Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The face of Evil (in Overdown)

Really happy with the latest Hilary Long mystery book cover.

The initial idea for the woman was to either use a stock image (couldn't find the "right" one)  or photograph a soft, innocent looking 20 something woman, but the only person we found that fit the bill did not want to be on a book cover, so... 3D C.G. to the rescue!

The head was made in 3DS Max. The skin texture was composed in Photoshop from several photos from the 3D.SK human photo library. The skin texture was then de-saturated and the irises and lips re-coloured red before being mapped back onto the 3D head and then under-lit.
The hair was comped in afterwards and if you look closely it is a bit poor in the cutting out department.

Initially Margaret thought the face was too pointy and hard looking so with the aid of soft selection and several ffd modifiers the lower face and nose was shortened, the jaw line softened, the face shape made more round and "innocent" and the lips were reshaped.

I hope you will agree the end result was worth all the effort.

Here is the link to the book. Its a good one :-)

More covers here

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Max 2 Maya II

Well, it had to happen. I have become a Maya head.

We are working on a Redux (HD update) of a previous Rebellion game at the moment and I have had to go back to using Max... and I keep getting all the keyboard shortcuts wrong, have forgotten how to navigate and keep looking for tools that aren't there and forgetting about the ones that are.

On a more interesting psychology note, I am slightly ambidextrous due to RSI in the past and it turns out that if I work right handed, my muscle memory is Maya but if I go left handed (never operated Maya left handed) it turns out I automatically use the Max keyboard shortcuts so if I flip my brain my muscle memory is Max.

How weird is that!

Anyhoo I will be updating the Max 2 Maya page with some more hand hints.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Goodwood 2016

Hip hip hooray and aPip pip to you all!
I have finally started to procass the photos from Goodwood 2016. I have put most of the half way decent aircraft photos up, the cars and re-enactors will follow soon.
The Battle of Britain Memorial flight photos cam out rather milky but the Blenheim Mk1 P51D and Spitfire Mk IX ones came out well.
For more information

Here is a taster of a few of what is on the photos page.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sniper 4

So, now it has been announced officially I can let on that for the last year I have been a level monkey (yup, that is what we call ourselves) on Sniper Elite 4 Italia - or Morally Bankrupt Shoot 'em in the Head 4: Italia as I like to call it.

I have been working on the final level with two other artists; Wiggz is lead and Andrea is texture and materials genius. Apparently I still cannot show any images of my work "in case you get poached" - like that is gonna happen... I am not being down on myself or my skills its just that I have also been working with a very talented VFX house called Gelato FX based in Manchester who have been using the Asura game engine for sequences in the upcoming "Greatest Raids Series 2" telly series that is going out around Christmas I think on the National Geographic Channel.

Series one had the CG bits done by Antimatter Games in Cornwall using an old game engine, for series 2 they wanted a new effects house and an engine that was a little bit more up to date...

I have worked in TV graphics in the past but spent the last 15 years in games. It was intriguing to find how much the technique and tech of VFX and Games has diverged even though they use the same basic tools.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Some giggles

As you may know, I sometimes have issues with dear old Maya. Our T.D. at work knows this and sent me this mime...
It is so funny because it is true... ;-)

Here is the link  http://cgmemes.blogspot.co.uk/
And my favourite

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Canon SX40 HS Bridge Camera

I have always loved Canon cameras, they just work. Two years ago we decided to upgrade from an IXUS 75 to a SX40 "bridge" camera. If you are wondering what on earth a bridge camera is, it is a digital half way house between an instamatic (IXUS) and a SLR (EOS) type camera. In other words it bridges the two worlds.

I dont know about other bridge cameras but the SX40 promises so much and delivers on everything it promises, only, like a wish from a genie it grants the wishes in ways you don't expect. Pretty much anything you want this camera to do, it can do. Just badly.

It has a great zoom... but a terrible autofocus
It has 20 megapixels... but noisy jpeg compression
It has manual focus... on a painfully slow camera back mounted scrolly wheel thing.
It has user controlled white balance... that it always gets wrong at the first attempt.
It has flash fill in... that is over bright
You can correct most of these things with manual effort, but they will all be lost again if you go to automatic mode and then back out to manual again.
One thing you cannot fix is that the chromatic aberration filter (hides errors caused by the number of lenses in the "lens" and colour de-fringes high contrast edges) works by removing certain colours from the image, so purples either tend towards or actually become, blue. Not good for flower photography...

Here is a perfect example of how awful this camera is. The helicopter is static. I am static, the exposure is 1/250th and the zoom is 150mm. Camera shake correction is always on. This shot should be perfect. Judge for yourself (click on the image to enlarge).

Here is another example where the auto focus defaulted to a mid setting when the subject was at "infinity"

I have had some good shots out of this camera, but they take real effort.
On the good side, the results of the shoot were so poor I gave up on the photography about half way through the show and watched the rest with the Mk1 Human Eyeball. A much more rewarding experience :-)

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Fourth paperback book cover

Good News Everyone (as Professor Farnsworth of Futurama would say).
I now have four cover designs in print.
"The Women of the English Civil War" by Margaret Cooper Evans is now available in paperback.
Margaret was photographed over 3 hours in four different 17th Century guises, I then used Photoshop to combine the best images, scale, colour balance and add sunlight and shadows to the two images that were taken when the sky went out. The shadow is faked in Photoshop and the background is a photograph of a painting of the Great Fire of London that can be found in the Museum of London.

There are 40 images inside. Most are photographs taken by myself or the author. I then touched them up and made them print ready.

For those interested there are the three covers for Abbadon called
"Century of the Soldier" and "Monarchies of God" by Paul Kearney. I also created the elements for "Uprising: Heirs of the Demon King" by Sarah Cawkwell (though a designer at Abbadon put them together in a better arrangement than I did, so kudos to them!)

Just realised. I didn't blog about that cover, so here it is.

The crown is a computer graphic made in 3DS Max. The flag was originally created by Abbadon and given to me to make a high res version then I put it on a latice and used a cloth simulation and wind effector to get the ripples (that can barely be seen)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Halloween in Overdown: The fifth Hilary Long book cover

Halloween in Overdown (Part 1)

We took a range of photographs at Charlecote House a month before Easter. There was a range of brilliant squashes and pumpkins in the garden shop and it is one of those that makes the background.

There was quite a bit of re-touching and copying of pumpkin elements from some of the other photos.
On a separate image of a skull (cribbed off the internet) I drew over it to make an evil skull. This was then copied over the pumpkin and the blending mode changed so that it darkened and made it look like the pumpkin had been carved but not lit from the inside.

Since the character this represents smokes a cigar, the last element is a c.g. cigar and smoke effect done in 3DS Max with the smoke being comped from a photograph.