A bit of a catch up

It has been quite a while since I published my last blog post and there has also been quite a few changes and updates. Not just in my work but life in general, I have been super busy trying to juggle life around working freelance and trying to help arrange a wedding, (Yes my own!) which in particularly for me is so crazy and by far the one thing that has been on my mind the most. Anyway, I hadn’t realised I had neglected my poor blog so much this year, I have a fair bit of work I can share so I will start with that. This most likely wont be in date order, I will be putting it up as I find it and where (I think) it will fit in.

I will start where I left off, all this work is already on my website by the way so it might not be so new to everyone. I fully finished the Camaro model and have a quick update of it in all its glory, the only thing that has changed are that it has its own wheels now and doesnt have to share with the Bugatti.. 

Looks lovely doesn’t it, I will hopefully manage to get around to throwing some paint on it but for now it will do. I’m very happy with how it has turned out and I have learnt a lot from the previous Bugatti model which I knew not to do again. Such as:

-Dont add too much geometry too early as its an absolute nightmare to keep look clean and crease free later on should you need to change anything.
-Try and keep a proxy mesh around as long as you can because it also helps with editing geometry as you dont have to manual handle so many individual vertices.
-Try not to place vertices too close to each other, this was quite hard at times with the Camaro as a lot of panels end up meeting to a point. In this case just keep it as tidy as possible and avoid any overlapping, remembering to keep the polys as quads, do not be tempted to merge them all to one point! I hadn’t merge multiple vertices before as it should be common knowledge with modelling but I’m just saying.
-Probably the most important point and thats to constantly refer back to your reference images, if it doesnt make sense find more images! It helps so much.

On to the next subject, I went back to digital painting again as to me it feels like a nice release from the 3D world and the grey’ness of Maya. It feels so much less serious just painting with a brush than having to carefully think about placing edges and vertices etc. So this time around I took a photo from a recent holiday in France, on a beach in Nice (Very nice) of Kayleigh, this holiday meant a lot to me as it was a life changer (getting engaged etc) so it only felt right. Plus my paintings of people have always had the most room for improvement. This could have gone drastically bad for me but luckily she didnt mind the outcome (few).

Okay so its not fully finished but I was mostly concentrating on the face. I will more than likely return to it to finish off as much as I can but the sea and pebbles will probably drive me mad! Again I was really happy with what I had so far, I spent too many hours getting it to where it is but it does like good (if I can say so myself). The thing I learnt the most from watching countless youtube tutorials and just through painting is that the base layer/colour is vital to making the rest of the image work, one solid colour that you work the rest of the colours into. As you can see some of the hair is a bit patchy and will need some more colour worked in but itl do for now.

Next up is the piece that probably gained the most amount of interest that any of my work has done to date. It is a piece which was more of an experiment as much as a challenge to see what Solid Angles Arnold renderer could do. I knew it was a good renderer but wanted to see for myself how quickly I could pick it up and if it was any better than Mental Ray. From what I found it is much easier to use than Mental Ray and you can get some fantastic results with it with little effort. So I chose to create an environment, in specific a fancy bedroom. I haven’t touched any environment modelling since Kernel so it was a bit of a refresher as well, I’ll upload an image and then discuss it further after:

So here is the final piece, doesn’t look too bad for a first attempt at Arnold I will start by saying the fabrics, cushions and bed sheets were by far the most frustrating part but it was worth persevering with, I learnt a lot about Ncloth throughout which is always handy to know. The IBL was also something new to me and I did try a couple of images but settled on this one in the end, it essentially does the majority of the lighting work itself which is nice. I would say this project is the one that made me realise how much of a difference texturing makes to your models. I know its obvious as it brings it to life but in this instance the modelling is pretty simple and nothing too complicated (as shown below):

As you can see it would have looked a bit lame if I had left it at this stage but I didnt have any intention in doing that. This project was to push my knowledge of rendering, lighting and texturing. Below are a couple of test shots with the lighting, as you can see it was a bit of trial and error: 

I decided to change out the image for something a bit more city based as the country look wasn’t doing anything for me and just didn’t look right. It was  definitely a challenge trying to figure out the correct amount of exposure and levels for the lighting but again, something well worth learning. Another thing which took a while to get my head around was the way in which Arnold actually works. You have 6 options to adjust in the render settings under sampling, these are Camera (AA), Diffuse, Glossy, Refraction, SSS and Volume Indirect. As you can imagine each setting affects the other in some way or another so it can take a while to find a nice balance and to also cut out as much of the noise (as seen in the first image here) but without over doing it and having excessively long render times. I would definitely recommend giving Arnold a try, it is a really nice way to work when rendering and made much more sense to me than mental ray does.

Next up we have another little test I thought I would put myself through. It is essentially about modelling with circles and cutting holes in itself without using booleans and also keeping it looking clean. This was a bit of a brain bender, it can be a royal pain trying to keep the geometry tidy and structural. Again I learnt a lot from it but the thought of re making it doesn’t overly excite me. Here is the final piece below:

This item is the front wheel from my motorcycle. I went to town a little bit with all the detail which would unlikely be necessary unless it was an extreme close up. The hardest bit was puncturing the holes through the actual hub without disturbing the geometry too much, I will try and get a contour render up soon if I can remember. The part which I thought would be a big challenge was the brake discs but they were surprisingly simple. This model was mostly made by placing vertices and using the chamfer vertex tool, selecting the produced face and then extruding it through the object. This one might be cool to texture and throw some normal and displacement maps at to try and achieve something a bit more realistic than the last wheel I made.

I have been working on this next piece since around May on and off when I get the chance to do something for myself. Freelance work has been taking up a lot of my time and has been on my mind quite a lot which has stopped me playing around with Maya. I have been making another environment though, this time out doors and of a quaint little street pictured in France which I thought would be perfect to re create. I originally wanted to make a little enclosed court yard but I couldn’t find anything suitable. To be honest this has been quite a challenge, I dont know if its because my mind has been elsewhere or if I have been too distracted by the lovely weather, I just don’t know. I have reverted back to using mental ray as well which can be a bit of a pain itself. I wanted to create something full of nature, so full of potted plants and growing ivy etc because nature is something which I can identify is lacking in my portfolio, realistic nature anyway. I have mapped out the scene and started to work the textures into the models, it’s not looking too bad but there is still a long way to go yet. By using the software ‘Crazy Bump’ I have been able to create decent looking texture maps which work really well and it is such a simple yet effective program to use. I have uploaded below some work in progress of where I am at with the French street scene:    

As you can see it is constantly changing, I am still unsure where I want the light to shine in from as well. Progress is being made, its just not at the rate I would like it to be. Some of the textures could also do with more work, especially the floor as it lacks a lot of definition. Over all its not too shabby though, with time it will look good I’m sure.

Recently a few guys from uni have created a little group on facebook where we set weekly briefs for modelling, we use just one word briefs and we all have to interpret it how we see it. Its generally speed modelling as we don’t all have a lot of spare time to try and fit something extra in but its all good practice and keeps your skills up. Below are the first few we have done, I will list the one word with each image so you can see where each model has come from.


I felt I had been a little too ambitious with this one, its supposed to be a fish shaped fish tank full of water. I had one afternoon spare so quickly put something together, it doesn’t look too bad but could be a bit more refined.


After the first week being a bit ambitious for how much time I had I thought I would play this one a bit safer. I absolutely love mechanics and was so tempted to go all out but I just didn’t have enough time to produce something super cool. It is what it is though, a simple classic style toolbox with a rag draped over it, does the job!

Space before science gave us facts – unfortunately I didn’t have any time at all to make anything for this brief.

This weeks one is ‘isometric’, I have something pretty cool lined up but I don’t want to show it just yet and it will have to wait for the weekend unfortunately.

That’s all for now, I don’t think I have missed anything out but if I have I will be sure to add it in. If you have managed to last the whole post you deserve some points or a prize or something, well done.

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