New Horizons - What have I been doing this year and since my latest update

Making Of / 17 October 2020

Hello There!

This year has been interesting so far, apart from the horrors of the pandemic it's been a year of learning, self-discovery and new horizons.
Early this year I decided to once again to completely change 3D-package. I decided to move on from Modo and into Blender.

The way I do this generally is to just uninstall any other 3D Package I might have and concentrate fully on learning the new package. As for my art, behind the scenes my art has gone through some more changes, I've been learning how to rig, how to animate & going deeper into learning about how to set up VFX.

My two-three latest personal projects are basically the result of what I've been learning from January -> June a lot of which I've also covered here in my blogposts.



June marked a new beginning for me. It's the month that I decided to re-learn C++. I learned C++ in high-school, but back then the application for it was never learning it for video-games it was about creating PC Software stuff and it never really stuck all that well. Now however, I decided to relearn it and deep fully into trying to become a one-man army game developer.

I'll try and list my journey  of learning since June.

  • Programming: C++ Basics
  • Programming: UE4 C++ Basics
  • Blender: Creating Armatures/Skeletons
  • Blender: Creating Rigs
  • Blender: Animation
  • UE4: Learning Blueprints
  • UE4: Learning how to use the Animation Graph
  • UE4: Coding Health/Stamina Systems
  • UE4: Coding NPCs & Simple Behaviors
  • UE4: Dealing with Items/PIckups/Weapons
  • UE4: Player/NPC Attacks & Damage
  • UE4: Item/Enemy Spawning Volumes
  • UE4: Level Change, Saving & Loading
  • UE4: Setting up a Custom Character (from Blender -> UE4)
  • UE4: Setting up Multi-Skeletal Mesh Character for Character Customization
  • UE4: Created an "Eye-LookAt" function for my Character.
  • UE4: Implemented my own Freeform Climbing System that works with moving & rotating Objects
  • UE4: Learned how to use IK with the Animation Graph
  • UE4: Implemented more character traversal: Learned how to set up Mantling
  • UE4: Created my own "Rope Gun" a la Thief (Spawns a rope on location and unfolds into a longer rope)
  • UE4: Run-time Spline Creation for Random Awesome things you can do with Splines
  • UE4: Created my own Rope-Swinging System
  • UE4: Decided to learn UMG for UI/UX
  • UE4: Learned how to setup controller navigation in Menues
  • UE4: Decided to create my own Inventory System


This basically covers 3-4 months of me learning things on the side of the 8 hours I spend every day at work.

Game-development isn't at all fancy, it's nitty gritty and most of the time things just look whack and considering that, most of what I have recorded isn't probably interesting enough for you guys to look at for the blog, but I thought I'd just show two things that really had me feeling "wow, this is going somewhere".

Developed a new look at function for the custom character I implemented.


Of course there has been a lot of head-aches during this time and I think generally I've gotten a deeper understanding and appreciation for the work that others put into these things and since a lot of this stuff isn't very exciting to look at, here is a quick video-straight from the editor of me trying my own swinging system that I made from scratch.

Kinda cool huh? Blood, Sweat & Tears I guess! But it's been a lot of fun for me though! 

Now you know what I'm up to, and the reason I'm not actively posting art-blog things anymore. I'm busy learning more about game-development as a whole and I'm not gonna lie:

 I'm loving it :D

but there are still plenty of time left until the end of the year so let's continue working hard and learning new things eh?

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby  

Creating a Series Pt 16 - Legacy Project - Updating the Canopy Shader

Making Of / 04 June 2020

Hey there!

So I was kinda unhappy with my current versions of trees canopies, which is kinda funny since I've already released this scene "officially" haha but there is never anything wrong with upgrading your art & scene performance!

In terms of my needs for a visual look that works from all distances the original canopies were:

  • Obvious looking polygon cards
  • Inconsistent from all Distances (ie with the shadowing and AO acting differently form all ranges)
  • Probably a bit too "realistically shaded"
  • Not enough stylized control.
SO. I spent an hour early this morning reworking the shader


Here is what they look like from a distance with LODs included.


So the new shader does basically everything I want it to:

  • It makes the tree canopies shade more consistently across a distance, even with LODs optimizing the heck out of the trees.
  • The shader is more performant and runs faster than the previous shader. (Better visuals + better performance woop!)
  • The look is more unified and easier to deal with for production
  • I have way more control over the Stylization of the Canopies. (How bright, how colorful, how dark the shaded side is etc)
    • Ie I can change everything easier, so even if the shaded side is to dark I can easily change that and if I want them to not be as dark in the distance etc etc.


Here is a quick gif of time-of-day and how the canopy shading acts.


So I'd like to think this mornings efforts was a success!

Until next time!
Warping out!

/Chris Radsby 

Creating a Series Pt 15 - Finalizing the Forester Camp

Making Of / 23 May 2020

Hello!

It's been a while since I last posted , I thought I'd give some updates on what's currently happening!

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/6a96v0 

So most of you already know but I've finalized one area of my open world art project Legacy. I decided to go ahead and finalize it so I actually have something to show people when they ask about what I'm currently doing and planning for the future.

Super happy that I'm getting a lot of attention and love for this piece. I think this style is something that I've kinda been trying to do for a long time, ever since I made my stylized attempt at Konoha a long time ago.

I think what inspires me the most is games that I've enjoyed as a kid most notably Zelda Ocarina of Time and the tranquility of Lake Hylia.

The Nintendo 64 days, it's weird how they affected me that much to the point where I want to make art and worlds just like it. I think most people have some kind of trigger for the art that they want to make though and this is just one of mine. Together with Outcast from Appeal back in 1999. (which I'm also currently replaying with the complete visual remake).


Project Legacy

it still lives like you can see and I'll continue my explorations into the world I'm creating but I also thought that I would show some development stuffs while I currently have your attention.

Added the new sky/atmospherics, trying out the volumetric clouds and whilst doing this I just ended up improving the lighting and color-grading.




The birds are Morph Target animations (Blendshapes/keys?) that I modeled in Blender then used a script to apply the vertex positions into the UVs and then use UE4 to read them and blend between the morph targets. So that way it became a convenient Static Mesh + Material which I could easily feed into a particle system. Looking back I'm sure just using vertex-blended Sine Waves would be just as good but I wanted to try to get the workflow working in Blender and learn how to do it so I did haha.

I've also been looking into doing some small grass / moss type things so I've been looking into efficent workflows of setting that up inside of Blender. So far the results have been good but I've yet to figure out a super optimal way to do it though but the shading is fluffy and works at least.

I'm also tried making a Gerstner Wave Material Function that I can use to plug into my water eventually. I will probably only use it for oceans though and not lakes. I will eventually try to blend it with the Distance Fields along the shore to have the waves calm down and turn into shore-waves.

Oh yeah and I made this little camp tent, just super quickly with Blenders Cloth tools and some new wind particles that are more optimized.



For the next area I'm going to go something new. Even though I like the deserty stuff that I was working on I kinda need to transfer all of that into the single-level that I'm creating. Before I used World Composition to make everything which is good but it also made my life more annoying in many ways. So I'm gonna see if I can just create everything in the one single-level.


Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby  


Cyberpunk Challenge - Part 04 - [UE4] Detailing Animations / VFX / Drone / Rain / Char

General / 01 April 2020

Hey there!


I've been slowly working my way through this , I was already in quite a good position time-wise during this contest so now I'm just adding more stuff that I find fun and I try to teach myself more stuff in the mean-time. Since the last post I've done a bunch some of which I'll show you just below here, but first :)


Answering some more questions:

How do you have time for all the things? 

  • I tend to preach this all the time but people tend to overscope, a lot. The "secret" with mine is that I went with a really tiny scene art-production wise and an even less heavy art-production pipeline. The only real texture I have in this scene is the concrete texture. Which is just a tiling simply concrete-texture, there aren't even any normal maps.

  • The point is that to make art you don't have to really rely on really time-consuming workflows and for me, that's perfect since I don't actually want to spend a lot of time making lots and lots of unique props or textures.

  • Top down approach, work on bigger things first, things that take up most of the screen-space. (Screen real-estate) those are the most important things (except for hero props). Once most of those things are sorted out start with smaller things, it makes things easier when it comes prioritizing your work.

  • I guess the last point I want to make is that: I make time for it. By sacrificing other things in my life
    but that said as well, I also do the above stuff, I make sure that I don't do something too detailed or something that has too many unique things going on.

Keying Lightning Strike


Drone:

I decided to quickly model a drone, I also taught myself how to Rig and Skin it in Blender AND getting it imported into Unreal. Sad thing is that I later realized you can't seem to access the bones in the sequence editor? (correct me if I'm wrong anybody). So that I would have to do most of the animations in a 3rd party software like Blender and import animation data. I was kinda hoping I could just do it all from sequencer so if anybody 

knows how to do that let me know ! ^__^


Testing the rig in Blender


Imported rig in UE4.


Shading and look inside of UE4.


Character VFX:
So for the character I kinda wanted a pulse as well, maybe even a small pocket computer that would have a display on it. What I quickly realized though is that it's kinda hard to make something all cool and sci fi and have it be visible without too much noise or ehm... focus in the scene. So right now this is what I have until I figure something better out.


Lighting Strikes:
The Lightning strikes are polygon modelled. ie , you take a picture of a lightning strike and you start to edge-model it from the side. Then you make sure it has depth by going into different directions) Then you make sure that it has a gradient, from the starting point to the end point which you can "Fill up" during it's life-time as a particle.

You can probably also do this type of stuff with a texture-card , as long it has a gradient, but if you want really clean looking things without compression issues this is probably the better way to go. If you want to be really optimized you can do a channel packed texture or even more optimized 1 channel with several strikes with different gray-scale values and a gradient made in the shader.


Electrical Arc:
It's a beam-particle with a stylized electrical material. The beam itself has several subdivision with added noise to it to make it jump around during it's life-time.


Rain:
I think my biggest concerns with most of my scenes is that I always want them to feel somewhat alive, somewhat realized and with things happening. The rain I wanted there but most people tend to do really obvious rain-effects, like if it's raining you notice but most of the time looking out the window you don't really spot all the rain so I tried to make sure it was pretty subtle from a distance.


Cyberpunk Challenge - Part 03 - Fleshing things out

Making Of / 12 March 2020


Hey there!


So I've been working kinda slowly lately, a lot of stress popping up now at work and in my life in general I feel but I have tried getting some art-time in.  I do feel like I'm heading somewhere good? Let's hope so at least. Let me know what you think! But first!


Answering some more questions:

Whos' design is this? Do you have a concept?

  • No concept! These days I design my scenes mostly by myself since I want to create artwork that is unique to me.
  • Inspirations I have plenty, mostly for popular cyberpunk shows and animé. 

Teach me senpai !?

  • Sorry to say that I'm somewhat overworked lately, so I'm trying to focus a bit more on myself. I will however continue with my mentorships when things calm down :)


So the main things I've been working on since my last result

  • Detailing foreground by adding more pipes, decal text, more lights.
  • UVd my sewer tunnel, made a concrete texture.
  • Made a flying paper VFX, added some small moving cloth bits (vertex shader)
  • Made electric arc VFX.
  • Scaled the character up
  • Added more detail along ralings
  • Made a powerline thingie + pipes leading into the hole
  • Added emissive around the hole in the back, to light up when the eletric arc VFX hits it.
  • Added a hole on the right side, with some green light coming out and trying to add more interest to the foreground
  • Moved my camera back to be able to add more detail in the foreground and puss less attention on the background.


The flying paper VFX with the spawn-rate turned to stupid.


Progression shot


and the current update, a video showing everything in motion in it's current state.


That's all folks.
If you have any questions let me know!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby

Cyberpunk Challenge - Part 02 - Figuring stuff out

General / 29 February 2020

Heya!

So I thought it was time to write another blogpost regarding what I've been doing lately. So generally I haven't spent too much time on the Cyberpunk scene, I've just been doing small stuff here and there that I've found fun/interesting since I've been somewhat swamped in work and other things BUT I have made some things but first up:


More information about my scene

  • It's completely rendered in real-time in Unreal Engine 4.
  • It's real time dynamic lighting, no RTX-features.
  • I'm going for a stylized look. (influenced by animé) I don't want to make it realistic.
    • Character is cel-shaded with no baked textures, only colored polygons.
  • I'm currently not doing any heavy production workflows, ie no high-poly/low-poly baking etc etc.


Flying Cars VFX 

- Mesh Emitter + Lens Flare

What it does is take any mesh you feed it and emits them as mesh particles. These have an attached lensflare to them as well and they just push them in a certain direction. It's probably the easiest way to go about this type stuff.

I also have lightning strikes going on around the scene with a big light to add more to the mood of the scene.


Cable Physics

Physical cables that have a start-point and an end-point. They conform after the COL-geometry around them.
Makes it easier to get natural looking cables hanging and lying around. For more elaborate setup a mesh-spline is probably the better choice.


World Location Pulse Emissive

I've used this before, this world location pulse is a material-function that I can plug into post processing, materials or lights. It allows me to set a point in the world and have a pulse-be generated from that location . That pulse I can use as a mask to do different cool things. It's sometimes handier to use if you need a pulse originating from a location spreading in all directions.


Progression shot

So I decided to show progress from even earlier stages of my blockout, my first post showed a couple of shots in since I felt like there wasn't really much to show at the moment but I also thought that some people thought appreciate to see the whole thing. So with every blogpost moving forwad I'll show the full progression.


Latest Shot

Below is the absolutely latest video-shot of my scene . I still have lots to do but I'm trying to take it easy and not kill myself.


"


A "short" list of stuff I still have to do.

  • Fix the scale issues I'm currently having, need to re-adjust things now that I've decided to show more in my scene.
  • Add more opportunities for story-telling in the foreground and don't be afraid to change things up to make it look more interesting.
  • Probably add rain or something else to increase atmosphere and mood. My only worry is that it might end up too noisy.
  • Figure out a better design for Character Helmet
  • Figure out a better design for the power-generator he's jacking into
  • Add more detail to the foreground sewer opening
  • Add more detail to the circular opening in the background
  • Actually do a pass on the buildings
  • Add huge power-lines from the green area below leading to the circular red shape.
  • Figure out VFX for the power-lines.
  • Add more car variations to the Flying Car Mesh Emitter.
  • Make small detail props to place around the foreground



So there you go :)
If you have any questions let me know!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby
  

Cyberpunk Challenge - Part 01 - Getting started

Making Of / 17 February 2020

Hey guys!


 I thought I'd get started doing the cyberpunk challenge as well. To join the others in the community trying to create kick-ass art.

My reference board is similar to everybody else I would believe. I'm doing asian inspired stuff, especially Hong Kong. But since it's so early days I haven't really spent enough time looking into the exact look that I want.


I don't really have any compositional refrerence right now and kinda just going by what I feel looks good for now ^^ Though I bet that during the time of the challenge things will quickly change.

So I decided to not do a blog post until I got at least a decent blockout up and running, so this is what I've got so far.  I'm going a very different direction from many of the others I believe. I'm going to lean heavily into stylized rather than go fully realistic. I'll still have realistic shapes but I just want the whole thing to be very artistic and stylized across the board.

I'm currently using only dynamic lighting, no RTX-features at all.



So yeah, until next time! Hopefully I'll be able to spend a couple of hours each night on this but we'll see :) Between work, getting fit, mentorship and gaming it's kinda hard to get this done haha. Gotta keep up with the youngins eh!?...I'm not that old.

Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby

The Value of Mentorships

General / 17 January 2020

Hey Guys!

Lately there has been a lot of interest in me and the Mentorship I'm running over at The Mentor Coalition.  It all started with the most humble and awesome Stijn Van Gaal and the Article that he wrote for his fantastic Italian Alley piece.

Coupled together with Kieran Goodsons lovely blogpost it's been a lot of great impressions of my Mentorship out there which is great!

The thing I would like to really highlight though is that even though guidance is really valuable, speed you up and can really help you get to the next level, it's really important to remember that these guys have invested a lot of hours into their craft and in my opinion,  Deserve All the Praise generated from this type of attention.

Now I don't mean to undersell myself in anyway but it's important to remember that:

Progress = Time Invested

None of their successes would've come if they didn't work spend the time on improving and that's the stuff you don't see everyday when you browse artstation, or browse social media and see updates about other peoples successes. The blood sweat and tears. Which again is why I want to make sure to highlight this:


I can only show you the path then it's up to you to walk it.


And this is true for all forms of Mentorships or Coaching. It's never easy but you have to be very critical of your own work, be willing to listen and take instructions to make the most out of Mentorships. It can be very rough for people sometimes to learn their weaknesses and be told to deal with them. But generally speaking with your Mentor about these thing is exactly what will help in understanding how to improve.

Ultimately the difference between the people who succeeds and don't is the amount of honest time spent put into their craft. The seriousness they bring every day to their workstation.

Becoming professionally skilled in your craft needs you to bring a professional attitude towards your craft.

It basically means that, by having a professional attitude towards your craft you take it seriously and thus schedule your art-time. You make sure you leave room in your day to improve your art and you tackle it with a professional attitude.


The Bar for Quality

Alright so let's talk a little bit about the bar of quality, in Kierans excellent blogpost you can see some of the bar that is needed to get hired in this industry but It's also important to realize that the skill-level even between these projects are vastly different and I think that applies to all of us: We're all better/worse at different things however you need to reach a certain bar to start being considered on a professional level.


Let's use this quick mockup that I made of a Radar-Chart Diagram

A mentor can help you guide you improving your strengths and deal with your weaknesses, it's generally not something you get taught in class or even easy to learn from community-based learning. The main problem is gauging where you are currently at, and what areas you need to focus for the biggest impact in your art.

Looking at all the juniors getting hired they are all good at different things but they all have achieved professional level in most if not all categories.

There are some exceptions to this, an overabundance of one thing might actually make up for the fact that you're lacking somewhere else and if I were to spend some more serious time into this then you could make charts for different companies values. All companies have different requirements or things they value.

Me as a Mentor/Person I value:
Hard Work, Creativity and Artistic Skill more than I do World Building, Technical Skill or Asset Execution Skill.
Because some things are easier to learn than others.

The Importance of Community

I've always though that some of the best ways to learn is to engage with a community trying to climb the same game-art mountain as everybody else. I think this is the most valuable type of learning you could do for yourself, is to join a community with like-minded people , all trying to improve together.

The major pluses being that they help you learn, let you know your weaknesses and you become friends with amateur artists and professional artists all over the world.

Both the Dinusty Empire and The Mentor Coalition have fantastic discord communities where you can share your art and learn from other like-minded people.

Mental Health

Coupled together with Hard Work , seemingly impossible high quality bars for Art it's important to remember that your own mental health is really important. Which is why I'd like to also highlight it as an issue in this industry as a whole. When decide to engage in projects with the intention that the project is supposed to get you hired it's important to actually choose the right type of project to do and learn better ways to be more efficient.

This is something you can learn but it's also something that a community or a mentor can help you with.

Not all aspects of your Art has to be perfectly executed. 

There are shortcuts that are valuable time-savers and sanity checking your production times is a good way to realize if you will be able to make it or not. Ie if you have a 100 assets to make for your scene and you spend at least 3-4 days on each well then you still have 300-400 days worth of work ahead of you and it's enough to make anyone go insane.

Take care of yourselves, the industry can sometimes be harsh enough even without you putting all that pressure on yourself because the scope was too big :)


Alright, I think that's enough for now :) Don't want to badger you guys even longer.

Left in Space - SolRemix Entry

General / 01 October 2019

Hello! 


Quick update , I decided to join the Nvidias #SolRemix contest last week. However I realized I would only have 3 Evenings worth of work time on it since I was going to spend Friday to Sunday Midnight in Stockholm , so I decided to do the best I could make in the time-span.


The final result is this image & video:


I've had a couple of questions regarding the work as well. It's massively inspired by Halo and Mass Effect, both worlds have had a massive impact on my art and my life in general so it felt right to do a space setting for the entry. I also chose the space setting because of the time-constraint, I needed something that was very quick to make without getting bogged down in Asset Production.

  • The planet itself is not made by me; it's by this wonderful person:
    https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/slug/physically-based-earth 

  • The scene is dynamically lit in UE4, no RTX-features enabled.
  • I'm making heavy use out of the volumetric and I'm actually using black fog in this particular scene with colored lights
  • The character was provided by nvidia and their SolRemix Competition
  • All of the video & audio editing was done in UE4 sequencer.
  • All of the meshes are low-poly and using a Black Material with no Specular (Silhouette Material)
  • The music is made by C21FX - AFTER THE FALL

I guess that's it, if you have any questions please ask away :)



Taking the leap - The Future of 3D

General / 05 September 2019

Hey There!

Again! It's been a while since I wrote here. I've gotta be honest not much has happened on the legacy project front. Lately I've felt that I've needed to spend more time doing other things but now that summer vacation is over I'm slowly moving back towards getting some art done during my evenings.

I guess it's also worth mentioning that My Mentorships have started again and I've got 2 lovely people that I'm working with for September. 

It'll be really fun and I'm looking forward to their progress!


The Future of 3D-modeling packages

Professionally I've been working with 3ds Max , Maya and Modo, lately however I've only felt disappointment regarding the features implemented every year. It's easy to say that I'm probably not the only professional 3D artist that have been considering moving away from the industry-standard packages out there.  Max and Maya are packages that have been around for a really long time and have a lot of history but they have this looming feeling of "Set in its ways" and even "it feels old and legacy" in the way they do things. 

I'm the type of artist that tend to move packages when something new and exciting was introduced or if I had a specific need to learn something. My move from Maya to Modo was basically a way for me to start using a tool that was more intuitive and had less barriers when it came to modeling. I was really excited over the tools and what could be done with the rounded edge shader.

However, since I started using Modo very few features have been implemented that I've felt are relevant to the type of art that I'm currently creating.

Now looking forward, I think it's easy to say that all of us have been baffled by the amount of features and cool shit that has been coming to Blender.  

So at the end of the day I end up asking: 
Is it actually worth paying a monthly subscription fee for a 3d software that isn't really all that better than what Blender provides?

Well, I don't know yet, but I'm finding out. 

So I'm learning blender.

Now, it's not the first time I've moved on and tried mastering a new software. So I'm not completely new to this experience but at least I can tell you about my experiences in doing so. Looking at all the software the I've used I can quickly summarize what I like about each one:
(there are obviously a million things but I'll try to be quick about it) 

Max: 

  • Modifier Stack
    • Non-Destructive Workflows
  • Splines

Maya 

  • UV-Editor
    • Very neat UV-features
  • Outliner
    • Good way to organize things IMO.
  • Splines
  • Preserve UVs

Modo: 

  • Modeling Tools
    • Boolean Operations
    • Layouts
    • Easily Cut/Paste Meshes into the Mesh Layers
    • Workplane / Locator
    • Painting Selection, Pattern Selection and Lazzo
  • Rounded Edge Shader (Render)
    • Great for look dev and baking it down to textures
  • Intuitive
    •  Modo has a lot of functionality that basically knows what you want to do depending on the context. Basically making something in other software that would take several actions and bringing it down to 1 Action.


At face value I feel like almost all of the previous things I like exist inside of Blender or Blender does them even better.

Blender 

So what does Blender have that I'm interested in? 

  • Modifier Stack
    • Non-Destructive Workflows

  • Modeling Tools
  • Sculpting Tools
    • Generally feels more modern and better than what Modo currently provides.

  • Eevee Viewport + Cycles Rendered & Cross-compatibility.
    • Amazing viewport, lots of real-time functionality, volumetric lighting etc

  • Shader Editor & Grease Pencil

    • Procedural Materials (Real Time)
    • Rounded Edge Shader (Real Time)

    • Vertex AO Baking (I've been missing this from Modo for a long time)


  • Big Community, Lots of Tutorials and Videos
    • In comparison to Modo, Blender has a much bigger community. One was evident now that I was looking for Modo Sculpting videos and there plainly wrote "Modo Sculpting" into youtube and it showed videos from 5 years ago. Blender however has a sprawling community that provides not only tools and addons but also tutorials.

I'm not saying that the previous software don't have most or all of these features as well, I'm just saying they're very neatly packed into Blender but also completely Free and I believe it's worth having a look into =).

So what is actually Autodesk or The Foundry giving us that is exclusive or better than the rest ?
I'm not sure, but the more I'll use blender, the more I'll find out I guess but I'll be sure to let you guys know what I think.

Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby