Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Weekly Update #23: Metroid Redesigns and Props

This week I learnt that my favourite game company Retro Studios opened a single place for a concept artist. I am aware of my abilities and how applying for such a role is most definitely above my skillset so far, but I knew I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't at least try to apply for the job. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. One thing my portfolio is missing is more fully rendered character images. I also need some designs tailored to certain series so that prospective employers know I have the ability to work to varying styles. So I spent my time trying to redesign Samus Aran and her Chozo power suit from the Metroid sereis, a series Retro Studios is renowned for doing an amazing job translating into 3D.
I began by making some quick poses. For these I wanted to try and portray the real ass-kickery Samus displays, but I also had to constrain this to something easy to read as a character pose and keep well in line with Samus' original silhouette. And as you can see:
Her silhouette is already rather predefined. I actually really like the forth sketch purely for the perspective, and I feel like sketch 5 could've made a nice illustration. But for this I really need it to remain simple. And so I decided to move on with a very basic pose, and instead spend some time focusing on designing interesting suits instead.
For these suits I tried creating something of a backstory for each one. For instance; suit one is more of a healing suit upgraded using mostly human technology, suit two is created to move on from the Fusion Suit of the previosu series, a suit comprised mostly of alien biology, and suit 3 is crafted to look a lot more sleek and alien when contrasted against the other two to fall much more in line with previous designs from older series.
I threw on some basic colours and tried to decide on one design to work up. However I was too in love with both design one and two, and I felt that using only those two would seem slightly lackluster. So I decided to render each fully.
What made this really useful for me was the varying materials they suit was rendered in, it allowed me to really experiment. For instance suit one was made of more tarnished metal, suit two was made from both metal and more organic material, and suit three was a sleek chrome effect. Suit 3 was easily the hardest as chrome is not a material type I have had much experience trying to paint, but it certainly taught me a lot. And here are the final renders:
I've also had a chance to render out all the props we'll be using in Alpha. All the items found below were designed, sculpted and textured by me:

'Alpha' Props from Sam Cullum on Vimeo.

Until next week!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Weekly Update #22: Turnarounds and Totems

This week marks the end of my work on Alpha! I've finally completed all the models, props, animatics, storyboards, sketches. Everything is done, and I'm extremely glad to have finished it. I've spent an additional month on this that I wasn't planning, and worked on props that I was never scheduled to do. But now everything is complete I can finally relax. Right now I'm still rendering turnarounds on the props and I'll be sure to have them up next week, but for now you can enjoy the final turnarounds of both Keeva and her Fluffy Monster:

Keeva Turnaround (First Draft) from Sam Cullum on Vimeo.

Fluffy Monster Turnaround from Sam Cullum on Vimeo.

Here's also a turnaround for our Totem beacon for the short also. I'm really glad with how this turned out. It was one of the props I feared the most, but it's based off the dragon from Weekly update #20 and I think there's definitely some resemblence there.
I've also managed even more masters studies, I've almost completed this assignment for ConceptArt.orgs 'Level Up' program. So more work soon!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Weekly Update #21: Bugs and Books

All the pages have been finished for our book rig. I won't be showing them all right now, but in the mean time here is a progress shot of one of the pages. It's the little details like writing information inside the book, only to have it be erased and corrected by the author that make me really love adding this kind of character to my work.
Here's also a shot of the book being fully textured. I'm glad with how it came out, I just hope it fits well within the scene!
On Conceptart.orgs forums I had also noticed there was a creature design contest regarding Starship Troopers redesigns. I can't express how much I'd wanted to enter this, but I just didn't have the time for this extra work on top of all of my props. I missed the deadline, but I have made a quick sketch of a redesigned Warrior bug.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Weekly Update #20: Beginning Textures.

This week it was time to really start working on the props that Alpha required. I decided to start with the book our main character flicks through as I thought this may be the most difficult prop to manage. I decided to make sure each page had something interesting on it at least, and luckily, because of all the sketches of creatures I had made for this idea beforehand, I now had a wealth of images to place inside the books. Here's the first page:
The rest should come along quite nicely after this :) I've also spent time working into the textures of Keeva also, however, there isn't much to show regarding this, so here is a test screencapture of my trying to adjust her eyes.
Until next week.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Weekly Update #19: Ruk Scar Landscape

A few weeks ago Monte Cook Games commissioned a second piece of work from me. This one described a Ruk native descending some ruins inside a floating city, looking down on a city below that one. This was honestly something I was quite worried about completing. But I'll walk you through my development towards the finished piece.
First I created some quick value roughs. I had originally started these as pencil sketches to keep them loose and easy, but began working into a few favourites in order to show the art director some of my personal favourites. One stood out to us all; the bottom left, and it was selected. This was also however the one with the most confusing perspective. I'd knew what I was hoping to achieve but I'd not actually planned much of it out.
So what I'd done to fix this was use a program called Carapace. It allows you to draw your perspective lines on your scene and move them freely and it really helped speed up my process. I'd decided to do a more flat landscape for this cleaned up rough, but soon I felt like the emphasis on this persons descent was not in focus.
I'd shifted the perspective down to really have the viewer look down on a damaged city and began working into this now as a good base for the final image.
I flipped the image to have a more readable composition and soon I had my value section worked. Now it was just time to paint some colour on.
This image I'd felt really drew the viewers eye to all the key points, and I'd almost consider it finished. But the fact the main portion of the image, which is a damaged city beneath, was just a tiny section in the corner I didn't like. So I began to cut into the ruins and work more of the city into the scene.
Now I had a final image. The Ruk Scar Landscape. I've also spent this week working on some textures for Alpha, but alongside that I've also been taking some courses outside of my university curriculum. And so here is some of the work I've been doing on the side:
I've been doing composition and value studys of old masters work as well as focusing on some topics I struggle with. Namely clouds for this week. That's all for this week anyway. Until next time!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Weekly Update #18: Team17 And Awesome Lighting

I've applied for an internship at Team17 (The guys who make Worms), and they invited me for an interview. Since then I've spent my time travelling up to Leeds where they're based, both visiting them and some friends nearby. I've not yet finished my course but they seemed particularly happy with the work I'm producing and said that hopefully, come graduation the position may still be open for me. Alpha has developed too. We've begun working on lighting tests created by our wonderful TD John Benson:
We needed to start figuring out how we were going to produce godrays and create a more atmospheric scene. And so with our other props not allowing for light to filter through them I began to make a tree variant of my own. It only took me a couple days to go from nothing to a finished untextured model but I really like how it turned out.
This should hopefully allow for some really nice lighting! Carrying on with university work I've also decided to go back and begin reworking my old Milita piece. It's not finished but here's the updated version so far:
As well as this I've also begun blocking him in on Maya, no robotic arm just yet, but I'm making a failsafe that requires less work just in case Alpha eats way too much into my time.
That's it for this week but I'm working on a large piece that I should hopefully have ready for you next update!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Weekly Update #17: Painting Fur

Texturing has been the main goal this week. After rooting out the problems encountered last week regarding displacement maps, we now have our 3D models working perectly within Maya. Now it's on to texturing. This was something I was looking forward to, but again, issues arose. I decided to try learning some new programs in order to try and facilitate faster production times and better results. The main program I was aiming to use was Mari, something I had hear much praise for. However, it's through using Mari I learnt that my mac has not aged well in the last two and a half years. It struggled to even turn around the high poly model. And so after a few days of trying to work out a way of making it usable, I instead opted to transfer my license over to my pc. Suddenly everything works much faster. Suffice it to say, should my mac die... I shalln't be renewing it. I digress, texturing began with the creature first:
As you can see there is a gentle progression through the texturing of the creature. But after rendering it through Arnold I've discovered that most of his face and fur looks 'flat'
I've since spent the last day collating stylised texture references and I'll begin really working into the detail. I'm just slightly worried about 'over defining' things like shadows.