Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Silk Road: City Block (3D Art Week 04)

 I have to have that this time we really upheld the tradition of starting late and finishing strong. There are still a ton of things I would love to do to this piece but for now I'm happy with the progress I've made. I think it really hit me just how well designed the concept art I chose was halfway through the foliage placement process, where every splash of green added a new burst of joy to the smooth stone background. I hope I was able to capture that popping of colors and the simple vibrancy of the piece, but like I said before, I'll definitely be working on this some more later to push it further.

This blogpost is going to have to be a bit gratuitous since I don't have time to properly explain my entire process and all the pitfalls and mistakes I ran into, so once this piece is done (for real this time), I'll upload that as it's own post. 

Hope you enjoy!


Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Silk Road: City Block (3D Art Week 03)

 In keeping with the tradition of starting late and finishing strong, ya boy has met his deadlines for this week (somewhat). The proxy and game res model being done last week, all that was left was to slap this on zbrush and sculpt all the lovely building details my building would need to be. It was a pretty relaxing process but there was a lot of it, and honestly the biggest time sink was renaming and organizing stuff for the bake. I'm in the process of baking at the moment so we're slightly ahead of schedule in that respect, but we made some definite progress in terms of the building's silhouette. 

Look at this lovely outliner. It keeps going for a couple more assets, but you get the point. When I import this into Unreal, it'll all be one nice chunk minus the moveable objects (like the clothes and vines, etc) which I'll attach a wind node to and make it all fancy. 

I have yet to make the foliage sheet, but I don't expect that to take too long. The grand majority of the building is done and only needs texturing, which I have a plan for as well. I'm looking forward to finishing this building and presenting it to you all!

So this is what I have on Zbrush at the moment. It's missing a lot of stuff, like the floor. The reason for this is because I don't need baking information for certain things, and I can just duplicate others if I need to. For example, the staircase tiles, or the wooden door, or the windows up top. Same with the little wooden log pieces on the rooftop, there's no need to make 20 when I can just sculpt one, UV one, and replicate it and flip it around to fool the viewer and save space. Once I'm done baking all this, hopefully I'll have a decent sized texture to plug into Unreal!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Silk Road: City Block (3D Art Week 02)


Turn in day is here, and I believe I have a confession to make. I definitely underestimated the amount of work this project is taking, and didn't allot the sufficient time to the right tasks. For example, in my schedule I only gave myself a week to block out this piece, but it's taken me two along with assessing how to texture it. If this piece is going to be as close as possible to the reference, I can't mess up the proportions of the building nor the placement of things. A neat trick I used was overlaying my geometry with the concept art and fiddling around with the focal length until an approximate focal length was achieved. Of course, since this is just concept art there is no way for it to be perfectly geometric and there were some disparities. Nevertheless, I had to go back and fix plenty of geometry that had been haphazardly placed. 

This process taught me how to accurately match a concept and use intuition to fill in the gaps wherever needed, but this lesson cost me a good amount of days that I needed to be spending generating high poly geometry. Due to this, I'm going to adjust my schedule and see how I can complete this piece on time and with a good semblance of quality. 

I also ran into an issue when setting up my scene in Unreal so I could begin exploring materials options. Whenever I import in my building, I'd get this error: Failed to Triangulate Mesh; Import Failed. I'm currently researching how to beat this because otherwise I won't be able to have a real time asset!

A positive of the process I went through is that, by being meticulous about my proxy shapes, I was easily able to turn them into game res geo. Some assets, like the vines and clothes, will have to be retopologized. But I've definitely worked ahead in some respects so the week isn't as bad a loss as it could've been.

This will be my schedule for the remainder of the month:

Week 01 (5-23-2021)

- Proxy out basic shapes and block out in Unreal

-Begin planning out the texturing process

Week 02 (5-30-2021)

- Finished blocking out shapes

-Generated some game res geometry

Week 03 (6-06-2021)

-Sculpt all pieces

-Generate foliage sheet

Week 04 (6-13-2021)

- Generate materials and texture

- Presentation

Friday, May 28, 2021

Grave of the Fireflies Schedule & Turn In

Assets Sprint 1:

For this week I had to make the water canteen and get it into high poly. It took me a little longer than expected so I don't have a finished product to show, but texturing will be easy since we are following a certain texturing process to emulate the film's Ghibli style. 

Assets Sprint 2 and 3: 

Assets Sprint 4:

My tasks for this semester include taking all the proxy items on my list and making them high res and then developing textures consistent with our Ghibli art style. Our art director gave us color palettes to work with at that stage, so all I need to do is follow it. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Silk Road: City Block (3D Art Week 01)

 Nick gave us free rein to choose a project a la carte for this month, so naturally I went with an environment. However, since this is the first time I'm using everything I've learned over the course of two semesters in an independent fashion, I want to make sure that I have my basic concepts and skills down pat before getting ambitious. The downfall of any good project is bad scope, so I decided to go with a smaller environment- a diorama, really. 

After searching around on ArtStation, I found a concept that I really liked by the concept artist Yen Shu Liao. He'd gone on vacation to Malta and was inspired to recreate some of the architecture he saw there, and now I am attempting to recreate it once again but in a 3D format. 

The goal for this project is to adhere to the concept art as closely as possible. I would like to get all the details Yen Shu Liao has on his concept, which means modeling all the little props and foliage as well. I may have to skip the cat due to time constraints, but if you guys don't tell anyone, I won't either. It'll be an interesting experience for sure and I hope to learn how to adapt my workflow for someone else's art as well as satisfying standards. It goes without saying that I'll be trying new techniques, all of which I'll document to make sure you guys can see how I'm doing everything. 

This is my schedule for the following month:

Week 01 (5-23-2021)

- Proxy out basic shapes and block out in Unreal

-Begin planning out the texturing process

Week 02 (5-30-2021)

- Generate materials in Substance Designer

-Sculpt unique pieces 

Week 03 (6-06-2021)

- Make game res pieces

-Continue texturing

-Generate foliage sheet

Week 04 (6-13-2021)

- Finish texturing

- Presentation

Monday, April 26, 2021

Pirate Ship Interior (3D Art Week 03)

This week: Bakes! I finished all the sculpting over the week, both of the trim and the unique pieces, and then kept going to the baking stage. It's been a lot of work so far but it's also been a lot of fun, and seeing a finished piece in front of your very eyes has to be one of the more rewarding experiences you can get as an artist. Getting your bakes right on the first couple tries is a fantastic feeling!

Some of the pieces were a bit more complicated to get ready for baking such as the unique pieces that make up the pillars and decorations around the environment. I had to jury rig a couple bakes, but this is the final result!

As an added note, my intent with the game res pieces is to have actual raised topology to emulate the trim sheet, that way the player can see actual geometry in there. Since this is going in a VR project, everything will be seen up close and personal and even with a good bake some details can be missed. Therefore I'm going to make some simple raised geo that will capture some true lighting information and hopefully express a more accurate version of what I'm making!

Friday, April 23, 2021

VR Project: Foliage Cards

 For this week we got a lot of good feedback, most of it centered around pushing back our foliage and reexamining what kinds we were using in the scene. An important facet of that criticism is that it made us realize that we weren't being necessarily as close to the source material as we could. Because of that, we couldn't exactly recognize our own project and place it within the movie. 

This is what our scene looked like before we began the edits. We took another look at the movie and began to see what kind of foliage was being used by the artists there. We made cards for cat tails. ferns, small patches of flowers, grass blades, etc, but that still wasn't enough! Our tech artist Ashley assembled some quick trees with cards as well and replaced some of the ones you see above so that our scene could look closer to our source material.

Here's an example of some of the foliage I made:

It's super simple, inexpensive, and resembles the film's foliage, so it gets the job done. 

There is a lot that can be said for composition and proper placement of assets. You can have the best looking assets ever or spend a lot of time refining them, but your art needs to be able to be placed well to really shine through. And after some tooling around and simple fixes, our scene got some praise!

This is the current state of our project! As you can see, the placement of things and our foliage really changed the look of things. I'm definitely looking forward to getting this sucker into the high res stage and adding cool little interactions to drive up the production value. However, that's next semester!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pirate Ship Interior (3D Art Week 02)

 For this week our turn-in was all the high res pieces that we proxied out last week. As I was making the high poly versions of these pieces, I realized that I had to organize my trim sheet a little better and use the space it would afford in a more economic way. For example, previously I had space for metal beams on my trim sheet. When I examined the scene better, I realized that I could accomplish more by replacing that with some wood textures and making another texture sheet for the more unique pieces such as the carvings on the pillars, the pillar feet, and now the metal beams since those aren't used anywhere else. To that end, I rearranged the trim and organized it like this:

1. Decorative Trim: This texture is used for bordering, on special planks for decoration, and can be used as siding. It's just a versatile decorative piece.
2. Roof Beam: While this is called a roof beam, it can also be used for the floors. I intend to use these as hides for the seams in between geometry, and the rounded shape will make it look like a log or a hefty piece of wood, like the kind you'd find serving as a crossbeam on a ship.
3. Planks: Pretty self explanatory what these are. The pattern wasn't too bad to figure out but it's important to keep in mind that it needs to tile.
4. Big Plank: Very imaginative of me, I know. This texture is used for a couple of pieces: a fat beam that separates the planks from the panels and breaks up the wall further, and as the texture for the pillar sides. This versatility means that I can get more mileage out of this trim sheet and save time and processing power.
5. Panels: Each one is treated slightly different to add an interesting variance, with a couple having designs on them for further visual interest. These can be used as centerpieces on walls or simple paneling as I have them below. 

Thusly color coded and organized, I went forward into Zbrush to sculpt these pieces out. Since most of it is a wood pattern, and I didn't want to get too fancy to tire out the player's eyes, I ended up making most of it naked wood with the planks having some nails. I unfortunately didn't have time to get to sculpting the panels at the bottom nor get to the unique pieces, like the pillar tops and the metal braces, but those will certainly take less time than the trim sheet as this was a new process for me and most of my time was spent organizing and planning to make sure nothing went wrong. 

Most of the techniques that I used while making this sheet I learned from this guy so I strongly recommend you guys check him out! One of the tips that helped me out was turning on the wrap function on my brushes. If my stroke would take me off the model, the stroke would then begin anew on the other end. That came in really handy during this process because we're trying to make a tileable texture, so that continuity prevented me from having to eye it. 

I look forward to finishing these sculpts and making it all look better, so next week I'll have some quality stuff to show!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Pirate Ship Interior (3D Art Week 01)

 This week I got excellent news, we're finally doing environments! Nick structured this like a group project, so we divided up the work and ourselves in teams. We've had to not only plan out an environment and work with each other, but since Nick gave us an art style and proxies, we've also had to adapt our art on the fly. It's great experience for sure as this is pretty much how it'll work in the real world. 

Here is a shot of what the proxied out interior looked like in Unreal. 

Nick gave us the option of the lamps, barrels, the crates in the back, a staircase, a chandelier, or the walls and floors themselves. Since I wanted to challenge myself with trim sheets and understand that workflow, I picked the walls and floors to see how they would go. 

My first thought was to grab this screenshot and paint over it in Photoshop. Nick had given us some references with the intent to follow Michael Vicente's (Orb) art style, as seen below. 

Armed with these references, I came up with some architecture that would use trim sheeting effectively. Columns and support beams to hide seams, and some wooden paneling to add visual interest and break up a repetitive texture were added, as well as some metal pieces scattered around. My drawings are all super sketchy and dirty, so it may be hard to tell exactly where these features are that I'm talking about!

The next step was less fun but definitely more important, since it lays the groundwork for what's coming. I had to list out each unique piece I was thinking of using, and allocate space on the trim sheet for it to be textured. In my case, I had 5 pieces (so far!): support beams, wooden paneling, metal trimming for the window cell assets, metal beams, and the main wooden plank texture that we needed in the first place.

The size of a UV udim is 512 by 512, or some iteration of this. I took a square with these dimensions and went into Maya to see where I would need to cut my UVs to lay them out on the trim. It's a bit of an abstract process and I still need to verify that I'm doing it correctly, but essentially you want to make sure that your trim sheet is laid out in a way that your object's UVs can accept it. Here are some fantastic videos that I watched while researching how to do this process. I highly recommend the Polygon Academy one as Tim Simpson is one of the most informative artists I've seen on Youtube: his process for 3d modeling is clean, efficient, and easy to understand.

This is how my Maya proxies ended up looking. I didn't need to plan out the trim before finishing these, but it helped me understand what I could add and what I needed to figure out. For example, the columns flanking my walls can't possibly fit on my trim sheet, so I'll just make them a unique texture set, and add plenty of detail and sculpting information since I'm using a whole udim either way. 

And here are the proxies in Unreal! Hopefully that gives everyone a good understanding of what I'm going for, but it's understandable that at this stage it'll be hard to see what the end result will be like. This upcoming week I'm going to focus on fleshing out these proxies, making the trim sheet functional, and running tests to make sure it all works together in a functional pipeline. 

Hopefully soon I can show you guys the end result!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

VR Project: Final Cave & Set Dressing

 For this week's turn-in, we received feedback for the cave and the set dressing there. I brought back the L shape cave because the feedback centered around the lack of depth in the cave and how empty it looked, therefore adding more space would allow me to fill it up. I moved the rock slide a bit closer so it's visible to the player without turning the corner, and got to work with the assets.

We examined the film closely and found some of the essential objects in the cave were crates and chests. Both of the kids had a mosquito net that they slept in, so I also added that. One last item was a water canteen. I didn't want to populate the scene too much because then it would motivate the player to waste time exploring the interior of the cave, which is not interactable, so I didn't add the rest of the things we saw in the film like books, a bedroll, etc. Once we get some basic texturing in here and test out how it looks, I'll go back and add more stuff if it's necessary.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

VR Project: Vine Proxies and Cave fixes

Late submission, but for last week I was tasked with making some vines for the cave. At first I attempted to make them in Houdini using a generator, but at the end of the day I made them manually in Maya. It was a relatively simple process, especially since these are proxies, and the most complex part would be making the foliage since it requires a mash node, but then again this is also not too complicated. 

I look forward to taking all these items into their high res versions and begin texturing, as that is where the meat of this project will be. 

The Silk Road: City Block (3D Art Week 04)

 I have to have that this time we really upheld the tradition of starting late and finishing strong. There are still a ton of things I would...