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.

nagoyaShrine3

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

nagoyaShrine4

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.

nagoyaShrine5

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.

nagoyaShrine_clipped1

Added a porch, stairs, railing, and bells.

nagoyaShrine_clipped2

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.

cyberpunkAntiDroneGun_USCF_small

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.

antidronegun7

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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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.

mikoWIP

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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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.

OneGotIn
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.

ogiSketch

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.

ruleofthirds

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.

Progress2

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.

OneGotIn

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!

TSTFprogress1

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Announcing New Game Dev Project!

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I did it! I finally did it. I decided to pay the $100. Now I’m a proud owner of Game Maker Studio and I feel awesome. And also ready to make a game. For now, I’m going to call this game Fight the Darkness, because until something novel comes along, it’s the title that I have stuck in my head and I can’t get anything else to stick. The idea for this game has been stewing in my head for about three weeks. It all started after I had a strange dream about a labyrinth rendered in Pokemon Gold/Silver style graphics, and about some students trying to outrun a multi-eyed demonic spaghetti noodle.

So what is Fight the Darkness? It is a 2D, top-down roguelike in which the player uses the abilities of their four characters to track down and eliminate the Darkness, without getting eliminated themselves. These four characters include:

  • The Rock- Is able to break down obstacles and bust open locked doors, but moves slower than the other characters. If he is caught in the same room as the Darkness along with another character, the player can choose to sacrifice the Rock to save the other characters in the room.
  • The Runner– The fastest moving of all the characters. The Runner can also pick up and carry another character, but for a limited amount of time. Afterwards he will be tired for a few seconds and will need to regain his strength.
  • The Peace– Has the ability to stop time temporarily. Moves at a normal rate.
  • The Light– The only character with the ability to defeat the Darkness. The Light has a slightly larger radius of light around them as well. Moves at a normal rate.

In order to win a level, the player must have the Light occupy the same room as the Darkness. The lose condition is if the Rock, the Runner, and the Peace are absorbed by the Darkness before the Light occupies the same room as the Darkness. The Rock, the Runner, and the Peace can be absorbed by the Darkness if they are in the same room as the Darkness (without the Light present), or if any of them are in a hallway when the Darkness appears. Below is an example of the win condition, because the Light is in the same room as the Darkness.

FTDdiagram5

Levels are comprised of hallways and rooms, shrouded in black. At the start of each level, the four characters spawn in random areas, and a timer begins to count down. Each character has a radius of light around them, revealing area as the player moves them.

FTDdiagram2

The player can toggle between characters to move them appropriately. It is advantageous for the player to discover as much as the map as they can, because revealing more rooms gives the player more places to store their characters when the Darkness appears, and more opportunities to find the Darkness.

FTDdiagram6

After the Darkness appears in a room, that room is destroyed, along with any non-Light characters within it. Then the Darkness disappears, and the timer resets. This mechanic repeats until the Darkness is destroyed, or all characters are eliminated.

FTDdiagram8

When discovered, rooms display two very important types of information: a fraction and a glyph. The fraction represents how many people can fit into a room at a time. For example, a room bearing 0/1 can fit one person at a time, 0/2 two people, etc. The glyph represents the likelihood the Darkness will appear in a room. Ten glyphs represent the likelihood the Darkness will appear in a room, but it will be up to the player to pay attention to environmental hints as to what chance each glyph represents. How those environmental hints will manifest I’m not sure of yet, but it is something that I am currently mulling over.

Creating this game will be a challenge for me, especially since I have only produced games in groups, but I believe it is necessary to my advancement as a game designer. If the game becomes refined enough and I believe it has a decent amount of “fun” to it, I might consider submitting it to Steam, or the Google Play store.

Game development is a journey, and like all sojourns, it is best shared. I welcome comments and input about my projects, or if you have a Game Maker resource you’d like to share with me, by all means send me a link to it! I appreciate everyone who has been reading this blog, and I hope you all look forward to future posts about Fight the Darkness and other projects of mine. Till next time, USCF signing out.

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UI Design & Weapons Concept

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet, because I’m applying for jobs and have a lot coming up in the next post. I finished the weapons concept I’ve been working on, as well as a UI page for the fictional game Dragoon Chronicles.

ClaireLewoczko_DragoonChroniclesUI_2

claire_weapons

I’ve included a time lapse of my work flow for the electric sword, for your viewing pleasure.

weaponTimeLapse

Later in the week I’ll post about the new game that I’m going to develop in Game Maker, either for PC or mobile devices. Until then, stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

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Adventures in Portfolio Building & Learning

Hello my readers! I hope everyone’s doing well in their game development quests!

In my most recent adventures, I’ve attended several portfolio reviews and received valuable feedback. Of my current three portfolios, game design, concept art, and user interface design, I’ve learned that my game design portfolio is the strongest. Huzzah! However, I do need to beef up my skills in concept art and user interface design, so to do this I’ve started doing more work in those areas.

Currently I’m working on weapon concepts for an urbanpunk setting, either for a game or comic. Pictured left from right I have a drill axe, an electric sword, and a katar. The electric sword I’m most proud of, and if I were ever to face a horde of zombies, it’d be my go-to weapon of the three.

lewoczko_weapons Rough

Progress after importing the image to Photoshop. I’m a little odd in that I like to work right to left. I’m finished with the katar, but I’m still working on the electric sword and haven’t even started yet on the axe.

claire_weaponsWIP1

In addition to building up my concept art repertoire, I’ve been working on my user interface portfolio. Currently I primarily do just the art and design side of user interfaces, but I’m learning how to code and implement them using Scaleform. I love working in Unreal Development Kit (I find the node based system for materials to be extremely useful), and learning Scaleform will greatly increase my capabilities in the engine.

The menu below is a main menu screen for a fictional game called Dragoon Chronicles. I wanted to create a menu for a game with a dark fantasy setting, like Infinity Blade or Diablo. Currently I only have a static image, but I plan on importing individual buttons and states into Scaleform and see what all I can do with them.

ClaireLewoczko_DragoonChroniclesUI_1

It’s a bit daunting, having to learn software and languages, especially when it seems like a new one emerges every several months. It’s getting better though; I’m realizing that with both engines and programming, many concepts remain the same, despite the addition of new features and versions. In a way it keeps development from getting stale, as there’s always something new to be learned.

A couple of months ago Vinton Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, came to give a presentation at my college. After his presentation, he allowed students to come up, shake his hand, and ask him questions. I was a bit shy, and introduced myself as “just a student”. I will never forget his reply, in which he told me

  “You are never just a student. A student is one of the most important things you can be. You should never stop being a student. You should always be learning.”

Even when formal education ends, it’s always important to be learning: learning from experiences, learning from other people, learning new ways to do things. From my experience, I’ve seen that the happiest people are those who continue to learn and grow. Those who refuse to open to new ideas become stagnant and depressed.

It makes me incredibly happy to know that I am in a field that is constantly evolving. It’s been a journey so far and as far as I can see, adventure stretches into the horizon. I have a lot to learn, but I am excited about all the discoveries that lie ahead. Stay passionate comrades, and always be willing to learn.

Until next time, US Claire Force signing out.

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