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Job Roles

I’ve researched into my ideal future a lot of times, but it usually leads to places very far away. I would love to do concept art and animation for a game or movie company and I used to only look at Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks etc., but since then I have opened my mind to working in many other companies in Britain. Rare is a good example of a company I would be interested in, as they made some of the games I grew up on- such as old Donkey Kong games.

I always have wanted to be a concept artist, and aimed to do a Degree in concept art, but over the last year I have began learning something I never thought I would get to do- 3D animation. Art is still important but animation is new to me and is something I tried to not aim for when I was younger as I didn’t think I would ever be able to learn it- unless I did it at university- but I took the opportunity to do it now, as soon as I could. I am considering a degree covering those two subjects the best I can find it anywhere if no apprenticeships are available to go for. I am still in early days deciding where I want to be in a year and a bit, but deciding my specialisation for next year is a start.

I want to one day design for and/or animate for a game or movie production. There are different ways of getting there, some definitely require degrees in areas I am looking into, so I will likely do one, but that isn’t the only way. The Unis I have heard do courses I might look into are Sunderland, Teesside and Sheffield Hallam. I will look into more over summer.

Portfolio Presentation & Result

I did my portfolio presentation last Wednesday, and it went really well. My portfolio was based mainly on my art, but I wanted to show off the best of my animations, models and VFX too. I covered all the bases I needed to, and managed to get it all presented in my ten minutes. I had no idea how it was going when I was waiting for my results but I was really happy to receive and overall distinction afterwards.

My portfolio came in at a lower distinction, but was brought up by my art essay, exam and blog which I had got distinctions in also, so they kept my grade up. Because of this I was given feedback on what I had decided to do next year. My distinction would have been stronger if I had my other work up to the same standard as my 2D art (though it wasn’t way worse) and if I tied it all together more.

I am thinking of specialising in concept art/ animation and Matt said that would be good for me and to work on doing creative storyboards and updating him on my work, especially if I am struggling. I need to do more digital artwork next year as well as my physical media.

My animations apparently already cover a lot of the 12 animation principals but I want to know them properly and know I’m implementing them properly. I would love to work with more rigs and create a real scene with them.

My VFX, game pitch and models were discussed too but as I am not focussing on them next year I didn’t need to worry too much about the criticisms- Gary said my VFX would be better if the person stepped through the portal and totally disappeared, because in my scene it looked a bit incomplete as he just began to step into it. My game pitch went okay, and my models seemed to be well received, as I had improved my lighting and rendering of my room project and added my group’s low poly project to it too.

Overall I am so happy with my results because I was worried about how difficult this course would be when I started, never having done many of the things involved before. I feel so much better now and look forward to what I will get to make next year. I intend to keep working hard to not drop grades, but hopefully without having to include as much of the stuff I’m not as good at, the stuff I do show in my next portfolio will be better as I will get more time to work on them.

Low Poly Model Finished

Not long ago my group finally finished up our Low Poly Project meaning all of our low poly assets had been put into one big group model- a tile with 4 different environments on it.Picture1

We settled on doing ice, forestry, a race track sideline, and desert themes. We created all kinds of assets to build this up and some are even animated, like Oscar’s penguins and Jack’s fire pit.

We each contributed different models, not only sticking to one of the 4 themes each, and I like how it turned out. Every asset is under 1000 tris and we used textures and style to bring them all together as one race track tile.

The scene is animated but I don’t have a recording of it yet. The car drives around the road over and under, as the campfire burns, cones fall and penguins flap their wings.

Here are some images I rendered out of it this week including a block coloured render which looked interesting. It was a fun project and I’m happy to finally see it finished.

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Monster Mock-Ups

In Tony’s class we were given a brief to design a character. The character should  be based on something we might fear running into in our own homes. I have come up with some concepts that just came to mind when I considered what I’d be scared to run into in different rooms of the house.

The first was what Tony suggested; the attic. I don’t know how a dog came into mind, other than it being a household pet, at first, but I turned it into a dog-spider-hybrid. It is an imagined idea of a pet which had been bitten by a spider from the loft and hid up there with its now 8 legs.

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Then I thought of a garden. I  thought of the rodents that would live there and what I’d be terrified to see. I could have went down a Little Shop Of Horrors plant-horror inspired path, but I stuck to animals. I mixed ideas up for this one- rat, bat, bird, frog, and man-sized body (demonstrated by it holding a rake).

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Then I thought of a bathroom environment whilst I only had a lined notebook with me and sketched up a bathtub monster which could grip on slippy walls using it’s plunger tentacles.

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My favourite pencil sketch was my burger monster. For the kitchen. It is totally different to the others but I was happy with the idea. I could picture it in a kitchen waiting for lights to be turned on and for it to be revealed. I did two drawings as I think this may be the character I make into the turnaround sheet Tony asked for, and I wanted to get to see my idea with a bit more personality and show its scary side.

Finally, my actual first sketch for this project I did before the planned out topical ones. A monster that would honestly petrify me if I saw it anywhere. A sea monster in-land… in your home. This monster was completely made up without thought, just went along with it and came up with the creepy fish/octopus/alien. I did this in ballpoint pen and have been shading it in slowly. The shading is not totally complete yet as I thought I’d lost the drawing for some time, but I did an acrylic painting of it yesterday night (when I found it) too, so I could also do a colourful design.

I will post the finished product of this sketch when I am done as I want to use it for my portfolio.

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I might actually prefer the ball-point drawing to the painting for now, but I’ll pick a favourite when they’re totally done.

My plan is to do a turnaround of one of my pencil designs (most likely the burger themed one) and to finish the octopus-like one as it is. It’s been fun to experiment with different ideas and let my imagination go.

Marvel-lous Guests

set1In a turn of events last week, Marvel came to my town to film scenes of the Avengers in Durham Cathedral.

I love Marvel movies and a lot of us think of them whenever we’re asked to talk about VFX and what our goals would be with it. It’s so close to where I live I had to see what was going on and it was fascinating. Lots of vans were parked outside each for different things such as lighting, props and more. It showed how much is needed just to film a scene in one location.set3

The stain glass windows were totally covered also, as I assume on the inside were either green screens or black screens to stop the real sky being shown, so they can make it look like it was in a different location. The fact that they did that shows a huge amount of physical props are used during filming to help the post production VFX. I heard the scene is set in Asgard and the inside of the Cathedral had some harnesses, green screens and props in place, so the windows will probably show that.

set2It was interesting to go to and the atmosphere was different to regular Durham. In summer there are people around the cathedral, but (though you cant totally tell) lots of people were huddled on the grass and talking to security guards trying to see inside. Some people signed up to be extras and some met Chris Hemsworth nearby. I was just happy to finally see a real movie set which is WAY more complex than I would expect for a non studio scene. I realised more prep goes into it with equipment- even in outside locations- than I guessed.

Game Jam Assessment

We did an assessment in the style of a Game Jam (but as individuals) in silence these past 2 weeks to test our ability to put together a top down game.

The aim of the game is to get your character from the start to the goal without being shot by enemies who face you and shoot, before the time runs out.

sprites

In the game we had to include a player, 3 moving enemies, obstacles, walls, a goal and a timer. Each of these has their own necessary programs you need to apply to make it them work.

  • The player must move with arrow keys, and collide with everything on the map.
  • The enemies must have Waypoint movements, and the ability to autofire bullet projectiles at the player, whilst using a line of sight to track the player when they’re within their view.
  • Obstacles must have colliders attached to top the player moving through them, just like the walls.
  • The goal must be a trigger which would send the player to the next level
  • Finally the timer must count down in seconds visibly, and when it hits 0 the level restarts.

scripts

I had my notes to help and it went really smoothly. The main problems I had weren’t with errors in the code at all, but with accidentally putting the codes on the wrong assets, such as when I grouped my enemies and applied my line of sight code to all 3 and the empty game object they were children to- I kept getting the error saying I hadn’t defined my target in the inspector on one of the objects my script was applied to, and figured out it was on an extra object by accident. Working out the kinks with Unity whilst making this has helped me understand the correlation between script and game due to the engine way more.

build

I also used 2 scenes in my game; Level1 and Level2 (which was a home screen you reach when you complete level1 to return to the start). I added these to the build and put the ‘button‘ script  on a button in Level2 to load Level1.

button

In the end my game worked perfectly and looked how I wanted it to. I spent a while putting the walls in the perfect position and scaling everything how I liked it at first, then began to code. I commented on my code too to explain what each section did before handing my account back over to Ant. I am happy with how it turned out and I’m proud that I can put a game together as it’s something I didn’t know before this course.

Low Poly Armchair

Over the past few weeks I have been using my concept sketches to build a low poly model of an armchair fit for a Wizard. This is the first step towards making my industry standard asset in Maya. The idea was to have an armchair with a low seat and a tall back. Its legs are wooden and its seat is fabric.

It took a while to make as I did some branches which I felt couldn’t be achieved with baking, but I will do smaller detail that way, which is my next step. I am happy with the shape I’ve got right now and am looking forward to finally moving onto the finer details.

This model will go in my portfolio when it is finished so I am paying close attention to making it look exactly how I wanted it to when I first sketched it.

chairfrontchairback

I am pleased with my low poly model and will use Mudbox to start personalising it next lesson.

Photoshop Portrait Practice

A while ago in Tony’s lessons we did practice in painting faces in photoshop. Firstly we imported the photo, then used layers to keep adding block colors in.

Once I had all of the block colors layered in, I began merging layers to use the blend tool to mix the colours together.

Then, I decided to add in the fine details on the hair and face and complete the picture for my practice portfolio as an example of what I have learnt to do in digital art.

I am happy with how my first proper portrait looked on photoshop. I like the style, how smooth it looks with bold colours, because I always have to work hard to smooth out paints when I do physical paintings, as I prefer a seamless finish to my pictures most of the time.

Making a Head in Sculptris

The other week in Tony’s lesson he introduced us to the software called Sculptris which is a simpler version of Mudbox. We used this to make our own heads. You begin with a sphere shape, which you can use the tools to morph into anything you want.

Smoothing adds poly’s to your model, so there is a reduce tool brush which lowers the polys to keep the model even, and stop risking Sculptris crashing, which kept happening to me in lesson.

I came back into college to use Sculptris again the next Wednesday and in the other room it worked well! I made a Plasticine, Joker-like face in Tony’s the other week, so I did that again, but with a lot more time put in digitally. I was never great at sculpting, so I thought I’d find this really difficult, but once it was running smoothly, I stopped worrying about doing too many little details in case it crashed, and just sculpted whatever I wanted to on the face, down to the hair and teeth.

The face is very exaggerated, as the Joker’s is in comic books, and I left the eyes blank. I really wanted to focus on a confusing, frightening expression, and I would like to have eyes included, but this way it doesn’t allow to eyes to show expression at all. Eyes can smile or not smile along with the mouth; when they don’t it is a chilling expression.

joker

I’m happy with how my first completed 3D face turned out (though I feel I could make it creepier).

 

Walking and Skipping

Over Easter break and last week I have been working on character animations in Maya. We were given the task by Matt to do a walk cycle and a more difficult choice of our own, so I began by making Moom do his Moom walk.

It was difficult to get the hang of, but I started by placing the feet in the right positions- starting and ending the cycle in the same position. I then switched them over for the other foot mid timeline, and then did the in-between movements. I used pose-to-pose animation for the legs and arms so I could go between the main key-frames and add realistic transitions, such as the ankles rotating before the foot lifts off, and the knees bending and arms swinging at the right times.

The animation does loop, and each leg and arm has the exact same movement as I copied down the transitions from one to the next.

For my second animation I did a skipping cycle. I figured a skip was hopping on one leg whilst stepping the other, then switching legs. Again, this animation loops and I did it pose-to-pose.

I enjoyed making this because of the fun movement and a rig which suited the lively skip. Ellie rig was fun to use but took me a while to get used to. I have found this a challenge but I am happy with the outcome. Ellie’s arms don’t swing, but lift as she jumps. I experimented with making the hips move and the head bob.

The last step with this rig was to make the ponytails bounce and I think it made the jump more realistic. I was really proud of how this turned out.

Both animations were difficult because walk cycles are new to me but setting it out by using the first frame twice (once at the end) and doing it by the numbers to make it smooth and repeatable. I also did both animations walking on the spot, so that if they were used in game they wouldn’t just walk forward and glitch back when it loops, they’d walk only where you move them.