Thursday, November 1, 2012

Miscellaneous . . . .

I have mostly neglected all of you since the semester has started. This was out of necessity it's not because I don't like you guys anymore or anything. :) This semester has been mostly horrible. I am attending 20 credit hours of classes (although I only have 15 credit hours of homework), working an average of 15 hours per week, and 4 of my classes are upper division. I haven't had time to breathe, let alone update my blog.

So you may be wondering why I'm writing this entry today then? That is because I'm at work (in the computer lab), I'm sick of doing homework, and no one needs very much help. So I'm sitting trying to make the last hour of my shift fly by. At the moment it's crawling.

I have been kinda enjoying the Javascript class this semester, it's been really challenging but rewarding at the same time. It's a mostly easy language to work with and it has intuitive things about it. The first semi-interesting project that we did was make a game of breakout. This was written entirely with just Javascript.
You can view it here. The next interesting project that we did was photo gallery. Now I know that there are a lot of photo gallery apps, plugins, and programs, but I wrote this one so it's cooler. :) It is also the project that I'm most proud of. You can view it here. I also just finished a calendar project that took a bazillion hours and that I hated. You can see that here. On a slightly related project, had to do an instructional paper for my English class. I use Javascript to make it look nicer. Hopefully it will impress the teacher and I will get a good grade. That can be found here.

I have also been doing a lot of things with design lately. In my Print Production class we had to make a 2 or 3 color band poster. I chose to do Linkin Park. I went with a grunge feel to go with their "underground" feel.

This is the Linkin Park poster that I made for my Print Production class.
I had fun with this assignment.
I am also working on a whiskey bottle label for that same class. I haven't finished it yet but I have some comprehensive proofs done. Which of the three to you like most?

The first one was my original idea, and so I'm partial to that one.
However, I do like how all three of them turned out.
I have also been sitting in on the 3D modeling class that uses Maya. The nice part about it is that it gives me an excuse to work in Maya three days a week and not feel guilty about it. Since it's just an hour here and an hour there I don't have a ton of work to show but I have a few things.

While the rest of the class was doing their logo assignment, I resurrected my
old logo and gave it a new skin and did some better renders.
After watching a video explaining how to do portal lights in Maya, I was
dying to try it. This was my attempt. I have to say that I'm not displeased
with the result.
This was a product of my messing around with refractions in class.
This was me just messing around in class. This is Fred the Robot and he is
made only with polygon primitives.
I wanted to work on something doable for a while so I made a stand for my
Samurai sword. The little arms are even covered in felt so it doesn't scratch
my scabbard. :)
I made this yesterday because I wanted to figure out how to use translucence
in say a lamp shade. I like the way it turned out. 
Well, I hope that this post gave you a little window into my world. Keep it real, people! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

In Case You Missed Me . . . .

It's been awhile since my last blog post, but my summer has actually been pretty busy despite not having an actual job. So last I left my readers I had just finished my Desert Eagles. I have since completed five more projects. This will hopefully give me enough content for the majority of my portfolio.

After I did the Desert Eagle I did a samurai sword. Geometry-wise it was pretty simple, especially compared to the over-sized pistols. One of the big reasons for it was that I wanted to practice my texture mapping skills because most of the jobs that I looked at was you to be proficient in modeling and texturing if for no other reason than to layout the UVs better for the surfacers. Some jobs (especially the character modeling jobs) require you to be the one solely responsible for texturing your creations, as well as modeling them.

Here is my sword! It is in the scabbard in this picture. This is my personal favorite. It looks so elegant when it's sheathed.

Here is the sword stuck in the floor, I know it's harder to tell from this angle that it is.

This is some close up detail on the blade and handle.

The pattern that I used for the handle, scabbard, and hilt was actually a maze texture that was came from a maze generator that I wrote in Python my Sophomore year. 

I guess I should have made a stand for it, but I was feeling lazy that day.

When I completed the samurai sword, I decided that I wanted to do some sort of architecture. I thought of maybe doing another room or perhaps a building. My father helped me look at house plans and he found a really cool, small Victorian cottage. It was small, so that's what I undertook. The basic geometry was fairly easy (except trying to keep everything quads). It was the details that took me the most time. The house has over 7,000 individual shingles. I could have just mapped on a shingle texture, but I wanted it to look as real as possible, and since I did the geometry it could be easily converted to a displacement map and mapped on if I had to save on polygons. The house ended up being a bigger undertaking than I had anticipated simply because there were so many things that I had to do. I left off the really small details (such as gaps in the siding etc) and I did not do the inside either which would have been very difficult, especially since I had to change the outside/floor plan of the house in order for the outside to look aesthetically pleasing. Forgive the grass quality, it almost crashed my computer trying to render that much.

This is, by far, my favorite render that I did of the house. The lighting is great and you see the most detail in the shot. That is a willow tree on the left.

Those are Spanish Cedar shake shingles in case you were wondering. That is an Oak tree on the right and a cherry tree on the left.

I changed the lighting for more closely resemble late in the day (about 8pm).

This is a picture of the back deck (which was very time consuming to do, in case your were wondering).

This is a shot of the front porch. Yes, the porch was really that small in the house plans. I really liked how the columns  "turned" out. :) Putting the detail geometry on the house was actually more fun than I thought it would be.

With my house finished, I needed to do something that was smaller and not so stressful or time consuming. I decided that I was going to make an iPod (everyone knows what one of those looks like, right?) and as an extension do some headphones (my Beyerdynamic DT 880s). That way, the two projects would go together quite well, but still be independent pieces of my portfolio. It should be noted that this DOES NOT mean that I approve of Apple (or their business practices) or would ever buy one of their products. The only reason I did an iPod classic instead of my Zune 120 was that more people (namely, people that are going to be looking at my portfolio) could more easily recognize it. I challenged myself with this project. I decided that I was going to make the iPod (and texture it) in one day. I did it, but I probably worked on it for 16 hours straight, which was rough. I got it done though, complete with a screen that can be turned on and off! :)

This is with the screen off. These are just rough renders but I had two people tell me on Facebook that they thought I took a photograph of an iPod. I didn't think I was fooling anybody, but I appreciate the complements anyway. :)

This is with the screen on. The song (in case you can't read it) is "One Winged Angel" on the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children soundtrack.

The next logical extension of my previous project would be to make my headphones to go with the iPod I made. These took much longer than the iPod (no surprise there) and some of the geometry was actually quite challenging such as the curved forks, the headband, and the wires. The geometry wasn't overly complicated (they are pretty minimalist headphones both in construction and design), it's just that none of it was straight or square and so it all had to be bent and smoothed. The texturing on these was also very difficult. For instance, the label on the side of the earpiece had to have a reflectivity map, transparency map, color map, and bump map. All of those maps had to be made in Photoshop and  attached (correctly, paying attention to UVs) in Maya. They then had to be tweaked endlessly to get right. The fur on the earpads was also difficult to get right. The color is still more grey than the real velour (the real one has more blue in it), but it looks close.

Here it is! The iPod is plugged in and playing. I reused the same room (child's room that I made last year) but I added a window seat, which is better than the table (used for my Desert Eagles) because it's easier to get the sun to shine there because it's closer to the window.

You can really see the velour shine in this picture and the nice reflections on the metal grill on the side.

This picture is to show off the back of the iPod (and that I went through all the effort to make correctly).

The plug (at the end of the chord) was actually pretty difficult to do, but I really like the way it turned out.

Here is a good example of the metal texture on the side of the earcups. This is probably one of my favorite shots out of the bunch.

This is a higher angle. I probably should have made a stand for the headphones but I guess I can always add that later.

People were giving me crap because the picture out the window doesn't look that great, so for my Vorpal Blade project I "upgraded" it.

I always play around with my objects in a checkered box, so I can see how the materials are going to reflect. Several of the test renders looked decent, so I decide I would post them.

I played around with the light in this one.

I cut squares out of the ceiling for the light to come through. I like the effect if gives.

This one is on a pure black background. I was shooting for a watch ad look. I think I missed. :)

I was trying to figure out what to make
while playing Alice Madness Returns,
when suddenly a light bulb went on in my brain.
After I finished the headphones, I decided that I had time for one more small project. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make and was playing Alice Madness Returns, when suddenly, a light bulb went on in my head. I decided right then that I wanted to make the Vorpal Blade (Vorpal Sword in the Jabborwocky poem) that is one of Alice's main weapons in the game.

It has very intricate carving on the handle and etching on the blade, so it was a good demonstration of my skill with texture mapping in Maya, Photoshop, and Illustrator. The actual shape only took 3 or 4 hours to get right. The other ~20 hours was spent making the texture maps and doing the rendering. Now I know why there are less modelers in movie and game productions, and roughly double as many texture artists. The stand only took an hour or two. Rendering took 45 minutes per picture to render since I tried a new rendering technique.

This is my favorite render that I did. Like I said before, I used a new rendering technique for these but paid for it in time. It roughly doubled my renders times.

It took me 3 or 4 hours to layout the pattern on the blade alone. The handle took another couple. If you care to look at the pommel, there is a heart on the end. That was on purpose. Queen of Hearts. . . get it? :)

I have since fixed the landscape's square-like hills and grass patch problems, but I still like the view out the window in this shot. I moved the trees around (this was the same landscape that I used for the Victorian cottage) for this series of renders.

Since the game as a strong Steampunk theme, I figured the checker was appropriate. :)

All told, I have almost worked full time this summer in Maya. Although it's only an estimate I think I just short of 380 hours (full time is 480). A few weeks short, I know, but here is my logic. Desert Eagle + Samurai Sword + Victorian Cottage + iPod + Headphones + Vorpal Blade (160+30+100+16+40+25) = ~380. I could be overestimating some times, but the desert eagles took me a whole month, and I worked on it quite a bit. That encouraging to me, since I will being doing stuff like this full time for a career. Let me know what you think of my work! :)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Girls & Guns . . . .

So I know I haven't written in a while. Life has been crazy. If you don't want to hear about my final woes, skip down to the third paragraph. Scroll down some more if you just want pictures. : ) Finals were ridiculous, I had to pull basically 3 all nighters in a row to get my 3D animation done. What set me back so badly was that I missed a check box somewhere when I was putting in the bones for the feet and then it it would flip the foot over when I would try to turn Zanderia around. It was a nightmare. It took me a whole day to figure out what was wrong and two days to fix it because I had to re-rig the whole lower half of the body over again and because of that I had to repaint all of the weights too. I cut it pretty close, I was rendering the final video 15 minutes before my final started and had been up all night working on it. Despite the problems I had, I still got an A- on the assignment and an A overall in the class.

My PHP scripting class final was a bit ridiculous as well. I studied and did the practice test before hand and knew how to do everything just dandy but then I show up for the final I had never done the stuff he wanted done for the test. I might have been alright, but nothing I was doing was working either. Needless to say, I panicked pretty hard. I about had a breakdown in the middle of the test too. After the test was over I went and talked to my teacher and showed him what I was trying to do, the problems I was having, and said that I had studied and really didn't know what happened. I hadn't had any trouble with the assignments all semester and then I just totally lost it during the final. He was pretty understanding though, and I escaped that class with an A as well (just BARELY though, 93.5% is cutting it a little too close for comfort, the cut off was 94% and he rounded up thankfully). The rest of my finals were pretty much as boring as snot and didn't really have much trouble with them thankfully.

Since the summer has started I have played lots of video games and did some 3D modeling. I'm not going to post my final animation that I did for my class because it pretty much sucks and it didn't really turn out the way I wanted it too. It's just too dang complicated to animate a human character and I did not have enough time. Here are some pictures of Zanderia after I finished though.

Here she is! I added some things, changed her clothes, gave her some accessories, and just generally made her more awesome! :)

It was kinda funny, one of the other kids in the class did a pony from the My Little Pony TV show for his character and his whole pony had fewer joints then Zanderia has in ONE of her hands. When I saw his project, I was thinking to myself, "I could have done that rigging and weight painting in one night." But that's only after doing it twice on Zanderia. I'm not even going to talk about the girl that did a fish . . . . Let's just say that I had the most complicated project in the class . . . by FAR.

She didn't quite turn out the way I wanted but she isn't really that bad. I really wish I would have had time to put in muscles and facial expressions but there was just no way I could have done it last semester, there just wasn't enough time to do it.

This version of her is pre-foot-fix. Her skirt is weight painted a little better now. One of people in the class talked to me after and said, "When I first saw the hands on your character I thought they were cool, but then I tried to to human hands . . . I can really appreciate how good they are now!" Made me laugh. : )

Her hair was a big pain in the butt, and there again I didn't have time to make it  as flowing as I wanted. It moves when she walks but it doesn't flow around her shoulders when she turns her head. I probably had to at least quintuple the number of colliders in her body to get her hair to move like that, and again, I just didn't have the time. I feel lucky that she has hair.
I'm hoping that Zanderia will be able to be a big part of my portfolio. She isn't perfect but considering the actual direction (or lack thereof) I got doing a full human character, I feel it's pretty impressive. That's just me though. All in all, I probably spent over 100 hours on her, and I probably could have spent 5 times that just to get her to where I wanted her. It's going to be WAY too easy to hit the 150 hour minimum required for senior project.

Since I have decided that this is what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life (courtesy of an epiphany), I planned to spend my summer making thing in Maya and building my portfolio. My first creation this summer (and hopefully not the last) was a realistically modeled Desert Eagle. I thought I could get this small project (at least I thought it was small when I started) done in a few weeks if I wasn't that motivated. Boy, was I wrong. It took over a month. I am pretty happy with the end result though. The only details that didn't make it in where the internal stuff (firing pins, chamber rails, etc.) and rifling in the barrel. I didn't do the internal stuff because no one would see it and since I was modeling off of pictures, it would have been next to impossible to do, and I didn't do the rifling because I could not figure out how to do it in Maya. Since it's not an external detail I didn't worry about that too much either though. Here are some lovely pictures! I would have more but it takes over 20 minutes per picture to render. This first one is my favorite!

This picture just about sums up what I have been dealing with for the past month. Let me tell you some wisdom I found out while doing this gun: "Modeling from your imagination is easy, modeling something in real life is freaking difficult." It only made it worse that I wasn't able to ever see a real one in real life. That would have made things lots easier.

It was pretty funny, I posted these pictures on Facebook and a few people though they were pictures of real Desert Eagles that I had pulled off the internet.... Hahaha! Made me laugh.

Sometime soon I'm going to animate Zanderia shooting one of these babies. I mean, I didn't put in moving parts just for kicks after all.

It was pretty annoying that Magnum Research (the company who makes the gun) decided it was a good idea to make the barrel go from a square to round and then back to square again. It might look good, but it makes it uber hard to model.

The slug is actually separate from the casing so I can shoot them more realistically. I even put primers on the bullets too. This is also pretty much the only shot that you can see that I didn't put rifling in the barrel.

The magazine that is in the gun is separate so I could make a reload animation too. I also hope that this will be a strong piece for my portfolio. I have to give a special thanks to my friend James for his gun guru expertness that helped me out greatly during this project. I couldn't have done it without him!

All in all, I think this gun took me around 50 hours to make (total guess, it could be closer to 100, I'm not exactly sure), which is quite a bit when you think about it as only one gun and not a super complicated one like an assault rifle or something like that. Yeah . . . I'm going to be able to blow through my required senior project time so fast it won't even be funny.

So that pretty much sums up the more interesting parts of my life. Hopefully I will have some more stuff to show soon (I'll be working on a Samurai Sword next with a dragon handle which is going to be pretty sick). So stay tuned for more! : ) Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

How I Spent Spring Break . . . .

While my friends went to Italy or Disneyland for spring break, mine consisted of doing homework. It wasn't completely wasted though, because I did get some good portfolio material out of it.

A long time ago I had an idea for a novel, the main character of this novel was an Elf named Zanderia. For my most recent 3D project we were supposed to create a character in Maya using the mesh technique. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to make Zanderia. While she doesn't look quite like I wanted her to, I don't think that this project was a disaster and considering that this was my first attempt at not only a mesh character but also a human, I think I did alright.

While she is missing some details like eyebrows, eyelashes, finger and toenails, and  teeth, I did get the majority of her done. It was the best I could do with the tight time frame that I was under.

Her armor was an experiment that I threw together at the last minute. It could be improved, but it didn't turn out horrible.

Her face. I spent a ton of time on her face but have really struggled to get it right. Her hair was also a  big challenge.

I'm very proud of her stomach. I spent a ton of time looking at muscles diagrams so I could get her abs right.

The shoes were an accident that kinda worked. They remind me strongly of Faith's shoes from Mirror's Edge.

I also spent quite a bit of time getting her back right, including shoulder blades. I really like the way her back turned out.

Her hands were challenging but worth it I think. It's an important part of the character to get right.
I am happy with her legs. Well worth the time I put in for them.
 That is how I spent my spring break. Do you think it was worth it? I know Zanderia thinks it was worth it!

More pictures here.