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! :)