Friday, January 23, 2009

Project Work: Environment

I chose the Scrap Yard brief for my environment project which resulted in a reference visit to a scrap yard in Coventry which contained so many interesting things to take pictures of that I was overwhelmed with what to model. I decided on the anti-freeze corner which contained several huge tubs of waste anti-freeze and fuel along with several other interesting assets to make.

Below are a few renders of the completed environment which came to about 10,000 triangles

Project Work: Character

I chose to do the World War 1 character project, transforming my grandad from elderly relative into a WW1 Field Marshall which was a lot of fun to do. Textures are a mixture of hand painted and sourced photographs from the army surplus store. These all show the middle LoD which came to just over 4000 triangles

Project Work: Van

Just thought I should post up some of my finished work for the projects so far, these are a few renders and screengrabs of the H-Van and the H-Van in its damage state

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Just wanted to post up a few of the pictures I took of a scrapyard and a screenshot of how it's going so far. I'm planning on including a few more big objects but generally keeping it quite small since it'd be easy to get carried away with the amount of interesting stuff that was there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

3D Analysis

I’ve found this term’s 3D work very challenging but I’ve learnt a lot and I think the team project has been a good motivation to get work done for the sake of your team as well as yourself. I think everyone has had to overcome a variety of different problems and it’s pushed everybody’s teamwork skills as well as modelling, texturing and working in an engine.

I think that the size of the groups could have created some problems, people might have worked better in smaller groups maybe of around six, which could have helped to make some more tightly knit coherent teams with more of an emphasis on communication between team members since there’s less of you to get the job done which increases the pressure. With smaller groups there would be more large assets to distribute to people which would help to push everybody’s current modelling skills even further. Having said that, I think that our group communicated very well with regular scheduled meetings and several group deadlines to make sure people got their work done on time. There were some issues at some points but everything ended up being resolved and everybody produced some great work and a level to be really proud of.

I enjoyed the work I’ve produced, particularly the texturing this time around. Although it can be the most tedious and drawn out aspect of 3D work, nothing beats the satisfaction of drawing to the end of your time working on texturing a difficult model and applying and tweaking normal and spec maps to get that final outcome.

I also had good fun with the one day speed models, it was great to have some totally different things to work on besides the Queens building work and I think it gave everybody a chance to really free up and work on some very enjoyable projects without the kind of team-related pressure concerning the group project as well as improving overall modelling speed.

Something which took absolutely ages was getting my work ready for presentation, I couldn’t believe how time consuming it actually was to organise all the different renders to try to present things to a decent standard. I ended up sacrificing a lot of sleep when it came to sorting it out simply due to me underestimating the effort it takes to try to show off your work in a good light. It was very satisfying to finally have everything in presentation form and be able to scroll through it at a leisurely pace though.

It was a good year for 3D work, my main regrets are not getting to grips with Unreal as much as I could of and also needing to do more high-poly work in Zbrush, but this can be remedied over summer. I’m looking forward to finding out about our summer projects so I can get started on them, but for now, after getting everything on the K-drive, I’m gonna have just a little break and catch up on some sleep

2D Analysis

2D Analysis

I’ve really enjoyed producing 2D work this year and I think it’s due to the variety of different weekly tasks that we’ve been assigned. I’ve found myself being more creative with my work when the project is set under a short time constraint since I’m forced to come up with ideas and sketches as quickly as possible and this not only helps me produce more interesting work but also helps me from procrastinating and putting things off. When there’s a long project looming ahead I find it really easy to lose motivation simply due to the amount of time there appears to be to get it done, and all of a sudden the deadline approaches unexpectedly and it’s a mad rush to get everything done in time.

Something that I found really helpful this year was purchasing a layout pad to help me come up with ideas for some of our projects. It allowed for a lot of freedom since I’m usually very precious with my sketchbook work and spend too much time on individual drawings in it rather than using it as a vessel for ideas. The layout pad just seems appropriate for sketching down quick ideas and doodles and really exploring the tasks without worrying about the results. It’s also great to be able to tear out the pages and to be able to look at all your research drawings at once. My room ended up entirely covered in pages on more than one occasion but it was really helpful stuff since you can see which direction your work is taking and what the plan of action is to make progress. I’m definitely going to continue using them for this reason and also because I had so much fun drawing in it.

I’ve had a great time doing digital painting this year although it’s still something I feel very inexperienced with. Everybody else seems to know all these cool tips and tricks and how to manipulate Photoshop to create some really stunning images whereas I just plod along using the basics. I’m going to be looking at a lot of tutorials over summer to try to figure out the real potential of the program and what I need to do to get there. I’m also going to do much more traditional painting to refresh myself with the fundamentals and hopefully translate that onto the PC when I come to do more digital painting. Something which I enjoyed but wish I’d done more of were the speed paints. They were a great exercise in loosening up and coming up with ideas quickly and it’s fun to know that everyone else is working to the impending deadline alongside you, it’s also great to see what everybody else with comes up with and the cool techniques they use to realise it making it a really good learning process since you can directly analyse your own work with everyone else’s.

My main goal for 2D is just to practice I think. But I’m gonna practice both smarter and harder so I learn lots of new things as well as doing work that I like and having fun doing it. I wonder if the speed paints will carry on over summer, and if so I’m gonna participate on a more regular basis. Overall it’s been a really fun year for drawing and I can’t wait to learn more.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Siren Speed Model: Textured

We don't have to turn out a masterpiece everyday. To paint is the thing, not to make masterpieces. -Henry Miller

After looking at various examples of art and artists I came across Henry Miller’s view on art which had I found pretty interesting. It got me thinking about the process of producing a piece of work being just as much part of art than the final product and just as much of what makes it good or bad.

Since this subject matter is vaguely related, I’m gonna use it to talk about some peoples’ opinion of games not being classed as art. Maybe people have come across film critic Roger Ebert’s view on games in relation to other media and cultural things and his opinion is that due to player interaction, games cannot be classed as art. I would say that due to player interaction they can be classed as art in an entirely unique way: you are able to experience and build upon a collaboration of various people’s talent and art in your own creative way by playing the game, which is an artistic process in itself. Maybe this is just a step up from using the excuse of playing games for “research”; now we can say “I’m creating art!” when people ask why you’re playing a game and not working.

“I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.”
Roger Ebert

It’s hard to read this quote without getting at least a little bit riled up about this pretty ignorant opinion. It’s clear that Ebert has never come across some of the many more sophisticated and arty games, but who can blame him? With the legions of shooters and movie-games that saturate the market it’s difficult to see past them all making it very hard for the untrained person to distinguish the good games from among all the bad ones, which is a great shame since everybody should be able to enjoy the sophistication and the certain unique experiences that only games (good games) can provide. To say that the nature of games prevents them from becoming art is inappropriate since the potential of the genre allows for many different artistic perspectives such as story telling, visuals and player interaction.

In conclusion, the current state of the market in general seems to be giving the entire games genre a bad reputation due to the vast amount of uninspiring games being released. Hopefully in time as games become more popular and respected, we’ll see more of those rare and venerable classics that are very rare at the moment.

Siren Speed Model

This was for the Greek myth speed model project and is supposed to be a siren with an extra big music face hole for singin'. It's turned out not to be so speedy at all and took quite a while trying to get the shape and form as correct as I could manage. I'm gonna get it textured soon I hope but it's been fun to model so far. It's been great to get back into some character modelling after all the Queens building assets so I'm going to make sure I totally finish this one soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008


He was there in the beginning.

The Blinding of Samson: Digital Masterpiece

Here's the orignal: I decided to recreate Rembrandt's "The Blinding of Samson" for my digital masterpiece, I just think it's such a powerful image, the lighting, composition, it's all epic stuff so I figured it'd be a fun picture to try and get even a bit of its grandeur across in a digital recreation.
This is my sketch, I spent absolutely ages trying to get the composition accurate and it was so much more difficult and complex than I first thought, it took way too long trying to get it right.

Here's my finished image, it took ages and ended up being an all-nighter but it was great fun to do. I never understood the sheer amount of detail and subtelties that go into the old master's work until I had to tackle it first hand and I have a now have even more respect for the original masters of art. I've really enjoyed these short projects, it's been great to try so many different styles and approaches to things, I've only got a couple left to do now but I'm looking forward to 'em!

Vehicle Project

This ended up not being very land-air- or sea-yachtish at all, but this is an almost finished picture of my vehicle, I still need to put something on its little screen/monitor thing and a few other finishing bits and pieces.

Mechanical Final

My final outcome for the mechanical project and the initial sketch here


Here's my bar, there's no specific theme going on here but it was enjoyable to do.

Lake District

Okay it's been a while since I posted any work up here so this one's a painting of somewhere in the Lake District (can't remember which lake we were at here) , using the default photoshop brush

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Moral Decisions in Games

Good and bad and decisions are a popular subject in all art forms though very few pieces of work portray it well. Games are not an exception to this. I’ve played countless games in which the decision of becoming either good or evil is a selling point printed on the back of the box in bold letters, but it’s something that never contributes to my purchase because I know it’s not going to be done in a very effective or meaningful way.

Moral decisions and life in general are more complicated than just lumping things into the two extremes of good and evil and I think that games don’t often consider this. I’m using Bioshock as an example here. In my opinion the game was a bit of a disappointment considering what was promised, especially in terms of throwing you in some sort of moral dilemma. I was expecting a less linear experience both in terms of game play and layout, and in terms of decisions concerning good and evil and the consequences that come with them. Instead the game had its one moral decision, whether to rescue or harvest the little sisters. This was a blunt decision between being good or bad and had none of the subtlety or mystery I was hoping for. Add to the fact that this single moral choice decides one of only two endings and it’s clear that there’s less to the moral aspect of things than there should have been.

Something which intrigued me whilst I was riding the hype train prior to its release and looking for bits of information was the decision to censor the controversial player controlled murder of the little sisters with their weapon of choice, in favour of the more ambiguous “harvest” scene. I can understand how this came about as I don’t think murdering children with wrenches has any place in a game, but again, it’s something else which causes the game to lose that moral impact it should have had and helps to distance the player. If you were forced to kill the defenceless girl instead of a video-initiating button press that does it for you, then it would mess with your morals much more.

Because of reasons like these I’ve never enjoyed the “good or bad” decisions in games as they never reflect real-life situations. However, after finding out that Fallout 3 is going to have over 200 endings- that is a lot of endings!- maybe moral decisions could finally be represented more accurately in a game. Can’t wait for that one, if you somehow haven’t seen the trailer already then check it out:

For the record, I usually play the good guy in these types of gam

es. Even though it was reduced to just pressing X, I still couldn’t kill the little sisters. How about you guys, we got any heartless lil’ sis killers here or did you all do the right thing and rescue?

"Good" and "Bad"

I don’t think it’s appropriate to use the terms “good” or “bad” when describing art, at least in today’s modern society. Art encapsulates so many different forms of expression that you can’t inherently call a piece of art “bad” because you may not understand what somebody might be trying to express with the work they’ve produced. It may not be technically appealing or perspectively accurate but who’s to say that’s what the piece is trying to promote? It may be a study of colour or form, a representation of freedom of expression in the form of sculpture, or maybe just a plain white canvas that represents nothingness or something.

I think the only way you can really judge a piece of art is whether it appeals to you or whether it doesn’t. I’m not usually drawn in by the more fine art type of art that includes meaningful shapes or shocking statements. I’m more impressed by mastery of visual media and accurate representations of things because it’s something I can relate to and I’m stunned to see the amount of effort and time people put into manipulating media to a realistic effect. I suppose this makes me simple minded because I don’t really “get” fine art, but I can’t help it, it’s just the way my mind works, I respect the technical prowess and dedication over the meaning behind the work. There are many pieces of fine art that I enjoy and are very meangingful to me but since I'm currently striving to improve my technical ability and visual understanding they usually aren't what I'm currently interested in. A combination of the two is best of all of course, but if it’s one over the other I always go for the pretty shiny picture instead of the meaningful one. This makes me a "graphics whore" of the art world, doesn't it...

I think in this society it’s quite common for people to gain artistic recognition without the need of as much technical mastery of media or a true visual understanding of the world around us. I know that’s a harsh thing to say in a way, but people's opinions are so broad and varied that many pieces of art that I wouldn’t consider appealing are very successful. This brings me back to our group discussion on the subject and how Da Vinci and other artists of the period took painstaking efforts in representing the human form accurately due to strong religious beliefs of man being made in the image of god, thus making it blasphemous to misrepresent people. I'll always find this dedication and art of that variety more impressive than most pieces of modern art I think.

After wandering around the internet and reading opinions concerning people’s perceptions of art, I found an interesting pair of pictures for comparison:

Which one is more appealing to you? The first is a more accurate representation of the scene but could be seen as boring and lifeless to some people in comparison to the lively and whimsical picture below. I prefer the first because I find painting things accurately such a challenge and I respect the ability of the artist, but I like the second because one of the clouds looks like a turtle.

In the end, I think judging art is based purely on the individual's preferences because there'll always be somebody who'll love what you hate and vice-versa so that's why trying to pigeonhole art into categories of good or bad is a difficult and possibly trivial thing to do.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Creative Game

Have a go at this evil knock off of Mario. It's really creative in its way of forcing you to die repeatedly and in the ways it makes you do so. Good luck.

Enjoy everyone, the first link is the flash game, the second is the downloadable version. Let me know if any of you beat it. And watch out for deadly murderous clouds.

Organic Character

This is gonna be my final image for the organic project I think, it needs more work though and I'm kinda stuck with what to do with it

Stress and Creativity

I’ve been researching this subject for a while and the subject seems quite debated. This experiment: , claims that creativity is restriced when people are in a stressful environment, however the statement is based on one experiment in which three students are subjected to few tests whilst in an exam period so I’ve decided this concludes absolutely nothing. My research led me to various other evaluations that seemed to provide better proof as to why stress can actually help to push peoples’ creativity to another level.

I think that stress and conflict can help to promote an individual’s creative process because they can show that boundaries are being reached and felt which lets you reflect on the creative work you’re trying to produce. Stress can also help to focus your attention which could speed up and deepen your creative output so in a way stress can be something which helps you channel your abilities so you can make the most of them.

I find I can focus on work easier when there’s more pressure to get it done. When I’m under the stress of a deadline it gets me motivated and gets me thinking, I can churn out more ideas at a higher rate. I’m not necessarily sure about the quality of the ideas I churn out… in some cases the quality probably decreases, but the level of stress helps to motivate and focus me.

I’m looking forward to the group task this year since the schedule will be tighter due to being in a group and I expect we’ll set group deadlines and key points to achieve which will help me to be motivated and to focus a bit more. I found it difficult this term due to the amount of time spent on each project and I really feel I should have set some personal deadlines to help me achieve my work better so for next term, that’s the plan.

At the moment though, I’m so stressed that I know I’m not putting out my most creative work so it’s something to learn from, I’m gonna really try to stick to a schedule for this next project.

Game art itself I think is inherently a very stressful career. You’re constantly under pressure deadlines and time constraints and you’re constantly being knocked back and having to redo work due to decisions by people above you, so maybe that’s part of the process and it’s why people can produce some of the great looking games that are seen today. If they’re constantly used to pressure and having to churn out lots of work then they’re constantly mixing and discovering their most creative ideas which should ultimately lead to producing the best work. It’s worrying how stressful a career it can be though, I hope it all doesn’t kill me off before I’m 30. Since games are a good way to alleviate stress, if I make sure to keep a steady gaming diet I might just survive it all and live to tell a creatively stressfull tale.