Creating my showreel

After researching and finally deciding what to actually put into my showreel, I got to work. As time went on it changed as I was creating more work that could be put into it, so there are multiple versions of my showreel:

Version 1:

Version 2, this time I added in some more dynamics work:

Version 3, I’ve added a Bifrost simulation and corrected the run cycle:

the latest version, another Bifrost simulation was added and the order changed:

I also had adjusted the Bus stop animation, trying to improve the movement of his leg while he’s sitting, the wireframe images were also changed: I managed to render out the lower poly wireframe. When smoothing my model (after hitting 3) I also pressed fn and the down arrow.





Before creating my own showreel, I’ve done a little research to see how I should go about it, including tips and showreels from a few artists…

Some notes I took while reading the links below:


The link below contains artists showreels to back up the points they have made…

Adding tags to your showreel to show what you did/what it is. Mike Bain’s showreel is a good example of this as it contains shots from easily recognised films:

Gerard Dunleavy, won international CG student of the year 2012, his showreel is below:

A playlist of the best showreels and demo reels on vimeo created by premium beat (most of these are company showreels and not individual artists but they are still very impressive…)

I really enjoyed the showreel below by Leticia Reinaldo, focussing on modelling, lighting and texturing. The timing is what caught my attention, there is enough time to view the models yet they aren’t overstaying their welcome…

A rather dramatic showreel.. some dramatic camera movements:


The feedback we received from our textured sets was that the light source wasn’t consistent across each set, we would need to bring all 7 sets together into one scene and create a lighting set up from there so that the light will always be coming from one direction. It was also pointed out that real shadows will have hues and shadows… they aren’t completely black and grey. We were also to consider filling in the gaps in the scene, so that if a player on the oculus rift spun around 360 degrees that there would be nothing strange looking, no seams in textures, no half models… etc.

I started by removing my previous textures and modelling some extra mountains in and around the canyon and end of the set…

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Again I unwrapped the set using maya’s 3D unfold tool, making sure the seams are placed somewhere they won’t be seen and I’ve also deleted any faces that aren’t needed.

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The gaps are now filled in…

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When moving my UV’s onto one texture map again some were to small, even when they were scaled and moved but compared to an earlier post I now only have two texture maps, one for the landscape and one for the smaller assets…

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I’ve also retextured my entire set ad I wasn’t happy with my previous attempt, I feel that this time I have found much more suitable textures and as a whole the set looks a lot better than before:

Textures along with the Ambient Occlusion bake multiplied on top:

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This time in the textures I have a softer blend between different areas of the set, there is a better transition between the textures. The snow that covers the rock on the mountains is much better placed and better brushes have been used to blend between the two.The texture of the arch was also changed to another material, I used a frozen lake that had been scratched to texture it, following the feedback from the previous meeting. Along with creating the new textures, new normal maps were also created through crazy bump but still using the same settings as before: intensity of 6 and a sharpness of 6.

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I felt that my set was still a bit too ‘open’ towards the back…

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Scott had a huge mountain landscape that he had modelled which he allowed me to use in my set as a background, I then created my own textures and normals map for it (this time an intensity of 8 was applied with a sharpness of 6)…

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We fixed the lighting by importing everyone’s sets into one scene:

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once we created a lighting set up, everyone then got a copy of the file, deleted everyone else’s sets bar their own, meaning that when we imported our work back into the scene they would still be in the same position and the layout wouldn’t need too much adjusting. We have used ambient lights, directional lights and area lights along with multiple colours to create the illusion of real shadows with real hues. Again the light and textures were baked in.

The baked textures…

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HD turn table of my own set:

Some rendered images…

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High poly modelling…

Before jumping into modelling in mud box I sketched out some rough plans of how I want my models to look…

IMG_0271 IMG_0272

Along with some reference images:

The Alaska Peninsula: I liked how it is easy to differentiate in the image below where the mountains ‘start’, something similar to this could be applied to my model to distinguish between the mountains and the path…


The Himalayan Mountains: This image shows an interesting shape formed by the peaks


Greenland: I thought this image would be more useful when it came to texturing our sets, remembering that although it’s an ice environment not everything is going to be snow and white or shades of blue.


The Grand Canyon:

Toroweap Point

This image was useful when deciding the overall shape of my model however I found that images of the Antelope canyon where much more suited to what I want to create…

Antelope_Canyon_02 DCF 1.0

The images were taken from the lower parts of the canyon showing the shape of the walls and how the light bounces around, these images will be more helpful when it comes to modelling the sides of the model, removing the smoothness of the walls to get rid of that uniform feeling, it will also make it much more exciting for the player – with different parts of the walls extending out to form shapes across the canyon…

Some different ideas for a tunnel:

This image below is actually a piece of concept art, but it would make for a really interesting interior

TunnelVision1024x768_1149310 Dark_cave

The next two images relate to the entrance and exit of the caves: the end of my cave will open up into an open ice field so the first image will be more suited to the exit, so to create contrast the entrance will be smaller…



The ice field:

This part will be smooth snow, creating a vast space to contrast the claustrophobic feeling created by the tunnel and previous parts of the set

106_1icefield 13 sea ice

The ice wall was harder to find reference images for as it was a more specific model that i was wanting to create but I did find an inspiring photo to use for when I start to model the feature… the texture created by the wall and the colours used all help to create an interesting shape.


A few images for creating an arch…

23887738 ice_arch-480x360 6iceberg-tasiusaq-1024x768

Stalagmite and Stalactite:

stalagmite-and-stalactite-cave-wallpaper-1280x800 dsc_1907

The next step with our ice environment was to create higher poly models of our pre-vis work. We would each have a limit of one million polygons meaning that the entire set would be under seven million. For our next meeting we would have the entire set modelled with a higher level of detail along with ambient occlusion passes for each section.

As a group we decided that we would model with mud-box (or Z brush) and then export to maya and from there build our own panel before finally joining the set together again.

Before getting stuck into mud-box I researched a few ice/snow environments already created to give me a point of reference to follow, these images also contain normal maps which we will add to our own models at a later stage, this will also give a higher level of detail to the set:

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I chose these images because they would be interesting in a set and relative to my own work, flying towards a mountain range and wondering what lies beyond, will i be flying over or around them? Or flying along side a wall and having to dive and dodge rock formations that extrude from it. I thought the last image would be interesting inside a cave, the icicles maybe not extending to both the roof and floor but only halfway along the ship to dive underneath to avoid crashing into them.

From researching 3d mountain models I realised the easiest way to model them would be to start with a plane and pull it upwards into the shape, instead of sculpting them from a sphere or cube…

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First attempt at a mountain:

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Aidan had been experimenting with another software called world machine and rendering using terragen:


but we then discovered that from these programs stamps could be created and loaded into mud box…

Below are the stamps Aidan created and shared with the group, which allowed us to follow the example in the link above:

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Using the stamps I re-modelled a mountain range which is an improvement on the first:


I then decided I would need some element that would lead the player through the landscape, around the mountains… like a path?

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I’ve left a smooth pathway through the mountains to show where the ship will be flying and to give some definition as to where the mountains actually end.

The next part of my set that I modelled was the canyon…

With my first attempt I tried to model everything at once, meaning the canyon and the extra models that would be in it.. e.g… Icicles and planks.

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When imported to maya, the tops of the icicles were stretched… everything was just a bit too pointy, it wasn’t a great geometry to try and work with so the second time around I decided I would just model the main part of the canyon and leave the extra details to later…

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This attempt was a lot better but it still seemed a little to smooth and bare for a natural landscape… there was nothing suggesting how it was created… So I tried again…

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I kept the model from the previous attempt above but used the stamps to imprint into the geometry to give an uneven, natural look, there’s more exciting formations for the player to have to avoid, and I’m pretty happy with this attempt.

Now that I had the base of the model I then went and created the details that would appear in it… rocks, Icicles, even panels of ice…

The Icicles were modelled from a plane, there are a couple of slightly different models which have been duplicated for now but will most likely be instanced instead when working in maya again…

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The same with the panels of ice…

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and then placed into the base model:

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A few rocks will also be placed into the set and a few of the icicles deleted as there are currently a few too many for the ship to get down into them, but with the rocks Scott has said that he needs quite a few for his set so he would share them with the group instead of everyone modelling a new set of rocks… we can vary them by creating our own textures when the time comes.

Then it came to the tunnel, which was a bit of a pain to begin with! I started off with a sphere and tried to scrape my way through to the other side which was fine until I tried to adjust and vary the walls of the tunnel, I attempted to import a cylinder from maya…

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and that just looked silly but for the third attempt I decided I would model the roof and the floor using separate planes…

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With the roof (currently upside down) and the floor I’ve also imprinted them with the stamps to take away the smoothness that just makes them look unnatural. I’ve also imported the icicles form the canyon and placed them inside the tunnel, rocks will also be added later when we switch to maya…

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Finally onto the last piece… the ice field…created from a plane and then imprinted with stamps like previous models…

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Also created was an ice wall… this originally was a sphere, that was scraped, knifed, smoothed, pulled and imprinted into this shape…

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The next step would be to export each model as an fbx, they can then be imported into one maya scene where we would create the environment. This happened after I reduced the polygons in each shape by moving down the levels and using the retopologising tool found in mud box (making sure that my segment was under the poly limit.)

I now imported all my separate models into one maya scene…

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Adding in some other details to fill in gaps, making sure everything is joined together properly…

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Along with rocks and an arch…

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Ambient Occlusion:

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Physical sun and sky renders: playing about with the position of the sun to create different shadows within the set!

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Unfortunately we can’t bake in the physical sun and sky as our light source, so when it comes to the light baking we will just have to re-create it as best we can!

I also decided to take my pre-vis of the tunnel and model it using mud box and maya, just in case any extra parts were needed.

Below are some ambient Occlusions of the set:

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There are only a couple variations of the rock models, the rest are instances of the originals…

Environmental design for games

Max Boughen talks about environment design in games and putting the experience of the player before the visuals…

Liam tart is also a 3D environment artist for games, working on Alien Isolation…

Rally games are a great source of environment design in games already existing due to multiple environments throughout the games.. ice, forest, desert etc..

Steve Andrew was an environmental artist for the Colin McRae rally series working on various environments including Farmland, Railway scenes and more importantly ice/snow environments…

David Baldwin is an environmental artist, working on games such as uncharted 2 and 3, and vanguard: a saga of hero’s.

Below is a link to his demo reel containing the environments he has worked on:

On his website he provides stills of his work showing the level of detail in each scene, his work most relevant to ours would be Uncharted 2: Shambhala – which has a background consisting of mountains but all of his work is rather impressive…

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Christopher Gadsby, environment artist.

“As an Environment Artist for games my main responsibilities are the general look and feel for the levels that are in the game. Bringing them from blockouts to full working levels for this and the next generation of platforms, I usually work close with the Art Director, Lead Environment artist, Level Designers to design and form the vision of the level but also the together with technical art and tool programmers to set the workflow & art pipeline to get levels running smoothly at the intended frame-rate.”

His work is a great point of reference for us to look at for when it comes to texturing especially his personal project entitled, Evergreen mountains…

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It may not be created using maya but it still has a few tips that can be applied to our own process, such as instancing duplicates and using a biped model for scale, it’s still a rather interesting read on how Andrew Finch, who has been in the games industry for over seven years, goes about creating his sets


Another great source of reference for texturing and lighting snow environments was snowboarding games, I looked at the PC game Shaun White Snowboarding, the cloud was a great addition to re-create the high altitude – this could be something we look at when the time comes.. adding some clouds to a plane to create low lying fog or just clouds might help add to the players experience…

link to the video: 

and a few screen shots that I had taken:

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however I feel this game was a little too much just snow, that seems to be the only thing going on so I then came across a video of game play for SSX, another snowboarding game, only this time it’s textures are much more interesting… in with the snow are various rock textures which is much more useful to us as a reference, the lighting is also quite a nice set up… and we might use it as a point of reference for something we would like to re create when the time comes:

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Animation and Design for games development

Game development is an active art form, as the player has the ability to influence the path and the destiny of their character.

A short history of Games:

-1950’s: pre video games, including boardgames, sports…

-70’s: early arcade games were introduced… space invaders/pong/asteroids.

-80’s: dawn of the mass produced video games… these years saw the rise and fall of the Indie game developer. Games including Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda and Super Mario brothers along with Alexey Pajitnov’s, Tetris, are present on the top 10 best feeling games of the 80’s.

-90’s: Saw the beginning and rise of the 3D graphical game. Doom (1993) and quake (1996)

2000’s: Larger, more complex games were being created, online multiplayer games also saw a rise in players. World of warcraft (2004) X box and Playstation 2 were released onto the market, the playstation coming out on top as the best selling console, however Microsoft were only just appearing onto the market as Sega started to disappear.

2010+: The Inide game developer was re-emerging back onto the market. Mobile gaming became more popular and new technologies were being released, Oculus Rift and more recently the Xbox one and Playstation 4.

Game Design, theory and practice: This link contains an excerpt from Richard Rouse III’s book entitled, ‘Game design- Theory and Practice: The elements of Gameplay.

Main element of a game studio: Art | Animation | Audio | Game Design | Management | Programming | Quality Assurance.

Artist Roles: Concept Artist | 3D modeller | GUI Artist | Texture Artist | Technical Artist | Visual Effects Artist.

Games Concept Artists…

Peter Chan Working for companies (mainly as a concept artist) such as EA, Double Fine and Lucas Art Entertainment, but also working on films as concept artist/ illustrator: films including Monsters University, A series of Unfortunate Events, Box Trolls and many more. His work has an interesting ‘sketchy’ style to it which when combined with his slightly forced perspective makes it interesting to look at.

Victor Antonov Working for Arkane Studios, Dishonoured… His style of work is combing the fantasy elements with that of Photorealism.

3D Modellers, creating objects, environments and characters from concept art.

Peter Adamson Character Artist.

Liam Tart Environmental Artist, Alien Isolation, Natural Selection 2

Texture artists – games rely heavily on quality texture mapping.

Tor Frick working on games such as Far Cry, Games of War 3…

Kris Kelly: Character and texture artist, Working on games such as Shadow of Modor, Call of Duty ghosts…

Technical Artist, responsible for rigging, vfx, programming, dynamics, writing scripts, plug-ins..

Andy Green

Vfx artist: Ludvig Lindqvist, 

William Kladis

Dave Samuel

Animation, Cyles need to be efficient and blend well between one another, for example blending between a walk and a run. Animating objects, scenery, vegetation and characters.

Chris de Lloyd

William Barr

Jurassic Park…

The making of:

Around the same time Terminator 2 was being filmed and already pushing the boundaries of CG and the artists on Jurassic Park were told they were not to make any CG dinosaurs, but did they listen..? NO… they proved they could, the CG characters replaced the go motion dinosaurs greatly enhancing the quality of the production and in fact the audiences experience.

what else would you be expected to draw whilst watching a documentary about dinosaurs…