This blog will allow me to show my development in the final year of my degree. Here you will find all the development work, research and experimentation for my IP, Subject Anomaly. Below are the criteria that I will be marked by and how I should evidence them.
|Engage critically with an appropriate topic||Tutorials, proposal document, project blog, progress presentations, submission and presentation of completed work.|
|Construct comprehensive and well considered design documentation.||Proposal document & presentation, submission and presentation of completed work.|
|Demonstrate independence, initiative, imagination, innovation and creativity in the production of a comprehensive games product(s).||Tutorials, proposal document, project blog, progress presentations, submission and presentation of completed work.|
|Integrate and synthesise conceptual, technical and visual levels of games design.||Tutorials, proposal document, project blog, progress presentations, submission and presentation of completed work.|
|Critically evaluate the outcome of their work.||Tutorials, project blog, progress presentations, evaluation.|
I had come across Pinterest a while ago and didn’t really no what it was about. After a recent conversation with my tutor Paul he told and showed me some of the benefits of using it. Its a great tool to quickly gather online reference images of a chosen area. You have the ability to create boards and give these boards a theme. Below is a link to my personal Pinterest where I have put together some boards that will aid me with the design of my project.
At the time of this post I only have a couple of boards, however, over time this will grow as I seek more reference images for specific projects. Its also a great source to see other artist’s work. Searching for a particular artist will bring up all of their work.
Today a re watched the film Alien, a couple of time through out the film the crew of 7 sit down to eat. The area isn’t specifically a canteen but it does show how densely populated a table can be for only 7 people eating. It gave me the idea to consider the time of day the ship would have been abandoned. The crew would be eating different food if it was a breakfast as opposed to a lunch. The Nostromo only has a crew of 7 and its a big mining ship. Perhaps my proposition of a crew of 50 is a little large? However the crew size could be dictated by how advanced the human race is at the time of its launch. It also has a centre console hanging down from the ceiling which is an element I proposed to develop and it also doubles up as a light source which is a nice idea.
Before I develop my own ideas for the layout out, I must consider how these areas are designed in the real world. There will be freedom with my own designs as it is set in the future, however I must keep the look and feel close to real-world references as this is a skill sought after by potential employers. I am going to look at different settings for the real world canteens, from schools to aircraft carriers, and then using this information to design an appropriate layout for my spaceship’s canteen.
Restaurants & Café’s
There are many features in the above example’s that would not fit into the theme of the canteen I am going to design. However, knowing certain features exist should help me create a more acurate and believable environment.
I have come to a point where I understand theoretically and practically the use of modular kits, I feel pursuing this further will not aid me in my development of an aspiring environment artist. Due to this I am refining to my project to the creation of a specific part of the ship, a canteen.
I am doing this as I feel my origin idea was to much for me to take on, I was spreading myself to thin. Because of this I wish to focus my attention on one particular part that I am interested in and show a solid piece rather than a group of half finished pieces.
During the development process of my environment I will document all my experimentation and findings, as well as the research and development of the piece. I am going to consider what potential employers look for in a candidate, more specifically looking towards what a studio would require of an environment artist. The piece itself will keep in theme with work produced before the refinement of my final major project, sci-fi. I am going to focus a specific area of a space craft. The canteen / eating quarters of the ship will offer me a good space to demonstrate my ability to create an environment.
The space craft is an old asteroid mining ship with a crew of around 50. The ship was one of the first space craft to be mass produced by the human species for collecting precious metals. The craft used hydroponic farms to produce oxygen for the ship’s crew and reminisce of this remains. The canteen will be in an abandoned state and slight decay. Food trays left on the tables and cups knocked on the floor indicates the crew were in a hurry to leave. There is a slight dampness to the air, perhaps caused by the untamed plants aloud to grow free for some time. The overgrown plants will give the audience a sense of time scale as to how long the ship has been abandoned. The walls of the canteen are made from a raw metal reinforced with supporting beams and rivets. The tables and chairs are made from stainless steel, now slightly tarnished. To one side of the room is an elevation, this area has been painted, perhaps crew of a higher rank ate there. There are two main entrances to the canteen at opposing side of the room and one smaller entrance leading off from the raised area. The food serving area is much like one seen in a school canteen, and the equipment is similar too. There is a sealed room behind the serving area which can be peered into through a window; this is where they would have stored the food. Faint lights can still be seen lighting the exits and walkways, but the ships power is close to empty. The roof has a number of port holes that view into outer space, the ship has drifted close to a moon and some light illuminates the ships interior. A circular unit is hanging from the roof; screens and speaker are attached to it. Wires and cables are leading off from it.
The lighting of the piece will feel cold, light blues and white lights will help my achieve this. The elevated area will still had a functioning light; the light will serve two purposes, to add slight warmth to the specific area and to draw the player eye to it.
I will be following a physical based rendering (PBR) style, to make the piece feels a real as possible. All ideas, from layouts to prop design will be drawn before moving forward to 3D artwork. All assets and textures must keep the art style consistent throughout the piece.
The environment will be composed using the Unreal Engine 4.
The first asset I decided to do, before making an asset list and work through them, was an info console. I did this as an up skilling exercise rather than to produce an asset for Subject Anomaly, however I kept in mind that if it turns out okay then I will be able to use it. The asset in mind would be for a next gen console and although attention to poly count will be made, additional geometry may be added to help with the overall look of the low poly asset.
I started off by sketching out a few ideas for the console.
Once I had the idea down on paper I proceeded into 3DsMax where I started to model the console. I started with the high poly model and then made a low poly around it. During the modelling process I decided that the asset looked better if I turn it 180 degrees. Any renders you see reflect this decision. Below is a screen shot of the high and low polygon models. I have used floating geometry along side the high poly model to add additional detail with ease.
It was then time to bake down the high poly information into a normal map for the low polygon model. As this was a learning exercise I decided to use Xnormal, a programme that I had heard a lot about but hadn’t experimented with to much. The programme is very simple to use and produces great results. After importing the High and Low polygon assets into Xnormal I had to set up a cage. A cage allows you to determine how far the low poly model ‘looks’ for information. As I was using floating geometry in the High poly model I made sure the cage was covering these floating elements. The image below shows the importance of setting the cage correctly. On the left show the cage not covering the information we need to get a nice bake. On the right shows how the cage should cover the floating geometry.
Once the cage had been set It was a simple case of choosing which maps you would like (as Xnormal can bake far more than just normal maps), setting the file path and pressing the bake maps button.
After a test bake I tweaked the cage a little as I was getting some skewing and then render a 2k normal map. From the normal map I created an AO map using nDo2 and then proceeded to create a diffuse texture.
The first iteration of the was okay. But there was a few things that bothered me. The big screws on the sides and bottom of the console looked out of place. The side looked a little plian, and although I was happy with he emissive strips I though I could added a little more detail to it. There was also nothing to indicate it was an information console, so this had to be changed.
Above you can see the second iteration of the console. I added an ‘i’ that glows to the front which now gives the asset a purpose. I also added some additional panelling around the emissive strips. I took back the amount of wear and tear on the paint also. This was due to it looking a little over the top.
The thrid and final iteration of the console see the ‘i’ now floating in front like a hologram. This decision was made after a discussion with my tutor Paul about the overall appearance of the console. It was easy to implement to the model with a polygon, an alpha map and a tweak to the emissive texture. I think it gives the asset a more futuristic look which is what I was aiming for.
I am still to add the floating hologram screen to the top of the asset, but this will be doing using a multi-sub object as it will have some distorting effects added to it using Unreals 4’s material editor.
After researching around the area of modularity I have started to put together a very basic kit of my own. So far I have produced a small set for the corridors and rooms of the ship as well as some bigger kits for the cargo/storage areas. There will be more modular kits, like a pipe kit for extra details but these have not been started yet. The kit so far has little or no detail are its purpose to pure functionality. Its made so I can test the principles I have learned and so far it is working well. There have been a few teething problems, such as it all not snapping to grid, but after tweaking and testing its at a stage where I can now move further with it. Below are some shots of the basic modular kit.
All game has some sort of ident/logo that makes them distinguishable from others and I wish to do this with Subject Anomaly. It also gives me a logo to use when presenting ideas, displaying art work and promoting my product. The following sketches are some ideas for the logo. Nothing is finalised at this point in time and I will be gathering feedback from my peers in the near future to see which they prefer. From there I will tweak and/or rework my logo as necessary before producing it using Abode’s Illustrator.
Modularity is all around us, I’ve been observing it more since I worked on recreating Hull’s Paragon Station last year for another university project. I’ve been looking back though some photos I took of Hornsea to show modularity. Please bare in mind they were not taken to show examples of modularity, however there are some great examples.
The next one is a little different, in fact its just tiles. I took the picture to use as reference if were ever to recreate some similar type of tile. I was surprised to see that each tile has the exact same pattern as the rest.
Modularity isn’t just in the buildings or tiles either. Bollards are another good example of modularity in the real world.
And, of course scaffolding…
I haven’t broke this image down as I think it would be hard to see what I’m trying to highlight as there is a lot of information. As you can see there are many modular elements in the image. The building itself can be broken down into a couple of elements as the windows seem to be the same hight and width. The use of the same fence over and over is modularity too. The signs hanging from the modular fences are again modular. I think you see what I’m getting at.
As I mentioned, these photos were taken for a different project, however going back and re-observing them with a new skill set I can use them in a completely different way.
As I am producing a 3D modular kit for my environment I have been looking into other modular kits from varying mediums. One of the first I looked at was Lego.
The Lego kit above shows all the different pieces on the side of the box, this is the modular kit. With this kit the user could make an almost infinite amount of different models. Although the complexity of the kit is far greater than the one I wish to create, the key principles are the same. Everything must be bale to snap together in a specific way, without leaving gaps in undesired places.
Another modular kit I came across was one used for desktop war games called ‘Battle Systems™ Sci-fi Modular Terrain’. HERE you can find their kickstarter page with lots of additional information about the product.
Above are some of the pieces available to the user to created modular environments. These pieces are closer to the types I will be creating for Subject Anomaly. Below shows the kit being put to use in making an environment for game play.