Sketchbook: Noel Cower

Woo, a place to spam my shit.

Just for the sake of following the rules: if you have crits, please post 'em! Seriously, I would greatly appreciate it.

Some old Quake 3 skins I've been working on:


I like having teeth in skins lately.



  • Joseph Silverman
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    Joseph Silverman polycounter lvl 10
    Already said all this in IRC, but, just to be formal -

    All excellent work, noel. The only complaint i have is a really minor one, everything looks a little bit too universally soft and smooth. I'd go over and sharpen up the blending and gradients in some areas to create a little bit more contrast between forms.

    paintover gif from irc.

  • Nilium
    Attempt at applying suggested changies:

    Looks better to me, at least. Thanks mucho sup.

    Edit: Because I won't post twice in a row, mooooore:

  • Nilium
    Started on the legs. Not quite happy with them since they don't follow the same coloring as the upper body, so I'm going to see if I can fix that while working around Ranger's wonderfully stretchy pants.


    Fun stuff this is.
  • Joseph Silverman
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    Joseph Silverman polycounter lvl 10
    All looks really cool, been a fan of your texturing style for ages.

    In the same vein as the armor, though, i have a paintover of the face.

    Take this worth a grain of salt, some of it is just style, but universally i personally think you rely a bit too much on dark shadows. You have deep red shadowing all over the face, almost doing the work of lineart. Slightly more subtle use of midtones and highlights would let you render the same forms in imo a more believable way.

    Anyway, bad paintover -

  • Slum
    noelsauce! Man, you need to keep at this stuff. You've always been a good texture artist, but I never see your work. Post more!!
  • steady
  • Nilium
    I'll try to do some more work tomorrow/in the morning (considering it already is actually tomorrow). Been a little preoccupied with other crap lately, so haven't had much time to do anything fun.
  • RazorBladder
    Hey Noel, nice to see you posting something :]
    My biggest concern is Ranger's Triceps, they seem to be slumped right down to his elbow with a bicep growing above them... Shoulda given the pants more UV space ;)
  • Nilium
    Sort of an update. Trying to fix the bits on the arm and make the pants look decent. Brown pants suck.


    Fuse also mentioned the arms were too bright, so I'm gonna see if I can get that fixed later. Plus splotchy pants (rube).

    Edit: Oh, and I did adjust the face, just didn't feel like posting it too.
  • Nilium
    It's close enough to being tomorrow that I can post twice.

    Anyhow, tried to tweak the arms and pants a bit, also starting on the back (backs are confusing, never know what to put there, especially when it's flat). I like the gore on the arm a little more now, but I think I might remove it. On the one hand, it cuts me some slack on details on the hand (no pun intended), downside being that it does look pretty goofy, especially going that far up his arm. Dunno, thinking thinking. Probably will remove it in favor of either a hand or some sort of glove. Hard to decide, since these old models aren't exactly easy to work with. Still not happy with the arm either. Rambling done, here's the picture:

  • Nilium
    Been a little busy with real-life duties (looking for a job, canceling all school stuff for the semester, etc.), but I found out that the silo 2.1 beta was out, so I decided to give it a quick run. I managed to put this together between crashes (I'm exceptionally good at crashing things):

    Old Image

    Man this shit goes fast.


    Really loving that new surface tool, totally speeds up stuff.
  • Nilium
    And pretty much done with the mesh. Also tried displacement painting, but I'm still pretty uncomfortable with it. Much different than the way I'm used to working.


  • Joseph Silverman
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    Joseph Silverman polycounter lvl 10
    Displacement painting has some decent forms but it's all too blobby, noel. Per magic solves everything --

  • Nilium
    Fiddling some more with displacement painting, using Bobo's old demon model to paint on. Happier this time, but it's a bit of a pain in the ass since I'm using a model that wasn't made for this stuff.

  • kary
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    kary polycounter lvl 10
    Nice start. Something in the forehead is a bit distracting. Could be that the forehead is too smooth, or the bump between the brow ridges is too prominent. A few worry lines when you're detailing might break up that impression.

    The untouched feet pull at the eye, but their contrast (with the rest of the sculpt) show you're getting more out of the sub-d level you're at than with the earlier sculpt. Getting the most out of each level of division is important versus blobbiness -- a good sign that this will continue to turn out well.
  • Nilium
    Thanks. On zee feet: yeah, hadn't touched the feet at that point since when I applied anything to 'em, it affected backfaces as well. Then I went and did stuff with them (selected a foot- assumed that it'd mirror the changes on the hidden part (WRONG)), and it's still really difficult to work on those small things.

    Tried to do something about the brows, so hopefully it's better now.

    Anyhow, slightly more 'done' (I guess?).


    Sort of gotten the hang of this, I think, but damn it can get hard.

    (Also: probably table breaking if you're using the fixed-width forum)
  • Japhir
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    Japhir quad damage
    very cool! you can see that you know how to do the art part, just gotta learn the tool some more. When you do you'll be creating all sorts of awesome :D.
    keep it up!
  • Nilium
    Thanks, taking a bit to get used to this since I have half a clue what brushes to use most of the time. Pretty much the only ones that seem to be worth anything are clay and clay tubes, in addition to smoothing idea by Per (mentioned above) since it's pretty similar to the way I paint a lot of stuff (put down stuff, blur some edges, more stuff, blur it appropriately, so on and so forth).

    Anyhow, I think I'm done fiddling with this model. Getting to the point where it's a real pain in the arse working with this model since it's not very good for this (as far as I'm concerned). Great model for texturing, not so much for this stuff.

    Anyhow, picture and then I'll probably wander around the house for a while trying to figure out what to do next. :poly132:


    Normals were done with xnormal, btw. That program is fucking awesome.
  • Joseph Silverman
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    Joseph Silverman polycounter lvl 10
    Clay tubes to bulk up forms and standard + smooth per's way to refine and add tight details is how i sculpt, it's a pretty natural way to work.

    Normals look sweet, diffuse and, naturally, spec, needs work. Break up those highlights as much as possible.
  • Nilium
    Tried to improve the diffuse and specular, I think it looks nicer. Nowhere near what I'd call complete, but since this was mostly for testing sake, I think I'll leave it be and move on now. Of course, every time I say something like that, it ends up being untrue... :femme:

  • Ged
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    Ged polycounter lvl 9
    nice work are you gonna put him all together and let us see what he looks like finished :P?
  • Nilium
    I'll look at putting him back together. Next paragraph is rambling about zbrush mostly, so most people should ignore it since I have half a clue what I'm talking about and less what I'm doing.

    The only problem is right now there are a few issues rendering the normals (there's a reason I keep showing him from that angle), which zmapper more or less solves because, and I don't know how, it renders really nice normal maps. Problem is it doesn't really fix seams with UVs from what I've seen. Don't know, I'm still learning this stuff. In addition to that, the diffuse and specular maps make the seams rather obvious, so I'm trying to work out what I'll do about that next. The projection painting thing in ZBrush is completely useless for mirrored stuff from what I can see- it's at least acted very useless, plus you can't paint mirrored stuff from what I can see, so I need to mess with that.

    Anyhow, was toying with my ghoulie dude up there a bit:
  • kary
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    kary polycounter lvl 10
    It'd probably be a good idea to show a picture of the seam problem and of the UVs. I imagine someone would be able to diagnose from that straight away. Have you tried grabbing the normals with xNormal? Any difference?

    For the diffuse and spec; you could reUV the problem area, and put the fix back into your original map. Tutorial for Max: I think you can do the same with Silo, using xNormal to replace the RTT.

    Painting in ZB; Have you tried Polypainting? That has a much better painting feel then Projection Master, and you get a decent map to start with (the details you paint across seams will burn out into the map etc). It'll need clean up in PS to get what you want, but it is a great jump-start.
  • Nilium
    Started work on a skateboard, mostly 'cause I was bored. This isn't really something I intend to continue, since I've figured out a few things in the process of doing it that I think would make this a whole lot easier and look a whole lot better, plus the trucks are pretty screwed as the proportions of the parts go. Have my skateboard sitting right next to me too, so not much excuse for that.

    Anywho, picture:

    High poly stuff isn't exactly my specialty, so I'm still learning a lot about it.
  • Nilium
    Was looking around at old stuff and found some old video "tutorials" (not really tutorials because there's jack-all explanation, but that's ok, they're fun to watch) by Dark Horizon. Soes, I decided to dig up the Magdalena model by Skullbox and do a head sort of like what was in one of DH's videos. Result:

    Old Image (See next post)

    This shit's still fun to do, don't see why I haven't seen more people doing it. Maybe they're chicken.

    Also think I'll try modeling one of the creatures from either BLAME or Biomega some time... not sure which I'd choose, they're both just so fucking awesome and chock-full of cool monsters.

    Edit: 2nd page! Bwahahaha.
  • Nilium
    Made some minor changes to the face, mostly touching up that bit since I didn't see anything I really didn't like already. Did the underside of the jaw and the inside of the mouth as well, so I'm calling this fucker done 'cause I don't want to even touch the body UVs.


    I actually like the way the teeth turned out. They looked pretty stupid just against black, so I decided to see if I could give them some more depth by putting the tops of the teeth into the inner mouth texture. Gigantic pain in the ass, but it looks nice. >_>
  • Japhir
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    Japhir quad damage
    very cool! could you post a link to that model? ;). and the tutorial?
    what alpha do you use for the clay brush? i played with it today and still need to figure out the "correct"(e.g. working) options.
    your diffuse-only is improving quickly!

    EDIT: found the model :D
  • Nilium
    Japhir wrote: »
    very cool! could you post a link to that model? ;). and the tutorial?
    what alpha do you use for the clay brush? i played with it today and still need to figure out the "correct"(e.g. working) options.

    Well, you got the link to the model (I think, you may have gotten the UT2k4 one by accident, but it's pretty easy to read filenames..). The tutorial can be downloaded from here. It almost goes back to when I first joined (and it was a big help for me back then), so I don't know how much it applies to current work anymore.

    As for the clay brush, I just use the default stuff and turn down the intensity a bit. I turn it down way more for clay tubes, since it has a pretty big effect with the default setting.
  • Ruz
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    Ruz polycounter lvl 11
    yeah noel if you render normal maps in zbrush it seems to mess up the seams.

    looks fine in zbrush but shit in max
  • Nilium
    Random-ish update to the mechguy skin I was doing. Was looking back at some pictures of it and went "fuck, that's ugly" to the skull sort of bit (really, it's horrible). Soes, I decided to do some quick changes to it just to make me happy.


    And for reference, this is the old one.
  • Nilium
    Decided to do some red/blue versions of the skin. Blue I'm pretty happy with, but I can't seem to do red in a way that works. First one is the newest version of the red skin. Second one has a slightly older blue and a different red.

  • pior
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    pior polycounter lvl 12
    Such a cool oldschool vibe... Want to see more!
    Did you consider using that kind of q3-esque asset, then go back to the model to add cuts where needed aso to make it much smoother and dense? With such a nicely crafted texture it would look kickass...

    (You can use Max's 'preserve UVs' for that or Maya's implementation of it in the recent bonus tool pack- be sure to doanload the 'christmas update' for it tho, they forgot to put the actual preserve UV code in the original BT release... )
  • Nilium
    I was going to reply or something, then I deleted what I wrote by accidentally pissing off Firefox and causing it to shout and scream and finally explode.

    Anyway, I hadn't thought of that, but it might be neat. I don't have Max (anymore) or Maya, so I couldn't really do much about the UVs getting all messed up (although Silo seems to handle changes to UV'd models pretty well, I don't think it's adequate). In the end, I think it would be easier to paint the texture I'd want to see in UVs and then bend the UVs to my will. I've done this for a few things before, since I enjoy texturing far more than modeling usually, so I might try that for whatever my next little thing will be.
  • butt_sahib
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    butt_sahib polycounter
    Excellent sketchbook! I check this out daily for updates :D
    Everything looks soo purdy
  • Nilium
    Between going to Quakecon and then getting a job, I've been a little busy, so now that I've got a day off I think I'll spend some time fiddling around doing crap. Don't know what kind of crap, but I guess quick doodles like this:

  • Japhir
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    Japhir quad damage
    the cheekbone/jaw area is really nice, but i don't really like the middle of the face, seems kindof pointless imho :P. keep it up!
  • Nilium
    Ammo boxes for quake2world...

    Still need work, but that's about what they'll look like. Needs more use of their respective colors though.

    Edit: Yeah, break those tables, baby. MMMM.
  • Nilium

    That's pretty much done until I get pissed off and remodel the things. As soon as a model format I can work with is supported. Man, it'd be awesome if I could just load Silo models directly...

    Edit: And flat-chested women:
  • Nilium
    Was remodeling the ammo packs and got started on a rocket pack, but that's been shit-canned for now. Picture of that anyway:
    (psst: it's a set of dildos)

    Then I changed the coloring on the ammo packs since I guess they weren't noticeable enough at a distance. I don't think I have any pictures of that right now..

    Also made a flag pole for Q2W:

    Edit: Just removed that spike at the bottom of the pole 'cause it's stupid.
  • Nilium
    SupRore was fiddling with Bunker, so I had to as well.


    I still hate painting this dude's nose.
  • Uly
    Oh noel, you big queen. I love it all.
  • pixelmitherer
    Some nice stuff here!
  • Nilium
    Did some of the helmet thar. Kind of happy with it.


    Hands are now very cold...
  • Slum
    oh man noel, never stop! I've been wanting to revisit bunker soon too.
  • Nilium

    Think I'm done with the head. Thinking about doing the body- maybe tomorrow. Requires a bit more planning than the head to do that.
  • Japhir
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    Japhir quad damage
    great stuff! i really really like the "ear" detail, and the facial expression.
  • nkoste
    That bunker head is exceptional! Nice stuff!
  • steady
    awesome noel! head armor looks really good and his expression is funny heh. something is off about his beard stubble though, looks like it was drawn on him with a bic pen or something, also that he doesn't have it around his mouth and under his nose but i guess he could have shaved it.
  • rollin
  • Nilium
    Couple things I did that I figured I'd toss in here 'cause I think they're cool and go well with the rest of the sketchbook. Both head skins for Scooby's head model thinger. It works pretty well for a variety of ideas I think.
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