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.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Critical Studies and The social interatction of the first years.

I've been thinking about my critical studies group a bit. Talked it over with a few other students.

The wierd thing is, I talk to just about everyone in my critical studies group indepenantly. Admitedly some are less talkative than others, thats fine. But when we're in a group, with a tutor asking questions, there is always an odd silence. I dont see why. Maybe theyre intimidated by Mike? Or maybe the feel that If they are wrong they will be scolded, or seem stupid, or unfit for the course? Or maybe Im completely wrong and they are just about to awnser or theyre thinking about the awnser?

I always try to break the silence, even if I dont know the awnser (More than often I'll have a sketchy idea of the awnser, but not be correct.). I dont have much fear of being wrong. I'll gladly give a wrong awnser if it gives someone the chance to give the right one. But the question is why dont they awnser if they knew the correct awnser? There are other problems to be giving the wrong awnser, I can easily do it to every question given and not feel embarresed. There are an infinate number of wrong awnsers to correct, with those odds its understandable. But if I do, It would seem like I know nothing. It would also seem like that if I gave no awnser at all. So perhaps Im losing nothing by awnsering. If I awnsered to every question, I would imagine everyone would be annoyed with me for tryin to awnser. So why dont they awnser more confidently if they know the awnser? If a nucular misslie was about to launch and they knew the code to deactivate it, would they wait untill someone punches in the wrong code before pausing and entering the correct one? Probably not, but I'd like to see that.

There's nothing wrong with being wrong, I feel. It just shows that theres something you dont know.The more you know, the more you know you dont know.
Which is a pain in the ass, because Im seriously forgetfull and have to relearn everything I forgot a day or two ago.
Sure, maybe I'd give the correct awnsers if I read more and watched more and thought more. Somehow doing this stresses me out alot more than just doing the work. The good thing about critical studies is that I think about these things more. Even though Im still confused about most things.

My year seems to not be a very social year, we've made no social events even though there have been many birthdays been and gone. We seem to have fallen into small groups, very small groups. I'd rather not be in any group, although I feel as if I have fallen into one. I would like to do some large drawing events with the others on the course in my year, but I dont think anyone would care. Such as, the third years offered an event where they would do some drawing, a "Sketch-off" was planned at a pub.
Only 3 first years (including me) showed up. And even than, only I drew. (With the exception of some second years.) I didnt see a single third year with a sketchbook. I saw them with drinks, quite happily talking to eachother in a large group. Even though they didnt set out to what they had wanted. (A sketch off) They were still talking away to each other. Something the first years have never achived. Considering there is a chance I could work with any one of these people in the future, I would like to know and talk to them. I try to get people on board with what Im doing every now and again by word of mouth. But more than often they're simply not interested, or they say they are and than show no further interest, ask no questions or not tern up; now I've simply stoped asking. This wasnt to everyone ofcorse, so maybe I should start asking again, but a broader range of people. Hell, I probably seem like a wierdo to all of them, but if you dont ask you will never know. And not asking is worse than asking and being let down.

Not to mention the blogs, I feel like a moron for not writing more. I was never one to write. Maybe I need some sort of structure to my week, I still feel quite disorganised.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Task 9

Art direction in games is a critical stage in the production of game play, in today's market more than ever. Its the art directors job to ensure that all the in-game assets and artwork are made on time and are made to fit together in the game. The main idea is that the art director keeps up the consistent feel of the game and follows the theme, making sure other artists dont stray to far from it. The work along side the Project manager to set up briefs and task updates, making sure that the feedback is constantly being passed to the other sections of the game team in the pipeline.
The Art Director will also estimate the triangle count of each asset and how long the artist has to create the asset. This is to make sure that everything runs smoothly, the game cant be made if some assets are not made on schedule. If any major assets were delayed, this would have a ripple effect down the pipeline which would slow production as other artists try to find other work to do while they wait for the asset they wer supposed to be doing originally, or they wont do any work at all until they get it. It would seem Art direction is a creative role, however its more of a guide than the artist, the creativity seems to be channeled to the artists lower down the chain. That seems to be the role of the Art Director, to ensure that the art is tailored to fit the game and for it to be on schedule.

What's required to be a art director would seem to be vision and leadership skills. The lead artist would have to be able to pass his ideas onto others clearly and directly to get the results needed which would involve allot of mentoring to the artists. The Ard director would need to be a natural leader type, if the artists dont look up to the art director, they would believe that his feedback of their work is not correct, there needs to be this ladder making the artists look up the art director. The must be clear and precise about what they are saying in order to get their vision across to the artist, this position is not for the timid. Looking at the amount of people under you and the amount of work required, being shy about an idea could cause some serious problems down the pipeline if a problem is no corrected.

Looking through some job specifications, traditional skills is a must. Not only that they must have risen through the ranks by at least having 4 to 5 years experience in the gaming industry. This makes sense, if the art director was some random character who had no background in games, how could he direct artists? The art director must at some stage be an artist them self, this way they would know what is needed of a good Art Director, they would know first hand what is good management and what is bad.

What would I need to become an art director? Experience and knowledge of the industry. Simply, I can say at the moment my experience is little and my knowledge is sketchy. At the moment I can easily say I dont have the skills required. The real question is do I have what it takes to be an artist and the will to become an art director? It seems like allot of pressure.