My methodology

I would say that my methodology has changed from when I first started. I still look at YouTube videos and Digital Tutors first and follow along until I get an idea and feel confident with the programs I am using. My focus is primarily learning since I am new to this and have a lot to learn.

Nowadays, however I have become a bit more selective; I have an idea first then look up the relevant tutorials in order to create it. I have mostly been using Maya, Photoshop and Flash for my work and these are all applications that I have had little experience with previously. I had used Blender and 3DS Max before.

I tend to sketch out ideas in a sketchbook, or note it down so I can look at it when I get home or get some time to myself. A lot of my inspiration tends to come from other games or animated films. Sometimes it might be a piece of artwork. Then I work out what specific topics I need to learn in order to bring my ideas to life. I also borrow relevant books from the library and read up on them.

If I am using Maya then I look at modelling, UV unwrapping and textures. When I finish that process, I look at lighting and rendering the scene. Then I try and refine the scene, improve it further or change the camera angle. If I am using Unreal Engine then I am looking at the landscape tutorials, looking to import Maya models into them.  Photoshop is used to enhance final image renders, by doing colour corrections, etc. Before I would just use the rendered image from Maya, I didn’t know that I could Photoshop to improve the image further.

Of course then I had to go and learn Photoshop properly in order to learn how to do that, as well as how to clean up scanned pencil sketches for use in Flash. Then I had to learn how to paint in Photoshop all over again since my places of the mind painting didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

I know that I am “finished” when the final result matches or is as close as possible to the vision in my head or in my sketchbook. Sometimes it works out better than originally planned.

I also want to have a go at everything, because I am not sure yet what I want to specialise in. So that’s why I have been trying out 2D as well as 3D.  In the future I would like to try making a character, but for now my focus is on landscapes and environments.

I would say that my methodology could be improved further, once I learn how to do all these processes I can improve my speed and concentrate on efficiency and planning things ahead. I don’t plan ahead that much because I don’t know exactly what I am capable of and what I cannot do.  I focus on simpler ideas that I know I definitely can do and try and do it well.

On a more personal note, I need to improve my confidence a bit since I find myself comparing my work a lot to others, which is not exactly fair on myself as they have far more experience than me.

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Modelling a simple house

house tutorial
I followed this tutorial here: Mike Hermes (2004) How to Model a Simple House. [Online] Avaliable at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h284cy1liM [Last Accessed 6 January 2014].
I decided to have a go at modelling a simple house in Maya. I learnt a lot more about the extrude and insert edge loop tools, which helped in adding more details to house. I had trouble with the tiles though, they were a bit tricky to balance on the sloped roof. I think it turned out quite well for the most part, and now I can go on to create some more buildings of my own.

Alien Walking

This is a really short animation I did in Maya, involving an alien walking across a landscape, while airplanes are flying around its head. It combined all the things I learnt:

  • how to make terrain using hightmaps,
  • making an airplane model
  • Making the plane move along a path
  • Making a simple character
  • Giving that character a skeleton so it can walk
  • Get the camera to move with the character as it is walking
  • Animate the eyes flicking side -to-side as its walking.

I also tried out the toon shading effect on the alien and the plane. I like this effect a lot, It looks a bit like 2D animation on a 3D landscape.

Inspiration: No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky, Polygon (2014) [Online] Available at: http://cdn2.vox-cdn.com/assets/4646831/no-mans-sky-gallery-06.jpg [Last Accessed 5th January 2015]
No Man’s Sky is an upcoming game to be released in 2015. The trailers I have seen for this game look amazing, with bright, gaudy colours drenching every surface.  Each planet is procedurally generated, and no two players will have the same experience.  The main attraction appears to be the joy of exploring new worlds and comparing what you have found with other players, as well as gun battles.  I am very impressed with the art style and visuals of the game; it sets it apart from the other, grittier looking sci-fi games and gives it a distinct look and feel.

Underwater cartoon sketch

img002

I was attending the 2D animations classes and opted for an underwater scene to try in Flash. I am not going to try it until my 3D works are done, but until then this is the concept sketch that I will be painting over in Phototshop and hopefully it will turn out a bit better than the Places of the Mind project.  The idea is to have the camera panning over a beautifully lit underwater scene and as the camera passes over the rock, a starfish will pop out and say a line from Back to the Future.

Music and Animation

I wanted to try out a scrolling background in the style of Samurai Jack, and I wanted the trees, rocks and stones to appear in time with the music. To do this I learnt how to use Adobe Flash. I just wanted to try out new programs and expand my skills and knowledge. The most difficult part of this was to try and get the music to synch up correctly. Overall, I am more pleased with the animation than the music. My idea was that it could be the background of a level that the player is forced to moved forward in, with no backtracking.

Inspiration: Samurai Jack

Tartakovsky, Genndy (2001-2004), Samurai Jack, Newcleeart, [Online] Available at: http://newcleeart.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/samurai_jack2.jpg [Last Accessed: November 19 2014]
Samurai Jack is an animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network and one of my favourite shows of all time. It is almost cinematic in its scope, with its epic story of good and evil and fluid, well-choreographed fight scenes.  Tartakovsky aimed for a distinct style, eschewing dark black outlines for no outlines whatsoever and taking different stylistic risks in each episode.  For example, there is one episode where Jack fights a ninja entirely in light and shadow.

Samurai Jack uses silence really effectively. Despite the fast-paced nature of the fights, there will be a lot of tranquil moments where Jack will explore a new location and the camera will focus on different parts of the landscape, the only sound being waterfalls or Jack footsteps. A whole episode can have no dialogue whatsoever.  This again adds to the show’s unique sense of style and helps to maintain a tense atmosphere.

Since the show relies so much on silence and fighting, the lead himself is very expressive to convey his thoughts and emotions. He has time-travelled from Feudal-era Japan to the future where his mortal enemy Aku rules over everything.  You can tell that he is lost and confused in a strange land, but still determined to do the right thing.

I am inspired to try out a similar art style and atmosphere for a 2D game. The aesthetic really appeals to me.

Shadow and Light

2nd render Final colour render Final_Correction

For the Shadows and Light project I tried to do an alien landscape done in a low-poly style. I really liked the strong contrast between light and shadow in the black and white render, and was disappointed with the colour render at first. However I learnt how to correct this in Photoshop and went on to try and improve the image a bit more. I was trying to aim for a strong contrast between the shadow from the rock and the harsh sunlight.

I am interested in exploring the low poly-style further, since it can give a game a distinct look  and feel, differentiating it from all the gritty, hyper-realism styles used in games today.

Places of the Mind

Unfortunately I was ill, and didn’t work on this as much as I would like, but I was inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, to create a level for a platfomer game, where the world is entirely made out of food. I did a pencil sketch and coloured it in using Photoshop. It had been quite a while since I used Photoshop and I couldn’t quite get the depth and shading correct. I would like to have a go at re-creating it in Maya or Unreal Engine.

places of the mind

Inspiration: Rayman Origins (Wii)

Rayman Origins is a 2D side scrolling platformer that was released on all three consoles from the previous generation (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii). This game is well received among critics, particularly for its outstanding visuals.

Ubisoft (2011), Rayman Origins Wiki [Online] Available at http://raymanpc.com/wiki/script-en/images/b/b2/Rayman-origins-e3-7.jpg [Last Accessed: October 21 2014]
The art style for this game is vivid and stunning to look at, with bright colours and simple shapes.  The levels are varied and imaginative, ranging from forests to deserts to ice wastelands and even a food themed land.  The game was fun to play yet challenging. It really did transport me back to my childhood, exploring new worlds with wonder. The aesthetic reminded me very strongly of Saturday morning cartoons, and there were a lot of callbacks to the original Rayman on the Playstation 1 which I had played. I think the game achieves this by ensuring that each level is its own self-contained “world”, and while the levels within each world are varied and interesting to look at, it also maintains a consistent flow.