Overall this project has gone very smoothly; timewise, I have been much less under pressure than I was for the Fool’s Room, and I had much less Zbrush to deal with which I always find stressful. I have a lot more bad than good to say about this diorama, but I’m going to keep it short and just mention the main ones.
I’m pretty happy with the product so far, and have a very minimal list of things which need to be dealt with in polish time. So small, in fact, that I can actually type it myself;
- Birch tree texture needs to be improved.
- Blackbird needs unwrapping, texturing, and animating.
- I need to add variation to the large flat stone face, particularly where the roots cover it.
- Runes need to be added to the pillar faces.
- I’d like to create a bumblebee somehow.
- I need to add ‘tufts’ of scales around the dragon’s beak and face.
- Add dirt for the roots (current placeholder).
Even with some additions this list will remain manageable. I’ve posted my work to Polycount to get some opinions from more people. So far, a lot have people have said that they like my style which is great. Hopefully I’ll get some constructive crit soon though.
My thoughts on the diorama so far are as follows.
I’m generally pretty happy with the diorama overall, and with how smoothly it’s gone in general. There was much less new stuff to deal with for this scene. I’m probably least happy with how noisy and hard to read the scene is overall, and also there isn’t really much going on composition-wise. I don’t feel like anyone would know where to look because you’re just assaulted with a mish-mash of noisiness. A lot of this comes down to the lighting, which despite an obscene amount of fiddling, serves to just add another layer of noise to the noise. I prefer how the scene looks when unlit.
I’m quite pleased with the colours, however they’re definitely not what I was initially going for- I’d wanted the scene to be evening and almost golden/sparkling, with much more saturated/rich colours and darker shadowing, but I definitely needed to lose that if I wanted the scene to be a success. I like how I have complimented the green/orange of the scene with small areas of pink flowers which are reflected in the dragon as a later addition also. The white of the birch trees additionally works well to break up the darkness of the scene. I really like the combination of pink/blue/green/yellow with some white to break it up.
I spent a lot of time playing with the dragon texture, taking it through practically every colour combo you could imagine before settling at the current one. I also revisited the dragon’s face just last week to bring it up to a better standard- I’d had a comment or two that it looked a little blobby. I’m not totally satisfied with it. Were time permitting I’d totally start from scratch on the dragon, but that won’t be possible.
I’m unhappy with my ability to sculpt rocks, and though I can hide behind the pretense that they were meant to be so simplistic for the sake of stylisation, I had actually wanted them to be much nice looking and slightly more detailed and realistic. My failure came down to both an inexperience in creating rocks, and partially the low resolution I worked with. I’m going to be taking much more care with the rocks for my next diorama, but obviously I can’t change my process too drastically for the sake of continuity.
Generally, I’m not proud of any of the assets I created for this diorama. They look decent as a whole when viewed from a distance, but if you were to view, say, the tree bark material on a sphere as a singular thing. Well. I wouldn’t let that happen. This is mostly my fault; I did actually find a tutorial on how to create really nice tree bark in Zbrush, but due to fear of running out of time on my project and also my aversion to Zbrush, I didn’t try it even though it would have drastically improved my work.
As I’ve said before, in the future I’d like to put some more serious effort into actually creating good, hero-level models/textures/shaders as opposed to an overall nicely composed and considered scene with largely rubbish/rushed assets in them. I think my strength is fully hand painted textures without normal maps, and I’d quite like to explore that some more and then get more into Zbrush. I think that’s what I’ll be taking from my FMP; it’s time to actually get good at hand-painting textures rather than hiding behind an overall scene where you can’t really scrutinise the actual quality of an asset.
I don’t think I’ll be able to bring this diorama up to a level that I’m super happy with, but I’m still relatively satisfied with how it’s turned out. I’m looking forward to bringing it to life with sound later on.