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.

Thief-2

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.

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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.

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.

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 🙂

Blender Meetup Vancouver

For the first time in two years there is finally a Blender Meetup in Vancouver that actually meets up! I had the opportunity to meet a couple of industry artists as well as hobbyists at the groups first ever event. You might recognize a few of them, the organizer Mike Pan created the splash image for Blender 2.72b start up screen, there was also Eoin Duffy an academy award winner for the short film ‘The Missing Scarf‘, and a software developer from Nerd Corps came.

Despite the impressiveness of an academy award I though the most interesting highlight was a hobbyist named Julio. He said he was a chef  that quit his job to learn 3D graphics full-time so he could get a job as an artist at a studio. Really look forward as to what becomes of him, he showed us his first ever environment scene and I have to say it was way better than most people’s first.

You can check out the group and even join if you’re in the area here. I love to meet and we had some great discussions.