Monday, September 28, 2015


... for the second round of Rapid Prototype Production!

This time around, the theme of the game is "storytelling". This time around, I'm grouped up with Gordon, Jonathan, Samantha, and Larry. Cue the pressure of having three artists on one team. I won't say much about the game so far since everything is still in development. I will say that I'm very confident in my group and our idea!  Our designs and in-progress assets are looking good so far. ♥

an accurate depiction of the week to come.

This week in Drawing Fundamentals: SILHOUETTES. Whiiiich is pretty self-explanatory. Admittedly, it's something I need to get myself in the habit of doing before I devote time to a full character design. It certainly helps me see -- very early on -- if the shapes are really going to work or not.  Our homework assignment for this week was to make silhouette designs for assets that might/could be used in our second RPP game -- which was pretty cool! I approached it trying to think of characters/props/environments/mounts/etc. we could have used if we had the time to make more levels. I'm still not entirely sure how to do environmental silhouettes for non-man-made environments, and Google didn't seem to know all that much about it either.

some character silhouettes!

aaaaand some props & mounts. 
my environments are hideous so i left them out.

Oh! And for last week: our homework was to do two drawings of different compositions. One had to be iconic and the other could be any composition we would like (I chose the L composition).

i should really get back to drawing more men.

For 2D/3D, our task was to model, UV, sculpt, and texture a fish then import it to the unreal engine. Naturally, I went for the cute kissy face fish. This model was a lot easier than the canon. I didn't have as much of a problem with creating the actual maps (though, I ran into a bug on Maya where I couldn't go to the "tangent space normals" option to apply the maps). A chunk of my time was spent attempting to resolve the seam down the middle of the fish where the maps were joined. It's definitely less pronounced on the low res mesh, but still noticeable. The frustrating part is that it's completely absent on the smooth preview and the meshes with way more geometry so it leaves me uncertain on how to fix this problem. That aside, my paint-splatter fish ended up looking really good! I think I'm slowly getting the hang of this process.


As for Common Core art, we're working on digital sculpting. Fortunately, I've already had some practice with this with the 2D/3D assignments. One of the reasons I did the fish assignment was to use it as an exercise before I did this one.

carl has seen some stuff.

I also worked on doing some painting in Zbrush. It's safe to say that I prefer Mudbox exponentially for creating textures -- there's just way more tools on it to get a more detailed paint. Carl came out pretty well, though! [ tooting of own horn in the distance ]

Aaaaand lastly, for animation we have been working on adding overlap & following through to our walk cycle. As fun as this is, the thing I'm having trouble with is making the tail to the hat more lively. Originally, I wanted to make it bounce with each step but it ended up moving waaaaay to unnaturally fast (this is just a 29 frame walk cycle, after all). I wasn't too fond of it, so I had it sway back and forth like a ponytail would. I might be making changes to this in the future until I'm completely happy with it. The walk looks better, though!

And that's it for now. :D

Sunday, September 20, 2015

There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow ...

... Shining at the end of every day!

Over the last few posts I have made, I realized that I haven't talked about my Drawing Fundamentals or Animation courses in detail. First: Drawing Fundamentals!

Those who don't draw act like it's something magical when an artist can reproduce something on paper -- that it's just some latent talent we're born with. Nope! Any artist who's picked up a pencil knows that every piece comes from an understanding of all the artistic principles and tooooons and toooons of practice.  I was an art minor during my undergraduate degree. I had the opportunity of learning from three artists who were all very skilled in his craft. That doesn't mean I'm anywhere near done learning! There's still a lot of things I have left to refine (clearly). So this Drawing Fundamentals course is becoming the beginning of that. By the end of next year, I hope to look back to this post and see significant improvement.

One of our first assignments was focusing on shapes, lines, and getting a grasp on the tools we were given. 

The next was a focus on One Point, Two Point, and Three Point perspective! This needs a looooooot of work, as does my environments in general.

Currently, we're working on artistic compositions. This is a peek at some of my notes. 
Now I finally know the names of the compositions I spam. LOL


Last week, I made the choice to specialize in Animation during my time at FIEA! The times I was able to animate were definitely the highlight of my undergraduate. It's the field that I have the most passion learning about (not that I don't like 2D & 3D art! I just like animation more, LOL).

Currently in class, we have been working on the fundamentals of animation, some of the history behind it, and the principles.

this is our first assignment: a bouncing ball.

this is our second! more bouncing balls, WITH DIFFERENT WEIGHTS.

Aaaand this is what I'm currently working on: a generic walk cycle. This is currently still in progress because I have to get rid of this character's limp. ORZ

As a late birthday present, my parents gave me this doozy:

It's a book regarded as the "Bible of Animation" to many. As far as I know, it's ranked consistently high by people in how helpful and informative it is. Also, Disney. I love Disney. I already have Tony White's "How to Make Animated Films" to help me out in learning the basics a little while back. It looks like I have two great teaching aids at my disposal. ♥

Currently, the animation course is moving at a leisurely pace. It's calm enough so I can focus on the basics, fine tune things, get feedback, and correct my mistakes before the due date arrives. Later in the semester is when I'll be diving deep into animation as the assignments get more complicated. It'll be then when you spy a lot more posts detailing it. 

That's all for my progress in these two classes thus far. Until next time!

Steady As an Exploding Cannon

After weeks of working on this project, I think this cannon business has finally come to an end! This week consisted of me fine tuning textures (and finally being able to successfully bake a gradient map!) and shoving everything into the Unreal engine to spiffy-fy it.

ambient occlusion map.

the normal map with the zbrush textures.

the final color map painted in mudbox!

aaaaand the gradient map.

My getting each of the maps to bake properly was definitely a ... trying process. All of the trial and error has definitely helped me understand the baking process far better than I did before. It's definitely something I'll have to work on during the coming months.

looking good, yo.

some mental ray renders of the cannon! 

Adding the cannon into Unreal was definitely one of the more fun aspects of this entire process. Through this, I was able to learn about parameters and adding in more detail to these cannons. While my normal maps are slightly off in alignment (but vastly improved from before, after I started the whole mapping process over), I think that this turned out to be pretty good for my first go at it. A little while from now, my props will be looking a lot better!

Aaaand that's all on this project! Off to work on other stuffs. ♥

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

RPP #1: Clownin' Around

Over the last two weeks, I was able to work with a few talented folks to make our first game here at FIEA! For this game, we had only two requirements. First, the game had to be made in flash. Second, the theme was "fun". Joey Llobet, Logan Gerrol, Will Bahnmiller, Claire Rice, and I conceptualized a circus-themed game entitled -- wait for it -- Clownin' Around.

In Clownin' Around, you play an adorable clown named BonBon who bounces on a trampoline and chucks pies at the other clowns (and Ringmaster) who attempt to steal the show! The game is currently playable RIGHT HERE.

The process of the game's creation went rather smoothly. Once we decided on a theme we believed encapsulated "fun" and would be enjoyable to many people, ideas kept snowballing from there. I was pretty excited to be around such a creative bunch of people! We somehow managed to include almost everything we initially planned: animations, pie throwing, multiple enemies, moving platforms, balloon obstacles, and a Ringmaster who flies around with a lion on a fishing rod. The only thing we didn't get to include that we initially planned were trophies that corresponded to how high (or low) of a score the player achieved. We were pretty ambitious but it certainly paid off in the end given the success of our game!

On the artists' end, Claire and I were clearly in charge of the visual development. We ended up basing the game's visuals on my initial sketches & concept art.

early designs that didn't change too much.

Coordination between our art styles wasn't necessarily difficult because they were very similar in a lot of respects. Like, for instance, we draw a lot of cute shit with thick lines and bold colors. Together, we crafted an entire environment that really brought the theme to life. Her character designs of the enemy clowns really brought that variety and silliness to the game that I wouldn't have done on my own (and it helped me to learn more about drawing iconic characters by implementing different shapes). I couldn't ask for a better partner in crime in this venture. 

I regard Logan and Will as being wizards for creating all the coding for Clownin' Around and implementing every mechanic we conceptualized. As someone with very little coding background under her belt, I sit in amazement that they managed to code everything we planned and then-some, all while being entirely glitch-free. Programmers make magic, yo. Joey was one awesome every man in this game's development. As our sound designer, voice actor, animator, and producer, he really had a gigantic hand in making our game's world all that much more believable and, well, fun. Awesome, all of them.

a look at the environment of the game. GO PLAY IT.

For my first team experience at FIEA was definitely a spectacular one. I'm looking all the more forward to the future games!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Maps that Lead to YOU

This week at 2D/3D? Map baking. For one reason or another, my maps continuously refused to bake properly. I ended up getting proper renderings of my Normal Maps and Ambient Occlusion Maps.

The third week of classes continued practice with Maya but introduced Mudbox to us! I was well aware of the program for some time but never quite had the opportunity to tinker with it.  It's definitely a lot of fun.

i shall call him timothy.

After restarting entirely because my first Ambient Occulsion map made everything transparent, then completely giving up on the gradient map (which only rendered small chunks of the entire UVs no matter what settings I would put in), it was time to finally import my cannon to Mudbox and begin painting. While I couldn't exactly do much about the gradient, I attempted to make up for it in other areas. 

It's amazing that this turned out decently! It's not too shabby, if I do say so myself. There's a LOT of room for improvement, though.

EDIT: 9/14/2015

For the Common Core art class, we had to do some more modeling! I finally finished my little guy. 

I have named him Carl.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Falling into the Swing

With my second week of FIEA reaching its end, I'm slowly beginning to get used to things! The change of scenery and being this immersed in the medium is still a little strange to me. My undergraduate university wasn't that serious about its Digital Arts program, so this is definitely a magnificent change of pace. I already feel like I'm learning a great deal from the faculty and we have barely scratched the surface. 

The beginning of the second week he beginning of the second week also marked the start of RPP, or "Rapid Prototype Production", where we spend two weeks making a small Flash game. I'll be talking more about that in the future. At the moment, I've been working through my homework for my other classes so I could focus my attention mainly on my team's RPP game.

For my Animation class (which I adore), our homework was to animate a bouncing ball. I've had an intermediate amount of experience animating with Maya in the past. Nothing wrong can come out of going over the basics of Animation! With each passing class, I'm growing more and more excited to learn about this medium. This'll likely be where I specialize!

Last week, I modeled a cannon for my 2D/3D class. This week, I had to go through the ... less-than-time-efficient process of mapping out UV's for the same model. My being currently inept with UV mapping might have had something to do with me taking forever on this. Maybe. This was my first time successfully mapping out a UV for an object that wasn't as simple as a square or a circle. Needless to say, I'm quite proud of that accomplishment!

if you look closely, you can see the stains from my blood and tears.

It's not quite perfect, but it's functional! So that's what matters right now. Our next step was importing that cannon into Zbrush to give the model some more detail. If you thought Maya was great, Zbrush is on another level. This was definitely the most fun part of the entire process. Digital sculpting is something I'm going to be practicing with a lot.

this would have taken me years on maya, holy cow.

The topic of the Common Core art class this week was concept design (exciting!). We went over concept art, design processes, and art examples of great designers. The gist of our assignment was to redesign a Nintendo character, create a model sheet, a colored drawing, and an environment. My partner (my sister, k'doy) and I opted for Princess Peach after a less-than-successful go-ahead with Kirby. orz. My duty was the character-related stuff, while she's working on the environments! After making a few silhouettes in my sketchbook, we opted for an arachnid-inspired Princess Peach.

it doesn't resemble her in the slightest until i add the colors, huh? LOL

Our working knowledge of Princess Peach is that she's Mario's love interest and a damsel-in-distress. We didn't want to go the path of just shoving Peach in a different environment and changing her outfit. Thaaat wouldn't have been too fun. We ended up picking that spider-lady silhouette and rolling with that because it's so ... utterly not Peach in the slightest. The only thing reminiscent of her is probably the dulled color palette and the crown & gloves.

 Is it a successful design? More than likely not. Was it fun to try out for her? Hell yeah! What first designs are successful, really? After seeing it drawn out and colored, we probably would have tried out a few more routes before deciding on something final. 

On top of all of this, my other coursework included some much-unwanted math for Technical Art. Yes, I certainly fulfill the expectation that artists aren't particularly skilled at advanced math or coding. I AM NOT ASHAMED.  

AND NOW. I can march on, full speed ahead, to working on our first RPP game of the program!