Just a few renders of a room I’ve been modelling during my spare time, hopefully I’ll get around to unwrapping and applying textures to it…

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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.



The Cave adjustments…

It was mentioned at or last meeting with Black North that the inside of the cave/tunnel wasn’t very exciting, as it was all one texture, so it was suggested that I could light the inside of the cave to give the impression that light was leaking through cracks in the walls. So I’ve went back and rebaked the scene to include this feedback using spotlights of various colours and sizes to create the leaking light:

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Now that our project with Black North is coming to an end, there only a few things left to do. Firstly we need to put a sky around the set, this was done by enclosing the whole set in a sphere and changing it’s colour to blue. Any gaps between/in sets were also filled using photographs from members in the team who had previously been on holiday, some clouds were also added in on planes, to give the effect of flying through clouds and low lying fog…

Some of the clouds were also animated, along with the main sky image: to give the illusion of a realistic sky movement.

A link to the group playplast, again the quality of the playblast is still pretty low as we don’t have the time for a high quality one:

Also needing fixed was the entrance of my tunnel, it was too harsh, so I created an extra bit of geometry to act as a snow overhang…

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The texture doesn’t quite match the rest of the set yet because the lights need to be baked in, this will change once I place my new set into the file with everyone’s set as the lights are still present in that set, they haven’t been baked.

The work can also be found at:

some rendered stills of the finished work:

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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…

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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…

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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…


Before starting into blocking out the different parts of our ice environment we decided to do a little research into designing for games and their environments. Below are a few links that go through the basics of game designing, where to start and what to focus on, along with notes I have taken from them…–gamedev-13910

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Then it was time for some planning sketches, also known as top down layouts of the level. The image below contains, a plan of a path using photographs which can be found on a previous post and structures/assets we are considering placing in the environment.


A rough plan and explanation for an environment:


A rough plan for a tunnel:


After planning the layout we were now ready to start blocking out our models, I’ve included a difference in height throughout my stage, so that the player isn’t going on a straight line but rounding corners and flying up into the sky and down into caverns in the ground:

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level top down layout

playblast of a possible path for the ship to follow… created by attaching a camera to a curve as a motion path…

Blocked out model of the cave:

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experimenting with creating an interesting lighting set up inside the tunnel:

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To make the tunnel more interesting to the player I decided that the entrance to the tunnel would be small and have a claustrophobic feel to it compared to the exit which is large and open, this also then provided a contrast in colour palette, the beginning would be dark tones giving the player a feeling of the unknown – what is in here? compared to the brightness that will be seen as they approach the exit (depending on what follows, it may not be an open space as each stage created by the team needs to be stitched together.)

Motion path run through:

The design below was an alternative concept just in case mine were too similar to anyone else’s in the team but fortunately they were not:

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We then brought together everyone’s concepts and I placed in another motion path for a possible path for the ship, after about the fifth attempt the camera finally wasn’t going through or below any of the geometry:





In class we were given a high poly mesh and has been asked to re-topologize it, using maya’s quad draw tool. The mesh below had been created using mud box which allows for a high level of detail, the downside being millions of polygons. Re-topologising allows the artist to worry about getting the sculpt first and foremost and then think about edge flows that will allow for good deformations when it comes to animating the model.

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We were also given some reference images to follow along with while re-topologizing the model, so our edge flows are going in the right direction…

Ex_head_wireframe FaceTopology Luis_Antonio_Facetopo

We started off by making the existing mesh live and then used the quad draw tool found in the modelling tool kit options, drawing on top of the high poly mesh…

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Once done, we duplicated the finished half and combined the verts, resulting in a lower poly mesh – the hardest part I found was around the corners of the features, triangles could appear rather quickly but that just meant having the rework the edges to avoid them forming…

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The high poly and low poly meshes…

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Then to unfold the UV’s I simply selected the model and planar mapped it in Z, then in the texture editor I decided where i wanted my seam to be (down the back of the head) and cut the edges, I then highlighted all of the UV’s and used maya 2015’s unfold tool…

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Sergi Caballer has a great time lapse of his modelling a character and blocking in the typology, his image is one of the reference images I used while re-topologising the head above…

In the link below artist Mashru Mishu talks through how he tackles modelling, controlling your polycount and edge flows and also UV texturing, using his street cop model as an example…