Thursday, 17 November 2011

Task 18, Searchers start your engines!

Whats a game engine? Lets cut the technical jargon and go straight to " Its the empty world containing the information to fill that world. " Or this his how it feels when you open up a Softwear development kit (SDK), something like Unreal or the Elder Scrolls construction set.
Either way, the engine controls all sorts of sweet bits to put into your world. It controls everything from frame rate (to an extent) to particular systems. The game engine once started out as a simple couple lines of code, back in the golden day of pacman and asteroids, it was all that was needed. However games have evolved since than and with every engine, comes a more complex and elaborate code to run it. Many modern engines include 3D real time rendering as is expected with 3D being the front runner for games in this area. The game engine is the program that witll sort all your meshes, lighting, redering, and whatever else will effect the game so the game can be created around it.

I could continue, however Ill explain my own take on the game engine.

The Elder Scrolls construction set was my very first engine I came into contact with Back in 2004, when I got my first copy of The Elder Scrolls, Morrowind (2002), by Bethesda. Now, I was only 13 at the time and had no idea what the hell was going on, but I was heavily interested, the idea of being able to edit the game. However lack of 3d knowledge and softwere knowledge was too much for me, I would always try to work it out, but with no luck.
As a kid I wish I could have done something like that!
However last chrismas I tried using The Elder Scrolls Oblivion construction set and found out it needed 3DsMax 8 models to run, which was a pain.

My second engine which I had come to learn of was the Unity engine.
The unity engine was somethign we were goign to use in the Game art / Game programming. We were going to make a game for this big gaming compition where we would earn some nice money if we had achualy went through with the idea. But thats another story.
The Unity engine was a flash engine capable of web browser based games (something I thought was amazing) and mobile gaming, including playstation 3. Its definatly something to check out, its capable of breakable objects, full 3D rendering, ambient lighting and distance fade. The lot. A very powerful piece of kit.
A little video there showing some capabilities. Whats cool is that it isnt nintendo 3Ds Graphics, more going towards PSP and PS2. But suports normal bump mapping and various other maps.

Unreal engine, or UDK (Unreal Development kit) is one of the most widley used game engines out there. Its free and constantly updated. ( A bit too much for my liking, its not backward compatable after all)
Considering its for three generations under its belt, It would be a good engine.

I want to come back to this post after the queens project, simply because, I dont feel I fully understand UDK and the engine. After I gain a better understanding of the game engine, from practical use I will be able to write my thoughts upon it. Untill than its just regurgitated mess from others accounts.

Unity Engine :
CryEngine 3 :
Whats a game engine? :
Top 10 game engines of our time:
Elements of a game Engine:

Friday, 4 November 2011

Referance Database

I remember back to last year when I was told to make a " Cool shit " folder. And no one could manage to keep those two words together. I think I called mine the " crap " folder. And thats cool, because some of it was shit.
But than I realised all reference is good reference, after that, I started to collect cool and interesting photos from around the internet, and just in general as I go. Along with textures and whatever else.
There are folders within folders within folders.
And since than I've gathered 7GB worth of cool stuff. And I have found myself using them quite often.
Sometimes I'll save an image just so I can do a photostudy of it at a later date. (More than often)
Other times I will use multiple images to make a new image. Or just the silhouette of a woman's shape, hair or face, to make my own image out of it.

Sometimes I just like to save cool motorbikes and stuff.

There are better high quality photos in my database, however, these ones are just funner. I think Ill be collecting these thigns for a long time now. Also there is no Cat folder. As I can just search for anything on the internet to find those.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Task 16 Level Design

Level design and composition are two related subjects, they tie in just like the rest of the game does when you create a level. But composition is a child to the parent of Level design. Lets consider something like the human body. One could call the bones the level design, and the veins the tightening of that design and composition of the level. Without the bone structure in place, the muscles and veins have no where to wrap themselves around and the human form would be a puddle of goop. Quite like a Bad level design.

There are many ways some get around their ideas of level design.
Lets say the Copy Paste Method, which is probably what its actually called, where the level designer desides to literaly, copy one map and paste it in a nother location, or on the next floor of the same location.
Now this isnt a bad thing, there's a little thing called consistency, I mean, every room is usualy different, but in a game no ones going to care too much about two broom cupboards looking the same. Lets have a look at Persona 3!
10 to 25 floors that look exactly the same?! Than just change the textures!!! .
Now dont get me wrong, I love Persona 3, and Persona 4 too as it was also quite pretty. My problem with this game was its computer generated levels. Which to be honest, is cool! Basicaly, one floor is a randomly computer generated map, spliced together from room segments, so you can go back to the same floor you were just on, but it will never be the same map. Now thats a good design when it comes to repeating levels. Its copy paste, but never completely the same. One map is one floor, and you have to go through like 150 or so floors, which is like a billion repeated maps. But every 25 or so floors theres a cool boss, which prevents you from running up further, and you can unlock that level in the elevator. Who designs an elevator where you have to walk to that level first before you can use the elevator to get there? But in terms of a game level, its a pretty cool idea, I liked it, it was like an achievement and made me forget about the endless repetition. And after every boss the level's textures change! So its not a complete bore.
Its a corridor, but its different from the last one.
So when it comes to Persona, I like to consider that they have goods and bads. Yeah, they designed their dungeon to have computer generated maps which could be considered a bit lazy, but they managed to keep it interesting by jazzing things up a bit here and there. So its a mixed bag. You never realy feel lost in this game, but you have to find the stairs in a randomly generated room, which can be forever apart, or right in front of you, which at times makes the game feel easy, or makes the stairs being so close a god send.

Now lets look at a game that will forever be butchered and dragged trough the mud as  the disappointing series, that once was Sega's Mario to Nintendo. Sonic the Hedgehog. Now, back in the days when Sonic was on the Sega genisis, the levels were amazing, a cool fast paced plat former. It was fun, reminded me of setting up marball tracks as a kid, but a bit cooler. Each zone (or map,level) had a good 3-5 unique objects, like springs, loops, or fans, water and all other bits and bobs to keep one from remembering its going from left to right.
It was simple, you run to the right, but go back and forth, avoiding bits and bobs. Their level design was really good for the side scrolling age. Fun stuff, at no point did the game feel, blocky, it was loose. But side scrollers arn't what cause Sega's star child to look like he does. Its their choice to make every sonic game full 3d. The worst to blame is sonic heroes!

What the fuck is going on here? Can I call that a vista?
Sonic Heroes on the other hand decided to just use springs and rails everywhere! And not to mention, you've always going to fall into some stupid bottomless bit. Did you ever fall into a pit in the sega genisis versions, RARELY. This is also down to the bad controls, or lack there of. Often enough It felt like you were being thrown around the level, and you didnt really have to do anything. Its like the deisnger though " More long ass jumps here, lets put 2-no 3 loops here and than put another long jump at the end of all those loops ". This would be cool for a side scrolling game, but when it comes to 3D, is more like this : " What the fuck am I doing, oh god whats going on, I dont know what Im doing, what the fuck how did I die? ". It was all stupidly complicated for no reason at all. One of the many reasons I have never completed that game and never will.

Well, I may have to continue this at a later date. To sum it up:
A well deisgned level can immerse the player into the world. A bad level can take you out of that world, than make you turn off the computer and get on with your life.
The Only way I will play Sonic Heroes again.
Reading List:
Crimes agains level design

Review of sonic, which I dont completely agree with.

" Does anyone care about game designers" - Forum post

Friday, 21 October 2011

Task 15 Visual Composition

Im quite pleased to be doing this task as Its something I've spent a lot of time looking into of recent and Ive found some nice trickery and wizardry on the subject.
Composition is a amazing concept, its the method of how we see things, by cropping them and the arangment of the objects we see, so create something.
Composition can change your picture into anything you want, simply chaning the camera angle can change the whole feel of the image
Lets just delve deep into some different methods of showing an image, and how they effect they way we read it, or can read it. This is best portraid with the same image, from different angles.

Lets have a look at these speedy thumbs, thumbs being the best way to figure out what composition works best for what you are wanting to portray.
What does this image say? They say, two people, in an arena, one is attacking the other and the other is defenseless. What can we do with this visualy?
Birds eye: The birds eye view sort of shows quite a tense moment, the viewer is too far away to rach in and stop the attack, we can use this view, so get an almost a god view. This view also takes detail away from the characters, focusing on the shapes instead of details, the event is the most important thing to be see. In this particular scene, the birds eye view can make you feel nutural towards the scene, like youre floating careless, or youre in thr croud completely exiled from the action.
Worms eye: The worms eye view in comparison, rams the action right up into your face and forces you to see it. You can see this attacker is lundging in, the victim is defencless, dropping their weapon. This view is great for showing dominating power, the attacker is in complete controle, its all about the attacker, and his power. A worms eye is very good for displaying the " looking down ones nose at you " effect. Want your viewer to think your character is higher in the social lader than you? Worms eye is the way to do it.
Being the attacker For a different feel, we can set the camera behind the attacker. What does this do? This lets us be right up behind the atacker, looking right over his sholder. Its close, we can see the action, the motion, whats going to happen and enough detail to make us understand, whos doign what to who with what and how. This could also make us feel that we are a partner of the attacker, or we're just about to reach in and stop the action before this final strike.
Behind the victim This is quite a flip of what I just said, its like we are with the victim, we can see whats happening, whats coming, this sort of battle scene.

Fibonaci Spiral When I was working on my bradgate final, Chris mention a "fibonacci spiral ", this is a cool little trick which can make the viewers eye move towards an area you want, for example, a snail shell, your eye will move towards the point. This works with paintings aswell, you can easily combine multipul objects, to force the viewer to follow particular lines. For the image above, I wanted the viewer to have both the feeling of the calm landscape, to slowly pass over onto the action of this dragon fight, paying attention to the bite of the dragon than the soldier riding them in the center of this show.
Rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is almost a golden rule in photography, and can be used to give you controle over your imagery. It splits the image into a 3x3 grid, it alows you to position areas of rest and intrest in your image. Rest is a very important for the eye, if you have alot of noise, you wont notice any of the noise and youll make visual chaos, good balence will help you to create an image which is easy on the eye. Something that will let one look at your image for longer, without draining them. Simply by cropping the image, so the areas of intrest are in areas where the sections cross, you can make nice areas of rest and intrest. Sticking an image dead center, you will not be able to pay much attention to the whole image, as the main intrest, is dead center, sitting there dull and boring. The goal of this method is to get the viewer to look all over your image, so you get more time from them.

Moving objects need space to move into!

Lets have a look at a picture of a tortois toy I drew. Its a toy, but it could be real enough, like its on sand not paper lets say.
Looking at this, clearly I hadnt thought of rule of thirds. Other than that, it looks very cramped, that tortoise is looks like it wants to go over to the right, but it has no where to do, the picture feels uncomfortable. What does this picture show? That this creature wants to stand there? It ruins the picture. Too much of one subject and no space to rest the eye.

Well doesnt that feel better? That little section of uncropped gives you alot more to look at, gives you space to breath no? A place for the tortoise to move into, it no longer feels cramped. It looks like the thing could move into the space, quite hapily. Space is important, good use of space is key.

There is more I could go onto, like piramid method, combining objects of different hights togehter.
But I want to do other things, like paint and finish a model.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Task 14

Planning And Conception

The beginning stages of a project, not just Game Design but film and other tasks, is one of the most important steps in creating a finalised product. Its hard not to want to jump to the final, as I know all too well in illustration, but its important that correct planning is done before hand, in order to achieve a successful product.

In drawing an illustration, such as has been taught to us by Chris, starts with a set of thumbnails, and than slowly develops into a more detailed image. But there is something before the thumbnails even begins which is the planning. We are set a dead line, much like one would have in any practice, this is what we call the Brief. This brief is basically the planning to our project, we are told, how many thumbnails are needed, how long we have on the project and what it is we are to be creating. This could than be developed into a routine, so if we are given a week to do a full image, we can break the week down into sections and spend 2/7 days on thumbnails and preparation with the remaining 5/7 on the finalised image, or 6 days on preparation and 1 on the final image.  That one segmented day could be broken down further into hours of the day, so planning can go quite indepth, and its very important it does, because its so easy to lose time. One of my greatest guilts is not getting out of bed untill 11am on a weekend, realising half the day has gone. When one realises they do not have enough time to do something, or time has disappeared it is down to poor planning on their part. Or in the case of waking up in the morning, thats more of a will power issue.
With a scheduled and good time management, one can assure that something can be created on time, if nothing goes wrong. Something will always go wrong, but without the schedule the amount of time wasted could double or even triple the length of the project. A efficient schedule wastes no time.
Going back to my metaphor about Visual Deisgn projects. Some students jump straight to the final image and than work backwards. It raises questions, why waste time if you already have the final image? What made them think the image they created was the best outcome they could have created? If they worked backwards and realised a better image from their thumbnails, they would have wasted all the time on a final, to make a better final.

When it comes to concepting, its pictured as a golden goblet, or a prise to the young aspiring artist, however conception is all about selling an idea. Its the packaging before the product is created. To get an idea across in a visuals is far more elaborate than in text. In a concept, you can show a person on any level ( investor, director, 3D modeller, audience, ext.) what you want and what you dont want your project to be. If you create an idea which is not liked, the image is far more editable than words, the image can be tightened and refined to strengthen the idea. How I see it, concept art is to turn a chaotic, nebula of an idea, into a a smaller area, to tighten the idea, so everyone understands it, setting limitations to what it should and should not be. If everyone can see these ideas, its easier to abide by them.

Or at least thats what I think, I dont know, Im a student.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Task 13 and Paranoia in Public

Now officially a Second year I can look upon my last year and say how good or bad it was. I think it was neither, some grey in-between, its either black or white and i was somewhere in the middle. I had a good start to last year.
Over the summer holidays my productivity rose to new hights and my quality of work in 3d and 2d came with it.

Although my work on these projects had to be cut short, I am still pleased with some of the progression made. My first high to low bake and my first 15k character.
The problems I will and already have began to face this year are responsibility and sacrifices that need to be taken into account. At the moment, I have not sacrificed anything in order to spend more time working, over the past year I have gained many friends which I once had not had and am grateful for. However this also cuts down on the time I can work, I would not like to cut the amount of time I spend with them out at all, so I will have to find other enjoyment to cull. This is primarily, reddit, drunkenness, maybe even documentaries. All things I do enjoy, but are not needed. I almost wish I could stow away and work with no other worldly distraction, but than my work would be dull and lifeless as the moons surface.

The start of my new year has not gotten off to a running start, as I was at fast pace during the summer, untill I had to move, upon which my speed as been reduced to a walk. I think I will continue to walk for the next day or so (A littlel earthly pleasure, before I change the definition of pleasure), than begin a race towards my goal.

I also feel Ive become some what more bitter of recent, this is probably due to a lack of interaction with others over the summer, takes a while for me to get back into the people mood.

My goal for this year, to gain an internship, to visit and draw at every coffee shop in Leicester, to push myself.

Paranoid in Public.

Over the years as I draw people out and bout, coffee shops, pubs and clubs. I have noticed a strange almost paranoid feeling from those I draw and at times, I almost feel as if I shouldn't watch others in public, or even see them as I am trying to do through drawing. The feeling from many can almost make the work of drawing seem almost voyeuristic, but not in the sexual sence, its as if these people are in a bubble, in the public world but in a thin bubble of which ones glance is intruding into their world.
Let me explain.
In order for me to draw people in life, as they are, I need to draw them as they live, not as they pose or want to be portrait, but how I see them at the moment. So I will draw publicly and attempt to capture their life through my eyes, which is difficult if they were just sitting still at the very least.
Others do not share this mind set. Its almost as if the public, should be as private as ones own home.

Lets use example.
A few years ago, I decide to draw a family (a mother, father, two daughters and a son). No harm there. I watch them from a distance not to disturb them. One of the daughters notice me watching them and begins to freak out.
Now a freak out is how I describe someone whos actions become extremely agitated, sharp head movements, worried facical expression, whispering, pointing and sudden abrupt leaving... Oh and this is a good one, communication to others at the table with phones. (Parinoid behaviour in my books.)
Suddenly the father decides to talk to me and see what Im doing, which is fine, this isnt about people seeing my work, so I will stop there.
What I am interested in is why that girl freaked out.

Recently, a flatmate told me that her sister had recently felt " creeped out " by a man drawing her in a coffee shop in London not 2 months ago. Interested I bothered her with more questions. It seemed like this man was just drawing. But to her sister, he was " Weird " "creepy ". So the freak out was over appearance and that such a person with such appearance was looking upon her. If the description of the male was " attractive ", "cute" it would be a much different story.
So. Is the the reason for the freak out. No. What runs through the mind of someone who is being watched? " Why is this person looking at me ", " What are they doing ", " What do they want ", " Who are they. " ext.
I question, "Why do they care?".

This person is in a public place, in a world over ran with people. These people spend time and effort, making themselves look presentable, to go out into the public world. Some women take hours to get ready to leave their private domain. Im assuming they get ready and leave so people will see them, among their daily tasks.
So theres a catch 22 or whatever its called. People want to be seen and noticed. But they dont want to be seen or noticed it would seem through the eyes of an artist. But what annoys me, is they spend this time, they want to be seen and noticed, but when someone watches them for more than just a passing glance, they freak out, or begin to question why someone else is looking upon another person. Do they think I should process every characteristic of that person in just a glance, they may be able to do that, but it takes me alot longer. I'd rather be able to see the seams of a persons boot or the earing a person is waring for longer than a millisecond. So my question is why wont people let some appreciate others for simply being alive, it seems alien to me.
In some places in england, if you look at a someone for longer than a glance, they consider it a threat, questioning ones reasons for simply noticing their assistance. Looking at someone for longer than a glance, some consider flirting, and either freak out or flirt.

Ive also recently figured out why people notice you at all. People need constant stimulation. If what they are stimulated by ( a conversation ) becomes uninteresting, they will begin to glance across the room, for other things to stimulate their minds. From watching others, Ive noticed the type of people who will enjoy their companionship so much they will not notice whats going on around them, and those who are pretending to care, but never stop looking for something more interesting than the person sitting next to them. And whats more interesting than someone you know nothing about, looking at you, with a book.
I could conclude it here, people freak out, because they are bored. Ive also noticed, those that get bored talking to others, often have repetitively boring appearances, the blad man with glasses and laptop, the female fasion students, the business students (theyre easy to point out).
Theres much more on this subject, I always muddle it around in my head, so its harder to get out in text.
Lets just say, how I see it is; If a person is in public, they shouldnt feel afraid to be seen. And hell, Ill probably pay more attention to that person more than anyone else in the room/street.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

How Improvement works

I've been drawing alot over the summer, I draw alot anyway, but I've tried to kick it into overdrive, so I achualy know what Im doing, trying to eliminate the guess work and lucky strokes I got in prvious years. But as I try harder to make better pictures Ive realised something. Whenever I make a picture I like, or I think I've improved as a whole, you know, I look at it and think everything seems right, looks cool ext; I than imediatly realise it doesnt look good and I can do better. Maybe Im doomed to never be content with my own drawings. But than I decided to look at my older works and realised theres a space of study that leads to better imagery. DUH! You say, but often the studys are terrible compaired to the better imagery I will achive later on.
So, I finish this picture, which is part of a project to make my ideal RPG caracter. Idea board > Orthos > Illustration > 3D model (working on the 3d now). I was like " Wow it looks great" Than I finished it and thought " It looks boring, it doesnt look like a profesional drawing at all." I know it looks better than my many of my other drawings drawn from imagination. So whats wrong?

Female Knight illustration
It struck me, clearly, it was a gap in knowledge. It has to be, it cant be anything else. But the problem is where and what is that gap?  Theres a huge differance between, making a nicely rendered peice and making a profesional rendered peice. I can render the shit out of anything given the time, doesnt mean it will make it a nice picture. So its the foundations that need work.  Lets have a diagram of brick laying (building a sort of staircase). Because its easy to explain as a metaphor for getting better or drawing.

So you want to build a staircase out of bricks to a certain level. How are you going to go about that?!

 Well, thats not going to happen is it. Its imposable to have brick there. Even if you can jump that high, youre going to fall flat on your face. Without anything to suport it, you cant stay at that level of elevation. Even if that brick can float. I wish it would work that way though. I guess this is what you would call, a talented person, they can jump to the top without putting much work in. The gap is still there however.

Well lets jump to the top and fill the gap!
Thats a great idea! However youll still fall on your face eventualy. Ever played Jenga with just one row of bricks? Theres no suport and once one thing goes everything above it falls aswell. Lets say the top brick is the perfect portrait drawing. The one below is anatomy of the skull,below it is rendering than drawing basic shapes and form. However thers more than that that goes into portrait drawing? Wheres the composition, the lighting? Well lets just put them in ontop of what we already have. But wait that will make the bricks very unstable, also you already drew the portrait in a bad composition and are reworking bad habbits. Oh dear. Also, this is a pretty crappy staircase as you always rasie the bar, meaning you have to jump higher each time you learn something new.

Ill put a bunch on the bottom, than a few above.
Hay that works, you dont have to jump much, and you can store more bricks without it colapsing, beacuse youre not being suported by knowledge of one thing, but two, which is being suported by three. As in, to make a good drawing of a house you need to know How to use your pencil > construction methods> 1 point > 2point > 3point> rendering > lighting > how glass/metal reflects>  ext.  Thats alot to jump without knowing the rest. So if you ever think your drawings are bad. Clearly you're missing a step, or a brick. And its probably somewhere closer to the bottom of your staircase.  The brick at the top is just as easy to place as the brick at the bottom.

So I looked at my own work to try to find the gap. Noticing I draw alot of people. I should draw more enviroments. But its probably something else than that, which is stopping my character drawings, from shining like a pros.

Taking a look at my drawing from 13 months ago. It doesnt look as good as my drawing now. I probably spent the same amount of time on each. In part, it shows how Im jumping, not stepping. However I've stepped up in other areas. The change from 4 months ago to now is noticable.
Also, I wouldnt have been able to draw what i drew now, if I hadnt previously drawn X self portraits, X photo studies and those more than important X Life drawings ( for this drawing, learning drawing metal was the key.). But also, to be able to draw it I had to be able to draw from imagination, and drawing from imagination is what really shows you what you have achualy learnt. Its easy to study, because its there for you to replicate, its hard to learn it and process it away.

So how does improvment work? By building knowledge correctly. Also more importantly. KNOWING WHAT TO LEARN! If you dont know, youll forever be ignorant to it. ...Secondly spending enough time on a picture to learn from it.

I think by the end of my third year, I may just be able to scratch profesional work and thats whats giving me drive.
Also, inspirational words. Seperation of Skill and Talent. Building walls. Treadmills. This has it all.

I also updated my links, with cool perspective tutorials and awesome reads! Check that out!

Monday, 8 August 2011

A thing about machines

(The title of this entry is due to the amount of The Twighlight Zone (1960s) Ive been watching, great stuff. And this post feels like a result of crossing the boarder into said zone. If only I had noticed the sign post up ahead.)

I spent a good 3 hours, maybe 4, drawing away in photoshop today. Not like the usual day, of drawing still lifes and photo studies. Today, I was going to draw from imagination, a head, and construct it and illustrate it, but more importantly, document my progress. And I did, and I was happy. I had my canvas in one panel and the progress in another. Everything was running fine. From sketch > block > colour >ext. Up untill i wanted to edit a little bit of saturation. I saved the original once, but not the progress you see. Its rare, but it happens, photoshop obviously crashed. Now, this would be fine in any other drawing, my originals fine, but I didnt want the original. I needed the progress. The idea was to show my progress and get tips on each part of the progression. I know Im going to get stuff wrong, but I need to know, WHERE and WHEN im getting it wrong, so I can eliminate it at its source. Instead of later on.

This is the last stop in the drawing. I got fed up trying to catch up to the last point. But you know what, I remember saying to myself " haha, I bet Photoshop will crash, like 3ds max does whenever Im on a roll ", but I just laugthed it off. And quite like entering the Twighlight zone, my drawing looks like shit to me.

Mary sugested I go and backtrace my steps on the drawing. To which I replyed:

In other news, I've grown fond of Audio books. I got Mortal engins on audio audio book and listen to it while I work. Finaly I can hear the books ive wanted to read, while continue drawing at the same time, its win win.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Some nice reads

It's always good to share.
So I thought I'd post some good articles that are quite sobering yet inspiring.

Chris Moeller's 5-years-after-art-school

An interview with Feng Zhu

How to become a better artist:

Modern Art and why it hinder's artistic progress in culture and teaching.

Colour theory indepth

Isometric Perspetive drawings. Technical drawings

Elements of Perspetive (Long reading)

Great Listens

 Why you need to fail

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blitz Mock Interview

Finally I get to post, no thanks to blogger being down.

A few days ago there was a Mock interview, upon which John (A 3rd year) was being interviewed for a environment artist job. This wasn't the real deal, but to give us insight on how to go about the interview stage, when we leave university.
This was Blitz's first shot at Mock interviews and hopefully, not their last (I'm hoping for one every two or so years, that would be cool).

What began to appear to me during their interview is what can go easily wrong in the stages of interview and how to avoid them if they arise. Its not just about quality of work (although it is the bulk of the deal.), its also about personality, knowledge of subject and passion of subject.

I some how managed to ask stupid questions and got gun downed for it. How should I have known master bating is the worse thing you could do in an interview? Well now I know. But to be honest, I didn't get a proper response to my questions and a few other didn't either, I guess I need to be clearer in my approach to questioning. That's one of the things that I think I will need to work on, my approach to things and I should defiantly know my shit before asking stupid question.

Would I have been able to pass the interview stage at this point?

The other big deal popping up in my mind is specialization. Ive been hearing this left right and center. Allot of people seem content with what they want to do or become. Where as I have only just started to realize what I want to become, and its probably not much different from what I wanted to be when I started the course. I've tried to get a strong interest into environments, trying hard to get the feel for them, however every time I try, I tend to lean towards characters and props, creatures and what not. Its becoming more and more clear to me that I'm interested in characters and small things, as apposed to environments, maybe because its currently my strongest point. Which means I have to study on my environments anyway.
Its all too confusing.

Well I still have allot to think about and a good amount of time to think about it. So I guess I'll leave it there.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

6 Months on

Shades of Satan, Superman! Its already been 6 months.

Its good, and bad I feel. The course is only 6 months, and Im still in Leicester for another 3. So for the next 3 months I have to teach myself some things, and than over the summer, teach myself some more. I'd much rather be given a ton of briefs, theyre fun, I've been enjoying deadlines.
Happily enough, I met all my deadlines when they were given, sometimes weeks before the deadline, so Im not flopping about like a fish out of water trying to get everything done. Ofcorse I could go back and rework my submitions before final hand in, however theres no point turd polishing and I'd rather do a bunch of studies than finals and instead do finals of things that interest me, things I'd like to stick in a portfolio.

Anyway, have I decided what I would like to be yet? My first post I said I wanted to be a Conceptartist or a Lead Artist, but leaving myself open for change. And to be honest that hasnt changed a bit, I still am not sure what I want. I do however know I enjoy 2D art more than 3D. I do however really enjoy 3D and probably would like it just as much if i did asmuch 3D as I do 2D. So theres my biggest problem.
But now summers here, I get the same feeling I get every summer; " TIME TO DRAW, DRAW, DRAW ", all I want to do right now is draw and get better. It happens every year.

Have I improved over the past 6 months? Well lets take a look at some work from september, 2010.

The first being a Character of the week from Concept Art and the second being a still life from the first day I came here.

And recent work from 2011?

And now My bradgate final and a still life of a cola bottle.

I think I've improved a little bit in the past 6 months. Not enough though, but than again I see themost improvment in my work over the summer. So I really got to whip myself into shape.

What about my 3D work?
Cant bare to post my first model (A stupidly high polly can).

Lets just say I can make stuff now without my brain exploding.

So in total. Only a little improvment, but hey, its alot better than nothing. I've learnt alot and thats showing in my work. Just need to get rid of bagage and relearn everything again and again. Eitherway, my work load has spiked, so that must be a good thing.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The Help Clinic

A small review of my thaughts on the "clinic" we set up today.
I spoke to mike on facebook a while back, telling him that the amount of people asking for crit and tutorials has risen sharply since assessment. Usualy with comments like " I need to learn this otherwise I will fail the course.". So Mike sugested we set up a tutorial session, for some reason we called it a "clinic" as we couldnt find a better name.

Anyway, the idea was that we would ask what people were stuggeling with and get people who know how to do it to explain it.
Mike would handle 3D, going over smoothing groups, typology, unwrappping, and uv efficiancy.
I would give tips on photoshop and a over view on perspective, ramble on about crap ext.
And Alexander would give us some tips on drawing and modeling in sculpy/cley.
Oh and at the end Inez gave us a view of how she unwarped her character and painted her difuse textures.

We got a relitivly decent tern out. The biggest problem was I was relying on Thomas Krikham's laptop (which has 3dsMax and Photoshop on it with tablet), which he said he would supply. This seemed like a really good idea to me as this would force him to come to the event, esspecialy as he seems to need alot of help on a wide range of subjects. He seemd very enthusiastic about it. However he went home on Wednesday and wont be back untill next Monday. This however was not told to me, dispite me living in the same dorm rooms. Anyway, this pit fall, ment we spent the most of the morning, downloading 3DsMax. Great.

While we waited I gave a quick tutorial on how to draw bricks in perspective. Which wasnt so bad, I think people understood me that is. Kept it simple. Although because the tablet driver wasnt installed properly, i couldnt do some decent rendering of the bricks.

I learned a couple bits and bobs from Mike and found some nice new buttons to take advantage of in 3DsMax. I think how things are smoothed together was the most helpful for me at the moment.

After lunch, I think I spent an hour and a half talking about how to render in photoshop, the difference between layer masks, loading custom brushes, making them, how i worked on a still life (techkoma) and briefly about drawing metal and glass. I was really tired by the end so my explanation was bland and my example was of poorest quality. I pretty much said " Glass and metal reflects everything around it, so youre drawing a bent reflection " orsomething like that and if they wanted to know how to paint metal and glass to simply set up a still life and paint it. Its the only way I understood it after all. Me winged unreferanced metal poll was ofcorse, crap.

I think I saw a few people taking notes in places, so hopefully, it was worth it for them. I dont mind spending my time for people who show up at all. Just think that I bored them a bit.
Not to mention, the experiance was good for me talking infront of people, although I was sure I would get some confrentation when I said that there was no perspecitve in nature, its quite a bold statement, even if it is true.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Task 12. The review! Boy this is a long review...

A review of my year. Even though I dont count 6 months as a year. Its no where close to a year. And theres my first complaint, I wish my damn loan paied for 12 months of education, and not 6. Okay, maybe 11 months, I'd like a holiday.

Before I start reminising and what not. Im going to review some things that have been on my mind of recent.

First off, for next year this is. Why does only half the room have UDK installed on the computers? Seems pretty stupid to me, surely each computer should have it installed and ready to be used. This was quite a problem when I was merrily working away, untill I was asked to move because my computer was the only one with UDK on it by a second year. Admitedly, its fair enough that I should move as Im not using UDK. But I dont see why all computers would have it. (This is from what ive been hearing from all the second years this is, may have changed, who knows.)

I've been told by Heather,Mike,Chris that one should avoide zbrush as all students produce shit without understanding the basics. Thisaside. My problems not with the use (Seems good for high to low polly bakes.)its with the program itself.
Why are we not using Autodesk Mudbox? Its the same company as 3DSmax and the students can get a free licancy for 3 years. Are we paying for zbrush? Because i think Mudbox is the way to go, its simpler to use, reading up on some job descriptions at RockStar, 3DsMax and Mudbox seemed to be requests.
Same goes for the first point, its not on every computer. A bit odd.

First year gibber now.

Over crowding is a big issue. About 50 first years, and only 40 computers? How is that going to work? If there are 30 second years next year, and another 50 first years, how the hell am I going to use a computer every day?! Sure alot of the first years now dont come in throughout the week, but its still cramped for space in the labs. Not to mention life drawing!!
Life drawing was one of the main things that attracted me to this course. Ive complained about it alot, sometimes quite pationatly to the wrong people. But I still think its a fundimental practice, If I went to a university without life drawing, I would have gladly paied for it. To be able to get life drawing twise a week (tuesday and friday) is the best for me. (Even though, its mostly Tom who has limited poses. Differnt body types would be nice.) I dont see why more people come to the friday session. I really hope its on next year aswell.
Anyway, overcrowding in life drawing was STUPID, majorly stupid. Half the time I wasnt even able to see Tom when he lays down. And just about every drawing, there would be some guys big arse fucking head in the way. No really, when youre tryingto draw someone far away, and you got someone infront of them, the perspective makes their heads look fucking huge, its annoying. I dont want to have to imagine the arm being there. For the next years first years, if anyone has an afro, I bet they will be popular.
Other than that, the drawing studio has these two stupidly large pillars, apparently they are smaller, just fitters came in and put large blocks around them.
On the plus side.. The sink has been fitted! Perhaps it would be a good idea to get rid of the carpet in that room also. Maybe just the section where the students are, but keep the carpet for the model? I dont know.

Some key features of the course?
The whole course is pretty much independant. Its a "You learn yourself, youre just guided to learning yourself". Simply, its the best way to learn I feel, when it comes to 2D. 3D, I need some guidance, there are many things I dont know about and its all new and cool. But Im learning myself. And activly searching for new things. I wouldnt have joined the Games Society, some game MODs, Dominance war, I probably wouldnt have got tickets for EuroGamer, ext... I've learned alot. I think it shows in my work, I could have learned more, I just needed to look more.

I've learned more about the industry I want to work in, more about what Im realisticly going to produce. I know its not going to be easy and im glad I know that. It only makes me want to produce higher quality work, although at the moment, Its more about learning the skills.The summer Im going to refine them a bit, or atleast try.

The connections, I think this is quite important, the lecutres from Blitz and codemasters has really broken the barrier I had. This barried was a mental thing, which stoped me realising that these artsist are just people. Just like me, only where I want to be, I should activly seek out adivce from them because when they were where I am, they would have seeked out adivce from people who are where they are now. It makes things a little more real, I feel far more confident about my work and showing it to others. I dont even think I can fail when it comes to making a piece anymore, I dont see something that looks bad, I see something that isnt finished yet or needs to be fixed. Also, speaking with those in the industry has reinforced what Ive been told by the tutors. As Ive said, it makes things more real, I can relate. Good stuff.

Stuff ive realised about myself..
I've come to realise who I perfer as my company. Who I like to be around and who i'd like to work with. The only people who I feel I enjoy working with is those who are pationate about their work, the course and the industry. I almost hate anyone whos on the course and treats it as a joke, or doesnt try as much as they should. I mean, its all well and good people have different learning speeds. But 6 months and they havnt leanerd perspective, or modeling or how to write a stupid blog? Its obviouse theyre not doing the work, they have the will but they just dont care it seems. There are tutorials on the VLE, there are 2nd years in the labs who know their shit, Heather and Chris even show us how to do something. Sure sometimes I miss a little grain that can be quite important. But trial and error has solved every problem so far.
And now people are stressing because they dont know how to do the basics, or google their problem with " Tutorial " on the end.
As Hogarth said in Iron Giant.

"-I'm challenged to hold on to my lunch money because of all the big mooses who wanna pound me, 'cause they think I'm a shrimpy dork who thinks he's smarter than them! But I don't think I'm smarter, I just do the stupid homework! If everyone else JUST DID THE STUPID HOMEWORK, they could move up a grade and get pounded, too! Is there anymore coffee?"

Putting it into simple terms. Im pasionate about where Im going and I dont have time for people who THINK they want to go in the same direction. Its not like the work is too difficult for a university student. I could not care less for the lazy. If a few lazy people DONT get kicked off of the course, it would undermind every person who cared enough to put the work in. I would instantly think the first lecture about this not being a Micky Mouse course was a lie. But I'm fairly confident the lazy will be axed. Or, fed to the pigs. Looking at the second years queen projects, I dont want a single lazy bastard on my team next year dragging my level down!

My interest into other artists and art themes has definatly become deeper. I would usualy only admire the artwork, but now my net has become alot wider, I know what appeals to me more but Im also looking elsewhere for inspiration. Not to mention real life. Also, I've been buying alot more art books. Awesome stuff to read.

Well Im tired and should go to bed, theres so much I could write about this year. However, I need to wake up to go to Bradgate Park to draw tomorrow... And thats in 6 hours. Grate.

Also, I keep forgetting to give back the tablet pens i rent out from Tim, I always seem to get pen #1. It'd be easier if I could just rent it out from monday untill firday.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

South Gent Studios and Emailing other artists

I got in contact with Beau, one of the people I worked with in 2009-2010, yesterday having a chat about how his project is going and if there are any other projects coming up.

The gentlemen has been in production a good while now. Started working in 2009, as ive said. When it comes to management, I was told they learned from their mistakes when making this game, as it was their first. I remember making about £3-£10 making various sheets like this:

I made tons of them over the summer, way over the hundreds. My work flow was brutal, but I was having so much fun making them. I remember not having to design concepts. The breif was pretty much " Make what ever you want, but like a 2D puppet". I even had to go back a year later and redraw their main character, and all the armors and weapons I had previously drawn. It was good because I was getting the first sort of pinch or reality. Id give my work in, get feed back, get my work back, work on it, give it back and eventualy get paied for it. When It came to monsters it was a little bit more relaxed. I think what they did was get me to produce a ton and than just cherry pick. Seems understandable.

Anyway, I asked about future projects and I was told that he would deffinatly use me for the next project. Hell, I am pretty cheep. I kind of whored myself saying I'll do any artwork again, it is a 2D game once more, more in the Zelda/ Alundra style. So im goign to have to up my game. I was than told about their current concept artist.
I've had no real contact with the others who have worked on that project, so I thought I would drop him an email and ask him what he thought of my portfolio so far, his experiance of the games industry and so on. As we've worked on a similar project and hes had more experiance, I thought it was a good idea. To be honest I think it was. I got some decent feedback.

Hi Tristan,

Thanks for taking your time to write me. I looked at your portfolio and your paintings are quite nice!
I can offer a few suggestions to improve upon. I think you need to keep in mind the reflected light cast by the sky or anything behind the object. For example in Nonobot, you already have the sense to use the blue of the sky as reflected light but I think you can push it more to turn the object a lil more. Another thing is texture in your paintings. the smoke/dust should have some texture so should the rocky cliffs. Last thing that would help any artist, including myself, is more research and reference. The man in the beetle inspired armor is a cool idea, but I think it falls a bit short because the beetle armor just looks kind of made up... For example, painting something like a door knob. Everyone thinks they know what a doorknob looks like, but without actual reference, you miss the details and lines that make the object so recognizable.

Oh one more thing is to work on your rendering of human skin... something I am horrible at, so I have no position to critize, but Im just saying this because I know its one of the hardest things to paint. Try to layer your colors for skin instead of just using a flesh tone and adding shadows/highlights. What I mean by layer is try to think about the skin translucency on diff parts of the body. The nose, cheeks, fingertips should have a red undertone. A male's face around the facial hair area should have a green undertone, even if shaved, there are bits of hair underneath the skin. The elbows and knuckles and knees should be a bit darker. etc.

Sorry if i wrote alot on what i think to improve on. Its easier to see what to improve on when the artwork is already good, so bits that are missing stick out. Meaning i think your artwork is good : )

As far as freelance goes, keep promoting yourself, right now you are first year, Id say concentrate on improving your craft for the next 2 years and dont worry about anything else. Build your portfolio in junior/senior year and also seek internships and networking. You should aim to finish your schoolwork 3months before grad, and use those 3 months to promote yourself like crazy... whoring yourself almost. Send out promos to potential clients, enter contests, books, submit your stuff to magazine showcase, attend conventions etc etc. Promotion goes a long way. and of course a proper website will right away make you look more like a pro.

Good luck!


James Ng
Freelance Concept Artist & Illustrator

I emailed him back saying thank's and Ill drop him an email again in my 3rd year. Either way. Handing my work to someone with more experiance, whos currently working freelance was a bit daunting, but now I've done it I feel alot more confidant I can do it again.
Ofcorse, first I need to improve my skills and make some stuning work.
He's right about me focusing on my work, but a little promotion here and there will help me in the long run I feel.
The goal for my summer is not to play games, but to make some top notch work for my portfolio.
Im going to whore my portfolio at EuroGamer.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Task 11

Enviroments in games.

Level designers have a pretty interesting role when it comes to constructing their level map. Firstly, they must know what they need to make. Usualy, its something we all are femiliar with, say a Childrens play ground. The level designer must know as much about this Childrens play ground as possable. What country its in, whats the state of the city it is in, the playgrounds surroundings. This should all be quite obviouse and understandable with a limited amount of common sence. Secondly, I think the Genre of game is necacary. Why isnt it neccacary first? Well, in the real world everything is nutural, nothing is really scary or not when you remove all context, the genre is adding the context. What's going to happen here? What has happened here? How would this area be used in this genre? These are all the questions the enviroment artist has to ponder about before setting off on construction. After knowing what to make and what theme to make it, they would than set off for referance material. Something like a Childrens Play ground would be fairly easy to find in suburban areas, locations like a burried tomb in the hill side of China, would be near to imposable to physicaly go to for referance. For the more ambitious locations, referance must be gathered from else where, anywhere that is of relevance in some way or another. A good understanting of location is critical, how can someone make a laboratory if they had never seen one in person? Or just watch an eppisode of Dexter's Laboratory it and exspect someone who works in a lab all day to belive it as a realistic lab?
Getting out there and seeing these places is far better than any google search. A good level designer knows that if you try to put black cabs and a big red london bus to replace the taxis and buses of New York, people will not be convinced by the level. It would be interesting, but people would not belive your black and red New York, to be New York.

Did you notice the differance between all three? The last two work, the top and bottom dont give asmuch atmosphere as the middle, does it?

As I've said before, all enviroments are nutural untill a context is added to it. Some people are afraid of the dentist, removing all the dentist related posters and the fish tank from the dentist's reception and you have yourself a basic reception space. By doing that, one removes the references, changing the way the player reacts to the enviroment and the enviroment becomes nutural, just a space. The details are where the atmosphere is, the more details, the more atmosphere and the more atmosphere the more the player can feel immersed in the game they are playing. Im not saying sticking a ton of details into a police chiefs office will make the office more beliveable. Sometimes just a few will work, simply by taking your average bog standard office with some blind folds and sticking " Chief of Police " on the door and a " Chief of Police " plaque on the desk, you can achive the same effects you would get if you stuffed the place with references from every fucking cop tv show youve ever seen. Hell it'd probably look better.

Getting good references is important. Which one of these two images would you trust more as a reference?

The original or the remake of someone elses twist on the original? Reference of a reference from a what now? Hell, Level design is mean stuff.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The rush of getting things done in time. + Tattoo Convention

Assessment is quite literally, tomorrow. All I hear from people is " Ill have this finished by.. " " Im working on.. " " Ill get all the blogs done next week. ". I see nothing wrong in being a little behind. Hay I've been a little behind on bits and bloggs. It all comes down to how one manages their own time. As a student, most of us (and me) are terrible at it. The biggest problem with trying to catch a deadline is the work is rushed and far from the quality necessary. Sound familiar? The same shit happens in the game industry, i've learnt. Its generally the same, but just a taste, were not being paid and we dont have a thousand people asking us to finish it for whenever.

My biggest peeve at the moment is the deadline being treated like some kind of pole vault. Like, the closer they get to the deadline when they finish their work is some kind of achievement. I cant stand the smug act when they finish it. " I managed to finish this week project in less than a day " as if its some kind of achievement. I guess Im just bitching, but it is damned annoying. I dont care that they finished their work next to a deadline, they should have finished it ages ago. Its annoying how it somehow seems more praisable than having something finished on time. " Oh wow I just finished this and the deadlines tomorrow Im so happy " compared to " Oh wow I finished that the week it was set. I was so happy. ", just sounds odd, no? I am complaining yesh. But I dont see why anyone should care, do they exspect me to lean over and say " Hay, you did this so close to the deadline and spent far less time on it than I did on mine when I had the time, it suddenly makes your image a million times better. ".

This may seem like im slagging alot of people off.
But really, I think anyone in the games industry would be pissed off if this pole vaulting deadlines happened in their company. Than the artist (or whatever) had the nerve to say that they had started and finished their project in a just a day before hand in when they had a week to do it in., expecting some kind of cookie for being so great. I dont think they would give a rat's arse. So why should I here?
Im probably still going to just say " yeah thats great " to whoever decides to be a smug shoe about it.

More like 50 artists, there was only 25 stands.

Also I checked out a tattoo convention yesterday. I cant get tattoos or piercings due to a medical condition. Well, my doctor says I shouldnt in case of blood infection. So me going there wasnt quite worth the £8 entrance fee as the only point of going there was if you were getting a tattoo. I however got the chance to look through a bunch of tattoo artist's portfolios and take a gander at their illustrations.
Among all artists I noticed a familiar trend in illustrations, you would have:
1) The Japanese Koi fish. The first time I saw this I was impressed, the scales looked like fun to draw and sometimes their paintings and colours were interesting. (I asume this tattoo is for women who want to have a splash of oriental mystery about them. As this is a western country, not to be racist or anything. But Westerners do like the eastern style, just as the Eastern likes the Western.) I also asume this is guided to Females. Girls like fish, right?

2) Skulls. How many variations of the human skull can you have? Well go to a tattoo convention and look through 25 artists portfolios and you will find out. Representing death, its stupidly cliche, so I can see how its best to try to edit it to make it interesting. Someone getting one of these would probably think " This will show people that I'm not a regular person, Im on the bad side mother fucker. ". This seems to be a genderless tattoo, stick skulls on anything and itll work.

3) Women (Naked, sexual, or just general female). This is obviously for wierd pervy men that want to prove to others that they are wierd pervy men.

Yeah there were exceptions to these. But few, and every artist had these. And when I looked at it, I thought the same about the game industry and my portfolio. Its packed with the same clichee bull shit, clogged more like it.
But the artist are giving the people exactlyy what they want. Koi, Skulls and tits. Isnt that the same as the game industry giving everyone guns, swords and tits? But also stangely enough I didnt see anyone getting any of those tattoos on the day. Instead they were getting what they requested. Interesting I though.

Not to mention alot of the tattoo artists work was DeviantArtt material, shit. Every now and again you'd get a good one.I really should have taken photos, but I felt kind of intimidated.

I think I should take a good look at my portfolio, edit it, and than go to some conventions, maybe that are more suited to my industry of choice.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Task 10

When I think of characters, indepth, I think more about personality than clothing and weapons. The character seems to be, to me, how the sound, walk and react to things. Clothing is a small part of their personality, it can tell you what they like or how practical they are. Besides, things like clothing dont come to mind when you read a non-illustrated book. The most recent book I've read being Moby Dick. This book and most have a different way of approaching a character to a movie or a game, the reader has to imagine the character, which I think makes you feel for the character more, as the character is partialy your own mental creation, instead of a visual responce. In Moby Dick, the main character is described very little, the first line being " Call me Ishmael", is just about all the description of the main character. All other description him is through the text and his descriptions of the world around him. It gives no indication of what he looks like, but shows us how the character thinks.

The character descriptions of Queequeg are more than interesting, although different people would interperate him in different ways, he's described in such a way that gives him his unique character, I havnt read another book that seemed similar to the descriptions. The way he talks, is written as if hes speaking in broken english, it gives him part of his chracter, the feeling you would get from him would be far different if he couldnt speak, or was translated into perfect english. Because he can some what speak the language, shows us that hes forign but intellient, even though being described as a canibal. For books, characters are totaly dependant on script and the appearance is up to the reader.

However a book is far different from games. The character has to visualy describe the personality of the character. If the character doesnt speak much through the game you wouldnt feel as attached to the character, so the text is quite important. Lets look at Professor Layton!

Good spot of tea there Luke!
What appeals to me more than the game in professor layton, is the main characters! A simple puzzel game, but these characters have such a charm to them, the personality is in the text. But also in the voice acting. You can tell where these two come from, Professor Layton and Luke, because of their typical english accent. Not to mention that theyre often set in traditional english settings, drink tea, ride trains and solve mysteries like Sherlock Holms and Watson (Another good book which has good character description. It would have been better to compair the Book Sherlock Holms to Professor Layton. But I havnt read it since I was 17 or something.).
The visual styles of the game gives off that desaturated, smoggy english look, especialy in the towns. The style goes back to the victorian, industrial Britan scene, this is reflected to Luke, by his shorts and cap, which makes you think of a victorian chimney sweeper. Even by the use of Laytons hat, makes to think of them Old times. They're innocent and cheerful faces are reinforced by their surroundings and dialog.
To be honest, with out the characters in this game, it would just be a bunch of mindless mini-games which would seem to serve no purpose. The characters keep the story moving and keep the mini games fun.

Characters in this day and age are important in games, well most games. Even Pac Man has a sort of character to him. Hes a greedy bastard haunted by manafestations of his own Gluttony, Greed, Wrath and Pride.
This game seemed so innocent untill I realised the truth.

Maybe I went off on a tangent. I do that.