November 22, 2009

Unreal 3 Engine - Trees

I was messing around in the Unreal Development Kit today, and I noticed it comes packaged with a program called Speed Tree. I was curious to see how this works because lately in our game, we've been having a tough time figuring out how to model lowpoly trees. Well it looks like Epic billboards their leaves, and uses 8-bit alpha channels to blend the leaves together.

November 3, 2009

Skitzo Dancer

This is a simple animation I did for Justice's Remix of Skitzo Dancer. It was my first animation in After Effects and now I have all sorts of ideas for crazy music video ideas. I've received some nice compliments on this one but I gotta say, it only looks decent because of the motion blur, and my knack for timing due to all those hours spent playing japanese Music/Rhythm games XD

HMS Terror Project

This is a painting I did for concept art class. I spent about 2 hours on thumbnails, 2 hours on research, 6 hours on a failed attempt to model several ships and paint over the turn arounds, about 10 hours for 3 colored compositions.

The project lasted 5 weeks and the total time spent on the above image was about 15 hours. The final image was based on two classes of feedback, and the engine was a photo that I modified and paint-over to save time (something we were encouraged to do).

Above are just a couple images of the process. I end up going with the purple color scheme, but changed the composition to highlight the details of the ship.

November 1, 2009

Modeling Process

So after several creature models, I think I've finally came up with a sound pipeline for getting them done quickly. I'm posting this here because I think a lot of student character modelers who may (or may not) be reading this, have no idea about the alternatives to polygon modeling, and albeit, I think it's a much quicker one.

(Low Poly with Normal, Diffuse, and Specular)

Here's my process:

1. 3ds Max - Block the model in using simple box extrusions
- It can look like crap here. Just make sure that it's entirely quads
- Note: A better way to do this is using Zbrush's Zspheres. But since I'm working in Mudbox, I believe this to be the best way

2. Mudbox - Import and subdivide the model for high-detail sculpting
- Sculpt to 90% completion
- Avoid texture detailing so you can start working on the lowpoly (for the animator)

*3. Topogun - Create a low poly mesh on top of the high-detail sculpt
- Consider your poly-count
- Use this opportunity to focus on clean edgeloops
- Topogun does all the modeling work for you :) Just focus on the topology
- Before exporting to Max, make sure the silhouette reads

(Above: Creature being retopologized in Topogun)

4. 3ds Max - Unwrap and Rig
- Create a quick simple rig to test your edgeloops
- Hand this file to the rigger or animator

5. 3ds Max - Bake Normals and Ambient Occlusion maps

6. Photoshop - Use maps to aid your texturing
This stage can go sort of two ways. You can either go back to your mudbox file and sculpt


Pros: Intuitive. Removes the constraint of working within a polycount, and allows the artist to focus on sculpting rather than topology.

Cons: Animator does not have a test rig/model to work with until the Hi-Poly sculpt is 90% complete.

Links to the tools I use:
*Topogun -
Xoliul Viewport Shader -