Showing posts from November, 2019

PROJECT 1: Handpainted texturing

It would be no lie if I said I am terrified of this stage. My only previous encounter with purely handpainted texturing was in my first year ( and though it did not end up being a disaster, I remember spending an ungodly amount of time on it before I made it look presentable. 

To prepare myself as much as possible, I watched many tutorials by amazing artists and made a whole page full of notes. I also studied a lot of current Riot Games artists, such as Yekaterina Bourykina, Cody Bunt and Vlad Bacescu. The following is a mashup of all my notes I am sure I will come back to every time I texture before they're engraved in my long term memory. Disclaimer: it is probably very hard to orient in the notes as they're made mainly for my chaotic brain to understand, so if you're only interested in how my texturing went, please skip the wall of text and scroll down to see some screenshots! :) 

- Establish lighting - usually in LoL this would be top-down.
3D Coat Hotkeys  and features to know mainly from here:
- 5: smooth shade
- 1: flat shade (always handpaint in this - fun fact, in my first year handpainted character project I had no idea this feature exists, painted the whooole thing up in Smooth Shade and then almost got a heart attack when exporting textures to Sketchfab and them not looking ANYTHING like the textures I saw in 3dCoat, fun times)
- Ctrl + P: view in Photoshop (When adjusting layers in PS, do not use folders as it rearanges the hierarchy when saved in 3DCoat)
- 0: Palette (pick colours from your reference directly)
- Set custom hotkeys by pressing END + Hotkey. Sliders like brush size can be adjusted in Windows > Sliders.
- The "eyeball" icon = super useful, hides your objects. Ctrl + X to get them back.
- If adjusting model in 3DsMax, replace the save and go to Import > Replace Geometry (make sure to keep same texture size)
- Edit > Edit Projection in External Editor -> MAGIC
- Caps Lock: Hides the yellow circle brush indicator
- Camera > Rotate around last draw point

Learned from: Texturing Metal with Form by Kelvin S Tan
- Block out design roughly but exactly (if you blur your eyes out from a distance a lot, all shapes should still read well together -> always keep large - medium - small on mind)
- Always think about the forms and check back on them. With metal, it's good to think about the bends and how they curve around things
- If you start working in colour, take print screens and desaturate in PS often to check values.
- It is okay to exaggerate values in handpainted style
- Paint highlights in edges to show where they come to a point, think about lighting - what direction is the plane facing? How intense will the light be?
- ZOOM OUT very often, make sure your model is readable both from up-close as well as from far away
(3dcoat brush preset, second one from the left hand side)
- When working on trims, follow your geometry as best as you can
- Do not render one thing out while leaving everything else behind. You want to have a cohesive lighting and for this you should aim to build it all together.
- My helmet will be brightest and lightest part of the model because it's receiving a the most light from top down.
- When painting trims, be consistent with their thickness around the whole model.
- AO is separate from the lighting. If an object in your model sits on another object, you need to paint the occlussion even if there's no direct light cast.
- Rendering metal: Starting with medium to darker values, adding color dodge when painting in colour (where things curve and bend) -> so paint metal when colouring? -> blending it together
- When adding highlights, the forms which are lower/more in shadow start with a more saturated highlight similar to the surface color, but as the highlight goes up, it blends into more desaturated version, closer to white
- Painting with confidence comes with practice - try using large or medium brush size more often, small looks blotchy
- Metalic highlight on wider form (1:01:30): squiggly lines, confident stroke, later blended into form. The smaller the spec is on the metal, the shinier it will seem (so if the highlight is very large, not centered and pointed, it will look like a less shiny metal)
- Common error: using black shadows, zoom out to check if they look black, if yes, add color in (purple is nice, blue maybe, look at your bounce light)
- Also, there should be less detail in shadow area - blend it in
- When/if designing, think of the gaps of your rythm - e.g. rather than having two larger shapes together, break it down with large, small, large or medium large small, etc.. Avoid things being split into equal parts (sometimes it's good, but most of the times it's better to vary things up).
- Don't be afraid to use multiple colour dodge layers when in later stages but always double check the intensity by zooming out
- When using masks (e.g. for gradient maps) in Photoshop, remember to merge the masked layers with whatever colour/base layer you have before you save as gradient maps themselves aren't recognized in 3DCoat
- Don't forget bounce lighting. Add colour from neighbouring objects to shadows or highlights. 
- 2:26:40 Drag edit button: Time saver when duplicating. Click on "edit" to open the part in Photoshop.   
- Rendering cloth (3:44:00): Start with base colour, then add darker value for areas between folds.  Large medium small shapes. Keep brush bigger at start (airbrush preferred but bounce between airbrush/hardbrush in later stages of rendering). Darker value on sides of cloth to add depth.  Think of the pinch points, where is the cloth being held together? Contrast lower, not as prominent as in metal, to add softer feel.
- During the polishing stages, mix in some colours (bounce, even random complimentary ones) to give it painterly feel and sense of wear & tear.


Establishing symmetry, crucial part of handpainted models. On top right you can also see my custom brush imported. Only basic 3DCoat baked AO to start with. I've also separated the objects to be easily able to hide them when I do not paint on them. 
Early hair blockout

Painting in some additional AO by hand. I was a little bit confused in this stage, and waaay too careful which slowed me down in return. If there is something I desperately NEED to learn, it is timing myself and not being so precious about every brushtroke I make.
Here I've received some great feedback from Miki, pushing me to add highlights and deepen some of the values.
Much later in the process, here it started to feel a little more cohesive. I distributed some value over specific assets, with my guides being mostly the references on the left. I made sure to have the most contrast in face (very light fur -> which would later be toned down because it felt too bright, very dark turtleneck, very light face, very dark hair...).
When I zoomed out, the values felt very inconsistent, so I tried to blend them into a gradient by making the pants darker as I moved closer to the feet to achieve that specific MOBA top down lighting aesthetic. Here I also worked on the jacket a little, though I feel like this will be changed in the future because the material is too shiny. 

Added some AO to the fur and changed the value as it was too bright. On the bottom right you can also see the dreadful amount of layers I had. At layer 90, my laptop almost refused to run the file until I merged most of it down. This is also a result of me being overly precious about every brushstroke. Layers should only be reserved to blending modes and kept at a minimum.
 At this point I also received great feedback by Shay Hulbert who was super helpful especially in terms of shape design, material rendering and clothing. Some of her points included:
 -  soften edges on the belt buckle, make it more cohesive to the whole design as now it feels like it doesn't belong (will have to remodel the buckle into more of a heart shape to fit)
-  add a zipper to the jacket (again will have to add some geometry as the jacket is symmetrical at the moment)
- research aviator jackets 

PROJECT 3: Design and blockout

Before I start the blockout, I want to dive deep into the Sea of Thieves style (jesus, you can directly deduce how much caffeine I'm on by the amount of bad puns I make). To do that, I decided to revisit a series of lectures we got on the style last year. These are my notes from the especially useful one by Saran:

- Surface finish needs to be clean, not too noisy. Lumpiness is a no-no.
- Orbs brushes for cracks
- Careful with over-chiseling, if a chisel goes to a point, light can't catch the plane:

- Be careful with faceting: if it's a small object/area, too much faceting will add an unnecessary amount of detail, simplify.
- Be mindful of re-using assets (e.g. I will want to re-use my cage in the scene - there will be full cage with a stand and then only the top part of the cage sitting under the full cage, possibly with the door open to add diversity). 
- Texturing: Separate into different folders in Photoshop (metalness, roughness, emissive, diffuse, normal), name everything as it should be named (layer with: dirt, leather, cloth, lighting on top > consisting of world space baked lighting, standard occlusion on lower opacity, less than 40%, etc).

After re-watching the lecture, I moved onto modeling the bases for my models. For some (e.g. the armchair), I found useful concepts in The Art of Sea of Thieves book, for other less important assets I just winged a basic design which I will elaborate on in Zbrush. For modeling, I used basic tools, like instances, extrusion and symmetry.

These are still just super basic blockouts. I will have to do another pass over them, adding details, cuts and medium wear, as well as enlarging some of their elements slightly as per Matt Wilkins' advice in his tutorial (better to oversize as the elements will be whittled down in Zbrush). I'm also noting to only start chamfering and turbo smoothing when my forms are at 80/90% accuracy at least.

After initial basemesh modeling, I moved to basic composition. I took the concept as a rough guide. I found that I had to make the fish skeleton (not blocked out yet, but it is the light yellow box in the picture) a bit smaller than its initial size requirement so it would fit nicely with the composition, I need to check with the teachers if that's okay. 

Rough colour blockout, adding secondary assets. I played with the Cloth modifier in 3ds Max to get a rough base for ZBrush but it did not offer too much variability so I'm thinking of either using Marvelous Designer or, more likely, sculpt all cloth in ZBrush from scratch as the cloth in SoT is very stylized anyway. 

Close to finish with my composition blockout. I had to abandon the idea of having a crest with the crossed Blunderbusses as I had in the concept mainly due to the crest being too big and sticking our of the scene too much. I am thinking of adding a foliage bed under the Blunderbuss to add contrast and interest instead. The shape of the purple cloth is not final either - the collisions in the Cloth modifier were acting up so I'll have to fix it up in Zbrush but it's a nice start.

Also to add:
- Second, smaller cage (only the top of it)
- Concepting a background for the window
- Foliage
- And of course the refined versions of the basemeshes

PROJECT 3: Sea of Thieves Props Brief

For my third project, I chose something I am familiar with, the Sea of Thieves Prop Brief - I have already worked on the Sea of Thieves style during my second year group project and I enjoyed it very much, especially the foliage-making. There were no main foliage props to choose from in the brief but as we are required to make a diorama/simple set, I think I might fit some plants in. Rare also recently released a trailer for their beautiful new game, Everwild:
Image result for everwild
which is such a great source for inspiration especially in the foliage area. 

As I am a little behind on my second project, I realise planning is crucial with this one. I'd finally like to fully impose the 3 weeks deadline and not just go over like I usually do. Balancing university and multiple jobs is tough but I see it as a good preparation for the industry, where deadlines can be even tighter and time less plentiful especially during crunch time. 

The assets I have chosen:

The first part of the project will be sketching out the rough idea for the diorama just so I can see how many assets I will have to work on overall. I chose the birdcage because I'd love to add something more organic to my scene (apart from the foliage). I found some lovely designs of parrots by Rare and I'll be hoping to add one of them in. Rigging and animating will be a stretch goal but I feel like it can definitely make my scene feel more alive. 

I chose the Blunderbuss (the badass gun) mainly because I found this godly breakdown by Matt Wilkins (Rare) describing each stage of him making it. The concept in the breakdown is also different in textures and shows possible variations which will allow me to populate my scene with different looking assets and less work. 

As for the rest of the scene, I am thinking of a diorama cut out from a pirate's cabin, 'boss' place in the tavern' or maybe a pet shop. Here are some of the references I gathered for the design:

 The final scene will be a much smaller version of some of these. Although I do love Rare's style and I would gladly recreate the whole scenes, I know from experience that I should hold my horses on the expectations of what I can do in a set time :D 

Very rough mashup of initial ideation for the scene. I might do a simple 3d blockout next to be sure about the proportions but so far it seems that the additional assets I will have to create will be:
the armchair, pedestal, wood planks, wall, wall decor, window, foliage, cloth on top of the wall, cloth on stairs, wooden box. That is quite a lot, although the process for wall and wood planks should be similar and therefore easier. I will try to brainstorm through it tonight and come up with a secured concept by tomorrow so I can create my timeline.