Saturday, February 28, 2009

Man’s Best Fiend

Concept sketch
This is what I call a dog. It is my task to create a 3D model based on this concept sketch. When I offered to make a whole set of new models after proving to Dirtywick that I was capable of constructing them, I estimated that I could produce one per week. I was wrong. So far, I’ve been working on this critter for nearly three weeks.

Actually, I encountered some unexpected problems while building this model. Firstly, I had to learn how to create a low-poly model using the Retopology feature of ZBrush. Rather than explain the workflow here, I’d like to direct curious readers to the following links, which have helped me immensely:

Something wicked this way comes
Even with the above information at hand, I made lots of mistakes constructing the low poly model. Most of these mistakes had to do with not connecting vertices properly. I must have used up an entire week just fixing my errors. The learning experience was worth it, though. My new model has only 2,612 polygons, which is close to the average number for a non-boss creature.

My second unexpected problem was with UV mapping. My only other experience with this task was with the monster head that I featured in my tutorial. This time, I had to map an entire creature, not just its head. Trying to figure out what seams to cut and where to place them is a challenge in itself. I found that fingers and toes were especially vexing to map. I eventually created more seams than I had intended, but since the additional seams were mostly in the creature’s digits, it is unlikely that players will notice them.

To make matters worse, once I had completed my UV mapping, I found that it would not be stored in the model when I exported it as an MDB file. I could not figure out why that happened. After experimenting with the problem for a few days, I eventually found that if I exported the model as an OBJ file then imported it anew, the UV map would be stored properly. To this day, I do not know why I had this problem in the first place, but at least I have a workaround to fall back on if need be.

In-game action
Once I had these two problems licked, everything else fell into place. I’m not yet finished with the model, but it should take me only a couple of days to create lower LOD versions. (That’s “Level of Detail” for those who aren’t into 3D modeling.) All told, if these problems had not occurred, I estimate that I could have finished this creature model in one week. Hopefully, having more experience under my belt means that I will be able to work faster on my next creature models, of which there are several.

Too much butt-scooting
Man's best fiend

Monday, February 16, 2009

Who's the Boss?

As far as our module "Shattered Dreams" is concerned, this is the boss.

The boss scares me. It looks like this monster will have polygons numbering in the tens of thousands, but the standard upper limit for creature models is only 5000. To make matters worse, there are no existing skeletons that I can recycle for it. This means I'll have to make my own skeleton and animations. I've never done anything of the sort before. Then again, I had never made 3D models from scratch until I started on this project, so I guess I can hurdle this challenge. On the other hand, look at all those tentacles. That's an awful lot of appendages to animate.

No time to write. Must construct 3D models.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Building Design for the Architecturally Challenged

Here is a design that I created for one of the buildings in "Shattered Dreams," a module in the making from bouncyRock Entertainment. It may not look it, but this picture was entirely computer-generated. Although I have some skill when it comes to art, I have little to no patience with drawing buildings, especially in perspective. What I did instead was to create this building in the toolset using Nytir's BCK II hakpak. I then took a screenshot of the building and manipulated it digitally to achieve an artistic effect.

I sent this picture to Nytir and requested that he make a 3D model of it. Nytir happens to be on our team, so he's the obvious choice for modeling buildings. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Freaky Artwork

Below are a couple more concept sketches for "Shattered Dreams," an upcoming module from bouncyRock Entertainment. In a couple of days, I'll start making 3D art based on my drawings. I hope I'm up to the task.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Which Comic Book Character Are You?

While surfing the Internet for art references, I came across a dubious personality test called "Which Supervillain Are You?". Amused, I decided to take it. As I was answering the quiz, I realized that the test didn't seem to be particularly well made. There were several questions bunched together toward the end that seemed to be blatantly referring to Poison Ivy. Anyhow, I completed the quiz and came up with the following result:

You are The Joker

The Joker
Lex Luthor
Dr. Doom
Mr. Freeze
Green Goblin
Dark Phoenix
Poison Ivy
The Clown Prince of Crime. You are a brilliant mastermind but are criminally insane. You love to joke around while accomplishing the task at hand.

The Joker? Uh-uh, not I. A sense of humor is far from being my strong suit, although the part about me being a brilliant mastermind isn't so far off. (Ahem.) As I shook my head with disappointment, I noticed the percentage value in my test results. It seems that I only have a 47% match with the Joker, which makes for a poor match indeed. I guess I'm not cut out to be a super villain after all.

Then I found out that there is a similar test called "Which Superhero Are You?". Against my better judgment, I took the test and got the following results:

You are Batman
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
You are dark, love gadgets
and have vowed to help the innocent
not suffer the pain you have endured.

Now that's better. The description seems to fit me, and the test results show a 70% match. Not bad, not bad at all. I couldn't help but notice a pattern with the results from other quizzes that I have taken. I'm sure that none of these tests have any scientific basis, but they're fun to take anyway.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Twisted Art and Shattered Dreams

Dirtywick has given us the go signal to announce our upcoming bouncyRock module to the NWN2 community. The title of the module is...

Shattered Dreams.

I'd like to say more about our module, but words fail me at the moment. Instead, I'll show a few sketches that I drew in preparation for 3D modeling. These are some of the things that I'm hoping to create for the game. Dirtywick pointed out, however, that trying to release the module by April while building new models is going to be tough. I'd like to have my cake and eat it too, but whether these sketches become realized as full 3D models remains to be seen.