LO 04: Three-Point Lighting

Back during my tragically worthless-in-hindsight graphic design degree one of the few skills that remained useful was the understanding of using light for art and rendering. What the medium is doesn’t matter; it can be photography, modelling, sculpting, animating or traditional art. In fact one of the first things you learn in art is how to use light because, well, without light art can’t exist.

One of the classic ways to do this is via three-point lighting. By using three you help an object ‘pop’ out of the background and help define it’s shape and detail (Wilson, 2013). Here’s an example:

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Untitled. Three-point lighting animation. (Wilson, 2013).

There’s no point in rendering a gorgeous 3D model if the details are lost. The key light does the job okay but some of the detail is lost in the shadow; adding the fill light helps define the shape of the model. And the rim light makes the picture so much more dynamic!

So how did I apply this?

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So let’s start with my model as I uploaded it to Sketchfab. With only one key light you can see how the dark shadows covers half of my model and makes the rest incredibly harsh. Not exactly the look you want for a nice beach house on the ocean.

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Here’s my fill light. I wanted the lighting to look like natural sunlight in the late after noon, which has a bright orange light with warm purple shadows.

I wanted a warm purple to light up the shadows so it looked more like natural sunlight in the late afternoon, due to the sun’s colours changing to warm orange (Natural Light In Photography, n.d.)

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Shadows tend to be harsh during this time of day, which helps define a three-dimensional object (Natural Light In Photography, n.d.), but there’s still one light source left; bounce light.

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Untitled. Global Illumination. (10 Tips for better lighting in Cinema 4D, 2012).

A good way to get a bounce light is by using a global illumination light as demonstrated above. An environment will be filled with various sources of light as it bounces off objects in the scene, which allows the character to fit seemlessly in the world you’ve placed them in as well as show minute details.

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Untitled. The Incredibles. (Richards, 2016).

Like this scene in the The Incredibles (2004) where Elastigirl is getting married; the light is reflecting off her dress because white is a great reflector of light.

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In this case our main reflector is the ocean itself, so my glocal illumination was a soft blue. It helps soften the shadows a bit more and lets the bright oranges and purples blend nicely with the blue ocean base.

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Adding some final tweaking in the Sketchfab settings and we’re done!

References:

Wilson, J. (2013). Character Lighting Tutorial. Marmoset. Retrieved 2 September 2016, from http://www.marmoset.co/toolbag/learn/character-lighting

Natural Light In Photography. (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2016, from http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/natural-light-photography.htm

10 Tips for better lighting in Cinema 4D. (2015). helloluxx. Retrieved 6 September 2016, from http://helloluxx.com/tutorials/cinema4d-2/cinema4d-rendering/10-tips-for-better-lighting-in-cinema-4d/

Richards, E. (2016). Reverse Key Lighting. Evanerichards.com. Retrieved 7 September 2016, from http://evanerichards.com/2012/2463

The Incredibles. (2004). United States.

 

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CLO 02: Post-Mortem

Our methodology process was basically the perfect description of a scrum-style Agile project plan. It’s commonly used in software development (Cohn, 2016), and although we followed a similar process as typical film making – concept art, storyboards, animatics, etc – we required a system we could change and adapt on the fly.

We adopted this for two main reasons; firstly we needed constant feedback from our client which required us to be flexible so we can make quick alterations without ruining the project flow. For example we got constant requests to change Stitches the bear but those changes were implemented without disrupting the workload of everyone else.

Secondly, since we also had other classes doing weekly meetings allowed us to stay on top of what was needed to be done and what had been completed, and if anyone needed to take up the slack. This was implemented because of tragic personal experience where not enough tabs were kept on some members which increased stress for everyone.

As the hallmark of the scrum method is constant meetings for the next sprint (Cohn, 2016), we had a weekly meeting before class where a dedicated leader – Rob and Cameron in this case – went over what objectives needed to be done. This was a great way to ensure that everyone was on the same page, knew who was working on what, work would be given to those with the best skills and could adapt to incoming problems. For example I was honest upfront about my limited ability to take on heavy workloads, so when the work was distributed I could be given work I knew I could do.

The second hallmark of a scrum method is constant communication (Bonnie, 2014), which we did over Slack, Skype, emails and the Google drive. This way if anyone needed help they could get it immediately instead of falling behind everyone else.

This level of planning and supervision I think was the key to keeping the project on track and delivered on time with minimal stress on everyone involved. This group was the best one I have ever worked with during my entire education and I was happy to be a part of it.

References:

Bonnie, E. (2014). Fundamentals of the Scrum Methodology. Wrike Blog. Retrieved 2 September 2016, from https://www.wrike.com/blog/fundamentals-of-the-scrum-methodology/

Cohn, M. (2016). Scrum Methodology and Project Management. Mountain Goat Software. Retrieved 2 September 2016, from https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/scrum

CLO06: The Nugget

This was an asset made for Peter Carey for his ‘Hero Rises’ game. His directions was a simple ‘cartoony’ ore chunk that was under 2000 tris.

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I thought this was going to be simple but, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t. An chunk of ore doesn’t have an easily recognizable semiotic shape like a cauldron or wizard tower does; people know what ore is but not always what it looks like. (Mostly because most people haven’t really seen one.)

So it was kinda hard to make a chunky looking piece of metal/rock that didn’t look like a random blob or something extremely low poly.

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Case in point.

Also smoothing it was such an awful idea –

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Dear god.

My answer to this was to bevel some of the edges to help round out the edges and give it more of a crystal-like quality. Even then it was pretty hard to make such an uneven asymmetrical object that looked good from all angles. Still I’m pretty happy with the result and so was Peter. (Who hopefully will give me screenshots to show here.)

Learning Outcomes CLO:04 – Part 2!

So this time it was decided to use 3d models instead of 2D images. This altered my asset production plan to a typical 3D pipeline.

So the first step is creating a basic block-out to show the basic design and layout of the model for approval.

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Second was adding detail via smoothing the edges and smaller objects.

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Once the above was approved by the projects heads, then I went to texturing:

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Done! The textures and object files were uploaded to the drive to be added to the animation scenes. Project complete and more-or-less on time without dragging down the main project!

Learning Outcomes CLO:04 – Part 1!

Here’s a project plan I actually followed!

My part in the main project for PMH was at first the artist for the background image before – as Elsie and I recommended – it was upgraded to 3D objects. I took this task because of my experience in creating art.

Art creation has its own unique project planning. While there is no concrete ‘making art’ plan – to the chagrin of all beginners everywhere – there are still some important steps that many successful artists follow.

The first step is gaining good references. There’s some who think that using direct reference is ‘cheating’ and those people are idiots. Here’s a good explanation as to why:

Good reference is important for a many reasons. As an artist and educator, I value good reference simply because figure drawing is hard. Yes, figure drawing is hard, and since it is hard, it’s best to choose reference and lighting scenarios that can help simplify the drawing process and smooth out the learning curve.

It’s especially important when creating art that what you make is visually cohesive with the branding and design of the client; when you want the public to trust you then consistency is key. Imagine McDonalds having a slightly different logo or menu design for every restaurant. It’d make you even more uneasy of going to Macca’s in the first place.

So first step; get reference images. I did this myself by driving down and taking pictures.

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Second step is using these to come up with a rough sketch. Not only is this the best step to rough out ideas but it’s also the best time to get feedback from the project head or from the client. This is going to be the best time to make these changes before the work heads further down the pipeline; otherwise it’ll waste precious time and resources. (This won’t stop clients from changing their minds later but at least you tried.)

So here’s my first sketch that demonstrates the idea and the brush textures used:

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This general sketch was approved by Rob and Cameron so I moved on to finalizing the sketch:

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Unfortunately we had to scrap this idea because of how Elsie was angling the scene which meant a loss of time. But sometimes ideas don’t work out until you try them.

Learning Outcomes CLO:03

I’ve committed a major sin during this unit; I haven’t followed a project plan at all.

Why? Well as explained in my KPIs I’m more-or-less forced into the philosophy of doing what I can when I can. So having a timeline or any sort of step-by-step plan is almost doomed to fail right from the outset since I’ll either inevitably fall behind or have to skip steps to catch up.

Now you could argue that there are plans that can accommodate this, but even then having a plan itself can sometimes be very demoralizing; you can stress enough without being constantly being reminded of how you’re constantly failing the plans that you’ve laid for yourself and how far you’re behind. This is a purely physiological failing that’s based around my own fear of failure, even if I ultimately succeed.

Secondly, it’s also hard to plan with depression’s oh-so-helpful contribution of making all ambition or initiative bog down into the Bog of Sadness. (Artax, noo!) So if I pose myself the question of ‘what can I get done in four weeks?’ the answer would be ‘you’d be lucky to get anything done at all’. Thanks, brain.

Whether or not this will bite me in the ass later will remain to be seen, and I’m not sure if this approach was irresponsible or realistic; depression and such kinda screws up even the best-laid plans. At the very least I did choose side-projects that are very simple and within my skillset.

KPI Reflections

After meeting with Tim my biggest prevailing problem – which is likely to extend to next trimester – is trying to manage my time and be flexible around my physical health. The very nature of it is very unstable and is very reactive to events that can be out of my control; for example just recently an abusive argument at home completely ruined my thoughts for two days and living in a tense environment isn’t helping. Trying to get around my ‘flare ups’ is going to be my biggest obstacle.

I’ve done some research on this and a paper by BMC Public Health had a few good insights;

Barriers and facilitators for self-management have been described in a large body of research. For example, male sex [4], high social position [4, 5], social support [6], high self-efficacy [7], and good psychological status [8] are related to performing more self-management (both in terms of frequency and types of behaviors), while belonging to an ethnic minority [8, 9], being in a financially vulnerable position [4, 10], co-morbidities [11], low self-efficacy [7], and demanding social obligations [6, 12] are related to performing less self-management.

So some of the things I can do is try to minimize these. One of these is already in motion; I’ll be moving out soon away from toxic room-mates and closer to family and other friends instead of being heavily isolated up north. Also during my trimester break I’m going to get another sleep study done to see if I can at least improve my sleep apnea because that is a physical problem that can be more easily treated.

One of the patients in this study pretty much reflects my outlook:

Well, then [in a stressful situation] that enormous tiredness reappears so I like… can’t do anything more, must go and sit down or put myself to bed. Then it is impossible to think, you can’t do anything. Or if you go to town… before [the MS] you could have a long list of things you should do, but I have stopped doing that. Now I go and then I do what I have time for and can. It’s not possible to get stressed, it’s hard to explain, it [the body] just shuts down. You have to go [to town] without preconditions.

In this trimester all I can do is take on smaller tasks and do what I can, when I can. This blog post might be the only thing I have energy for today but at least it was one thing on the list. Better than nothing right? (Apparently there’s a name for this called ‘spoon theory‘ which is less funny than it sounds.)