Tuesday, 30 March 2010

set blasters to stun

So with the group project out of the way ive been starting to work on my own personal art, again with the question what to do, and i thought modelling a gun would be a god start for this, afterall the vast majority of games involve guns so getting good at guns wouldnt be a bad start.

As i was researching into what kind of gun i could model i came across some leaked artwork from the new star wars battlefront game. With the recession still holding a firm grip on game companies wallets the company Free Radical, who have been working on star wars battlefront 3 made a load of redundancies lately. One of them being the game artist Richard Smith, who uploaded some of what he had been working on before he was cut loose. Obviously Lucasarts was quick to remove the images but not before they made their way all over the internet.

So i was looking at all this artwork and i was thinking well im into all this stuff like star wars, ive watched all the films and played all the games, and with artwork like this being released its obvious things like this are worked on as games. So why cant i use the 3d skills ive learnt so far and put it towards something im passionate about. I mean it not too stupid of a thought since this sort of thing DOES make it onto consoles. So without further question i had it, im making a gun from star wars.

After a while chipping away at it im almost there. yes it would be a lasser gun from star wars but to be honest its just pretty much a lee enfield rifle sawn up with a grenade launcher cup attached o the end. Im at 900 tris currently but since i havent got much left to do i reckon i could keep it at 1,000 tris by the end (hopefully ill get more detail into it with the never ending quest to learn mesh baking) anyhoo ill leave it at that

Whats Left

With the year almost over i thought id kind of look back and catalogue what ive learnt over the year and what needs to be learned still in order to be a good game artist. This is more of a list of what needs to be done to help me more than anything.

Most of what ive been doin over this year hasnt really involved fine tuning my skill in max and photoshop etc etc. But more in some shape or form learning new programs that are used within the industry. As people know there are shit loads of them from z brush to mudbox to mesh baking programs to shaders. And i thought if you want to get good you need more than one tool at your disposal, because even if your amazing at max if thats all you know how to do your still gonna have a lot of gaps in your ability to work.

So firstly the program ive been learning an using the most is Headus UV, a UV unwrapping program, and ill tell you now, that thing is a dream. For me there is 3 things to modelling any asset, the modelling, the unwrapping and the texturing. Modelling comes first, extruding, welding, combining objects to create the silluoette and shape of the object you want to make, seeing you have nothing and have it turn into someting on the screen. Texturing, taking the dull grey model and putting colour onto it, bringing it to life, seeing it become something that looks alive, completing it to see it become a complete finished model. But unwrapping is teadious, its the boring bridge between the 2 fun things about modelling, matching UV's, making them fit, organizing them, its just so dull, And the problem is it always has to be done. This is where Headus UV has been helping, firstly its by no means a program that 'does it for you' its a program that helps you and reduces the time it takes to unwrap something dramatically, less time on the boring stuf, more time on the fun stuff, and tweaks the issues that any game artist can make. I bloody love how much that program has helped and i shall be continuing to use it for quite some time now.

Xnormal is next on the list, Mesh baking, well....this has been one fuck up to the next for me, but in the end i think i got there, i must admit i havent learnt how to do it as well as i had hoped but the principle is there, i can do besic bakes so with practice over the summer i should get there.

As for overall work this year i do feel i fell into the infamous second year stoop. i havent produced as much work or learnt as much as i had hoped, and i only have myself to blame for that. But one good thing has came out of this, and that would be quite a difference in 2d work. Last year i will completely admit i was totally scared of 2s work, id never drawn anything properlly before so the thoughbt of picking up a pencil or using a graphics tablet bewildered me, and as a result i avoided it like the plague. But this year i decided that no matter how crap my work would be i would stick through it and get some 2d digital painting done, and im glad i did. After all the crap i finally started producing some hald decent digital painting, my only regret is that i did all this sooner.
So with this ill leave you with a comparison of how my 2d has improved over the past year

group project

So with the group project almost over with i thought it would be the best time for some reflection on it and how i think it went for me and what i learned.

So for starters throughout this whole thing my job within the group was one of the 'asset guys'. My job was to produce asset after asset needed for the scene and pass them up the pipeline to be textured and put into unreal. This consisted of things from major assets like stairways to trinkets like buckets and bins. I think this was a good experience for me as it gave me insight into how its done in the industry because of the fact the working envirionment i was under wasnt too far off the industry, small groups of assets with short deadlines. a toilet to be modelled, 1 day, 2 urinals, 2 days, the main stairs, 5 days, more realistic, very short deadlines unlike others like a bin, 4 weeks.

It was also insight into how the industry pipeline probably works. With my job being to make assets the majority of what i modelled wasnt textured by me. It was mearly modelled, UV unwrapped and then passed up to the pipeline to people whose job it was to texture the assets passed onto them. So in order for the pipeline to work correctly i had to make sure my assets were efficiently modelled so that anyone who took them wouldnt have to worry about importing or exporting issues, and the unwrapping had to be done properly so that the other person wouldn't get confused or have to unwrap the whole thing again themself. This sort of workflow and dependancy on each other to get their job done right and on time so it wouldnt give other people a hard time was the key to keeping our ship afloat so to speak, and was quite a difficult task sometimes.

This i think showed how important teamwork and keeping to the pipeline is, because like every person trying to do a group project for the first time it had cock ups. Like i was assigned the task of modelling the stairs and handing it up the pipeline, which was done a day late by me. So when it came to passing it on the person i was supposed to give it to they were supposed to do it the day before so they had moved onto other assets, meaning me putting the stairs on their list messed up their workflow. This meant in order to not mess up their workflow i took the stairs off their hands by taking it back to unwrap myself, which then meant my lateness had both disrupted someone elses workflow and given me more work to do. This was a but of a bummer but it showed how important it is to keep with the teams program.

so all of this has helped me even if just a little see into how it will probably have to be done when were all not at uni and all have proper jobs. As for the unreal stuff, i admit i havent learnt that much of unreal and im finding it dissappointing because it is definately something you need to leanr to get good at the inudstry. I mean all games use engines, evey one of them, so to know how to us an engine is as impornt as it can get i think. So over summer i reckon ill be fiddling about with unreal in my own time to get my skills up on that one. But apart from that i think it went well, ive sort of went bak to basics and learnt how o quickly and effectively model all the small assets that are needed to complete a room and make it look whole. So with that ill leave it......