[Portfolio] - Ben Strasser/ Environment Artist

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Hey everyone,

My name is Ben Strasser, I've been kicking around these forums for a couple of months now. I've recently graduated from my program and I am looking for critique on my couple of pieces and content on my site. I'm hoping to use the summer to build a strong enough portfolio to land a job of some kind in the fall.

http://benstrasser.carbonmade.com/

I will also start using this thread to update my works in progress rather then make a new topic about every new piece I make.

Thanks

Ben Strasser

EDIT: My WIP's are at the end of this thread, would love some C and C :)

Replies

  • MeintevdS
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    MeintevdS keyframe
    I think most of your work looks good.

    The best way to show of your environment is by getting it into an actual game engine. UDK is free and is probably the most used, so I'd say download it and give it a go.

    The WWII is being destroyed (see what I did thar? Since all the buildings are broken? D:) by the lighting. You have some fairly huge masses of black in your scene and they are covering all the detail you just took time to model. Make sure your lighting shows off and enhances your work, don't let it cover it up. Shadows are rarely(never?) black in real life and same goes for games.

    The boiler room is a bit dark too, but I'm pretty sure that's my monitor, since these are a bit dark. Overall the lighting looks a lot better here!
    The big flaw in these scene however are the piping and wiring in the scene. If you look at the piping on top of the boilers you cylinders with at least 20 sides
    which is the same amount as the boilers even though these are 10 times as large.
    But then when I look at the bend pieces of metal holding the walkways up then are really lowpoly and clearly show the polygons. Get rid of some of the sides on those pipes and some more to the bend pieces of metal.

    Something people keep underestimating (as did I for a super long time) is silhouette. From the current camera perspective there is no way I could have seen the piping had 20 sides, which means they are wasted on them. The bend metal thingy however was the first thing that caught my eye (sadly) because it was standing out because of the polygons showing in the curve.

    One last thing would more be focused on the portfolio rather than the actual work.
    Your drawings all though not bad are clearly your weakest point and have nothing to do with the job position you are aiming for. So unless you have awesome environment/prop drawings you can show off I'd say get rid of the 2D section. It has nothing to do with what you're aiming for and at the moment takes away rather than add anything to your portfolio.

    Good luck, hope to see lots of your work during the summer :)
  • metalliandy
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    metalliandy greentooth
    You want to make sure that you are using power of 2 textures also (512,1024,2048 etc.) as the sizes you are using are quite odd. The size of you texture in the "Guten Morgan" scene is slightly smaller that the equivalent power of 2 size, which is 4096x2048

    Hope that helps :)
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks MeintevdS, I understand what you mean about the boilerroom and all of the pipes and cylinders. Ill be revisiting the things you have mentioned for sure :)

    Thanks Metalliandy, Where I get those numbers from was 512 x 3 down which is 1536 and 1024 x 5 across which would be the 5120. I just showed those numbers that way more as a whole rather than as 512 here 1024 here etc. Should I have approached it that way?
  • metalliandy
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    metalliandy greentooth
    Its more standard to use absolute power of 2 values such as 1024x1024, 2048x2048 or 1024x2048 etc., plus its what people expect to see really :)
  • BenStrasser
    Ok, Ill change it up for the presentation of it. Thanks :)
  • megalmn2000
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    megalmn2000 polycounter lvl 9
    The scene ''In Hot Water'' - Boiler Room, the render looks pretty but there's too many subdivision on the cylinder, especially the tubes at the top. 12 loops or less would be a better solution.
  • Rurouni Strife
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    Rurouni Strife polycounter lvl 9
    Your textures seem a little blurry and lacking detail. They don't seem very sharp. On your next project I would focus on using your UV space as efficiently as possible. It's something I'm continuing to learn how to do well.
  • Mr_Paris
    As other's have mentioned your poly optimization is the big thing hurting this so far. Less is more in the low poly arena. Don't add edges unless they're doing something to genuinely help the form. Don't use a 20 sided cyl when an 8 sided will do.
  • BenStrasser
    Hey, Thanks for your feedback everyone, Im working out a couple new pieces for the boiler room that take better advantage of the whole Low Poly thing :). Wanted to post up a bunch of the props i've been working on the last couple weeks.

    A set of WW1 Props--

    Crate
    Lantern
    Rotary Phone
    Rations
    Table
    Tactical war pieces

    Mostly all HP at this point, starting the LP/ texturing process today.

    Phone-1.jpg

    Lantern-1.jpg

    Rations-1.jpg

    Table-1.jpg

    WarPieces-1.jpg

    Here is the first bit of normal baking:

    Crate_HP-1.jpg

    Im using mudbox to extract the normals, however its giving me errors. Im thinking its probably hows it is unwrapped. Anyone that could point me in the right direction would be great! :)



    Crate_NRM.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    hey Ben !
    its great to see your still working hard on your portfolio !
    your HP are turning out great nice work, you've really improved a lot since those arcade sets :)
    Now there are some problems w/ your UVs for the wooden crate.
    heres a pic:
    ben_02.jpg
    also i'm not sure if you've already bought this, but this is great texturing Tut ! i watched this in my 2nd year right before i started my ww2 project is helped out a ton ! btw looking forward to seeing that Tonka truck )
    http://eat3d.com/texturing
    theres a student discount too !
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks a lot Hiten, I really appreciate your help!

    Ill fix up the uvs and bake the normal again. Also with the AO, is it the same way as the normal? Low from high?

    I just bought it now :)
  • BenStrasser
    Besides the things I need to paint out, and there are many.. Is this better or can it be improved?

    Crate_NRM_BAKE_TEST.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    thats a much better use of uv space ! but ....
    your projection of ur HP is really weird, are u using RTT or Xnormals ?
    another thing that you need to start doing is overlapping UVS.
    this will help maximize pixel density (increase the overall resolution of your texture map)
    For example, take the side face ( the ones closet to the camera) and overlap that with the face opposites to it, i'm referring to the one of the other side :)
    you can overlap that anywhere other then the 0 to 1 space in ur UV editor.
    like all those smaller parts in the bottom right corner can be overlap, since its sooo small that the player probably wont notice the unique normals on it. and the small parts on the top left area.
    also check out this crate :)
    SeaCartage_Sheet.jpg
  • BenStrasser
    Im going through mudbox, I saw a tutorial for xnormal over on eat3d, ill check it out in a bit. Might get some better results with that.
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    yeah use RTT or Xnormals, i'm sure u'll get a better bake w/ that :)
  • Chemical Alia
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    Chemical Alia polycounter lvl 7
    You've got some nice scenes, I think your attention to lighting, composition and the scene as a whole is your strongest point. I'll repeat what some others have said about polygon distribution being something you definitely want to think about. Like with the pipes, only adding as many sides as it needs to look nice and round, even some of the thinner pipes and railings look quite dense for what you could be using. You could even spend some of the polygons then on segments to make the silhouette more smooth in return, then spending it on chamfered edges that you won't really see in some places.

    Good luck!
  • ayoub44
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    ayoub44 polycounter lvl 9
    COOL portfolio , nice job man :) .. post more
  • BenStrasser
    Hey everyone, been working away on stuff.

    I've been having some trouble with baking my normals. Not really sure where I'm falling short. Or i might be just making a problem that is actually a problem at all :)..

    Here is the normals for the table found above:

    Table_NRM_scan.jpg

    My main issue with this is the lightness of the entire image. Also the clarity in the bake.

    It seems to be fairly pixely, or non existent.

    Ive done it a couple of ways, Ive tried using Scanline, mental ray, with a sklight without....

    Any tips?

    Also I recently purchased the Texturing Dvds from Eat 3d so im working through them hopefully ill find my error by watching through them.

    Thanks

    Ben
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    try this
    1st. make sure you dont have any overlapping UVs in the 0 to 1 space
    2nd. turn on scanline, enable light tracer... put a skylight in ur scene.
    go your ur RTT settings, under options -> it should open a second window..turn off the cage, and adjust the metres settings...
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks Hiten,

    Here is what I got with it,

    Table_nder.jpg


    Any help is appreciated to get it as good as possible

    Ben
  • BenStrasser
    Hiten thanks for the tips, it definitely gave a better bake.

    Ok here is where Im at with the crate, Ill get the rest up tomorrow evening,

    crate_Texture.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    good start, but i think ur running into some problems w/ the diff and spec.
    the amount of dirt u have on ur texture right on is fine, the problem i have w/ it is that you should add more wood as the base material. This will really help sell the crate alot more. check out the pic i posted in the earlier port, in that pic u can see the base wood material showing though :)
    i hope this helps !
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks Hiten,

    Ok this is where I am with it now, I still have a couple things im working out with it. Im liking it better with the brighter wood texture showing through.

    crate_Texture2.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    read this tut.
    apply this idea to the wood you have.
    what will happen is that you see a better transition from the wood to the paint.
    make sure u have the 'all layers' button on :)
    http://www.game-artist.net/forums/spotlight-articles/42-tutorial-hard-surface-texture-painting.html
  • BenStrasser
    Been busy lately,

    The inner mechanisms were based around other machinery that I was able to find.

    Ive pretty much got this machine Hi Poly done now, start the low soon.

    RollerD.jpg

    RollerE.jpgHere is the reference image I found:

    Looking at it now there are some discrepancies..:poly122: Ill be fixing them

    GALIONROLLERWISCONSINPOWER.jpg

    Here is the Crate again after following the tut mentioned above. I think it may have worked better if right from the start I had the same mentality the tut teaches. It still seems to be fairly similar...

    crate_Final.jpg
  • BenStrasser
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    ur HP roller is looking really nice ! big improvement over those arcades :P
    there is some pinching close to the gear, but that can be easily fixed.

    For those rations objects, you first do a levels adjustment on all the diff maps. Right now it looks a bit too dull. Second, i dont see a strong AO bake or even the normals popping though. u did a great job on the HP models but for some reason ur bake didnt transfer though... and add a few more polys to the grey can, it could use some more rounder edges :)
    i hope this helps :)
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks Hiten,

    Here is another prop started, aiming to have all of them done by the end of the week.

    Pantry_BenStrasser.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    looking good man,
    ur normals have improved alot from the last posting.
    when are u gonna textures this man ?
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks, My normals have improved lol, I was amazed.... Didnt have to mes around too much with it.

    I have to get the group of props I started done by Friday. (thats my goal anyways)

    Working on the textures atm
  • BenStrasser
    Here is where I'm at with the pantry/ cupboard.

    Pantry_BenStrasser-1.jpg

    Here is the updated rations:

    Can_Texture-1.jpg

    Here is the updated crate, made some changes to the normals,

    crate_FInal-1.jpg
  • BenStrasser
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    good start on the texturing dude,
    i would just like to see lots more details on the diff.
    like of this object is used, wear and tear, discolouration. stuff like that
    it helps some much to tell a story in ur diffuse map ! and spec too dude !

    EDIT: great looking HP model !
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks Hiten,

    I can see what you mean, Ill keep going on the other props for now and then do a revisit to each before they are all considered done :)

    Ben
  • BenStrasser
    Here is what I have for the Low poly of the kinetoscope/ projector.

    Kinetoscope_Final.jpg
  • kio
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    kio polycounter lvl 11
    that is actually a nice object you picked there. much more interessting than crates and ammo boxes.

    but there is still room left with your textures, they all look like you stopped half way trough. as most of your stuff is based of real world objects - it shouldnt be that hard to get references which will help you tremendously increasing overall texture quality.

    and watch your poly distribution too :)

    keep on pushing, just put a little more work into it, and you'll get some pretty nice results.
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks Kio :), Ill revisit the textures.
  • BenStrasser
    Just a quick texture overlay,

    TextLay_1.jpg
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    When you bake your normals, make sure to turn all the faces of your lowpoly into one solid smoothing group.
  • BenStrasser
    Hey Everyone,

    Here is the updated projector,

    Kinetoscope_Final_Texture-1.jpg

    Been staring at the textures for a bit now, Any help would be great

    Ben
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    dude.. great HP !!!
    BUT
    ur AO bakes arent any good man :(
    what are u using for ao bakes ? RTT or xnormal ? they really need to improve.
    also i like ur bas colours,
    BUT
    i think u did to play around w/ the values of the colours a bit more - add more punch/contrast
    that way it helps identify each object/element better :)
  • BenStrasser
    Thanks Hiten,

    I know they seem very cruddy..

    Im using RTT, Should I be doing it as a whole object or as single pieces? Any special settings :P?

    Thanks again
    Ben
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    The settings i use with RTT are simple just grab a skylight and turn on light tracer and set the bounce to one and in RTT set it as a Lighting map and you get some really nice AOs!


    Good luck man, looking great!
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    do an explosion method in RTT it should work fine.
    settings:
    skylight ON
    light lister
    active thingy... its in the render tab at the top. the drop down box. first on the list i think..."thingy"
    doucle check ur cage
    hammerly ON
    superstar....thingy ON

    try that...."thingy"
    :)
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Oh yeah Forgot about the super samplers.... :)
  • BenStrasser
    @Alberto and @Hiten, Thanks guys, So should I have all the objects selected and then do the bake (I think this makes sense :S)

    Also Hiten when you say Explosion method what exactly do you mean?

    Ill be sure to try that "thingy"!
  • Mistry10
  • Mistry10
  • BenStrasser
    Awesome, thanks Hiten. Ill try that out first thing!

    Here is where I'm at with the phone very basic...
    Also the wire has yet to be dealt with. Next on the list.

    Also Im going to add some more polys to the head of phone.

    Phone1.jpg
  • Mistry10
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    Mistry10 polycounter lvl 8
    i dont really like what i'm seeing....
    that phone needs more polys all over the place, you did a great job on the HP model
    but this LP isnt cutting it...
    and i dont like is the base textures, instead of jumping to photos use simple solid colours to block out the elements first.
    like of texturing like Chantal's life drawing class.
    main forms = colours
    simple outline = base textures
    muscle details = dirt and stuff...
    i hope that helps...
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