Tuesday, 23 October 2012

3D Trash

 Our first 3D project of the 2nd year....trash! Yes, that pile of rubbish that most people would take no notice of. We have been asked to model and texture some in 3D, meaning we all get to go outside photographing rubbish looking like complete weirdos. The last time I used 3DSMAX was around April, so it isnt hard to imagine how horribly out of practice I am.  *sigh*

Unfortunately my lack of practice in recent months affected my entusiasm to start the project and I left it till the last week of the project to even get started. I was confident I could get the project done within a week but it still wasn't a great idea to leave it and then stress over being able to get it done in time.

Thankfully using the software came back to me quite easily after I got started and once I got stuck into the project I was able to complete the modelling and unwrapping within a few hours. I was really pleased I hadn't completely forgot how to do 3D and wouldnt have to teach it to myself all over again! Texturing was more problematic however, and very very tedious. I lost steam when I got this far and ended up taking a few days to get it done.

Last year I used to really enjoy Game Production and doing 3D, I would feel excited and interested when we were given a new project to do and couldnt wait to get stuck in. This year however I feel somewhat overwhelmed and uninspired. This is likely down to the large space I time I didnt do any, but also down to all the new things we need to learn to do, and the things that I dont know that I probably already should *cough* lighting *cough*. With all the new things like Zbrush and UDK that are looming I'm not confident at all about my work and what I cant produce. I feel I can always do better in 3D, better ways to model or texture but I don't know what these ways are and I dont think I'll learn them in time and my 3D work will always end up looking a bit rubbish.

With that being said here is my rubbish rubbish! yay...


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Task 14: Elements of game design, part five: planning and concepting

Concept Art, those big old buzz words that everyone seems to love. Just stick them into google and your eyes will melt with all the pretty pictures. Here is just two examples of results on the first page of google image search...

The Internet is FULL of websites where you can go to glare at awesome looking digi paints that people call concept art, such as the well know "http://conceptart.org/forums/forum.php" Concepting is however, a largely misunderstood idea, and I will admit I was one of those people who thought concepting was just about drawing those pretty pictures. I come to realise now however how much more than that it really is. If for example you goggle image search 'concepting' you get a much duller set of imagery...
 That doesn't look very interesting does it? Where are the awesome characters kitted out in armour or the stunning environment vistas?
Elsewhere I guess.

This is what concepting is really about. Its about the basics, thoughts, references and ideas. Concepts are born from ideas and take them a step further. They aren't the glossy well polished artwork that probably took hours to create. 
I think people think being a concept artist means just producing nice pictures all day and they don't realise just how much really goes into it and whats involved. But who can blame them, that's all we, the public, every really get to see.

Companies release concept art books but it seems limited to showcasing the top quality well worked art. The sheer amount of artwork produced for a game must be massive and I understand that what can be included in art books is limited, so the best is chosen, I get that. But it would be really nice to see a collection of the art in progress. The real concepting of the game. The initial stages of ideas, planning and experimenting with the brief before everything is nailed down. This would really give an insight into how the game came to be, how people think and work together and what artwork really kick starts the gears of the imagination.

Throughout recent years I have lost my interest for stunning pieces of concept art, and this is generally why. I don't feel the artwork really shows me anything about how the game was designed or truly concepted. I'm just looking at someone who is really good at digi-painting showing off their skills, and that has become quite boring.

So now we get to the 'planning' stage. The idea of which I find quite dull. I just get an image of sitting around all day planning to do something but then never actually getting anything done. It gives me the sense of talking rather than doing and I'm more of a 'doing' person. But I'm overlooking the real importance of planning. Without planning nothing would get done in the first place. There would be no point to randomly starting to do things if they weren't following a plan that had a desired and planned outcome.

We need and use plans in everyday life, in order to make sure we get done everything that needs doing. I can't even imagine how many times I must have said "So whats the plan for today?' throughout my life. It might not be something I write down and strictly stick to, but it is basically the same as what companies and other people do all over the world. Why would game companies be any different? They need to plan their games. They set up teams, objectives, limitations and deadlines. They plan everything out, even if they don't know what the end result might be exactly, they still know when it needs doing by and how much it has to cost.

Planning is a large part of what makes games happen, granted they can often be pushed back and released at a later date or sometimes even completely redesigned but without a basic plan they wouldn't happen at all. An unfortunate example of this is Valve. They have released several good games but often release them years later than predicted or not released at all. Of course I have no real idea of what causes this to happen but from what I have read in the past a lack of good planning could be a leading cause.

Getting back into the swing...

We've been back at Uni for just under 3 weeks now and I've had an 'interesting' mix of feelings. I wasn't thrilled to be back to begin with, if I'm honest. I wasn't really looking forward to the endless hours outside drawing in god knows what weather conditions or spending hours staring at my screen trying to figure out how to get 3Dmax to play nice.
But it hasn't been all that bad I guess.
The first week we spent out drawing at Abbey park, the weather wasn't great but at least better than last year! I really struggled to get into drawing and it took alot of effort and visits back before I really started to get anything done. I felt I had a very strong block, perhaps just my stubbornness to get started again. I guess I was just afraid I would be terrible after not drawing for so long and suck at it again, and nobody wants to suck.
I made the decision pretty much straight away that I was going to stay well away from digital work. At least for the first few weeks. I don't personally enjoy doing it and don't find it all that impressive either. I decided that if I was going to get back into drawing and do it well I would need to do just that, draw. Not use Fancy programs to get fancy results., I'm sure there will plenty of time for that in the future.
So I stuck to traditional work for the first two weeks, mainly inks and water colour washes and I actually really enjoyed it. I find not worrying about having to produce really pretty digital masterpieces to compare with everyone else very liberating. I've been able to just focus on what I'm doing and what I'm learning and how I can improve. Its been alot of fun rather than alot of stress. which is nice.

Just in these two weeks I feel I have developed a way of using ink and washes that I no idea about before. I've been able to produce interesting, (mostly) accurate sketches quickly that don't look half bad. So I'm happy.
So here's a small sample of work from the 1st week at Abbey Park.

By the end of the first week I felt more confident with my drawing again and interestingly found it much easier to sketch confidently with a pen rather than a pencil. I continued this technique throughout the 2nd week at Loughborough Great Central Railway.

I felt confident enough drawing in this way that I used it to do my final piece for the Train station and I think it shows a marked improvement from my Abbey park final.

I still haven't done any digital painting *sigh*. I don't really want to but everyone else is churning out some amazing looking digi paints so I guess I'm going to have to start soon just to keep up. But maybe I can keep doing traditional for a while longer, its so much more enjoyable.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

So now Year 2...

So the date is 07/10/2012, the summer holiday has come and gone and it is now Year 2 at University. If I'm honest I didn't do all that much during the last few months. The plan was to have a week or two break to relax and then carry on with a productive routine throughout the holiday.
That didn't happen.
My priorities changed somewhat during the summer. I was jobseeking and working for a large part of it, getting married, playing games and relaxing for the rest of it. It worked great for destressing and having a nice time but has left me woefully unprepared for the start of the year.

There is however, not much I can do about that now and I must look forward to the coming months and getting back into the swing of Uni.
Looking back at the first year now I release I didn't spend enough time workly productively and despite making vast improvements in all areas throughout the year, still have a long way to go.
My goals for the second year, as I stand now, are to stay focused and aproach work sensibley.

I know from experiance of the first year one of the worst things I can do is get overstressed about work. It isn't productive, it makes me feel quite depressed and ill and the vast majority of the time it isnt even justified.

There is a variety of areas I want to improve in this year and new things I want to learn, but I can't do either if I'm spending all my time stressed out. I want to use this year to improve my abilities in as many areas as possible and getting work done to the best of my ability.

I also want to use the year to grow personally in other areas that interest me. I know I can acheive more if I put my mind and effort into it, rather than constantly worrying about everything I'm doing.

So, bring on the second year and we'll see how it goes.