Another month, another lack of bloggage, but I do have good reason as I’ve been working like a hardworking metaphor on several projects and I’ve finally finished Thor and started casting. The finished piece come is at around 6 inches high and I’ve made the first few out of bronze and one brass test piece.
No photo of the brass Thor yet as I got a bit over excited and took it out of the mould while he was still a bit soft so he got a bit knocked. Some of the damage looks quite funky and it adds something to the feel of it being an old artifact. Pics will come soon.
I had a bit of a problem moment with casting as I’d ordered some General Purpose RTV Silicone Mould Making Rubber (say that in a hurry) from MB Fibreglass (a good place to get supplied from BTW) and I’ve never used it before. Hmmmm, possibly I should have tried using it first but I jumped in head first and mixed up a batch and set to and discovered that it’s runny stuff.
I built up a lego wall around the original Thor and poured in the rubber and at this point the flaw in my cunning plan appeared. I know better, I know I should have built up a better barrier at the bottom but I was being sloppy and rushing things. When I poured the rubber in it started to seep out of the bottom and dribble all over the place but I did managed to plug it up on the fly and carry on. Next time I will be better prepared but I’d just better make sure whatever I use to build up the base around the bottom with is sulphur free.
The final mould is really nice, very stretchy but rigid enough to hold up by itself without the need for a mother mould which helps a lot. I did have to put a slit down the back to help with the removal of castings but with plenty of elastic bands that stays shut on moulding.
Two finished and polished while the one in the middle-back was about to be polished.
If you want to go and look at one in the flesh then they are currently on sale at Sacred Earth in Ipswich who commissioned the sculpture in the first place and through my Etsy store.
Monday night (May 27th) was FE Suffolk night and I’d volunteered to give a talk about my use of Cinema 4d and how I have used it to make content for websites, games, videos and other such tomfoolery. To try and make it interesting to the web people in the audience who have probably never been near a NURBS or a metaball in their lives, I thought it would be more fun to demo both Cinema 4d and Unity to give an idea about how a 3d app can be slotted into a workflow. That was the theory anyway but as the saying goes, the best laid plans…
I thought a good way to grab the audiences attention would be to build an iconic object from a well know game so picked the weighted companion cube simply as it’s a cube shape so works well with going from a primitive shape up to something more complex. I built the cube on a Sunday afternoon the week before the talk and spent about a few hours over the next couple of nights putting the texture together while having some fun with the model.
This shows my step by step process starting with a primitive cube. The second one is a demo to show a default cube with its standard UV and how simple it is to drop a texture on to get a basic object textured. The third cube is me using a boolean to build some of the shape up, yeah yeah yeah… booleans are not the best way to work but sometimes they can be used to get good results. The fourth cube is the final thing cleaned up and then five is the final textured cube with the UV’s cleaned up as the process of modeling the cube creates some horrible overlapping on the UV. I would go into depth on what some of the terms are but I doubt I could explain them well enough without a load of pictures.
A quick video was rendered up to show an example of dynamics.
I then edited an existing Unity sandbox I’ve made to include the cube, along with a script to interact with it (pick it up and chuck it) but I left that as a backup as I really wanted to demo how to import objects from C4D into Unity and then work with them. The landscape was built using a selection of the default items and scripts within Unity but some of the assets are mine such as the crate, the rather crude toilet (crude model rather than crude as in rude) and the picture of famed Sci-fi author Isaac Asimov is something I don’t really think I can explain. Finally I installed the unity player onto my laptop, tested it, copied all the files over and then set off for the talk.
Not like this:
So not one to be daunted too much, I shuffled on and managed to go through a few of the steps I took in creating the cube and explaining a bit about UV mapping. I should add that while UV mapping is a pretty important step when trying to make a good model, its also one of the most mind numbing processes ever developed by man, and it often takes me the longest out of any stage of making something as I tend to lose the will to live while UVing.
The biggest hurdle came when trying to work with unity as I couldn’t find any of the stuff I wanted to talk through properly and then to rub it in further, the object imported fine into Unity but refused to be imported into the scene. I ended up going straight to the finished version and back-peddling through the steps to show how I added a box collider and a rigid body then applied the script to the scene.
The test scene worked fine in Unity but fell over when I exported it and ran it as it turns out theres an export to offline mode. Well I didn’t know did I? It seems you need a whole load of js nonsense to make it work and without an internet connection it just fails so theres a little tickbox for export to offline mode that pumps out the needed files. You live and learn.
In the end I think I got there, just about, but I think GLaDOS had a hand in a few of the things that threw me off.
A big thanks to Kerry Buckley for taking a photo of me mid ramble.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to chip in below but finally… here’s the link to the scene: FE Suffolk Unity Demo
As the Outer Empires mining ship’s textures are being finalised and I’m going to prepare a sprite sheet to be added to the game, I thought I’d upload a few of the screengrabs and rough renders of the build process to show how it all came together.
The first thing I did was have a skim through some of my books and online to get some ideas and these shots show how I threw some basic shapes around to help me sketch out some ideas.
The top one was my idea of a dumptruck type of shape but I was struggling to see how to take that any further without it being too sleek, I wanted a more blocky shape with a feeling of mass. The second one was starting to be too much of a Chris Foss design so that got scrapped but I did like the cargoblocks so one of those was expanded upon and taken into the next idea.
Now we start to see the final shape appear. The rods and the front would have been more clusters of antenna, used to scan for metals in the asteroids but I started to think that would be too hard to see on the model when it zoomed out in the game. To keep the whole thing symmetrical I dropped the individual objects into a null and then placed that inside a symmetry object. Working on one side and the other side being updated at the same time is a great time saver and it also means the texture is mirrored after the UV’s have been set. The only thing is to remember to convert the mirror to an object before exporting to obj format or else it only spits out one side.
Starting to bulk up the detail and adding the solar panels. Something kept bugging me with the panels and I started to think they looked like goldfish fins.
After the hell of UVing, the almost zen like calm of texturing. To work on a nice res I setup 2k textures and baked out the AO and a UV layer on each colour map. I’ve found that sometimes baking the AO isn’t too accurate, sometimes I’ve ended up with light areas that are around areas that should be dark so a bit of tidying up is needed before they get used in the diffuse channel. I also tend to setup a fairly basic light rig that covers the whole object or else the shadows won’t be in the right place. The AO is also applied to a layer in the colour channel and set the layer mode to multiply then placed above the other colour layers, this helps to add shadow and some detail to the colour map. My texturing tends to involve hundreds of layers as I work on tiny bits then I combined a few layers when I’m happy with them, this stops be from constantly working on the same details over and over again and forces me forwards.
Notice the changes? There was something that was annoying me and I couldn’t put my finger on it, then it dawned on me, it was the scale. My original idea was the cockpit area would be a huge area and the small black strip around it was the window/viewport but as you moved back along the hull the scale seemed to change. I ditched the ridge and the panels around the top then scaled up the crane arm and it all clicked into place.
Obligatory wireframe shot.
Getting towards the end I started to mess around with a background to get it into context.
Right at the very end the solar panels got dropped, they did look far to small and out of place underneath so off they went. The blue exhaust was done with a copy of the colour map in the luminance channel but it didn’t quite work so I added a blue omni light with hard shadows which is set to ignore the flame objects. The light spills out and the hard shadow setting helps to give the illusion of a very intese light source at close range.
The final version, now I just need to create the final sprite sheet for including in the game.