Room Project Update

This month I have been steadily improving my room project I began months ago in Matt’s class.

I made my living room in Maya and got good feedback on my models and textures. I also was asked to do more small objects and accessories, then to re-do some renders with better lighting and quality.

I did some new models; Curtains (which don’t match photos as I did my old living room curtains from memory, which were cream and could be strapped sideways), candles, clock hands, a radiator, a lamp, and 2 door handles. I found it so much easier to do these models than I did doing the project the first time around. I think some practice during the break in this assignment has helped me get to grips with basic Maya skills- so I can work faster now- and now I can try new things, like using the curve tool to do the curtains.


I fixed my models with Photoshopped textures. Last time around I had big issues with the textures constantly breaking between opening and closing the project, and with them going transparent and messing up randomly. I had no idea how to fix this problem, so I assumed doing more of my room would be tricky. Thankfully, Matt recently showed me how to unplug the transparency that is automatically imported from Photoshop when I use PSD files as textures- I did this to my rug and units and never have had a problem since. Now renders look so much better and you can see my objects properly.

I added the new models into the scene and it instantly felt more like my home. I then set up 3 point lighting for each shot, and used the Maya Renderer to take my pictures. In the rendering window I set the photos to ‘RAW’ and used HD resolution on them. This improved the look of my pictures as they are less washed out, and the vibrancy brings out the textures more.

I added the new renders as a second half to my original project PowerPoint, mainly because I had photographs compared with my last renders to show what’s in the room and how it is to scale. Hopefully putting the updated renders afterwards shows a clear difference in quality and shows off my new assets.

roompresentation1 – This is the updated PowerPoint.


My Utopian Vehicle

In Tony’s lessons we have been coming up with designs for a service vehicle in a  Dystopian/Utopian world. My vehicle idea serves the purpose of preventing minor conflict between multiple animals (including humans).

I wrote about what the world would be like in my utopia in the blog post I linked, but basically it’s a world 50-100 years from now where animals and humans live in harmony amongst one another because of human overpopulation. This would improve life quality for animals, and teach humans to stop using animals’ environments selfishly.

I came up with some designs on paper, which was difficult to get the hang of because vehicles are new to me. I tried to base them all on a vehicle which serves the purpose I mentioned about preventing crime and conflicts.

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I decided to do a drone with a mix of the copter design (with spiked legs), and the rounded van with the arcade-like claw. Those designs were closest to my original idea, and I could see how a mix of the two could be adapted for underwater environments, and other tough terrain. I liked the smooth shape of the sports car and used the 4-wheel drive idea for the boosters, and the cage idea came from the trucks I drew with cages on the back.

My drone- which is supposed to be about the size of a police van- has 4 boosters, a giant helicopter propeller, and 2 long arms with claws (for breaking up fights and carrying creatures). There’s a large mirrored glass top-floor for the drivers, and a round cage below to match, which would carry the perpetrators or injured animals for the flight to a safe station.drone

I did this design in Photoshop. I’m still not a confident digital artist, but with the help of a lot of layering, and experimental paintbrushes, I managed to come up with a concept I’m happy with. The arms are a bit jagged since I did the majority of this at college with a graphics tablet and for some reason I didn’t do my last save there properly, meaning I lost the smoother arms I drew. I don’t mind too much as it’s meant to be metal pieces bending.

I drew the sky in the vehicle’s reflection, so I decided to do a background just to place it in an environment. This shows that it would fly above tree height to not interfere with daily life unless there was a job to do. It also shows that having the glass give you a 360 degree view would be useful to see everything.


This has been an interesting challenge, as I never draw vehicles, and doing it has helped me with concept art, digital art, and thinking outside of the box.

Low Poly Modelling

We have begun a group project in Matt’s lessons to create a Tile scene of a low-poly race track of some sort. Team leaders were selected and they formed teams out of the rest of us. I joined a group with Kyle, Jack, and Oscar.

Our team came up with a lot of ideas, many inspired by real life racing and by games like Mario Kart. We eventually decided to do a double sided tile, where each side of the road would have it’s own environment, which meant 4 in total (upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right). I haven’t added to the environment modelling yet though, as I’ve made a car, a flag, and a traffic cone. I can only get photos of the car for now though, since my home Maya won’t open the files I made at college properly for renders.

We have to keep the models 1000 tris or under and we can go as low as possible to keep them stylised. Keeping the car under this number was a challenge as it is the first low-poly model I’ve made, but in our second lesson Matt showed us useful tips about deleting edge loops and using the Mudbox-like feature on Maya to keep the polys down and the model looking good.

I’m getting used to the idea of the low-poly models, until now I didn’t really want to make any because I’ve always wanted to know how to model in detail and create things I see in movies, but I realised I also see a lot of low poly things too- like in Crossy Road, for example. Its pushing me to make something good under a restriction and I’m really liking it.


Making the car reminded the others and I of Mario’s car in Mario Kart DS- I say DS because the graphics make it look similar- and animating the flag reminded me slightly of the graphics (though I’m not sure why) in games like Donkey Kong country 3, where 3D models were turned into 2D sprites, and weren’t too detailed or smooth moving because of the game itself. I realised that keeping polys low and texturing them carefully could make an object look better than if the detail was in the model, rather than its paint.

I’m excited to see how this will all turn out.

Partner Game: Mobster Madness

I have been quite absent from my blog recently because with the coding exam approaching I realised I needed to try by best to focus on getting some skills in programming. Ant set us a task to make a game in pairs to help us have a project which would include a lot of the skills we’d need to know to make a game, so I have spent a lot of time trying to complete that task with Kyle.

Our initial idea was to have  a birds eye view of a city with a gunman and a target. The gunman would be a mobster and the target would be someone they’re hired to shoot who is running through some civilians to a building which the mobster should not allow them to reach.

We created 3 prefabs- Mobster, Civilian, Target- and had them as coloured dots for a while so we could set up their programming in a level. As it is birds eye view, the building prefab we made afterwards (which had no code, just a rigidbody2d and box collider, applied) could be just rectangle. We set out some buildings, placed in the characters and Kyle did the waypoint movement of the target, so he would follow a path to the building he was headed to.

Kyle then worked on the player movement, and I repainted the prefabs in Photoshop, along with painting a ground.

We managed to get a bullet to shoot from the player but we have spent a lot of time searching for ways to get it to actually collide with any other objects. That’s our main issue right now. We would like to be able to make the Mobster face the mouse direction, as the bullets follow the mouse, but have him still move with the arrow keys. We’re also working on getting the civilians to spawn and move automatically into the scene, as they’re obstacles you cannot shoot.


We also have a menu built in to the game now and we used the same format as we did on Bass Booster and the space game we did with Ant a while ago to get the button to trigger the next level. Once we get the bullet to work we should be able to use the same principals with the game’s levels; Shooting the civilian restarts you/game overs you, shooting the target moves you on wards, and not shooting him in time before he reaches the building restarts you.

I like how the game is going so far and I hope I learn from doing it.

VFX Studio Research and New Ideas

Our first lesson with Gary introduced us to another side of VFX. We were told we could start coming up with ideas for our own project and were shown how movies use so much VFX- even in scenes you wouldn’t expect.

I know now the extent of what layers of VFX can do to create an entire realistic scene for a film, pictures on top of footage overlapping one another until you have something that looks totally believable.

Firstly, though, we were asked to look at some VFX studios and pick one to write about and, though I could choose one I recognised more, I decided to look into ‘Milk’ because I’d not heard of them before now and they’ve worked on a few things I’ve seen.

Milk Studios is based in London and Cardiff, and is an independent VFX company. The company is owned by Will Cohen, Sara Bennett, Nicolas Hernandez, Jean-Clause Deguara, and Murray Barber.

In the past few years they’ve won awards, such as an Oscar for feature film Ex-Machina, an Emmy for Sherlock (The Abominable Bride special) and 3 BAFTAs.

They’ve worked on other things, such as Doctor Who, Divergent, Snow White and the Huntsman, Thunderbirds, and more.

The studios are currently looking for Lighting TDs , Senior animators, Modellers, Texturers, and CG and VFX supervisors. I’d personally be interested in the animation.

I would want to animate for a big production company because since forever I’ve had a passion to learn the craft and I finally am, and a visual fx studio like Milk would allow me to use those effects to enhance my work and incorporate it into scenes.

To submit applications they ask for CVs and showreels to show off your talent.

I really like the look of this company, they definitely pulled off a brilliant twist in Sherlock, their work is really impressive and it is inspiring me to have more interest in what I make in VFX.

I’m really looking forward to doing my first original VFX project with my own footage, ideas and direction. I have some way to go first but I’m excited to learn!

Christmas Animation Week 6 (Final)

Last week I finally completed my animation assignment. My final steps were to Batch Render, and export my animation.

To export the Maya animation  footage I did a Batch Render of the scene. This created 3 files of images in my project folder. The second file had the correct perspective of the camera zooming in at the end. I then had to do the process of setting up a project in Premiere before importing the images. I followed Matt’s tutorial and this all went smoothly. I almost tried using Premiere Pro to do the next step at college but there was no time, so I downloaded it at home.

I had never used the software before. I had to try exporting a few times before I got it to work. I had a number of issues, from the background not importing due to my alpha settings on rendering, the lighting being dark, the export settings having an issue, and having the background I added be a second too long. I tried to fix most of these at the time of the export, but the video had to be cropped once it was uploaded to YouTube to eliminate that second at the end.

I had to try multiple different export techniques as a setting wouldn’t show up for me on the one in the tutorial. Thankfully, I restarted the software and did the same thing again, but this time it showed up, and everything worked perfectly.

Because it was late as this stage I exported everything, then realised it was the wrong perspective, so I redid it with the proper footage. I wasn’t too bothered that I did that, though, as I was just excited to hvae figured out how to do things correctly.

To convert the movie clip file that exported into an MP4, I downloaded WinXHD Video Converter Deluxe and ran it through that software before uploading it to YouTube.

I am so happy with the animation I did. I have always wanted to animate so even something short like this is a big achievement. I want to still, later on, fix things with it (like adding another light- though I like the colour payoff here it could still be brighter and have the same effect-, maybe adding sound, and extending the final second of the video) but I’m still proud of what I came up with so far.