Well, I’m starting to feel better about my tent diorama… about time too, since this week was the ‘final’ week of it.
It’s been another asset-creation week, and since some of these assets were a bit more hard-surfacey than I usually make, I decided to have a go at some 3dsMax high-poly modelling. This was quite a new workflow for me, but fortunately I had Jonah the high-poly expert to help me out with how to use chamfers, swift-loop, and turbosmooth properly. I learned so much new stuff (some stuff that I really should have known and I have probably wasted hours of my life without them), and it really put a spring back in my step. The big ones I’ve worked on this week are the ‘closed chest’ asset, and the ‘rooster crown’, which still needs finishing (it’s also currently 15,000 tris LOL). The chest could also use another texture pass.
The crown in particular was a really fun problem-solving experience, and it’s inspired me to have a go at creating some more hero-detailed props in the future. Hopefully the texturing will go smoothly.
After my moping last week, I decided to take the bull by the horns and completely re-do the lighting and tent interior setup. I deleted the post-process volume which was causing more confusion than anything, and went from scratch. I’m much happier with it now, but it’s still not perfect;
The circular shape of the space was causing me to place everything just around the perimeter of the walls without much thought, and so it just looked boring and badly composed. It’s still not well composed, but it’s better; I decided to treat the space as a corner, positioning the two rolled-up mats adjacent to eachother against a wall and creating a cosy sleeping space. Putting the highly detailed Rooster Crown by the door as the first thing you see makes more sense than having it far from the door too. It’s such a huge part of the story that it needs to stand out. I also made an effort to cluster the assets rather than just scatter them. I worked from tallest at the back to smallest at the front, as this always works well to create nicer compositions.
I spoke to Creative Assembly environment artist Ben Keeling shortly after my blog post last week. He’s been so very helpful in bringing problems with the diorama to my attention, so I spent some time working on these things this week. He did a quick paintover for me;
And I realised how boring the lighting setup was on the external area of the diorama, so I re-did it;
For some reason, it was very difficult to get any bloom at a distance from the diorama, so I lose that nice aspect of Ben’s overpaint from my work. Still, though, it’s a vast improvement. To make the tent so bright created a world of problems, however. To illuminate the tent means having a very very bright light inside it, but this obviously ruins the interior atmosphere of the tent. Previously, I’d been trying to reach a compromise between the lighting of the exterior and interior, so the tent was showing too dim and the interior was too bright. Creating two different setups that swap out as you move through the diorama was the obvious choice, but I had no idea how to do this, so I spoke to technical boss Dom Mathuse.
It took a while, but we finally had a set-up where the exterior lights fade off as you enter the tent and turn back on as you exit. It’s a little clunky looking, so I need to play about with the fade speeds and stuff, but damn it’s useful! Dom also went way WAY out of his way to help set up a fade to and from black at the start/end of the levels (which is bloody complex, sort it out Epic), and he helped set up the camera speed to so that you don’t just fly through the dioramas at the speed of sound. THANKS DOM (again)!
Like I said I would last week, I also posted to Polycount with my woes. Madwish The Super Helpful resurfaced to do a paintover and give yet again awesome crit. He used an older image but you get the gist;
I love the idea of the rope and lantern at the bottom of the rocky area, even if it doesn’t really match the books, so I’m going to use that and see if I can make some of the ropes on the tent fly freely. I have no idea if it’s possible for me to make the tent move more than it does as it’s split into about 4 separate meshes to get everything behaving as it should, so I’ll probably leave that one.
Literally everyone I’ve spoken to about this diorama feels that it’s a little plain at face value compared to my other two. Everyone mentions adding more assets to the scene, so I’ve started on a sledge that can sit outside the tent door and some walking sticks. I’m not sure if the sledge will be loaded or not though. I quite like the way the skeletal form of it contrasts with the solid red-orange of the tent and white of the snow.
In addition to the things I’ve mentioned above, I also have polish plans for;
- More thick snow with hopefully more sparkliness.
- A lantern hanging from the tent ceiling.
- Pelts on the tent floor.
- Clothing/gloves inside the tent to match the boots.
- Perhaps a small shrub of some sort growing at the edge.
I have a lot to do, but mostly it’s just asset additions as opposed to re-doing or editing existing stuff like I will be for the Fool’s Room. Speaking of editing, I also spoke to Ben Keeling about The Dragon Garden. This diorama has become the sort-of problem child of my trio. I really like some aspects, but also it’s pretty crap. It’s going to be by far the big one for polish time, because Ben has suggested I pretty much cut the trees out from the top of the diorama and make a completely new tree for it, kind of like this one;
After making the new tree, which will probably take me a while, I’ll need to re-evaluate from there and probably make further alterations to suit the new situation, and do things such as re-make ivy to match the new tree, etc. Ben also suggested I create some shorter shrubbery too, so I’ll probably have a go at that. I’d rather not re-do so much of this diorama, but time-permitting it’s definitely the way to go to save this diorama, as opposed to making millions of stupid little changes.
In further exciting news, in a few weeks I’ll be doing a lecture at uni on how I created my FMP from early idea to concepts to finish, with tips on time/life-management, interesting environment creation in UE4, composition, lighting, asset-creation and so on. The course leader (I’m looking at you MIKE) decided to call it an ‘FMP masterclass’ so I can feel even more nervous and under pressure than I already do! I don’t know what the turn out will be like since the first and second year have technically already finished uni I think, but hopefully it’ll be worth the effort I put in to creating an interesting lecture.
If you’re reading this, DMU students, please come along. It won’t suck, I promise.