3D Hard Surface Modeling portfolio

jewski-bot
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Hi All, I'm posting this in the hopes that I can get some good, hard-hitting critiques, and more than that, any positive recommendations so that I can improve.  

http://www.andrewmajewski3d.com/

I've been struggling on and off for a number of years, but feel like I can't quite get out of the Valley of the Suck (as Ryan Kingslien would put it).  I think that I have a reasonably good handling on the technical aspects of vehicle modeling, albeit some issues that occasionally crop up, and I want to say that's mainly due to references not being widely available, so things have to be improvised.  I'm kind of mixed on materials and texturing as this can be something of hit and miss at times.

What I'd like to do is catalog the responses and feedback here and ask if some kind of mentorship program is worth the investment and if there are any worthwhile recommendations.... Or if I should continue to pursue this at all.  I'll admit that I do tend to get hung up on some of the most basic of things at times and when hitting certain workflow snags it can be a tedious process to try and resolve.

I did have some more uploads on my portfolio site, but those are kind of old and felt rather inconsistent with the quality of models I have uploaded now.

(Most were character models and some older vehicle models).




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  • jewski-bot
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    jewski-bot polycounter lvl 3
    Here are some pics from my site:










  • Youshi
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    Youshi polycounter lvl 3
    My first critic, and it's a really simple thing is presentation, I would keep it consistent in the way you present your models, it can be at times a little jarring despite negligible. This is my personal take, but I always feel unless it's going to be properly comp'd into a plate, I've never been a big fan of background renders. There's an entire job description for doing just that so it seems moot, and often you take away from your own work. There is also a crazy amount of grain in one of your photos (second optimus), again, this is a compositors tool to match a plate, not really something used in a still render of a model.

    If you're trying to get hired in films, definitely put more emphasis on the wireframe and the model itself, no need for any half arsed textures (in my opinion), but perhaps someone more qualified can jump in on that, if it's games then texturing is a large part of the job, so I would certainly put some practice in there.

    It's good work though, keep it up.
  • jewski-bot
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    jewski-bot polycounter lvl 3
    Youshi said:
    My first critic, and it's a really simple thing is presentation, I would keep it consistent in the way you present your models, it can be at times a little jarring despite negligible. This is my personal take, but I always feel unless it's going to be properly comp'd into a plate, I've never been a big fan of background renders. There's an entire job description for doing just that so it seems moot, and often you take away from your own work. There is also a crazy amount of grain in one of your photos (second optimus), again, this is a compositors tool to match a plate, not really something used in a still render of a model.

    If you're trying to get hired in films, definitely put more emphasis on the wireframe and the model itself, no need for any half arsed textures (in my opinion), but perhaps someone more qualified can jump in on that, if it's games then texturing is a large part of the job, so I would certainly put some practice in there.

    It's good work though, keep it up.
    Yes, this is the the kind of feedback I'm looking for.  I'm not much of  a lighting person, so I just threw in an HDR, but I totally get what you're saying (I'm a weird hodgepodge of both Games and VFX/Film, hence why the Beetle and Lancia are REALLY high res and have a combination of image maps, procedural textures, etc. vs. the tank and Freightliner which are low to medium res models that use texture maps).

    I think that I will turn off the HDR visibility but keep the lighting in unless I should consider experimenting with light setups as well.  I find that monkeying around with that though can be very distracting unless kept relatively simple (no crazy mood lighting as it might be visually obnoxious).

    As for the second Optimus render, I believe that noise is from IRAY and I probably need to look at the settings I rendered out.  I may not have given it proper render time to max out samples, but there may be other issues at hand.

    I do have more shots and wireframes  and work in progress shots uploaded to my portfolio site.

    Textures do need work on the tank.  That was my first major attempt to push through the baking process (I had done some character work through ZBrush and would typically bake my normal maps from there, but this wasn't the same deal and I didn't realize what was involved in terms of prep work for hard surface work, especially with making sure bakes are clean).  I think that the Freightliner came out much better, despite some problems.  Hell, at this point, I'm just happy that I can make better looking stuff that from the original Far Cry, LOL (granted in 2017, it's a LOT easier to model and texture than in 2004).
  • jewski-bot
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    jewski-bot polycounter lvl 3
    Here are some wire frame shots of the tank to give you all an idea as to where I am modeling skill wise:  It took approx. 72 hours to build everything (barring a few botched attempts which would tack on maybe 6 hours or so).





    And a wire of the Beetle:


  • Larry
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    Larry keyframe
    One thing I can totally agree with jewsky is to not let your models sit in the air or a grey plane. At least make it white to give a good contrast and vibrance of color. I say white because its a very neutral and flattering to other colors but you could change it to makee a more interesting color pallette.

    One extra thing that would totally bring your presentation to the next level, is to make a small background that is cohesive to the style of your model. For example I would place the beetle in a small road with a lamp and a pavement and a bench,and have a night lighting, you get the style right? That shows creativity and cohesion. Its one thing to be able to model anything, another thing to be able to keep a style both in design and in textures and color pallette.
  • Youshi
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    Youshi polycounter lvl 3
    I would imagine you mean exploding a mesh right? It's daunting but it's actually fairly simple. It comes down to good naming conventions and planning!

    There is two routes I know of, one is the substance route which doesn't require you to explode the mesh, but just have match naming conventions I.E
    "bumper_low"
    "bumper_high"
    You can set the prefix to what ever you like, it's low/high by default so that's what I use. Substance will then bake your items on a name by name basis to avoid artifacting, I believe marmoset has a similair baking process now too!

    Otherwise my old technique, and sometimes still used is exploding in Max. I still have proper naming conventions. Once everything is name correctly, I set a key frame at 1 and the parent all my items to the corresponding parts. Then I move to frame 10 and drag out all the corresponding items and export.

    My biggest issue with exploding has always been when my Highpoly is a bit tooooo high, I'll either decimate the mesh for performance in Zbrush or I will take advantage of layers and hide parts as I go to optimise performance, there has been many times I wanted to punch my screen bringing a 5M+ object into autodesk, My system is fairly outdated these days.

    I'm paranoid and always set up a "Bake_down" save to ensure it's non destructive, hope this helps!
  • jewski-bot
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    jewski-bot polycounter lvl 3
    Larry said:
    One thing I can totally agree with jewsky is to not let your models sit in the air or a grey plane. At least make it white to give a good contrast and vibrance of color. I say white because its a very neutral and flattering to other colors but you could change it to makee a more interesting color pallette.

    One extra thing that would totally bring your presentation to the next level, is to make a small background that is cohesive to the style of your model. For example I would place the beetle in a small road with a lamp and a pavement and a bench,and have a night lighting, you get the style right? That shows creativity and cohesion. Its one thing to be able to model anything, another thing to be able to keep a style both in design and in textures and color pallette.
    Thanks for the advice, Larry.  I hadn't really considered doing a full blown scene with an environment, instead opting to just use an HDR thinking that it would be a simple fix  (didn't really know about using a proper backplate for the camera).  The Lancia Stratos (Wheeljack for all you Transformers fans) had an error where I forgot to turn on the ground plane / shadow catcher's visibility, so certainly it may be wise to update that.  I will experiment with changing up the color backdrop as in Modo by default, you have a four-color constant setup that uses white for the first input, gray for the second and third, and black for the fourth, essentially similar to a ramp in Maya for setting up color gradients (though perhaps with less control over what input influences what).
  • jewski-bot
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    jewski-bot polycounter lvl 3
    Youshi said:
    I would imagine you mean exploding a mesh right? It's daunting but it's actually fairly simple. It comes down to good naming conventions and planning!

    There is two routes I know of, one is the substance route which doesn't require you to explode the mesh, but just have match naming conventions I.E
    "bumper_low"
    "bumper_high"
    You can set the prefix to what ever you like, it's low/high by default so that's what I use. Substance will then bake your items on a name by name basis to avoid artifacting, I believe marmoset has a similair baking process now too!

    Otherwise my old technique, and sometimes still used is exploding in Max. I still have proper naming conventions. Once everything is name correctly, I set a key frame at 1 and the parent all my items to the corresponding parts. Then I move to frame 10 and drag out all the corresponding items and export.

    My biggest issue with exploding has always been when my Highpoly is a bit tooooo high, I'll either decimate the mesh for performance in Zbrush or I will take advantage of layers and hide parts as I go to optimise performance, there has been many times I wanted to punch my screen bringing a 5M+ object into autodesk, My system is fairly outdated these days.

    I'm paranoid and always set up a "Bake_down" save to ensure it's non destructive, hope this helps!
    YES! I have done baking in both Substance Painter and ToolBag 3 (trial has expired so I'm back on Toolbag 2 for the time being)

    Baking and UV layouts also tend to be very tricky for myself since the Type 74 Tank was the first vehicle that I attempted and unfortunately it was perhaps a rather unfortunate testbed.  A lot of what was needed for normal map creation wasn't properly modeled (or I should say exaggerated) for a high res detail model.  It is however, a properly modeled high res model for vfx / film and that's where I didn't take into account workflow differences, henceforth the Freightliner (Optimus) wound up going through numerous baking tests to make sure that the normal maps would bake correctly and that little details projected in the map would show up and things like rivets, bolts, etc. would actually stand out.

    The other thing is that I have so many parts and multiple maps going into the Tank that it becomes incredibly convoluted in keeping track of everything and it may have just been overly ambitious on my part.  To go about fixing the textures would probably be tantamount to first adjusting the whole high res model, then redoing the UV layouts (properly this time to avoid the seams), and another slew of baking tests.

    I think that baking in Substance Painter is probably better using the naming convention method as exploding in Modo uses morph maps and that can be a bear if you mess things up when selecting your pieces.  I might see about your method of the keyframes to do the exploding mesh and see if that's doable.

    Currently, I've been baking the normal map and ambient occlusion maps in Modo from the high res to low res models, and then exporting those two maps and the low res model into Substance Painter.  From there I use the normal map baked out in modo to be used as the reference for generating the World Space Normal, Curvature, Thickness, and Position map inputs.  ID maps are created in modo when needed.

    Part of this is due to not wanting to freeze the high res geo prior to export (a lot of times I'll find errors and need to make edits and when you have a lot of mesh items that you're working with it can be a bit much).  Meshes also need to be manually triangulated (since I'm still on modo 902, the FBX is 2013 format and doesn't have an option for auto-triangulation).

    Lastly, and this is a big one, has to do with UV layouts and optimization and economy.  For example, the Freightliner uses a lot of shared texture space for things like tires and rims, etc.  Does it make more sense to use a separate map (say a 1024 square or 2048 square max. resolution) for these things rather then trying to fit everything onto a single sheet?  The reason I ask is because I want to be able to maximize texel density, but it's usually an ongoing process of test baking to make sure things still look good, which requires frequent moving around of UV's and repacking.  My other concern would be that not all assets share the proper texel density because the scale ratio of the UV islands are wrong.

    I guess that the last part is really just a trial and error process to which no one size-fits-all solution can be given to, but it's stuff like this that I tend to get hung up on and start spending a disproportionate amount of time attempting to resolve.

    In any event, thank you for your continued support!
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