Sunday, 1 November 2015

Movember time again!

So I had this great Dick Dastardly / Laughing Cavalier type moustache and then Movember rolls round again and I had to shave it off (yah boo sucks!)
Anyhoo, here is an animated gif of the disappearing 'tache...

If you would like to donate I will promise not to send this animated gif to your work email account (see, I told you it was a Dick Dastardly tache !)
If you don't know what Movember is all about, shame on you! It is kind of like the male version of the womens "Race for Life" but with much less effort and a lot less pink.
Here is my Mo page
Here is the Movember info page

Friday, 21 August 2015

Women in the English Civil War Book Cover

Very happy with how my latest commission came out. It took a half day photo shoot of the author in four different guises and many different poses. The best one of each was then carefully cut out, exposures and white balance corrected, then highlights were painted on the two that were taken when the sun was behind the clouds. Can you tell which ones they were?
Then they were sized and arranged, the shadow created and then places on the background which is a photograph of a painting in the Museum of London that is actually of the Great Fire of London, but I think it suits the “world in flames” feel of the English Civil War.

The book is called “The Women of the English Civil War” it is by Margaret Cooper Evans, and will be on Amazon soon as both a Kindle e-book and a real life paperback .

Links here
Margaret's Amazon Author page is

If you want to find out more about the author you can read her blog here

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Evolution of a character

A quick update to the Evil Genius Online thread (I really must get on and do that page!)
Here is Jet Chan. He was a character in the original game so I took the original mesh and skeleton and optimised the heck out of it. He actually ended up on a much simpler skeleton to the one on the left, but I'll go into that later. This was used in our Flash / Flare3D game.

We then needed 2D artwork for the menus where he interacts with you, the game user. To do this I made a whole new high resolution mesh, put him on a very complex skeleton with facial animation rig and ten twist bones per forearm etc. He was then put into twenty plus poses for approval by the powers that be. The top five were then given to a very talented paintover artist we used to have here called Randolph. He produced the finished image (on the right). This was done for the eight main characters. Some had only three paintovers. Penny, however, had ten images done this way.
Click the image for a larger version.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

XM655 The loudest Vulcan :-)

Had a marvelous time at Wellesbourne Wings and Wheels show this weekend.
As well as a stunning display from the Rolls Royce owned Spitfire and a bonkers display from the Eagle 2 Muscle Plane, the XM655 Maintenance & Preservation Society (proud member) did two slow taxi runs and two fast taxi runs. Thirty feet away from 84,000 lbs of thrust certainly is loud!
Then, at the end of the day the Vulcan to the Sky XH558 gave a wonderful display to close the show.
I will be adding a new page soon with some photos and videos. Here is a piccy to put you on 'til then.

Wellesbourne Airfield is under threat from a housing developer. If the airport closes there is no way to get XM655 out so she will have to be cut up and scrapped. Please don't let this happen, To paraphrase the "Heros" T.V. programme "Save the Vulcan - Save the World!"
Join the Wellesbourne matters organisation to save the airfield - it only costs 50p (larger donations gladly accepted) - Go on: You can afford it!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Maya is a pair of Jimmy Choo's

If 3D software is like a pair of shoes then to me, 3DS Max is like a pair of old trainers. You know, a bit ratty around the edges and it trips me up every now and then, but I know it. I am comfortable with it. Autodesk Maya is like a new pair of Jimmy Choo's. For some folk that means it will be perfect. For me though, it may be stylish, a bit bewitching and slightly aspirational, but it is also spikey and a bit uncomfortable. It is taking a bit of wearing in, but I'll get there; I always do.

This will be my sixth major piece of 3D software and to be honest, none of them are "perfect". Not Symbolics S-World; not Alias Power Animator; not Softimage; not Lightwave; not 3DStudio Max; and not Maya either.

All I want is some software that actually does what it claims it is about to do and not something where I have to randomly guess at the correct settings and already know where the hidden tick box is that makes it "work".
For an example I give you this tutorial.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Evil Genius Online

Over the coming weeks/months I'll be writing about my time as Lead Artist on Evil Genius Online.
I have to say that these were two of the best years of my game making career so far. I'll be telling the story of the development of the style from the original game to the "updated" (late 1960's) feel of the online F2P game. How we designed and built new props, repurposed old props, and got nearly 1 million triangles drawing to screen in a Flash game (not easy).

October 2016 update
Ok now I am confused. My page on Evil Genius has disappeared. The forces of good will not thwart me... I'll dig out the old images and write a new page.

It is also with great sadness that I have to report that due to dwindling player usage there will be no further updates (not that there have been in a while). I would love to say that the plans for Evil Genius 2 were progressing well, but it is not and seems to be stuck in development hell.
I loved my time on EGo and I think we did some stunning work with a small team on a tight budget and short time scale.

We had some wonderful user comments basically saying that we had created a real game rather than the usual Zynga style WhateverVille or other Give-us-your-money-Sim-Builder. That is probably part of the reason its popularity has dropped off.
Shame really..

Friday, 15 May 2015

Maya for 3DS Max-heads

I am learning Maya for work and it has not been easy, though I am getting there and have discovered some great tricks and tools that are just so off the wall from a Max point of view.

For anyone coming to Maya from Max I have shared my experiences and workarounds in the "Max 2 Maya" page (on the left under "Pages"). I hope it is of some use to someone, though to be honest, re doing things to check what I am saying has been very useful in cementing the new workflow into my legacy Max filled brain.

Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hilary Long: Man Down in Overdown book cover

Latest Hilary Long mystery by Margaret Cooper Evans ( @Maggs912 for those who twitter) is now available on Kindle Store and by jingo its a good one.
UK version on Amazon UK here
US version on Amazon USA here

As for the cover, I created and rendered the Walther PPK in 3DStudio Max.
The texture was worked up from several photographs and then a bump map created to make the wear and scratches catch the light. Maybe it is something to do with the NVidia normal map creation software but I found a black and white bump map worked better than a normal map in this instance - OLD SCHOOL BABY! Yes, that's right... I am SOOO Old School I spell "school" correctly!
I then added a purple and green upward facing light to mimic the reflection of the map onto the gun.

The Map was made from scratch in Photoshop, the photograph is one I took especially for this job as were the four layers that went to make up the table cloth.

The gun, map and tablecloth were then comped, colour corrected and shadows added again, in Photoshop.

Click on the images to view larger versions. Any questions, feel free to ask :-)