New Portfolio Piece - Torowyn's Rocket Tower

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Utility polycounter lvl 5
Hai guys n' gals,

It's time for a new portfolio piece, so after brainstorming I came up with the following concept- Basically, an old castle turret with a modern missile launcher platform built into it. It will be fully modelled and textured, as well as placed within a nice UDK scene. I chose this idea since it makes use of several different texture types, has two distinct flavours of theme, and is kinda silly and whimsical.

Sketch:
Sketch1.jpgBnoT4j8A

Silhouettes:
iazqnCB9

Reference:
vYwrjqHa


Description:
Torowyn the Engineer-Seer built his towers from an ancient ruin, with funds (and some material) earned through working for the local kingdom's municipal department. Nobody's quite sure why he built it, but as far as the kingdom is concerned, as long as he keeps it all away from the townsfolk they will put up with his eccentricities... including the strange explosions in the sky. The scene will comprise of two towers; one which is more built-up, and another which is slightly off-kilter with a rocket platform on top, connected by a flimsy scrap wooden bridge. Both towers have bits of machinery attached (ie; support strut, air ducts). If I have some extra time, I'd like to rig the platform, so you could actually sit in the seat and swing around the tower :)

Technical Stuff:
So far I'm aiming to have this done by the end of January/beginning of Feb; I only have about an hour a day during the week to do it, so I'm going to be spacing it out.

Stylewise, I'd like to exaggerate the models slightly (ie; round edges, slightly skewed proportions, etc), and use more detailed/photo-realistic textures. I might change that to be more stylized, but I'd like there to be a lot of definition and 'feel' to the textures themselves.

I'm not sure about texture and poly budgets, what do you guys think? I'd like to have some constraints to work within. I plan on making use of tiling textures quite a bit. I'm thinking of giving myself two 2K maps to divide up into smaller maps as needed.

What do you guys think? I'm still sketching, but I think I have an idea of what I want.

Replies

  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Completed blockout! This is gonna be pretty difficult with only an hour or two a night... What do you guys think? I'm digging the rocket tower more than the other one- if worst comes to worst and I run out of time, I think I'll focus on that one. Since I'm using tiling textures I'll be saving myself some UV space and time... but I dunno. I tossed some prefabs in the scene to help with scale. I also offset the rocket launcher's chair a little, so that if you were to sit in it you could actually see your target. PICTURE TIME!

    mZuZ7HVr
    IHUEpgwy
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    No one's posted ('cause you're all scaredy cats!!), but I'm gonna keep adding as I go along- here's some quick shots of my WIP. Current tri-count is around 9K. I'm just past blockout and into Low-poly; my workflow also involves creating some higher-poly pieces as I go along. Basically I do it all in passes- blockout, lowpoly, then several passes of high-poly. My workflow is also a WIP :P

    Om2j8aG6RocketTowerBLOCK2.pngRocketTowerBLOCK3.png


    This is still super-rough; I haven't begun to add any edge bevels yet, n' junk.
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Quick update- worked on some High Poly stuff for the modular doorway. Happy new year's, everybody!

    7cVK0OyS
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    UPDATE~U! Checkit: might add some handles. I think the highpoly mesh for the door is pretty much done. The purple part is gonna be a window... this is gonna look sexy in UDK! I hope.
    5YdTvjjp

    EDIT: Finished door! With lowpoly- I might have to tweak the lowpoly later, to make up for all the fancy stuff the hipoly has. Lowpoly is sitting at 206 tri's so far.
    Z50Up0hb
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Hai guis, sorry for the lapse- work and not having enough time has thrown my work ethic around a little. Here's an update! This involved a lot of cleanup- the only really obvious thing I did is probably the rocket launcher. I'm about 85% the hipoly mesh. Czech it aut!
    8PW8qgOO
  • Stephanie
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    Stephanie polycounter lvl 6
    Nice progress, looking forward to seeing it done! Keep it up! :)
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks Stephanie!! I was beginning to wonder if anyone actually saw this ;P

    Sorry for the lack of updates, I just went through a lot of crunch at work the last week. Today I bulked up some highpoly on the rocket launcher. I'm starting to think I'll only have time for the one tower for my deadline!

    XArPS7ZG
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Hey people! Update time: Finally got part of a long weekend to work on this shi-- the maya-highpoly is done, gonna UV and do some sculpting after this.

    Lowpoly:
    xOTGG8cv
    Highpoly:
    HiPoly6.png
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Aaaahahahahahaha! Almost there... Sorry for the slow updates- here's a few shots of where I'm at. I'm just getting ready to texture this beast... can feel that finish line just ahead!

    ffzSKbgI

    The brickwork was interesting, it was my first time producing something half-decent in zBrush. Go me!
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    It's all in UDK now! Next stop - Texture hell! Luckily I love texturing, so this should be pleasant.

    QYQh4tE0
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Fresh out of the oven--

    c9vPaPuy
    towersUDK2.png
    More updates soon! Hopefully with have this ma' textured up by next week. The flag (not that you can tell from these screens) also is a cloth mesh that moves in wind! Weeeeeeeeeeee
  • interrogator_chaplain
    I like the stone texture work and definitely liked the high poly stuff.

    How're you looking to do the environment after this part is done?
  • Juiceli
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    Juiceli polycounter lvl 4
    Hey man, this looks good, would it also be possible to post the wireframe of the whole structure? Otherwise I really like how it's coming along.
  • Xelan101
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    Xelan101 polycounter lvl 8
    I know this probaby isn't your focus at the moment, but just a tip for later on.

    I'd really try to sell the connection point between the second tower (the one without the rockets) and the ground. You could maybe add another little tier or layer a the bottom, or just turn the surrounding ground into stone work.

    Barring those ideas, some fallen stone chunks and/or natural rocks with tufts of grass near and intersecting the bottom to hide the flat geo seam would really help pull the piece together and make it feel less "game arty"

    The same goes for the connection point between the rockets and the top of the first tower. Right now it looks like the stone curves inwards and then becomes what I assume is going to be a metal panel. I'd say it's well worth the extra Geometry to really emphasize how they're attached. Realistically they'd probably just put it inside the boundaries of the battlements (like you have on the other tower) However, if those battlements were destroyed, or they chose to remove them there'd still be evidence, fallen rubble, jagged edges to the stone. And it's unlkely they'd bolt a large metal plate to this ruin castle, but smooth and round the edges of the stones around it so uniformly.

    Also those large windows on the second tower should probably be reinforced like the smaller one above it, I have a feeling windows that big on their own would be a big structural flaw in a castle. and it wouldn't hurt to make them a bit more square and lined up with the stone work so people can understand how they may have actually been built into there to start with.

    All in all, I like it, but I think it can be pushed much further :D
  • LANKUS MAXIMUS
    Some really nice development.

    I do agree with Xelan's input,a connection point would work quite nicely.

    Sketch no.5 made me smile :P

    keep it going!
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks Xelan!! I totally agree on all points, and I've been struggling with the top of the rocket tower- that metal/stone mix without something else in between is lacking. I have a few single brick meshes that I can use, I may make a few more simple ones that look like broken-up masonry to complement, though. I have a tiny bit of texture space that I can use as well. Thanks again! I'll work your suggestions in after texturing, when I'm doing a polish pass. :D

    Thanks everyone else :D
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Update time- gather 'round!

    Sorry for the small amount of UI stuff- UDK kept crashing when I tried to Play On PC so I could grab nice high-rez screenshots. I think my PC is dying D:

    TowerWIP1.png
    TowerWIP2.png
    TowerWIP3.pngTowerWIP4.png


    TODO: Rocket, window, rocks, grass and flag textures, as well as finishing up the brick spec and the rocket launcher's support base texture. I'm going to sculpt a second layer of damage for the bricks, so that I can use a simple entropy shader to make the brickwork look more interesting. The grass will also have a vertex shader (just diffuse, though). I think the Rocket tower should have a window above the door, too. Something's just... missing. I also need to add some clutter, methinks. Then comes post-process and everything else!

    Quick edit: For some reason these screenshots look dimmer than how they appear in UDK... I'll have to get on that. Aaand I'll post wires soon, Juiceli (nice name btw :D)!
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Worked for the last couple days on this - got all the textures done, fixed tons of small problems plaguing my geometry (LIGHTMAPS AUUGH), and added some spiffy details (like the cubemap reflections in the windows!). Here's a few quick screens:

    hRmkovcT
    Almostdone2.png

    I'm calling it a night! So far, I've got a few texture fixes left (the flag needs some love, and the ducts look icky- plus the brick Spec I've been putting off for some reason), some brick sculpting (for the 'damaged' normals for vertex painting - yay Entropy shader!), and then I can look forward to lighting and post-processing! Not to mention adding some speedtrees... AND getting the Landscape up to snuff! I think I might add some simple grass and small rocks to the scene as well. Perhaps a tower off in the distance?

    I've gotta do something about the lighting for the next round of screenshots - the Dominant Directional light I've got in the scene is pretty much nullifying my normals and speculars!

    Edit: Also, what do you guys think of my colour palette so far? I'm kind of worried the chair/metal supports are blending too much and are just reading as brown instead of rust and leather. Thoughts?
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Quickie update: I added damage to the stone bricks (it uses a vertex shader, basically I just added a second normal map and with some magic blended them), and a simple spec map as well.

    AlmostThere1.png
    v9Xp6qmI
  • Dubzski
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    Dubzski polycounter lvl 6
    Please tell me your going to make the rockets go pew pew once you're done? =D. Would love to see it in action with some smexy particle effects!
  • g0th
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    g0th triangle
    looks like you should invert the green channel on most of your normal maps
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks for the advice, guys. g0th- I'll do that in my next round of work. Dubzski- of course!! I won't be actually programming/rigging the missiles, but I plan on making it look like I did ;D


    Anyone have any advice for the terrain? It's got a normal and spec map, and I've toned down the colour quite a bit in the Material... but it's still this gross, oversaturated and bright green mess. I'm using Landscape, as well.
  • Dubzski
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    Dubzski polycounter lvl 6
    Well for the terrain.. it looks extremely tiled to start off with. I honestly don't have much exp in UDK but in 3Ds Max my shader would look something like Diffuse > Fall Off > Mix Maps in each slot to get a variation of textures. Any blend / mix map shader will improve massive tiled environments immensly by helping to break up whats going on.

    You might also want to look at the actual texture your using itself. If you haven't done so already, take it in photoshop and try tiling it multiple times to fill the canvas any tiling and colour/saturation etc will become much easier to observe.
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Thanks Dubzski- The texture isn't very big, but I've got another texture that I can blend in to make it look less so. The problem is within UDK, I think -- aside from any colouring/resolution issues, it's way brighter when applied to the Landscape (and the tiling more obvious) than when it's just in the material editor :C
  • nufftalon
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    nufftalon polycounter lvl 7
    dude this is a wicked cool idea I know its not done yet but man is it getting there.
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Update--

    Prefinished1.png
    Prefinished2.png
    @g0th: THANK YOU so much for the suggestion!! My normals look ubersex now. I didn't realize that the height (that is the green channel, right? >_>) was actually inverted on the normals.

    @nufftalon: Thanks dude! :D

    I've still got a way to go- I think the biggest problem with this project is that I really bit off more than I could chew. I underestimated how many assets I would need for a whole outdoor environment, and I find myself frequently tacking on bits that I didn't plan for. The biggest takeaway (besides the skills I picked up) is that there is no substitute for pre-production. Looking at my original sketches, it was just the tower, nothing else. My next project will definitely be more simple :D

    TODO: Finish placing trees (speedtree isn't cheating, right?), lighting + post-process. Finish line in sight.
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Update: Before lighting and post-process.

    Pre-lighting1.png
    lC71jdNi
    JsWfm2wm
    Pre-lighting5.png
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Hey guys, so I'm kind of lost on lighting for this. All I have in the scene is a Dominant Direction light (obviously as a 'sun')-- but it can really wash out the details in my normals and specular. I can adjust for some of this via post-process, but would there be a better method of lighting this scene? I could place tons of spotlights around, but I'd prefer something less heavy-handed. Thoughts?
  • sjuskadur
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    sjuskadur polycounter lvl 7
    I would try and do night lighting on this. Might work out pretty well, Soft light blue for the dominant light and then make some torches and scatter them around and use them to control the composition (or what ever lightsource you feel is applicable) This way you can do nice soft fill lights into the shadows to get them to have nice colors.

    Also What I think might help this piece a ton is the environment. The ground does not have a very pleasing texture on it, it is very obvious the tiling and it is taking away from your models. I would try and figure out a way to constrain the environment because it is taking up a ton of pixels in the image. Floating islands might work more for this. I think this is the biggest problem with your images.

    Bastion_IPAD_o.jpg

    I think this is a okay example of what I think could work better as a setting. You are wasting pixels on stuff that does not look that good (Grass, dirt etc.) Make a GOOD composition and save that camera (CTRL + any number if you are using UDK)

    Focus on the big picture

    Keep at it homes.
  • LongJh
    Awesome! I really like how it's turning out so far.

    In your original sketches there was this windmill kind of concept that I thought was pretty cool. Maybe you can consider adding it to the towers? Also, you mentioned that you'd like to stylize the models slightly. So maybe you can also add a slight bent or "crookedness" to the silhouettes of the towers to emphasize it more.

    Ahh, that's all I got. Sorry I can't give you any technical 3D advice. Good luck!
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    @sjuskadur: Thanks! I might just try that lighting- I originally planned for something like mid-day lighting, but a moonlit scene might be interesting, too. I totally agree with the ground texture- the tiling is way too obvious, and none too pleasant. I also like the idea of floating islands... Instead of actually floating platforms of land, I'm instead going to have the towers on high ledges- kind of like the rock formations you see in some deserts. I think it'll work well with the rickety theme I have with the bridge. Really appreciate your crit, thanks again!

    @LongJh: Yus... I had forgotten about the windmill. I might try that, if it'll lend itself to the composition. The crookedness thing I've actually received some feedback about already, so I'll give it a shot. The tower meshes are pretty simple, so it should be easy to add some of that to it. Thanks!

    In this current round of work, I'm doing some preliminary lighting... and cannot figure out why I'm getting this terrible lighting on my towers and rocks. I think the awful shadow cutoff around seams is an issue with the texture and/or the lightmap of the models (the rocket tower model was mostly exported as one .fbx file; can you apply lightmaps from the models if import like that?), but I have no idea what's causing the blotchy shadows on the rest of the models. Error lighting turned on for emphasis:

    errorlighting.png
    I really appreciate all the feedback I've been getting, you guys rock! I'm happy to see that people enjoy the direction this is going in :D

    Possibly one of the biggest lessons I've learned is not to take scale and composition for granted when designing environments like this.
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Some new updates-- I changed the landscape to be more precipice-like, and swapped some textures... and made my foliage more lush. And bent my rocket tower. Okay I did a lot! These were all relatively small changes, however, but they more than helped make the scene look a TON better. Thanks everyone for your feedback so far! I still have a little ways to go on this bish.

    AlmostalmostThere1.png
    AlmostalmostThere2.png

    What do you guys think of the broken rock texture on the ground? I'm not sure if I should make that the 'top' of the precipices, or the sides, to make them look more canyon-like. I'm still going to swap out the grass texture, but I think it's less crappy looking with the other textures in the scene now. Thoughts? Once again, thank you for all the crits!
  • Dubzski
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    Dubzski polycounter lvl 6
    Hey man that grass/ground texture is looking heaps better now that's its blended in. Have to say i'm not convinced by the clay texture thats underneath the big rocks.

    Rock wouldn't crack like that on slopey surfaces like that so it just looks kinda slapped on. That kind of texture would best be utilized by using it suitably to show off patchy areas rather than one big area.

    Your probs waiting till later to proeprly look at it but your lighting could do with some proper fill & rim lights to make everything pop out, at the moment it looks very flat i'm guessing there's only a key and ambient light in the scene? This scene would look proper boss with good lighting!

    Keep up the good work!
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Updates, y'all! Okay, so I've managed to solve most of my problems-- Ground textures look a lot better, models have been fixed where they needed to be, and I solved a GINORMOUS problem with lighting I was having (bad shadows on some models-- I'm not fully sure why. The tower models were several meshes brought in as a single FBX. When I brought each mesh in individually, they lit up without a problem). Does anyone know if Lightmaps get messed up if you're trying to import several meshes as one FBX? The only explanation I can think of, is that the Lightmap layer I was using uses ALL of their Lightmap UV's.

    Working on lighting for now and feel kind of lost. I'm trying to add some highlights to areas, and help soften some shadows... what do you think? I've got a directional light turned down really low, and several spotlights throughout the scene.

    Lightingpass1.png
    Lightingpass2.png
    Lightingpass3.png
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Update: Smacked my lighting and post-process around a little. Still feel very lost with the lighting. I started by turning my D/S light way down/off, then adding some spotlights to the scene (like big fills for large parts of the scene around the towers, and smaller ones beside the towers themselves). I turned the D/S light up progressively, and then quit. I'm okay with the lighting, but it doesn't really WOW me. Any suggestions?

    x58pxtv5
    q2jx2Otj
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Update: I added several lights, including ones that are slightly blue-tinted and less powerful than the other ones, to bring out some highlights. Also messed with some mesh placements, and added more foliage. Still not quite sure where to go from here... I want to call it a wrap, but I feel like there should be more for me to do. C&C's super welcome! If I meet you IRL at some point I will give you a GIANT hug.


    QUQlLQci
    vYWwvbbZ
    After all this is done, I'm adding some particle effects for when I put it in my new reel... I'm going to have the turret turn and fire a missile. There'll be smoke billowing out, and some neat heat distortion, all that good stuff. :D
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    One more for the night- playing with particles! I also added some ground fog for the crevasses (not in screenshot), and added some light moss to the towers.

    explos1.png
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Time for a huge update! It's still WIP-y, but it's pretty much done. This is a test render - lighting hasn't been built to Production (I'm going to do that tonight), and the motion paths are slightly unrefined. Still, whatcha guys think?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX4nADQs84c&feature=youtu.be
  • Utility
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    Utility polycounter lvl 5
    Hey guys, sorry for the long lull between posts! This will probably be my last one until I put together this year's demo reel, so here's a couple nibbles from the finished flythrough I'll be posting sometime later.
    FinalTowerShot1.png
    FinalTowerShot2.png

    Next project: a modular urinal set. Cause, why not? :D
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