Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Whatever face!

I was trying to work on a story for the game to do with train face boy , and was going along the pinochio / ugly ducking route but then through what kind of world is this character in. Is he the only one with a weird object for a face? I did a few sketches of other possible characters if the world was to be full of symbolic things as the characters faces.

and here are the sketches of other characters, I did more but these are the best ones.

Car face and Plane face

Clock face(s) 

Cage face, Bulb face, Lamp face 

Case face, Phone face, Mill face man 

Sward face, Mace face 

These are just ideas right now ,dono what story I'm going to go for in the end. I need it to be simple but emotional enough that it shows a range of emotion in a small amount of time.


Just to jog the memory here is train face boy


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hellboy Comic style

Ok for this test I wanted to recreate the style if Hellboy. The comic by Mike Mignola. His iconic style uses very stylistic shapes and minimal backgrounds with harsh shadows.
The reasons for doing this test is because a found a paper trying to duplicate the look of Hellboy but didn't quite get it right and there was no pictures of it applied to a model of Hellboy.
There is also a segment of Unfinished swan which looks very much like Mikes style and iv been wanting to replicate this since I played it. 
Spoiler don't click if you don't want to see a bit further on in unfinished swan:

This is the last outcome image, i put it here to make it show up as the post image on blogger.

I looked online to see if anyone else had made Hellboy 3d look 2d in game before but didn't see anything at first glance. Got a couple of reference pics and started modelling. I am going to focus on the bust right now and if the effect works well I may go on the make a full body and simple environment.

Image from the comic :

Image from the comic :


anyway I know that I'm going to use a ramp shared with the type set to constant for the divide in shades so I started making the model.

This was my first attempt, its a bit crappy but i thought it would do.

then I was looking for more reference when I noticed that one of the images at the top of the google search was in fact 3d.
On closer investigation it turned out that it was also in fact animated  and look s relay true to the original. Made in 3ds max and Brazil. All the detail is done with mesh so the outline filter makes the lines consistent.

After seeing this i realised that my mesh had to be better , on his website he has a semi break down of how he did it, just a few rough stages with anitation. 
Here is what the mesh looked like in max.

I was surprised to see the cleanness and level of detail in the mesh  and had gone completely different way in modeling , so started again from scratch and took notes from this model.
Big cheek bones and straight features are what make this work realy well.
He also posted a side and 3/4 view of hellboys head what i took into photoshop and made a front and side from:
from this reference i drew this rough ortho sketch.

Brought that into blender and modled again.

made a texture 

just noticed the horn flipping!
Added an outline by duplicating  the mesh , scaling it along the normals a little and inverting the normals.

Added a simple shadow node set up like the ones iv been sing in previous examples.

this worked ok but the eyes were turning black when in shadow where as they should remain constant colour.

So I made a new texture with just the eyes and black. this may bee a little over the top for eyes but it has future capabilities.
Black and yellow eye shadow texture:

Also needed to adjust the nodes slightly

This is the new eye shadow texture applied


I mentioned the future a little ago and this is why, in one of the original images I noticed that the line detail on Hellboys arm gets inverted when it is in shadow seen here its very slight but it is something of note.

So this image was made as a test to see how it looked inverting the line details on his face.

the effects works good but seems out of place on the details I tried.

Here is the video of it running in the blender game engine:


In conclusion this test worked. I think the shadow technique was good when used in conjunction with the extra texture to unveil hidden details or keep elements like eyes glowing. Also its worth getting good orthographic reference images from the beginning for some more complex things. 
I will at some point probably go back to this and make a body and simple environment witch some kind of game play. Mabie like in the animation test above a tower defence shooting gallery type game would suit this.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Quick Update

This week iv been working on the proposal along with a few minor tests will post soon. 
Had the first official meeting with Ken Fee , my assigned supervisor for this project. 
Meeting went well we just talked about where things are going and I said id send him a redraft of the proposal soon. I had to do some other work which took a bit of time to figure out but I should be back on track for the next proposal draft soon.
Also "el shaddai" came a few days ago and iv now completed it, It was good and weird and there will definitely be a future case study on it.
el shaddais art director "Takeyasu Sawaki"worked on devil may cry and Okami.
it takes a journey through many art styles informed in some way by the story. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Photorealism Understanding the Argument

It has been pointed out to me by a few lecturers that but launching a "fight" against photorealism requires a deeper know and and understanding of the reasons for photorealism.
Firstly you would thin that making photo realistic visuals would take a very long time , making game development longer and games shorter. In final fantasy 13 they admitted that they spent so much money on the visuals , making it look pretty that they ran out of budget for better or more writers.
But on the flip side of this there is games like borderlands which swapped art style 3 years into the 4 year development due to cos of making photo real art. In borderlands case this new art style was a  new selling point for the game. So cutting costs actually added to the marketability. 

Saying  that photorealism takes longer isn't always the case though. Games such as Journey and the Unfinished swan both took 4 years of development. 

Which when compared to the amount of content and game play hour is no where near the amount of a game like final fantasy 13.
A quick Google into photorealism and there is a current even which has cause some controvisy.


Christoph Hartmann, the boss of 2k has stated he thinks that games need to be photo-realistic in order to get emotional reactions from the player as they could empathise more with a realistic character. 
it has been pointed out on numerous sites that Pixar springs to mind. Whos films are well known for making the viewer feel an emotional response  and if anything he soft visuals only heighten the experience as every element is designed with colour mood and other theories in mind.

This opinion is backed up by the point , If there was not the push for photo realistic visuals in real-time game engines the techniques used in game like windwaker, Journy and Okami would not be possible if the time and resorses had not been put into creating the underlying technology, designed for photo-realistic visuals. 
This is true But the fact that the technology wouldn't have been here dose not change the fact that it is here now. We shouldn't not make something look a certain way because its not in his eyes a step forward.
He goes on to say that we cant move past photorealism until we have truly achieved it .

The final point witch must be taking into consideration is the titles of late from 2k, inculding , bioshok infanite and borderlands 2. Both very stylised games. Mabie her was merely speculation on his view of future 2k titles and perhaps hinting at the power of the new xbox and playstation.

Further reading here:
2K Games says photorealism is needed for innovation - Destructoid
2K's Christoph Hartmann- Why Consoles Will Always Matter - GamesIndustry International
Editorial- Photo-realistic Graphics are Holding Gaming Back - The Controller Online
Gamasutra- Aleksander Adamkiewicz's Blog - Photorealism In Video Games - A Worthy Goal
Games must achieve photorealism in order to open up new genres says 2K - GamesIndustry International
Op-ed- why photorealism isn’t the key to emotional gaming experiences - Ars Technica
Photo-Realistic Games to be the standard Within Ten Years-

Sorry if this post has been a little boring , just thought i should get this out here.



Cheep rim light More possiblities

I was looking through the TF2 Illastritive rendering paper again: http://www.valvesoftware.com/publications/2007/NPAR07_IllustrativeRenderingInTeamFortress2.pdf
and wanted a quick way and easy way to get a rim light in the BGE.
Did a quick google search and found this post on blender artist:
image from post
This was the result he got from this technique . 
He uses a circle black and white map like this:
with these instructions

"
-Now create a texture with this image in the material you want to be rim shaded.
D
-Next select "Nor" for normal in the "Map Input" tab

-Use Size X and Size Y to adjust the size of the rim. In the above image I used .75 for both with the example texture

-Now go into the "Map To" tab and de-select "Col" (colour) and select "Emit"

"
I had never used the Nor element in this section and am still not entirely sure on how it works. I thin it uses this circle map from the middle of the model mass(could be completely wrong.)
But ran some tests with adjusting the size of the circle, shape and inverting the colour. Inverting the colour gave an effect of almost giving an object an in-line pose to an outline. If this could be a possible solution it could eliminate the need for multiple copies of the mesh like in other examples to far.  when seen at extreme angles the effect breaks a bit but it has some potential.
I thought back to the post man demo from the start of this project
http://alshonours.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/test-time.html
I used an example shader here:
this technique only worked at render time as it used a compozit node instead of material. It samples the rendered texture and applies proses to it. The main problem is that it had ambient occlusion turned on in the render to get the nice falloff. AO dose not work real time in BGE,(There is screen space AO custom 2d filter but cant easily add an image overlay on top) 
Image not mine from link above

So i took this mesh into blender and started playing with this new technique. Realised that a circle like this :
this made a very thin outline around the inside the character 
I then made the circle smaller  
and got this result
It looks funny at cretin angles but it works.
Can now use this to in-force the dark edges seen in the original image.

Going back to the original inverted circle I made a nice fall of and tweaks lots to get here:
I realised that this image also need a mesh outline to reinforce the dark areas round the shape. This image is still not there but it is getting closer to matching the original render. one of the main problems is the size of the overlay image in the view space. I still don't understand the scaling with that.

This test went a little off topic but it shows that some techniques inform and inspire similar techniques and jumping in and testing is always worth it.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Train face boy (Crayon/Charcoal test)

For this test im taking some advice from the lecturers at my pitch and working on one of my own characters. This is a character i came up with a few years ago on the way back from collage on the bus. 
I don't have the original sketches but i did some new ones in Crayon:


I also wanted to do the charcoal images as i though it may better sute the nature of a mucky train face boy.



I made the mesh rigged it and animated it back then so thought i could just add textures to look like Crayon/Charcoal.


I remade the UVs as i have gotten better at UV mapping since then.

New UVs

I then printed the UVs out and coloured in the areas using crayon and charcoal. 
This was done twice to have 2 images to flick between to add the more sketchy hand drawn feeling like in limited hand drawn animations.

Scanned them in and touched them up in Photoshop to match up and colour correct.

2 Charcoal versions of uv

2 Crayon versions of uv 
Next step was to make the outline. 
I did this in the same way as the knight example.
Duplicate the mesh,scale along normals, inverse normals so faces are pointing inwards, apply outline image made from a segment from the hand drawn uv map.

The charcoal map worked a lot better in this test.



Then a displacement modifier was added to the mesh with a cloud image generated in blender.
One thing i did differently from the knight test was i used a different cloud map on the second outline creating more edge variation instead of just a double border.

This is the crayon with the crayon outline x2
it looks soft and like crayon drawing. the texture also animates.

In this on its crayon again but this time i expanded the mesh and used the same texture with a slight colour change to darken the values to make a context aware outline, ie the yellow arms have slightly darker outlines. The brown in this seems too harsh when compared to the first image.


This image shows the first of the 2 charcoal tests, 
this one has an animated texture and animated outline, the dynamic changing in outline works will with the overlay of the 2 outlines and creates definite dark areas. 



This one is charcoal again but i applied the displacement modifiers which means it dose not wobble like the other examples. the way the displacement applied was different to the way it was previewed which was a little annoying as i didn't get the sharp contrast and strength in dark ranges as in the first charcoal test. but in action it looks more peaceful than the above test.
Charcoal may do with a slightly cooler paper colour.


Heres the video of it in action:

Will hopefully work more on this test in the near future. Mabie a small environment to see how each effect looks in context to the characters. 

This test was a success and i really like the first crayon test and both of the charcoal tests they all have there uses in a game weather its having a non wobbly outline at a slow paced part of a game and a crazy wobbly outline when the pace picks up. 

And on poly count
http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1723534&posted=1#post1723534

EDIT:

I dont know why i didnt upload this earlyer but here is a video of TFB in an enviroment, i made this soon after this test.