Synoptic Project: Progress thoughts part 1

This is the second time I’ve wrote out this blog now, the first time did not save or even auto save like it should have so yeah, close to an hour has been wasted. But anyway, the blog check is coming up and to meet the quota of 6 I thought that a post about my thoughts on our progress might be good way to end to stay up to date with my thoughts on both mine and the groups progress, so, how are things going?

I think the best way to put it is that things are starting to look up, the concept artists and Kelly are making great progress with their work! however I think the 3D modellers are finding the first 2 weeks of production tough, either that has been for illness as I think just about everyone has been ill in our group within a month but also in finding our feet with the stylised hand painted look that we are going for.

However, having finished my first model now I can safely say that doing this is making us better in every way, not only expanding our knowledge but making us more efficient modellers. Particularly with the Uvs we have learnt that we NEED to be the most efficient we can be, obviously we were efficient before but now no space can go unused, to show just how efficient we have had to be I have posted an image of my Uvs for the Chess Table.


As you can see, not a lot of space that isn’t used, not only that but we were allowed to use 2048×2048 textures instead of 1024×1024 on the larger models so that they stay as detailed and look as good as the smaller models. But anyway, the MVP deadline that we have set ourselves is coming up in a couple of weeks and each modeller has to have a total of 6 complete by then, that means two a week! fun! But at the same time I am excited to do so after completing the first one! The next blog should be about my progress on the desk model that I am now completing the Uvs for!

Synoptic Project: Production part 5

Since not much has changed since the last blog I am going to make this an ongoing blog throughout the rest of the week, although from your perspective you probably won’t  know but I think it is needed since it would be rather short and I plan on getting quite a bit done this week, the chess board will be completely finished along with the low and even potentially high poly of the Desk model as well which I am currently working on.


As for today, this is currently how people are getting along, slow but steady still on the modelling behalf, I think we will all be happy to see the back of our current models so that we can move onto completing the rest at a faster rate, however the artists and the Kelly are making awesome progress with their stuff!


For the first update further in the week, although the week is almost up it has been spent mostly on the Chess table, I made the Uvs more efficient, changed the sizing and also started to get the hand painted texture look onto it, I have found that part the most difficult, I started with the wood grain that’re on the side panels but went for a look that was a bit too much to begin with, making it look way too exaggerated and not what I wanted to go for. Here’s that result.

wood 2.JPGwood 1.JPG

Too much right?? by the end of finishing it I was thinking that too and the rest of my group agreed when I showed them, so, I took inspiration from Sea of Thieves, I personally absolutely adore the art style, everything looks both hand painted and sculpted in a cartoonish way but also not too cartoonish at the same time which made me think it would be the perfect inspiration for how I tackled this, I edited it’s normals in a way that sort of made it look sculpted but then also added more detail in the colours used. Here was the final result.

wood 4.JPGwood 3.JPG

In my opinion this is more subtle that gives the look that I wanted to achieve close to wood but not too much that it makes the rest of the surfaces look bare. As for the Desk update, I have completely finished the modelling process and I will be starting the Uv unwrapping next! here is a screenshot of it.


Synoptic Project: Production part 4

Ahhhhh the feeling of finishing the first asset for the project is a good feeling I’m not going to lie, this being the Chess pieces that I started last week, although I had the intention of working on my chess table, I was so in the mood for finishing these with how well they were going that I was able to bash out the rest of the modelling process of them, unwrap them and also texture them to a point that I love!

In my last blog I expressed that I was going to attempt the knight in both Zbrush and Maya, however, my first attempt in Maya worked so well that I thought why potentially waste time with something that might not work and do the Zbrush way as well? It also matched the aesthetic of my other chess pieces so well that I had to use it, I posted this video at the end of my last post but I will post it here to let you see how they all look.

As you can also see from the video, I decided to put some base colours onto my chess table and export it for use in engine, this was without the needed fixes to see how the bad parts show up in VR, after looking at it I came to a few conclusions:

  1. As soon as it went in it was tiny, after looking at why, it came down to me not following my written down measurements correctly, easy thing to fix! but even then it would’ve been too small, we learned today that things tend to feel smaller in VR, so we’re going to up the sizes slightly before exporting now.
  2. As I expected, the areas that were mentioned previously that didn’t react well to higher amounts of detail still didn’t look any better in engine, if anything more noticeable since you can get as close as you want.

However, now that this model has taken longer than expected I will be moving onto the next model which is the Desk that will have the menu system on, the menu system will be like a book with UI on it so it will be another main part of the scene. I will continue to work on the Chess Table in my free time however in hopes of staying up to date with my schedule.


As you can see from above I am not slacking behind the other modellers so far which I am happy I am keeping up with, as for our progress, I think some of our group are worried about our MVP deadline, however, I do still believe that we will make it, we set high goals for ourselves but we have an equally good ethic to get an impressive result.


Synoptic Project: Production part 3

From yesterday I have been working on the chess pieces to along with the chess table in college, to be honest it’s almost like a breathe of fresh air to be able to finally work on something that is going well without any issues (touch wood), the way I have been doing  it is, obviously working from reference shown below I made the bodies of one piece and replicated it 5 times over to get the total of 6 different pieces there are, I then resized them to fit each piece and individually designed their heads.


So far I have made good progress with these models, completing 3 of them yesterday and hoping to do another 2 today to be able to move onto the knight when I get home as I would like to play around with it in both Zbrush and Maya as it is quite an organic shape to do a horse head. Although they are not finished, at the bottom of this post I will post an update video when Kelly is able to do it of the chess pieces in action so you can see how they turned out, however I will go into it in more detail within my next post.

Here are the usual updates on everybody else!


Not much of a change from what everybody was doing yesterday, not much else to show! however there is Eve’s awesome painting that she did for the scene to go in the frame that I will model to go in front of the safe to hide it, the painting is great! It fits the cartoonist art style perfectly!



Here is a video that includes the chess piece models if you don’t want to read the next post where I go into more detail.

Synoptic Project: Production part 2

A week into the synoptic project’s production stage now and I have practically finished the low and the high of the chess board, after attempting to texture in Substance however there were a few issues when going the put detail into the normal’s, this can be fixed just by adjusting the Uvs of the model to a point where they are the most efficient they can be when using the Uv space to allow for more detail.


Coming back to think about my high and low, I have came to the conclusion that I could make the the model itself more interesting and stylized which will I do by exaggerating it even more like the drawing that I created, I also plan on adding more to the high poly like outlines on the table itself and more of a pattern on the circular parts of the feet, it is also being difficult but I plan on exaggerating the look of the feet as well in a way to look more stylized in both the high and the low as I have Polys to play with currently.

Since I prefer doing Uv work in Maya 2018, I will use today and tomorrow to potentially work on the chess pieces in college and then use the time working at home to correct the issues with the Chess Table. I will post the rest of the groups progress below as well.

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As you can see from above it seems like there are a few members that have had a rough week due to illness but I appreciate that everyone is still getting through all of their work! I was expecting the first few weeks of production to be a bit slow but I am more than confident that we will get to grips with everything before long!

Synoptic Project: Production part 1

So, production has finally begun meaning that us 3D artists finally get the chance to start working, or at least working on things we get the chance to really shine. To start with I will be working on the Chess Table as this will be where the player will be spending a lot of time but also it will most likely take the largest amount of time, as with the last project we tackled our Creative and Technical models first which also took the longest and this worked really well in the end, coming out with something we were all proud of. As for the other modelers, Marc will be doing a Bookshelf/Cabinet and Nikki will be working on her Piano.

This marking the first day of the production I will be paying close attention to my drawings and final painting made at the end to then create the chess table, today I am only blocking out the low poly to hopefully have a bulk of it completed by next week. As a reference here is the painting I completed as to what it should hopefully sort of look like by the end.

Chess Table.png


As for the rest of the group, here are their notes to show what they are up to as well.


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Still in the early stages but everyone seems to be making awesome progress! Just need to catch up myself with all of the modelling which I plan on doing this week anyway!

Below I have posted a little clip of one of the puzzles we have to show progress of how the in-engine progress is going!

Hayao Miyazaki and Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest is a platform-adventure Metroidvania video game developed by Moon Studios and published by Microsoft Studios that tells the tale of a young orphan destined for heroics, through a visually stunning action platformer. The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One in March 2015. Since the games’s release it has won 2 awards regarding it’s art, “The Game Award for Best Art Direction” in 2015 and “BAFTA Games Award for Artistic Achievement” in 2016.

DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NOT ACTUALLY PLAYED THE GAME, I have always had an interest just for the art direction alone, I have also heard that the story is quite powerful in the first 10 minutes. I’ve been told I need to prepare for an opening like Pixar’s “Up”.

The art is what also drew me to wanting to write about this game for this particular topic, the environment along with it’s eye catching colours really stood out whilst researching, although I am not a lover of Anime this is what the game was born from, known for “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbour Totoro”, Hayao Miyazaki’s studio, Studio Ghibli worked to together with Level 5 on the Ni no Kuni games to then inspire Ori and the Blind Forest. Hayao Miyazaki is responsible for creating many of the studio’s iconic characters and environments within the anime world and apparently because of this his studio is considered the Disney of the Anime world. Below are a few notable images of the Ni no Kuni games that look like they are pretty similar to the type of environment that Ori and the Blind Forest has.

Image result for ni no kuni Image result for ni no kuni

It has been said that the game particularly uses inspiration from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” especially in it’s art style and the way it uses light within each scene, this was made by Hayao Miyazaki’s studio and was Directed by himself .

 Related image
Image result for ori and the blind forest
Just from the images shown above you can not deny how scene’s like the one above have clearly inspired Ori and the Blind Forest, just from the lighting alone in how the surrounding forest is quite dark and uninviting compared to the foreground path which is full of strange flora and fauna which also are what seems to be the scene’s source of light, emitting mostly a blue tone in both images, it can also be seen that the plants wavey design design with a lot of circular patterns seen on them also, this can also be seen in some examples of the plants from Ori and the Blind Forest.
Even moving onto the characters that are used in the game, there is a large character named “Naru”, Naru is a creature of an unknown race and Ori’s effective “foster mother”. When Ori became separated from the Spirit Tree during the Great Storm, Naru discovered the young spirit and raised it as her own child. Below you can see an image of Naru holding Ori.
As you can see the design of Naru is a rather larger, furry character with a face sort of like Baymax out of Big Hero 6, however this looks very similar to two other characters used in the anime that I mentioned earlier, “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbour Totoro”, obviously because of the inspiration taken from Hayao Miyazaki.
Image result for my neighbor totoro
Image result for spirited away
In my personal opinion the characters that can be seen above look like they have had aspects taken from them to create Naru, the large furry body from the one above and the almost mask looking face from the character in the image below as well. By the looks of the above image, the type of environment that My Neighbour Toroto looks very similar to the early environment that the game also has.

Image result for ori and the blind forest


As you can see the environment above is very luscious and green, almost untouched as well apart from the current structure that the characters are creating, however even the assmebly of the scene with a large body of water along with trees being a focal point look can be seen from the image from My Neighbour Totoro.

In an IGN interview, Alexa Ray Corriea sits down with Mark Coates of Microsoft to play and discuss the beautifully stylized Ori and the Blind Forest, within the interview it is said that they wanted a game that had very good platforming controls but also looked beautiful with amazing animation like what studio Ghibli could do, it was stated that strong animation along with amazing visual art that went into game was what it was built on and was an amazing pairing for them.

As you can see from the reasons given above, it is pretty obvious that the creators of Ori and the Blind Forest used the work of Hayao Miyazaki to inspire their visually stunning creation, from the environment and lighting used to the characters themselves.


Synoptic Project: Pre-Production part 5

Within the rest of the week I have tried to stay productive by helping out the 2D artists a little more with the Pre-Production phase of the project, I did this by taking a few of the assets I will model, those being the ceiling light and the desk and doing a few designs of those, as for everyone else I will post the updates below.


For some reason my Ipad will only allow me to upload this one image, there are another three like it, one with a final light design and another two with some general idea for a desk along with a final design for that also, I will upload as soon as I can but the good thing is that my computer will be back soon according to the repair company so no more problems will be had. As I said I intend to finish my 2D digital drawing of the chess table before Monday, I will visit Marc and Kelly’s to do this since college is closed but I will post the final design below with my final thoughts on it.

Chess Table.png

Personally I am very happy with this, I will be happy to put it in for the book at the end of the year and hope that the 3D model lives up to it, I made sure to add engravings onto it to make it look more ornate as I can now do this much easier thanks to the method that I found.

Synoptic Project: Pre-Production part 4

Yesterday was more of a day of me thinking of ways I can still be productive outside of college, I was able to come up with something to do yesterday which was some top down design ideas of how the room could look, basically to get a idea of the shape of the room and a general idea of where the main items would go so that we could plan the players movement around the room and make sure that nothing is bunched up in one area so that the player gets the chance to look everywhere.


I’m not really happy of these as drawings but it was just to give the team ideas of what we could have, here are the notes of what people including myself are doing today.


What I have been doing today is using images like the one shown below to then adapt in Photoshop and make them usable in Substance Painter as height maps so that we save a lot of time as modellers not having to sculpt and of the engravings that you usually find on ornate furniture.


Basically what I did was take this into Photoshop, remove the black background, up the contrast of the whites so that it has more of a dramatic effect on the height and then put the black back in, I would then import it to substance painter like shown below.

Capture 2.JPG