Adventure Awaits : WIP MAY : Naomi Van Doren in 3D

General / 26 May 2022

This is where we are at TODAY. More blog posts and explaining to come.

Next on the list to tackel is the river/land and land/negative space connection, more story props, and probably some root fixing and color fixing. 

Adventure Awaits : Blockout 2 : Naomi Vandoren in 3D

General / 26 May 2022

Hello There!

Its time to tree it up. There are allllways options for making tree's bark. Just ask Cooper, my dog. He will say you can use ZBrush ZSpheres, Blenders awesome splines workflow, or the ever so old fashion'd extrede a cylindar in maya method. (Or maya's splines but its not as good at the other two tools) Anyhoo, barks aside, I went with the maya method and the ol' fashion'd add an image plane beacuse I was already in here. This was also before maya's awesome new 'sweep' functionality.

I then made some SUPER BASIC block out plants. They were not pretty, but that wasn't the point ;)

At this point I also quesitoned and explored how I would make the canopy. There are TONS of options here too:

  • Use a 'Blob' mesh and procedueally place planes using Maya MASH or ZB Nanomesh and create a tile texture for the blob. Then average the normals with a sphere. 
  • Use a 'Blob' method and make the material procedually place the planes everywhere (This makes for SUPER FLUFFY trees and is fun to play with)
  • Use the 'make tree cards' but dont make so many that your mind goes nuts. The idea is to make 'tree card modular sets' that you can re-use and change as needed. Then average the normals with a sphere.

I played with all of these and ended at the tree cards. I still dont know if this was 'the best choice' but in a later post it has gotten me a look I want for now. At this point it was time for some basic engine lighting to see how the cards were looking. Here are some of those first passes (yikes!):

It was here ^ that I did not yet realize the better method of 'sphere stacking' and 'flowering out' cards instead of making icky X cards. Here I did a lot of intersecting planes which is what made the cards much less fluffy than I wanted. In a later post you'll see what I mean. (That means you have to keep reading this blog!). I trashed these methods for my later method.

When making these, it is best to avoid intersecting planes so that your normals on the texture do not fight your eyeballs. Another great idea I discovered was 'flaring out' and making orbs out of flowering cards that sit adjecent to each other instead of intersecting. Here's a quick video of my more fluffy modular card sets: 

More Plants!

Needed more plant blockouts! I wonder now if I should have just downloaded some as placeholder. Oh well! from scratch it was! I also toyed with the idea BREIFLY on making full ploygon leaves because unreal engine 5 uses tesselation... but ended up tossing those too because I just didn't want to do the rest that way.

Time to Rock on! ... er..sculpt rocks!

Adventure Awaits : Blockout 1 : Naomi Vandoren in 3D

Work In Progress / 26 May 2022

Hello There! 

While these images are definately not from today I beleive its time to share my personal project with you! This is something that is dear to my heart as I know Naomi Van Doren personally. I have been wanting to create one of her images in 3D since I met her at Gencon in 2018. Her world just speaks to me in calm tones of joy and adventure. This particular peice caught my eye at Gencon last year. Soon she will be able to walk into it in 3D!


Reference Gathering:

There is definately more reference, but you get the idea. Generally I try to find the following: 

  • A real life image of the asset as close as I think it can be (in this case it was a smooth beech tree for bark)
  • An asset that shares similar visual character for look and feel
  • An asset or tutorial with the technical things figured out - so if I say want the roots to be attatched to splines etc

The Most Crutial Step:

After I do this I take a break. No joke. Not like a go-to lunch break, but a digest everything I just looked at break. So maybe it is not really a break per se; but the idea is after all of that visual digesting, walking away from it leaves my mind open and to fill in any blanks. It connects those visual thoughts and ideas into new things. Things that I never even considered before. So I go for a walk, meditate, do a quick yin yoga, and/or cuddle my cats. If I dont take a break I could cheat myself out of my creative abilty by getting 'vert-stracted' by slamming into 3D too quickly. Gotta let those juices steep and simmer, ya know? Like making cafe Olla or cinnamon tea.


OK we took our brain break. Anything I thought of I wrote down for later or grabbed more reference for it. Time to get on with silky silouettes and scale! 

The very first thing I did is determine our scale. Luckily Naomi provided a pretty clear sense of size with the little characters in the scene. I assumed this person was of average unreal character level height... and then jenga stacked her on top of herself in the concept image and in 3D. I also quickly mocked together a proto mesh of our arch and just a few of the arch stones.

Added more stones.... just the gernal shapes.

Annnd that's where we stopped that day :) Next is time to get that tree blocked out with the river and bring this baby into unreal for a lighting pass.