Saturday, 20 January 2018

Dwarf Fort - Geometry Cleanup

  Things have been quiet on the front of the fortress as I have mostly been polishing model UVs ready for textures. Although I have made significant progress, I must have done something I probably shouldn't as Maya has gotten into the habit of crashing. This was fixed with a driver update for my graphics card and so far it all looks good, more progress can be made now things are more stable.

  Although the plan is for a uniform arrangement, the inclusion of the ramp means that in order for the rest of the decoration to fit, the structure needs to flow, so the skirting will likely follow the ramp. Redoing the wall als ogave me a chance to even up the geometry of the walls and floor.

   For the ceiling of this room, I'm thinking of building it so the ramp is ceilingless, the ceiling will connect to the rest of the structure by the columns which support the ramp..

Friday, 5 January 2018

Crest Design Experiments

  Taking a minor break from writing I was sorely tempted to go back into logo design. What I had in mind was a bit more elaborate than a typical brand logo and more of a crest or insignia for a nation. You have to start with the basics, which in this case was the core element. For this insignia the core would be the arms of a galaxy, representing the nation's dominance or an assertion of supremacy.

  I went though a few revisions, settling on something less angular and blocky. The other core were the four great vassals of the nation, which would be represented by how they are bound to the galaxy in the centre - the core and the home realm. The gem at the top felt less cliche than two heads looking in opposite directions, and helped to congeal some of the other elements.

  This was all based on a drawing I had worked on ages ago that was supposed to be a coat of arms. I never really went back to it. This insignia could perhaps be depicted everywhere - against starships, on offical forms and declarations, letters, tanks, aircraft, pretty much something that could be stenciled or easily applied.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Last of the Old Year

A new year has dawned, 2018 has come so at a slight delay I introduce some of my last bit of work for the year. The main area for the Dwarven fortress was the start, so with time today I looked into refining the elements which could apply to the rest of the structure. Which have given me a chance to look into how the UV editor has changed since 2016 extension 2 (turns out a fair bit, not least of which the arrangement of the UI).

  The stairwell was an interesting concept to work with - it needed to fit the hall, but also be shallow enough to plausibly allow carts to travel up and down it. Holding the whole structure up will likely be large columns that extend the whole way up and down.

  Some geometry cleanup, a ceiling and a tweak to the length of the tunnel and the model is taking shape. The next likely stage is to block out the rest of it with simple geometry - clutter might not come until most of the structure has been blocked out but one of the really fun elements I'm looking forward to is that the site within the Dwarf Fortress playthrough sits inside a huge deposit of marble but also shale, feldspar and some microcline.

While the structure is predominantly white, this means that there could be plenty of opportunity for other colours that add variety like warm greys, teals and either rose or terracotta.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Today's Post is Rated D for Dwarf

  Over the summer I had taken the interest in Dwarf Fortress, an indie game that despite the use of ASCII-based graphics is incredibly deep. With experimenting in fortress designs (the game encourages players to design everything from water systems to complex traps and even optimise architectural layout for maximum production of goods) I got inspired to bring my designs to life in Maya.

  I thought it would be a good chance to try out Maya Light 2018 after concluding that if I want to go commercial with anything, I need a proper license to make a commercially viable model. There might be some omitted components such as the water channels that bring water into and out of the fort and the road entering the construct itself.

  Important areas like the workshops or the temples and taverns could also be designed. Because this involves Dwarves it's all a primarily-underground structure; so it will all be cavity spaces. Today alone, I've only laid out the outline and some basic elements for the main concourse. From this chamber can be found ramped passages to the different levels and thoroughfares into the various annex chambers like the workshop main floor or the dormitories.

  Dwarf Fortress's grids are vague in how much space they occupy (a rat and a bronze titan both occupy one square, but can't occupy the same square, which means that a hydra which is presumably the size of a small house can fit though a Dwarf-made door) but there is a guideline that each square can be extrapolated as a 2x3x2 metres in the XYZ orientations used in Maya. So for ease of design each square in Maya's grid will be imagined as two metres in length and height.

 The game is also interacted with in a top-down view so there is absolutely no information when it comes to ceilings. For this, I have full freedom to create anything form flat slab rooves, beams and vaulted ceilings which can also add depth and scale to the structure.

    Alongside this I got back into more building work, another palace layout that will be inspired by the style introduced by the French Second Empire such as angled rooves

  I might tone down this structure compared to the last attempt. Working on Four I've developed a new appreciation for spatial awareness and designing structures proportioned to fit the inhabitant from the start rather than halfway though.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Badge and Emblam Ideas

  As the new year approaces, I have lately been pondering writing. It was one of my strengths at university and before and I've been really getting into writing regularly over the summer. Although I didn't quite live up to my "nulla dies sine linea" goal ("not a day without a line"), I appear to have taken a new motto: "not a day without a word."

 To accompany a possible publication (which is in a state of revision for final publication) I picked up a stylus and powered up Photoshop to do some drawing as I like to combine words and images. In this case the goal was a logo for an airborne military division that is the centrepoint of the story.

  I decided on something more elaborate to separate from more tried designs and try something distinct, the central idea being the wearers of this symbol, these badges, are heroic fighters who fall from the sky and turn the tide. "decisive" "falling" "speed" and "celebrated" were key words that rang though my head over and over while I was designing the emblam. The initial ideas for the design (above) just didn't feel right for the society portrayed in the story, so I moved away from sci-fi and looked at paratrooper badges for inspiration.

What I have may change over time as who knows what could come from this.

  I might go back for some character drawing as the t-shirt sales plan came back. Although thinking about it, this emblam could look nice on the front of one. Maybe accompanied with a phrase from the book "strike hard, strike fast, seize victory." (might revise this)

This could be why I've been quiet for a month.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Red and the Kingdom Of Sound: Out the Doors

  The Project that I have contributed for since July has since begun rehearsals for initial tour of Europe, starting in France and then moving to Germany before containing across the rest of the continent. I was only brought in on July, when a good two thirds of the project was complete but that didn't detract from the enjoyment of it all.

To paraphrase; the whole effort was a 14 month development involving 17 people to realise and everyone on the project had a wonderful time making it.
  The bulk of my contributions were on the bystandaer animations for the Overture, where I worked with my classmates Jack White and Max Ashby. The bulk of the models for characters and environments had already been completed, providing focus for the animation phase. The library of movement sequences I had contributed were used among other libraries in a number of the other districts including the trombone and trumpet districts and the finale. There was certainly no shortage of work, especially near the end when there was a push to get everything ready for rendering over at GarageFarm by the beginning of November.

  The work was certainly ambitious, I don't envy the studios that have far more resources so it was exhilarating to get some really busy but well-designed layouts processed for our small team. It's going to be exciting watching it travel around Europe.

There might be more of the sequence to come. The scenes we have may be out the door but there is no shortage in the variety of instruments that make up a healthy-sized orchestra, each of which is ideally going to be represented at some point.

  Photographs are courtesy of project lead Phil Gomm and his assistants when they accompanied the project to a rehearsal in France.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

WIP: Rabbit Warrior

  Over the weekend I felt like my model design skills needed a tune-up. So to alleviate this I took on a challenge for a friend and built one of his character ideas as a 3D model. There is still work to do, particularly texturing, accessories and inside the mouth, but so far the model has come out reasonably well and has allowed me to brush up on some anatomy skills.

  It was also fun to keep my creature design skills sharp as, as the character has a number of animal-like traits. There is also room for texturing tricks like alpha channels, material mixes and blending that should keep me occupied.

I am particularly interested in rigging the character up. I am familiar enough with digitigrade legs but the ears and maybe even the hair are going to be a fascinating rigging and animation challenge.