First blog post

Hi, this is my introductory post to this blog. I am Rachael Wingate, a NextGen student who is studying animation, 3D modelling, games design, programming, concept art and VFX. My main areas of interest are animation and 3D modelling, because it is my dream to become an animator, and my ultimate career goal would be to become a professional 3D animator. I expect that this course is really going to challenge me, I am completely new to all of the software and I know that the standards are really high and industry driven, however I am excited to take on this challenge and learn along the way. I love to be challenged, and I can’t wait to learn more about all of the above subjects.

Final post – Portfolio review, and end of year 1 summary

This morning I presented my portfolio, and overall I feel like it went quite well. The presentation itself was nerve-wracking, however I managed to get through it without being too harsh on my own work, because this is where I fell short last portfolio check.

Portfolio feedback

I received some mixed feedback, because my portfolio was admittedly very biased towards animation and 3D modelling, and therefore received quite a lot of constructive criticism for other things. Hopefully I’m not misquoting any of this, but here is the feedback.

  • My ident animation could still use some improvement, mostly for the lid of the cup, but overall I need to keep animating and improving my existing work to get better at it. My walk cycle can be worked on over the holidays, and I should maybe try animating ballet movements that I am familiar with.
  • I still need to make my VFX project, because ultimately there was nothing to review for this in my portfolio without it, so I need to make something for that ASAP, and submit it in time for the extended deadline.
  • My existing gesture drawings are a good start to this form of art, however I should experiment more with replicating the flowing movements. Focus less on the body, and more on the action lines and overall movement itself.
  • Experiment with new art styles, trying new styles will broaden my horizons and help me develop my own art style. Stray away from what I know for a while, and try new styles.
  • More content based on games design is needed. I should next time add content from either my walking simulator game, my spaceship game, or ideally a game that I have made in my own time.

Overall, I am very happy with this feedback! I completely understand why I need to up my game with VFX and games design, because those sections of my portfolio were really lacking quality content. I am overjoyed with the feedback I received for animation and 3D modelling in particular, because these sections are overwhelmingly positive, and I am also very happy with the concept art feedback, because this was mostly positive too.

Overall progress

My progress over this last year, in my opinion, is amazing. At the start of this year, I knew absolutely nothing about 3D modelling, and I was very new to coding, and now I think that those areas have improved immensely. VFX has always been a tricky part of the course for me, however I think that it is something that I am still gradually improving on. My art style itself has improved a lot since the start of this year, there wasn’t too many examples of this in my portfolio, however I can draw proportions much better now. My animation knowledge at the start of this year was limited to a couple of the principles of animation, however now I have a much better understanding of theory, and have learned how to animate with Maya, which feels like a tremendous improvement.

Chosen discipline

Next year, I would like to specialise in animation mostly, because animation is something I feel very passionate about. I have wanted to be an animator since before I even started the course, and throughout the course I have really enjoyed learning more about animation and actually trying my hand at 3D animation. I realise I still have a long way to go with animation, but it is something I never want to give up on. I have already planned things that I want to animate over the holidays, and planned how I want to develop and improve my existing animations.

Maths exam: Revision notes about FlightController code

I spent most of today revising for the up and coming maths exam. I did some overall revision of a lot of the maths involved in the code for my game, and answered some questions aimed specifically at learning these answers.

Draw the FlightController class out as a Class Diagram

FlightController class diagram

List the different data types used in the code

Float, Vector 2.

Explain the use of an ‘if’ statement

‘If’ statements work so that if a condition is within specified parameters, the statement is true, but if the conditions are not within the specified parameters, the statement is false. This can be used to make different events happen based on whether the conditions meet specific parameters.

Identify one use of Vector arithmetic

Transform code to make a player, enemy, or anything move.

Explain dot products and why they are useful for the navigation of the aeroplane

A dot product performs a series of multiplications with 2 vectors to give a single, scalar value. It multiplies corresponding values from the vectors, then adds all of those values together to make one overall value. This could be used to add the current vector direction to the direction that the plane needs to be at, to work out the angle that the plane needs to turn at.

Analysis of Game Design: Legend of Zelda, Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 

Skyward Sword was released in 2011 for the Nintendo Wii. Although Twilight Princess was the first Zelda game to feature motion controls, Skyward Sword really pioneered the use of motion controls as a game mechanic. Although Twilight Princess required you to swing the remote to attack, and use the remote to aim arrows, Skyward Sword went one step further, and included Motion Plus to “accurately” swing in the direction you swing the remote, and used puzzles and weapon mechanics that required precise remote controller movement to perform.

The Legend of Zelda series as a whole targets a wide range of audiences, because the game is so accessible that anyone of any age can enjoy it. The themes of the game are quite simple, mostly revolving around friendship, responsibility, destiny, and growing up. The friendship between Link and Zelda is unusual for a Zelda title, but their adorable, unlikely friendship can appeal to anyone, and pretty much anyone can read between the lines and tell that Link and Zelda are childhood sweethearts. Link  is faced with immeasurable responsibilities in Skyward Sword, and when the story takes sad turns and Link can’t accomplish his responsibilities and protect Zelda, Impa weighs down on him harshly, and this is a theme that practically anyone can relate to. Destiny and fate is a staple theme throughout the Zelda franchise, and this game is no different, except this time, the characters have stronger obligations and links to their fates, and because of this, the game’s story is much sadder and more painful than other titles, because the friendship between Link and Zelda is so strong that when they inevitably get separated and figure out their fates, it is legitimately painful to see them get ripped away from each other. Similarly to the theme of fate, growing is also a big theme in this game. Again, a lot of Zelda titles are based around themes of growing up or growing spiritually, and Skyward Sword features both. Link grows into a more confident character, grows as a swordsman and a knight, and grows spiritually as he endures the Spirit Realm trials, and everyone can appreciate and understand growing up.

The games design in Skyward Sword receives mixed reviews from fans, some fans love Skyward Sword, but it still receives a lot of negativity from fans, mostly because of the disenchanting motion controls. Nintendo brought out new software and hardware purely to improve the controller’s motion controls, and this game was one of the pioneer games to feature the new hardware, because it only works if the motion plus is attached to the remote. However, the game’s heavy reliance on this occasionally flawed hardware soured the reception for a lot of fans, because the calibration was easily knocked by players flailing the remote around, ultimately making it a flawed invention. In game fight sequences were true to the Zelda series, as fights are real time, however this made it more infuriating for players, because combat became really hard when the remote’s calibration went wrong, making that the main reason why combat was difficult. The boss battles are formulaic to most Zelda titles, requiring the new item you get from that area to beat them, however many items in Skyward Sword feature the use of motion controls to master, such as the beetle (which is essentially a drone that link can fly for a few seconds to collect small pickups or knock switches), and the Gust Bellows. Another thing that soured this game for a lot of fans was the assistant, Fi. A lot of fans don’t like Fi, because they say that she holds the player’s hand throughout the whole game, and patronises the player, and this is especially true when the batteries run out of the Wii remote. The environments in Skyward Sword are beautiful, the graphics and art style is inspired by the Impressionist art movement, and the landscapes very well reflect this art movement. The Faron woods is filled with lush greens and blues, the Lanayru desert looks barren, but with the flick of a switch can look as life filled as the forest, and the volcano looks daunting and intimidating as it towers over the Eldin province. Overall, Skyward Sword received very positive reviews from game reviewers, and I myself love this game, despite the finicky controls. The story is strong, and I personally love this game a lot.

Cartoon Character design: Eryth Myrrah

For a long time, I have wanted to create a Victorian character inspired by the work of Lovecraft, and recently I made that dream a reality. I needed to add some diversity to my concept art, and a cartoon styled character felt like a fun way to do it, so I decided on a chibi art style, and thought up some backstory for the character.

This character is called Eryth Myrrah. She is a Lovecraftian-inspired ghost hunter, and she is an angel who studies ghosts, undead, and the final moments before death, in order to avenge a lost loved one. She puts herself in harms way and acts rashly in order to study more effectively, but deep down is haunted by her dangerous studies, however, she hides it with an upbeat and lighthearted exterior. I wanted to create a fallen angel, not in the sense that this character is a demon, but just in the sense that this angel is no longer a good, lawful angel. She has committed crimes, murdered based on vigilante justice, and carried out many grotesque experiments to become a ghost hunter. I wanted to make a cute looking character with a dark Lovecraftian backstory, I just love the idea of an angel conducting dark experiments in attempt learn about ghosts and undead.

I like doodle pages, so I decided to make a doodle page for Eryth with a variety of poses and expressions. ( I haven’t got a scan yet, so this picture will have to do. I will also add colour to this, and bring her to life a bit more). I chose her colour palette so that as a being, she looks light, however her clothes are supposed to reflect that she is fallen, and now experiments with darkness.



VFX project: Planning and filming

I spent today planning for my VFX project. I made my plans and risk assessments, and then set off with my friends and started filming on location at Hylton Castle, because most of the group wanted to film there. I then started to panic that my footage couldn’t be filmed there, so I filmed some backup footage incase I couldn’t get around to my originally intended project.

I originally planned to for my project to be based on Silent Hill, and my plan was to film a pan shot of a room and then edit the room slowly turning dark and make the walls cover in darkness and change like the walls in Silent Hill, because I like horror games and the idea of making  environmental changes appeals to me most. I made a basic risk assessment and plan for this project

Environment project plan

Then, when we were filming at Hylton Castle, I got worried that I didn’t have any footage, so I filmed a short clip based on a cutscene in Persona 3 where the protagonist shoots themself in the head to unlock their persona. I am interested in playing the Persona games, so I figured this was relevant, however this is currently a backup plan, because it doesn’t feel wise to have footage in my portfolio of me shooting myself in the head, and I am not 100% sure on how to go about this, however here is some planning and a risk assessment, incase I decide to go ahead with this project.

Persona project plan.PNG

Eventually, I will make some storyboards for whichever of these projects I decide to go ahead with, however I will probably include this in an update to the post.

High Poly Sledgehammer Asset: Low and high poly models

Over the past 3 weeks, I have been working on making my sledgehammer model in Maya. I never got around to making separate posts each week, so for convenience I will just make one big post about my progress on this

I initially started off by making a low poly model. To do this, I got my scaled concept sketches of the hammer, and used image planes to make a set up that would make it easier to design the hammer. I then created a cylinder, changed the subdivisions to 8, and extruded faces to make the main part of the hammer. I then used edgeloops to make a smaller section in the ‘middle’ of that main part of the hammer, and extruded out the handle part. After that, I extruded the small part out of the top and merged the vertices to make a small diamond for detail.

Low poly sledgehammer creation.PNG

I then UV unwrapped the model in preparation for normal mapping. outUV.png

I then duplicated the model, and began working on a high poly version. Initially, my plan was to sculpt some scratches, dents, or engravings into the model itself, but I couldn’t work this out properly and didn’t want to risk damaging my model for now. I decided to just bevel some edges on the model so that it would look neater.

I then tried to bake the high poly model onto the low poly model, and this was difficult. I followed the steps, and actually managed to make a normal map. I played around with the hypershade settings, and I think I managed to apply it to a lambert. I then decided to make some renders of the untextured model, because so far any renders are better than none.


Looking at these renders, I think something is wrong with my normal map, but this shouldn’t cause any problems. These renders have the normal map on, and the edges are very prominent, so it looks kinda weird but it’s worth showing.

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So far, I am quite happy with the progress that I have made on my model. I’m really surprised that I actually managed to make a normal map, this is the most advanced modelling technique that I have used that has actually worked out right. I like the way my model looks, I am slightly disappointed that I couldn’t work out sculpting, but some good textures can make up for that. My next step is to make some textures for this sledgehammer.