Chew Magna Fortress, UDK



  • Argent
    All three of those are a huge improvement! I agree with the general sentiment that the asymmetry of 3 makes it the most interesting. Can't wait to see more!
  • System
    Offline / Send Message
    System admin
    if you're going for an asymmetrical design for this fortress (castle?) you're going to want to push that approach far more than what you have here.

    as you have it here we're looking at a symmetrically designed fortress with one fallen tower in the foreground and two askew towers in the background. it's not a very strong (or to be frank, compelling) asymmetrical design and feels like an afterthought.

    an asymmetrical design for your fortress would be a far more appealing design. giving the viewers eye a chance to really explore the structure is far more compelling then having them look right up the middle and maybe spotting one or two different elements (like a fallen tower). changing the fortress to this degree would require a rework of its design completely so I guess it really matters what your goal is with this environment.

    Cinderella's Castle is an example of a fortress (castle) designed with an emphasis on asymmetrical design.

    TL;DR: an asymmetrically designed fortress would be far more appealing than what you've designed so far. other polycounters have suggested you use the asymmetric option with your fortress. i do not agree with them that you should use those designs because they aren't very strong ones, but i do believe an asymmetrical redesign is in order, and will be more visually appealing than its current design.

    EDIT: i re-read the description of the tower as you posted it to see if anything about it specifically sounded symmetrical in design. unless i missed something, that element of its look does seem to be up to you.
  • Serith
    Offline / Send Message
    Serith polycounter lvl 9
    Great work so far! Awesome as always.
  • System
    Offline / Send Message
    System admin
    this really isn't a critique of whats there so much as a suggestion for when you move on to finishing the background aspect of this piece.

    this project is still in its early stages so my guess is lighting was just quickly added so you had something to work with. when you go to embellish the lighting further and are focusing on the rocks in the background, you may want to look in to using a very faint fernal effect on your rock shader to help their depth pop a bit more. right now with the current directional light added it all falls very flat.
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    Awesome guys, I really appreciate the feedback! 3 was my gut feeling too, so I'll stick with that.

    XYZ - Hey, thanks very much for the detailed response. This last week, while doing paintovers, I was considering all the points you just made. That being said, I was constantly drawn back toward the more symmetrical design because it was better achieving the overall feeling of height, solidity, and grandeur I was going for.

    Anything else was tending toward disorganized and detracting from my desired read of centrality. So those little offset towers are not so much afterthoughts, as they are a stab at subtlety. I agree with your critique :] , but I think it was not working in my case. Also, thanks for your lighting suggestion; I will look into those 'fernal effects'!
  • Kyuuu
    Same here, I think 3 is the most interesting because of the assymetry. I'm looking forward to more! :)
  • Endfinity Jon
    Offline / Send Message
    Endfinity Jon polycounter lvl 5
    Really enjoying watching this piece come together, your thought process is fun to watch as things develop. Also, loving the texturing and shot composition - such an epic stance!

    I had a couple little things to add on color/lighting/atmospherics that might bring some attention to a couple of things you might consider trying. I quickly painted over image 3 to give a very rough sense of what I'm thinking.

    Firstly, when I light, I'll occasionally desaturate the scene and see if I'm hitting the full range of values. I took your initial image into photoshop and there's some unused space at the ends of the levels spectrums. I would look for areas where you can pull down your bounce/ambient/fills to bring in some deeper tones and areas that you can accentuate hotspots whether it's through a little extra light intensity or surface specularity to get those stark brights. I reference Ansel Adams Zone System a lot when I'm looking for contrast.

    Secondly, I looked at your color. I really like what you're doing with your texturing and lighting, but your image seems a little washed out in the warm earthy tones - crossing my eyes, I mainly see golds and greens and browns. I thought shifting your fog to a cyan/teal color (and starting it behind the castle) would help the warm sun pop off of the subtle cool tones more. Add in a faint baby blue sky to complete the atmospheric package and the castle stands out more from the warm cliffs to create some nice separation.

    I also think the framing of the shot is great and what better way to lead your eye into the scene than to bring down the value of the canyon rocks trimming the side of the composition. I tinted them a slight purple, which you might be able to put into your shadow/environment color. These color hues in the sky and shadows should softly balance all of the rich warms you already have. I also recommend a gentle foreground blur of the rock walls leading you directly into the castle.

    My paint over isn't much, in fact, it's kinda sloppy - I just wanted to show you the couple minor adjustments you could make to really get that castle to pop off of the environment and create richer depth in the piece.



    Very subtle, but the castle does seem to pop more with these minor changes. Good luck and I can't wait to see more of this!

  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    Jon - Wow, thank you for all those tips on the color/atmosphere. I'll be sure to keep a closer eye on my values as I continue working on my scene, as well as fix the fog and other post-processing to help the colors. The paintover is sweet xD

    Thanks Kyuuu ^_^

    Here are the castle trim textures. 2 varieties of dark stone trim for the towers, some metal for the portcullis, and broken stone for where parts of the castle model are damaged/cut off:


    This week I'm gonna apply the paintover changes to my castle model and texture some floor stone stuff. Critique and comments welcome!
  • Bek
    Offline / Send Message
    Bek greentooth
    The paintover makes a good contrast between the sky and the entrance of the fortress, which for memory should be quite foreboding? Can't remember how much foreshadowing was given in the book but it certainly wasn't a nice place.

    After reading the quoted stuff on page1 again, bonus point if you have 'Chew magna' made barely visible by a hand having swept the stone.
  • Crowdsmurf
    Offline / Send Message
    Crowdsmurf polycounter lvl 4
    This is breathtakingly awesome :|
  • MrNinjutsu
    Offline / Send Message
    MrNinjutsu polycounter lvl 6
    The paint over has drastically improved it. I really dig the darker boarders of stone, which really brings the castle out into view. Great progress Jess.
  • Blaisoid
    Offline / Send Message
    Blaisoid polycounter lvl 6
    i would rather aim for the colors and lighting of your first concept rather than ones on the paintover. original painting has a good atmosphere, there's a vibe of mystery and desolation.
    current version makes me think of some happy disney castles instead.

    it's not just lighting but also the fancy forms that replaced the ancient simplicity of original.
    i realize that recreating certain aspects of painting would be almost impossible but i'm sure not all of that atmosphere has to be gone.
    Offline / Send Message
    POFFINGTON polycounter lvl 8
    This is going fantastic Jessica. All of these textures are killer! I can't wait to see the finished product of this. Tons of hard work thus far and more coming soon I am sure!
  • Hayden Zammit
    Offline / Send Message
    Hayden Zammit polycounter lvl 9
    Looking better and better. Everytime I see this I immediately think of Zelda: Wind Waker. That's a damn good thing.
  • ScribbleHead
    Offline / Send Message
    ScribbleHead polycounter lvl 6
    This looks really great Jessica - loving the textures! :D.

    Based on your reference are you planning to add more color variation to the castle, right now the color of the castle stone is clashing with the background rocks and fog (but i'm assuming you've already got something up your sleeve to remedy this :)).

    Another thing is banners, long ones could add a spark of color too
  • Pixelatedkiwi
    Offline / Send Message
    Pixelatedkiwi interpolator
    Really loving the detail and subtle color variations in your textures Jessica, gives them great depth, great job :D
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    Bek, Crowdsmurf, Pixelatedkiwi, Hayden, MrNinjutsu, POFFINGTON - Thanks for the support, I'm still here!! haha. Been doing work in UDK and on the foliage, and I'll have an update sometime this break :]

    Blaisoid - Yeah, it's been a challenge for me trying to get a more interesting silhouette but not having it come out too delicate/fancy. I'm in the process of trying to strike the correct mood and shapes now. Thanks for pointing it out!

    ScribbleHead - Yeah I am definitely working on the color problem right now. It had a lot to do with my fog color and environment color in the post process, and yeah I agree banners will work great for more color so I will be adding those. I appreciate the reference too, it's awesome :0

    Thanks again, everyone! Back to work, and happy holidays:)
  • silence44
    Offline / Send Message
    silence44 polycounter lvl 7
    WOW I see some really great texture over there!! how long it take you to finish each texture?
  • Isaiah Sherman
    Offline / Send Message
    Isaiah Sherman polycounter lvl 9
    I agree with Scribble head, right now it's pretty monochromatic, a bit bland/boring. I think the biggest & easiest step to get it looking better fast is to address the contrast drastically. Vary the foreground canyon, castle, and back canyon/sky way more. Make them feel like 3 totally different layers!

    Keep it up :)
  • ashleighmills
    Offline / Send Message
    ashleighmills polycounter lvl 5
    I love where this is going! Great concept, and your textures are really inspiring. I'm using them as reference for my own painting :D.

    I agree that it's a little too monochromatic. Maybe make the shadows cooler?
  • Iciban
    Offline / Send Message
    Iciban polycounter lvl 7
    Wow you really planned out everything so clearly. I gotta start doing that too. And your textures! LSDKFJSLDKFJLSDF Sooo fantastic baby! Your one of my inspirations for handpainted textures. I really love your sense of colour and textures. Is there any tutorial you learned it from? I'm planning to start on a personal project where everything is handpainted. Hopefully you can give me some critiques!
    Keep it up! totally following this. fighting!
  • Nuclear Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Nuclear Angel polycounter lvl 6
    Damn THIS IS AWESOME xD Eyes are bleeding! Never stop doing art ^^
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    Hi silence44 - Thanks, I think it probably takes me about 15-20 hours per texture tile.

    Haiasi, ashleigh, Nuclear Angel - Thanks! Hopefully the scene is working better now as far as contrast goes!

    Iciban - I'm learning how to hand paint textures from looking at all the other awesome artists here on Polycount, just studying their texture flats and sometimes they have tutorials too. linkov, sectaurs, and lincolnhughes to name a few, but there are many more. And also from running around games like WoW and taking screenshots. I also had a great teacher, Becky Coker, from Carbine, who taught me a lot of stuff :)

    Here is an update on the scene! And some breakdowns of the foliage in it. I actually only made about a 1/3 of the plant concepts I started out with because I realized later I just didn't need that many haha. And actually only 2 of the 4 plants really fit well in the scene so far . . x_x

    This week I will be adding vines and more human-scale elements to the castle like balconies and small windows, + begin texture blend and geometry damage. Not really happy with the walkway/front of the castle atm cuz it's not very interesting, gotta think of what to do with that.

    Critiques and comments welcome!




    Foliage + additional textures:



    Thanks in advance!
  • Selaznog
    Offline / Send Message
    Selaznog polycounter lvl 5
    Love the new fortress look. Much more memorable shape to it. Painting is great as per usual. Question about the big vine texture at the do you plan on using it? Vertex painting it in? It's nice :P

    Also I think the stone texture in your last sheet there is tiling too much in the scene. I would make another variation, and flip them both on X every second one for more variety.
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    Hi Selaznog - Thanks! I was planning to make actual vine models with it. And then making a separate moss texture for vertex painting onto the cliffs/castle. Those are my thoughts anyway :0

    And thanks for pointing that out about the stone! Yeah I'll fix that plus probably gonna give those a more interesting interior design too.
  • Dan!
    Offline / Send Message
    Dan! polycounter lvl 6
    that last update is just great, the addition of foliage and splashes of red as well as the new silhouette changes and composition tweaks were spot on.
  • Gannon
    Online / Send Message
    Gannon polycounter lvl 9
    waaaaaaaaay more interesting castle design. Love it :D
  • Alberto Rdrgz
    Offline / Send Message
    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 8
    looking cool, jessica.
  • tottot
    Offline / Send Message
    tottot polycounter lvl 10
    I love this thread and these textures are soooo pretty. I might be jumping the gun here, youre still working on creating the scene instead of finalizing it, but the yellow lighting seems to be just the right color to wash out all of the other colors that make your textures pop, giving the entire scene a muddy feeling. The blue sky in a previous version really helped things pop.

    Do you paint these textures at their final game resolution or do you paint larger then scale down?
  • BenHenry
    Offline / Send Message
    BenHenry polycounter lvl 7
    Jeez, so inspiring! Subscribed!
  • Bek
    Offline / Send Message
    Bek greentooth
    Excellent re-design, really like the changes to the entrance gate in particular, the larger form seems much more foreboding and strong.
  • Synyster
    Offline / Send Message
    Synyster polycounter lvl 5
    Man oh man. You seriously don't disappoint! That re-design is much better and more memorable and of course your textures are amazing. Do you ever do live streams of you painting?
  • Kuki
    Offline / Send Message
    Kuki polygon
    Hi Jessica, let me say that your texture work is sensational! I am in love with your painted style. At the same time I must say I am a little bit concerned about the lighting, now it looks too simplistic and tends to give it a "realistic" look, I mean in terms of color scheme and shadows as well. That's only my thought. I really think your texturing deserves to pop a little bit more ;). That means concentrate a little bit more on the lighting at this stage :)
  • Rhoutermans
    Offline / Send Message
    Rhoutermans polycounter lvl 7
    Looking great :) Always cool to see an update!
  • DWalker
    I'm getting a "Mad King Ludwig" vibe from the castle - not surprising considering the influence his castles have had on fantasy castles. Perhaps this is the work of a king who was evil AND mad... not generally a healthy combination for his subjects...

    At any rate, you might want to look at some of his castles for inspiration on the details and flourishes of an ornate castle. Neuschwanstein is his most famous work, but they all have a fairy-tale quality to them:

    Also, have you considered using forced perspective to enhance the impression of great height? Walt Disney is certainly among the best known for modifying building proportions to create a sense of greater size, but architects as far back as the ancient Greeks have modified the thickness of columns to fix the apparent curvature caused by perspective.

    Personally, I don't care for the 4-6 story windows you have added in the most recent iteration. Even the fantastic castles of Ludwig were rarely more than 6' (2m) tall, and even decorative arches around the windows were less than 2 stories tall. Stained glass windows in chapels/churches/cathedrals were much larger, but the windows you have don't seem to be that type. A vertical column (hmmm... tautology?) of smaller windows could probably accomplish a similar effect.

    If you want to break up the solid walls a bit, you might consider "borrowing" from Roman designs, where a layer of bricks was placed between layers of local stones:

    The crenelations seem very tall. The merlons were generally around 3 feet tall.
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    Awesome updates Jess! You've leveled up the painting skills a ton. Great color choices and silhouette design.
  • Sugus
    Offline / Send Message
    Sugus polycounter lvl 5
    Wow, that new update is a huge leap forward! Loving this, so inspiring!
  • Fenyce
    Offline / Send Message
    Fenyce polycounter lvl 5
    Ah, I'm so glad that this thread/project isn't dead :D
    The new castle silhouette looks way better, I love it. But I'm still missing a little more color. I'd change the skycolor just a little, I guess, it's all "grey" (beige/brown, ya know what I mean...) maybe a more blueish color would be nice, like in Endfinity Jons overpaint.
  • MadCarrot
    Absolutely amazing stuff! The plants are simply gorgeous.
  • Skiffy
    Offline / Send Message
    Skiffy polycounter lvl 10
    oohh that root texture at the bottom is soooo tasty. Looking forward to see what things you will be doing with the new additions.
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    Dan!, Gannon, Alberto, BenHenry, Bek, Rhoutermans, Jeff, Sugus, MadCarrot, Skiffy - Thanks guys, I'm really glad my latest updates are working [:

    Synyster - Streaming is hard for me as it chugs my laptop :( I plan to build an awesomeness computer if/when I get my first gig though =D Then I can play starcraft on extreme settings! . . . and stream painting too if people were really interested xD

    tottot, Kuki, Fenyce - Ah ok, so I gotta work on my lighting >< It's definitely been a struggle. I took Endfinity Jon's paintover and pushed the fog a bit more blue, but perhaps it was not enough. Or maybe I should go more green like in my concept..? In any case, I'll do more research and experimentation with it, cuz atm I'm not sure if it's the fog, lighting, or sky color (or all?) that I need to fix. Someone did suggest adding a skylight so I could work affecting the shadows better, so I'll try that too.

    tottot - 256 or smaller I double, otherwise I paint at game res.

    DWalker - Huge thanks for your references and suggestions! I'm looking into all of that now ^_^

    Oh yeah, here are some changes I made to my tree as well; some were suggesting scale issues, like leaves being too big. I like it much better now :) Roots still look retarded though. I'll detach them later as separate meshes and make them look cooler :P :

  • divi
    Offline / Send Message
    divi polycounter lvl 9
    sweet stuff there jess! new tree is still a bit too uniform for my tastes in terms of leave coverage, but for whatever reason it works fairly well :D looking forward to more ;)
  • dissonance
    The new castle front gave me an idea for the cliffs: columnar basalt, the type of rock found at Devil's Postpile. From the textures you posted back at the beginning of the thread, it looks like you were going for something close to that, but the cliff geometry doesn't quite line up. If there's enough pressure on top of the rock, it can deform over time into some really weird shapes. It would add a lot of vertical lines to the image, give it some real definition, and you could taper it off towards the top with a little bending.
    Just a thought.
  • DWalker
    The tree seems a bit stout to me - given the thickness of the trunk, I'd expect a taller tree with a broader crown. Of course, despite Monty Python, I realize there are many different types of trees and shrubberies...

  • HughieDM
    Offline / Send Message
    HughieDM polycounter lvl 7
    Glad you shrank the leaves on your tree and love the new look! great work keep it up!
    Always love seeing your work!
  • XilenceX
    Wow this is quite inspirational. I liked the flat ground plant the most. I always wanted to cover up some of the ground texture in my UDK level. For some reason it never crossed my mind to just do such a flat foliage model... well untill now. :D

    As for texturing the huge structures like the cliffs you mentioned you should probably consider to do something like that:
    if you haven't already.
  • wirrexx
    Offline / Send Message
    wirrexx polycounter lvl 7
    as usually Jessica, your work is dropdead gorgeous!! Mind if you could point me on to the right direction with hand painting? Where to start? Thanks in Advance and keep going, i love your work!
  • KennyTies
    Wow really awesome update. It is a much better silhouette, great work!
  • Nate Broach
    Offline / Send Message
    Nate Broach polycounter lvl 12
    So good! I missed the last shot of the fortress. This is looking amazing. Your hand painting skills are ace!
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 7
    divi, HughieDM, Kenny, Nate - Thanks for the encouraging words :)

    dissonance, DWalker, XilenceX - Thanks for the ideas and links! I would like to return to the tree especially, as the silhouette isn't all that interesting to me yet.

    wirexx - I would start by looking at references and trying to replicate what you see. That will give you the technical skill, and eventually your own creative hand will have a say :] Just have to keep at it, post here, and see what feedback you can get!

    So I've reworked my lighting a bunch! I had been deviating pretty far from my concept into a direction I wasn't happy with. Here's the new lighting, hopefully much closer to my original intent. Also more in line with the concept, I've gotten rid of the brick texture on the castle, which I felt was creating too much noise and repetition.

    I've replaced it with a solid stone texture, and I'm working on a texture blend material to pop in some damaged bricks here and there (major thanks to Ryan Smith for his great texture blending tutorial). Also painted a little mossy cliff texture . . . needs more moss I think.





    Critique and comments welcome :] Then I will be taking a month break to take a crack at the Escape Challenge!! Wish me luck o_o haha
Sign In or Register to comment.