I thought I'd show a series of progress pics and final renders and talk about my process if anyone is interested. I created this gun during a time of struggling to feel creative. I decided to create a gun based off of one of my sketches and to take the advice of my friend Sheng Lam (check out his sick mechs here https://www.instagram.com/8bitwizard/
) He told me to just get the bad ideas out, and the good ones will come.
I have tried really hard to change how i see the things I make and be more willing to fail and focus on enjoying things.
I struggled a bit and wanted to get this done quickly as well, I spent about 10 sessions on this to model and design, another 3 or so for renders and exploration.
I wanted to just share my thoughts incase anyone was interested.
Before I start, my workflow is very reliant on keeping things planar, staying in blockout as long as possible, and modeling MIDPOLY. I only subdivide and add smoothing edge loops at the end. The reason I do this is so that I can design parts independant of other parts on the same model, also giving me a little time to think and plan the design. I go over this in my course at game art institute, and will be doing another class later this year for anyone interested.
More pics on Artstationhttps://www.artstation.com/artwork/JW4dnhttps://www.instagram.com/alex_senechal/
Here is the basics of my midpoly workflow as a preface.
As I said i started with a basic sketch I did with my mouse a few weeks before, never meant to make anything of it but I liked the shape of the rear of the stock. I sketched with a mouse lol
I always try and keep my faces perfectly planar and stay in the blockout phase as long as possible, the subd process is easier than the blockout as this is where I put all my time into designing. I refine each part until completed, focusing on how things connect and interlock. Really focusing on how things connect and putting all your time there is a great way to make a design feel connected and realistic. Try and interlock forms and shapes!
At this point I didn't know where I was going with this at all. So I find that just doing something on a part of the model helps to get progress going, when I don't know what to do I just try and find something I do until I can finally solve the areas I am struggling with. I jump around a lot and try to and keep up momentum. I really was struggling a lot with parts of this, and tried to find a balance between reworking things and trying to keep moving forward.
In this model I did choose to use a lot more booleans than I typically do, which I think I will be doing more often, since I use max, I add an xform to my boolean object, duplicate it as an instance, and boolean the instance. This way I have a model that I can manipulate in realtime, for some real-time booleans. You can also just select "instance" when using the proboolean. The advantage to the xform is you can move the boolean object anywhere you want in your scene and still edit it. Be sure to edit the model or move the object only on the subobject level. At a certain point I did have to collapse it all and model the rest, which happened about after the next step.
I keep refining the parts, keeping them as low poly as possible. STAY MID-POLY TILL THE END or as long as possible, KEEP THINGS PLANAR and have NGONS. Ngons allow so much more freedom when modeling, anyone who says Ngons are bad needs to get out of the 1850's. NGONS are just fine on flat surfaces so long as it doesnt tear when you subdivide or cause issues, so obviously you have to find a balance. The only ngons matter is if a specific tool or game engine doesnt play well with them, but these days everything gets triangulated upon import, sometimes long ngons might triangulate poorly. Or if something needs to be deformed or animate. If things are planar, it doesn't matter.
I began to figure out the internals, I am not really sure where I came up with the ideas for them, but I did want to have the yellow plastic under the internal tube to echo the plastic above the front grip. It also helped to add layers and separation between them.
For my hard surface forms you can tell I keep them still very low poly, and keep it mid poly detailing more and more. This way I can jump around, spending time figuring out intersections on the model easily, and avoid wasting time getting stuck.
I have also really been inspired by the weapons in the new COD game, they are so fresh in form and function, it really inspired me a lot since it came out. I like when people find new ways to do old idea, like magazines that don't just slide down or get inserted in a regular way. I think its always important to try and find a new idea or design, art is like adding to the world in my opinion, and I strive to make things I have never seen before, find your style and really focus on not doing things that have been done, and thinking of your own details and design choices. Also focus very heavily on design, usually concept artists are the ones who are deep into design, but I think a lot of people in our industry, concept and 3d, don't apply design principals to hard surface as well as other subjects.
My coworker and mentor when I started learning design has a page where he (and sometimes I) give feedback based on the abstract of design, proportions, 70/30, contrast, avoiding evenness, composition, value, ect. for anyone interested. https://www.facebook.com/groups/116341985204628/
I chose to also have the large curve on the back above the grip, something I've never tried before. I wanted to go out of my comfort zone as much as I could while staying in my comfort zone in other ways. As you can see this is all still unsubdivided blockout geo, I can't stress how useful it is to stay in blockout as long as you can. So many people want to get right to the subd and it really fucks you over in the long run and makes modeling a big mess. Edge loops last!
NGONS and planar faces ensures that subd and adding details will be easy with good shading, this is the key, keep things mid poly, don't rely on subdivision for "curving" surfaces, use bevels instead. When you use bevels the highlights are controlled much more tightly and nicely vs widely spaced edge loops, which give a sloppy look.
To be clear this means also avoid adding edge loops and such till the VERY end, and only adding bevels if it contributes to the design. For example the curve above the grip, this is a large bevel meant as a design choice, not to add "smoothing"
This gives you freedom to model in more and add more form changes easily. Modeling with Ngons makes it easy to add details as long as the surface is planar.
This is most of the high poly wires but still had a lot to do. One thing I also tried to do was use the front was have the capsule shapes continue the straight line of the stock, since the muzzle was a bit below the center line, simplifying the read and increasing directionality.
And I finished it up the following night, I wasn't 100% happy with parts of it, but I cared about speed in this case as this was not meant to be a big or long project. I really just was in a creative dry spell it felt like, and wanted to push through it. Like I said my friend told me to just "get the bad ideas out" and I realized that we have the rest of our lives to make art, not everything will be perfect, and I shouldn't get so down on myself.
I find that when you put the energy you spend worrying about the quality, and if it will be good or not, and all these things, into just doing the work, it turns out better. All that anxiety takes up mental power and energy, while its helpful to push you, there has to be a balance.
Also just wanted to say, to me improving your skill is all a mind game. Whenever I feel down, or feel uninspired, you have to realize its all in your head, its a mind game. How can you push yourself into a new mindset to tackle your issues and fears? This is what drives me, its harder to me than doing the work. Anyone can work, but the hard part is getting through the things that keep you from it in your head, at least to me. I don't think I'm talented or really anything, I just put in a lot of effort, and burn out a lot.
Anyways, I just really wanted to share, and I hope anyone else struggling with inspiration, or knowing what to make finds this helpful. Just go and do something, let the ideas flow, and course correct as you go along, and you should find something you like!
I recently taught a class at game art institute, I plan to do one later this year as well, if anyone is interested in that, keep an eye out.
Anyways, hope people found this somewhat helpful.