Sometime late last spring I got completely hooked on Factorio and ended up pouring some hundreds of hours into it across several playthroughs. After launching my first rocket (i.e., beating the game,) I found myself left with a lingering desire to create complex systems that work harmoniously with one another. I ended up channeling that desire into getting reacquainted with Processing and diving back into generative art for the first time since a certain controversial entrepreneur single-handedly marked the death knell for Flash on the web.
As I continued experimenting I found a manifesto for this series loosely forming in my subconscious mind, and ultimately crystallized those thoughts into a series of guidelines:
Harness the power of the medium to automate that which would be tedious to create by hand or using traditional techniques
Celebrate the beauty of geometry
Strike a balance between sterile accuracy and natural chaos
Strike a balance between pleasant minimalism and fractal complexity
Take inspiration from nature
Playfully balance composition and repetition
Avoid simply recreating well-established looks and techniques typical of the medium
So here is a sizable dump of images from this journey:
And, as I used to do so many years ago, I ended up creating a series of desktop wallpapers as well. These are in 4k (3840×2160) and are intentionally dark and low contrast so as to be easy on the eyes during night hours.
Recently I’ve lost some steam on this project as I’ve been working on some new music, but I’m sure I’ll return to it someday.
This is the game I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. As was the case with Transistor, my contributions lie squarely in the realms of VFX animation and UI design. We released the trailer on April 19th and demoed to the public at PAX East from the 22nd to the 24th. To see it in action, check out this video with some captured gameplay footage.
Decided to learn ZBrush after learning about some fancy features it’s got over mudbox like dynamesh and insert multi mesh. I’d been reading the berserk manga so thought it’d be a good first test project to make Gatts’ berserker armor. I liked the scene where Schierke’s trying to get him back under control so thought it’d be fun to sort of recreate. I actually had it in mind to do some effects animation to go with it, so here’s a little gif of it (and by little i mean like 3mb) .
I spent a little too much time trying to make a perfect loop and ended up getting lazy about some of the particles so it’s kind of the worst of both worlds; oh well. Guess I’ll count it in as a little scene for my next demo reel update where I won’t need to worry about it looping.
So I had this head I sculpted in mudbox some months back. The project I’d planned for it never reached fruition but I still wanted to use it and somehow got it in my head to do an evangelion fanart, even though I last watched it many years ago. Guess I figured it’d be easy – short hairstyle, form fitting outfit, no cloth, glossy, etc… well, I learned some lessons the hard way about topology and UV layout while trying to get my mudbox mojo on and it ended up taking me maybe a week longer than I’d planned. Basically ended up sculpting and texturing the plug suit twice. But overall it was a good experience, learned a lot of new things and tried a bunch of new techniques out. Initially I was thinking of playing more with lighting and adding more background stuff but Diablo III is out in three days so I figured I’d better wrap it up before it gathers dust in my project folder for another half a year.
Testing out some leaf materials again here. I read Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou over the past few weeks, which I thought was a beautifully done manga. It took me a few volumes to get into it, but eventually I realized how much of it is about negative space, both in the dialogue and story as well as the art. I guess I was a little inspired by Ashinano’s sparse and effortless landscape drawings, through which much of the emotion of the story is conveyed. At the same time I’m also testing out plant and tree stuff for a bigger rendering I’m gearing up for (ie, recharging spent creative juice by gaming, relaxing, doing other things besides commercial work)
And now for something completely different. A few years ago I had it in my mind to do a fan-art of the creepy “legion” monster from Castlevania. Though in most of the games it’s a boss, in Circle of the Moon it was a normal, albeit tough and scary, enemy. If I recall correctly, when it touches you you’re cursed and can’t attack until you have something uncurse yourself. I thought Circle of the Moon was one of the harder games in the series, at least among the ones I’ve played.
Been playing with tree meshes and materials, partly to ramp up for a project idea I had and partly just because I’ve seen so many damned impressive archviz renders lately. There’s some really inspiring stuff out there. I used to have this opinion that architectural rendering was more about accuracy than realism and found them generally flat and boring compared to, say, game cinematics. But from what I’ve seen lately their level of detail and photorealism trumps even the most expensive game intros (see Ronen Bekerman, Bertrand Benoit and Peter Guthrie, for example). On the other hand, there’s been quite a shift over the past ten years from pre-rendered to in-game sequences, which could play a part in it also.
Technical acumen aside I’ve also started to appreciate the beauty of a meticulously detailed architectural rendering. Not unlike a well-done landscape, I think archviz too can be inspiring and bring out emotion, capturing the stillness of a moment, the contrast between the natural beauty of trees, land and organic textures with the orderly man-made objects, the way light and shadow play across both. I find it a bit hard to describe, but there’s certainly much more feeling and art in it than a simple presentation of a blueprint to a client in 3D.
Anyway, I’m no architect and only have a vague inspiration here, so I just wanted to play with materials and light and capture that sort of minimalism and stillness.
Switching gears, a couple weeks ago I busted out another Janet remix, this time sort of a quickie. I think it’s actually closer to the original, using mostly 808s. I had an idea to do a soft minimal drum&bass version of it with a little more play on the drums, some LPF chords and a decaying arpeggiated 1/8th note synth. Kind of has a lullaby feel to it, or it would if it weren’t for the pace of the beat.
So Sporkii and I started playing Minecraft last weekend. Of course I’d seen a ton of videos, screen caps and rave reviews, but I never really understood what drew people to it until I actually gave it a shot. Even still, I find it hard to sum up what exactly makes it so appealing. But clearly, part of the appeal is the blocky visual style. So after playing for a few days I got to thinking, I wonder if I could take an openGL “3d screenshot” and do a render with mental ray. Unfortunately, since it actually runs in Java the openGL capturing software I found couldn’t inject itself into the exe, and the global system monitoring workaround is only available on 32-bit operating systems. C’est la vie.
So after more searching I found this beta Minecraft world to OBJ converter. It’s slow and buggy and crashes with big worlds and has no progress bar to let you know how it’s doing so the only thing you can do is periodically reload the debug.log it poops out, but it got the job done, sort of. Although it came into max with multi/sub-object materials assigned to each axis, there were no bitmaps associated with them, so I had to manually crop and tile the bitmaps and assign UVs. Also, each plane of polygons comes in with its own set of material IDs arranged alphabetically, but if a certain rare material (say, diamond) isn’t on there then it won’t appear in the list, thus there’s practically no correlation between the material IDs on each of the six planes.
In short, it was a huge pain in the ass to connect all the materials and I did an exceptionally sloppy job with it, but I got my damned renders!
Sporkii also drew these two skins for our characters =) So I did a render using my blurry apartment environment map, which looks kinda like paper-craft with the lens blur applied. Also tested out max 2012’s new substance materials a bit, pretty cool stuff.
The majority of my spare visual creative juice has gone into freelance work lately, so I’ve been working on music for fun to keep myself from getting burnt out. This current freelance gig is actually kind of a fun and challenging project and I’ll probably have a fair amount to post when it’s finished, but I think I should refrain in the meantime until the client is satisfied.
So on the music side, I did a quick remix of Busta Rhymes/Janet Jackson’s “What’s it Gonna Be”, just for fun and something I knew Sporkii would like. I think it’s pretty much done.
Since I haven’t had any new artwork to show recently, I thought post something a bit different. Once in awhile Sporkii and I go out for a walk and I bring my 7D along and take dark, blurry macro pictures of nature and decay and apply them to my desktop wallpaper, so here’s a collection of some from the past year.
Most available in 1920×1280, a few cropped to 1920×1200.
[singlepic id=37 w=660] Sporkii and I have been playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 and really liked these little characters we found in a couple of galaxies. Apparently they’re called Whittles! They looked really simple so I whipped up some quick models and slapped on some procedural wood textures. Also using Multiscatter for the grass, but had to go a funky route to get color variation in mental ray using the submap material and creating multiple copies of the same proxy in order to have it randomly distributed.
[singlepic id=35 w=660]
More playing around with Multiscatter, using noise to modulate rotation on a bunch of boxes. Unfortunately I forgot to save out z-depth AND the max file (was just a temp thing to play around with) so no fancy DOF on this one. The close one is curved from lens distortion.