Monday, 27 May 2013

2nd Year Review

Damn, that went fast... no not really. This year has been quite a fulfilling one, and I'm pretty bummed it's over.
This time last year I was probably back home tearing my hair out from boredom, and this year I'm in Leicester, tearing my hair out from boredom! Actually, I've just given myself a four day break, since handing in on Friday I've not done a lot. It's been a hectic year, I can't remember the last time I didn't have an epic workload. I pretty much gave up on any kind of social life this year, but it was my choice.
I realised coming back in October how much more I needed to work, and I've made a conscious effort to focus as much as I can this year. As a result I've spent every waking moment, and many unconscious moments, thinking about my work. Of all the mistakes I might've made this year though, that would be it. Thinking too much and not taking enough action. I seem to be spending more time in my head, thinking about what I could be doing with my work, where I could be taking it, instead of producing solid ideas on paper. I've gotten to scared of producing crummy prep sketches and I think I got a little too focused on a finished product. As someone who wants to pursue a career in design, this is probably not the best mentality, but I feel like I pulled it back a bit after Christmas.

I did spend a lot of the summer sketching and painting, but not near as much as I'd hoped. When we returned in October I genuinely felt like I'd forgotten how to draw on paper! It was good getting back into the rhythm of going out to draw, Abbey Park, Loughborough, even Bradgate to some extent, but when it came to the War of the Worlds and the vehicle project, I struggled. I couldn't settle on ideas and didn't produce work I thought was up to a suitable standard, so I decided over Christmas to revisit some of these ideas and flesh them out. This led to me redoing my vehicle project from scratch, in tandem with other projects, and made me kind of realise that this is what I really want to do. I enjoyed the process this time around, and made an effort to iterate on design, try new ideas and run with them. I think I'm more willing to expand on designs and not just settle for something because it looks kinda cool, but to actually delve into the mechanics, the story, why does it exist, what is it's purpose, basing the aesthetics on problem solving.
I've really pushed myself this year, and the group project is a huge part of that. I pushed for the London project, knowing how important it would be, and I chose to tackle Cryengine, something completely new to me. I did feel some regret for choosing this role, as I felt my artistic progression would take a hit. I didn't get to do as much 3D as I would have liked, nor 2D, but I'm really happy that I chose to do what I did. I learned a ton from using cryengine, about different pipelines and technical side of things, skills which will only help me work faster in the third year. But I also improved a hell of a lot in 2D and 3D. In my opinion, I think I've produced some of my best work during the London project, and it's just solidified the thought that I do want to design even more.

I also somewhat surprised myself with Cryengine by actually enjoying working out technical problems, where other people in the year were going crazy when things wouldn't import or textures wouldn't load, I found myself relishing the chance to solve it, and when I did, it was hugely satisfying.
As I said I am pretty bummed this year is over. I enjoy working, I enjoy having structure and the weight of deadlines, it really pushed me to work. I'm bad at self motivating though, and can see myself falling behind over summer. However, this year I've had people see my work and contact me about projects they'd like me to join, and I've happily said yes. Maybe a little too eagerly, I might be spreading myself a little too thin, but I like a challenge, and if it makes me work harder then it's all good.

I realise how much I'm going to have to work to get where I want to be, so I'm really going to make an effort to practice as much as I can, that means studies, thumbnails, and idea generation on a regular basis, daily. I'll keep my blog updated over summer as an incentive to work. Ok? Let's do this...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


For the interiors project the first thing that came to mind was some kind of sci fi hangar or large ship interior.
I gathered some reference from the likes of Star Wars and Bungie's work to get some inspiration.

After doing some sketching I realised that without anything populating it, a hangar is a pretty boring interior, so I got busy getting distracted with vehicles, put together a bashkit in 3DS Max and came up with something fairly quickly.

Initial freehand sketching
I spent more time than I should have on this and neglected the whole interiors thing completely. I consider this a work in progress, though, and would like to return to it and iterate on it as much as possible to get a decent design and final renders out, which I feel I could turn into a little summer project, or maybe something to do next year.

Going back, then, to the hangar idea, I felt it was severely lacking, because hangars are really just giant garages, pretty empty and boring...
So, after a few different ideas I actually decided to do the interior of the chopper. I knew I wanted it to be a troop carrier when I was designing it so that's where I put my focus on for the interiors.

Moodboard and quick idea generation, plan view and interesting/essential props.
I then did a quick blockout in 3D based on the above sketches and did some colour thumbnails based on these moodboards

Final image. Fairly pleased with it. The lighting was a big challenge on this one, aswell as the material properties. I think I pulled it off ok. I would have liked to flesh it out a bit more with some smaller details, little mechanics, buttons, fittings and stuff to give it a bit more believability, but was short on time. I also think this entire project has provided a solid base for a project and would translate really well to 3D, so something to think about for the future.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Hillbillies Final

My final for the hillbilly project. A nice swampy swamp. They love it down in the bayou

Masters Project

We were tasked with looking to artists we considered to be masters of their field and drawing inspiration and techniques from their work to apply to our own in order to learn different ways of painting and understanding the structure of their work.

I instantly looked towards the impressionist art movement. I've found great inspiration in the likes of Edgar Payne, Hanson Puthuff, Turner and others for their use of colour and light, and their energetic brush strokes. I find it interesting how they capture a great sense of depth and atmosphere just with colour and light, and a lesser attention to detail which was not quite the norm in their day.

I began by doing some studies of Hanson Puthuff and Emile Gruppe, focusing on the larger forms and contrast. I made sure to stick to one layer and one brush to keep the feel of real painting, no undoing or rubbing out here!

The first thing I notice whilst painting is how much blue and purple they use for the distant landscape and cast shadows. This is something I was always concious of but have really adhered to strongly in my own work. They are quite liberal with colour aswell, not afraid to use strong reds and orange to compliment and draw interest. They also use a lot of very small, but fat brush strokes. I spent a while just layering the colours as though I was painting on a real canvas and it created a nice effect. 

I was really enjoying this method of painting so I did some studies taking what I'd done into account, but trying to add a little more detail and spend some time blending the colours a bit more. When I was home over easter I went on a walk and noticed the river was reflecting some really nice colours, the blues were really deep blue and glassy, and the oranges really vibrant so I took some pictures to study. (Didn't have any drawing equipment with me!!)

I was really pleased with how these turned out. I've never really painted rivers or water before, it's good fun.
An Edgar Payne study, I wanted to use this piece as practice run for my final, practicing the techniques and colours that I'd like to use. Again, he really pushes the blues of the background, and is using extremely simple strokes. Obviously I've probably only spent a fraction of the time on this to what he would have spent on the real thing.

This is the final I chose to do. It's Llyn y Fan Fach, back in Wales, based off a photo I took last year. The photo was super contrasted, but I wanted to recreate what I had learned from the studies I'd done, so I focused on keeping the dull blues, purples and washed out colours for the distant landscape and shadows and more vibrant colours for the foreground. I also tried to emulate Edgar Payne's technique of using small stubby brushstrokes.

I didn't spend an awful lot of time on this last piece, because it's pretty late, and I have plenty of other projects to get on with right now! (lame excuses D:) but I'm fairly pleased with how it came out. I'm pleased with myself for sticking to the rules I'd laid out for myself. The foreground is a little rushed, and the distant mountain could perhaps have less contrast. The sky is definitely my favourite part, aswell as the spurs of the mountain sweeping down, kinda looks like an elephants head with the tusks sweeping into the water. cool cool. Onto the next one.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Group Project hand in

Group project hand in was yesterday. I'm super happy with what we've produced in the time we had so far. I don't think I could have imagined we'd do so much.
It's been a really great project, and has pushed us all to the max, but so worth it, we've all come away with so much.
There's a lot of unfinished stuff in our level, but that's to be expected. We were quite ambitious from the start with where we wanted to go with it. We wanted it to be big, and it turned out big!
The docks are very unfinished and were rushed in the last couple of weeks. I think we want to revisit this area completely and do some proper design work to get it fleshed out nicely.
Unfortunately we couldn't get the sound working properly so again, something to polish over the summer.
Things we'd like to add; interiors, this has always been an idea we'd like to implement but again with time we didn't really feel we could do it justice for hand in.
More life and movement to the level: we made a rat that we didn't quite get ready for hang in, and we'd like to add more things like this, so perhaps birds, chickens, and some movement with things like wind and more particle effects. Maybe something more ambitious? We'll see.

Here's our flythrough we did for our presentation

And some updated screenshots

We were also featured on the front page of crydev today which is nice!