Studio 2 Development Blog 18

Welcome back,

As we are coming to an end of the studio 2 development blog series, I feel like now is a good time to reflect on what it is that I am trying to accomplish through all of my research and experimentation within my specialisation project.

A quick recap on what I have been focusing on: bettering my skills at sculpting and bettering my skills and knowledge regarding materials and shaders. I chose to focus on these aspects of the 3D modelling pipeline as I would really like to be able to make amazing assets one day.

Firstly, sculpting, I love the idea of sculpting models, it’s an intuitive and artistic method of creating 3D assets that allows you to really help bring your model to life. Through all of my research and all of the time I spent in my specialisation project trying to learn new and improved ways of doing things, the most important thing that I learned was


This was something that pretty much encompassed what I needed to learn. It’s all well and good to just jump in and have a go and make something cool. That’s awesome. But if I really want to better myself and really want to become great at what I want to do, I need to learn as much as I can about the things that I want to make. I was watching a webinar with a bloke called Ryan Kingslien, he is an artist in the industry who also worked on the industry standard sculpting program, Z-Brush. Anyway, the big message I got from that particular webinar was “How can you create something if you don’t know what it is?”. This really struck a cord with me, I wanted to create all these awesome characters and all these awesome assets but I hadn’t spent the time to learn what goes into them. When I was sculpting or modelling away I was so focused on trying to get it to look the way I wanted to that it lost some of the believability that comes from creation grounded in knowledge. Sure, I could sculpt a pretty cool skull, but it took hours or even days. Not good enough, I needed to know how to build a model that would hold its own much faster and more accurately. My previous method was just to work on it until it looked the way I wanted to. A great way to do it if you have all the time in the world and don’t mind the hugely inefficient workflow. But that doesn’t really cut it in the industry. I needed to learn how to build the underlying structure of the model and then add in the unique details that will really lift the asset.

With this in mind I set out to learn some basics to help me do just that, and here are the results so far:

As you can see there are a few different models. The first set you can see up there is a fairly quick sculpt of a heart, mostly to just see how my skills have progressed over the unit. The second set is a musculature study I did. I started with a mudbox base mesh and sculpted in as much detail as I could regarding muscle groups and their directionality to try and get a better grasp of how the human body works and is constructed. The third is a sculpt I have created of a skull trying to build it from it’s fundamental shapes and components rather than just pushing the mesh around ’till I am happy with it. The last image there is of a Work In Progress model I am creating of a skull which I will talk about in a moment.

The reason I have included the WIP model in with all of those, much nicer looking, sculpts is because it shows what I am really trying to work towards with all of these exercises – A better knowledge of the subject matter. The WIP construction there doesn’t have good topology, proportion, form or really any real appeal however it is made up of all of the fundamental parts of a skull. This really was a way for me to try and push the information that I was trying to learn into my workflow. The model is comprised of many smaller models and is  missing still more but there is the maxilla, mandible, frontal bone, temporal bones, zygomatic bones, the occipital and more there. Kingslien pushed the idea of having the names for the things you are making, and it made a lot of sense. They don’t have to be the right ones, they are just a way for you to identify a component of the asset that you are adding in. In this case, the bones I have made have the correct names. There should be a little grove just in under the eyebrows, it’s called the supraorbital notch, it’s there for the supraorbital nerve and artery to sit in. One of the things I have learned in the process of creating this asset, and another detail that I can now put into my future creations to help bring them to life. Another thing that I now know so when I am creating something new and unique I can ground it with some reality that will give believability to my work even if it isn’t human.

What I am trying to say, in a quite long winded, but hopefully interesting, way is that as I accumulate more knowledge of how things work (not just the human body, that’s just where I am starting – this is a principle that applies to everything we create) I am able to add more and more believable details that help to bring the asset to life. These subtle details that will help to take my work from where it is currently to where I want it to be. Furthering what I am currently learning, there are applications beyond creating better work, that is, learning the rules of an object and once you know the rules you can know which ones can be broken to enhance the feel of your object without making it a colossal failure.

It seems this has gone longer than I had intended it to when I started it. Thank you for sticking it out, I’ll cut it off here.

As always,

Thank you and ’till next time,

James Day – 1002467


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