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THRONE ROOM - Baal's Pillar - chr0nicler

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chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5

Hello everyone, my name is Thomas, aka chr0nicler. I'm a first year game design student of Huddersfield University and newest member of polycount. I heard about this competition and saw it as a a great opportunity to test my mettle against individuals of equal or even greater skill than my own. I hope to learn much from your wisdom and may the best artist win. That being said allow me to show you what I have in store.

My throne room project is called Baal's pillar, named after the first king of hell spoken of in the Lesser Key of Solomon. The scenario is set in an altered earth ruled by demons and Baal is chiefest and mightiest of them all.

If any of you would like to leave a comment about anything you see, feel free to do so is your advice would be much appreciated.

I've also included a list of softwares I will be using have an idea of what processes are at work...
Autodesk 3DS Max
Unreal 4
Marmoset Toolbag 2


  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 1 part 1

    A fairly good idea about what the throne room could look like, but I thought I'd start by looking for some inspiration and I found a few images to assist in that endeavour.

    Visual inspiration:


    next I looked for lighting inspiration and I found a few that suited my needs...

    Lighting inspiration



    Using these, I created a few initial concept of what the phone might look like...

    Initial concepts


    Now was time to build the level and using 3DS Max, I constructed each component of the level step-by-step. First I used a box primitive to create the main hall.


    Next I used a cylinder primitive for the entrance and joined them together with the bridge tool.


    I also wanted some stairs near the front of the throne, so I made some new edges and adjust the faces into I created a fairly decent looking stairs.


    Next I built a balcony.


    Continues in part 2
  • polytom
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    polytom polycounter lvl 4
    Awesome idea-

    The bottom concept images aren't showing btw dude.

    I look forward to seeing it all develop :)
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Sorry about that, my concept images are presently too large to be attached, but I should have the problem resolved relatively soon
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 1 part 2

    I then built some pillars as the your a key asset in the level and scatter them across key locations within the level.


    Now was time to add the essential element of the level, the throne itself and I made a few changes from the initial designs by having the throne float in the air.


    The engine I had chosen to present my level is unreal 4, so I created a new project to see how the level look so far.


    That was about it for the work I did this week but the development of my throne room has only just begun.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 2 part 1

    The initial layout of my throne room was completed early this week, however I wanted to add a little more to the design so I redesigned certain aspects as well as added colour to the various assets to help show me what colour the asset would be.



    I also took some time to add some new additions to the throne and I am proud to say that what I created has great visual potential...


    These winglike shapes were created by using a spine primitive and the loft tool to create the shape. However truly great designs are not achieved easily for I discovered upon rendering the design that had a fatal flaw and that flew is this...


    I exported the throne onto my unreal 4 project, but this only confirmed my fears that part of the wing would not render. Therefore I shall need to redesign them, preferably a low poly version to bring to life this unique effect for my throne. Admittedly I'm not quite sure how to do this just yet, but before this week is out, I will found a solution to this conundrum, so until then I will see you in part 2
  • SLOT
    i think your attachments will work fine if you'll use BB code and image host like imgur.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    thanks for the advise SLOT, all my images are now visable
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week to part two

    Welcome to part two and as promised I have discovered a solution to my problem. I performed a few experiments in order to recreate the throne designs in a low poly format and my efforts proved fruitful...


    However this did not solve the vanishing wing issue, fortunately I did some research into the loft tool that I used to create them and devised a method of solving the issue. The original rings were made up of a single role of polygons with some of the polygons facing the opposite direction and since the faces are only visible from the front, part of the wings are invisible in the render. In order to counter this, I duplicated the original wings, extruded their polygons and then joined the two together in order to weld its edges into a singular mesh.


    I also redesigned the throne so would look more visually interesting and not feel out of place in comparison to the wings. I also added a new feature to the throne which is based on an idea that I had.


    The new addition to the throne is a handle, you see this is no ordinary throne, it is in fact a scabbard that houses a mighty blade wielded by Baal himself. The idea came to mind when I was reviewing design ideas and I thought it would be an interesting concept to explore. Among these ideas were designs for the pillars and I came up with one that piqued my interest.


    However this design didn't feel right to me, it didn't seem to match my mental image of the throne room, so I went back to the drawing board and my next design was a different story.


    This design was much more interesting to me and match the theme I was going for for the throne. After making a few adjustments, I duplicated the design and placed them within each of the pillars starting with the main hall.


    Then I currently remains into the main entrance, but having all of them in the same position would be a bit boring, so I rotated some of the pillars in different locations until I found the angles of each satisfactory.


    There was one last key addition I wanted to add to the throne and that was a glass dome that stood above the throne. My new found knowledge of the loft proved most helpful in constructing the dome and once it was ready, I placed it over the throne.


    The springs are close to my second week of development and thinking the throne is almost ready and just needs a few additions before moving onto the next stage of development.

  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 3

    This week has been one of the more quieter ones in my throne's development, but some of the progress that has been made has been most enlightening. My first objective for this week was to do a redesign of the blade handle for my throne as I felt it did not match the overall design of the throne.


    Once this was done, I moved on to updating the red flags and it gave me a greater understanding of one particular modifier. I wanted the flags to react that environment the same way as a real one would and I studied how this could be accomplished, which is what led me to the cloth modifier.


    This is the first time that I have actually used this particular modifier, so I did a number of experiments with it in order to gain a basic understanding of how worked and it helped me to understand how this too could be quite useful if used correctly. Once I had learned the basics, I put the modifier to work by creating a poll for my flex to sit on and then use the modifier to program the planes to unfold onto a colloidal object, which I specified as the poll. Then I applied this effect to the other flags in the level, starting with the main entrance flags


    Then I returned by attention to the main hall and was a little trickier getting those ones to work, after a little trial and error they worked just as well as the others did.


    With this all the flags were ready, but I was not done with the cloth modifier just yet. There was one last key asset that I wanted to create for the level and that asset was a carpet I created a new plane primitive and added the cloth modifier and finally putting in the same calculations as before. It still required a little work but it is perfect for my present needs.


    After reviewing the throne as a whole, I came to the conclusion that the area of the throne itself was a little cramped, so I decided to expand the area around it. I did this by removing the faces around it, created a cylinder primitive with a few alterations added and finally attached them together and repositioned the throne and its associated assets.


    This brings us to the conclusion of this weeks progress report, next week I will be focusing on using zbrush to add new elements to my assets.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 4

    This week has been a fairly busy one as my objective was to create high poly versions of a number of assets within the throne room using zbrush, this is an correlation with my university studies focusing on zbrush and sword as an excellent opportunity to put into practice this new knowledge. I start off by exporting all the key assets including the hero asset, the throne.


    I started off by getting a handle of some of the key tools at my disposal, including the brushes, alphas and the shortcuts to altering the shape of the mesh. However I came to the conclusion that certain tools caused problems to my intended design, so to minimise this issue I focused on individual parts of the throne starting with the wings like shapes.


    Next I focused my attention on the blade handle the throne.


    The final piece of the throne was a little more complicated. The throne present design matches the design I was going for, but I brought it into zbrush to see if it could improve the design further. The results however were not to my satisfaction.


    While the design had potential, it is not what I am looking for the design of the throne so I decided to keep the basic form but for what I have in mind, this should not be an issue. I then turned my attention to the other meshes starting with the pillar.


    The next asset was the dome, which turned out quite nicely in my opinion.


    Then there was the structures surrounding the main hall.


    After this I turned my attention back to 3DS Max as there was an asset that I had wanted to build their would create a little character to the throne and that asset was this.


    Your eyes do not deceive you, what you see before you is a cradle. You see, within the story scenario of the throne room, the great Demon Baal is in fact a father and like any father wants his child close in hand. This may seem odd for a Demon to show compassion, but my research has shown Baal's interesting history, but I will leave the subject for now until the appropriate time. As before, I brought the cradle into zbrush and used its tools to create a high poly version of it.


    Once this was accomplished, I decided to return to my unreal 4 level and add these assets to it to see how it looked. I'm the am not the most experienced in exporting and importing models so there were a few problems getting some of the assets into the level, but a basic idea of how the level looked was all that I required.


    This brings an end to my fourth week of development, next week I will be focusing on creating UV maps for my props and adding a material to my throne.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 5

    My primary focus for this week was the development of my model UVs and I started off with the main building.


    Next I focused my attention on the throne, it was a little more complicated to build as well some parts like the throne itself was relatively simple, the wing structures were infinitely more tricky to accomplish. But after considering my options, I decided to go with a simple way of displaying the wings UVs and was able to complete the throne's UV map.


    By comparison, the other UV maps were much simpler to construct and since most of the props were of a similar shape, I was able to overlay the UV's on top of each other. I started off with the main structures of the throne room.


    Next was the dome.


    And finally the pillar.


    I was admittedly concerned with some of the UV's in case they overlapped with each of when they were not supposed, so to make sure that everything was in order, I used a chequerboard material to test how the UV's interacted within the level.



    Unfortunately I was unable to begin work on the throne's material as it was necessary to work on my other university projects, but I did discover tool that could help me create a certain effect this. It's a mental Ray material called arch and design, which I intend to use the crystal. I started off by creating a material and attaching it to the crystal mesh.


    I also wanted the crystal the low and so I created an omni light and manipulate some of its parameters in order to create the effect I was looking for. The end result of my experiment so far is this.


    This is not the effect I was hoping for, but I will do a little research on the material to see if I can use it to create a good effect for the crystal. This includes this weeks development update, next week will be primarily focused on the development of my throne material and possibly others if time permits.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 6

    This week has been one of reflection for me, seeing the throne designs of my fellow members of the community have shown me how much there is for me to learn, the necromancers library being one of my favorites due to its visual style. But such worthy foes only inspire me to learn more and develop my own style. With my resolve renewed. I began this weeks work on my throne.

    It was commented by my design my mentor that the seat of my throne looked a little cliches and upon examination, I came to see his point and if he, who has experience working in the game industry could see it, then others would as well. I did however want to keep the basic design so I thought of ways to add to what was already there and my first solution was this.


    This design didn't work in my opinion, so I went for a design that more closely resembled the design of the throne. So I extruded certain parts of the throne and added a few loft primitives to the lower areas.


    Then I brought it onto zbrush and created a high poly version of my new throne design.


    Naturally because I had redesigned the throne, I also had to re-organise the UV's and created a new UV map.


    Once it was ready, I rendered it and brought it onto photo shop. For the visual style, I wanted to go for something that was artistic and I found inspiration the game I recently encountered called Child of light.


    I took some time to study the style and once I had learned the basics, I applied them to to my diffuse map.


    As a good start, but I think I need to practice it in order to improve the design. I applied the current version of my diffuse map to my model to see how it look so far.


    On a different matter, I began considering what the lighting solution of my throne would be and one of the key elements is the crystal in the centre. I tried various solutions to find what worked and in time found something that worked.


    I also experiment with the arch and design material and discovered a way to alter the material so we would look more see-through and the results were most pleasing.


    With this, the six week of development has reached the conclusion. My objective for next week will be to complete the diffuse map of the throne and to improve upon the visual style I have gone for.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 7

    This week had been going quite well with with my throne's UV's on the verge of completion.


    that is until disaster struck. To my horror, I discovered that the UV's I had created thus far had begun to bleed into each other, this turn of events left me with no other option but to remake the UV's once again. In the case of the throne, I decided to take a different approach this time, instead of doing all of placing all the front parts into a single UV. I would divide them into 4 to simplify the development as well as to improve the overall quality. The 1st to be created was the throne itself.


    The other sections of the throne proved to be a much more challenging endeavour. The complexity of the design made it difficult as well as time-consuming to to build their UV's, as such I came to the conclusion that I needed to broaden my knowledge of the subject if I was to progress. I researched ways of improving my technique and discovered that I was a tool that allowed me to create seems within a 3-D mesh that would allow me to select specific areas without affecting the others. I tested this new technique on the next section of the throne and the results proved promising.


    As I grew more confident in the use of this new technique, I began to take on some of the more challenging meshes, which included the sword of the throne.


    With the throne completed, I moved on to the other meshes, including the pillar.


    The main structures of the throne.


    And then the dome.


    Along with the seeming technique, I also discovered a way to sew together the edges of UV's together with the correlating edge. With this knowledge in hand, I reconstructed the main building's UV's into a format that would make it easier to work with.


    With the UV is restored to proper order, it was time for me to rebuild my diffuse map for the throne, I took the opportunity to improve my drawing techniques by seeking the counsel of one of my tutors, who was well versed in the more artistic visual style gaming and gave me a few pointers on how to improve my own. This knowledge has proven most helpful in improving the quality of my diffuse map, though I am not particularly pleased of the progress so far.


    This week has certainly not gone well in light of this complication, but the situation has allowed me to broaden my knowledge and improve my skills at the design so this is not the most favourable of situations, it has born unexpected fruit. Next week goal will be to catch up on my texture maps and add them to my meshes and placed them into unreal if time permits.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 8

    This week has actually been a busy one but I am happy to say that I am back on track. After a hour or so of work, I was able to recreate the diffuse map of my throne and complete it in its entirety.


    Next I turned my attention to the other components of the throne and using the same process used to create the throne itself. I was able to complete their respected diffuse maps.



    With the France diffuse maps ready, I turned my attention to the other props of the level and created a diffuse patch for each one.



    With the completion of all the diffuse maps, it was time to bring my fully realised assets into unreal, though my first attempts of exporting them was problematic, I have been learning more of the process since last time and formulated a better stratagem. First I enlarged all the assets to scale and then lined them up in a role ready to be exported.


    Then I brought them into unreal four and imported them into a new file in my project. Their shape had been altered slightly due to the exporting process, but not in a problematic way. Once all them were brought in, I reconstructed the level with some slight changes to the layout.


    With everything in order, I brought in the diffuse maps as well as the normals and specular versions of each one that I had created using photo shop and X normal. I created new materials and added each of the textures into their respected slots and applied them to the meshes. Unfortunately the file type of the normal maps was incompatible with the unreal, which I shall rectify in the near future


    You have undoubtedly noticed that the style of the throne room doesn't match up with a Demon of the underworld, however for Baal it makes more sense than you might think. You see my research has revealed that Baal is not just a Demon, he is in fact an ancient god worshiped during the second millennium BC by the people of Canaan. known as baal hadad, he was a fertility god who held dominion over thundestorms and agriculture, in other words a God of nature His true name was considered sacred by his people and only a select few could speak it. As such he was more commonly known as Baal, which can mean Lord, master or father.


    Why does this any of this matters you might ask? Well it allows me to see the character of baal in a different light and opened up the possibility that the other 71 Demons referenced in the Lesser Key of Solomon may at one time had been worshipped as gods themselves, there is certainly evidence they can lead to this conclusion. In the case of my throne room, it opens up new possibilities for architectural designs, but is what has led to the look you see before you.

    The last thing I did was to begin work on the crystal texture, which required a different approach to what had done so far. The design doesn't look particularly impressive just yet but I hope to improve upon it in time.


    This concludes this weeks development, next week I will focus on applying the normal maps to the meshes to improve the visual look.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 8

    This week has been one of my more quieter ones as a university deadline demanded my immediate attention though I have made a few developments. The first of which is that I have fixed the file format of my normal maps so that they can be attached to my unreal materials. I imported the normals into my material folder in unreal and then attached them to their respected materials and the results were better than I expected.


    My primary focus was for this week was to to create a material for my crystal, however I do not have much experience in the creation of such materials and have been having some difficulty getting it right. So in order to resolve the issue, I began to look at a number of tutorials to to see what I could learn. In addition the subject is the main focus of my lectures this week, granting me the opportunity to practice.


    The knowledge obtained help me to improve the material I had initially created and the results, though not quite what I was hoping for does have potential.


    I still have not quite figured out a way of keeping the daylight from phasing through the walls, but I do have a theory of how to prevent this which I will go into greater detail later. This includes this weeks progress. Next week I will be improving the graphical quality of my meshes and putting my theory into action.
  • chr0nicler
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    chr0nicler polycounter lvl 5
    Development diary week 9 (final week)

    Our final week is upon us and I decided to make a few modifications before handing it in. The first thing on my agenda was to improve my crystal and I have been doing some research into building materials in unreal. One tutorial I found was particularly helpful in understanding the principle and using these principles, I moved a few improvements to my crystals material.


    I applied the improved crystal material to the mesh and the results were an improvement from the last iteration.


    The last thing I wanted to do was to improve the overall quality of the other materials and my research also assisted me in that area. I discovered that certain components were needed in order to improve such as texture coordinates and using this knowledge, I made a simple but effective format to use for my materials.


    With my materials complete, I decided to have one last look around the level to make sure that everything was in order.


    This brings us to the end of our journey together, but I have some final thoughts to give before then.


    When I chose to took part in this competition, winning was not my primary interest, though it would be a nice bonus. I wanted to test my new found skills against fellow practitioners and my experiences these past few months have shown me how much there is yet to learn about this craft. However from this challenge, I have become a wiser and more practiced user and have gained a unique insight of the legendary Prince of hell, which have given me ideas for a story concept.

    Win or lose, it has been a privilege to learn from the masters and I hope to see you all again in the near future.
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