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Consciousness Takes a Trip - MA project

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Temppe polycounter lvl 10
Hello people.

I'm currently doing an MA in Games Art and Design in the University of Hertfordshire. At the start of the year we did a bunch of week long projects. The aim was not to produce game-ready assets, but just to explore ideas and techniques. Now we have eight weeks to fully develop two of those ideas (two four-week projects).

This was my output of one of those short projects. I'm going to make some modifications to this and hopefully by the end, present it in UE4.

Here is the slightly adjusted concept. I'm going to have a more modern balloon (no netting) and I'll tone down the colours. I'll abandon the idea of the top of the envelope mophing into the top of his head. The cut line of the head has been moved up and I did away with the brains inside the skull - too body horror. Instead I'm trying to go for a slightly psychedelic vibe, but I don't want it to look cartoonishly colourful either.

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  • rexo12
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    rexo12 polycounter lvl 4
    Nice idea and looks well executed so far. I get the impression that you're not really sure about the tone you want for this - "slightly psychedelic" & not "cartoonishly colourful" are a little at odds with each other (imo that 'psychedelic vibe' is defined by its bright colours). It could be worth collecting some style references to clarify the tone you want for yourself?
  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 10
    Well, when I say psychedelic, if you take a look at the picture below I think you'll agree that there is a different vibe between the people on the left compared to the people on the right. I'm going more for the vibe on the left. The image on the top right is what I want to avoid.

    My intention is that the pilot is a bit of a cloud faring hippy dude. Like this is the "real" personality inside the dude's head. I'm thinking of toning it down even a bit more than the images on the left - a denim jacket open, with no shirt underneath. And I'll make an attempt at the dreadlocks, but I'll leave that 'till last because I think it'll be the most challenging part of this project.

    Here's the progress on some of the hard surface elements - the hatch and the tanks. I actually used submarine reference for the hatch because it's easier to find reference. Obviously submarine hatches are a LOT bulkier and would be far too heavy for a balloon to lift, but considering the whimsical nature of the subject matter I think I can get away with it.
  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 10
    I had a busy few days with other course work, then a trip to London... so it's been a little while. But I'm back into the zone now.

  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 10

    I continuing with the details on the capsule. yesterday I did the small bag and the crate hanging off the side. I used Marvelous Designer for the bag and retopologised it inside 3ds Max. This is a very straight forward process for the parts that are made from rectangular patterns, though the more complex the pattern, the more likely it that I need to manually clean it.

    retopologising the bag


    I did the high poly envelope too, and the rigging that suspends the capsule. Since I had 32 cables connecting the envelope to the frame, it started to look a bit silly that four cables of the same diamter could hold the capsule under the frame. So I replace the four cables with thick straps instead. These are modeled with splines and the surface modifier – so effectively they’re patch geometry, not renderable splines.


  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 10

    Today I did the gigantic duffle bag using Marvelous Designer. I sculpted a super simple cuboid blob as the inside to give it some shape, then made the patterns.

    I used the same workflow that I did for the small bag, where I imported both the simulated mesh and the flat patterns into Max, created a morph target, then created a plane and used the skin wrap modifier.

    I have to ask myself is it really worth the time spent retoplogising to get perfect quads though. I have to manually weld the seams, and make sure that each panel has matching topology – which is easy enough for a duffle bag, but would be a lot more tedious on a character’s clothing.

    The only advantage to this process is that I know I’ll have a completely watertight mesh at the end of it, that I can export to Zbrush for further sculpting. However I’m not sure I need a watertight mesh for the high poly. I think next time I’ll try using Zremesher. With careful use of morph targets I should be able to avoid obvious cracks between the panels.

    For the straps, my plan was to use Zbrush surface noise to apply a pattern. Which meant that I needed UVs. Unfortunately half way through the retopology of the straps I changed my technique for creating the planes – instead of creating a new plane from scratch and subdividing it (thereby generating UVs with the parametric geometry) I cloned the triangulated pattern, deleted all the vertices but the corner ones, then created a new quad from those remaining vertices and then subdividing. At the time I thought it allowed me to work quicker, but I didn’t realise that by creating a polygon rather than a plane, that polygon would not have UVs. So half my straps were UV-less and I didn’t realise until I imported it into Zbrush.

    I placed the bag in the scene in Max and then used splines to create the rope. I tied a bowline knot (it’s as tedious as it sounds) at each end of the rope. With the rope in place I exported both the bag, the rope, and the capsule to Zbrush to sculpt the wrinkles on the bag where the rope cuts into it.


  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 10

    Today I did the head. I had already laid the ground work during the week long project so it was a question of retopologising the mesh, then breaking the symmetry and subdividing a bit more to add the last few layers of detail. I changed the topology of the base mesh in Max (removed the top of the head, the neck and shoulders, patched the holes and improved the edgeflow around the ear and eyelid). Then I jumped to Wrap4D to confrom it to the sculpt. I recycled the teeth from a previous project.

    This is the first time I’m actually happy with the result of sculpting high frequency detail using alphas and custom brushes. In the project “Memories and Nostalgia” I did a few weeks ago I had some difficulty dealing with the different scales of detail and the different skin features on the various regions of the face. This face is younger which made it easier, but I also finally figured out how to really control the application of the alpha onto the mesh. I have to say the Zbrush interface is fairly backward – I have to adjust settings in three different menus (alpha, brush and stroke) to get the result I want.


  • Temppe
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    Temppe polycounter lvl 10
    The almost complete block out for the pilot... those lower legs need some TLC though, something about them doesn't look right.
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