Shrine: UV Unwrapping

This week I’ve been working on the least fun part of the 3D modeling, UV unwrapping. Thankfully Maya has a good set of tools to speed up the process slightly.


Whoever developed the planar map tool at Autodesk has my deepest regards. SO MUCH TIME SAVED.


Now obviously I’m nowhere near done yet, but I like to test my work incrementally to make sure the UV work I am doing in Maya looks good in other environments. I’ll go ahead and make a quick test FBX export of this model and plop it in Marmoset Toolbag.

Marmoset Toolbag 2 (Three is out but I have not purchase it yet) is a nifty piece of software that creates high quality renders. It’s also a great tool for pre-flighting models before importing them into a game engine.

Once I’ve imported the model into Toolbag, I’ll apply a texture with a visible grain, such as Marmoset’s preset rust texture, to see if I need to do additional tweaking to the areas I’ve already UV’d.


Good news! The areas I’ve UV’d, such as the stairs, floor, and foundation, all applied the selected texture evenly and without warping. The areas that are circled in red show areas that I have not UV’d yet. You can see the obvious warping on the roof, and some of the supporting pillars that hold the roof up. The front panel of the building isn’t exactly stretched, but the resolution isn’t matching that of the UV’d portions. Now you understand why Toolbag can be a valuable pre-flight tool.

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3D Modeling- Shrine

This month I’m working on a 3D model of a Shinto shrine.


Added a porch, stairs, railing, and bells.


I can’t wait to start on the texturing process, but there’s going to be a lot of UV working (and reworking) with this one. Then once I’m done with that I’ll make some bamboo, rocks and foliage models so I have all the ingredients I need to make a pleasant scene in Unreal.

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Anti-Drone Gun Modeling #2

UPDATE 4-21-17: I finished the model around August last year, but never got around to posting it. Here she is!

We now resume the blog post.


I’ve made significant progress on the anti-drone gun model. Today I got all the texture work done for the stock of the gun- diffuse, occlusion, normal, height, and specularity. A few years ago I used Crazybump to build maps, but since then I’ve found cheaper and better software like xNormal and MindTex. xNormal is free, but from my experience the maps produced by MindTex are higher quality than those produced by xNormal. I brought the finished model of the gun stock and the maps into Marmoset for rendering.


I’m delighted that the stock turned out so well. I might go back and change the orange and yellow lights on the stock however. In contrast to the rest of the model, they look flat and cartoonish. By adding a subtle gradient to the edges of the lights, I think I’ll be able to make it mesh better with its surroundings.  I’ll count this as a small victory, but I still have a lot of work ahead of me. In addition to making these changes, I have to finish tweaking the geometry of the gun’s body and texturing the rest of the model. I’ll see if I can finish this within two weeks.

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Anti-Drone Gun Modeling #1

Wow, how time flies. Last time I posted on this blog it was all the way back in December, I think. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy on projects though! A few months ago I created a weapon concept called the FZS-712 Anti Drone Gun, part of my cyberpunk gun series. According to its lore, the gun uses an electromagnetic charge to disable, or destroy drones, depending on the setting the user chooses.


Out of my cyberpunk weapons, it has the strongest design in regards to functionality and (in my opinion) aesthetics, so I decided it’d be a good item to build a 3D model of. I’ll eventually be using this gun as part of a reload and fire animation intended for a first person shooter game.


The first few days I was able to get the general shape blocked out. The next week I started working on the details for the body of the gun. The body’s mesh still needs some cleaning, as there are some tris and n-gons present. I also need to drastically reduce the poly count at some point.


The other parts of the gun don’t need as much mesh work. The stock is done in terms of modeling, and now I’m working its diffuse texture. Grunge will be added at a later stage, but for now I want to get the basic shapes and colors blocked in, so I can establish definitive masks for the self illumination maps.


And that’s my progress thus far. I’ll continue to post updates on the model throughout the month, though I probably won’t conform to a particular schedule. I’m really doing this for my benefit- to see how quickly I can turn out a quality model. But for those who are reading, thank you! And please let me know if you have any tips or tricks in the comments.

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Brutalism & Branching Out

Hello all! It’s been awhile. I’ve been neck-deep in projects, cranking out art and assets left and right. Here’s some of my latest works.

Japanese Miko copy

This miko, or Japanese shrine maiden, is the first in a series that I am making for a card game named Feast! It’s a fantasy card game that centers around food, family, and frenzy. The goal of the game is to get all seven of your family members back at your table, by winning them over with gourmet food dishes from around the world. Other players will try to keep you from reuniting your family for a feast by playing cards such as rotten food, barbarians, thieving cats, and other shenanigans.


This is the second character I illustrated for Feast! He originally started off as a monk-gone-barbarian, but he looked too peaceful to belong to a roving horde, so I’m going to make him one of the clan’s family characters instead.


Also for Feast!, this spicy ramen is based off of a dish of the same name from the eponymous Ramen Hakata in Addison, Texas. It’s also the first food illustration I’ve made for the card game.

Fortress from a Violent Planet WIP

Fortress From A Violent Planet, is a test of my skills in science fiction concept art and a work in progress. I noticed I had primarily fantasy concepts in my portfolio, so this is an attempt to improve my skills outside my normal range. In this concept, I drew references from various examples of brutalist architecture. Brutalist architecture, which came to existence around the latter half of the 20th century, employs large slabs of minimally adorned concrete in its design. The movement started with the French architect and artist Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, known better as Le Corbusier .Le Corbusier used the term béton brut, the French word meaning “raw concrete” to describe the style of his architecture.¹ However, it was the critic Reynar Banham² who coined the term “brutalism”, as he found the style atrocious and unfriendly.

Well, that’s all folks. Look forward to my next post coming out Jan. 30th. Until next time…

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¹”The Rise and Fall of Brutalist Architecture – Voices of East Anglia.” Voices of East Anglia. 3 Aug. 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.

²Brutalism. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2016, from

Better Tools, Better Art

Great news!

I am now the proud owner of an Intuos tablet! No more Bamboo Craft or buggy driver issues for me (hopefully)! With the Intuos drawing curved lines is much smoother, which I love. I’m also enjoying the heightened pressure sensitivity, because it was lacking in the Bamboo Craft. Now I can spend less time fixing grainy lines and more time on other parts of the drawing process. Lesson learned: when you have better tools, you produce better art.


Now that I have new hardware, here is what I’ve been working on- she’s a type of Japanese shrine maiden called a miko. I got the idea for her when I was sitting passenger on a trip through New Mexico. Not sure how I was inspired to draw a Japanese character when going through New Mexico, but whatever. Maybe it was something I ate. Eventually I’ll use this piece for a character icon in an upcoming card game project. I’ll update with a new post as soon as I’m done with drawing her. Until then, thanks for reading!

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Special Halloween Post- Megalomania Live On Kickstarter!

Hello readers!

It’s been awhile! The past two months I’ve been helping Last Minute Games create icons for their card game Megalomania. It’s a super-villain themed card game with a wicked sense of humor- and it’s really fun too! Definitely a must if you’re going to have a group over for a party.

It’s being funded is through Kickstarter, and last time I checked Last Minute Games has made about $2,200 out of it’s $10,000 goal. I think they can achieve their goal by December 1st, but donating to their campaign is not something you want to put off- especially when you have the opportunity to get one of their awesome T-shirts at the $50 level! (designed by my fellow designer friend Cara Curley!) All donations are welcome at any level, but if you can’t donate at least spread the word!

Megalomania Kickstarter Campaign

In non-Megalomania news, I’ll be posting a new blog update every other Saturday (with some surprises thrown in between). Expect the next post to roll around November 14th!

And also, Happy Halloween!

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Concept Art: The Power of the Polygonal Select Tool

Sometimes the lack of technology opens new ways of doing things, as I’ve experienced lately. Unfortunately, my Wacom tablet of five years decided to give up the ghost, and now I’m researching my next drawing hardware acquisition. At the rate I’ve been going though, I may not need a tablet for awhile, and it’s largely thanks to the polygonal select tool in Photoshop.

The polygonal select tool, coupled with the different shape tools in Photoshop, can be used to create decent concept art. Here is a piece I finished recently, called One Got In, that I built using no tablet work at all.

While I did not use a tablet for this piece, I did use a sketch in ink and toned grey paper for my base. After transferring the sketch photo in Photoshop, I realized that the original didn’t quite adhere to the rule of thirds, so I expanded the width of the document and moved its epicenter, the speared heart, over towards the bottom right of the grid. It’s very important in concept art to make sure that your art maintains the rule of thirds, otherwise you end up with a piece that’s sterile in composition.


For a quick refresher, the rule of thirds is a compositional standard that successful artists use to determine the layout of their art. If you want to know if a piece fits the rule of thirds, divide the art of your choice into even thirds, like below. Ideally, you want the focus of your piece to fall on one of the four intersections, displayed by the orange dots. Do not put the focus of your piece in the center of the thirds, as it will create a bullseye effect.


Moving on from there, I blocked out the basic shapes from the sketch using Photoshop’s shape tools and of course, the glorious polygonal selection tool. The polygonal selection tool, if you provide enough points, allows you to make irregular shapes that you can’t make with the generic shape tools. For instance, I built the heart and spear using the polygonal selection tool and the paint bucket tool.

OneGotIn copy

In addition to making delicate shapes, the polygonal selection tool is great for getting clean, straight lines for perspective. I used this tool to make sure the sides of the pillars were in correct perspective, and that the shape of the cast light was correct. I was unsatisfied with the mood that the lighting created at this point, so I changed the location of the main light source to create a haunting atmosphere.


There are a few catches you need to be aware of when working with the polygonal selection tool. Unless you’ve set the feathering option of the polygonal selection tool to an amount greater than 0px, you will have some very harsh lines, sometimes jagged. Make sure you have feather set to 1px, or use the Gaussian blur filter at low settings to keep your edges from looking rough. Also, be sure you are working on an empty layer when you are making shapes with the polygonal selection tool, or else you might override previous artwork. Here’s the finished piece again.


Despite these minor inconveniences, I remain impressed by the power of such a simple tool. I’ve decided to use it to develop future pieces, like the new concept I’m working on, The Silence That Follows. If you have any questions regarding my techniques or want to learn more (or send me a useful tip!), please send me a message or comment below. I am more than happy to help other artists along their journey. Thanks again for reading!


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Dissolver Concept

I was digging through folders on my computer and stumbled upon an old concept I had started but never finished. Called the Dissolver, it sweeps its prey up using its tentacles and constricts them, like a python. Using these same tentacles, it slowly eases its victim into it’s highly acidic digestive tract. The Dissolver is a stationary being, and any waste left over from its meals is transferred from it’s digestive track to its veiny roots, which fertilize the ground.

Dissolver ConceptPost commandeered by the US Claire Force

More Swords in Progress

Once I’m done with these last two swords, I think I’ll work on some vehicle and environment concepts for awhile. I love designing weapons, but I need to expand my repertoire.

swords WIP

In other news, I purchased Marmoset Hexels. It’s an inexpensive little program useful for making tiling textures and pixel art. Is it good for designing realistic textures? Not really, but if you want make sharp-looking stylized textures or create seamless patterns for textiles or print, it’s a great tool.

I’ll post again once I finish the remaining two sword concepts.

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