Friday, 23 December 2011

Further 3d Development

My character models are pretty much finished, so I'm just playing about with composition and lighting now

The two characters together: Lucy and the Blunderbus
I've been loking at trying to create concept poses for the game that these characters appear in

So my continuing job is to get the characters into the a composed picture together that shows off their modelling as well as revealing a little of the SpiralArm Robotics Facility that they are trapped in. More soon!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

More hair, and Robot forms

Continuing my cloth/hair idea by using painted textures with transparency (alpha) to allow a more layered look

Bump mapping is a little strong, and I removed the black outlines on the eyes

Looks much better with lowered bump mapping and without the manga-style eye outlines. I've also played with the specular levels to give a less shiny look to her skin

So Lucy is coming along well. I have two more targets for the model before I will consider it completed: A mouth for lip-syncing and eyelids - both of which are not simple additions and will require me to drop back down to my low-poly original

My robot (Which I like to call Blunderbus) Is being modelled in a different way from Lucy, who was built using image planes in the more standard way. Blunderbus has been build as separate pieces, using Maya as more of a 3d sketchbook than with Lucy. Work on him has, of course, been slower - but I feel I am learning to be far more comfortable in Maya's interface by working in this way.

The robot has been developing more organically than other models I have worked on. This render shows the smoothed High poly version, which has been placed together for completeness. There is still low poly originals of all parts to be welded together properly before final assembly and smoothing.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hair continued

Maya's hair and fur functions are hugely complex and processor intensive for rendering so I've been looking at other ways to create hair. While modelling a rigid model of the hair shape I hit on the idea of using cloth with a hair texture and allowing it to settle around the head, which would also look better in motion, rather than being a solid mass stuck to the characters head.

My original test, just to see if it could work

Moving vertexes to create hair spikes and applying a simple white test texture 

I'm going to create a couple of materials in photoshop to test this idea further, but this seems to sit nicely between mega detail and resource friendly.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

3d progress

Early work on my Lucy character, testing out Maya's hair functions

And it's collider nCloth functions

and a basic model of my robot for testing lighting and materials (mostly chrome and other metals)
Using mental ray rendering to create realistic reflections

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Disposables: Concept design

This is my concept for a third/first person action game that uses technology to explain current game mechanics (A game that plays like a game with explanations) Example: Game is played in a third person perspective - because each player has a small 'drone' that follows them to allow the pilot to see. Destroying another players drone will force them into a limited first person perspective.

The game is a action adventure following the protagonists as they fight for their freedom from the immortal enemies that currently control society.

Why robots?

I like robotics and the idea of strategic design, so I am usually disappointed by the way they are portrayed within popular culture. The most exposed piece of robotics design in recent works would be the robot suits in James Cameron's Avatar, which I felt were silly and childish (Why would you give a robot a knife?) and older examples tend to just scale up human forms and have them fight as if there were no weight difference or strategic difference between human or robotic forms: Gundam, Power Rangers and Transformers.

Copyright All rights reserved by frenzy_rumble

Of course, a lot of these works are aimed at children so the silliness of their actions can get ignored in favour of over the top action sequences.

With the advent of unmanned drone technology and the development of actual robotics to be used in real-world battlefields the idea of war-robots is much less far fetched than it has been in the past, although the design of these pieces of robotics is of course completely different. Specialist robotics tend to get drawn up for one job, rather than one jack of all trades solution - bomb defusal robotics is a specific field, and one of these pieces of robotics could not really be used for any other task.

As such, I would like to revisit the 'Robot Battles' idea in popular culture, with designs based on current real world robotic needs and current weapon design. In all aspects of battlefield robotic design there is only one actual factor that determines the use of these pieces of equipment:

Will the use of this prevent the loss of human life?

The main argument for the current development of robotics in a battlefield is not that they will be more accurate, faster or stronger - but that using a robot will save human life from being exposed to danger (Even if, ironically, the robot is used to kill - like an unmanned drone)  A bomb defusing robot is far worse at its job than a human for manual dexterity, but if it messes up there is no human loss of life (hopefully)

Many works in popular culture that use robotics also usually have some kind of Deus ex Machina in their design, usually in the form of an unlimited (or pretty close to) power source for the robotics to use. Without this in the real world, we have to choose when these weapons would be used, so as not to waste a very limited power source - after all, they don't launch planes for anything - they usually need a detailed plan of attack for them, so they do not waste resources or risk human life.  (The primary factor in using robotics to begin with)

There are a few works in popular culture that try to expand on the use of robotics within our current world and only one that tries to imagine what they could be used as in a warfare situation with any kind of realism, called Steel Battalion.
Console: £300, Steel Battalion game: £150, Television: £15 from a charity shop

This game, for the Xbox, tried to create it's own terminology regarding the use of robotic weapons - it referred to them as VT's or 'Vertical Tanks', which does make sense, as tanks are the closest battlefield weaponry in style and in operation and are also crammed full of modern technology. Like tanks, these weapons were best used at extreme range and in the case of the VT's their increased height allowed them to out distance many other weapons (The only real limit on a modern battle tank's range is the curvature of the earth), however the VT's failed on the one real world rule for the use of robotics: They did not prevent the loss of human life, as they still needed a pilot who was in very real danger during the battle. (the game also had an evil streak, as it would delete your saved game if you did not eject your pilot in time)

With the current development speed of robotics and computer technology I don't feel it's too long before we can see real 'robots' on the battlefield, like DARPA's Big Dog prototype for a 4 legged pack carrier for modern armies that can carry up to 500lbs with no loss of speed.
Go to YouTube and watch the video where they try to make it fall over. It's terrifying.

Thusly, I am aiming my design for Disposables to reflect real world robotic needs with a dramatic slant. The game will centre around rebellion, and the very human story of overcoming repression - but with the weaponry dictated in a real world setting: The robots are remote piloted to prevent loss of human life, are less efficient than using soldiers and are technologically advanced but massively wasteful. The player's perspective will switch from controlling one of these robotic monsters to having to fight on a battlefield where they are roaming.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Summer inspiration

Well it's been a good summer, and I have spent most of my time trying to rediscover inspiration from the materials that inspired me to start creating when I was younger.

Of course, looking back on the films and comics I used to love has left me with the realisation that quite a lot of them are childish rubbish - or could be viewed that way. So I decided to get off my high horse and try and find what I enjoyed so much about these works. I could describe things as simple and childish, but some of these things really stuck with me visually and creatively and it would be selling work short to simply ignore it.

So, here is a list of things I have been reading and watching and why I found/find them important and inspirational. If anyone has any similar works or stories, or has similar/opposing views to mine on the works I speak of, please feel free to comment with your feelings on matters.

1 : Appleseed Manga/ Masamune Shirow

I turned 12 in '93 and I don't know about you, but anime and manga simply exploded into mainstream view. My first experience was with the movie 'Akira' which - when I first viewed it - was an absolute revelation in what could be done with animation. I was too young to view it, and several scenes made me uncomfortable watching, but it got me looking at a an art style I had never heard of or experienced (I read comics and watched cartoons, the comics pretty much being 2000AD and it's spin off publications - I'm not sure if the Megazine existed then)

By my late teens I had pretty much grown out of my Anime=Genius! phase. As I had explored more and more it seemed that Akira and others were pretty much the only greats amongs a sea of exploitative trash. I started to resent anime and it's fans, thinking I was cleverer than they for I had seen through the sham of 'Art' to see it was just an excuse for big eyes, big boobs and lots of gore. As such works that had initially inspired me to draw and create were forgotten or tarred with the same brush.

If he knew how many had turned their back on what they truly enjoyed because of peer pressure and the laughable attempts at maturity it causes, he certainly would be!
This brings me roundabout to Appleseed which is a comic I initially dicovered at about 13-14 thanks to a British publication called Manga Mania- Published by the video company who were responsible for bringing the animated works over here as well.

I read science fiction primarily in high school, with Lord of the Rings and Terry Pratchett's Discworld being my only other loved books (He's not going to be reading this, but I'd like to give a shout out to my high school librarian, Mr Strang, who saw me struggling with a copy of 2001 and quite rightly realised I had seen the film and wanted to learn more abouit sci-fi, but was being put off by one of the densest books I have ever read. He came to speak to me, showed me the entire sci fi collection they had, where to find more, took 2001 away from me and gave me the first book in Asimov's Foundation. Thank you Mr Strang, that book started a life-time obsession with science, fiction and the art that can be used to describe it. I'm only sad that I never learned your first name or thanked you properly while I was in school)
The original artwork for Foundation, By Tim White

Anyway (this is turning into a beast of a post, and it's only the first) my love of the Foundation series and giant robots drew me to Appleseed originally, and the exceptional art got the hook in. By the time I had read the second book (He's only ever wrote 4. Shame) I was in the boat and gutted as a sworn fan.

Appleseed describes the life of two ex-police officers living in a post world war 3 world. In classic manga style, one is a beautiful woman (Deunan), and one is a big robot (Her mentor/friend/lover? Briareos)

They are both contacted by an agent called Hitomi who informs them that the world is rebuilding. The center of this revitalisation is the city of Olympus (There's a ton of Greek references within this work, even Briareos' second name appears to be Hecatoncheires, although this refers at different times to his model number or name)

Olympus city is a vast utopia with one creepy difference. 88% of the people are genetically engineered clones of humans called 'Bioroids', genetically programmed to obey the law and work for the city. People brought to Olympus (The plan is to slowly rehabilitate them into society) start destroying, seeing the lack of true freedoms the bioroids have. It eventually starts to speak on William Gibson's utopia thoughts: Without perfect people, you cannot have a perfect society - without a perfect society, you cannot have perfect people.

Storyline wise it is a classic, with book 2 being the high point in my opinion (I feel it tries too much in books 3 + 4 and becomes confusing and unweildy)

Artistically it was a revelation to me, causing me to take art as a standard grade in high school (I didn't do very well) and technical drawing as a side module - I enjoyed this far more. Art class seemed to be too 'loose' for what I wanted. I still have a drawing board for doing 2 and 3 point measured persective, despite the fact that a computer can do it in less than a second.

Recently, I have repurchased and reread the entire series, and I am saddened that the 'maturity' I tried to display regarding Manga had caused me to completley forget one of my main inspirations for creativity in the first place. Read it if you can - I have only watched the original film in '94 and it completely missed the point, I don't hold out much hope for the recent movie attempts - and be inspired by the only comic I know of that mixes the intelligence of Isacc Asimov (Laws of robotics, zeroth law) with generic manga tropes (Big robots, lots op explosions and blood and big eyed girls that take their clothes off - nothing sexual though, they just go to sauna's and such and sit around naked discussing philosophy. It's like the authour thought: How can I make teenage boys read 3 pages of philisophoical discourse? Naked girls! What a genius) - on a more serious side, re-reading the books made me think of Iain M. Banks' Culture series amongst others in it's treatment of nudity. We're all naked under our clothes and being shocked about it is just another societal barrier.
Not sure on what blogger would allow, so I'm playing safe and blocking out Hitomi's bum. I'm also not getting into the art/manga debate regarding nudity. In short: I am a coward.

In short, find the manga if you can. It's well worth the read and even beats many full novels I have read for depth and breadth of scope. And here is possibly one of the most inspiring images from it. At least, for me - anyone who's read a bit of my tripe will recognise this from my influence map)

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts if you have any - and if you believe in a god, may he bless you. If you don't believe in a god, may something better than what you expected befall you.

Next Update: The Patlabor movies! Mamoru Oshii's hidden masterpieces.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Visual storytelling

I'll be finishing off my 3d visualisation soon and I have been looking in a new direction to try and help me create something a bit more impactful. I tend to rely on stories when creating pictures or viewing them, so I feel I should be using that in my own work (Thanks Lynn!)

But what story could be behind what I am creating?

My main focus is on the misuse of science, and the way it can be twisted to fit the purposes of the people controlling it - such as the 'no global warming' argument.
I think a post-apocalyptic look will fit my work best, as it already has that flavour. I already wanted the scene to appear degraded and rotted: with vines and creepers hanging from the long pipe moving to the background (The L.H.C. at CERN)

I think I will try to create a ruined city in the mid ground of the image, as it will show the effect that my nightmarish idea can have on people, considering that is my main intention. I'm not an eco-warrior (The Earth is 576 trillion tonne, 4.5 billion year old ball of iron and rock. It can take whatever we throw at it!) so I think that showing the background too much will contaminate the image with an ideal that I do not follow.

My main inspiration for this? What else: Pripyat, Ukraine! A true example of misused science, and lies fed to people to serve the political gains that science could provide (Apparently, soviet people were told that their power plants used 'friendly atoms' which had no chance of meltdown, leading to some of the lax safety around the V.I. Lenin nuclear power center: Chernobyl)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Further development, 3d space

As I continue to explore my ideas for a 3d visualtisation that contains the atmosphere of Zdzislaw Beksinski I have started creating concepts to work with. Probably my favorite is of a canyon, with the Large Hadron Collider appearing over the top right of the image, shadowing and dominating the viewer.

I am trying to stick to one palette as well, to keep the mood of Beksinski's images. Here's a 3d sketch

It still needs work, but I feel I am making progress in some way (I'm not saying it's in the right direction!)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

3d Space Creation, continued

Well, I think I've made my choice regarding artist choice. I think I'll base my work on the awesomely surreal artist Zdzislaw Beskinski.

This will be more of an exercise in the replication of atmosphere than specific visual elements. Beksinski uses certain elements in most of his images, but it's not always concrete. Death and morbid features are one common element, but they are not everything - as I believe this example demonstrates.

This image, I feel, shows more of Beksinski's depth as an artist. While it ties into his other works stylistically, it contains none of their elements. Apart from the obviously fantasy-based roots of the picture it contains no skull, graves, crucifixes or any of his other more morbid features - however - it would fit in a set of his other images perfectly. It continues the feeling I get from his works that they are all based in a world.

His images may actually be representing some world that he imagines, I don't know. I have chosen specifically to look at as many examples of his work as possible without knowing his direction while creating to ensure I do not simply create 'his pictures in 3d' but create a 3d space that is inpired by them.

One personal change I feel I must make is replacing Beksinski's religious drive with my own mathematical one. Beksinski may have had his reasons for such dark, church related imagery - but I do not. I am a lifelong athiest, and as such, do not share his feelings regarding the church. From his images I get a sense of betrayal that he may (Or may not, I'm only guessing here) have experienced on behalf of the church. This usually twists into his depictions of war as well, with images featuring a soldier and the crucifix. This may tie his Polish nationality with WWII, but I am guessing again.

What I am sure of is that I do not feel the same way on certain points. I do not believe in religion, but it has never betrayed or punished me. It is simply not my place to say something on the subject. My religion is in mathematics and the stars, something I would like to bring about in my representations - particularly the way science is a god or a devil depending on your own feelings on how it should be used. The CERN large Hadron collider is an example of this to me. Decried before it was even built for how much it would cost and further demonised by false beliefs that it would create a black hole and destroy the world. After running for about 2 years, it has (obviously) failed to destroy any planets - but it's creation led to an important point in the creation of the internet.

This, and my own wierd personal superstitions about numbers (Even numbers are unlucky, odds are fine and prime numbers are lucky. I told you it was wierd.) are some of the main points I would like to use. Tying the irrefutable truth of mathematics with the fallible truths of human perception - the sum can never be wrong, just the person solving it - with the demonising of technology that has been occurring for the last few years. These days, someone who ignores technology and exists without it is usually viewed as 'wise' compared to someone who relies on it. I believe this comes from an inherent fear in the human spirit of relying to heavily on it as a crutch.

Well, that's the idea at least. I'll post images as soon as I stop writing and make some.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Daniel Dociu

Another artist that I have always liked is the conceptual artist Daniel Dociu, who currently works for NCSoft (He provides artwork for the guild wars games primarily)

This is a good example of his work. Detailed, chaotic scenes with strong palette choices.
This is one of his peices of conceptual artwork for a level that was not used, however the artwork still made it into the game as a loading screen. The basis of the level was a city where the player navigated across the rooftops.
He starts his images with a concept, then starts to create random shapes by using custom brushes within photoshop. He then loks for order in these shapes and bases his images around them.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Zdzislaw Bekinski

Another artist I have found to be very inpiring. He's quite a dark one too, I think there must be something wrong with my brain...

He has a standard palette that he tends to use, with oranges and yellows creating a dry, dusty feeling - fitting that most of his images involve death or decay in some form.
Even in the works that don't feature a direct reference to mortality have a dark and strong feeling to them. Like something is going to go very wrong for someone...

Use of colour is staggeringly impactful, drawing the eye to the images. Images are usually excellently painted and amaze before you even start to look into other points. The crucified figure in the top right, the skull and bones lying beside the cradle, the strangely spooky character bent over the cradle looks soft and motherly- yet not - and the use of In Hoc Signo Vinces : "in this sign you will conquer" the slogan of armies and military families, believed to have been spoken by Consantine I

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Ian Miller

Ian Miller is an illustrator and artist who has produced images for Games Workshop, 2000AD and J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to name but a few.

The image I have featured in my influence map is a shot from the James Herbert graphic novel he illustrated, as it shows everything about him that inspires me: detailed linework, organic twisting of architectural shapes and spaces and a limited palette used to enhance the impact of an image.

This work is from a horror novel cover, and shows how he uses detailed line work and organic shapes to create an unsettling piece that reflects the novel within.

These are works from a book detailing the world of Tolkien (That I was lucky enough to pick up for £3!) They show his use of line and detail again, but also demonstrate his non-use of colour in some aspects. I think the images are perfect as they are and that any colour applied would take away from the descriptive aspect of the images.

Artists represented within a 3d space

For my first 3d project to be completed in Maya I have to look at artists that have inspired me and represent their style in a three dimensional space.

There are three artists that have always inspired me that I will be looking at over the next few days: Ian Miller, Zdzislaw Beksinski and Daniel Dociu.