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Erasam Emberhart - Obese Blood Elf Engineer; Blizzard Student Art Contest 2012 Charac

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PROJECT COMPLETE


Download the SDK


POST-MORTEM

"Greetings from Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft development team and University Relations representatives!
Thank you for participating in the World of Warcraft Student Art Contest. We appreciate your hard work and your interest in Blizzard Entertainment.
Judging for the contest has concluded. Ultimately, your submission was not selected for the prize pool. However, the World of Warcraft team asked us to share some feedback directly from Tamara, an Artist on World of Warcraft:
“Hi Brian. Thank you for participating in the World of Warcraft Student Art Contest. This contest was very important to us, so we felt it necessary to give constructive feedback to all of the students who took the time and put in the hard work to participate.

I like complexity of this character! It’s really interesting to see all these details on him with the Blood Elf design vibe. All those pouches, tools, and the scroll work great for creating a cool silhouette and identifying which class you were going for.

I also like how polygons were applied on this mesh, it’s pretty neat. I would only point out the long polys on the weapon / cannon. It’s better to avoid them in future and try to keep the wireframe more even. UV layout looks really good. It’s great optimization, no space wasted at all. Optimization is a very important skill for videogame artists, no doubt this entry shows it.

I have some minor suggestions about your texture. It’s too “contrasty” and dark (almost black) in some places. For example, the back part of legs and lower part of character are so dark, it looks really flat. Avoid painting pitch-black shadows. It muddies things up too much. Use cold tints for shadows from main color material. I would also suggest treating metals in different manner, with sharp, small highlights. It would read “metallic” so much better that way.

Overall it’s very interesting character with its own story and class / profession, which I really like. Keep at it and thanks again for your submission!”

-Tamara Bakhlycheva (Character Artist, World of Warcraft)

We hope you find this feedback helpful as you move forward with your education. If you have any questions for the University Relations team, please feel free to use this email address. We wish you all the best, and thank you again for participating!
Take care,"

Dangnabit! This is what I get for using a lightmap gradient and thinking it'd be more effective to force a contrast that would make you look at his face/upper body! /cry And my metals were too muddy!

I mean, I guess I optimized like nuts though.

There goes my internship application for Blizz, I think.
==========================
Hi Polycount!

Critique and Feedback requested, if you can :)

Brian Choi here (Junior, University of Southern California. IMD). Gonna lock down and hurt myself through this Blizzard Art Contest during the duration of my Winter Break before I get back to work on Core Overload.

[EDIT 2: Massive idea shift] My idea is just doing an important NPC Blood Elf Engineer who is a War Engineer for the Blood Elves, constructs the Arcane Golems, Ballistae, etc and is still handy as a combat support.

Requirements:
Max 6000 triangles
1024 Diffuse texture

Intended WorkFlow
Concept > Rough sculpt Zbrush > Retopo and create base sculpt mesh > Sculpt High Poly > Retopologize for Final Mesh > UV/Texture

What actually happened

Thumbnails > Concept 1 > Concept 2 fix > more Thumbnails > Concept 3 > Concept 4 (removal of Pandaren elements) > Rough sculpt Zbrush > Retopo and create final geo > UV/Texture > Rig > Make Presentation


LATEST UPDATE:

View the 3D model
Implemented Tamara's (FirstKeeper) critiques:
DNd6Iiv.jpg

For Comparison (Tamara's critique above was critiquing this)
ZQXPm.jpg

Replies

  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    I've gotten comments from Jordan Beeston that 3. 9, and 12 work best from the below set.
    jJzrQ.jpg

    The newer set of thumbnnails. I am SLOW with this :/

    Which ones work? I should probably transition quickly to refinement.
    p9A82.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Second stage thumbnails.

    Which ones are working and which ones are not? Any critiques?

    4Lnik.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Iono if it's just me but 3 or 5 with some semblence of a robotic arm look like they're working.
  • hadidjah
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    I really like three the best, it's got a nice strong silhouette without getting too cluttered (although as far as secondary details, the big studs on the aprons in 2 and 7 and the tool pockets in 5 are really cool- I think adding a few smaller details to tell his story without break the silhouette too much would be great). If you could make a transforming arm that fit stylistically with the rest of WoW... That'd be something epic, man. Especially if it turned into things relevant to his job, like a giant smith hammer.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Hadidjah!!! It's been like a year! How are you doing today?

    Does 3 work because of the LACK of a robot arm? I'm not sure if adding both a shoulder-mounted weapon as well as a robo arm would be too much.

    Hmm . . . hammer to me insinuates a sense of confident physicality that I don't think this character has? Like a gun to me in this case would be somewhere along the lines of "I can out-engineer you instead of out-punch you." Unless we want a hammer to communicate like blacksmith/tinkerer vibes if I can create a proper weapon design?
  • hadidjah
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    Hahaha, I've been pretty snazzy, how 'bout you? Did you turn in your essay for next year yet?

    What I think works really well about three is that it's got a lot of simple vertical and horizontal lines- most of your thumbs have lots of little bits and greebles poking out at different angles, which works well for a tinkerer but also weakens the overall silhouette. Three has a lot of large vertical components- the back gun, the arm gear, the huge apron suspenders, and even the hair and goggles, and they're complemented by a lot of slightly smaller horizontal shapes, like all the ridges on the gun, the bars on the arm pieces, the pipe and the apron stripes. It gives a nice solid feel to him that I think works well for his build and for someone who works with his hands a lot.

    You might be right as far as the back gun plus roboarm being a bit much, but I think as long as it stayed consistent with the rest of the shapes it'd be pretty sweet. Although now that you mention it a hammer form is probably a bit brawly for him- I was thinking of things that would reflect the sort of work he does when I suggested it, but I think you're right in leaning towards more ranged weapons for his class instead.:)
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    @Hadidjah: It's been hectic for me, haha. At least since August, been Art Directing for Core Overload, which we're gonna finish in May. 15 artist team to work with, so it's definitely a challenge.


    Moving onto a final concept. Working out initial head designs.

    Still looking for critiques. I humbly ask for ya'll to hit me hard.

    4pt2j.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Pushing through!

    Serious question, so I just noticed that, proportionally, the first glance makes the character feel more like a Warcraft Dwarf than a Blood Elf.

    I'm thinking I extend the legs to about a head and half length on thigh and shins, but I'm not sure if this is a prudent decision. I will test it out and post results. Would that be a good idea to extend the legs proportionally?

    TdjQv.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    The proportion test.

    I feel torn at the moment about which is better

    H0h0m.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    I'm starting to wonder if this concept will even work out. Best friend of mind chewed the idea out as "boring" and "there's no such thing as a fat blood elf." The operative word being "boring."

    Feels like I need to go back to thumbnails again :/
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Back to the drawing board with more silhouette thumbnails.

    Any which ones working?

    I for some reason like 16 the best. Something about the legs communicating blood elf, but still allowing pudge to happen in the torso

    kunGq.jpg
  • Spudnik
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    Gotta agree with your friend there, no such thing as a fat/pudgey Blood Elf in the WoW universe. What could be cool though is if you made him especially muscular, like a Strongman since almost all of the Bloodelves are rather lean and agile. If the guy's a tinkerer/engineer, chances are he'll be spending a lot of time at the anvil.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    @Spudnik: Hopeully this set solves some of the issues?

    Sorry for all these thumbnails, I know I'm failing the 3D part at the moment :(

    QZ0Co.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Zoning in on a new 4 rough ideas.

    Any which ones working?

    I'm concentrating on either making this a character who's absorbed Pandaren culture, so we have evidence of Chinese weaponry / decorations. That dwarf one's kinda of a "maybe, but unlikely." Dragon cannon (or in WoW's case, a CLoud Serpent Cannon) seems like a strong idea.

    So I guess right now, silhouette heavily depends on that huge gun, the rifle, and the legs.

    Ul5Q5.jpg
  • praetus
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    I would say number 3 or 4 out of the most recent lineup. One of the things that is key to me with blood elves is the fine nature of their clothing with the red/gold schematic. I think number 3 and 4 give you the most to play with that on shoulder pads, knee pads, gun, etc. Number two looks like a dwarf and number one is more human like with the pouches (to me at least.)
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    This time, more armor element iterations. Big questions like "How much Blood Elf design do I incorporate? How much of Pandaren? How much Engineering design do I add? Do I keep this all unified, or a conglomerate?"

    That fourth idea I took a crack at for posterity, though to be honest, I'm definitely not feeling it.

    Reduced the size of the dragon cannon to something more sleeker, at the behest of a teacher of mine who did GM time at WoW in the past. This was to reflect the slimness of a Blood Elf phenotype while still giving it a unique silhouette to work with.

    rIUfd.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Laying in color palatte (mostly at the shadow level, not pure local). Sort of confused about what local color the ball gems should be . . .. I tried the bright fel green, but it felt off . . .

    Anyone else have any critiques about this at a color level?

    N4Pc7.jpg
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    More color schemes
    NoQpE.jpg
  • Snader
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    Not seeing a whole lot of color 'schemes'. I just see the same scheme over and over with a single color changed.

    I also think you should work a bit more with stronger, simpler color planes, as yours right now are quite detailed, which makes them rather noisy at smaller sizes.
    SilhouetteComparison_JadeEyePanda.jpg
    Notice how from your gray-scale sketches the third (and sixth) are quite readable, but the first (and fourth) are turned in to a blob of medium gray?

    Also compare with the TF2 ones which are very well readable - well, except the Spy, but it kind of makes sense that his features blend together a bit. Take particular note of the arms and hands, how they tend to stand out quite well.

    The lizard guy also has stronger 'blocks' of color, albeit not ideal, with the hands being rather dark. Do these guys maybe not use their hands for combat but spit or bite?

    You guy has the crotch drapery stand out pretty well, but that's not really the best area to draw focus to, I think...

    The whole idea of having a gradient from white head to black feet (I'm sure you've seen the tutorial floating around PC; if not I'll find it for you) is to draw the eyes to the top, to the chest and/or face of the character. Your guy currently is doing the opposite: having a dark top and bright legs.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    201299_10151197448858227_310488952_o.jpg

    @Snader: Hopefully this fixes the value gradient critique, and maybe the more simplified color plain. Did the squint test, and I got cool gray at the top of the figure and reds at the bottom. Silhouette . . . I don't know if I'd be entirely comfortable redoing it altogether due to the time left :/
  • Snader
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    HURRY UP INTERNET!
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    UPDATED!

    bah, you'd think imgur would be faster than Facebook
  • Snader
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    Yeah this is better, in a way. It goes from dark to lighter, but it's missing any real bright bits. I'd lighten the bamboo chestpiece a bit, and swap the black shoulder tubes out for some more crystals or something else brightish.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    But . . . but . . . if I take out those shoulder tubes, how else is the "Engineer" feel gonna communicate? T_T
  • Snader
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    I dunno... replace the swirly bits with cogs? Make the pipes spanners? Have hard-hat shoulder pads? What are those pipes anyway?
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Magical smokestacks!
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Barring any additional rendering/changes/adjustments, I'm going to call this done and useable for beginning my Zbrush sculpt sketch and base mesh construction.

    @Snader: I'm keeping the smokestacks. I need the engineer imagery!!!

    UbSuQ.jpg
  • linkov
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    I think your biggest problem atm is that there is almost nothing blood elfish about him. When I'm looking at him, he seems like some cocky dude straight from Halloween party. His profession isn't very clear as well.

    Basically, you just took a blood elf, dressed him like he is some dwarf wannabe, and added pandaren flavour on top. I guess nothing wrong with it, but your thread title contains two main keywords "Blood elf" and "Engineer" and you kinda failing at the task you've set up for yourself.

    Guns are not necessary mean an engineer. Hunters use them too. Hammer in his pouch could be blacksmithing accessory. Is that beads on his neck? Is he monk or something? Cog tatoo isn't something you can see from many angles. Little bits of gold and red aren't exclusive to blood elves anymore (Mogu stuff).

    His shoulderpads have some pipes or whatever, which is suitable, but I already know that he is supposed to be an engineer. I'm not sure that someone not familiar with WoW universe could figure this out. The only thing that clearly resembles an engineer is his goggles, but it also could mean some spec ops guy for .. idk splinter cell kiddies maybe? :)

    Anyway, my point is this - Blizzard maybe restricted by their technology, timetables and whatever else. But you are not. Just because their latest expansion is about pandas, doesnt mean your blood elf should be dressed like he is just recently got back from China. And just because its very well established cliche that engineers is all about big cannons, smokestacks and goggles, doesn't mean your character should wear all of it too.

    Blizz can't spend time to make each profession race specific. They also can make armors that somehow resembles profession of the character. Its just too many race/class combinations. But you can. You're making completely custom character and this is a great opportunity to show something nobody have seen so far. Good luck!
  • lotet
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    linkov basicly said every smart thing there is to say here =P

    but this is the short version;
    if two single tubes is the only thing comunicating he is an engineer ur in trouble with your design mate ^.^
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    My heart dropped. Dangnabit, I wish I had this feedback like a week ago instead of now, /sniffle.

    Hmm . . . I guess this is what happens when I do thumbnails "in the dark" so to speak. It sounds like I just need to do another 50 thumbs to figure out the design, unless the base silhouette was working before and I just need to redesign the interior elements? Golly, I only have three weeks left, and I don't even know if that's enough time to get the 3D portion done to begin with.
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