Worldbuilding Critical Reflection
As the blog aspect of the course is likely to be scrapped and replaced by an essay at the end of each relevant unit, I feel I may as well get some practice in. All in all the Worldbuilding unit, despite the initial disappointment of not containing any actual Dungeons and Dragons style worldbuilding which to be honest would be a quite strange unit in hindsight. The unit has been enjoyable and has allowed me to find my niche in modelling, and the technical aspects of Maya such as rendering, shaders and Unity VFX. The stipulations of having to do one modelling task has not affected me at all, as I would’ve chosen one anyway but I am aware of other people who found that distressing.
Anyway, time to critically reflect on the tasks I did.
Task #1 - Weapon or Vehicle Concept
This task cemented the idea that I am not a particularly competent concept artist in my head. The task started out well, producing numerous thumbnail silhouettes. After that the project began to tail out. Awkwardly, given the course, by this point I hadn’t fully grasped drawing in perspective and as a result all my variations and in depth designs were drawn isometrically. A limiting factor I feel I did not notice during the task was my determination to stick to the idea of a ‘minigun rocket launcher’ I chose that idea purely down to its sheer absurdity. However I am starting to feel that a more conventional idea, whilst not as adventurous in scope would have been much easier to produce something to a much higher standard of fidelity. To add to this, my choice of rendering a model of my concept and presenting a paintover sourced from that may have been to my detriment, and the fact that I conceivably cannot replace what I produced within a reasonable timescale speaks wonders for my technical skill in concepting.
In terms of what went well, I believe that whilst problematic in areas, the concept I produced, with time could be iterated upon for a third time and would most likely produce something interesting. I feel I have not been able to deliver on this through being unable to enthuse about the idea, despite it being wholly my own.
Task #2 - Low Poly Model
Oh god, where do I start with this one? From the get go I knew that this task would be by no means an easy one. I didn’t quite realise quite how difficult it would be though. I attempted numerous new things during the time spent on this project, not many of them working. Things such as baking normal maps from high-poly objects in Maya futilely took up a decent portion of time that could probably have been better suited to sorting out details in the model, or paying greater care to the tiling UV’s, or just to the textures in general. it was suggested to me that I treated this task as a building, when it came to UV and texture it. I took this to heart and used that approach at all times. The model is reasonably detailed, and apart from having to massively change the topology of the model due to inefficient use of polygons earlier in the project, the model in and of itself is soundly constructed in my eyes. Other experiments I attempted was creating emission maps for use on the glowing side lights. This overall worked quite well, but was let down by rushed textures. Near the end we were introduced to the PBR workflow, and as at the time the Unity 5 release was rumoured to be coming very soon I mused over the possibility of retexturing the model in the PBR workflow. However I decided against it as time was not on my side. One issue I had was finding enough content to justify fifteen sketches for this task. The brief states that the intent of the sketches is to increase knowledge of the forms you intend to model. There are only so many angles you can draw a cheese-wedge shaped craft before you realise that it’s mostly a triangle.
My inclusion of a quickly constructed unity build to showcase the model was widely-received and I would consider doing similar things in the future to showcase model work if it wasn’t for the fact that services like Sketchfab do so with more ease on both ends. This task was plagued with ambition. It is something I would love to finish, but I am unsure if I have the skill to do so to a standard I am happy with. The one thing I have learnt from this task is for the love of everything, do not set your sights so high in the future.
Worldbuilding #3 - High poly Vehicle or Weapon.
I loved this task. Using Mayas Subsurface modelling options make it so much simpler overall, despite having to pick up a few new techniques along the way. The fact that this allows me to be sensible with my polycount on simple shapes, such as cylinders only need to have four edges, as the end result is smoothed over has led to me gaining competence in low-poly modelling as well. Additionally, having to tweak material values over and over, whilst time consuming has led to me understanding what happens behind the scenes more, and has led to me appreciating the technical side a little more. whilst the end result isn’t quite as high detail as I would have hoped for, I am happy with this and will probably do some more objects in this workflow, despite them not being immediately useful in games.