Category: Uncategorized

3D Animation Process 1 – D3A BP UV C4D

The first of a series of posts focussing on the general processes involved in making a 3D animation.

Instead of simply block texturing my models by applying a flat colour to a polygon, I’ve decided to one-up myself and apply a flat colour using UV unwrapping in Cinema 4D. An extremely arduous texturing technique.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-12-21-48

Cinema 4D has a thing called BodyPaint, which enables me to use a very crude Photoshop-esque system to actively paint patters and details onto my models. This is superior to just block filling polygons with a texture, and allows me to create a semi-professional looking model of a D3A Val, a Japanese dive bomber.

I do really enjoy the results of this method, and I used it on two of my other aircraft models, the F4F Wildcat and A6M2 Zero.

ps-render-1

But the process is a massive pain. In fact, I can say that texturing as a whole in Cinema 4D is a painful process. If the UV texture hasn’t broken for some random reason, the textures often don’t load with the model which means transporting them around separately and then re-applying them to the model every single time you open them on a different machine.

I could go on further about how terrible the whole process is, but I’ll save that for when I upload the process of texturing an entire battleship.

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Graphic Narrative – Style Considerations

The biggest consideration for me is what artistic style I’ll be using. I’ve researched a few different styles that I really like, but weather or not I like it, it has to be practical and well within my own skillset.

I knew I wanted to present the narrative in a comicbook-esque format, simply because I think they are the best at conveying actions and drama- as opposed to a cartoon strip or photo-story. action-comics-18-04-05

When you look at these types of comics, a certain theme of dark and bold shadows/lighting it present throughout them all. Part of the reason for this might be simply that cel-shading is quicker and easier to do, but it also lends a far more dramatic and sharper feel to the scene. This style is also, obviously massivley popular with comic books. Every major comicbook uses this style, so it’s clearly effective.

masterchief

I experimented using this style with a rough graphic of a Japanese A6M2 fighter, a plane that would appear in my graphic narrative.

zerostyle-2

It’s far from perfect, but it was relativley easy to make compared to another style that I attempted. Not only did this style take less layers, time and effort to make, it resembled the comic book style well enough. If I were to choose to take this style into my project I’d probbaly make the lines slightly less thick, as that seems to limit the ammount of fine detail I can get.

The second style I considered was a style I’ve not seen particuarly used in comics before, but a style I’ve come to know myself over the years. Instead of using harsh cel-shading, I used quite the opposite and decided to use eased gradients instead.

zerostyle-1

This is the exact same drawing, just coloured in a different style. What style looks best is subjective, as I asked a few people and got different answers all around. The one thing about this style that isn’t subjective however is how long it look to make. This technique, though more sophisticated than the cel-shaded one took far longer to produce. using 3 times the ammount of layers.

Both these graphics were produced with Paint.NET, which is either a simplified version of Photoshop, or a far more advanced version of Microsoft Paint. It lacks the ability to do anything really complex, but it suits my needs as I’ve chosen to take a simpler art style.

In the end I have to take the style that is more time-effective, as it’s frightening how little time I have to finish this.

Pacific Steel ‘Characters’

I’m not entirely sure that the word ‘character‘ applies to these, but it’s all I’ve got.


The warships can be considered the main characters of the game, as they are the largest and most powerful assets in the game. A general set of animations can be applied to all of these ships, these include;

  • Turret rotation and elevation
  • Rocking/bobbing on the water
  • Sinking animations
  • Animated parts such as radars and rangefinders

Some ships may have specific animations unique to that vessel, such as aircraft catapults and torpedo launchers. Really there isn’t much you can with a boat as far as animation goes. Especially not for a low-detail game.

Current Line-up of warships:

United States Navy 

USN Lexington 7c962eba71c54c55da2be6785c2c5a93

USS Lexington, also known as “The Lady Lex” to many US sailors, was an aircraft carrier (though originally ordered as a battlecrusier) that served the USN in 1927, seeing action up until 1942 where she was struck by 2 torpedoes and 2 bombs, subsequently sinking to the bottom in the coral sea.

Lexington will be the American’s aircraft carrier in Pacific Steel. Larger and carrying more aircraft than her Japanese counterpart Zuiho, the Americans will have a large numerical advantage when it comes to airpower.

USN Atlanta 0410431

USS Atlanta was the lead ship of 8 light cruisers built throughout the 1940. Designed to provide heavy anti-aircraft protection, and did so in many famous naval battles, including the battle of Midway. During the night of that battle however, she was badly damaged by both Japanese shell fire and accidental friendly fire. By her captains orders, she was sunk on the afternoon of the same day.

Atlanta in Pacific Steel plays a similar role in providing Anti-Air power to other ships. Though lightly armoured, Atlanta had a staggering rate of fire, and can suppress even the largest battleships.

USN North Carolina uss_north_carolina_nyny_11306-6-46

USS North Carolina was the very first brand new battleship of WWII, constructed by America in 1940. North Carolina and her crew took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific ocean, earning her a whopping 15 battle stars that made her the most decorated American battleship of World War II.

North Carolina might as well be the strongest single unit in Pacific Steel. Great firepower and fantastic Anti-Air, North Carolina is a match for anything the Japanse can throw at them, save for maybe-

Imperial Japanese Navy 

IJN Minekazejapanese_destroyer_wakatake_1920

IJN Minekaze was a small destroyer built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1910; an old ship, by many standards. Minekaze saw action during the Second Sino-Japanese War during the 1930s, and of course- saw action in the Pacific Ocean. During the 1940s however she was already obselete, and was sunk by an American Submarine, USS Podgy in 1944.

In Pacific Steel, Japan has here a unique unit type that serves a threat to even the largest warships. Destroyers are small, fast and nimble craft that use their superior maneuverability to get in close and fire volleys of deadly torpedoes, capable of sinking even the most well protected ships.

IJN Zuihozuiho_class__profile_full

IJN Zuiho was a light aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1940 as submarine support ship Takasaki, Zuiho was renamed and converted during construction into an aircraft carrier, and subsequently participated in many pivotal navy battles. Come 1944, Zuiho served as a decoy to draw the main US fleet into a trap and sunk was by American aircraft, ultimatley fulfilling her task.

Zuiho- though not nearly as large as Lexington, plays an important role in Pacific Steel. Zuiho has a capacity to launch fewer, but more powerful aircraft. Being smaller than Lexington she also has greater speed and manoverbility allowing for her to more effectively stay close and support the fleet with waves of deadly aircraft.

IJN Nagatoscreen-shot-2016-09-29-at-16-30-08

IJN Nagato was a super-dreadnaught battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1910. Nagato would go on to be the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who orchestrated the attack on Pearl Harbour from her bridge in 1941. Uniqley for an IJN vessel she would survive the war, but sadly ended up being little more than target practice. Finally, Nagato was a test subject for Operation Crossroads- succumbing to 2 nuclear bombs at Bikini Atoll.

Nagato in Pacific Steel in the Japanese main, hard-hitting force. Despite belonging to the extinct ‘Dreadnaught’ generation of ships, Nagato holds her own with superior maneuverability and rate of fire compared to her counterpart, North Carolina.


Aircraft will have the most complex animations, despite being one of the smallest assets in the game. These animations include;

  • Movement of control surfaces (Ailerons, Rudder and Elevator)
  • Bomb/Torpedo hatch doors
  • Propeller movement
  • General complex flight manoeuvres

Current Line-up of Aircraft:

United States Navy 

F4F Wildcatf4f-3a_vf-3_f-1_thach_and_f-13_o_hare_april_1942

The F4F Wildcat was the mainstay of the USN’s carrier-borne fighter group, seeing action up until 1942. The Wildcat was however outmachted by the faster and more manouverable Japanese A6M2 Zero. Despite this, due to numerical advantages and superior tactics the Widlcat maintained a sucsessful kill/death ratio of 5:1 throughout the war. This meant that for every 5 Japanense aircraft destroyed, 1 Wildcat was lost.

The F4F Wildcat is the main fighter aircraft of the USN in Pacific Steel. Mimicking reality, USS Lexington is able to carry far more aircraft compared to the Japanese carrier, resulting in a deadly numerical advantage over their adversary.

TBF-1 Avenger fgx5hsk

The TBF-1 Avenger is an American torpedo bomber. Developed initially for the United States Navy in 1941, it eventually ended up being used by several nations around the world. Avengers remained one the best torpedo bombers in World War 2, even being used in one form or another up until the 1960s.

In Pacific Steel, the torpedo bomber is a powerful unit type unique to the Americans. Being able to strategically deploy torpedoes against the enemey, they are feared by almost all warships. The Avenger also features 2 rear-facing machine gun turrets located top and bottom, to provide extra cover agianst enemy aircraft. Becasue of this however it is exeptionally large compared to the other aircraft, and can easily be outsped and out manovered.

Imperial Japanese Navy 

A6M2 Zerocaptured_a6m5_in_flight_1944

The A6M2 Zero was one of the most iconic aircraft of World War 2, and was operated by the IJN from 1940 to 1945. When it was introduced early in the war, the Zero was considered the most capable carrier-borne fighter in the world, combining excellent maneuverability and high speed, it gaining a reputation as a legendary dogfighter.

In Pacific Steel, the Zero operates much as an air-superiority fighter, beating any other aicraft in a 1-on-1 fight. However, due to the Japanese aicraft carrier Zuiho’s smaller size, it means that less of them can be deployed in to the battle at one time, resulting in a fairly large numerical disadvantage vs. the American aircraft.

D3A Vald3a1_akagi

The D3A Val was the primary carrier-borne dive bomber used by the IJN, and participated in almost all of the IJN’s actions in the Pacific, most notably- the attack on Pearl Harbour. Vals sank more Allied warships than any other Axis aircraft, despite being considered obsolete when the war started.

Like the Avenger for the Americans, the Val is a unique and powerful unit type for the Japanese. The Val is able to drop bombs upon both sea and land based targets. Though doing far less damage per-hit as a torpedo, the bombs are both versetile and far more difficult to avoid.


Extra Miscellaneous assets that may or may not be inlcuded within the animation, depending on weather or not they get finished by then. Each of these assets will generally have unique animations.

Navy Personell

To really bring my scenes to life I feel there has to be an element of humanity to it. At a glance aircraft and warships appear to just be machines, and it is sometimes hard to consider or fully realise that there are often thousands of individuals piloting/operating these vehicles. (North Carolina had a crew of over 2,300 individuals) For this reason (at least on the warships) I will be modelling/animating sailors on the decks and operating the various anti-air guns/lookout posts.

They’ll have incredibly simple models and textures becasue they are so small (compared to the gargantuan warships), and because loads of them may be present at any given time.

Possible animations include;

  • Walking
  • Looking and raising/lowering a pair of binoculars
  • Seating positon to operate Anti-Aircraft emplacements
  • Generic standing postions
  • Guiding the landing/takeoff of aircraft with signals
  • Operating steering wheels
  • Operating torpedo tubes

Ambient Wildlife

More specifcially- seagulls, will add a pleasant atmosphere to peaceful/out of combat situations. Having a small flock of gulls circle and follow a vessel or area brings the enviroment to life. It’s an ocean dotted with islands, so you’d expect to see or at least hear seabirds.

Like the models for the sailors, the seagull models will be especially simplistic, since they are not a focal point at all within the game.

Possible animations include;

  • Flying, flapping wings
  • Soaring/Gliding
  • Sitting on the water’s surface

Miscellaneous Artificial

If I’m going as far as to model the island/port the player has at the start of the game, certain aspects of that require animation. Aside from the assets already modeled/animated that might be present on the island (warships, ambient wildlife and navy personell) the port requires some unique animated assets. These include supply trucks, wind-socks, radars, and cranes.

Miscellaneous Natural

The Pacific ocean is not complete without a complement of islands, and apon these islands at least some trees. I plan on modelling a selection of 3 or so different islands. (outcrops, sandbars and main large land masses) A small selection of low-polygon palm trees will also populate the land masses. I could animate the palms blowing in the wind that but’s going a bit beyond an iPhones current processing power.

Updated SWOT Analysis*

Here is a simple SWOT analysis for myself, regarding 3D art. I created this last year, and since then nothing has really changed.

Strengths

  • Technical knowledge on many digital art subjects
  • I’m eager and willing to contribute to a team effort
  • I’ve a very sharp eye for detail and enjoy getting my work to a high standard
  • Artistically inclined
  • Working knowledge of game engines and technical possibilities/limitations

Weaknesses

  • I’m often poor with organisation
  • I’ve only experience with a few 3D modelling programs
  • I’m often poor at interpreting instructions correctly
  • I’ve limited skill with texturing objects
  • I’m not the best at social interactions/communications

Opportunities

  • I can use my artistic background to enhance my work and the work of others
  • I’m uniquely experienced in designing and modelling of mechanical objects
  • I’ve still got a lot to learn and am not yet ‘set in my ways’ with any particular method/practice

Threats 

  • My quest for perfection can lead to me never finishing a project
  • My lack of professional experience
  • I haven’t enough money to afford any expensive programs
  • My emotional state may fluctuate, resulting in dips/rises in productivity

 

Various things I’ve learned last year

Last year I somehow managed to learn-

  • The fundamentals of 3D objects; polygons, vertex, edges etc.
  • How to use various techniques in CINEMA 4D
  • How to use Google Drive and cloud storage effectively
  • The vague workings of HTML
  • How to use simple techniques in Adobe After Effects and Adobe Audition
  • The properties of sound, and how sound is stored and the resulting side-effects
  • How to use WordPress and develop a ramshackle website
  • How to cooperate semi-effectively within a group
  • How to capture, edit and import sounds for a project
  • The surprising difficulty of using a Go-Pro, and the surprising quality of an iPhone camera
  • How to make a visually engaging Power-point presentation
  • How to use schematics and technical drawings to produce accurate models
  • The legal, ethical and financial aspects of game development
  • How to design a game concept and how to present it in front of an audience
  • The basic use of an expensive CANNON Camera
  • How to create a simple and effective visual design
  • How to organise and carry through a project template
  • How to work to a clients specifications and conduct client interviews
  • Primary and Secondary research, or something like that
  • Vertical and Horizontal intergeneration, I think…
  •  How to render an animation sequence using thousands of PNGs
  • Quantitative and Qualitative research?
  • How to record sounds
  • How to make, but not the definition of Motion Graphics
  • Company structures
  • Planning and preparation skills

But we all know that next year I’ll completely forget all of these.

Website – Production Process

Here is the technical production of the website, step-by-step (almost).

Initial Wireframe

The first ever concept for the site was a basic wireframe I created with balsamic;

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.30.02

This illustrateds the most basic layout for a possible website.

I  designed the website to be very easy to navigate, with the homepage only presenting 3 main buttons to each of the pages. The white boxes are featured images representing each page, with a large image banner at the top with a logo. The homepage also contains quick and easy links to any relevant social media sites.

The website was designed with large images and easy navigation in mind, 2 qualities that client expressed she wanted for her site.

Essentially, this represents what we ideally would have created, were we not restricted by WordPress.

Photoshop Concepts 

Me and Sunny went about creating some more fleshed-out concepts for the site, which would later dictate the final look/theme.

screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-10-25-071

screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-10-25-212

A more finalised concept, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the finished product. Using the same layout I created in Balsamic, we added media and a placeholder logo, until I could finish the one we designed. The colour and theme reflect what the client wanted, and we were happy with the overall look.

screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-10-25-551

Animation

One of the more technical aspects the client requested was an animation. More specifically, an animation of a boat sailing across the screen.  With my knowledge of Adobe After Effects, I set out to create a simple .gif animation.

These are the simple assets I created in Paint.NET

screen-shot-2016-05-17-at-12-14-27

The animation was going well until I found that my time was best used elsewhere. There is a surprising amount of complications to consider when making a .gif for a website, and even more to get the animation to loop indefinitely and seamlessly. In the end it never happened.

Actual Website Production 

Finally, we started the actual site. It was at this point Sunny decided to really contribute with the project.

screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-10-59-171screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-10-59-321screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-11-00-271screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-11-03-01screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-11-06-051screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-11-12-301screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-11-18-47screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-11-33-041screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-12-05-35screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-12-17-351screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-14-31-53screen-shot-2016-05-23-at-15-28-541

The steps:

Me and Yasmin created a WordPress account, and kept in mind that our client (Gail) wanted it to be her business name “Art-Ceramics”.

Added the members of our group as admin.

Chose a theme; “The Affinity Theme” Yasmin and I decided on as we both understood that it would have to image orientated and this theme’s main focus was the images, and the theme more closely resembled our photoshop concepts.

Picked a colour scheme, Blue and White.

Add pages (Main, About, Gallery, Contact); we had already discussed what pages Gail wanted/ needed so it was easy to get them done.

Me and Sunny created a banner in Photoshop

Fixed an issue with the banner being slightly transparent with the theme by changing some settings.

Put a widget onto the gallery page to display the product photos.

Change font to something more appropriate to the client’s wishes.

Content text replaced Lorem Ipsum to what Yasmin and Gail had written.