Over the past 6 months or so I've taken a detour from the 3D art world and been focusing on more traditional drawing. I have a habit of doing things backwards in the creative world so I felt like my traditional art skills could do with some practice and I must say I've really enjoyed the simplistic feel of pencil and paper.

I also recently explored some digital painting in photoshop using my Wacom tablet and it was a lot of fun. I have intermediate Photoshop skills which helped at lot when getting started but I also found a lot of inspiration and tips on http://www.ctrlpaint.com/ which has some amazingly simple free videos which breakdown digital painting techniques. I strongly recommend this for anyone looking to get started with digital painting in Photoshop!

I'm expanding my blog site to include some samples of my digital painting and traditional drawing work so be sure to check back.

For now here is my first completed digital painting!

Most 3D artists would agree the creating solid UVWs is critical, but also sucks balls. For me personally, anyway that I can get decent UVs created in the fast possible time is a winner!

If you are working with Zbrush and 3ds Max this workflow is fast and can be useful for a lot of situations.

1 - GoZ
Make sure your GoZ is setup between Zbrush and Max and make sure it is working correctly so you can freely send meshes between the two software packages.

2 - Setup Seams
Zbrush's UV Master is awesome at unwrapping meshes with little or no UV distortion. Where is fails is creating seams in the right places! You can use the control painting options, but I find this barely works at directing where the seams will be. So the best option for seams is in Max.

Import your low poly mesh into Max and apply a UVW Unwrap modifier. Then create the seams in the places that you would like. E.g. inside of the legs of a character model or any 'unseen' places. Once the seam are created you can just select the whole model an 'quick peel' this will create some UV islands, but the UVs will be distorted...but thats ok because we'll get Zbrush to unwrap for us.

3 - UV Master in Zbrush
Use GoZ to send the Max mesh with the seams back into Zbrush. From there open UV master and ensure you have 'Use existing seams' on. Click unwrap and your done, if you flatten the model in Zbrush you will see it has nicely unwrapped the model using all the seams you setup in Max!

4 - Pack the UVWs
You could be happy with the process at step 3, but if you want to arrange the UV islands for painting textures etc, simply GoZ the mesh back to max, apply the UVW Unwrap modifier, open the UV editors and arrange the islands as required. Job done!

So this obviously isn't going to get 100% perfect UVs and some 'purists' would say you need to unwrap all the UVs in Max or other unwrap package to ensure perfect UVs with zero distortion.

But for most situations this is a great fast workflow that yields decent results.

Happy UV'ing!

First post for 2016!

Late last year I spend quite a bit of time in Unity and modelling some pow poly chars which I will post at some stage.

I lost a bit of motivation and inspiration so I moved onto some character concept work in Zbrush. I wanted to build something quite alien this time and I blocked out a sort of scorpion character which I think turned out well for a quick sculpt.

I've since scrapped this concept and gone with a new variation which I feel has a better impact.

I've enjoy not rushing this initial part and really taking the time to find a base that I like. It is liberating to scrap one idea and move down another path!

Here are some shots of the scorpion char and this is as far as it will go.

Managed to put in some solid time over the past couple weeks to finish this one off. I'm actually really happy with how this one turned out. I definitely feel I've improved a lot in a few areas. Always learning though, never 100% satisfied, but great to call another image done.

Sculpting and poly-painting in Zbrush, modelling, shaders in 3dsmax and rendered in Vray. Post production in Photoshop

Things I like
I think the number one thing I like most about this project is the rendering and lighting. I went for a brighter image and used HDRI image based lighting. Definitely helped add some life to the character. My Zbrush to 3ds Max workflow is much smoother now, especially in the areas of normal maps and displacement.

Things I Dislike
Some of the smaller objects shaders and textures are not very polished, I also don't particularly like the glass shader used on the windows, I think that could have been improved. I also had issues with 3ds max hair and fur and had to resort to straight fibermesh export for the beard, but I actually think it looks ok.

Things I Learnt
Lighting would be the number one area I feel I improved. Also the SSS skin shader is also the best one I have done yet!.

Next i'm going to do some more low-poly art and work on a Unity project for a while. No doubt another character render will be on the cards at some stage.

Heres the final image.

Slowly found some time to work for on my Gnome character. I had some instability issues with Zbrush when I was trying to apply various surface noise on the hat, so I ended up going with texture based bump and displacement.

I'm now about 1/4 the way through the texturing and shaders so hopefully another update really soon.

The idea for my next image came to me from a few different points of inspiration. One part came from the mother of one of my step-daughters friends bought us a small hairy gnome ornament, it intrigued me as it had a lot of hair and a beard and its hat covered its eyes. Another part of inspiration came from chatting to some mates at the pub who were talking about living in a giant hat..all very bizarre I know! Ultimately the idea was born, I wanted to create an interesting gnome character that had a village or house in his large hat! Lets see how it turns out.

Heres a couple of WIP screens.

Building a base mesh in Zbrush.

Creating some clothes in 3ds Max.

I've been working on and off on this character for quite a number of months. I've called it done on 31st December 2014.

I feel like i'm always saying i've 'learnt a lot' doing this project. But I really have learnt a lot! From sharping up the displacement workflow, to experimenting a lot more with shaders and Vray render settings. So ultimately I think I've improved in a number of areas, but still so much more to learn and try.

I'm going to try something new to accompany my completed images, a small summary of things I've points I like, points I dislike and things I have learnt.

I'm next project will be something a little less intense and hopefully a bit more 'fun loving'. Keen to spend some time sculpting in Zbrush again!

Things I like

I'm happy with my displacement workflow this time around and I feel I can now get decent quality displacement maps out of Zbrush and rendered in 3DS Max Vray

I'm also happy with some of the shader work in the this project. Especially spent a lot of time working with the SSS2 shader for the skin.

Things I Dislike

Hair! Hair was definitely a challenge and I spent a lot of time testing different work flows for hair. In this project I settled with a mix of 3ds Max Hair & Fur modifier and also exported Zbrush Fibermesh.

The character also has very little hair because I was not happy with any other hair styles I came up with.

I also had trouble with post production again and still couldn't get multiple render elements to work as layers in Photoshop or After Effects. I also find that by that stage of a project i'm usually ready to move on. I'll need to do some more research in this area.

Things I Learnt

I learnt a lot about Vray in this project and many different render settings and parameters and how they effect the final look. I also spent a lot more time playing with shaders and textures.

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