Mar 31, 2011

The Palaoe-Environment Project Phase 1

So it has been a little while since my last post.

There is so much, yet so little going on in my life it is nearly overwhelming. I have taken many efforts on getting new things going here in the future. Sadly none of them have resolved. Meaning I have no idea what I'm doing beyond the spring. So I otherwise carry on with the status quo.

One of these future efforts I can do something tangible about are my potential legitimate Palaeo-art projects. As I'm finding I need to bring my A game to the table, the times of my mass produced B-C grade art may be at an end for while (aka Traumador).

For the most prominent and high profile Palaeo-art project I'm pursuing, probably the most important Dinosaur find in Alberta in the past 30-50 years (but that is ALL I can say), I hit a stumbling block in the form of my current portfolio. That being I've never concentrated all my abilities and talents into a single piece. They are scattered across, aforementioned, hastily put together pop art. Meaning I come across as not very talented in initial sales pitches.

Further hurting my case is that I work in 3D graphics. For whatever reason most Palaeontologists I've talked to are resistant to computer art in general, and so I start off with an uphill battle. My contact scientist on this big gig has gone on the record and stated that he doesn't think a CG restoration can make the cut, but so far has indicated he'll humour me if I can provide the goods in the next couple months.

Which has given me a big overarching goal. Create some A grade portfolio pieces (or even just elements, as you'll see) to show what I can really do...

To this end I've made March through May the Palaeo-environment Project. My objective is to sit down and create any and all elements, pieces, plants, terrain etc. needed to simulate late Cretaceous Alberta.

As can be imagined it is a pretty big job recreating a WHOLE world. The good news is that with so much to work on if I get frustrated I can just switch to another element.

This was the beginning of the projects test bed. While okay for a start, it hardly feels real, and sadly plays into the "cartoony" criticism I was trying to avoid.

Fortunately like most first steps I can make more, and in the process not repeat the mistakes made here.

Not only have I been tapping into all the 3D skills I've built up in the past 4 years, but I'm expanding these rapidly within a matter of days.

My texturing in particular is improving hour by hour. My tendency to snap a million photos anywhere I go is paying off now in dividends, as I have a vast library of references from which to grab the basis of my textures.

I'm also experimenting a lot of costume plant models. Carrara comes with a great plant generator, but this is only useful for creating certain types of plants. The ferns above would have been impossible with just the generator.

This week I started to examine the mistakes made in the first two weeks, and really focused on the terrain setting. I wanted something that felt and looking like a flood plain.

This is getting much closer. Yet there is still so much to do...

The more detail and variety I put in, the better the end product. So this is why I've given myself 3 months to invest in building up this initial artistic capital (3D art has this advantage/disadvantage, once you build something you can use it over and over indefinitely. The thing is you have to build it first). With just a combination of 4 key ingredients (1 plant type, some logs, 2 terrain pieces, and very targeted custom shading) I think this is off to a promising start. However this is only just the beginning. I envision my environments containing up to 50 such ingredients. One of my next projects is custom trees. While the generator is great at single trunk trees (like pine) it is not capable of truncated ones like these. I need to figure out how to get leaves on these fellas. Also stay tuned for moss mounds, shrubs, stones, branches, leaves, dirt, and much much more! The Palaeo-environment project has only just begun!!!


Anonymous said...

Looking good so far Craig!
Which terrain 'generator' are you using, looks a bit like Terragen?

Weapon of Mass Imagination said...

Thanks Matt!

It is just Carrara's built in terrian editor. I'm too poor and lazy to learn any other 3D programs at moment, so everything I'm doing will be restricted to within Carrara.

I have tried to look up who might have developed this feature for Carrara but can't find out who. I do know it only appeared in version 5... before that there were plug ins you could buy, but they were developed by outside parties. I assume DAZ bought one of them out and just incorporated that generator into the program.

Albertonykus said...

Jaw dropping. This really great stuff.

Angie Rodrigues said...

Nice! I'm watching with interest to see what you do. Environments are difficult to pull off and I admire your quest! Don't forget the fungi:) I like to see mushrooms and little details in enviros:)