Monday, 5 May 2014

Final Major Project

My project was about Genghis Khan's early life before he became Khan. I really wanted to portray a scene from the book by Conn Igguldens, Wolf of the Plains, because of how captivating and in depth the book is. I knew it would have a lot of resources for me to describe and the characters are very visual which gave me room to play around.
My project was to describe a scene from the book and I chose an early chapter as the book ranges from Genghis' father before he's born up to middle age. I  chose this chapter because I thought it could be portrayed well visually. The scene is about Temujin's capture by Toelui.  He has been tortured at the camp site before being taken away. I tried to show this through the characters and environment. The environment , by leading you into the camp site with clues as to the narrative, and the characters through their visual style and pose. For example, Temujins face clearly shows that he's been beaten and is held in captivity. This helped massively in giving my project depth and diversity. 

One of the main things I wanted was to have a large range of characters. In the book there are several characters I could choose from . I may, in the future ,find time to redesign some or further my project but I chose Temujin for the mean time. Temujin is the main character and I elected Toelui because he's described very differently. Toelui provided a very different scope for designing  which keeps the project diverse. The reason I opted for the Mongolian horse was because as I have progressed as a 3d artist I have always wanted to do a project where a animal could be a focus.  Mongolian horses look very different to the English everyday horses we are used to. I think it makes my project intriguing. The chapter in the book enthralled me as I've also always wanted to try out doing a winter environment with falling snow and powder on the ground. I think it is more provocative than bare mountains. 

For my fmp I really wanted to push myself with the workload. I chose to take on a lot and aimmed to get a great deal done. So I had to work at a fast pace, for myself, but I think it paid off. I gave myself a month for each part of the project which I then split into three .Then I made sure I had enough polishing time to bring it all together. A month per character which was not too bad, month for the horse and level. In hindsight I would of allotted more time because i didn't think the horse would take as long as i did. 

This project was one of the first times I've incorporated a sculpting software, like zbursh, into my character workflow. I underestimated how time consuming sculpting can be. Working on the first character in my project, Toelui, I ran two weeks over the time I had originally allotted my self. I opted to work Toeluis' character along side Temujins when I ran overtime. This was to make sure i didn't run out of time and have to cut my workload down.  After I completed my first character I managed to finetune my workflow of building and sculpting. As I handled the  back and forth flow through software I got  a lot quicker. This helped me to catch up for Temujin and my horse. Overall I am happy with my time management. I focused on using the "should", "could", "would" system to keep my project on track.

 I chose to use udk , 3ds max and Zbrush for the main bulk of my workload. This was because, apart from Zbrush, I was very confident with going back and forth between these softwares. With setting my sights quite high for this project I didn't think I would have the time to learn a new software like mudbox cry engine. I didn't come across many hiccups with the programs that set me back, very luckily and I manged to keep on track for the most part. The only real issue I had were in my level tweaking, towards the end of the project, trying to get the shadows working functionally with skeletal meshes and terrain maps.

I think the most successful part of my project is my second character Temujin. It was a more efficient character, model texture and design, because I was already in the full swing of the fmp. I think he's an interesting character because of how damaged he is, which I don't see a lot in 3d models. The amount of bruising and swelling brings another dimension to the character, which I don't think Toelui has. 
I am also very pleased with feel of my level and the atmosphere.  I put a lot of time working on the lighting and mood with use of particle effects which I haven't touched before. Which brings a lot of life to the level. I  think it is quite important ,because its not a big level and not heavily populated with assets. Having them interactive, like animated characters, I found helped fill out the level.

The part of my project that I think I could of improved, with more time, is mainly my horse. I should of realistically given myself a month. I should have viewed it as another character, rather then a two week project. With rigging, I think I found it harder to portray. Due to how different they look from normal horses. I tried to find a balance between what the viewer would be used to seeing and what was authentic. In the early stages of sculpting I took a lot of editing to try get it look realistic. With the time barrier I gave myself I didn't get to bring out as many of the different materials in the textures as I would of liked. This was one of the main reasons I chose the horse. The range of textures,  fur, the leather fabric and metal guards could have done with more time to tweak. Overall I am happy with the result. It helped spread out my level, having an animated horse a little further away from camp tied up, to break up some of the Forrest.

 Toelui, over the course of the project, was, I think the part I had to rework the most. The sculpt, the style and the Armour. However I am satisfied how he looks in the game, in particular with the way the  light bounces off his Armour.
I think my problem at the beginning of working on this character, was trying to be too subtle.
I did not make him big enough or fat enough. I think once I brought Temujin up to a similar level, I could compare them. I worked on them together and became a lot happier with changes. He is meant to look very powerful and terrorizing next to Temujin.  I think I manged this successfully ,with a heavy set body, bald head and blood shot eyes. These gave him a bullying aura which is intimidating.

Over the course of this project I've had to learn a lot of new techniques. This has been interesting and challenging. It stopped the project from getting too repetitive. For example. I used the cad animation system for my horse which I found easier than manipulating a biped structure. I found quicker tools to enhance my workflow, like the terrain brush, to build parts of my environment .These worked well and didn't take away too much time especially since my project revolves around my characters and not my level.

 If I had more time for this project, I would of liked to expand the environment, to put more time into expressing the narrative of my project through that.  I would of also liked to of made my characters more interactive. Maybe to of introduced my level with a cut scene of Temujin being captured and maybe another character. However, I realize that's quite ambitious. I  think my project has been successful because I manged to achieve everything I originally intended. I brought more scope to my project than  thought I had time for with the interactivity. I enjoyed trying to display the narrative of my project, having an underlining theme and having clues like the little things that make the project more enjoyable. I think I've learnt quite a lot from working on a project for this amount of time. If i were to do it again, I would be more organised and break up the project more. Rather than do a big chunk of animating or sculpting I would do bits throughout the project. Over this long a time, projects can become preemptive but I think I've got my work to the standard I wanted to achive and finsihed the project happily and not rushed of panicked.

Final Changes

last look at my level and my characters really wasn't catching the light very well and i couldn't figure out why they dull next to my static mesh of temujin, who is catching lots of lights so i looked into the skeletal meshes and as always it was just a tick box that I'd missed which really helped make the characters pop in level because they were looking like props rather than the center pieces.
for my flythrough's i dropped in some more lights and doubled the particle effects to make my level more dynamic for the video footage and to get some high quality screenshots.



character turnarounds

level fly-through

Friday, 2 May 2014

final polish and starting/fly through

the final week of my fmp project has come the main things i need to do this week is generally just finish everything of all the little tweaks i need to for my final level. the main thing i want to put my attention to this week is my presentation so my fly through and screenshots. and really good video show reel of my project.
I decided to go back to my character animation and just polish them all up and make sure they all loop well and no glitches so the viewer isn't snapped back to reality when they play through my level. especially toelui animation because hes seated right by the fire and is a big vocal point in the level so i wanted to go for a very simple just warming his hand by the flame and shivering every now and again to bring some life to him.
I decided to add a flicker to fire to bounce of the characters which i found helped a lot . I worked on the mood and fire light color more because i dint think it was as real as i could get it but with it flickering and changing the color around it made a big difference. 
with my finishing touches i need to make some big decision what looks good and what needs to stay after some feedback i found that dead horse is to distracting from my project and and is hard to understand unless you know the narrative of my project which not all viewers will.
Starting of in a dark forest was confusing for some players and i found through testing people dint always walk into the right direction so add more of a path i made some torches to guide the viewer to the center of my level.

 Posed turnstiles 
For my presentation i wanted some good turnarounds of my models from different angles and views like wire view and ambient occlusion maps.

I decided to use premier pro to put together my video footage and try and come up with a professional looking product for my final piece and for my portfolio.
I found it a quite easy way to just import my footege in and peice together easily with a soundtrack.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

setting up my final hero assets with turnstiles my plan is to have four turnstiles one per main assets posed and then of them all together posed with a kind of museum feel with posted sign with small descriptions. 

 after some feedback on my turnstiles it was pointed out that there far to big and not bringing enough attention to my models so shrinking them Will make the models pop out allot further i would like to have some animations maybe some walk sequences on my turnstiles, but is not my main priority depending on time.
mongol horse 

temujin( genghis khan)

toe lui the wrestler

posed scene

Monday, 7 April 2014

polish time and environment updates

Now all my first pass of all my major assets have been completed; characters, horse , environment i need to do a second pass at all my major assets mainly texturing detail to really bring together my hole project and bring a higher quality to my overall work. 
 One of the main things that realy is going to make my project work is the level mood and how dynamic it is and  bringing life to my scene the two things I've been trying to work alot on, in my level so far but at the moment its still hitting  what i want.
 First i started with the lighting i watched some tutorials on night lighting because up until now ive been having a lot of light bouncing of the snow and is making the level look very shiny. So i tweaked the levels of my snow document so it doesn't read so white and i played around with the world properties lighting color a lot, so i could get something a lot more dramatic and then tweak it after to get a more subtle look.

 At the moment the red lights are still looking to fake but i think its a step in the right direction.
And is also providing more contrast and color which will make it pop.

One of the things i thought my level was missing was more silent narrative to guide the viewer through my scene and keep it interesting. So i decided to change the layout of the level so there are more places to walk through i like the idea of walking through a dark forest and almost seems like your finding clues that are leading up to something, the center of my level the main vocal point. to give another vocal point and so i went back to the chapter in the book im working from and one of the first things that happens is temujin horse/pony gets shot with arrows. So i took my horse model and posed it as if its dead using my rig and then just changed some of Photoshop layers to make it look like a different horse, which dint take me long as I'd done all the leg work and dint want to spend to much time on it as its not key to my level.
 It was also pointed out to me that the fire looks a little dead and dull so to impact the environment more and bring some more life to it i gave it a flickering animation in the kismet that changed the light quickly and the radius on a loop which gives a realistic effect.
 As well as my character and fire i made a cheap alphaed eagle to fly over my level just to try help bringing some life in
 I also thought what would be quite cool to have is flies buzzing around the horse I've been playing around a lot in the past week tinkering with animation and particular effects so i thought I'd try a mix of both a particle effect moving in circle animation, to try get the effect i am looking for but it doesn't seem to want to do what i am thinking of but also not wanting to waste time will have to be something i may come back to.