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.

Fantasy character: Yumea Lorithia updated

Many months ago, I created a character named Yumea Lorithia, and made a post about her here on my blog about my development process for making her. Recently however, I decided to go back and redesign her again, because my art style has changed significantly and I had ideas about things I wanted to change.

Yumea season 2.png

As you can see, my art style has impacted her greatly, however I have changed a lot about her armour, weapons and general design overall. I kept the scarf because it fits her character, however the armour and the sword got a redesign because in my previous art for her they looked bland, and this armour fits her aesthetic more. I wanted the sword to look special because generic weapons look boring, so since her character is based around nature I decided to make her sword look more flowery, and to fit this aesthetic I decided to give her a flower crown, because it makes her look unique. I have also taken to using a specific brush to make a painty background, inspired by the Breath of the Wild concept art, because I think it compliments my new messy art style.

Overall, I am super happy with this new design for her. I rarely have much to show for original character design, so even though the character isn’t new, the new art style was something I really wanted to show off, because I am finally happy with how my art looks as a whole, however the armour, weapon, and overall design change of the character is also something that I am super proud of, because considering that there is only half a year between these drawings, I feel like her design has come a long way.

I have other characters that I have designed but not made posts on, so in the upcoming weeks I may post some redesigns of those too, because the original art of those characters wasn’t too amazing, however I feel like I’m starting to find my feet again with digital art and I have found that I’m spending more of my free time making and redesigning characters, so this feels like a good opportunity to show off that improvement.

Personal 3D Modelling project: Aqua’s Armour (Kingdom Hearts BBS)

Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time making various parts for my most recent cosplay, Aqua from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, and I was having trouble figuring out how to make her armour, so I decided to take some time to make some 3D models of her armour as a way of figuring out a good way to construct it in real life.

I took a few days to make some 3D models for the parts I was struggling to make, which includes her Keyblade Armour (from the top of her sleeves), and her small silver badge (from the intersection of the purple straps).

Making these 3D models didn’t involve any new techniques, but they still feel worth blogging about because I made them not only for cosplay purposes, but also to practice making things with Maya so that I don’t forget how to. Nothing really went wrong while I was making these 3D models, so there isn’t really anything groundbreaking or technical to talk about regarding them. But overall, I’m very proud of these 3D models, because making them with Maya gave me some good insight on how to make them in real life, and how to make templates so that I could replicate them with Worbla.

In the future, I plan to make Aqua’s keyblades for this cosplay, and I think that before I go to construct them in real life, I will likely construct them in Maya first (because this time around it worked out really well to give insight on how to construct these things), so in the future I might make some posts about keyblades or other miscellaneous cosplay parts.

Industry research post 2 – How to get my desired job within the games industry

My desired job within the games industry is to be an animator, and this post is going to contain some of the advice I have been given, and my research into what I need to do to become an animator. I have spent some time researching into university courses over the past few months, and I visited the UCAS exhibition back in June to see what varied universities had to offer.

Main choice

The top of my list so far is Teeside University, because the university itself is well renowned for animation, and lots of industry professionals studied animation there, so this information alone is good to know. After looking into the courses myself, I am most interested in the BA (Hons) Computer Games Animation course because this course covers everything I would ideally love to learn to become an animator. It covers 2D animation and illustration, 3D character animation and rigging, and motion capture, and is specifically aimed at the video games industry, which is my ideal industry to work for. The overall ratings for the course are really good, with 94% satisfaction (at the time of writing), which scores higher than any of their other animation courses. It is a full time 3 year course (4 years including work placement), and the entry requirements involve an interview and presenting your portfolio. I think that this course has everything that I want in order to learn how to be an animator and set me up for the games industry, and so this university takes the top spot in my list of potential universities.

Other potential universities

University for the Creative Arts has potential because they seem to have a good computer animation course, which covers both 2D and 3D animation, along with concept art, story development, and lots of broad areas, however this makes me worry about how much practical animation will be involved. The course involves software that I am already familiar with, Autodesk Maya and Photoshop, so it shouldn’t be too far out of my comfort zone. Graduates of the course have been known to go into companies such as Blue Zoo and Framestore, and the course’s showreel looks very good, so this course could be a good alternative, however the campuses are VERY far away and mostly based in expensive places to live, so this isn’t ideal for me.

Wrexham Glyndwr university’ BA (Hons) Animation course also looks good, and this one is based around 2D and 3D animation, which means that I would get a range of experience and learn more about techniques regarding many forms of animation, however at this moment I don’t think this course has everything that I would want, because Teeside has all of this, and more, so I’m much more likely to go for Teeside. The course requires 112 UCAS points to join, but isn’t the top of my list.

Professional advice

I asked Matt for advice on what to do, and how he got into the animation industry, and his advice was that he made his showreel with all of his best work and sent it to as many people and places as possible through as many social media networks as possible, and that when those places gave him advice on improvements, he would make improvements and show the people the improvements. He also recommended that my showreel be short and only my best work, and that I try to include quirky different things to set mine apart from other candidates, and that I do not stop animating!

Taking this useful advice into account, as I go through University, I will make my showreel and keep on updating it with only my best stuff, and spend lots of my spare time making some varied, different things in attempt to set me apart from other candidates, and I will make accounts on as much social media as possible so that when the time comes to promote my work, I will be able to spread my showreel as much as possible.

Industry research post 1 – Job roles within the video games industry

My desired industry to work for in the future is the video games industry. The games industry has many available jobs, and luckily this course covers most of them. Hopefully this post will cover enough detail on some of the potential jobs up for offer within the video games industry.

Animators – This job interests me most, as I am extremely interested in becoming an animator. This job is responsible for bringing life to characters, making a believable environment, and adding charm to movement and behaviour within a game. This can be within gameplay or cutscenes. Animators work closely with programmers and artists to create the best balance between smooth life-like movements and optimising the platform’s performance.

Concept and Lead Artists – These jobs are mostly centred around designing the game’s visual style, and designing the look of the characters, and environments. Concept artists make the initial art for the game and roughly design characters, environments, and all of the important assets, which then get developed by lead artists into official game art that inspires how everything looks. These artists work closely with all of the 3D art teams, and animators to make sure that all of the visual works fit the game’s style.

3D Artists – This branch splits into many smaller jobs such as 3D modellers, texture artists, and rendering specialists. These jobs consist of creating the assets that will get used in the game itself using software such as Autodesk Maya and 3DS Max to build and make the models. These artists work mostly with eachother, and lead artists so that the game assets fit the official game art and style.

Programmers / Developers – Programmers make and write the code that is used to run the game. There are different levels of programmers, but fundamentally they all share the role of making the code to run and control the game, and making custom codes wherever needed. There are specific specialisms, such as physics programming, AI programming, 3D engine development, and interface and control systems development. Programmers work closely in teams, and also with games designers to make sure that the code will apply properly to the necessary aspects of the game.

Games Designers – Games designers devise what a game consists of and how it plays, defining the core elements of the game, and designing levels and mechanics. They make the story, setting, rules, interface design, and all of the important features relating to the game. Games designers work with everyone and all of the other job roles so that their ideas get through properly, and work properly.

Producers – There are many levels and types of producers within the games industry, but ultimately, producers work on ensuring the successful delivery of the game, and making sure that everything is managed and organised properly. They are the managers of the projects, and they communicate with everyone involved with the projects, and they make sure that everything runs smoothly between all of the teams.

These roles are some of the most important roles within the industry. There are other important roles such as audio engineers, narrative copywriters, QA testers, and technical artists (and many many more), but it would take forever to describe every role in the industry, so I only listed the ones that immediately came to mind. In my next post, I will describe how I plan to try and become a professional 3D animator, and how industry professionals have gotten this job.

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.