ANI210 – Aftermath Post-Mortem

For the whole trimester, my teammates and I have been working on our Aftermath project. The brief for this project asked us to create a game environment in Unreal Engine that showed the aftermath of some event. My team chose to create the aftermath of a bar brawl (come on guys! What’s wrong with the aftermath of an office Nerf war?) set in the Wild West.

Plans & Pitches

First; let me show you my concepts.

thumbnails

Wow, it has been so long since I looked at these images, it’s almost jarring to see. These images were born from much research into Wild Western saloons. As you can see, I was quite bad at perspective at certain angles, but I do like to believe that my perspective skills have improved.

The research process felt a little chaotic, as if we were just collecting images without actually knowing if they fit with the style and time period we were going for. But we managed to figure out the style we wanted for our saloon, and our group leader told us the year that we were looking for and we were able to start piecing together our style guide.

We wanted – note; wanted – to create and texture our assets in an Overwatch style so we got a whole lot of images of the Overwatch map ‘Hollywood’. (For those who don’t know; Overwatch is a game made by Blizzard Entertainment.) This map has wild western buildings that we could use as reference, and we grabbed images of other Overwatch maps to get a feel of the style.

With the rest of the images on our style guide/mood board, we collected images of the interior of saloons from the time period and other small props that lay around the saloon, such as bottles, barrels, spitoons, wanted posters etc. From these we could keep concepting and finish pre-production.

We typed up a project plan we continued to draw concepts and/or started modelling. However during our project, we never looked at the project plan, it just sat in our Google Drive, not being touched and we progressed. We should have followed this plan closely, perhaps then we would not have handed the environment in so late. Without the project plan, it is most likely safe to compare our progress during the project to a blocked up funnel. We needed better planning for this project and we needed to stick to it.

Creative Work & Processes Used

From there we went onto modelling. One of the main problems faced was backwards compatibility between 3dsMax 2017 and 3dsMax 2016, for when we were modelling at home and at uni. I, personally, kept forgetting to save my files in a format that could be opened in 2016 version of Max, which really impacted how quickly I could finish assets. I also discovered that an asset you create in 2016 doesn’t stay in the 2016 format once you save a new version of the asset in 2017, that caught me up a few times while I was working.

There’s a few of my assets. It was interesting trying to work out how to make the round tables (I made a small and large one), and chairs. It was also interesting trying to work out how to break the crate. I didn’t have many problems with the modelling part of this project, and my favourite asset that I made was this one:

Saloon_model

For some reason, I just really love this model, it’s so amazing! *hem hem* Enough self praise. From modelling come texturing, and well… you’ve seen a few on my models, so I’ll show you some of my texture maps.

I enjoy texturing a lot, and the floor, dartboard and the texture for the saloon sign were some of my best this time around. The yellow texture in the corner there is for some gold bars that were in the environment. The floor was the hardest out of all my textures to make, the dartboard being the second hardest, as I had to determine the length of the floor plank, however, once I had worked that out it was a simple matter of copy and past to get the rest of the planks there.

When everything was textured we then began to place it all together in Unreal Engine, though in all honesty, we should have started this step sooner, while we were modelling and texturing. I had a problem with my broken crate pointed out to me, in which the inside of the crate was invisible due to the way I rendered out the image. Unfortunately I did not know how to fix this until yesterday, when our lecturer showed me the settings that were incorrect, as such, it was not fixed in the environment.

We discussed what triggered events we would add to the environment, and at the beginning of the project we had a lot of triggers, unfortunately, due to us running out of time, and a lack of assets, the only trigger we ended up adding was a proximity trigger on the piano that would begin playing “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin when the player moved near the piano.

From the screenshots above, you can see that we didn’t end up sticking to our planned style of Overwatch. This is because when we began texturing, some of us tried to stick to the style, whereas others went with a more realistic style, so our textures ended up being mixed matched. However I think our environment turned out alright anyway.

Project Management & Teamwork

Our project was handed in well past its due date. This happened, first, because we overestimated how much work we needed to do to create the environment, and then later, because we all decided to focus more on the next project; our obstacle courses, over finishing our environment.

While working on this, we never realized how close the due date was or how long it would take to put the environment together in Unreal. All the weeks up to the due date were filled with modelling and texturing, and a week to import it into Unreal, then export and upload. Our project was almost too ambitious. We should have noticed the amount of backlog in assets that was happening and cut less important assets from our list.

Another problem was communication and misunderstanding. Using Slack to communicate is both harder and easier than talking face to face. While, yes, it was easier than waiting till we could meet up to discuss the project; over the internet, you lack everything you use to communicate except your words. The group would discuss details in the group chat on Slack, trying to explain their ideas, but since we were unable to gesture to images effectively, these discussions grew more heated. We should have organised to meet up at uni more often to have group meetings so that these details could have been sorted out properly.

Near the time when we were meant to hand in our environment three of us were discussing the possibility of asking out team leader to step down as it was felt that she wasn’t doing her job to the best of her abilities. I had noted that it was far to late to be considering a change in leadership, and while my teammates conceded to my point, it was easy to see that they still wanted to press the point further. Any problems with leadership should have been dealt with in the first weeks of of the project, not talking about it towards the end of it.

But aside from this, I enjoyed working with them, and I am happy with the end result of the project. I hope I have more chance in the future to work with an amazing team.

~Icetail~

Updated: 9th of May, 2017, 11.45am. 1.15pm. 4.12pm

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Character Creation: The Design

Vague descriptions be gone with my newest character: Seraphina. She is a dancing elf with many styles of dance in her repertoire. Her design wasn’t easy to nail down but in the end I think I did pretty good.

So meet Seraphina:

Seraphina Ref

This wasn’t just improving my character creation skills, it was also me working on my proportions (what are those?) and hands (I can’t draw hands, I know).

Sera’s design was based around the blood elves of World of Warcraft, the belly dancers of the middle eastern countries, and the Shuvani Romani Kumpania whom I have seen at the Abbey Medieval Festival here in Australia. Her pose is a mix between Celtic river dancing and ballet.

ThumbsWhen I was thumbnailing Sera, I found myself leaning more into the ballet, ballroom and the long flowing skirt style of romani dance. They worked more with what I need for my story. I liked the way the skirts would flare out as well, creating opportunities for great dynamic poses. I played more with skirts than pants in my sketchings as well. Thought in the end I went with the poofy genie style pants. In the sketches you can see below, I also played around with the star design, trying to make it a part of her. I’m not entirely sure if I succeeded in doing so, but I tried hard to make it a part of Sera.

Sketches

A major design reference that I used during this stage was Olivia from Fire Emblem Awakening. I was inspired by Olivia’s outfit, and the way it fits the character perfectly, showing her personality and is a good representation of her role in game.

When I was typing Sera’s backstory, I was trying to think of something that was interesting but not cliché. I tried to get it to a point where I could continue in a story with a good reference to personality, who she is, and what she values. I hope that I did a good job.

Name: Seraphina
Nicknames: Sera, Nina
Stage Name: Starlight Seraph
Age: 18
Occupation: Travelling dancer/Master Dancer

Race: Elf/Álfur
Eye Colour: Cyan
Skin Colour: Golden Brown
Hair Colour: Dark Red
Height: 159cm
Weight: 56 kg

Seraphina grew up surrounded by the dancers and musicians of her father’s travelling group of entertainers. There she learnt and mastered many different styles of dance, her favourite style being Ballet. When her father retired, Sera took over as leader of the group, where she continues her family legacy in front of audiences everywhere.

In Seraphina’s group, your stage name is always given to you by your audience. When performing, she earned the name ‘Starlight Seraph’ from a band of pirates who described her as being as elegant as her namesake, the angels. This name became official when Sera was performing and the same band of pirates called her that, causing the other patrons to start calling her ‘Starlight Seraph’ as well.

Sera is bound by a marriage contract with one of the pirates whom are regular audience members. This contract guarantees the protection of Sera’s travelling group. Sera likes her betrothed, but refuses to show it, often giving her suitor cold glares as he tries increasingly extravagant ways of winning her over.

Seraphina’s sister, Rhapsody, chose music over dance, and often accompanies Sera as a master musician.

In this I also tried to iron out several story points that I will use. Such as Seraphina’s relationships, and who she works for/what she works as.

All up this was a fun experience, and I hope to continue improving my work and that I finally manage to finish a story. I shall do it! I will succeed.

Please leave a comment to tell me what you think! See you all next time!

~Icetail~

Research Blog
Seraphina Ref

2D Obstacle Course Assignment – Part 2

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about this assessment, detailing my research into the movement of Papyrus from Undertale and Obelix from Asterix and Obelix. During that month I have sketched, lined, blocked out, and finalized my obstacle course animation. It was not a simple task to complete, and there are parts that I wish were different, as well as the several mistakes that I have come to notice.

In the thumbnailing process I first was just simply sketching the characters on a blank photoshop document, trying to work out who would be the easiest for me to draw, and it became clear, quite quickly, that one character was simply impossible for me to draw.

Papyrus and Obelix sketches 01

As you can see, I was unable to draw Obelix, and as much as I would have loved to animate him, I simply didn’t have the time left in the trimester to work out how to draw him, so I had to abandon that idea. I moved onto trying to make the supplied rig work with Papyrus.

Papyrus and Obelix sketches 02

There’s what I managed to come up with. I am inspired to draw Papyrus now. Before I do that however, I shall finish this post. When I was interpreting Papyrus onto the Normi_ *hemhem* Norman rig, I tried to find the perfect blend between the two. In the end, I just kept the scarf. Had I of had the time, I would have most certainly made the animation solely Papyrus with no sign of the supplied reference.

After the sketches came the thumbnailing of Papyrus across the course. We were supplied with two courses and told to do both. So here they are:

Rebekah B Obstacle course papyrus 1

Rebekah B Obstacle course papyrus 2

This consisted of a lot of copy and paste of the march frames. Ultimately I chose the first one, I felt that I could do more with it, and there were more unique actions in it. From this came the block out of my animation. A few differences from the planned course, but still mostly the same.

MyAnimation2

I particularly like his start/end pose, and his jump animation. They are quite cute. My lecturers told me that Papyrus couldn’t clear obstacles with his bones as elevators because that was almost the same as him clearing the course by jumping over it and bypassing everything. Well Papyrus would hate to be that lazy! So I made him climb the wall instead. My father also suggested that Papyrus slide down the slope on his butt instead of surfer like, and it did make more sense.

Papyrus Line

Next we have the lines. He’s climbing up bones now, isn’t it cool! Anyway, there are a few timing issues in this, mainly the fall down after he hits the wall and then when he’s sliding down the slope. If you can notice the other mistake I made, I will applaud you, as I am told that it isn’t actually that noticeable.

Papyrus Finished

And here is the final gif. Yes, I forgot to colour parts of Papyrus on some frames. It is hard to fill colour when the colour you are filling is almost the same colour as the workspace behind the character you are animating. In this gif, Papyrus’ fall after he hits the wall is faster and his slide flows more smoothly into the stand-up and crouch for his first jump onto the poles. When I coloured Papyrus, I didn’t want to make him pure white, but I was restricted by the colour swatches of Adobe Fla_ *hemhem* Animate, so he is cream instead. And his scarf, of course, had to be bright red.

Next time I do something like this, I want to make the character likeness more accurate, make it look more like the character I am animating and less like the images of the supplied rig. If I had more time on this project, I probably would have gone and fixed the frames of the march cycle so that he is marching a full cycle instead of a half cycle.

What I learnt about animation during this assignment was a new way of animating a character. Instead of making each moving part a separate layer in the Animate document, I animated Papyrus on one layer as solid line. This was really hard to do, but also easier for me. It was hard because I couldn’t erase lines madly when I made a mistake or when I was getting rid of guides, so this made my progress slower. However less layers meant that I didn’t have to scroll through the list of layers to find the layer I was working on, and I didn’t have to pull my timeline up to see all my layers giving me a larger workspace on my laptop’s screen.

While doing this animation I learnt that copying all required frames is important, lest you make a cycle only half complete, that there are several different ways for different characters to traverse their terrain depending on their abilities and personality, and that there are no bones in bananas.

Okay, that last point was a joke.

I really enjoyed animating Papyrus’ scarf, and working out how it would flow behind Papyrus as he moved. It was certainly easier than animating the folded wings of my walk cycle in my second trimester, but still hard, none the less. This was a fun endevour, and I’m happy with the way this turned out.

See you all in my next blog post.

~Icetail~

Link to Part 1

Animation Bachelor Update + New Projects

Okay, so I’ve been wondering for a while how to post this, which do I talk about first? My animation degree or a new personal project I’m planning (and have started). Well I decided to start with my degree.

So hello everyone!

First off: my Bachelor in Animation. I am now in my fourth trimester and I have two classes, one of which is my first Production unit. I am required to post progress updates of all projects I do in this module on my blog, so you will be seeing some more of that soon. Another thing I am meant to do for this class is refining and developing my own skills, so I’m going do be working on my drawing skills, such as anatomy and character development. Leading of from this, I now have an excuse to continue a 100 theme challenge I started a while back where I restricted myself to one of my OC’s as to develop her character. So that’s what’s happening this trimester.

Now onto my own project, somewhat unrelated, but still somewhat relevant to my degree. I had this idea a few weeks ago to make a Hunger Games and Tales of Series crossover. So I did it basically. I used a Hunger Games generator to reap selected characters from the Tales of Series and then I just generated the events that happened and screencapped them.

Here is my reaping:
tales-of-hunger-games-reaping

First I’ll be drawing just an image with all my tributes. Personally; I’m rooting for District 1 or 6 here. I will post the arena events when I get up to drawing them. Here is the progress of my first image:
the-tributes-wip

To link you to their wiki pages, from left to right we have: Giselle Oslo, Jade Curtis, Zelos Wilder, Raine Sage, Rita Mordio, Yuri Lowell, Alfred Svent, Elize Lutus, Fylk Zadeya, Alisha Diphda, Uphim Welkps, Velvet Crowe, Leon Magnus, Ilene Remembrant, Reid Hershel, Farah Oersted, Cress Albane, Arche Klein, Saleh, Claire Bennett, Emil Castagnier, Marta Lualdi, Asbel Lhant and Pascal.

In future blog posts I will be using the names that are most said in-game, not their full names (or in the case of Seraphim/Malakim, true names). Comment below to tell me who your hoping to win.

That’s all I have for now, I will post again soon when I have more of the image above complete. See you all soon!

~Icetail~

Reflective Blog Task – Social Media

Social media is a big part of the creative industry. It practically drives the creative industry, as it allows companies to advertise new products they come up with, as well as communicate with employees, clients and job applicants. However, despite knowing this, I find myself hesitant to use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other sites like the two I have mentioned. If you haven’t guessed from the title, or from this paragraph, the lecture that I’m reflecting on was about social media. Week 3 of this trimester had much to say about the importance of social media to the creative industry.

Image result for we interrupt this program

Before I get any further, I would like to make this note to readers; I noted in class last Friday that I should have elaborated more on my use of DeviantArt in my last reflective blog, however, as I sat in front of my laptop typing, the thought came to me that that information fits better in this blog post, instead of where I was trying to fit it.

Image result for we now return to our regularly scheduled program

What is social media? And more importantly, I think, what is social media to me? To answer the first question, I think that I need not go any further than a quick Google search of the definition.

Straight from searching “social media definition”, the result I get is this:

Related imageSocial Media
Noun
Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

This definition describes websites such as Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt and FanFiction.net. I will get more into these sites soon.

To me however, social media is a complicated thing. I do not class Facebook or Twitter as the same kind of site as DeviantArt or FanFiction.net for the simple fact that the information shared on all these sites is different.

Image result for facebookI don’t like Facebook. The only thing I use Facebook for is it’s Messenger app, and occasionally looking at the Facebook page for one of mobile games I play. I got my Facebook account a few years ago, and when I first used it I thought it was cool, but eventually, due to people typing hate at each other and bringing drama from school into their status posts, I started avoiding the website, trying to use Skype to communicate with my friends, but I found that hard when everyone uses Facebook. Because I don’t like Facebook, I find myself hesitant to participate much on Twitter. I have been told many numerous that social media is important in the creative industry, as the lecture for week 3 said; it allows you to promote your work online in a place where everyone can view it. Despite knowing this, I still hesitate to rejoin the Facebook community or take part in the Twitter community.

On the other hand, I have no problem at all communicating with artists and authors on DeviantArt and FanFiction.net. I suspect that this is because I don’t know who anyone is, and I’m not hearing about their problems all day every day. Not that I won’t help people with their problems, but I can only do so much before it’s out of my hands.

On DeviantArt I am free to share my art, comment on other’s art and have my art commented on. The feedback from other artists is inspiring and is very often encouraging. On FanFiction.net, reviewers always make sure to make their feelings known, though those feeling aren’t always the nicest comments (most of the time they are), they will more often then not give you advice on how to improve, even if it’s not always worded in the most polite way.

frostieheart-logo

Logo designed for high-school assessment

In the lecture, there were two questions asked: what name will I use, and what are the pros and cons of creating accounts under an alias? These were interesting questions questions that made me question why do I use an alias? What purpose do the pen-names “Icetail” and “FrostieHeart” serve me? Icetail is actually the second pen-name I have had, the first being Meta-If (if you have ever been on my first blog or seen my FanFiction.net profile back in 2012-2013). The only place where the name “Meta-If” still applies is FanFiction.net, where it is apart of my current pen-name (which might or might not change…). The name Icetail is one of my original character’s names from my fanfiction stories, and doesn’t do much for me in a professional sense. The name FrostieHeart, I didn’t come up with until two years ago in grade 11 when I got my DeviantArt account. Instead of using the name Icetail again I used the name of one of my World of Warcraft characters; Frostyhart (who doesn’t exist anymore sadly). While I might like these names at this current stage, I cannot see myself using them as a professional alias, they are too detached from my person to be so.

Image result for what is in a nameBut still I have to ask, what do these mean to me anyway? The name FrostieHeart probably means the most to me as a creator at this point in my life, as my current pen-name, though it has no particular meaning in general. I just thought it was cool, and it is so simple to change when I get tired of it. My real name means so much more to me. Rebekah, in Hebrew means ‘to tie or secure’, but that is inconsequential to the fact that it is the name that my parents gave me. I have come to believe that you don’t really have a name on social media, not if it can be so easily changed, merely you type a name into a small box and it remains your name until you change it, whether you inform your watchers or not is a choice that you make.

While it remains so simple to change a name on social media it is almost impossible to retain a single name, where your followers start calling you something, you eventually set that as your name, then you continue on for a few months or years until you feel so detached from the name that your followers have given you and you change your name to the next most popular name you get called, because your followers have changed and evolved, as a consequence they come up with a new name for you. It’s a form of never ending cycle that happens until you settle onto one name, your identity and brand.

However what I am going to dive into next falls under my final reflective blog task topic, being week one’s lecture on “Your Professional Identity”. I do hope you are not too bored with my blog posts, I’ve been enjoying typing them so far. Leave a comment to ask me anything you like, I will endeavour to answer everyone.

Until next post!

~Icetail~

Week 3: Social Media and Your Career – Self-Directed Practitioners. Medium. Retrieved 8 December 2016, from https://medium.com/self-directed-practitioners/week-6-social-media-and-your-career-21ec52b2b003#.cyoowm686