchToyPlastic for the eyes, MatCap skin05 for the skin, etc.)  and using different hue to bring up life to the face and hands, using red and orange to colour the forehead, nose, lips, cheeks and knuckles. I also used more bright colours on the borders and protrusions to give more sense of depth on the whole. I Used Premiere (Adobe) for the postproduction and “Introduction & Main Titles” of The Curse of Monkey Island (Lucas Arts) as background music.

This is the final result:

Conclusion
I like the result of the project, it was a good idea to start the modelling with a model previously worked on Maya. Nevertheless, I still have some problems getting all the resolution I need to create parts like the cloth with all their folds and creases, having to increase too much the subdivisions to an extreme that the computer struggled to hold it. I think that would be good idea to give it a chance and study how DynaMesh works since I know it is related to give a sculpting approach to the modelling process giving more resolution in some way. It would be interesting to study it in depth in future projects.

 

Bibliography

faolinfalalay (n.d.) Creating Clothes & Armor With Panel Loops in Zbrush [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGqMYhueyLc > [Accessed 22 /10/2016].

Reflection ♯4: Project “Places of the Mind”

The second media project assignment has been around the “Places of the Mind” topic in which we had to create a character, place or situation that belongs to the realm of dreams or in some way out of reality and social conventions. As reference they showed us videos of several artists and games:

David O’Reilly:

Samorost (Jakub Dvorsky, 2003):

Machinarium (Amanita Design, 2009):

My first idea was to mix elements like animals or body parts in a creature to create something unreal and grotesque. I Finally decided to create an organic environment, made of flesh and bones where all the creatures where hideous combinations of body parts like fingers, heads and eyes. I had  The Dark Souls saga (From Software, 2011) and Bloodborne (From Software, 2015) as game references looking to create a similar anguished and smothering atmosphere through the visualization of such disgusting creatures and environment elements.

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As always, I draw first my own idea of the environment with the creatures lurking everywhere to see what can I get from my imagination.
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After that I start looking some other references like the already mentioned Dark Soul and Bloodborne videogames but also some creatures of the Dungeons and Dragons manual 3rd edition (Wizards of the Coast, 2000 ) that had the collaboration of several artists (Glen AngusCarlo ArellanoDaren BaderTony DiTerlizziScott FischerRebecca Guay-MitchellJeremy JarvisPaul JaquaysMichael KalutaDana KnutsonTodd LockwoodDavid MartinRaven MimuraMatthew MitchellMonte MooreAdam RexWayne ReynoldsRichard SardinhaBrian SnoddyMark TedinAnthony Waters and Sam Wood), the H.P. Lovecraft books and games illustrations and part of the work of Johfra Vosschart (1919-1998), a Dutch surrealist painter which work was based in psychology, mythology and occultism.

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Finally, I complete my concept art by creating individual illustrations of several creatures and a illustration of the landscape.

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In Maya I tried to create a part of the map progress adding element by element to the scenario. I started modelling the tree and some terrain features like the column or the eyed wall. At this moment, I felt that I wouldn’t have anything finished to present at the end of the week if I continue working on the scenario so I decided to focus my work on only one element, the tree.


As I hadn’t time enough to model a realistic person I looked for some free 3D models on internet finding a good model of a woman on the turbosquid website, Alesia [Light] (Zelax3d, 2013). I cut the model into pieces and placed some limbs as tree branches and deformed some parts, like the mouth, to create another deformation in the bark. I added some eyes to the model and modelled the eyelids on the tree model. I exported all the tree elements to Zbrush and start to modelling the surface of the tree and the bark using some references of tree bark from Google images.

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Bark pictures taken from Google Images:

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This is the final result:

 

Conclusion

I had troubles again with the use of time, I feel that only one week is very little to develop a project like this. To solve this I think I should try working in less ambitious projects or try working from the beginning to the end, piece by piece, but I suppose that as it is a project that can be worked further lately can be left undone by the moment.
I am not very happy with the result due to my lack of practice with Zbrush so the result is not as good and polished as the idea I had in mind. Therefore, it is necessary that I study how to use Zbrush more in depth to find out why I can get all the definition that I wanted and the polished result needed for a professional work. There are other aspects of 3D modelling for videogames that I haven’t touched and I would like to study and go through: Retopology, UV mapping, Texturize, Rendering, Rigging, Animating, use of engines, etc. I hope future master’s projects give me the chance to do so.

 

Bibliography

David OReilly (n.d.) THE EXTERNAL WORLD [HD] – DAVID OREILLY [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxPyN6IK1tM > [Accessed 12/10/2016].

domalog (n.d.) Samorost 1 Walk through [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkX-J0kjKzU > [Accessed 12/10/2016].

BBurgSteve (n.d.) Machinarium: Full Game Play through [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbNoM_5jKXE > [Accessed 12/10/2016].

Free Alesia Light 3d Model (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/773659 > [Accessed 14/10/2016].

Reflection ♯3: Project “Red Chases Blue” part 2

After the development of the idea, I started to draw some ideas of the characters appearance. My process usually consist in first, with a completely developed idea in my mind, sketch some quick drawings without having taken any reference more than that I had already in my head. In that way I have an almost pure concept done by myself without it being corrupted with others work, I think that in this way it will be more original.  Second, I start collecting references from several internet sources like deviant art, google images, youtube, polycount and cg society. In this case my main focus was Oriental-Arabic concepts for both characters taking Prince of Persia (Ubisoft Montreal, 2008) and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles (Climax Studios, 2015) as oriental references and  Steampunk-Orcs references from Warhammer 40k (Games Workshop, 1987) for the red character behaviour, technology and appearance.

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Third, I take those things that have drawn my attention, evaluate if they are compatible with my concept and, if they are, I try to adapt them to my character making as much modification as possible to maintain the originality.


After having developed the base concept art of my characters I started to create several dressing options for the characters, taking into account that the red race will be several individuals that would dress differently and also, the main character has to have a very stylized and appealing looking as it is going to be always on screen and maybe it will change cloths at some point in the game.

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When I finished, I decided which would be the main cloths for both characters. In the case of blue it would be a combination of two designs (1 and 2) taking the bottom part (pants and accessories of the legs) as well as the wristbands and tattoos of 1 and the belt, top and armband of 2. For the red characters I chose 3 as basic character and 1, 5 and 6 as special characters being tougher or having special attacks.

Having the concept done, I started to develop the 3D work.

First, As I had references of how exactly I wanted my model, I draw a turnaround of the characters so I had the front and the side of both characters.

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Afterwards, I made two perpendicular planes in Maya where I put each one of the drawings keeping in mind the proportions. With the reference placed I started to model the body with the box-modelling technique and using the poly-by-poly technique to create the face. I used the same process for both characters.

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During all the process when I had any doubt on how to proceed I looked this tutorial made by James Taylor because it explain all the process in the modeling of a character for animation:

This is the final result of the assignment:

 

Conclusion

Although, I think the result is acceptable, I had some troubles working on Maya and I am not very confortable modelling characters polygon by polygon, I find it very tedious and boring.
I had some troubles connecting the head and the rest of the body due to the different numbers of polygons which made me improvise a solution by redirecting edge loops to the inside of the head, thing that may cause problems in the future due to the bad topology but, by the moment looks good. I had also some issues following the youtube tutorials I found because the author didn’t solve some problems in its mesh which made me to improvise and fix some problems on the go (almost all the problems I had were modelling the head).

I draw from this project and the methodology used in it that I have to use less time in the developing of the concept to have more time in the execution which made me not solve some problems in a better way. Also, It would be good to find some finished topology references for the head that are well executed and connects properly to the body instead of following a tutorial from the beginning to the end without knowing if the result is good enough. It’s possible that other programs more focused in the sculpting part, like Zbrush or Blender would suit me better than Maya.

 

Bibliography

James Taylor (n.d.) Maya HEAD MODELING for ANIMATION Tutorial [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhtI-vKx8YY > [Accessed 09/10/2016].

James Taylor (n.d.) Maya Bodybuilder CHARACTER MODELING Tutorial [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spi4lGxnMZg > [Accessed 09/10/2016].

Reflection ♯2: Project “Red Chases Blue” part 1

Our first assignment in the Media Project subject has been to create a project around the topic or concept of “red chases blue” with a deadline of 2 weeks.

In class they showed us several examples of possible developments of the projects but, as they consisted in two elements, represented by two colours, that chases each other or with a metaphoric sense of chasing, the initial possible concepts to this project were almost unlimited which made me a bit unsure on how or what way take to complete this assignment. Therefore, I started an investigation about the topic itself, researching about the meaning of the two colours presented, red and blue. Browsing the internet I found several websites talking about the meanings of colours, the most interesting was one completely dedicated to colours meaning and sociological uses named “Empower yourself with colour psychology”  where I found several ideas about both colours.

–Red:  it’s a colour that sends us different meanings. They are divided in positive and negative.

In this point I decided that red was almost always associated with evil characters so I have decided to focussed in the negative part of the colour meaning. Therefore, red transmits lust, irritation, anger, revenge, agitation,…and is related with blood and war.

Blue: it transmits peace and in some cases it is related with the good. Blue gives a sensation of trust, responsibility, loyalty, peace, tranquillity, etc. and it is also related with friendship and the will of help others. It would be the perfect colour to use in a heroic character.

At this point, with the concepts of good and evil in mind, I started a brainstorming, trying to create a background story for both characters. The result was the next: On one hand, for the red character I imagined a very numerous conqueror warlike race. On the other hand, the blue colour reminded me the Aladdin’s character Genie (Disney, 1992) but also the element of Air. I linked the idea of air to Airbender’s main character Aang (Nickelodeon, 2005) and how it would fight using powers-magic of air. Combining both ideas resulted in an air Djinn that use air powers to move and fight.


After having developed the characters idea I decided that the reason for red to chase blue would be capturing the genie in a lamp, and the objective for blue would be rescue his girlfriend from the evil hands of the red army, a concept very times used in games like The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo, 1986) or Super Mario Bros (Nintendo, 1985).

For the appearance of the game, I decided that the game should be a lateral “Beat ‘em up” like Double Dragon (Technos Japan, 1987), Golden Axe (Sega, 1989)  or Castle Crashers (The Behemoth, 2008) but with a style like Trine (Frozenbyte, 2009) where the character can only move in a plane (left, right, up and down) and with a very beautiful and appealing background.

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Bibliography:
Empowered By Color (n.d.) Color Psychology Will Empower Your Life [Online]. Empowered By Color. Available from: <http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/ > [Accessed 06/10/2016].

Reflection ♯1: Hellblade: Diary 21 – Making a Virtual Human | Real-time performance capture

Ninja Theory (Cambridge, England), an independent video game developer company, is doing a video blog about the development of one of their games, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The interesting thing about this videogame is the cutting-edge technology they are using thanks to the collaboration of the Unreal Engine developers of Epic games, 3Lateral (facial technology), Cubic Motion (life facial system), Ikinema and Xsens.

I have chosen the diary 21 because it was the one that explain more about the technologies used to make a realistic and real-time animated character which is very interesting to me as are technologies I would like to use in the future. I think they may become the future of  videogame’s industry.

The combination of several technologies developed by the involved companies like motion capture, 3D scanning and realistic lightning allowed Ninja Theory to create a very realistic character that can be rigged in real-time graphics emulating facial expressions and realistic skin with wrinkles, blood flow, peach fuzz and surface scattering. This technology may cross the uncanny valley allowing playing photorealistic characters that move and look like real people.

Conclusion
This source not only give me an idea of the latest technologies used on videogames but also give me an approach of the methodology and workflow used to achieve this type of realism. Moreover, I wanted to investigate further on motion capture and this video gave me a start point to look how it works and the possibilities it has.
I think that this technology not only will have an impact on videogames industry but also on others industries like films, allowing real actors to participate as characters in videogames acting the same way as they do in films or using this technology in 3D animated films. In my opinion one of the biggest problems of using 3d effects and characters in films is that they stand out too much compared to the real characters and environment used giving an odd fake sensation. One example that I find have this problem is Warcraft (Duncan Jones, 2016), the film based on the homonymous videogame have this problem as it has 3D characters among real actors. Therefore, with this technique could be viable to use this kind of effects and characters to do the film completely in 3D maintaining the realism and avoiding this obvious difference between real and virtual.

Finally, the Ninja Theory’s video blog looks very interesting and worthwhile take a look along all the process to get an idea of  the steps in a game development, the technology used and the problems and solutions taken through it.

 

Bibliography

Ninja Theory (n.d.) Hellblade: Diary 21 – Making a Virtual Human | Real-Time Performance Capture [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmrXK4fNOEo > [Accessed 30/09/2016].

Ninja Theory Ltd | Ninja Theory Ltd, Independent Games Developer in Cambridge UK (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://www.ninjatheory.com/wp/ > [Accessed 30/09/2016].