About Me

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Leicester, United Kingdom
Studying BA (Hons) Game Art Design at De Montfort University. It continues to be challenging as much as rewarding. Primary outcomes include 2D and 3D projects and 2am coffees.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

So Dom, how did you find Round Two?

The second year has concluded after all, despite being a month longer than the previous, it's gone just as quickly. After tomorrow's disk is handed in I will be without cause until October. At this time the only agenda I have to occupy me into next year is returning to work to restore the damage in my overdraft, but there is a lot more I can occupy my time with, and no I ain't referring to 'catching up' on games!

As higher education university serves as a purpose of expanding our existing knowledge and bringing to a level in which we are able to take it successfully into the working world. In addition to that it also serves as a opportunity to those who spend over thousands of pounds to get in and then fritter and piss the time away. There are those, including my parents, who will always say you should make the most of your uni experience, like join societies, clubs and attend social events. Quite frankly I couldn't  care for anything that is outside of my course, at an early stage I made the decision that I would not have the time for such commitments and given how these past two years have transpired, I feel it was a good decision, since I know that all my course mates are all in the same position as me and I know I'm not missing out on anything.

Yes I finally succumbed to the use of gifs! I tasted it, and I like it!

My time here is what I make of it, and what I intend to get out of this is the knowledge of exiting techniques of software used in the industry as well as the ability to adapt should I be flung into an unfamiliar atmosphere.

At the beginning of the year I made a note in a blog what I had hoped to achieve, so let's see what I can tick off and which one's I'll just reply with an awkward silence.

Photoshop Promotion: Since last year I have leant more of the short cuts and techniques within PS that have helped save me time and made texture making and digital painting more efficient.

Choice of brushes: I've invested (downloaded) heavily in new sets of brushes, which have proven to be vey beneficial in certain pieces of work, the grunge brushes that were shared for the group project above all, I used them for replicating Turners style for the Masters project. My sunsets came out very nicely.

Yet occasionally I swap from brush to brush too often, and I have been told that in some cases the brushes are as important as I had imagined them to be, and that I could achieve what I'm doing with a smaller palate. Something I will try out.

Zbrush: Despite leaving it a bit late in my schedule for Mortal Engines, I learnt the navigation and brushes system within Z-brush rather quickly. I see how it an effective alternative to sculpting normal maps.

Perspective: Totally mastered it.

But no, here and there it has been a bit off, most recently and most notable my interior project, but it was down to my choice of layout.

See? I could just have easily settled for something more linear!

Hand painted textures: There have been times where I haven't been able to source my own textures without resorting to plagiarism, so in some cases I can produced wood and metal textures which have come out quite nicely when compared to internet reference.

Characters: Despite the fact that the two projects for characters were for ones I was very familiar with, one being myself, I felt that they were not portraying their character enough due to their composition. In short, the issue for me was the faces, throughout the 4 weeks of the self portrait I was constantly editing my head, adjusting jawline and  so on.

So until the next year, there are several things that I would like to address. I am still steering in the direction of environmental art, so to prove this I will next more evidence to justify this statement.

Character Improvement: Despite this not being my chosen field I wish to improve my current standing in this area, my idea is to do something similar to the Dmuga Speedtacular with an associated word and made someone from it?

Website/portfolio: I wish to revive and restore my old website which I set up during the Key Stage 3 years. Now I reckon you're expecting me to provide a link to its current state.

It's just too embarrassing, it's essentially the equivalent of an All about me Powerpoint, sort of thing you'd do when you start secondary school. Now I am fully aware that there are websites out there like http://carbonmade.com/ and http://portfolio.deviantart.com/ that can do all the technical shit for you, and I know web design is an entirely different field, but I enjoyed working with Dreamweaver.

Back to work = £££

FMP considerations:
We've all asked ourselves this, sometimes rhetorically, but I have some rough ideas for the setting of the level, and of course this big 'break' will be a good chance to gather reference that I may not be able to acquire during term time.

So DMUGA has kept me challenged, mentally and never physically :P, once again. The group project was a tremendous opportunity and I'm glad you coaxed out leader into going for it, when else would we get this chance? On which note we have noted what to add to it over the summer, so that's something else for the list.

Here's to another year eh?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

So is it Life Changing or Career Building?

There is an on-going debate as to what exactly us game art students should be taught, specific technical skills or learning attributes and soft skills?

Soft skills is a term which I am already vaguely familiar with, something that was brought up during Sixth Form and used in other aspects such as soft subjects, the latter being used to categorise subjects in reports, one of which was art (how insulting! as if they would insinuate what we're doing is in any way 'easy').

You look for a definition of soft skills and many lists will vary in length but in the end they contain the core fundamentals, some are just plain obvious like good eye contact, being drug-free and common sense. I mean come on! And then there are other factors which employers will expect to see in the people they meet. Adaptability, personal energy and ability to self supervise and so on. It's these traits that will get us through this course and into the working world. Looking at our year group as an example, our numbers have been halved approximately since last year, this is most likely due to people not utilising the soft skills.

This question can refer back to the research of generalism and specialism, how excelling in one specific area can be of benefit, particularly if the company is looking for individuals who can bring them significant value. Yet with the expansion and change within the industry for all we know that said subject could be rendered obsolete within a sort space of time. I mean I could dedicate the remainder of my time on the course to learning every part of 3ds Max, only to find that upon graduating the game company's are using a brand new software entirely.

Furthermore in terms of what employers are actually after, the characteristics they wish for on their vacancies may change also. As the technology changes the chances are that their demands will as well.

Personally I'm glad that we are not spoon fed every time a new chapter in Game Production opens, we are given the tools like 3ds Max and the engines and we are expected to decipher them for ourselves. One of the key lessons that we're told time and time again is that there is no one way to go about doing something, be it on a pc or in a sketchbook, everyone has there own way of approaching task. We can't go through the entire course and on into the industry asking for help. Although in my case, that moment where I want to ask a question and realise that is sounds kinda stupid, but have to ask because I don't wanna waste the rest of the day being dumbstruck. 

At the end of the day, I believe that it's in our best interests that we are able to move ahead with technology, so I am actually in favour of the soft skills side of this debate, simply because the values of this cannot be taught and learnt, you must discover if you have them within yourself and prove it. Ok that does sound rather corny like it's from a fantasy film but it's true, although sometimes when you claim certain skills it feels like being on The Apprentice interviews, and the look on their faces half the time..... it's demoralising.

 Prime fear: ''I don't want to hear anymore.''

Friday, 17 May 2013

Visual Design Blast

They say the hardest part is admitting the issue in the first place, this is no exception. I have been behind. As are many of us as a result of the Group projects, Chris mentioned that this is inevitable but regardless It's not an adequate reason for it. I didn't want to end up not delivering my end of the work by saying I was doing 2D instead, because everyone was in that position as well. Furthermore I failed to properly utilise the Easter 'holiday' for Visual Design, had I have some this I would not have as much on my mind currently.In spite of this however, I organised a brief layout for this week. Factoring in what is most outstanding. Chris ran us through the marking process briefly when others voiced their worries of not having every project ticked off. I made me consider something but I didn't bring myself to ask:

''Would you rather have every project handed in with not all of them being completed to the best of (my) ability, or would you rather have say three projects missing but with them all being polished gems?''

Obviously from a tutors position you'd want both. So it is my intention to deliver every project on the list, and if I remain on track I can pull this off. In reference to my schedule, I have left the final day as 'open', how I intend to use it solely for tweaking finals and adding additional development work to any smaller projects, as I hope to utilise the certain bits of crit I received earlier in the year.

With the Moonshine Project that we elected other the other choices, I decided to go with a vehicle path, which surprised me really, I guess I wanted to try and make amendments for my Imagineering kafuffle! I got a good handful of reference both online and from watching Lawless; scenes which featured the cars and trucks were from a variety of angles and perspectives. This was very helpful as I was worried about how to portray the underside which would be partially visible, before this I struggled on how the characteristics of the axel.

I decided to go for a pick up truck over an actual car, the preferred transport of smuggled hooch. The Dodge trucks was the primary source of reference.

I kinda feel like I was missing out by not doing a character like most people have, but then in reality I guess it wouldn't have lived up to what I'd hoped to produce. I was also interested that people had taken a swamp approach to this project, as I thought it was supposed to reference the Prohibition era, but then again this project is open to individual interpretation and I may be focusing on one environment based on my ref.

To begin with the interior project I forgot it was specified as BAR interior, and went ahead with plans to do a trophy room. Suits of armour weapon racks, stuffed animals and mounted heads above the mantelpiece - you get the picture. Having read the brief again I did try to see how I could incorporate it into a bar theme, but nada. I did then jump to and Australian outback theme for a bar, given my actual experience there and knowledge of Aussie slang for bar names. Cheesy stuff like Saucy Sheila or BoomerZ (the latter being slang for male kangaroo), but in the end this was a short-lived idea and I resumed the trophy room layout.


Decided to change it into a corridor in the end, however given the fact that the walls were arched I made perspective a right nuisance, its clear in areas that it isn't correct.

I also went about trying out signatures and logos for the portfolio project, it's handy that my initials merge rather well together, however I was distraught to discover that together they resemble a dick...

I've gone for the cuboid one at the bottom, really like the merge.

So until Monday morning I shall press on and look forward to this time next week when I can enjoy a long nights sleep without worry.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

So long London....for now

And so after over four months or concepting, modelling, exporting, importing, rescaling and re-setting and re-exporting, the group project is at last done and handed in!

Although I had seen the flythrough in earlier stages, watching it for the first time was rather moving, but that's Hans Zimmer music for you, I was close to tears during the credits of Gladiator.

Looking at the level as a whole, it really is amazing how much we were able to produce in the time given. We were ambitious to go big at the start, and looking at the level as a whole, it certainly is huge! The last couple of weeks were a big push as we made more decals and last minute props to distribute among the streets, but we managed to pull it off.
Unfortunately some of our sounds failed to trigger during the presentation but it wasn't a major setback. Yet it isn't the end, there is still much more we can at to it. To begin with we compiled a list of things we wanted to include and prioritised it to see what could be left to a later date and so on.

This includes:
- Animated rigged animals roaming the street, chickens pigs dogs etc (we have a rigged rat, but we didn't get round to putting it on)
- Interiors
- The tower of London in the Backdrop
- Additional particle effects

My role was pretty much a 'prop guy' after we'd made our modular houses. I made a variety that were merged with other props and distributed amongst different areas of the level.

Since I didn't have Marmoset, I felt that my renders were less pretty compared to the others :/

That last shot was a WIP for my individual submission level. Still got several more assets to include and some multi subs to fix, but now, Visual Design shall have my undivided attention!