Dec 31, 2011

Transformer Ripoffs #2

Name: Deformation

Another Optimus figure, whose payoff is all in the title.

Dec 29, 2011

Lighting Retry

So me and Bond have been creating art for nearly hours. We must be getting rusty or something, because neither of us is anywhere near done...

Mind you as we were both trying out new techniques and methods, so while the art isn't done we did make a lot of progress each. In Peter's case figuring out how to use his new tablet in conjunction with his new Photoshop suite.

I on the other hand am making a fresh start on 3D lighting (in addition to the challenges of 3D feathers) with the help of Jeremy Birn's amazing book Digital Lighting and Rendering. This book has given me a good catch up on professional terms and concepts my friends David and Matt have been trying to relay to me for a while.

I've made it through sky and bounce lighting this proto scene and Troodon so far. I need to definitely come at him (and his feathers) with a rim.

Thoughts on this initial prototype. Especially from the lighting crew?

Live Blog 2011 #1

Working away on my ART Evolved feathered Dinosaur, while talking to Peter Bond.

While we've worked on art while talking together on skype in the past, the new feature of being able to share live screen shots, has massively increased the experience. Not only can we discuss our art, we can take the other through our process. Amazingly fun stuff.

I finished rigging and feathering the Troodon.

However as rigging 100's of individual feathers is slowing things to a near halt I'm tempted to engage in a short side project of "billboard" decal replacements that might let me not slow down.

Dec 28, 2011

Transformer Ripoffs #1

Name: Chenge Rnboes

So kicking off my Transformer toy ripoff series is this unique, but all telling entrant. The toy itself could be passed off as a medium quality Optimus (and smaller bumblebee) figure. However the names and titles instantly give away this particular unit's counterfeit origin.

The title Chenge Rnboes was clearly someone in China smashing a keyboard at random till they got something that vaguely resembled changing robots. While this might sound silly, but it is very common in China.

What endears this one to me is the "alternative title" of Chariot Missile at the top. When spotting this particular model in the toy markets, it is the Missile title I always notice first.

Most of the other Transformers toys I'll be posting have proper english titles, but these can be just as funny as random letters. So stay tuned.

More than meets the eye

The public transport in Hong Kong is unlike any I've ever seen before. No matter where you want to go, there is a bus and/or train to take you there. Anywhere!

As of such you'll see small 16 passenger buses like this EVERYWHERE... only this one is completely unique. It also makes me wonder how safe I am wandering this city...

For the decipticons have apparently infiltrated the city's infrastructure.

Speaking of infiltrating, all the local toy markets and stores are selling transformer toys that are not quite what they seem. In the spirit of "More than meets the eye" I'll be posting all the Transformer ripoff toys I've been coming across. Some are cute, some are just plain bad, and a few will make you laugh until you cry!!!

Best name wasted on the worst toy!

I just love the name "Dinosaur Epoch" for a toy series. It'd be even cooler is the first Dino of the line was an Acrocanthosaurus...

They appear to have mispackaged this fellow instead :(


Scary events reported in our area, every evening between 6-7pm.

A bright blue object can be seen wheeling its away along the sidewalks...

It can be seen from blocks away...

What is this unidentified wheeling object?

A more honest name for Mickey

From Lady R's new umbrella purchased at our local mall.

No Empty Success here!!!

Welcome to the Club

Bags that Ham it up

Women's fashion here in Hong Kong are always amusing me and Lady R. These handbags being a definite example of the weird...

Yes that is not only a pig handbag your looking at, but it is made of sparkly beads.

This was a whole store full of such bags too!

Back to the HK style

Just got back from my Xmas break in mainland China.

Still a little brain dead from semester one at work, I figured it was well about time I got back to funny Hong Kong (and China) photos.

While this first one isn't so funny, it is cool. I have no idea why, but Dinosaur (specifically T-Rex) origami is THE thing to put on print ads. This one is for one of the big banks in HK.

Dec 22, 2011

Style is everything

Semester is over. Leaving me realizing I've been in Hong Kong a while now. I just never had the time to look around and truly absorb that fact. Not that it is freaking me out. I'm just finally taking in the fact I've been here a while.

Anyways so while I have some spare time (sadly not as much as I'd like), I need to sort out some concrete creative objectives. Right now I have any number of options. However I've decided to focus on two.

1. Is my 3D lighting. I finally acquired what is considered the textbook on 3D lighting, and have read half of it. I however have not had time to try out anything discussed within. So that will be my priority. I will use it on my feathered Dino ART Evolved piece.

2. Try and get a bit of an idea how I want my eventual future Traumador project to look. So I'll be playing with styles of rendering like below.

A possible (though not likely) cartoon style.

The original

I'm also planning on finally catching up on all my silly HK discoveries and adventures.

Dec 15, 2011

Footing about an Ankylosaur

Albertonykus was nice enough to alert me to a bunch of papers about Ankylosaur feet and how they apparently look more like Sauropod feet than traditionally rendered.

Sadly the papers were all in technical speak which I can't read effectively enough to be sure of how to draw, and the diagrams only helped me a little bit. Hopefully someone will want to take a crack at them on the Palaeo-art Database once it launches here in the new year.

So I took a leap into the dark, which I sure is wrong.
So attack with feedback science enabled people. Let's get these feet fixed!

Dec 14, 2011

Starting to look like an Ankylosaur

Been toying away on the Minmi. It is finally starting to feel like I might be getting it a bit right.

There is still work to be done, but do let me know what you think. I've only added the bigger scutes to the body itself, not the limbs, and I'm not sure if I need more on the head or not.

Oh well here it is.

I have a big post on Ankylosaurs in art coming up on ART Evolved.

Dec 6, 2011

Ankylosaurus, like no living animal

I'm hitting a very interesting set of issues in recreating my Ankylosaur. That namely being there is nothing even remotely like an Ankylosaur alive today.

At least if the way the three palaeontologists I've talked to about them were accurate (in their defense none were specialists in armoured Dinosaurs). What I gathered was that all the scales of their skin had been hardened to some extent. The more advanced the Ankie the more hard the skin. However this essentially meant the whole (adult) animal was covered in varying sized bones on its hide. A true exoskeleton.

The problem is no reptile today has this type of protection. At least not to the degree and complexity of an Ankyosaur. So how do you reconstruct them?

There seem to a lot of memes and trends in how Ankylosaurs are recreated. I'm collecting various "official", professional, and museum sanctioned Minmi recreations to supplement Peter Bond's original Minmi post on his blog. All the recreations I'm collecting should have had scientist input at some stage, which leads me to hope there was science behind the armour placements. There are a few methods and choices I follow, but others are making me wonder if there are some really rampant Ankie armour memes out there. Standby for a more detailed post on ART Evolved, and possibly reposted here.

At moment I'm just trying to finish the baseline of my Minmi so that I can play next week.

This is the animal completely covered with baseline textures. Thought and comments?

This is the body and legs covered in actual armour objects via a surface replicator (my favourite tool of all time!). I think I need to bring the scutes up on the limbs to about knee level, but otherwise I'm really digging this look so far. That and I'm really starting to like my unique warning colouration scheme. Of all Dinosaurs to be flamboyantly coloured I'm thinking the hard and prickly Ankies were the ones to sport this look!


Dec 4, 2011

Why Ankylosaurs are like onions

Perhaps my years long battle with 3D feathers has finally paid off...

My new quick and easy method seems to work perfectly fine on armour too. Okay easy yes, sadly the quick part gets taken out with rendering times.

Armour is requiring a few more layers than feathers. Though I may try multiple layers of feathers later to see if it helps them.

First I need a rough colour scheme. I opted for a bright coloured scheme as I see (grownup) Ankyies wanting to warn predators they're not to be messed with. I got this rough pattern by mixing together a few different snakes.

I tried to build initial armour into my standard skin texture. The results as you can see are wanting.

Lucky for me that was but one of many layers. As of layer 2 all is covered up.

This is all still just a texture.

Next I applied physical objects to the skin with a replicator to get actual osteoderms in place.

The first ones were too small, so I came at it with another round of larger ones, which I think do an admirable job.

Thoughts, comments so far?

Dec 3, 2011

I HATE armoured Dinosaurs!

I think if there is one thing I'm good at in my art is always trying new things. In putting together my new portfolio I can't believe how much my techniques and methods have changed and refined in just 2 years!

The only problem with this constant change is I'm always having to relearn and rethink how to do things when I return to them. My wife has once or twice challenged my focus on Dinosaurs in my art, and if their look were remaining static I'd accept. Thing is I'm never doing them the same way more than 3 times (first model of a "mark" is a break through, second model is me hoping I've finally nailed it, the third model ends with me thinking "this looks terrible!"). I'm constantly coming up with new things to try and work on with them... The rest of my modelling is following them quite well.

So while I've conquered feathers for the time being, there are other Saurian qualities to can still cause me no need of trouble. Enter armoured Dinosaurs...

Armoured Dinosaurs provide me with two very annoying problems.

The first is that without my books, finding good references for them is VERY hard! Added to that the actual placement of their armour seems to be a highly subjective matter for us artists.

The second challenge is getting the armour actually on the critter. In my previous models of Scelidosaur and Ankylosaurus I'd used simply body shaders and than surface replicated major armour pieces on the body. While this was good for my older style Dinosaurs, my recent improvements in texturing have meant I will need to completely overhaul how I do armour...

I will try the solution I have used with feathers. However I'm holding some doubts that it will work properly for bony osteoderms.

We'll see.

I'm trying to make a Minmi. Though as it'll be filling in for mostly unknown NZ Ankies I have a bit of artistic licence.

Dec 1, 2011

Killer Instinct

I'm trying to turn my doubts around. So I thought an aggressive Dinosaur would be just the thing to turn the tables.

A generic Carcharodontosaur. It is a retooling of my original NZ theropod. How does the shader look? The digits haven't been reshaded is all.

The anatomy shot for you experts out there.

The plan is to do a spread of generic versions of all the potential candidates for NZ's little known theropods. I'm planning on an Abelisaur, Spinosaur, and an Australovenator like animal. Are there any other Gondwannan animals or groups I'm missing (I might do a Tyrannosaur too due to the possible Tyrannosaurid bone found in 2009)?