Friday 11 October 2019

{CG Cookie} Blender 2.8: Logo Modelling and Improvement

After completing the modelling to the level shown in the Blender Mesh Modelling Bootcamp tutorial I wanted to use my prior experience and take it further in order to make it as accurate to the actual CG Cookie logo as possible.

Exact logo colours were applied using Adobe Color hex codes, but Look Dev mode washes them out.

'Finished' logo as shown in the CG Cookie tutorial

CG Cookie logo

Wednesday 2 October 2019

{CG Cookie} Blender 2.8 - Low Poly Rocket Takeoff and Life Update

After a long and exhausting battle with depression, lack of motivation and a lost spark since graduating UCA Rochester's Computer Animation Arts course in 2016 caused by my lifelong struggle with Inattentive ADHD and living with Asperger's Syndrome, completing this tutorial meant a heck of a lot to me.

Switching to Blender

As mentioned on my Twitter when I uploaded the video on 19th August, the low poly rocket launch marks my first proper foray into Blender since first stepping foot in Autodesk Maya in 2011. I made this difficult decision for two reasons:

🔘 I had not kept up with the technology due to said lack of spark (last Maya version I worked in is 2016) and after my free student version finally ran out I couldn't reasonably afford the £36 a month for Maya LT, let alone the £222/m of the full version. I had also switched to GIMP as my image editor, again, after my discounted student version of the Adobe Creative Suite ran out.

🔘 I'd heard of the free software and its many possibilities through my occasional writings with the GarageFarm.NET render farm, and was strongly recommended Blender by a staff member who I'd developed a rapport with.

CG Cookie & Regaining my Spark

The 3d modelling side of things had long been my passion until the conclusion of my studies, after which there was a smattering of 3d projects, all but two of went unfinished - the exceptions having been commissioned by my friend, a 3d printing and cosplay enthusiast. This July I became a CG Cookie "Citizen" for $29/m (about £23.50) and I'm so glad I did. I'm gradually regaining my spark for 3d modelling, and it's helping me gain an appreciation for the later stages of the 3d animation pipeline, ones I had developed a great dislike for within the pressure cooker of uni.

Current & Future Projects

At the moment I'm following parts of their Blender Mesh Modeling Bootcamp to learn about the various tools Blender has to offer, and have found myself often impressed by just how amazingly intuitive it can be! After I have completed the current tutorial I plan to switch back to some previously long forgotten creative work that I'm excited to turn into a 3d model and maybe, just maybe, take forward into the once-dreaded texturing and animation stages. Watch this space!

Sunday 12 March 2017

[IdiotEngine] 02: 'Civil War' Spider-Man Lens Modelling

As part of my continued collaboration with JD under the banner of IdiotEngine, I have 3D modelled Spidey's more complex shutter-based lens from 2016's Captain America: Civil War for JD to 3D print. 

This was a fun little modelling project, and is the first time that I've needed to keep in mind the real world dimensions of an object since my final Elements Academy uni project last year. If you'd like to find out more about the methodology behind the creation of this lens 3D model, please scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Finished Model


Influence Map
Influence 01 was chosen by JD as a guide for final shape of the 3D model

The worldwide fangasm-inducing amazing shot of Spider-Man holding Captain America's shield, first seen in the trailer (source)

To figure out the height of the lenses I used a cropped head-only version of the above film still featuring Tom Holland's Spider-Man to estimate the actual height of his lenses (10cm / 3.94"); I did this via a combo of Photoshop guides and research into the average height of a human head (8–9"). This enabled me to model a 1:1 scale version of these unique Spidey lenses within Autodesk MayaTo avoid it looking puffy in reality, the lens model needed to be no more than 1cm thick, but also able to support several layers of overlapping geometry, so I had to find out if JD's da Vinci 1.0 3D printer would be able to print at a small enough scale. 

It turns out that by adjusting the print speed the machine is impressively able to handle minuscule scales of at least a ¼ millimetre, so having each of the nine lens slides created just 1mm thick will be no problem when JD prints it. This also means that if he needs to squish the lenses even thinner, such as half a cm thick, he has plenty of room to do so.

XYZ Printing's da Vinci 1.0 3D printer (source)

Within Maya itself, the fact that the lens would have no moving parts meant I was able to create each slice of the shutter geometry with its side and inside edges piercing the geometry surrounding it to increase the ease of modelling, and to ensure that there was no chance of unwanted holes within the geometry. Every individual part of the lens began life as a perfectly square polygon plane which I then scaled, stretched, and extruded its leading edge multiple times to create a very low poly version of its future self. 

Adding complexity to this basic shape is where the Multi-Cut Tool came in, I used it to quickly and easily create new edge loops exactly halfway between each polygon edge (Mac: ctrl + shift), which I then carefully dragged using the Move tool to sit along the appropriate edge of the vector art/orthographic I'd created from the guide photo. 

I also used Smooth Preview and Vertex Mode to figure out the correct positioning of each poly edge. Extrude was used again to give each 2D lens plane depth, Reverse Normals was used to sort out the resulting geo, I held down X when using Extrude's move function to snap the base of each lens part to the grid floor, and finally Bevel was vital for the edges of the geo keeping shape when smoothed. When the lenses are due to be 3D printed, I'll permanently Smooth the geo and export both the left & right lenses out as STL_DCE files.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

[IdiotEngine] 01: GotG Star-Lord Bag Buckle 3D Modelling

Recently I began working with my friend JD on producing custom 3D models for his up-and-coming, previously one-man props, replicas & custom hero suits company, known as IdiotEngine; best known for its high quality handmade superhero suits and well realised prop reproductions, which are all created with a meticulous eye, as if a love letter to the characters and companies JD loves so dear. 

I recently 3D modelled the Star-Lord sling bag buckle for JD's personal project, for which he's building his own Star-Lord cosplay/costume, complete with helmet, headphones, jacket, 3D prints of Star-Lord's gun, bag buckle & the Infinity Orb, as well as handmade boots, Star-Lord sling bag, and 
custom Sony Walkman.

Smoothed buckle orthographic views

Buckle wireframe-on-shaded orthographic views

A collection of buckle modelling screenshots

Star-Lord buckle Influence Map / rough orthographic guide

Having an experienced 3D modeller on the team has begun to allow JD to even further expand upon what he is able to produce, especially in the case of 3D printed objects that would be far too time-consuming for him to sculpt entirely by hand. Of course, having a plain 3D printed object is one thing, but the sizing, sanding, smoothing, painting and in the case of fabric/leather-based props, stitching and weathering of the object is a whole other story. Thankfully, however, JD has had a passion for the handmade since a child, and is hoping to make IdiotEngine an official full-time production in the near future. Next up will be modelling some of the components of Star-Lord's headphones, before moving on to potentially larger builds.

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) [source]

JD's near-complete Star-Lord sling bag, with weathering in its early stages.

The buckle 3D print [source: @IdiotEngine]

A bigger project for IdiotEngine may likely be 3D modelling Fallout 4's brutal fiery sword weapon, the Shishkebab, for JD to 3D print and do all the rest of the hard work with. I think you'll agree this sounds flaming awesome! sorry, couldn't resist! :L

A fire-starting Fallout 4 weapon that would make even The Prodigy happy [source]

Thursday 8 December 2016

The Sad Robot, How it Came to Be

Back in the summer of 2013, fresh out of college and having chosen UCA's CG Arts & Animation course (now known as Computer Animation Arts) as my go-to destination for University, our course leader-to-be set us the task of adapting 13 random objects (Fig. 2) into 100 concepts, before translating 3 of those concepts into orthographic projections of a machine, life-form and a structure; concepts 24, 88 and 41 respectively. Looking back I remember worrying over getting all 100 sketches done, but once I got into it I was well on my way to 101. Wow, 19 year old me stressing over 100 thumbnail sketches, oh how little I knew back then!

Roll forward 3 years to post-graduation, looking for inspiration I decided I'd use my improved graphic design and 3D modelling skills to turn some of these hand drawn sketches into clean orthographics, and finally a working 3D model.  The aim is to build the robot to work like machine, one that that can be rigged and manoeuvred appropriately. In my next progress update I will be publishing screenshots of the digital orthographic development and modelling process up to this point.

Fig. 1: 3 years in the making, 1 & 0 (on & off)

Fig. 2: The original objects

Tuesday 5 July 2016

[ND16] 17: The Art of Elements Academy; Re-Upload

For unknown reasons my original Art Of upload on Scribd can not be accessed on the website, claiming that this document has been removed from Scribd, even though it is accessible when I'm signed in to the website, meaning other people are unable to embed it. The same problem occurs when I re-upload a new version, so I've uploaded it with Google Docs instead.

The embed code is: 

<iframe src="" width="640" height="480"></iframe>

For this blog post I have changed the code's width value to "750", which automatically changes the height with it.