TEG Vlog #2 – Galactic Battles Team Member

Now a member of the Galactic Battles open movie project team as a modeler/uv/texture artist. Also various updates on projects and other stuff.

Galactic Battles website

Picture of the Black Magic camera and VanCG meetup.
black magic-july2015


Month long Compositional study

A month long composition study of historic art. Each Image was done in 30 minutes, the left is the original and the right is the rough reproduction. As a challenge these images were done without the use of measurement tools, layers, masks or other special aids.

Fantasy lantern prop WIP

Recently felt inspired to do some sort of fantasy/scifi styled environment with moody lighting so the last day or two have been coming up with this lantern concept. Its taken inspiration from things like wooden African masks, Aztec architecture as well as eastern Buddhist culture. The polished golden copper type surface seen in a number of Buddhist statues have a historical yet in some way even futuristic appeal. Its no surprise its  a favourite material for Steampunk and other technology focused genera as well. As for masks, well they are just cool.

A design I have remembered since I was a kid were mask cameras from the PC game Thief II The Metal Age.


Ya ok, it pretty old and doesn’t look very nice by today’s standards but its a interesting concept. There were even solid copper versions that were mounted on the walls to alert the guards. With these things as a starting bases for ideas I think it will result in some pretty neat stuff.

This week I will be going through a Gnomon Workshop done by Nate Stephens that is focused on environment sculpting. Really looking forward to it. Usually there isn’t much that’s new however the way I see it a small investment even for just a single useful tip can save an incredible amount of time and cause an overall improvement in quality for years to come.

Cycles engine still not ready.

Yesterday I got sidetracked while blocking some environments by Cycles volumetric light scatter material. It was just last month that a new workstation came in allowing for 12 render threads so I wanted to test the material for practicality in rendering a video. Short answer… nope. Reading through the render engines documentation and spending nearly a whole day changing settings and preview rendering resulted disappointing. It seems even in the latest version noise is still far too big of a problem. Setting volumetric to 8192 samples with various speed enhancements with light paths, branched tracing and algorithm types still gave mediocre results that took all night to render. And we are talking a Linux machine built for rendering.

Thinking about this problem we should wonder why this information cant be baked into a voxel grid. It makes me wish I was more knowledgeable on light physics, there must be some way that could work.

Apart from that I also came on this recently. Have never been a fan of Cycles rough glossy shader but never knew it was this bad. Discovering that Blenders “Linear” shading isn’t really linear at all will definitely change the way I handle shading network from now on. According to the article putting your gloss info through a math node set to “Power” with a value of 2.2 helps this problem somewhat.

Spark job fair, Jan Full Indie, Environments and code.

On Wednesday myself and Mike Pan attended the January Full Indie event where game developers were sharing projects they created during last weeks global Game Jam. It was a fun time where we had a chance to sample games and give critique to there creators. Afterwards we had time to discuss planing for the future of the Blender User Group in Vancouver.

Saturday was the Spark job fair where a number of people came to speak with local and not so local studios. It was enjoyable to be there and some of them even had branded trinkets to give away, thanks to Zoic and Double Negative I don’t have to search for the house key every morning. One of the representatives there was even reviewing demo reel’s, thank you very much sir. To top it off I even met one of my friends who was a volunteer for the event, Shane who recently got a job as a Rotomation artist at Gener8. Shane is my self declared rival and arch nemesis 🙂

There were a lot of great prospects there for environment artists and surprisingly Python scripting. Surprising in that it almost seemed as though they were more interested in Python than actual art. Suppose its good since I like Python but a bit concerning. Art is what I aim for. Environments  done right are amazing to behold. Even in stillness environments tell an animated story. Code on the other hand leaves crowds of people confused or otherwise puzzled. That’s my experience sharing code projects with other people anyway.

With that being said I need to expand a little bit more on the demo than originally thought. I was going to just do environments and keep some other related side projects to myself but the demand for code has prompted me to share some Python I’m working on. Last week a node editor was mentioned and details of it are still closed but I am going to share the Git repo URL here as its being worked on anyway so that studios can sample it. The last few days a fair bit of time was put into it. I will be working on art stuff and finding a job most of this week but there will be some more commits in the next five days.

Speaking of expanding the demo the next scene concept will be mainly architecture and machines. At Spark just about every studio was working on projects involving Urban environments plus I have a thing for architecture, love the stuff. It will be great contrast with the nature scene currently in the reel. Likely some of the weaker shots will be pulled out  to be replaced with the hard edge stuff once there is content ready for it.

Drawing Blueskys, Blender meetup and Python rambling.

Blueskys (thumbnail sized sketches)are one of the things I had a hard time with as a student, so I started drawing thumbnails on Friday using Krita a digital painting/drawing application. Its amazing how a little bit of time can dramatic improve something. Although not particularly good at it, in the first dozen images so far there is a clear progression of quality as images become less 2D and more volumetric. I decided to start doing blueskys because its one of the things the design instructors always told us to do in order to come up with appealing work. I would hope that my environments become a hallmark of appealing original design. Expecting to get a page done (about 100 blueskys) and put it up here by next week.

Along with drawing blueskys I also started an online sketchbook at conceptart.org in order to expand the audience and possibly receive more feedback. I’m looking to over the next year to expand lots in the area of drawn/painted concepts and spread them over various networks.

Apart from drawing I also have some Python and C++ development going on at home. I’m not going to say too much about it at this point other than I am working on a functional prototype for a node based pipeline automation tool. Some things are already working, last couple days I have been stuck on a bug but its sure to be figured out. When the required functionality to be useful is complete I will share the git repo on TheEnvironmentGuy.com (Its open source and under a permissive license :).

Yesterday was the January 2015 meetup for the Blender group in Vancouver. Its got a fair bit larger than it was three months ago. Currently majority of people there are ‘new recruits’ to Blender but there are some industry people there. We were talking about some new development for a GUI aimed at teaching people how to use the system. It hasn’t been formalized yet but I expect to get info passed my way when the funding proposal comes.

We don’t graduate school, we graduate a state of mind.

Wow. Thats what I’m starting 2015 off on The Environment Guy blog. I said there would be a demo reel in January and here it is! But that’s not the end of it, there will be more. Making a reel was huge. No it isn’t the greatest reel of all time but it opened my mind to new ways of thinking which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. It required doing things that have never been done before and it was difficult. Getting up early and staying up late for weeks on end to meet a deadline is difficult. Doing one more texture when you haven’t eaten in the last twelve hours is difficult. Being creative when you have been looking at the same thing for months is difficult. But wanting to do more when its done… that’s surprisingly easy.

On Wednesday myself and three other 3D graduates had a public showcase for our reels and printed portfolio. I was tired and standing on a marble floor for a number of hours made our feet really sore. But it was worth it. I got up in the morning to find a piece of paper in my portfolio. Somone had left a critique of my work. It was harsh and that’s great. Later on I met people from various studios, some said nice things, others critique. I for one always take the critique before the nice.

The next day an EA games HR rep contacted me. Pretty cool, wasn’t sure what to think about it. The very first thing I experienced after completing the reel is doubt that its “good enough”. In fact it caused me to hesitate putting the video on line and contacting people immediately. That was a mistake. I may have been  with family and had been exhausted from work but I have let one full day slip without contacting the HR rep back because in my mind it wasn’t good enough. That was wrong. If you were that HR you better check your email because I’m following up right now. I apologize for making you wait while I got my crap together. If in some way I really am not good enough I will make it so I am, that is my decree.

For all the people who read this blog, official Monday posts start immediately! Also I’m very thankful to CGCookie for providing me with three month membership to their tutorial sites. I’m going to be doing some concept as well as some 3D work with environments which I will be putting on this website. On the note of thankfulness I would also like to thank my portfolio teacher Russel Heyman. Thank you for putting up with me, I feel as though I was a little difficult at times being so time strapped but you held confidence in my ability to pull through.

CG meetups, Demo Reel, the future

Finally we are 3 weeks away from the demo reel being done! Yes, after literally years of work there is a demo reel and to top it off I am graduating Arts school and will immediately be in the market for work at a studio. Since a month ago I have already started the networking process and have been attending various events and keeping ongoing contact with various people.

Now some people may be wondering about the posting schedule here and I’m here to say don’t worry. With demo reel stuff going on its been a huge push to get everything done and its required me to put everything else aside. By no means are demo reels a small task. So for the next couple of weeks don’t expect too much, but after the first or second week of 2015 regular Monday morning posts will be back. But this time even more exciting than before. New projects will be in the making and very much looking forward for more industry stuff.

Its been a while and a lot of exciting things are happening over at The Environment Guy. So to get things rolling again on the website we have a couple cool video presentations. Last week I attended the Vancouver indie game developer meetup Full Indie, a monthly event where indie game developers come to share their work, get critique and network. Besides all the cool games every event is started with standup stage presentations and industry news which is usually recorded and made available online but there hasn’t been recordings for the last few months posted so this month I recorded it myself so all you guys here can watch it.

Looking a couple weeks back I also attended the Vancouver VFX meetup. This event has numerous industry professionals, students and the likes. Chaos group was there to do a live presentation on new features in Vray. Watching it reminded me a lot about Cycles render engine which currently comes as the default renderer in Blender although we should see ports of Cycles to Cinema 4D and other 3D suits in the coming few years. I could really see the refinement of Vray over Cycles and at some point in time I will have to learn this software. As of now I have been using Mentalray in Maya and I must say it can be a little bit time consuming to get it set up, until Cycles gets in Maya Vray would be an excellent asset.

While at the VFX meetup I also met some people doing an open movie project which you can find out more about here. Its some sort of mash up of various popular space/sci-fi shows like Starwars. In all honesty I am somewhat disappointed with the project because of a lack of original design. I may be proven wrong depending on where they go with it but to me it lacks professional taste to be doing fan boy work. In my eyes the Blender Foundation leads the way for open movie productions, with their current project Gooseberry.

I have updated the drawing section on TheEnvironmentGuy.com to include some new life drawing, each week I have been going to a tutor to draw and I am fairly pleased with the new work. There is still a lot about it that could be better but its much improved from last years work. The new pieces are done using a wacom instead of conte and charcoal like previous works.

Until 2015, have a good Christmas! This show is just about to start 🙂

Vancouver Full Indie Meetup

Went to this months Full Indie game developers meetup and recorded the presentations. Some great work is going on and I am arranging for a group of people to attend with me for the next meetup. Here are links to the websites.


Full Indie

Vancouver, BC
3,735 Indies

Vancouver is home to many game developers and publishers, large and small.   We have acclaimed game design schools and play host to GDC Canada.  In other words, Vancouver is a…

Next Meetup

September Full Indie

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016, 6:00 PM
176 Attending

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