Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Process Log 10: The Temple Guardian

Here's the process I went through in creating the Temple Guardian, informally known as Sherlock after watching several episodes of the BBC show dubbed the same name. :'D This was a character I worked on for senior thesis with Erica Berman. More process of our project can be found here:

The initial idea I had for Sherlock was a monster plant that had a decoy to lure it's prey. It essentially had two bodies, one immobile that was rooted to the ground that acted as the lure, and the main body that sprouted out of the lower body.

Explored various types of heads for the main body. Two of my main references were deepsea fish and kabuto beetles.

This was the final turnaround and silhouette test for Sherlock.

Some modeling WIP:

Then I came across a pretty big problem. As I was modeling the lower body, I realized that the decoy's design looked too intimidating, thus driving anything that would've been lured away. After receiving crits from colleagues and faculty, it was set in stone that I had to go back and fix the head of Sherlock's lower body.

Referring back to the pencil sketches above, I did some more exploration of some cuter decoy heads. I ended up going with a simple flower head with no lure.

Coming up with a cohesive color scheme was also another challenge I ran into when I made the adjustments to the lower body. The third iteration in the image above was the concept I ended up using. Here's the cool reference that inspired the color scheme:

(Huernia piersii)

And here is the final model with all its textures:

Update: Sherlock in context

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Process Log 9: Progressions 2 (Ryan)

For this Process Log, I wanted to share 3 years worth of ideation and exploration of a single character I've been fleshing out for quite some time: Ryan Zaneth, the main character of my story called "MOTH" (work in progress title).

Ryan's Base Appearance
Progressions read from left to right:

Ryan's character was born from my sudden interest in parkour. After delving myself in the sport for a year and watching both Banlieue 13 (District B13) movies, I came up with the dynamic posed sketch in the top left. Key attributes of his appearance were spiky black hair, facial hair, a large, tribal tattoo on his left shoulder, and scars on the right side of his body from an accident he had several years ago. His backstory was that he worked as a courier in a place called the "Underground Network" and he had a girlfriend who was forced to leave him because her father hated him for social and political reasons. He was also called "Raien" at the time.

Then I went through a phase of just drawing his head, experimenting with various styles. I changed his name to "Ryan" because when I did some name research, "Raien" is apparently a girl's name in other languages. :'D Ryan's backstory went through some dramatic changes, too: I scrapped his original backstory and came up with one that involved amnesia (hence some of the head sketches have a patch on the forehead) and an ability to conjure holographic armor onto his body. His design also lost the tattoo and accident scars.

In the cloud of all the head sketches with different expressions to the rest of the image above, that was when I had finally settled on an art style. As for his final design, he lost the patch on his forehead and instead gained a glowing blue infection on the left side of neck that trails up to his lower jaw and a surgical scar that travels down his torso. His backstory also developed into the story that it is now (I will not spoil it here). Even though he went through many changes, going from being a simple courier to a stealth super soldier, he still maintained his abilities as a traceur.

Ryan's Armor Design
When I scrapped Ryan's first backstory, I gave him this armor conjuring ability that turned him into a stealth super soldier. The design for Ryan's armor changed over the course of 3 years as well:

The very first design I came up with for a stealth super soldier was for a game design assignment. Key attributes of the design were seven "eyes" and blade-like protrusions on the helmet, built-in weapons on the forearms, and sharp, thermal claws. The armor was also form-fitting as it was supposed to allow mobility.

The second iteration of the design involved adding visual noise. I felt the functionality of the first iteration didn't make much sense, so I tried reworking the placement of the armor bits. I also played around with the idea of its "eyes" by adding more all over the body. This eventually became the armor's signature look. I brought this second iteration into Photoshop and began painting in the details, but something about its silhouette bothered me: the helmet's design looked too Power Rangers.

Going back to the drawing board, I tried to come up with a sleeker helmet design. As I was exploring different blade-like shapes to attach to the head, I looked back at the second design and found that I didn't like it. The segmented armor didn't look like it would function properly. Now I had no satisfying design. Coincidentally, I was playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution at the time, and I loved the sleek look of the augmented characters. Taking this inspiration, I redrew Ryan's stealth armor, brought it into Photoshop, and ended up with final result that it is now.

Ryan's armor became my mascot and branding because it encompassed everything I like in sci-fi armor: stealth, sleekness, mobility, and "eyes". Unlike Ryan's human appearance that went through key attribute changes, his armor maintained its key attributes from the first iteration to the last.

For Ryan's base appearance, my main focus was to have storytelling elements included in his design - I wanted hints of his backstory shown on him. For his armor design, functionality was the number one hurdle I had issues with. I had fun coming up with the different design iterations, but each one was a step towards a better understanding of armor function and maneuverability. I tried to envision myself wearing this armor: would it be comfortable? Is it flexible? Does it look unique while at the same time remain practical? Developing this character has been a thoughtful and exciting journey and overall, I'm pretty satisfied with both of Ryan's appearances.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Process Log 8: Seignik Bahamut Skin

Remember that chibi proportioned character I was working on modeling a few posts back? I'm still working on him, but I came up with an alternate skin off to the side for fun. It all started when I went back to a 2 year old drawing I never finished:

I never finished this chibinized Bahamut from Final Fantasy X because there was simply too much going on with his design that I got bored of coloring in the visual noise. When I drew the sketch 2 years back, I thought it would've been fun to paint the details in, but no. It wore me out and I never looked at this drawing again until this year. (Sad to say, this chibi is probably going into The Scrap Pile.)

The Idea:
Then I thought: how can I compensate for the effort I lost in painting this chibi? I'd always wanted to do an Aeon chibi from FFX and Bahamut was my favorite.

I did some brainstorming and Seignik, that one character I was modeling, popped up in my head. I sketched out an idea and blocked it's line art in with black to test it's silhouette. That's when I got the idea for a Bahamut skin for Seignik.

The Process:

The final concept

Solving the Color Challenge:
I had some issues when deciding what the final color was going to be. Seignik's Bahamut skin is based off the design seen in FFX, so my original intention was to stay close to the design and color scheme of the FFX Bahamut. When I applied its flat colors, none of it seemed to work together.

The top left iteration was the original design's color scheme. In my attempts to fix this problem, I did several iterations, experimenting with various color combos and trying to balance contrast at the same time. Then I had another idea...

I recalled that I liked the color scheme of FFXIII's Bahamut: the purple theme was unique and I loved the accent of the red claws. I applied this color scheme to my concept and it worked much better than my original intent. 

The most challenging factor I had with painting this concept was balancing color and contrast. The wings on this design were particularly distracting, so what I ended up doing was pushing the wings back by muting and blurring it a bit to bring the main body - my main focus - to the foreground. I also missed painting in graphic/cartoon style. 

And once the Seignik model is done, I hope to model this skin next. :'D

Process Log 7: Modular Character

This Process Log is old but I don't think I ever showed the whole thing on this blog. These images were also originally in my 2D Portfolio, but I figured they're better suited for the Process Logs instead. Here's the entire process of developing this character redesign from sketch to 3D:

This assignment was a project in Drawing for Game Art (DGA) class where we chose an existing character and redesigned it while keeping their same mechanics. The character I selected was Elliot Salem from Army of Two. Using a program called Alchemy, I quickly painted some silhouettes, experimenting with various shapes and combining them with Salem's base silhouette.

A silhouette from the Redesign exploration was chosen and further defined. This firefighter look was the design that was chosen.

Further defined the detail and modularity of the character.

Experimented with various burn scars.

Experimented with various color schemes of the final modularity.

The final concept to be modeled later. This turnaround was for the base model.

And this was the turnaround for the second stage of modularity.

And now for some brief process of the modeling:

After completing the low poly model in Maya, I went into Zbrush for some hi poly sculpting:

The head went through some funny changes. I had problems deciding the character's haircut:

Once texturing phase kicked in, this was what I ended up keeping. :'D

I liked how the eye turned out in the Zbrush window.

Completed textures for the base appearance.

Completed textures for secondary appearance.

All three low-poly models showing the levels of modularity.

Brought the model into UDK and started working with the materials.

This was the final pose for the character.

Got some Fresnel on dem stripes.

And finally, the turnaround sheets:

This is the second character model I've ever done, so it's kinda crappy. I documented it well though, so I wanted to at least share that.