Monday, July 30, 2012

Animation Reel from Puff, the Magic Dragon

Because I've always meant to, I will be putting up more work from previous employers and other personal projects I've worked on in the past.

I felt that I needed to better show that I am capable of animating. Although it is something that I will be endeavouring to improve on over the course of my career.  Which means I will eventually make that short film with Lampy and his story, and hopefully improve my skills greatly during that time.  Or maybe I'll land a contract soon that will help me put the skills to better use and hone them there.  Where ever that ends up being.

For now though, I am posting the animations I created for the Sterling app Puff, the Magic Dragon, while I worked at Padworx Studios.

While I worked at Padworx, my title was Senior Artist, which meant I was a lot of things.  But my primary tasks were focused on 3d work, and that included everything that makes 3d happen. Modeling, uv's and texturing, rigging and animating, storyboards, environments and more.

This video shows some of the animated scenes - basic viewport captures - of the work that I did on this app. I did all the rigging, and I was the lead animator on the project. Which meant that I animated a large number of the scenes by myself, while giving direction on others. Later though, when everyone was pulled away to work on other apps, I had to fine tune and finish all the scenes.

I tried to finesse everything as much as possible within the small time frame we had been given.

Mostly, I am happy with the way it all turned out.

The limitations imposed by mobile devices on the number of bones that can be assigned to vertices, and the small number of polygons allowed per scene made it somewhat difficult, but fortunately blender is very forgiving and allowed me to edit meshes without losing skinning data.

The work was entirely done in blender. Even much of the texturing work - which I didn't include here - was done in blender too.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tourism Australia - There's Nothing Like Australia

Padworx Studios contracted me to create the intro video for the app they were building for Tourism Australia, which has recently been released. There's Nothing Like Australia App

I was pretty happy with how my work turned out and thought I would share it here.

It was rendered and composited in Blender, using a mix of both the internal renderer and the already amazing Cycles render engine being developed by the foundation.

Obviously, it was a pretty easy thing to rig, but I found that animating paper in 3d can be a tad more trying than flipping pages in the real world.

I'm glad I wasn't required to animate 100 pages. I think I would have developed a neuroses.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Process Post

I've been working on the first 25 pages of the graphic novel.  After doing some research today, I may have to cut one page, depending on whether it is affordable to print the comic up smaller "montly" issues.  But, it certainly looks like print may just be too expensive to do unless it is all one volume, or if you are a major publisher that can afford to print a really large amount of issues.

So I'm pretty settled into the production process now.

Personally, I first start with a small pad of paper or notebook, where I just quickly try to jot down the story, page by page.  At this early stage, I'm not really doing much more then putting down some basic narrative, dialogue or plot ideas that map out the story.  I find it convenient to do it like this, because it's easy to carry around and work on it anywhere.

This drafting stage has been very beneficial to me.  The text is enough to remind me of what I plan on drawing in that page, and without thumbnails, it allows me to alter the mental layout of the page if it needs a different flow.

Some of this work could end up becoming scrap once I type it into the computer, using Libre Office, I've debated using google drive for this, but decided for now to keep everything on my own system.

Next I start typing the pages out into my desktop. I then print out these pages and place them all into a binder, organized into revision tabs.  This way I can again easily edit then anywhere, marking out and revising narration and speech.  I can also figure out if a page needs to be broken up into more pages, and start the thumbnails while I edit.

Although it is all maybe a little time consuming, I think it is actually extremely beneficial, and so I will continue to force myself to do it.  The best laid plans are well thought out in advance.

Once things are starting to make sense and I am ready to start making the pages, I first create the layouts for every page in Inkscape.  I then work with MyPaint to sketch the pages and then the GIMP to bring it all together.

So below, you'll see the basic roughed in page, with crude images to get a sense of placement. Just blocking in at this point.

 After I am happy enough with the rough images, and all the pages are roughed out. I then move on to tightening up the images.  For me, this has been where the look of the characters has started to be fleshed out more.  I've tried to sketch some of the supporting characters, but with little success, because it just feels out of context, and it seems I need the story and panels to really feel it all.
Some of the panels require the use of a the background being repeated.  So for this I've decided to just duplicate the "pencils" of the background into each panel with the GIMP.  Later I'll free hand the "inks" of each panel separately, to give each a unique visual stamp.
I hope to have the first 25 and the cover up by mid August. Hopefully I can hit that mark, and - fingers crossed - people read it.

As an aside, making a living as an artist is not all it's cracked up to be.  

Has it ever been?  

While I wouldn't say I'm starving - my kids aren't currently going hungry either - it would certainly be nice to have some more money to get a little more out of life.

Sure, I could always look for work with another company - which I have done in the past, and would certainly take any current proposals! - but the reward of creating my own personal artistic vision is too enticing to stop striving to do this book and any other project I choose to create.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some Good and Some Embarrassing Moments

I needed to get videos of games that I've worked on posted here, I guess as a way to show off something of what I have done in the past. Though maybe it was out of nostalgia.

After delving through some of the games that I have worked on, I'm feel that I am shaking my head that some of them actually ended up being made at all.

Not so much that they were poorly done, they were pretty current in technology and implementation. More that the content is so questionable, and we knew it at the time. But, what the publisher wants, the publisher gets.

Thank you for the indie revolution!

More recent titles first, down to the oldest.

Sideway New York
Unfortunately, neither I nor anybody else I know - besides the upper creatives - were given credit on this game.  I played the demo on the PS3, and didn't see anyone I worked with in the grunt departments of the art/programming teams listed there. I worked on this game back in 2009 when it was being developed for XBLA while I was at Fuel Industries, before large lay offs occurred. It really didn't change all that much from the version I worked on. The environments look to have been reused and that includes all the props we made, but the texturing of the models is completely different. Originally while I was on the project, the look of the 3D environment was more realistic to contrast with the Graffiti. That appears to have been taken away.

This was a fairly large project, that involved quite a bit of character modelling with another artist who was my lead at the time. While the characters were simple enough, surprisingly the toony aspects provided quite a few annoyances when translated into 3D. The same models were used for the cinematics as in game, because the ingame stuff was all pre-rendered on sprite sheets.

Microsoft Tinker, Swipeout Battle Racing, Tetsurai
Overall, these were some enjoyable titles to work on.  I'm not sure Tetsurai has actually really been made playable yet. Other smaller adver games for web browsers were made while simultaneously working on these projects.

This is one of those smaller adver games. Viking Quest. It was fun, just your basic hack and slash like Gauntlet. I modelled props and the enemy minions.

Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green
I think that this must be the most popular game I've ever worked on. There appears to be a lot of fan love on youtube for it.  I left before the game was officially finished. But It had been a fun experience at the time. Especially the protoype - Day of the Zombie -  that lead to this whole movie tie.

This didn't perform well at all I don't think. I worked on the cinematics for a few months on this one.

Marine Heavy Gunner Vietnam
There is so much going on in this game that is politically incorrect.  And the majority of the team questioned how we ended up working on something like this. But this is what happens when you are mercenaries for hire. There were some good times had while making this game though.

Desert Thunder
This was my first real true game making experience, and again I questioned what I had gotten myself into. The team was great, but the content of the game questionable. We began working on this not that long after the events in New York on September 11th.  It appealed to a certain group at the time.