tales from the art side # 3


What the Moon Brings

Hey once again everyone, So I guess this is where we begin our whole “warts and all” thing.

Firstly, some of you might not know why I am making a High Res model after all isn't most game art considered Low Poly? Well, the simplest explanation would be that this process allows me to use the data from the Higher polygon model and use it on the texture for the low polygon, usually this comes in the form of normal maps or baking out what is called Ambient Occlusion which is really just a fancy word for ambient soft shadows. 

So before we start to work on our High res model we have our art direction from last week to give us an idea of the general feel of things and secondly, we have a rough sketch done from John Liew which gives us a  general guide to follow.

So, it’s our job to get the general feel of this ship and combine it with the art direction we worked out last month. Now as a bit of forewarning, this does mean that we won’t be sticking super close to the sketch, however we will be using it as a point of reference for both the proportions and some of the general ideas in terms of shape.

Now before I continue the next section I feel like I need to preface this with a little disclaimer: As I mentioned last week at the moment we are in the pre-production phase and generally speaking in terms of art direction things are a little wobbly, eventually we’ll have a solid understanding of the ins and outs of the style we want, but for now there is a lot of going back and forth trying out ideas. There were a lot of competing ideas so I spent a great deal of my time sketching things out and trying different things to see what I liked. As you can probably work out this is a messy but somewhat necessary process, to add further complication to this I'm not fully familiar with Modo (the 3D modeling package we are using) yet, however by the time I was done with this, I certainly learned a few tricks.

So why didn’t we get a more solid concept for everything? Sadly this is where the ugly head of reality rears its head, mainly due to time constraints, there is only one John Liew and we wanted him to work on other things. However this does have a slight upside, basically it means I get to have a bit of fun trying to work this stuff out rather than having something strict to follow. Anyway, as promised here is the video. Warts and All. (admittedly this is a small section of it and its running at about 4x speed and over an hour long)

Yup, that is actually a little bit painful for me to watch. Anyway, as you can see the *ahem* “creative process” is a messy one indeed. So for the benefit of those that don’t want to be bored to death by this video, I made some renders showing the initial blockout and the final high res mesh.

Blockout mesh

High Poly Final Mesh

The image on the left is the starting point, mainly using simple shapes to rough out the volumes that I want to use, this also had an extra benefit being that I can give these blockouts to Chris to do gameplay things with. On the right, we have the finished high res mesh. The wings are a placeholder, we will be replacing them with swappable parts later, this is in part due to some gameplay design choices.

Here's a little closeup of some of the detail in the "engine bay"

We should be able to move on with the next step of this mesh and eventually bake all of this detail down onto something we could actually use in a game.

“But why not use this?” I hear you ask. Well firstly, here are some stats on this behemoth mesh.

  • Polygons - 9,333,172 (Catmull-Clark Subdivisions)
  • Verts - 293,856 (with no subdivisions)
  • Edges - 583,546 (with no subdivisions)

That's a lot of data to go through… If we wanted to have a hope of hell of actually running this in real-time with all the stuff that you would normally want to have in a game, we are going to need to reduce this significantly, but that's what we can cover next time.  

- Dan

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PS I'd also like to give a bit of a shout out to Tor Frick who put up some awesome video tutorials for Modo, Ordinarily I’m a 3Ds Max user and I’ve only been using Modo for a little while and his tutorials have allowed me to get right up to speed.

You can check out his video tutorials if you are curious here.



Author: The Wickerman Published:

5 responses to "TALES FROM THE ART SIDE # 3"


Cool. Didn't know you artist peoples did that trick of using the high poly's data for stuff. After all I'm just a lowly programmer. Why MODO though? I'd used 3ds Max and Blender in the past (for shiggles) - can't say I'd heard of MODO.

Chris Hardwick

Modo is a piece of software made by The Foundry (https://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/modo/), there are a bunch of reasons for using it. I am sure that Dan can likely answer things in a technical sense. As I believe there are some advantages to using MODO, as an artist. From a Business perspective a combination of knowing people who have worked at the Foundry (a bunch of the people at the foundry are ex-colleagues of mine), it's a piece of British software, and the price is reasonable. As we're wanting to do things in a new way, using different tools for our pipelines was pretty high on our list of things to change.

Dan Cordell

Hey, Mia, the main reason we went with Modo was sort of twofold. Firstly, it handles Sub-D modeling really well - though as it turns out in the video above I'm hardly touching what it can do. Secondly it was mostly a cost equation, you get an awful lot for what you pay for with Modo in comparison to a few of the other packages available out there. I hope that answers your question :). -Dan


Yes it does! Thanks guys!

Javier Pintor

Nicely done Dan, I didn't know you were also a modo user. Keep up the good work.

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