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

Creating a Series Pt 14 - Artist Feature & Desert Region Buildings update

General / 22 July 2019

Hello!

It's been a while since I last posted , I thought I'd give some updates on what's currently happening!
So I haven't really done a lot of work while I've been on "Hiatus" trying to relax, though I'm not sure I can call it that since I have still done a bunch of different art and tech related things.

Oh well onto this!
 This awesome artist over here Justin bought my artwork!!

Artist: Justin Myles Emerson

and he also landed a job working on Spellbreak which is super sick :) Well done Justin!

So what's happening with Project Legacy?

Well I've been doing some smallwork in the Desert Region, figuring out building-designs materials and colors that I like. I've settled on a mute grasscolor that I like that would allow plant and other things to stand out more with brighter more saturated colors. I still want the world to feel kind of primitive in a sense and then later on contrast it with some other hi-tech things but we'll see when we get to that :)


I also decided to surround the farming areas with walls, I realized however that modular walls wouldn't do so I decided to go all in and make sure I make use of mesh-spline instead. Wiggle wiggle!

Here is some of the composition work I'm trying out for the desert-region city buildings, so far it's early days but I like the look of it so far.

Procedural Foliage

So a while ago I decided to make sure I use the procedural foliage tools that unreal has and I gotta say they're very powerful. Though still have some quirks however, like, I would love if they could detect static objects and not place them inside of them. I thought that a solution would be to blueprint all my objects into groups and then have a foliage blocker volume inside the blueprint as well but nope.

It doesn't really work, so that one kinda went to the top of my priority list. Right now I've figured the best way to deal with that fact is to use bigger volumes to cover certain areas, then have other volumes with higher priority to do different types of vegetation + different blocking volumes in areas I want to do manual set-dressing.


 Here is a view from above in the grassland area so far, I've currently got trees growing the water areas since there are no fast and good way to add blocking volumes where I want them. I'm going to have to figure out some solution for that instead but for now it would just mean I would make sure the water bodies have their own volumes. The volumes being boxes however makes my life way hard. 

It's 2019 , polygonal convex volumes please!

More Gradient Mapping O_O

So in another test, I learned from my good friend Kunal (Tech-Artist) about Gradient Mapping that doesn't only take the U-axis into account but they V-axis of the texture as well. I used a 64x64 ramp texture (seen as a tiny pic below next to the text) to completely to create all the color variation of these textures here.

I tried it as a test to see if the workflow would be better. So what I concluded is that it's more efficient in terms of performance, however, much less versatile when you want to try out colors quick. The way it works is that it looks at two grayscale images (heightmap + modulation mask), one grayscale image basically reads what color it should be in the U-axis, the other grayscale image (modulation mask) reads from the Y-axis on the same ramp.

These grayscale images could potentially just be packed into one texture and then you could use different gradient ramps for all of your different assets.

Right next thing, character modeling & shading.

So I've also started thinking about what kind character I'd like to run around in the world with so I decided to start modeling a character to use. Right now the only thing that pops into my mind is this:

  • Androgenous look 
  • Masks that could have different types of decals carved into them.
  • Probably need something more interesting than a hood, probably need more of a headdress of some sort
  • Medieval Simple Clothing + Accessories to make it look more interesting
  • Simple Cel-shading without edge-lines


So I also did some lunch-time zbrush sculpting and quickly baked out a 256x256 texture in substance painter for this mask below. Since it's just a test I'm surprised how nicely and quickly this is to make these days. Since Procedural Texturing is a thing these days it also surprise me how efficient you can be going back and changing your HP and LP and the UVs and still bake it out and have everything textured immediately.

In the olden days if you changed the UVs you'd have to spend so much time fixing everything every time, these days it doesn't really matter if you've planned your procedural texturing properly and don't do too much custom masking early.


So what's next?

Well right now I'm just figuring and trying things out. I just started my summer vacation so you'll probably see some more blog-posts from me.

Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby 

Crafting a Series Pt 2 - My Production Process

General / 25 November 2018

Hello Again!

So I've been getting some questions regarding my process and how I deal with finishing projects in time so I thought I'd just jot down my thoughts here.

I think the first steps to how to achieve something like this is to compartmentalize what you’re trying to make. It's way to easy to become overwhelmed if you start thinking about everything at the same time. Big projects have a natural order to them and a lot of the time it's easier to follow the same structure that most game-titles follow.

But here is a recap of the steps I take for each project I do:

GATHERING REFERENCE

I think the first step I usually do is to gather reference and I think most experienced artists does this, I gather a huge amount of reference; everything from concept art, to video-game art to real life reference. I usually stack everything in on folder and then I tend to move things over to more organized folders once I've figured out what I like and don't like.

The most important step here for me isn't that each concept need to fit the style that I'm currently aiming for. You can easily get find real life photos with great composition that can work for you, swap buildings with trees, swap the main portrait person to a shrine etc. Don't limit yourself to only look at the style and concept art.

Oh and the most important thing:
IF you're working from reference completely like the Artstation Challenges, then it's important to pick the right concept.
The Right concept is the concept that has great composition, great storytelling & actually viable for production in 2 months. 

This is the most important thing.

The more experienced you are, the easier it gets to quickly breakdown an environment in your mind into chunks of time you would spend on asset creation but doing some initial calculations is always good to do before you decide to jump head-first into making an environment.


COMPLETING THE GROUNDWORK

Getting the groundwork over with is pretty important and it's something that I usually do first before anything else.
I tend to ask myself a bunch of questions to just start to narrow my scope and nail down what I want to achieve

  • Should I make a realistic piece or a stylized one?
  • Should I make an interior or exterior?
  • Should I use Lightmaps or Dynamic Lighting? 
    • What are the pros & cons?
  • Do I want to have a day night cycle? 
    • What are the pros & cons?
  • Should I make an open world or contained levels? 
    • What are the pros & cons?
  • What visual design pillars should I have? 
    • Dark / Gothic / Happy / Colorful / Busy
  • What is the absolute basics of the lore of my piece?

etc

NAILING DOWN THE ARTSTYLE & BASIC ASSET PRODUCTION

The next step I usually take is to try and nail down my art-style, this isn't something that is easily done, for realistic art its pretty straight forward but for everything else, then this becomes a pretty important step to do:

I Generally do visual development of each asset type:

  • How should my trees look like? 
    • Create workflow ->  match visual style
  • How should my rocks look like? 
    • Create workflow -> match visual style
  • How should my grass look like? 
    • Create workflow -> match visual style

etc

After that:

I ask myself : is this workflow viable for production when I'm all by myself ?


This is an important point because generally people tend to have a workflow/pipeline that is way too cumbersome, like creating unique UVs and normal maps for each individual asset they create. Sometimes it's just too much so you kinda have to figure out a good middle-point that is sane and viable for you otherwise you won't finish in time or you'll just overwork yourself.


So this is why figuring out the "ground-work" is important. You need to get a grasp of how long it'll actually take to create an environment with the style you want to do. Sometimes I spend weeks before a project "really" starts to just do research about shaders, colors, compositions, visual pillars. So that when the time comes, I can focus on just making art.

In my latest piece Western Challenge -  the Demons Control Us, I used mostly Stock Textures that come from UE4. It's a shortcut I decided to take because I was spending so much time just dealing with the baked lighting.

Yep, that's right so what I'm trying to say is:

TAKE SHORTCUTS

So Game-Art is all about taking short cuts, to finish you're going to need to take some short-cuts. There are always quicker ways of working, every asset doesn't have to be super awesome quality. This becomes even easier the smaller your project is.


REACHING THE FINAL STAGE - SACRIFICES NEED TO BE MADE

I usually plan an escape plan for myself, this might sound weird to you guys but I tend to compartmentalize my projects so that I can make sure that I can chop it in half or more if I have to. It's something I started doing when I started making projects a while ago that I never finished, it's so that if I feel overwhelmed or life happens then I can half my project time or more.

If you make an interior scene, I make sure it can look good with the whole room or if I feel like chopping it up then I do a corner of the room.
If you want to make a forest + creepy house, then the creepy house is probably on the chopping block first if you start feeling overwhelmed.

During this I also tend to make an Excel sheet of all my planned assets, this includes VFX, Shaders, Lighting, Assets, Environments, Animations.


Assets are prioritized from Green text to Red,  Green Text = vital for the scene, Yellow = Good to have , Red = Nice to have but not necessary

But then I also mark out the stages, initial stage = Prototype, Revisit = Second pass, Polish = Polish.

So what I tend to do is to deal with everything that I've marked with green text, those are the most important things for the scene. It's the absolute bare-minimum needed to create a decent art-piece. The rest is just cherry on top.


WELL THIS IS ALL FINE AND DANDY BUT WHAT ABOUT REAL LIFE?

Looking at this huge blog-post I still feel like I haven't given any decent answers to anything maybe because every step of the way could probably be a lot more detailed. There is no straight path to success sadly, there are things that help for sure but in the end, discipline & hard-work will carry you all the way to the finish line. That and an unhealthy amount of energy drinks.

Either way, I'll try to show off as much of my thinking and production in this blog. I'm going to start writing the next one now already and it's what... 3:15am? Oops.


Until next time!

Warping Out
/Chris Radsby

The Next Steps - Introduction - Creating a Series

General / 16 November 2018

Welcome to the Ultimate Warp Zone.

Some of you know me quite well some of you don’t but even so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself.
I’m Christoffer “Chris” Radsby, I’m a gamer and a game-developer. I’ve played games since I was like 5-6 years old starting out with Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for the NES. It’s the first game I remember playing and it basically warped me into the wonderful world of video-games.

It’s no understatement when I say that I love video-games. My love for video-games have driven me to some serious issues with video-game addiction,constant loneliness even among friends or loved ones just because I had a hobby that I couldn’t share emotionally. They just didn’t like video-games as much as I and it made me feel super lonely.

These days, my love for video-games is a more positive thing. I’ve found happiness, friends and love. I feel blessed to be working at a wonderful game studio (Ubisoft Massive) and I've been there now for 8 years and I'm currently a Senior Environment Artist.

I think that these days even though I call myself a Game Artist I've always felt that I'm a better Game Developer than an artist. I've always been very interested in every aspect of game development.

As an artist however...

I like vivid colors, good composition and noiseless environments that are pleasant for the viewer but also pleasant to exist within. I like that sense of serenity you get when you spend time inside of beautiful environments lost in your own immersion. An escape from reality.

And you can see in my latest works that I’m slowly trying to incorporate those values of mine into my art-work going from Realistic -> Stylized. I've been trying to find and develop a style that I like working with. Not that I mind making realistic art, it's just that as an employed senior artist I have the luxury to explore the art I want to make, rather than make the art that would land me a job and I fully intend on doing so =P


So what does this mean for the Future of my Art?  

Well, for a long time now I’ve been thinking about creating a consistent universe of my own "creation", an idea that my awesome buddy André Wahlgren told me about and hit really stayed with me. Some parts of the universe would be my own and some parts obviously inspired by others artists all of which would be realized inside of Unreal Engine 4.

This means that in the next year to come I will continuously work on one style of art and create a series of art-works related to the same universe. 

At the same time I would be doing my Mentorship allowing people to join in, ask questions and see the development of the art-style and my own skills. I'm planning on sharing my journey here on ArtStation but also trying to be more active in my Twitch Stream . The dream would be if by the end of it I could basically compile a small collection or something with different art-works. Now I have no idea how long this will take in reality but I've never done this before so It'll be an experience for sure!

So please stay tuned and you’ll see my journey trying to get this done. I will post all of my Research & Development, Techniques and thinking behind the scenes on this art-blog and hopefully by the end of it we’ll have something that might be worth showing the world or it’ll fail,  it doesn’t matter.

It’s a learning experience and meant to be fun :)

Warping out!

//Chris Radsby

Starting a Mentorship

General / 10 November 2018

Starting something new and exciting! 


Being part of some awesome art-communities, they've always told me I should try to be a mentor since I like helping out and see other artists develop their skills. Now the opportunity has appeared, I got the chance to join the super awesome Josh Lynch and the Mentor Collective.


So I'll be doing an Environment-Art mentorship focused on helping others developing their skills as an artist, but also creating artistic, soulful & powerful environment art. 

During my time in the industry I've been slowly moving towards simplifying my art with the goal of just empowering my core skills and what I'd like to do is to take what I've learned and help others grow both artistically & technically. 

Grow together even! Since I'll be making new pieces of art at the same time during the mentorship. My next piece is a stylized and wonderfully pleasant piece and I'll share my development of it here on the blog, but also possibly on my  twitch channel.


Check it out over at: thementorcollective.com/world-building… 


and hey, thanks for reading <3

/Chris Radsby

[OLD] Modo - Baking down Alpha Cards to Textures

General / 18 June 2018

[OLD POST - This is how you bake down alpha cards to textures in Modo, super handy for making billboard trees that has several layers of alpha. A lot of 3D-software actually has a lot of issues dealing with this kind of stuff without getting overlapping issues when projection baking]


So I figured out a while ago how to bake down alpha cards to texture in Modo. One of the bigger weaknesses of Modo is that it has a hard time dealing with Alpha in the viewport. There are ways to do it for decent results but you'll have to deal with sorting issues when making foliage.

Oh well, back on topic, discovering the solution for baking down alpha cards to texture I thought I'd document it here.

  1. Change the texture you want to bake down to RGBA from the default diffuse-color. Also make sure that your diffuse-texture has an alpha channel.
  2. Create your Bake-Material for the plane or object you want to bake it onto.
  3. Use regular baking workflow to bake your alpha cards out. 
  4. If they show up as full white, don't forget to change your diffuse-color in your material to black.
  5. You can also preview your alpha cards by rendering it properly. Just add another alpha mask on top (Black and white texture) and set it up as a Stencil. (pull specular and fresnel down to 0 as well on your leaf material)