Monday, June 23, 2008

Adventuring Space Janitor?!?

...and, no, I'm not talking about Roger Wilco, hero of the old school Space Quest series. I'm talking about a much older and, er, grumpier janitor... who sifts through the endless refuse of space debris for a rare bit of a strange relic which somehow perpetuates his very existence. Okay, it's a bit of an odd concept... which is why I'll readily admit that it was not mine. No, the author of that concept is Mr. Rodney Allen. For my part, I envisioned said janitor as a kind of futuristic Ponce De León, discovering a "fountain of youth" which disguises his 200 years of existence as a mere 80 or so (perhaps mid 70's with proper makeup and lighting). On the other hand, perhaps this aged janitor has become eccentric over the years and believes this story to actually be true (i.e., Don Quixote), and simply leads a life of adventuring within his mind. Either way, I ended up settling on a Conquistador-esque aesthetic for his suit. The concept was so strange that I felt I needed to go in a more stylized and exaggerated direction to capture the spirit of the concept. Although the story was set in the future, I wanted the suit of janitor to look as old as the janitor himself. I wanted the hints of deep sea diver, conquistador, old hydraulic valves and hoses to reflect a technology that has long since passed into history, yet still functions nominally. I also wanted the rusting, obsolete suit to reflect the lonely and "discarded" feeling the janitor must have. With that said, I drew my concept sketch of the character...

Hydraulic valves assist the janitor in partial and full gravity environments and mag boots allow him to walk across the hulls of space vessels. A custom-built wrap-around converter mechanism accepts pieces of the relic through a small front door, processing the material and utilizing the radiation to prolong the character's life. A "hand jack" (not modelled) breaks larger debris into smaller pieces, while the "graviton grinder" (also not modelled) crushes medium and small bits of debris into space dust. Ah, such is the glamorous life of a space janitor. The finished model was a respectible 3,000 polys (how's that for an even number?).

After creating the normal maps via some Zbrush sculpting as well as the textures, the real character of the, er, character began to come through...
...and, yes, he installed a jet pack upgrade to the back of his converter thingie. You gotta be prepared for anything the the depths of outer space.

Ooh, grab the Tums cause someone's got some space heartburn.

"Obi-Wan never told you... I am your mother."

Okay, I mentioned I was going kind of exaggerated with this, right? Somebody give him a sam-ich!

Normal maps make all the difference with the fine details...

...especially skin textures. Eww, that looks like the worst case of psoriasis I've seen!

Grumpier Old Men... IN SPACE!!!

"...and I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids ...and your friggin' talking dogs!!!" Hey, he must be related to our gang member... same cauliflower ears!

Air Strike Recon Rifle 3!

Okay, so I wanted to design a unique weapon for a First Person Shooter game. I ended up creating an extraordinarily large rifle that can launch up to three small drones which can be guided via a camera link to a flip-up screen on the rifle itself. I dubbed the weapon the "Air Strike Recon Rifle 3" ( or ASRR-3). The drones can either be used for simple recon work or actual engagement via the mini vulcan chin cannon, mini stinger missiles or payload of 8 rifle grenades. The user can even guide the drones directly into a target, kamikaze style. Heck, if all else fails, the user can simply use the 5.56 mm full automatic integrated rifle. I decked out the weapon in a desert camo, although (obviously), any paint job appropriate to the locale can be added.

Here's a view of the right side of the weapon...

Here's a 3/4 view of the front right side...

Here's a view of left side of the weapon...

Here's a 3/4 rear view with the digital screen up...

Here is a view of one of the drones in folded/packed position...

Here is the same drone with canopy, wings and tail fins extended. Note: the pop down mini vulcan cannon.

Here's a cheesy 3/4 rear view simulated aerial shot...

Wow, another cheesy simulated aerial shot...

Boy, Photoshop sure is fun...

Wish I had compositing skills...

First off, Monsieur Gangster is just there for scale. Second, yes, the weapon is obscenely huge and front-heavy as hell. Heck, even with giant straps, he'd still be taking a nose dive... but within the magical world of FPS games, anything's possible (Redeemer, anyone?). If I suited said hooligan in some absurdly exaggerated Gears of War armor, you'd buy that he could hold it, right? Oh nevermind.

Come to think of it, I think I've actually seen street gangs armed with exotic military weaponry in Grand Theft Auto. Hmmm...

Finally, a super cheesy FPS simulated screen...

...and after launching a drone.

Here's a quick animation of the weapon in action. Note: requires VidX MPEG-4 codec to play.

video

Lastly, here's a quick animation of one of the drones...

video

Friday, June 13, 2008

More backgrounds...

As requested, I am providing more of the backgrounds that I completed for the freelance job that I had last quarter. The first one, representing a Kansas City street scene is my least favorite. I generally like most of the image with the exception of the "Hendersons" store. I just didn't nail the colors (especially the windows). Bah, that one's always gonna bug me!

The next one is a nice, if somewhat simplistic, representation of some barracks in Fort Riley base.

I actually really like the way the Green Zone tent turned out. I think I captured the lighting fairly well.

I enjoyed creating the lush interior of the Iraqi Politician's Home. The sheer, black curtains and fancy inlaid stone floor were the most challenging to create.

This exterior scene of Green Zone buildings was ultimately unused because it was changed to an interior scene. Since the scant reference imagery I received was illuminated by daylight, it was actually very challenging to try to represent the scene at night.

Thuggin' it up!

Okay, to apologize for not posting anything in a while would be both redundant as well as a massive understatement. However, as with Mark Twain, "...the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" I am still, in fact, very much alive. So, skirting pleasantries, I figured I would walk straightaway through my process of developing a "gang member" low-poly game character. You know, gettin' back to my GTA roots!

First, I found a few images online and did some quick "research sketches." These were intended to be quite loose, simply capturing gesture, clothing and style...


After doing a few sketches, I decided to give my gang member baggy "saggin' style" jeans with visible boxers, a "wife beater" style sleeveless t-shirt, a do-rag and tennis shoes. For a weapon, in lieu of a bladed weapon or gun, I opted for a good ol' fashioned baseball bat. I then drew a quick turnaround to assist in my modeling effort. Initially, I created a complete "nude" body and modeled the clothing and accesories separately. This initial mesh was a very respectable 1,187 polys (with clothing and accessories bringing the total up to 1,906 polys).
After UV unwrapping all of the pieces, I then composited all of the textures for them using Photoshop. As can be seen, I opted for numerous tattoos and a very stylish pair of plaid boxers.


Hey, this fellow color coordinates with a nice blue bandana ...accents his eyes, don't you think? Um, wait, does that make him a "Crip?"


I also decided to add a bloody texture to the baseball bat, so the viewing public wouldn't mistake this fellow for an MLB team member. Nonetheless, his RBI isn't bad...

Ooh, this guy's a real sourpuss!

Ouch, that tat looks fresh. Someone grab the aloe!

Hey, look everybody, it's Robert Van Winkle! ...and no, Vanilla Ice was not my original inspiration.

I then went back and tweaked the mesh out quite a bit, which caused the geometry to jump up to 3,821 polys. Being less than 5,000 polys, this is still considered to be a low-poly model and appropriate for gaming.

I then UV unwrapped my new mesh objects and imported them as .obj objects into Zbrush for some digital sculpture work. After sculpting all of the desired details, I exported a Normal Map from Zbrush and applied it to my low poly model within Maya. I also recreated all of my textures, matching them to my Normal Map. The resultant model appears to have quite a bit more geometric detail than the original model, but it's still only 3,821 polys.

I obviously decided to do two "sleeve style" tats, in lieu of the more sparse version previously.



Normal maps are great for providing a lot more detail to very simple areas of the mesh, like hands and fingers, for example. Ewww, this guy needs a manicure--just look at those cuticles!


"Puff, the magic dragon... lived by the sea... and frolicked in the Autumn mist... in a land called Honah Lee!"

Hey, you'd be surly, too, if you had gimpy cauliflower ears!