Change of plan

Our entire set for Black North was optimised and packaged up, which we then handed over to them and they seemed pretty happy with it. At our most recent meeting we were told that a few more blocks of ice were needing modelled and textured…

Below are a few images I looked at to see how ice would react to light (is it transparent, is it solid) and how the surface of the object could look: scratches, cracks etc…

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I then used the tutorial below as a guide/starting point for texturing the ice model, the results were achieved by using a ramp shader and noise map:

Starting off in mud box, I created a rough shape from a cube…

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I then brought the model into maya, where I started applying the techniques from the link above, but also making a few adjustments of my own to fit the requirements of what Black North were asking for…

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first render:

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I felt that the render above was a little plain looking.. there was no colour, nothing interesting about it, so I tried to change that. I duplicated the model and resized it so it would fit inside itself,  then changed the colour of this smaller model to a light blue and gave it a slightly brighter ambient colour, in the hope that the extra light might bounce around a little inside the larger object. The transparency of the object was also adjusted to make it more solid/ visible through the first model.

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I still wasn’t happy with the colour, there was too much blue – no other colours were present, so in an attempt to fix that I placed a cube inside the smaller model, which was less transparent than the others and I gave it a grey colour. Im a bit happier with the render below as now there are a couple of colours bouncing around.

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We then received a message from the guys at Black North to say that the game had been changed and could we create a new level based on the new designs, giving us 4 days to create the level so it was going to be a bit tight with time. The file below is the example we were given…

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This time our set would be 7 tiles that would join together (we will create one each.) This time the models were to be as low a polycount as possible, this being the main reason the game was changed, and we would still be sticking with the ice environment.

I started off by modelling an environment in mud box…

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which I then brought into maya and retopologised using the quad draw tool (remembering not to press three to smooth the model as it will be taken into soft image when we pass it on) :

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Unwrapped the UV’s by firstly unwrapping using the best plane, decided where my seams would be and cut the UV edges before finally using the 3D unwrap tool. These UV’s were obviously a lot easier to unwrap compared to the previous set…

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This time regarding textures were decided we would go for more ice rather than rock and snow, seeing as the panels looked like they were some sort of cave. Below are some of the textures I experimented with…

13-scratched-ice-texture-free-hi-res 10422269_862539437136109_6774744961511944772_n Chiseled Ice clay_snow1 ice_texture___2_by_agf81-d4p2kkm ice_texture2998-1 ice-texture--1033-1 Ice0021_L snow_texture1550

Before settling with the textures below:


Originally I had ice walls and banks of snow at each side but it just didn’t look right, so I switched it to be snow walls with banks of ice which just in general a lot better.

The ambient occlusion was baked in:

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And multiplied over the textures in photoshop:

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A normal map was also created using crazy bump:

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Then it was onto lighting the scene, I added an ambient light with a rather low intensity to give some basic light. I wanted my light source to be coming form the ice.. as if it was giving off light that was then being reflected by other bits of ice. So to create this I added in a few spot lights, all different in size (penumbria and cone angle) intensity and colour giving the results below.

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Once I (and the rest of the team of course) were happy with the lighting, the light and colour were baked in:

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Fly through:



The next step was to insert wreckage from previous levels into our ice environment, the wreckage was sent to us by Blacknorth along with the textures, all we needed to do was place the geometry into our set, reapply all of the textures in the scene and then bake the light and colour, doing this meant that the wreckage would now cast shadows. Making sure that we ships had a separate texture map to that of the landscape, they stressed that we keep them separate. We’ve also been told not to go crazy with the wreckage, they don’t want it absolutely everywhere…

I decided to use the wreckage to cover up areas where my textures were stretching, mainly in the mountains at the beginning…


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When placed in the scene I then deleted faces and parts of the geometry to make it look like it had crashed into the set, remembering to change the ship material from a phong to a lambert or else it will reflect the set around it…

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Then the lights were brought in and the set was baked:

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Link to an updated turntable with the wreckage:

A playblast of a run through of my set…

A couple of playblasts of the entire group environment, showing our progression throughout the assignment, the curves still need a bit of tweaking and some textures are still being adjusted. The quality of the playblast has also been lowered due to time restrictions, we didn’t have enough time to render out a high quality curve, this was only to get a general feeling of the environment…



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.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 17.46.40

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:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 18.02.55 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 18.03.16

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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Animating a tyre track

The final outcome (could possibly be used on our car as it crashes/skids out of control)

To begin a ground plane was created, remembering to take note of it’s dimensions for later use (100×100 units). By highlighting the verts and selecting using constraints, it is possible to lift up a number of them without having to do it one by one, making it easier to create a snow shape. The wheel was created from a polygon pipe, scaled up so that it will make contact with at least three vertices at a time (also increase divisions on the ground plane) and bevel the edges of the tyre.

Then by making the ground plane live and creating a curve, a path can be created for the tyre to follow, the points of the curve need to be kept relatively close and need to be above the surface of the plane. By selecting the curve and tyre a motion path can be created, the tyre just needs to be orientated so that it’s facing in the right direction (front-Z, up-Y). How far the tyre enters into the snow can be controlled by adjusting the height of the curve.

Then I imported an image of tyre tread (taken from cg textures) to create a tread pattern by using the create polygon tool:


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This pattern was then attached to the curve and an animation snapshot was created from the animate drop down menu, by changing the increment it is possible to control how far apart the pattern will be animated across the curve.

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Also checking that the environment is set to black in the camera attribute setting. Open up the hyper shade and create a new lambert, changing it to white and applying it to the tread pattern. This texture needs to be the same size as the ground plane, by changing the size of the resolution gate to a square (2K) the ground and pattern can be lined up, this can then be rendered and saved as a PNG file and opened in photoshop and saved out as a JPEG (doing this in photoshop instead of maya will proven the image losing quality):


Then in maya open up the hyper shade again and in the work area create 2 file nodes and a 2d bump node along with a lambert that will be our ground shader. one file will be the snow layer that will be middle mouse dragged onto the ground shader and added as the colour. The second file will be the tread image (JPEG) and middle mouse dragged onto the bump node as a default, this is then middle mouse dragged onto the ground shader as a bump. the depth of the bump map can then be adjusted through the bump depth value.

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The bump map can then be animated by controlling it’s alpha gain by applying a ramp with 2 colours, black and white – black has no value so no bump will appear in the render.

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To create the deformation of the snow layer a soft body was applied and a collision created between the particles and the tyre. The tutorial below then apples springs to the soft body but instead I increased the friction value of my ground plane (as the springs were sticking to my tyre as it travelled across, causing parts of the ground to stick and travel with it).

The it was time to rotate the tyre… aka MATHS…

To figure out the circumference of the tyre = 3.14xdiameter or 3.14(2xradius). The diameter of my tyre was 13.464 so my circumference = 13.464 x 3.14 = 42.84844.

Total tyre rotations needed can be figured out by dividing the tyre path length by the tyre circumference. 100 divided by 42.84844 = 2.334. The degrees of rotation, 2.344×360 = 1960.958

In the motion path input within the tyre, it is the side twist that causes the tyre to rotate, by key framing this value at 0 at the beginning and at -1960.958 (negative value to have it rotate in the right direction) at the end should make the tyre orate as it travels across the plane.

The tutorial:

I did then try to apply this to our car but it’s proving a little more difficult…

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