Much to do still: model the rear and inside, and add texturing… but couldn’t resist posting!
Archive for the scifi Category
A quick update of the model. The exterior has been completely retopologised (thanks to the use of Maya’s Quad Draw function and lots of curves to help smooth out the edges and various interior pieces of the body panels). The front wheels now have brake pads and suspension modeled too. The textures are purely placeholders… lots of exciting stuff still to come: interior modelling, full texturing, the weaponry and maybe some exterior armor plating.
I’ve got to be honest, I love to work on concept vehicles in ZBrush. It’s easy, quick and gives an artist a huge amount of freedom to develop and change a model without getting bogged down in polygon edge flow, smoothing, creasing and… well, you get the point. It saves a lot of time and hassle, and allows you to produce some really nice work.
Being just as honest, though, I’d almost given up on it. The work is always high polygon, and I always want to take the work into Maya for extra detailing, texturing and rendering: extracting a door from the model, for example, but leaving the edges of the extracted pieces nice and smooth, but low enough in polygons to easily go in and extract edges for body panels around windows, or to have enough, low-resolution pieces to start extracting out the interior of the vehicle. ZBrush didn’t give me that, and drawing new topology over old pieces just left me frustrated and, occasionally, pretty depressed.
Pixologic released ZBrush 4.5 last week, though, and it introduced some cool new features. The most useful for me, that I’ve looked into so far, addressed a lot of the above concerns… and maybe saves me from frustration and hours that seem to produce no solutions.
Click on the image below for a rough guide to Panel Loops, from base sculpt to individual body panels, with nice edges, tight corners and useful geometry, all with a reasonably low polygon count.
So here’s an update to my Space Ranger. I’ve added some texturing to the figure, plus his basic clothing (with texturing). The clothing was created in Topogun, using the base Zbrush figure as a guide; a really easy process of drawing out polygons over the figure’s surface. I’m not sure that the denim texture of the trousers will stay; I don’t think it really says ‘Space Ranger’ TBH, so that will be re-done.
I’ve also created the shoulder strap and his rifle (which will be slung over his back), and there’s a blaster that needs to be modelled to; I’ve not added the rifle or shoulder strap yet because, if I’m honest, it looks rather fine and it’s almost a shame to have it covered up from view in the final scene. Some thought is needed there, I think.
Next up, we have the work in progress for his ship, from Zbrush concept sculpt, to topology in Topogun (with a little help from Maya for the circular shapes that I wanted to keep perfectly shaped), to the beginning of the refinement back in Maya.
I’ll probably go much further than I need to with his ship; I like to detail the insides as well as the exteriors of ships and, hey, it’s not for a production environment so I can go the whole hog if I feel the need.
As the final scene wasn’t based on an initial concept sketch (just an evolving idea), everything’s still pretty free-form right now. Once the basic ship is modelled, I’ll assemble things as a composite in Photoshop and do a sketch-over to rough out that final image, then build everything else around that concept.
I’ve included a few tips on the ship images that might be of some use to a modeller; concepting a ship in Zbrush is a lot of fun, but developing that into a full, neat model takes time and, in the past, has left me stumped, so here’s hoping that the scant tips help someone out.
It’s been a little while since I last posted; I’ve been busy writing my next book and looking for a potential agent for my first novel (which I should hopefully get sent off soon).
I thought it would be good to post a few images: the first two are of my latest project, including the original sketch and the Zbrush sculpt so far, the third image is of a slightly old project that I’ve drawn a line under. I’d done as much as I wanted to and, to be honest, I used it mainly as a means to progress my sculpting, texturing and retopology skills.
Clothes and retoplogy were all done in Topogun; an excellent program in every respect. It makes the job of producing new geometry so much easier than using Zbrush’s own zsphere method of retoplogy; it’s easier to see what’s going on, and far easier to draw out new polygons over your old mesh.
Much was achieved here thanks to a two month subscription to Digital Tutors; an excellent group of people that clearly know what they’re talking about, and that have a brilliant set of training skills. I highly recommend any aspiring 3D or 2D artist give them a look.
Zbrush itself has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. I’ve been using it since my partner, family and a few friends clubbed together to buy me a licence for my birthday and, amazingly, it not only comes in at a reasonable price but each and every upgrade has been at no extra charge. Over the last two releases Pixologic has really worked hard to introduce and develop their Fibremesh system; a very easy way to create and style hair, fur, grass, trees… the list goes on. Digital Tutor’s have produced some excellent courses designed to show how to style hair and fur; before I watched their videos I just couldn’t get the hang of styling at all.
So a big shout out to Pixologic and Digital Tutors in particular… long may you reign!
Anyone who knows me, even slightly, knows that I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. I’ve adored the series, its characters, its stories and its sense of wonder since I was a kid and so I bought The Eternity Clock with an eager need. It’s worth saying that although this is the fourth commercial Doctor Who game released in the last few years, it’s the first one that I’ve plumped for; none of the others interested me and, after playing around in the lackluster free adventure games a couple of years ago, I’ve felt rather jaded about the whole Who-gaming experience.
The Eternity Clock was to be different though; the press releases told me so… and that’s exactly where I should have realised that something was terribly, terribly wrong.
The Eternity Clock has some great and time-tested ideas at its heart; a side-scrolling platformer with enemies to avoid, puzzles to solve and fun to be had. The first few moments are fun; the Doctor arrives inside the Bank of England’s vault and must make his way out, but it quickly becomes apparent that this game is a shallow, frustrating and often uncontrollable affair with very little creative effort put into its design.
The button controls dont’ behave quite like you’d want them to; your action button and jump button are the wrong way round compared to a lot of games and, honestly, they often just dont’ react when you press them. An attempt to jump and grab River’s hand doesn’t do anything; which is a real pain in the unmentionables when you’re trying to beat a hoard of Cybermen to some unmentioned goal. As you run off ahead and wait to give her a leg up, she dawdles for a few seconds and then either runs or simple walks to your side; there seems to be nothing that controls which she should be doing, despite the aforementioned chase and the urgency it should require.
The side-scrolling is very reminiscent of the recent Tintin game; lots of crawling and ducking and avoiding bad guys, and ont he odd chance you can play as River Song (why not let me switch characters when I want to?) you can grab your bad guys and stun them with a good old dose of hallucinogenic lipstick. Tintin was pleasant enough, but very boring, even for younger players; its repetitive and unimaginative level design was a huge let down, and one that prompted a quick resale via Amazon. The Eternity Clock is worse though, and for several reasons. It’s initially very charming, but after a few seconds that charm fades into frustration and obvious repetition. The collectibles (pages from River’s diary and hats for the Doctor) are a great idea, but you can’t do anything with them; why give the Doctor fancy hats to collect, let him comment on them, and then not let him actually *wear* them? Plus the clunky controls, very dodgy AI for River and the other guards, laughably ineffective cover system for hiding from enemies… the list goes on.
How could something with so much promise turn out to be so awful? How could the BBC trust the development of a game of one of their hottest and most profitable programmes to a company with such a small portfolio? How did this product ever get past the keen eyes of development managers at BBC Worldwide? Why did I chose a digital download version that I can’t resell?
These answers add up to a cliff hanger that won’t ever be answered by me… but I’m sure you can guess the answers.
A waste of time and money; full of glitches, frustration and repetition, devoid of the magic of the series. To be avoided.