Monday, December 29, 2008


Well, I've entered my first Gameartisans minicomp, the sackboy mini! The brief was to create a new costume for sackboy, either based on an existing character or an original idea. The limit was 2000 tris and one 512x 512 diffuse map, with any other maps being optional. I thought it'd be nice to have sackboy in some kind vehicle, thinking about the way vehicles are often represented in children's plays. I settled on a plane, seeing as cars pop up now and then in LittleBig Planet anyway, and then decided to kit out the sackboy appropriately as Biggles, the fictional World War 1 and 2 pilot. The background is taken from one of the Biggles books.

I think I did OK for my first entry, and I certainly had fun with it.
Blogger seems to be misbehaving and not linking to the full sized image of my submission, so I will do it manually:

Free Image Hosting at

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Woo! Van Finished!

Hooray! It's all done! Although I do have a couple of shader issues to sort out.

Damage state:

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I don't really have anything amazing to report, I just thought I should update. Both the van and the pony are getting there. For the van I've almost finished the diffuse, then it's normals and specular. Then I can start the damage state, but at this point I don't think I'll make it anything that affects the entire mesh.
Low poly pony is pretty much done, I just need to clean up my texture seams and fiddle around with my alpha channels. I've also done most of the high LOD body mesh, just hooves and facial features to tweak, then I get the fun of trying to make it fit my existing texture page. This screenshot doesn't show the alphas that go over the hooves.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Oh yeah, I forgot to post this up...
I custom crafted the GAGGALS myself :D. Apologies for dodgy photos.

H Van

Well, in the end I did do what I said I wasn't going to do, and I started making the van. The mesh is pretty much finished now, the only things I have to add are windscreen wipers and seats. I've modelled an interior as well, but I'll leave shots of that for when it's all actually finished.
I have no idea what to do for the damage state, I want to do something really dramatic!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I haven't posted anything in a shamefully long time, and I have been working, I promise! I basically got bored of the garden, it was progressing but I felt I had little to show for the effort I'd put in, and it was feeling slightly bitty. I decided to switch to a nice lumpy thing, so I started on the pony.

As it stands I've done my low poly (under 2k tris) and unwrapped it. I've got some cones and extra bits for alphas as well but they're hidden in that screenshot. I also started to rig but got frustrated and left it...
I've started texturing but nothing's really happening with it yet. On the plus side, Hopefully I'll only have to do it once and it can serve for all 3 model iterations. I'm also finding I really want to start modelling the van now that I have loads of photos. I think I'm going to have to force myself to stick to one thing at a time!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I've started work on the environment brief, I'm doing the corner of a domestic garden. I took lots of reference photos while I was at home over the weekend, and have begun to build. I started on Monday after working at Outso, after the frustrations of starting out with Maya it was really relaxing to come back and work in Max!
Here's my reference material:
And here's how mine looks so far:

It's a small area so my plan is to model and texture the big boundary areas, the soil and fences. Once those are in I can model and texture all the fiddly little things and just spend my polys making some nice plants.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mod Stuff

I've finished all my units! Yaaaaaaay!
The last three were practically the same mesh, the only difference is in their weapons and accessories. This made things pretty easy for me and meant I only had to really worry about the texturing. There were some really nice sword and sheath designs saved up for the important members of the army, so I had some fun with those.

Family member bodyguards:

Bactrian General:

Bactrian King:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summary of the Beeb: Part 3

As mentioned before, in the third week we decided to focus on a sitcom format. Dean and Alex chose to do part of an episode of the Mighty Boosh to see how the two remaining engines fared.
Meanwhile, I didn't really have much to do, so was glad when Rupert Harris from the Bamzooki team got in touch with us.

Bamzooki is a CBBC show where kids can download a kit, create their own Zook, an insect-like creature, and give it different skills. Some will be fast, some strong etc. They then submit their Zooks to the CBBC website, and some are contacted to be on the the show. The contests are rendered in 3d and superimposed onto the show to make it seem as though the kids can interact in real life with their creations and watch the competitions on a table in front of them.
The idea was for small segments of the show to have the Zooks out in the real world, creating mischief. Rupert was wondering if any of this could be achieved with machinima, so I had a play in the Bamzooki engine and with some video editing software and came up with this:

I also explored ways to personalise the Zooks a bit more and give them character, so I created a dummy Zook in Max and made it some features. It was good fun but unfortunately the Bamzooki engine doesn't support alpha channels, so that was a bit of a dead end.

This time round, Alex had the most success. His Mighty Boosh machinima came out really well and although there are limitations and things Moviestorm can't do that the script required, you can't tell too much. Moviestorm was very strong with regards to set creation and character customisation, as soon as the video plays you can see that it looks like the Mighty Boosh.

Dean had a lot of problems with Source, his lip synchs refused to preview and his character refused to begin the machinima sitting down. His choice of characters was also very limited by the way the Source engine works. Each character comes with their own set of embedded animations, and you can only choose from these when you are making a machinima. Unless you want to edit an existing model and re-export it, or make a whole new character and add in the animations, you're quite limited. The default textures weren't really ideal either, and make the shop seem a little bit creepy!

Jappet was unsure if I should upload these as they're based on existing works, but there are a lot of machinimas that use film and TV soundtracks, especially ones done with Moviestorm. I did e-mail the production company behind the Mighty Boosh asking for advice about it but unfortunately didn't get any reply. I think we should be fine as they are mostly our own work and they should fall under fair use with regards to copyright. That being said if I do recieve any e-mails or comments from official channels telling me to take these down I shall do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Yes it's even more papercraft. I really love doing these, I just enjoy the process itself, looking forward to getting the next bit done. Once they're finished I feel slightly disappointed!

This little guy was very simple, probably took only an hour or two to make.

This one was complicated, but a very well designed papercraft. The arms were pretty fiddly but satisfying as they were only one piece each.
The headset was incredibly fiddly and frustrating. I also compounded my problems by choosing to do the lineless version. This meant it look a lot longer but looks a lot better as you don't have random dotted lines all over the place.
TF2 dispenser:
Tim and I made this together. It was quite a refreshing change to have a nice boxy papercraft. It reminded me of making nets for paper objects in primary school, all simple shapes and sharp corners. As you can see, we added some metal for it to dispense.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mod Stuff 2

Finished a couple more units for the mod.

Nomadic Light Cavalry:

This one was horrible to me. Getting it so that the open bit of the jacket was textured properly without the back being weird was a nightmare. It didn't help that I had a few files wiped, so after I'd done it once, I had to do it again.

Nomadic Heavy Cavalry.

This one wasn't too bad as I had the scale armour from before. The pattern on his shirt I actually nicked from a Persian rug!

Just three to go now. Busy busy!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Smash Brothers Brawl Papercraft

I've recently got back into papercrafting, I find it nice to have something physical to get my hands on, rather than just digital modelling and texturing. I've just finished making Clank and posed the question of who I should make next, Wall-E or Falco. Tom replied that I should make Falco, and then follow on to make the entire cast of Smash Brothers Brawl! A daunting task indeed, and I don't think there's any way I could do it without help, but just for curiosity's sake, I'm going to find out how many Brawl papercrafts are actually out there.


This page has:
Samus/ Zero Suit Samus
Mr Game and Watch
Ice Climbers

This page has:

Here's a nice, official looking

Snake in a box (one of the simplest papercrafts there is, a nice beginner's one)
Part 1
Part 2


Toon Link

Meta Knight (this one isn't great. There's an amazing one out there somewhere but everything I find on it leads me to Japanese sites)


Donkey Kong

Lucario and instructions


Half successes

Pokemon trainer (Squirtle, Ivysaur, Charizard) Here's a Bulbasaur that could possibly be photoshopped to become an Ivysaur
I couldn't find an Olimar, but I did find Pikmin
No King Dedede but there are Waddle Dee and Waddle Doo

No Shows

Zelda/ Sheik
Pit (although there is one in the process of being designed)
Captain Falcon
Diddy Kong

If anybody finds one of the ones I couldn't, let me know. There's a lot of internet out there to look through, I'm sure I missed something.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summary of the Beeb: Part 2

In the second week we began work in earnest. We were given a script to Dinosapien – a CBBC show about some kids camping in Canada who encounter intelligent dinosaurs. I will give you a brief synopsis of what's happening in our videos. Eno (a dinosaur) comes into the camp and spots a picture of himself. He examines it, but gets scared away by Lauren when she comes in, carrying hot dogs. She sees that the drawing of Eno has been moved and wonders if he's been here. She calls to him, and offers him food. He shows up, but is wary and on the offensive, and ends up scaring Lauren away by hissing at her.

I probably spent about two days just acquainting myself with Second Life and earning Linden dollars so that I could buy props. The female outfit I managed to cobble together for free, but the dinosaur costume cost me 75 Lindens, so I had to fill out a load of stupid online surveys to earn some cash. I’m still getting spam to this day.

Surprisingly, I probably got the most done out of the three of us. I didn’t get round to dialogue, but that could have been done reasonably quickly as I had a script to hand. The framerates and resolution of the video are absolutely appalling. My laptop was definitely not up to scratch, but Second Life looks quite dodgy anyway. I got really tired of staring at all the terrible models in Second Life, if you want to make anything, you have to make it out of primitives distorted and sort of mashed together, it's horrific!

Alex had an even harder time of it than me, seeing as he had to use Moviestorm. Moviestorm cannot do dinosaurs, cannot do people holding things apart from a few specific props, and can’t really do outdoor locations very well.

Dean had the best result, using Source. His was far more cinematic and just looked a lot nicer. He did, however, struggle with the AI. At the end of the video you can just see the AI override failing on the dinosaur and it rushing in to kill Alyx.

At the end of the week we decided to drop Second Life as it really has no redeeming features whatsoever, but to try out a sitcom format for Source and Moviestorm. Source had done well at this test, but drama or sitcom style shows would give Moviestorm an opportunity to prove itself.

Mod Stuff

I've been helping Rez, one of Tim's friends, with a Rome: Total War mod. Now shamefully I've never actually played the game, but I've been helping out all the same. It's mostly been altering existing models and then texturing. It's been good practice for me and it's nice to have an external project set, I find it motivates me far more. It's also been really good to have a strict guideline for what each character needs, the mod is striving to be very historically accurate.

I know these aren't great but I'm not really very experienced at painting textures from scratch, so it's good to practice. I think the main problem I'm having is the folds in the fabric, I'm finding it tough to make my brushstrokes actually describe something, rather than just looking like random lines.

Bactrian Spearman:
(the screenshot is a little bit old, I dulled the colours down a bit because the yellow was a bit neon. The TP is current though)
Archer of Bactra:
Cavalry of Bactra:
I like this one, I think the colours came together really nicely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summary of the Beeb: Part 1

Well, I finished my BBC placement the other week and I haven't really said that much about what I was really doing so I thought I'd better write it down before I forget. I have a posh shiny presentation somewhere on my hard drive, but it doesn't really give the full experience.

For accomodation, the three of us - me, Dean from the Game Programming course and Alex who'd just finished his IT computing course - were put up in the BBC hostel in Queensway, West London. The BBC hostel is nice, but has a few drawbacks. Firstly, it had no internet. Secondly, the kitchens were pretty unusable. We managed to cook a few meals in them, but you certainly had to struggle, either to find the right equipment or just to find a hob or oven that actually worked. But other than that it was nice.
It was certainly nice to live in central London, although I feel like I didn't really take advantage of my situation fully. In the last week I had my longboard and did some skating in Kensington Gardens and Hyde park, and I really should have done that from the outset.

We turned up at the BBC on Monday morning and were first sent on the tour to let us get to know the Television Centre building. It's suprising how little the studios are actually used at TVC, you can understand why they want to sell the building. We also learnt that the BBC rents out its studios to other channels like Channel 4 to earn itself more money. While we were on placement they were filming the Charlotte Church show in the studio opposite our building, so we saw the sparkly set in various states of completion. We were working in the East Tower, which you can just see in this photo:

After spending a few weeks working in a TV environment, I've found out that it's very unglam. We didn't really see any celebrities - we saw some kids TV presenters and the people off of Eggheads. We did see some rehearsals and sets for shows like Mock the Week, and lunch hour could be very interesting if you just went exploring and poked your nose in all the studio viewing galleries, but Television Centre is really very functional and boring. It's also a lot smaller than it looks on TV and in photos, the massive wall you see with 'BBC Television Centre' written on it is the side wall of studio one - the biggest studio in TVC. It looks HUGE but it's only about 4 stories high.

After our tour on the first day we were given our brief. What the CBBC production team wanted us to do was to generally research machinima and do some test projects to see how viable it would be as a way to produce animation sequences. We would each have an engine and work on laptops to escape the restricted BBC network. However, before any of that could take place, we had to complete a load of BBC training modules as we were classes as employees. These included: law, health and safety, competition fairness, child protection and editorial policy. All of these were extremely irrelevant to us seeing as we wouldn't even be touching a camera, but it did make you think about how things were produced behind the scenes and all the thought that has to go into a programme.

More to come!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Tutorial dropping

Importing videos from DVD into Adobe Premiere for editing purposes

Photoshop VTF export - For exporting textures so they can be read by the Source engine, which has been a temperamental nuisance so far. Unreal seems like a breeze in comparison.

So lately I've been doing lots of video editing, splicing together footage from different engines to make it seem like the same one. This way we can use the great environments of Source with the ease of use and versatile lip sync of Moviestorm.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Second Life Analysis

We're finished with the initial game engine explorations, so here are my findings on Second Life, which we've thankfully decided to abandon.

Second Life is a popular game engine to use for machinima, and this is encouraged by the Second life creators, Linden Labs.
However, second life is not very easy to use for machinima purposes. A lot of the problems reflect the problems of a real world film project. You must find an in world location, as building one yourself is out of the question unless you want to pay for land. You then have to buy or find props. Building within Second life is possible, but the controls are horrible and my existing modelling skills become useless. It is possible to import textures into second life (which you have to pay to do) but not existing models. This seems like a huge waste of potential. Searching for props is not easy to do and was very time consuming. I had to spend time earning
Linden dollars before I could even get started.
The other problem is that you need actors. As Second Life is an MMO of sorts, you require one person to puppet every avatar in the scene. Controlling an avatar and a camera at once is very tricky, so ideally the director would want to be apart from the scene. This means you’d need a person for every actor on screen at once, plus a director, making this a very inefficient option in terms of manpower.
The lack of scripting in Second Life means that for every take you do, the whole sequence must be acted again. This can be a disadvantage if you had everything going just right and just wanted to alter a camera angle- something that wouldn’t be a problem in an engine such as source.
Second Life also doesn’t look that great as a filming location. The residents have horrible modelling habits due to the weird builder, the textures all tile noticeably, and it’s rare to find a build with an overall art style behind it.
The main use of machinima within Second Life seems to be filming personally important events, such as in-game weddings, rather than any particularly creative endeavours. The only people I can see really wanting to pursue machinima within Second Life are the residents themselves.

I'll have to find out if I'm allowed to post up the video of the work I did as it's the BBC's intellectual property.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More SL Info dropping

Nice filming location


Kowloon Walled City

I found this knocking about on my portable hard drive last night. I started it before I left uni at the end of the year, and it was going pretty well. It's still very much in progress, the main issue being the pile of rubbish in the foreground needs working into.

This is from a book about Kowloon Walled City, which was incredibly interesting. When the British took control of Hong Kong, it was never certain who exactly had control over Kowloon city, so it basically became a lawless society. Despite any official laws or government controls, the city survived, and did well for itself in many ways. Although there was widespread drug use and crime, the residents also took it upon themselves to set up schools and old people's clubs. There were many successful businesses, and practicing dentists and doctors who couldn't work in mainland Hong Kong due to not having the correct paperwork. The complete lack of planning regulations led to buildings being set up wherever they would fit, and almost leaning against each other like dominoes. Utilities were haphazard, and the alleys at the base of the buildings were dark and constantly damp from the dripping pipes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Second Life Machinima

Well, I've taken my first steps towards making a machinima, by testing out some lip sync technology.

To make this video (please try to ignore the watermark) I simply went into Second Life and found somewhere I thought looked nice. I positioned the camera so it was facing my avatar and took a screenshot.

I then opened up Crazytalk and pasted in the image. Crazytalk lets you define certain key features of the 2D image, namely the edges of the lips and eyes. You can then record an audio track and the image will automatically lip sync. The results look pretty good, however it does limit you quite a lot by using a flat image as a base. You'd have to be careful not to overuse it and to cut it in with different shots where it wouldn't matter so much that a character wasn't obviously lip synced.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

This is the BBC

As some people may be aware, I'm currently on a machinima placement with the BBC. The last couple of days have just been introduction and completing training courses, but soon we start actually getting down to business. Tomorrow we'll hopefully be given a script and then we'll each have a week or so to create a machinima of it using different engines. One of us will be on Moviestorm, one on Source, and me on Second Life. At the moment Source is looking like the most promising and flexible option for future use, but we'll have a go at everything and see what issues come up.

So for now I'll be using this blog as a drop off point for any reference I find useful in creating my Second Life machinima.

How to Alt-Zoom Camera - Camera controlling

Lip sync - Second Life Wiki - Rudimentary Lip Sync for SL

Machinima in Second Life - A tutorial of the whole machinima process

Thinkerer Studios - Step by step video recording and editing for SL

Noob Be Gone - Camera controls and an example of lipsynced SL machinima

Lip sync tools

Flycam - camera tool

CTRL + DEL + F1 Get rid of HUD

CTRL + DEL + D - opens up debug menu, allowing for unrestricted camera controls and some lip syncing

ALT + left click - follow a specific object or player with the camera

List of resources

List of places to get animations

Facial animation HUD

Animated Speech

Animation shop - inc some free ones

Crazy Talk - a lipsyncing program

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Third Year Project Idea

Some of you may know that I've recently come back from my holiday in Marmaris, Turkey, and while I was there I had a rather interesting idea for my final project. To be fair, it's not really my idea, it's Tim's, but I think he's more than happy for me to steal it from him.

The basic idea is to model an area of Leicester, but as if the predicted effects of global warming had been affecting it for quite a period of time. So, Leicester, but with a Meditteranean climate. I think this would be quite a nice idea because I'd have direct information from Leicester itself, whilst having to apply an art style, say from photos I took in Turkey.

The climate in Turkey affects far more than just the weather. Plants are different, with palm trees all over the place and the trunks of regular trees painted white, perhaps to protect them from the sun? We couldn't really work that one out. The forests are far less lush and green, and more scrubby, with trees and grasses clinging to rocks. Pavements and road surfaces in the town were always tiled brick, presumably because tarmac would melt. Buildings tended to be pastel shades, and were quite bleached by the sun. Balconies were present on pretty much every residential building in order for people to take advantage of the pleasant weather. Daily routines were also very different, with the working day starting late and finishing late, some shops staying open to about 10pm when in this country you'd expect them to close at 5.

I think this could be quite a good challenge. It would take a lot of concept art to narrow down what makes Leicester Leicester, and what makes Marmaris Marmaris. The issue then would be to combine them in a way that means Leicester is immediately recognisable, but also makes the viewer see that something isn't quite as it normally is.

I'll probably post some photos up later to illustrate some of my points a bit better.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Continuing in the same vein as before: Solitary

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Deep Sea Discovery

This is for a speedpaint-like thing going on on a forum I visit, so I thought I'd repost it here. It didn't take very long, only an hour or two, but it doesn't technically count as a speedpaint.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The boat is finished!

I decided as I suddenly find myself with lots of free time that I would resurrect my interest in papercraft! Having built Link and lots of Spiky Babies last year, I decided to ramp up the difficulty, and built the King of Red Lions from Wind Waker.

It took me just under two weeks to build, and I'm very happy with how it came out.