So, my FMP is done! I’ve spent the last week and a half polishing my Fool’s Tent diorama, and also bringing the rest of the project up to scratch. I’ll be talking about the whole project in detail in an overall project post-mortem in a day or two, but first I wanted to talk through the finishing touches I’ve made to the Fool’s Tent.
Ta da! The pine tree is back! I’d scrapped it from my Dragon Garden diorama, but actually thought it could potentially work quite well here. It’s not been made from the start to perfectly fit in this diorama, obviously, so it’s lacking in snowiness a little, but overall I’m really pleased with it. I think it aids the composition nicely and also adds more to look at to an otherwise very plain scene.
In the books, the scene I’m depicting is based on a totally barren glacier; no trees, no shrubs, nothing to look at. As time went on I thought I should probably take some artistic licence and deviate from the books a little, adding the tree and some shrubs to bring it all together. There is a point in the books, actually, where the tent is at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. There is described to be some hardy shrubs and grasses about. So maybe the scene could be from there.
There’s a few new assets in there now. A lantern hangs from the ceiling of the tent, and another one sits at the bottom of the cliff, abandoned next to a climbing rope. There is no mention of climbing cliffs in the book, but I think the point of light gives the viewer more to look at, and can perhaps tell a bit of a story about the character’s gruelling trek across the dangerous glacier.
The diorama overall has a nice fresh coat of thick snow resting atop it now, covering some of the nasty seams caused by intersecting rock meshes. It’s definitely more of the feel I was going for in the first place. Thick, untouched snow just makes the scene feel more… wintery and isolated.
Inside the tent I’ve added some new assets and modified others. The rooster crown tri-count has been brought right down to almost-acceptable, and its got an actual texture now too. It looks a little bit machine-made rather than hand-carved, but I don’t have the time to spend ages making a beautiful hero asset on this project.
To give the tent a more lived-in feel, I’ve added a pair of boots and mittens by the door, though unfortunately I haven’t managed to make a cloak and other clothing to clutter the scene.
Overall, I feel like this scene has definitely crossed the line from in-progress to finished. I was worried I would never feel like it would be done, but with the final changes I’ve made I’m feeling much better even if it’s not perfect. I think my main annoyance, which is a little thing really, is the fact that I can’t have the snow meshes blend smoothly into each other and the rocks. This is because I’d have to have the meshes set to ‘transparent’, but this has the disadvantage of making the meshes shade incorrectly. I had to make a compromise, but I wish I knew of some way to have both. I’m also still quite unhappy with the atmosphere of the tent interior.
Because this diorama is the one I’ve seen the most of recently, I find myself disliking it the most. However, I’ve had a couple of people tell me this one is their favourite. This reassured me that there isn’t a huge disparity in quality between the three dioramas. I certainly think they make an awesome image when all put side-by-side;
If I were to do this diorama again I’d probably put more consideration into how I would do the tent interior. I have no clue what I’d actually do if I were to re-do this project, but I certainly feel that the inside of the tent has been the greatest failure of my dioramas. A lot of it comes down to the weird shape of the space I’m working with. There are no corners that I can use to make the scene feel cosy, and it’s incredibly difficult to create a focal point that I can compose the scene around because there is always something behind you in the round space. The shadows are also much too dark due to difficulties I’ve had with the lighting set-up.
Additionally, the space being so small just doesn’t work in a game. At a presentation given by Mike Pickton at uni, he mentioned that the doors and corridors are roughly 3x the size they would be in real life. This helps the third-person camera work smoothly, but also makes the scenes easier to navigate and compose. As soon as he said this I realised that that was why this part of my diorama had failed. It’s a mistake I won’t make again.
I’m glad I’ve learned so much on these dioramas, and I’m going to talk about what I’ve taken from this project in more detail in my next blog post. In the mean time, I’m going to be handing in my final project, making a flythrough, and uploading everything to my online profiles. I’m really excited to share my work after all this time!