tirsdag 5. november 2013

New blog

Hi! We've been told to make separate blogs for our third year. I've grown rather attached to this one but I guess it must be done.

This is my third year blog where I will post about final major project stuff. It has a lot of toads and there will be more toads in the future. If that doesn't sell it I dunno what will.

onsdag 25. september 2013

I don't have much to report on the caravan stuff. It's got functioning collissions, and I've unwrapped the surfaces so I can get some texturing going now, but it pretty much looks like what it did when I last blogged about it, and that's just not very exciting, is it?

I am very stressed about the coming year now, in particular I am worried about the fact that I don't know what to do for my final major project. I've thought about potential FMP ideas a lot over the summer, but I don't feel confident about any of them. That ties in with the fact that I don't know what field I want to specialise in, like I wrote about back in the end of May. I still have some thinking time, and I hope I'll be able to discuss it with someone before I mess up and make a terrible FMP the tutors won't like.  
Here's a terrible frog that I drew this morning.

onsdag 11. september 2013

I was struggling to modell the front bit and felt I needed a clearer image of what I was going for, so I drew this real quick. I think it sets the mood I am aiming for. 

tirsdag 10. september 2013

Summer project: Caravan Scene 02

I wish I had more progress by now, but I’ve had some computer problems that I spent a lot of time faffing about trying to fix. 

The gist of it is my external hard drive stopped working, and in an attempt to fix it I managed to delete all the software on my laptop somehow. No files. Just software. Obviously, it didn’t fix the hard drive, but I’ve reinstalled all the most important  things and have been making a fair bit of progress.

Here's a refined concept of the scene, after looking at references, especially getting a more detailed look for the caravan down.

I’ve started modeling the scene. As I am working I am very conscious of avoiding straight angles and hard edges; I want the scene, and especially the architecture added on to the caravan, to look wonky and in a shambles.  

I have pretty much finished the exterior and a few assets. The only bit of the exterior I haven’t finished is the front entrance. I’d like to do that today, it would be cool to finish the textures and be able to place the entire thing in UDK as soon as possible. Seeing what it looks like in Max is all well and good, but I don’t think I can gauge if I’ve done a good job until I see it from the player perspective. 

I’ve also started the interior. 

I was very apprehensive of this bit; I have never modeled interiors before and wasn’t entirely sure how to go about doing it. But I think I have figured out a good solution, I mean it’s basically like modeling a box inside the exterior box, but inverted. The difficult part was modelling where the exterior meets the interior, making the two bits lock together seamlessly but without clipping. I solved that with door frames. I suppose that’s what they are for in real life, too. Clever. 

I modeled a little bed area into the interior mesh; I wanted it to be like a built in bed, with drawers underneath.  

Sorry about the gross render. 

I modeled the drawers as separate objects, so they can be pulled out. I would really like to be able to make them so that the player could click on them to pull them out and see what’s inside. I don’t know what I need to do to make that work but if I could figure out how to do that rat boid in CryEngine, I can figure out how to do this in UDK.

The hold up with the computer issue aside, I think I have made a fair bit of progress, though not as much as I would have liked. So far my tri count is at 3 000, which I think is fairly all right.

My plan for the next two days is to finish the front bit of the exterior, cobble together the interior, put on some rough textures and see how it all looks from a player perspective in UDK. 

onsdag 4. september 2013

Summer project: Caravan scene 01

I'm all settled in my new house in Leicester and ready to start my 3rd year. It's still a bit early, but it's nice to get everything sorted before the hard work starts. To get a bit of practice in and to have something to do, I've written myself a small practice brief.

This is a brief for a small scene I want to make in the following month, before uni starts up (give or take a week for family visits).

The main point of the brief is for me to practice putting together a scene in UDK with interactive sort of things like doors that open and close on player input, flickering lights and swaying stuff and whatnot. It’ll also be good practice for getting back into 3D and texturing, and it will be a good way for me to gauge how much work I can actually get done in a month. 

I will use 3DS Max for modeling and all that, Zbrush for sculpts to bake down, and UDK to construct the scene. I have not decided if I want to do the scene with hand painted textures or photo textures yet, but I am leaning towards hand painted.

The scene will consist of a derelict caravan with slapdash additional architecture. It will have an interior and a small surrounding exterior. If I have time, it would be nice if the area was closed of in a natural way, but that is not important for my purpose of this brief, and thus at the bottom of my priorities.

These are some initial unreferenced sketches I did, getting the basic idea down. In the following days I want to collect more references in order to flesh out the scene more, adding clutter to make it seem more messy and lived in. 

torsdag 6. juni 2013

I missed 3D modelling, so I started modelling a dog based on an older sketch yesterday. I blocked it out in Max, then used Zbrush to edit the shape into something I liked better, and now I'm retopologising the final wireframe. 

I really forgot how tedious retopologising is. It's like playing 3D connect-the-dots for hours and hours and hours. but I've just got the legs left now and then I can get to the fun bits. 

I want to try something I've been wanting to try for ages but never really had the time to get round to: I want to attempt texturing it with traditional media. It'll be a bit trial and error but I really want to see how it'll come out. Appart from the technical challenges, my chief worry is that stretching and seams will be really apparent, so I'll need a good unwrap. Getting at that tomorrow. 

søndag 26. mai 2013

I've been sick and sleepy the past few days. My mum says stress keeps illness away, but once it lets up, it all comes crashing down around you. The heat isn't any good for my scandinavian self, either, sun makes Norwegian people sleepy and lazy. My friend took me for a walk today, and I fell asleep in a meadow. I was going to draw, but I fell asleep because it was so warm. Now I have a sunburn. 

I try to stay productive and direct my energy towards something constructive. I do a lot of still lives. I'm practicing placing characters and objects in a scene, too. My mistake here is the furniture is super undetailed, because I didn't reference. Lazy. 

I think I want to work a bit on a personal project and make a small 3D scene in the coming month, so that I can practice texturing and putting together something coherent. It'll be good to have something to focus on.

torsdag 23. mai 2013

Year 2 thoughts

It feels like the year has just passed really fast, and it’s a bit scary to know that now there’s only one year left.

I should probably be making choices and figuring out my specialities now, but I don’t feel like I am getting any closer. It’s hard to make a choice because I really find everything interesting.

I really enjoy doing characters the most, but I hardly think characters are much good without an environment to live in. I enjoy doing environments, too, and there is probably a greater demand for it, but I feel like I would come out a lot weaker for gambling on that because it is clearly not my primary strenght. I think I am better at characters than I am at environments.

I don’t even know if I want to specialise in 2D or 3D.

Maybe it’s okay to have both and do a bit of everything? But maybe I won’t be so attractive an employee then. Do I really want to aspire to just being an attractive employee? Won’t I be happier chasing my own interests?

Life and me.

So two years into my education at university, I have even less of a clue as to what I want to do than when I started. Back then I wanted to be a concept artist, though to be honest I didn’t really know what being a concept artist was actually about. Now I know, and now I just don’t know what to do anymore. Maybe because I know about a lot more paths now? I don't know.

What are univerities for, really? Did you really want to ask that question? Aren’t you shooting yourself in the foot a bit, here? Well recently it seems a whole lot like they are made for earning loads of money to buy the vice chancellor a nice house. But ideally, univerities should be about creating a space and the means for students to learn and try and create, and they should be a place for critical thought and critisism as well as creative exploration.

Does DMU provide this for my course? I guess, but it is a very narrowed down and specialised space. There is no space for working with, say, traditional media. I suppose it makes sense, it's a digital course and we don't really have much use for anything else, do we? But I think it is poor that there's one tablet pen to share between all three years. Wow thanks DMU. Good thing I have my own pen.

Plato started the first university in ancient Greece. Sort of. For Plato and antique philosophers, knowledge linked to a good way of life and being a proper decent human being. Platonism neglects craft and what you produce with your hands; it functions purely on intelectual exploration.

Craft and practical knowledge had no place at universities until very recently. In Norway, practical crafts still have no place at university. In England, craft and theory belong in the same educational centre, but does still seem to be very divided, interestingly enough.

I’d say english universities have adapted more to the demands of the current job market rather than staying true to their roots.

I don't think that's a bad thing though. It’s good for me. I hardly want to study philosophy. I wanted a space to sharpen my skills and learn a new craft, not somewhere to express deep inner thoughts via “fine” art by rubbing myself naked on a canvas. Which is why I chose an education in England.

This toilet is a dadaist, and is actually a rejection and critisism of "this sort" of art.

So what am I going to get out of three years at university? The opportunity, time, structure and space to learn new things and sharpen my skills. I was hoping I'd have a clear way in life by now but, as I said earlier, I am just more lost than ever. I hope that, during my final year at university, I will figure out my choices a little bit better.

tirsdag 21. mai 2013

Life changing or career building; or; it all comes down to proverbs about fish

There is apparently an ongoing discussion within education about what skills one should teach students. Specific technical skills or learning attributes and soft skills?

I am from an old fishing town on an island. Fostered up on proverbs about fish and sea and boats, here's what I think:

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry.

If you give a student the fish, which in our case translates to teaching a student specific technical skills and spoon-feed the student too much, the student does not learn to “fish.” Fishing, in the case of us game art students, would be learning to teach yourself. Maybe a student’s skillset is good for a specific job, but when his skill-set is outdated, which it inevitably will be, he’ll have to learn something new. Then it is better to be the student who knows how to teach himself new things, than it is to be a spoon-fed technician.

When I was trying to find a course that would fit me, I was trying very hard to avoid the sort of course that is too specifically tailored towards games and 3D. I chose game art at DMU because it seemed to have a heavier focus on fundamentals, good craft and general knowledge than a lot of the other courses I looked at. I think it was a good choice; I’ve learned fundamental knowledge which I can adapt to use in many design and art fields, with some learning and trying. Fundamentals like colour theory will work the same way whether it’s a painting or a low poly or next gen game environment. Anatomical knowledge is useful whether your tri-budget is 2500 or 10 000. Design fundamentals and elements will stay the same, too. Drawing is a valuable tool no matter what you’re doing. Planning is always essential. Teach us those things. We’ll figure out the software.
This is me figuring out software

We were given the tools to teach ourselves 3Ds Max. In our first game production lesson we were taught how to extrude faces from a cube to make a blocky church-shape. Then Heather told us to bugger off and figure out how to make a dalek on our own. We didn’t just learn Max, we also learned how to go approach learning new software. So I learned 3Ds Max. Then I taught myself Zbrush when I needed that, and UDK and CryEngine when I needed to do that. Me and another group member basically taught ourselves how to use Adobe After Effects in a day while editing a fly-trough, and we didn’t bitch and moan because we hadn’t been taught it. During the group project I taught myself a tiny bit of simple coding so that I could get some animated rats to work properly. If there’s something I don’t know how to do, I’ll just learn it. It might take a while but I'll come out in the end, a lot more knowledgeable.
Baby's first Dalek. 

With a wish to enter an industry like the game development industry, where technology is improving rapidly and studios use a variety of different tools, I am very glad to have learned how to teach myself new things, because I don’t have to be worried because I’ve learnt current gen approaches while the industry enters the next gen. And I don’t have to be afraid that if I have a change of heart and decide to go into something other than games, I won’t have a choice because games is all I know.

I’ve learned flexible skills during this course and I feel like it’s laid a solid base for me to expand upon. Having been spoon-fed technical skills is a lot weaker base.

I am happy that I’ve been taught to fish, instead of being given fish on a silver plate.

help me how do I peel this fish

tirsdag 14. mai 2013

Toad bar

I'm designing a bar for our interior design project. We were told we could basically do any interior, but I rather liked the thought of putting together a bar as initially suggested. 

I'm listening a lot to the music of Parov Stelar recently. It's sort of funky swing and jazz combined with modern dance music elements, and it's really cool, so I thought that, well, if it works in music, maybe it would work visually as well.

So I'm trying to create a modern jazz bar thingy.
I drew the toad bartender as a joke, but then I decided to keep it, so now it's a jazz bar owned by a giant toad. I did a rough 3D model of the interior and I'm using it to draw out thumbs and stuff.  

Cool beans!

mandag 13. mai 2013

Portfolio design

One of our visual design tasks was to design a portfolio and think about how to present work to potential clients. There's the obvious online portfolio, but I also thought that meeting people in person and having something to present without requiring a screen might be a good idea. So I did a mock-up for a small booklet, approximately A5-sized. I figure it could easily and cheaply be printed and handed out, and it's more informative than a business card.

Now, if I actually was to print something like this, I might dwell longer on which pieces I put in it, but this is abouts what sort of feel I'd like.

lørdag 11. mai 2013

Digital master's interpretation

This is an assignment where we were to take traits of an established artist's style and adapt them to make our own piece of work. I've chosen art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

There's probably someone doing interpretations of Mucha every year so I probably won't bring anything new to the table. But anyhow.

The aspects of Mucha's work I enjoy the most is that it is really clean, bright, decorative and very character centric, and also very recogniseable. I like his use of colour and value contrast. 

Some of his most famous work include the Moon and Star-series:

Characteristic of Mucha's style is his use of crisp linework, but I've found examples of his work where the outlines are omitted as well and it's really gorgeous, I think his colouring technique really comes trough here better. Instead of lines he uses strong contrasts to separate shapes. His lined work has that too, but I think it's all the more visible in this piece.

I really adore the design of this one. Mmmm blue and orange. Garish. I love garish. 

His work often had an illustrative, poster-like look and sometimes incorporated text.

Beneath is my interpretation. I need to work more on my colours. I want it to be more saturated and detailed but I've got the gist of it, I think. 

I've tried to incorporate text in it and I think it works out allright. I like the dissonance created between a pretty, cute image and a gross snippet of text. Like pastelly embroideries of birds and flowers framing a quote akin to "fuck you" or something, I think that stuff is fantastic. 

Update: Some quick adjustments and a bit of waving about, starting to feel a lot more like the source material. I feel like I'm getting comfortable painting again, I felt very wavering when I started this because of all the time spent 3D-ing lately.

torsdag 9. mai 2013

List therapy

Yesterday the group project we've been working on since February, was over. It's been fun but also very tiresome and I feel like I haven't had time to do much else while working on it. I've been neglecting the visual design work, eating properly (my diet's been eggs and bacon and cereal), doing dishes, my room was in such a state that I couldn't even see the floor and there were days where I didn't even have time to comb my hair before running to the labs, so I anticipated feeling happy it was over so that I'd finally have time to work on my own stuff and just sort my space out.

Over all I think we could have planned our last weeks better so that poor Liam didn't have to stress so hard trying to get everything working engine-wise before hand-in, and I feel really bad about that. Our final outcome looks really good though, and I am very proud of what we've achieved as a group. 

When I woke up this morning, I felt empty and like I didn't know what to do. Which I knew was ridiculous because I have a pile of neglected visual design and some blog tasks to tackle. So this morning I did dishes and tidied and now I'm writing a list of all the things I need to finish before the end of term, so now I have a battle plan. It's not as bad as I anticipated and I feel like I've got this. 

Lists solve everything.

(Heidi made this)

mandag 6. mai 2013

I had a major personal victory tonight as we finally were successful at placing an animated rat-boid in our level. They skitter about in the mud and they’ll squeak as well.

This is just a screenshot from my own test-level with just the rats.

When I took this task on I thought it would be really easy, some sort of automated process, which turned out to be the opposite of the truth. It was a massive faff and I had to re-do a LOT because I did things wrong initially. I even had to write scripts. Like nothing spectacular and not from scratch but it was still an entirely new thing I’ve never dipped into.

Here's a render of the model, isn't it super cute!

 However I’m really glad I went trough it and I learned so much and seeing those things running around in the mud was probably the most satisfying thing I’ve experienced since I made my first 3D wheelie bin.

søndag 28. april 2013


Today is Terry Pratchett's birthday. A very important day. So I took it as an excuse to make some pixel fanart. 

I'm celebrating by eating eggs and bacon and trying to animate this rat that I made yesterday. 

torsdag 25. april 2013


I got to do some posters and flyers for the group project. The thought was that they'll break up the walls and add some life into the scene.

Persuasive advertisement posters as we know them today did not appear until like the 1800's. The advertisement they would've had would be informative, and probably mostly existed in text. Nevertheless we did a couple of images, it's more entertaining. They had the technology to print etching-style images like these  so it's not too far fetched.

It's been massive fun both researching and doing them. I wanted them to seem funny and a bit bizarre, and also contain a tidbit of information about the 17th century mindset. For example, the englishmen knew they ate tomatoes on the continent, but nevertheless thought they were poisonous. I thought that was really funny and wanted to incorporate that into a poster.

After making the above poster I thought it could be cool to make maybe a series of them, hinting at a cynical doctor taking advantage of the plague scare to sell crap and make money. I'd like to put his head on a sign so that he's got his own shop and stuff, it adds some sort of quiet narrative to the scene.