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 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 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

Creating a Series Pt 13 - Mentees & Desert Region Buildings Start

Making Of / 25 April 2019

Hello!

So it's been a long time since I last posted but some stuff has happened since then. Let me first say that I'm super proud over my mentees who've been outputting some really sweet art but also writing some 80.lv articles. They've been working super hard to get some art out there O_o.

Honestly guys, probably borderline unhealthy but great work :D

Patrick Ziegler
https://www.artstation.com/patrickoziegler


Stijn Van Gaal 
https://www.artstation.com/stijnvangaal 


Rasmus Kristensen
https://www.artstation.com/bagner


Really well done guys, insane amount of work and care put into these :) Super happy for you guys and I hope it opens new opportunities for you :)

Legacy Project Progress

As for my own progress I've been in somewhat hiatus lately, been a bit overworked but I'm still trying to do something while I'm waiting. I find making stylized materials much harder than making realistic materials for some reason xD It's all very tricky to get right especially since most of my project is relying on Gradient Mapping, I end up having to really rethink my approach on how to handle Albedo-Colors. These I have here are just the colors I use for previewing.

I've been updating my materials and especially the "crack-logic" or whatever you would call it for my tiled-stone materials in Substance Designer.


The cracks have been mostly worked on to make them feel more stylized and suitable for the type of art I'm making.


  


  


But I've also started building my desert-region buildings and it's all going well so far. Very slow and steady progress, don't want to rush things and I'm trying to remind myself to have fun doing it as well. There was some times there where I kept thinking about my project more as work rather than a fun side-project.

The start of the Desert Region Buildings

This is the color scheme I'm currently going for this region.I want the water to be greener generally than what it is in the grasslands, I want this orange nice color contrasting with the blue skies. As well as redder looking base-wood colors.

Right now I'm just spending more time developing the base-module shapes I want to be using for these style type buildings.  Right now the building designs are very inspired from the mud-type buildings you find in Africa.

After that I'm going to add more detail, more wooden beams, tarps, decal shapes etc. I also want to infuse more fantasy into them but for now I'm quite happy with how they're turning out...

Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby

Creating a Series Pt 12 - Landscape Grass Coloring + Questions

Making Of / 27 March 2019

Hello!

These last few weeks have been full of procrastinating (no shame): The Division 2, Devil May Cry , Sekiro.
A bunch of good games have come out so I've spent even less time working on my project and even then it hasn't been that much in the way of art but organizing and doing technical stuff which I'll talk about below!


Legacy Project Progress

This week I've been setting up a new region in World Composition, it'll be the desert region that I've been wanting to work on. So I've been properly setting it up and doing all the preperation work with folder-structure and shader-structure to get it up and running. Sadly I don't have anything super fancy to show.


So , I've been thinking about ways of coloring my grass more dynamically. The current way I'm doing it is by using a terrain color texture that the grass is sampling from. However I wanted a workflow that would take my Landscape Material Painting in my so I decided to try out a thing:


Landscape Painting Render to Texture

Here you can see the material painting being painted straight onto the texture that the grass later will sample colors from.


The grass (wavy, blurred area) is picking up the landscape materials colors perfectly


So even with this working, what are the main pros & cons?

Texture Sampling

PRO - Cheaper & More efficient to use a static texture

PRO - Texture Resolution is very true to the texture itself (ie the quality from texture to color sampling is detailed)

CON - Not dynamic at all, would have to export a texture for the whole landscape every time I want to see change


RenderTarget Sampling

PRO - It's all dynamic in real time

PRO - Works with any color pickup sampled from any of the materials I paint on the terrain

CON - Even at the same resolution as the static texture somehow the detail doesn't come through. This is important to me because I rely on having a colored noise in my grass colors so that you can see individual clusters of grass.

CON - Performance , it's quite expensive to do on every frame while you're working. Higher resolution textures are real VRAM hogs as well so using bigger resolutions you might end up crashing or have crazy slow-downs.


Static Texture Color Sampling - Showing that it picks up even the smallest changes in the texture.



Landscape Render2Texturer Sampling - Has the same resolution as above texture, but yet, ends up not being very detailed at all. 

(Maybe I've missed something here, I'll keep looking at it)

Summary:

Even though it's super neat to have it real-time and it picks up colors from any material I paint. I find that the lack of detail in the texture is annoying me since I don't get the same quality. That said, for other projects that have more detailed textured grass it would benefit them a lot to use a Render2Target texture for the whole terrain for dynamic color pick-up.


Questions

So I thought I'd spend one of these blog-posts answering some of the questions I've been getting. So If you have any questions please let me know and I'll try to answer them more in detail in future blog-updates!


Why do you only keep showing one time-of-day setting?

The main reason I keep showing one time-of-day or one weather setting is that I don't really feel the need to explore different times of days yet. I'm approaching this project like I would creating a full-game. Time of Day & Weather is pretty far down the list for me.

That said, I have time-of-day working in game currently, I don't have weather and if I were to show it I would actually want to implement a system for it rather than actually just faking everything which I usually do for portfolio pieces.

What texturing software do you use?

I use mainly Substance Designer/Painter and Photoshop. My texturing needs are quite light, I've never really felt like I need to expand my texturing to Zbrush. It does happen from time to time though but I try to stay away from it since it's severely hampering production times.


Teach me senpai!?

Ehm, I'm still learning as I go myself xD I do run a mentorship with The Mentor Coalition where I teach artist what I think they need to focus on to up their game. So far it's been very successful and I've seen my mentees start making art at a higher level.


Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby

 




Creating a Series Pt 11 - Art Stream

Making Of / 18 March 2019

Hello!

So I decided to spend some time during this weekend streaming my art and recording my process in how I sometimes approach making new composition. I also know that some people have been interested in how I approach things generally.


So here is the 2h Stream from Saturday where I create a new area from scratch.  I wanted to create a more interesting area for my grassland cottages to be in, something more iconic so I decided to go ahead an just try to make a new area quickly and for fun. In my head I want the grasslands to like be this huge grassland area, with cliffs, water and waterfalls that leads into deeper crevices in the earth.

First section of the stream is silent before people asked me to enable my mic* 

I think the most important thing about the whole thing is that even though I'm re-using all of my props the composition & the space is what will be saved down the line. Cliffs, trees, grass, waterfalls etc all of it is bound to change at some point when I get more assets into my project.


Process broken down

- At first I create the initial setting for my environment, I think about what kind of environment/space I want to create. In this particular case I wanted a somewhat circular space with waterfalls running down the sides of it.  So I start just sculpting out the space quickly just to get a feel for it, then immediately I plop down a character in there to get a better sense of scale.

- After that I create a camera on a location that seems suitable. Not thinking too much about it , I'm just plopping one down and start structuring things around it.

- After that I tend to use my own specific composition techniques to figure out how I want to place stuff initially. As far as I know I'm probably the only one who does this. I use a red block shape from Unreal, that I scale to lines and start putting it around the scene. First I do it in 2D-space and then after that I do it in 3D-space as well. After I've figured out my basic guide-lines I tend to plop down placeholder objects at the interesting points of the composition.

It's worth mentioning that my project currently only relies on a few objects until I've made/designed more assets but I didn't want that to be a blocker for me trying to figure out a cool new location.

I currently only have

  • 1x Tree
  • 3x Flowers
  • A Couple of rocks & cliffs.
  • Water + waterfalls.

I always try to make the best with what I have, so that I later on I can revisit the area, and do more polished passes so not all areas look the same. Sometimes you just want to create areas without constantly worrying about not having the assets to make it happen. So I use what I got :)


So here is my progress from my stream, the work I did whilst talking to the viewers about my process, going through the steps mentioned above.
Looking back now I realize that I really like a lot of the stuff that was happening in the NR 4 picture. So I'll probably go back later, create another camera that more lines up with what I had around nr 4 and start from there.

This doesn't mean that the progress from 5 or 6 will be deleted, it just means that I can move my camera back to the nr 4 position and make sure I create something from that angle that suits the composition.

Something I've learned that I didn't actually know about


So even though I make my own composition guidelines in I realized that UE4 surely must have their own, but I didn't know where to find em. Turns out you can enable a Cinematic Viewport and enable the composition gridlines for yourself! So looking above in my shot, you can tell that my center is actually off-center by a little bit. Which means, I will to pan my own camera a bit to the right to actually be in the center of the shot. 

I've previously figured out the center by using photoshop and also by cropping my shots before and now I just feel silly.

Who knew? Now we know :) and I honestly wish I knew this earlier as well.


So this is the shot with a corrected center and some tiny more work done to it right after the stream. Later on I will probably refine this into something that looks more visually interesting, but right now to keep myself a bit more motivated I'm going to move on to a new Biome.


Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby

Creating a Series Pt 10 - Going backwards

Making Of / 11 March 2019

Hello There!

The last couple of weeks I've been going back and forth from doing temple-assets (which I'm not all that happy with) to working on the Grassland village assets that I currently have, but before moving further I wanted to start setting up my project for the future. 

So I had to take several steps backwards and implement World Composition in UE4 for my project.

World Composition basically let's you have one master level and then load in other levels into the master level to work on them. The Sub-levels are regular levels and can have terrain in them. Before I was working on one huge 8k map, using 1 landscape. Now I'm working on four 4k levels that represents different regions of the game, all of which have their own Landscapes and props in their levels.

I've actually gone backwards in terms of quality since I lost some work trying to set this stuff up. I've lost:

  • All vegetation painting
  • All terrain material painting

All in all it hasn't been so bad, at least now it will at least allow me to actually work on different areas / levels without having to load everything at once and if I decide to sometime in the future collaborate with someone it'll make it easier to divide the project into different sections you could potentially develop. That said, it also gives me a bunch of other things that are good, like if one level somehow ends up becoming corrupted I don't lose all of it and hopefully, it'll be easier to restore, but who knows? That stuff is currently beyond my knowledge working with production workflows in UE4 sadly.

After spending some more time thinking about things I decided to skip the temple-stuff for now and re-double my focus on the grassland huts. So I started making some more small props for the huts.

This time around I was trying to make use of the textures I already had to make some tree-stumps. The villagers being mostly foresters end up using a lot of wood for most of their craft thus I felt like it was appropiate to also make these stumps, an axe and some logs to boot.

After that I spent some time during the weekend making Fog Particles, these are currently huge sprites but I'm considering another approach that would potentially allow me to do something nicer looking but also cheaper. One issue that I'm currently getting in UE4 is depth-sorting issues when these translucent particles are ontop of the water that I've currently have got going. 

The solution to the problem was to set the Translucent Sort Priority in each particles detail tab to a value higher of 0 (since default value is 0). This made it so that the fog/clouds will always render ontop of  everything else generally. It's something to keep in mind for the future!


I've also spent some time making fire particles based on the Rime-stuff that Simon Schreibt posted. Very handy and seems generally super cheap.

Other News

In other news my latest source of inspiration comes from the Animé; Made in Abyss.
Beautiful background work and some lovely mysterious placing to explore which speaks directly to what I'm actually currently doing in my own project. I can't help but to look at some of this and go: this is exactly the type of stuff I want to do.

I guess that's it for now, I've been considering moving onto another area for a bit but I'm pondering if it's a good idea or not.
Oh well, until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby

Creating a Series Pt 9 - Mentee Showcase & Barriers

Making Of / 25 February 2019

Hello again!

So I've had the privilege to mentor the talented and hardworking Marek Zaranski. Looking at his previous work I tried to think about what direction his art needed to go to succeed and make his art-works more like works-of-art. And through his diligence and incredibly hard work he has produced his latest scene; Circle 7 - Vertical farming Sci Fi facility and also wrote his own Blog Post about it.


Incredible increase in the quality of art he's outputting and again, progress like this doesn't happen unless you work focus & work hard, if there is anything I can say about Marek it is that he's a super nice guy, humble, hard-working and willing to learn. 
So really well done man, it's been a pleasure to work with you! As for my mentorship, I'm both sad and happy to say that there are no more slots available for March but be on the lookout for the April ones, soon to be released. You can also follow The Mentor Coalition twitter to get updates as soon as they happen. 

Project Legacy 

With the release of Resident Evil 2, Apex Legends, Anthem & Metro Exodus production for my Legacy Project has been hampered. I have however, put some time in trying to figure out what I want to do with my temple assets for the grasslands. That said, I think that lately I've hit a serious wall that I haven't encountered before in my World Building. 

I started making some of the temple-pieces that I thought that I might need but like... half-way through it I started disliking what was happening and the design I was going for. I had a hard time figuring out why I didn't like it and I think I've finally started nailing down what I don't like about it.

Most of my Temple Reference has been reference taken from what I myself know from temples that reflect the real world, Christian Temples and Churches, but I've realized that that is just Lazy World Building. I mean, this is supposed to be my own unique world, I need to spend more time nailing down and designing what I actually want the temples to look like.

That said, I still feel like it's alright for me to use these kind of shapes but I need to spend more time figuring out whatever I can to infuse the temple/ruins with it's own character/personality and lore. So maybe for the future I'll actually start posting more about what I'm thinking here when it comes to World Building. Not in a sense of placing assets everywhere but actually creating a world from scratch, whether or not it's inspired by the real-world.

Other News

In this whole thing I've gone through the last couple weeks I've realized one thing; I need to get better at designing things. Being a triple-A Artist in the business , shoved into a very specialized little corner you start losing your own ability to design things. Why? Because most of the time you just make whatever lands on your desk without much thought going into it. 

It has lead me to feel that I should spend more time drawing in general, to be able to sketch out shapes / designs that I later on could implement in 3D. So I'm going to start over with basics,


Prints

My Beyond Human art-work is now available as prints, though sadly they're only available to buy in The US & Canada right now, the rest of the world will be available to buy prints later on this spring I think.

Prints available here

I guess that's all for now, hopefully I'll have more art to show soon :)


Until next time!

Warping out!

/Chris Radsby