Category Archives: FINAL POST MORTEM

And there it is; the anticlimax!

Full size FMP images can be found in my K-drive submission or at

After 20 weeks of hard work I have finally reached the end of my Final Major Project, the last project I will ever complete for my degree. *sob* My initial plan had been to create 3 environment dioramas based on the writing of author Robin Hobb in her Realm of the Elderlings series. I had also set myself a stretch goal to create some little illustrations if I had the time. I’m very pleased to say I met all the criteria for my initial plan, however the illustrations were wisely sacrificed to make vast improvements on my dioramas instead. To be honest, I’d expected that to happen and I’m fine with it.

Diorama Collection Watermarked

So there they are! And how do I feel about them? Surprisingly, great. I’d spent so long lamenting over all their short comings and fiddling with them, that when I finally put them together as a trio and watched my finished flythrough, I realised what I’d accomplished. Here’s the flythrough to keep you interested in the imminent wall of text;

I’m so pleased with how well they work together as a trio. I’d arranged the image so that the compositions of the left and right dioramas point into the image and lead your eyes to the middle diorama which has a very central composition. The darker backgrounds of the left and right dioramas also nicely frame the lighter central one. I think the flythough really nicely demonstrates the subtle animations that bring it to life. I really happy with how my final pieces turned out.

I’m most happy with the unique colours and atmospheres I managed to portray for each diorama, while keeping the style and feel of them all very consistent. The style, I feel, is quite unique and attractive too. It has a soft, whimsical air to it, which is exactly what I wanted.

Logo_Dragon Garden Highshot

There are a few aspects that I’m unhappy with, but the list is much much smaller than it was three weeks ago. Setting aside a dedicated length of time to focus on getting critique and acting on it was essential to making my project successful. Many of the things I’m unhappy with are also down to technical limitations or my lack of understanding of software. For instance, the snow on the Fool’s Tent diorama has a lot of harsh intersections with other meshes. I know of a method to fix this but am lacking the technical understanding of UE4 to make the improvement.

Logo_Fools Tent Closeup

I would say I’m least happy with how I handled considering and concepting my second and third dioramas, the Tent and the Garden. My rushing had a knock-on effect on the rest of my project, and I had to battle a little, especially with the Garden, to make my rough concept translate into 3D. It took a lot of redesigning and iteration to get to its current point. I’d reconsider both how much time I put into concepting, and what places in Robin Hobb’s books I’d choose to create if I had the chance to go back in time. I’ve learned a lot about how carefully I should consider scenes for a diorama, for example;

  • The dioramas should all be a similar scale so they work well as a set. I didn’t do this, and though the set looks fine, it would work better if I hadn’t made such a huge diorama for the Garden.
  • Some places don’t work well as dioramas. Again, the Garden was another trip up in this case. Creating something that appears to be in the middle of a forest isn’t going to work as a diorama- it’s the tall trees, lush surroundings, and darkness that make a forest, foresty. You don’t get that in such an isolated diorama scene.
  • Barren places, such as glaciers, are a bad idea for dioramas. It makes for a boring image, so I had to take quite a lot of artistic licence to bring the Fool’s Tent up to a remotely similar visual appeal as the other two.

With the early mistakes I made in the development phases of my dioramas, I made things a bit tougher for myself but I’m pleased to have learned from them. I always appreciate a challenge. There were a lot of challenges I faced and overcame, and I’m really proud I did. I faced the most problems with my Dragon Garden diorama, as you might have guessed by now, from the scene’s composition being all wrong, to everything being too noisy, to having some really difficult assets to create. Talking through my concerns with tutors, and other artists online, really helped me work through some of the concerns I had, particularly with composition. If you look through my older DG posts above you’ll see how much it’s changed.

I’ve learned that in the future I certainly won’t include any creatures in my environment dioramas- they’re not my strong suit! Honestly though, there isn’t a huge amount of things I’d do differently if I were to re-do this project. I’d probably choose different places to the Fool’s Tent and the Garden, or at the very least I’d handle them very differently now I know what works and what doesn’t. I’d probably work quite differently in my asset and material creation too. I’ve learned about things like parallax now, which I would take care to consider from the start because it’s a very useful effect to know. I’d work in Zbrush very differently now that I’ve discovered more suitable workflows too.

For fun, if I were to re-do this project from scratch for the next 20 weeks, I think I’d experiment with different places and with a very different, perhaps more hand-painted style. I’ve seen some great work recently which I’d love to try and replicate myself, such as this completely insane piece of art I spotted recently;

For future projects I intend on experimenting a little more beyond dioramas, before I become too much of a one-trick pony. I’ve made a list of new things I would like to start, for example a Diablo or LoL-style 2.5D kinda thing, which lots of hand-painted cards to create a cool scene, or a set of modular buildings that you would view from a slight distance in a more isometric game. There’s so much I want to do using what I’ve learned from my final major project.

To conclude, I’d definitely say this project has been a success and I’m very proud of what I’ve created. Not only that, this has been my first project where I’ve almost perfectly stuck to my time schedule, which is as big an achievement as anything, as that’s something I’ve always fought against (schedule document can be found as part of K-drive hand-in). The small number of mistakes I’ve made have only motivated me to try and overcome them in future projects. I’ve achieved exactly what I aimed to achieve, to a level that I can be happy with, and I’m looking forward to taking the skills I’ve learned forwards.

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