Monday, 31 December 2012

About Me!

been reading over the coursework specifications and decided to do a few post about me to try to answer  some of the points.
Don't know if this is actually what is needed but thought iv never rote down this stuff before and now is as good a time as any.

This is me 

I was born in 1991 on the 20th of April

I dont like sports, or guns. 

What inspires me?

New stuff, I like new ideas and things being different. Movies and games were a big part of my upbrinigng. Also seeing the great technical leaps towards photorealism is very impressive but I realised  a while ago that that's not the kind of thing that i want to be doing. I dont realy have the attention attention span of the real drive to create photorealistic visuals. It takes too long and while iv was learning my computer realy couldnt handle anything too high poly. And for the longest time that has been my way of working , make stuff that can run on my pc and the chances are that itl run on everyone elses. Cartoons and other styles of non photo realistic rendering is where all the fun is. Being part of a small dedicated team or working alone on hobby projects is when im at my happiest. Iv enterd a few game making contests

How did i get into 3d?

I always liked films growing up and particularly liked the puppets involved in older movies like Labyrinth and Legend. 

I thought it would be so much fun to make the monsters in these films and create ways to making them come to life in front of you. I attended a few film groups and never really got the chance to learn specal effects to the level i wanted due to cost. It was then I got interested in 3d. Films like toy story and small soldiers and cartoons like Inspectors indicated that 3d was a way to make stuff without such a big budget. 

At one of the film clubs I mentioned to one of the leaders that I was using Maya ans she recommended that i try 3ds max. I did and i liked the autoriging and stuff over Maya. But didnt prefer eather over the other. Then I got scared about lisences and looked for a free alternative whitch i planned to just say i made eveything in and actualy work in 3ds max. It was then when I found blender. I took a few weeks to get used to the way the camera moveed and all the shortcuts (im still learning them every day) I likedthe way the interface worked, the fact you could only use quads and triangles. The rigging and animation was also realy easy and could be done using a ninimum amout of time. 

How did i get into games?

I got an Nes from the carboot when i was very young and played Mario and Zelda a lot.

 My dad always sed that it must be realy hard to make games and i just thought that wasnt the case. I didnt have a computer till quite lat on but used the ones at school and was always drawing in ms paint. Still one of my first choices for pixel art. Many years later i got my own pc from a freind of the family and found a software in the reduced bin in "toys r us" called "the game factory" i used this 2d game maker for years and used its simple contorlles and collision/event based programming system to make loads of little games.

 Saddly i dont have any of these games due to a hard drive crash and a reinstall making me lose all my work. After that point i tryed to back stuff up on floppy discs but soon realised that they didint have much space. From there i found blender and used the logic brick method of programming to get quick and effective rusults but this realy dose have its limitations. Iv tried a lot more game engines through the years sutch as flash, unreal, unity and construct but blender is still my favorate. Just need to learn how to code in phython to get realy good. As i just mentiond I have tryed unity and the main reasong the because of how cross platform it is. It is not as easy as blender but it is more like a 3d flash. I learned coding in unity so that i could make games which chould be published on the Androd market and the apple appstore (I technically have 1 game out already but it dosent work) to try to make a little money. Also got lucky enough to take part in Dare Plus last summer and made Antons adventure. a game which as currently been shelved :(

Before i got a computer I played games and drew. When i was in primary shcool people asked me how i could draw so goo and i said that like in Pinochio I wished on a star and then I was good. I attended a sketching class at the Smith gallery in Stirling every week for about a year under the critique of Peter Rustel a local collage artist. This tought me a lot about perspective and creating a ballence of tone on the page. 

Iv since i started 3d iv been interested in making 3d models look like they are 2d. And I have on numerous occasions tried to translate someone's 2d images into a 3d version whiles keeping the feeline of the original. 

What motivates me?
I get realy exited when something works. I like having a simple idea and trying it out and when it works its the best feeling ever, and when it dosnt its just another way to not do something, but it could always lead to a new thing you never thoguht of or a way of doing something else I was also thinking of doing.
So basicaly I like making things and diving in, my problem is usualy keeping the drive goign for 1 projects whitch shows a little in this blog already as there are so many samples already. But the final pice will take the best part of next semester and i will be dedicated to see it to the end. 

The Snowman and the Snow Dog Quick Studdy

SO this post is gogin to look at both "The Snowman then the snow dog" and the accompanying game and look at the way that the style transitioned 
This post is a flllow up the provious post on the origonal snowman found here:

heres an animator drawing the snow dog, sad that channel 4 only releced these short drawing clips with the film. Would have liked to see a break down of some shots and techniques.

There is however a few text articles on this.

The film is animated at 12 frames a second and is 24 minits long.

"it has probably used 200,000 pieces of paper and gone through some 3,000 pencils"
the origonal snowman was colord on cell/assitate with wax crayons, but for this they just used pencils and paper changine the overall look of the film slightly form the origonal.

'We had the debate about all the programmes you can use to make something seem handmade,' Harrison adds, 'but I think if you plan to go to all the effort of getting something to look like you have picked up a pencil, why not just pick up a pencil?'

And here is the animation:

for the most part the film is hand drawn, and then composited together with computers. There are a few computer generated effects sutch as the snow but his was to save a lot of time and each flake is 1 of 5 hand drawn flakes.
like the origonal things only have the unseteling sketchy look when they are mooving. This new version  uses a lot more pans and rostrum shots than previous. And even rotates objects like the chrsismass tree in the house whitch i felt stood out and could have been better animated.

The flying through the air section is similar to the origonal film in that the framerate seems to drop and the level of detail on everything gets decreades. it is verry sketchy and plays with weird perspective a lot. 

Some of the backgrounds use thicker lines and blur the details to create a contrast to the sharp lines of the characters in the four ground.

For some reason there is a part where they land and hijack a plane, possibly to resemble the motor bike portion from the origonal film. (the bike from the first film is in the shed as a little look at the past)
Anyway this plane is i think 3d, its the only element whitch seems to be 3d, if not rotoscoped as it look too smoth and the texture seems a little artifical as shown in the image below.. 

And here is some video gameplay of the phone app/ game in action:

The game is basicaly a rail shooter mutch like house of the dead in that the player dose not move the character driectly, but simply taps objects such as snowflakes and snowmen while the characters fly by them in the sky. Its a child friendly rail shooter

I could not find much info on the creation of this game but i have played it through and enjoyed the experience. 

Notable elements whitch do and dont carry over from the animation:

To start of the game has a frayed water color paper edge around the screen which is nice but at first when there was no images i thought that something had happened to my screen. Also note that this edge effect is not present in the cartoon but it dose emphasise the style in the game 

The game attempts to recreate the flying to the north pole journey collectiong stuff along the way. 
The weird confusing perspective is not present here like in the cartoon but that in its self could be confusing for a game and not to mention realy hard, so it makes sence that it has been left out. One thing whitch is attempted to be emulated is the flickering effect of the sketchy pencils on the enviroment, this is done with an animated texture overlay in the uv space (i think its uv , apose to view) At first i didint knotice this  but when i ded i was happy to see it was attemped and its subtle enough that it dosent get in the way. There are some ugly hills at some point of the game but these are few and far between and i dont know why they are highlighted over the others. They have a large almost normal mapped texture on them which feels out of place.

One thing left out whitch dose anoy me is the lack of an outline on the characters. Im sure they could have used a method similar to the mesh scaling whitch i use in my examples to add that little more to make it look like the cartoon. Also the characters texture is not animated. This is confusing as they tryed to emulate the flickering on the enviroment but forgot about it on the actual characters, eather that or they have and its soo minute that i didnt even notice it. Again this wouldn't be har , just double the size of the texture sheet for the characters to have 2 frames to flicker to.

Applied Framework: (wip)
This is the first time showing off this frame work and i know that it needs more work in the future

Artwork deconstruction (The Snowman and the Snow Dog)[Animation]
(Practical Media)                 
Coloured pencil
Type of
(Paper, Canvas, Texture)
Colour Pallet
Dull/ Soft, cold/ muddy(outside), warm inside and at the north pole.
(Are there any, Thickness, Movement, colour, Texture, Wobbly )
Sharp on forground and lose/brouder in the background, Slight wobble, 
Object fills
(Colour, Texture, Brush Strokes)
Washy, blotty,
Solid drawing
(Dose the 3d shape remain consistent from all angles? sillowete)
Yes/object could be represented in 3d, shapes are verry soft and curvy, Backgrounds distort perspective a lot when flying, the characters are soumetimes slightly inconsistent in form.
Shading and shadows
(Colour in relation to rest of scene, Shape)
Flickery, inprosise, inconststnt
Animation/ Movement
(Sketchy, Precise)( Dry brushes/Blur Lines)
Yes, Wobbly, scratchy, inconsistent, sometimes inprosise

Grading system how well something was achived : very good , ok , not at all
Reconstruction in 3d implementation (The Snowman and the Snow Dog)[App]
(Get a general feel of the media)
The app dose get a subtle feel that it is hand drawn with pencils but falls short on some aspects.
Type of
(Post Presses 2d filter or overlay containing paper texture)
Has a frayed paper texture as the border
(Post process outlines? Scaled mesh inverted normals, textured view or uv space, Animated, Wobbly displacement map,)
Object fills
(Texture, uv or screen space? Bush Strokes in texture, Animated?)
Object fills uv, animated texture overlay for eniroment to make it look flikery and handdrawn, only 1 static map for characters.
Solid drawing (Constrains, blend shapes, complex rigs, maintain 3d sillowete)

The backgrounds are all proper 3d and dose not recreate the strange distortions like in the cartoon, the characters are solid with no inperfection unline in the cartoon.
Shading and Shadows
(Real time? Baked? Animated Shape? Masked shading/stencil)

baked on character(static)
(Sketchy, Precise, animated outlines and textures)( Dry brushes/BlurLines, bill boarded planes with blur lines)

Additional comments
This is a subtle adaptation of the art style from the origonal cartoon, But for technical constraints of a mobile device they did a good job. 
The style was chosen to mimic that of the well known style of the cartoon.

overall score = 3.5 out of 8

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Merry Christmass mac snowman

Ok so not updated in a little bit , iv had a break since Ludum Dare. Bought a lovely iMac and got an ipod touch for xMass. (dont trus ebays increase maximum bid button and the help team is usless)
mee with mac and ipod touch and old mac

the old and the new

This has been a little destracting as iv been getting everything ready to work on the mac and preparing for IOS development using unity 3d and xcode. 

In the past iv only been able to test unity games on pc and a low end android phone. Mabie one of my future media tests will be on ios or android! (depending on hardware limitations to achieve the effects i need)
I asked a question on unity answers to find out if animated displacement maps and shadow masking is possible. 
Awaiting reply

A Study of The Snow man and the snow dog coming soon to pair nicely with the breakdown of the original snowman on my blog found here.

The interesting thing about the snowman 2 is that it has a game released along side the film. I was planning on making something similar to emulate the original before i herd about the snow dog. 
The game dose a good job but misses out on some key features which define the style. I will look into the making further and make a point in the post about the snow dog.

post coming very soon !!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ludum Dare

SO we had the proposal handing on Friday and Saturday Ludum dare started. I planed on doing the last Ludum but only remembered about it with 2 hours to go. But i managed to catch this one. 
Here is a link to my page, if you were involved please veote me up. :D

heres my post on ludum:

Background :
Ludum dare is an online game jam which takes place 4 times a year and is probably the most know of its type. The rules of the contest are that you have 48 hours to make a game which fits the theme decided at the start of the jam. You are not allowed to used any code or assets from other projects , everything must be new. After the comp is done all who entered vote and then a winner is decided.

The theme of this  jam was "You are the Villain"
I came up with loads of ideas but none realy sited an NPR style. 
I saw a lord of the rings poster in my room which has an awesome style, so decided to make a game about a dragon in this style.

Had this art in a few hours in.

Here is the poster i have:

End of day 1:

And heres what i had at the end of the jam:

Turned out good, i was a little tight for time and was getting a little fed up towards the end coz my laptop was going realy slow. This lead to a few features to be not implemented but it still turned out ok.

Finally Here is the download if you wana play it directly:

and again the ludum page:

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Animating masks

I wanted to tray an animation technique which would look like something was being drawn. I remember watching a video a few years ago for the yo frankie open game project which described how to draw on dirt paths and details using a black and white image mask. 
The process is called texture splatting and can be found here.

So I used some stuff from an old project and used them to set up something similar to the video shows.

Grass texture

Stone texture

Combined using node set up

Nodes setup, it takes the 2 textures and mixes them by a value of the mask.

the problem with this is that it is not scalable in any easy way . I would usual scale the UVs on a tillable texture to tile more. 
So I instead used materials which gives control over the amount of repeats.
using materials with the texture repeating 10 times made this :

So now the basis is there and it works in engine, time to test the animation of the mask.
I made this quick animation map which should make the dirt area grow from a small circle to a full dirt image.
(Animation maps start at the bottom left then work right and up)

This worked  :D
But it looked due to the way animation maps work. I tried something to fix this to play only ounce. 
This logic brick set-up adds 1 to a property called anim every frame. then checks when anim = 40(trial and error till i got the right number) and replaces the plane with another plane which has only the 1 texture applied. I also tried adding a new mesh and deleting the original  both methods worked but don't know what is most efficant yet.

I tried a sketch animation:

This worked:

I tryed this through the view field in the node set up and again came up with the problem of not knowing the scale of the image needed to fill the camera properly. I was trying the view to check if i could create a simple mask overlay which could be sued to draw several characters and objects.

This picture shows the same mask as above but the view makes it far to lange for the plane.

Now a test iv been meaning to do for a while but have been putting off. Getting the view space image proportions right.
I downloaded a uv cheker grid with numbers and placed it in the vie space.
Image used

Here was the result: (notice there is a lot of the image not being shown)

I edited the image to have some black borders. this was based on a guess from the previous image.

This turned out the be the right size but it has a weird fish eye effect on it.
I edited the image in photoshop to have a fish eye correction 

This was a guess but it lined up pritty good 

I have a better idea of what the area for the view images should be:
Its almost splitting the image into 9 segments and focusing on the middle segment.
Here is the scene i was wokting on in video format sorry didnt edit it attal:
insert video here.
Conclusion to this post is that animating masks work but there is more testing in view space to be done. I can make the animation play ounce but don't know if the way I did it slows the game or not.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Game Control Camera setup

I was working on a simple environment for Train Face Boy a few weeks ago but haven't posted it yet but I came across a big problem. The controls! If anything can lose immersion in a game its aquard controls I had a simple tank movement control style like in the Resident evil games. That wasn't so much  of the problem but the way the camera was set up did. it was mapped to the q and e keys to rotate. But when you rote the camera the character continues on the same path regardless of camera direction. I want the ability to freely move the mouse around the character when he is static and then as soon a a direction is pressed it points that way in relation to the camera.

In the past iv found a few good 3rd person camera scripts but the best ones are only for blender 2.5 and above, I still want to stay in blender 2.49b for right now I can append files and update at a later time if I have to.

Here is that video:
I expanded upon the set up in this video. This was very similar to a setup I tried a few years ago but didn't have the vertex parenting.

I have tryed several times in the past to get a control scheme like this but always ended up over complicating things or the diagonal buttons being really twitchy.
(For background i used to use a key framed 8 directional movement system)

I looked up to see what other people had tried and one video made me remember a thing called a vertex parent. A vertex parent allows an object to be parented to another object but only by location. this means that the camera could move freely around the character without changing the him rotating too.

I realised now that i could use one empty with the rotate ion animation on it, just to save on object in the scene. This will be implemented in the future.

Here is a video of the movement scheme in action, sorry about the bad frame rate  screen cap was going slow today:

This will is a verry similar setup to what i will be wusing on the final project.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Roobarb 3d test

Throughout this project people have been referring to the style of bob Godfrey in his cartoon "Roobarb" and Custard. I to was influenced b the hand drawn random styles in this project and today decided to make a Roobarb whilst my proposal is being looked at by Ken.
This test will explore the wobbly line technique and random water colour fills. Plus I want to use it to get used to the new blender 2.64 as iv never made a game fulling using the newer versions and want to take advantage of some of the features.

This is the final screenshot, video at the bottom

So here is the cartoon intro from the 70s if no one has head of this before.

i did some looking on google for some refrence images and found this:
This was the more modern approach to Roobarb called "Roobarb and Custard Too" whichc used new computer aided animation techniques but is still in 2D.
From this image I made this ortho refrence:
For modelling I took a new approach which blender offers now. The skin modifier, this allows you to create a really quick base to further refine later, main purpose is for base mesh for sculpting.
This is how it works:
A bade is made using simple vertexes and edges , which is then mirrored  then has the skin modifier applied and then the sub surf modifier. This proses is all done at ounce and can be dynamically edited at the stage on the left, just wanted to show what all the modifiers did. This offers a quick srat modeling solution  similar to zSpheres in zbrush.
After some tewwking i had this base mesh.
luckily doe to the nature of a fill character like this  there is no need for uvs except the areas which have drawn detail like the eyes and nose. These areas have there own object and are scaled along the normas to avoid texture flickering.
Here is the map for the nose and eyes, I haven't made a flickering one yet but will soon.
I made this texture from some scans i made at the start of the project, this will be used as the fill color for Roobarb.

This node set up is simple as its just applying an image in the view space masked by the geometry outline since there is no shading needed. I added a RGB curve node to enhance the colours.

This is what it looked like with the node applied:

And with an outline in the game engine(scaled mesh, inverted normals and some vertexes moved inside the original mesh to create gaps in the outline, like around the ears):
I then tried the new blender riggify add-on, which adds a base rig that you move to fit the character and  when you press the generate rig button it adds all the constraints and stuff need to animate with ease.
I tried this but I did not like the result from the generated rig, it was overcomplicated for a simple game rig. So I just used the one which is added to begin with. 

I also noticed that unlike older versions of blender, to unlink the armature to the mesh to start again from scratch you have to remove the modifier in the stack where as before you just pressed alt+p and it separated the parent relation ship and removed the modifier. I didn't notice this at first and the mesh was moving more than the rig was which was frustrating as I weight painted it 3 times before I found this out.
I then went on to animate a run cycle, mimicking the limited animation in the cartoon. This worked and I played the game. It has a rabbit on crashing when exiting the game. I did this time and when I opened the file the run animation was gone  :O. Turns out they are not packed/saved automatically any more you now have to click the f button next to the animation to make sure it is packed into the blend file. Grr so I animated it again but a lot faster this time. Oh ye, one other thing , the key frame menu use to be better too. It remembered what position you were on it so you could always quickly press I then click and it would do that same every time , now it moves around depending on where you are on the screen which has often left me going to the next key only to find its only keyed the location and scale and not the rotation . :(. 
Anyway then i made an image for a fence to make a simple environment. 
Again this uses 2 images which are drawn slightly differently to add the hand drawn feel.
This worked well so then I made a tree which looks at the camera and flickers between 2 images.

At this point it crashes every time after I run the game so it takes ages to test anything.
Here it is in action

This test turned out ok I think there is more to be done for the outline and apply a better eye traking thing like in the Halloween demo. But for now its ok. I would like to turn this into a runner game like temple run or something and collect bones. But that's if I have some spare time and don't wanta start anything new. The trees and the fence I think were particularly good in this example, they are 2D but they exist nicely in a 3D space and contain the charm from the original cartoon.

What do you think ?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Short Ken meeting and new blender

I met briefly with Ken on Friday. He talked through feedback for the latest draft of my project proposal.
There were some grammar errors and spelling mistakes, and he set to be cartful when quoting the opinions of fouls to make sure you acknowledge that they are fouls. 
Also in my proposal I had wrote that I'm going to do a questionare and this has surprised most of the lecturers I have ran this by. Its not a definite thing , just think it would be good to test weather the final piece portrays the mood/ emotions which I intended. The questionare would be presented to anyone after they had played through the experience. And have a small range of qualitative and qualitative questions. 
Iv just been polishing my proposal, adding pictures and backing up and explaining some points and its almost there. I am fining it hard to believe that I am at the top end of the word limit with my proposal currently at 3394 words. A couple more days and it'l be ready to be double checked. Hopefully... then it needs properly referenced. :( 
O ye and need to have a look at the ethics form this week, its on the to do list.
Then back to the good stuff :D (Media Tests, story development .etc)
Iv also to look for another name for "Arty games" which i have used several times in my proposal.
I will leave you with this image I made in blender playing with all the latest features. Cant wait for the next build as its rhoumord to have a feature comparable to sculptris, ie creating extra geomitery as and when the brush needs it.
Really not the best sculpt but this post needed a picture

Anyway i made this in like 40 mins and I tried to make a time laps of this proses demonstrating some of the new features in action but it broke while it was saving the movie file and it got corrupted. I used a new modifier called skin which when used with mirror and subsurf is basically the same as using zsheres in zbrush. its really not the best sculpt but it let me play with the newish sculpting tools in preparation for the really new ones in blender. 
Mabie new sculpting time laps in the future.