Happy First Crash Day!

General / 20 August 2021

A year ago, Maya crashed on me for the first time. 

A year goes by so quickly, and I'm grateful to you for helping me come so far. I've had a hard time putting into words without feeling cheesy, the emotion I get when I think of the awesomeness of the 3D learning community, and also of my family, and friends, and the artists who are long gone who figured out things like chiaroscuro, or perspective, or even the creators of procedural texturing and real time game engines. Thinking back on the day my mother stayed up late into the night programming the Commodore 64, sending a small boat floating up and down the screen, "Look what I did!" she said to my dad after hours of hard work, "Look!"

"Wow, that's amazing!" he said, "Now what?"

And because my mother didn't have a drive on which to save her creation, they powered it off and the boat is left only in my memory.

It is small victories, and small failures in life that stack up eternal, and, I know to my core that I stand on the shoulders of giants.

So when I say thank you for helping me grow, it seems barely enough. Thank you.

Shiny roof = no lumpy roof

Work In Progress / 14 August 2021

I'm excited about the roof, but let's face it...I had the most fun blocking out the floor lamps on the landing. :D


The roof is shiny because I set the material to Blinn to help identify lumps. While I don't mind lumps in my mashed potatoes, I do mind them on my organic curvy roof. 

  I admit, this entire time I've been dead set on working macro to micro...and I wanted a break so I put some TLC into these enchanting floor lamps.

  I also, have a lovely modular floor started.  Sculpting in ZBrush is starting to feel like riding a bike. Subdivision levels are making sense now.

Lovely Modular Floor

So far this Environment Art for Unreal class has been pretty helpful, it seems to tie a lot of the pieces together in a way that sticks. Either that or I'm getting that sweet sweet muscle memory.

Happy modeling.

Divination Moon Shop Update

Work In Progress / 06 August 2021

Extruding the roof highlighted some non-manifold geometry hiding in the rafters ;) To that end I cleaned up the roof and adjusted so that the two roof pieces fit together now. I've decided to let the two roof pieces smash into each other. I believe that will give me more control of the texturing later. I can cover the seam up with a strip of trim.

Here is where I'm at in Maya. I included a shot of the roof wireframe. If you have a critique or feedback to help me improve, I'd love to hear it.

Divination Shop Blockout in Unreal 5

General / 03 August 2021

I decided to go with UE5 on this after listening to my teacher Peyton Varney's feedback on his tests so far. He says, overall pretty similar to UE4 with the exceptions of lumen and nanite. I'm still going to design this for games, so high to low poly baking etc.  I've got beautiful hanging colored lights in my concept and am excited to set up emissive materials for them, see how that goes. 

Making progress on the shop.

General / 31 July 2021

My scene block out is finally coming together!

Baking Maps for Games Reading List

General / 25 July 2021

In theory baking maps and UVs is pretty straightforward, especially when it is working as planned. Despite that, some light reading is in order.

Baking Maps for Games Reading List

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The Toolbag Baking Tutorial by Lead Artist at Marmoset Joe Wilson
In-depth with examples. Read iiiit.

UV Mapping Beginner's Tips by RizomUV
In-depth with some nice specific settings info unrelated to RizomUV.
"If you have to stack and flip, make sure to use an FBX export with tangents and binormals checked."

Normal Map Specific

Bit Depth and How Compression Affects Normal Maps by 3D Artist at CG Cookie  Jonathan Lampel
Unity Focus - Dated but helpful

Height Maps vs Normal Maps (Video 03:22)
Illustrated Normal Tangent Space, Object Space, and World Space

Banding Errors

Banding in Games by Mikkel Gjoel

Takeaways for my current Marmoset Toolbag 4 baking project with final render in Unity.

  • Height Map - To ensure that your zero point is 50%, set the min and max values proportionally, for instance, -5 and 5
  • Smooth the cage, get more skew, less crazy edges. Fix skew with skew paint.
  • Try split uvs instead of continuous.
  • Make sure to triangulate your mesh before importing it into Toolbag. (triangulation mismatch causes x-shaped smoothing errors )
  • Right handed (OpenGL) for Unity (handedness can be overridden via the normal map settings in the Baker object by clicking the Flip Y checkbox )
  • Dither Map
  • 8-bit tga, 16-bit tiff (Unity alpha 2020.2.0a13 supports 16-bit formats as of June 2020)
    Baking to a higher bit depth (16-bit) helps to remove banding, and down-converting to 8-bit with dithers (in Photoshop) to more effectively cram the values into the 8 bit space. Screen captures from Bit Depth and How Compression Affects Normal Maps


Technicolor Nightmare

General / 24 July 2021

This is what happens when the distance is off on a bake.

You could stop scrolling now and save some cones in your eyes.


I warned you.

Why? Why did you do this??

Blockout Progress - All dem shapes

Work In Progress / 17 July 2021

Cut out more of my faces to start letting some air run through the shop. 


Environment Art for Unreal 4 with Peyton Varney

Work In Progress / 17 July 2021

I'm excited to be in my latest class at CGMA! Environment art for UE4 with Peyton Varney of Naughty Dog. Huzzah!!

I'm blocking out my gorgeous concept by Lok Du for the first week. 

I'm purposely sticking to the large shapes, if I get focused on the small stuff I will be wasting my time. Here is the progress so far. 

Despite wanting to keep working on it, I'm taking a break to get the fresh eyes effect of blessed sleep. I figure I'll be able to get some feedback and adjust big shapes easier this way.

Yummy baked traincar

Work In Progress / 15 July 2021

I baked my modeled train car today! It took some doing, as I hadn't quite understood the proper way to set up the low poly for a game vehicle. Here is the placeholder texture on my baked low poly,


and the original low to high poly, which I had to heavily modify. I should probably post that instead but it isn't set up yet so you'll just have to see the mistakes (Can you find the ngon on the low poly?)


I learned that XNormal is rough to use if you're new like me, so I bought a perpetual license for Marmoset 4 and fell headlong into baking bliss. I ended up adding a few more triangles to the low poly to get the entry to the cars looking the way I wanted...and did a lot of cleanup. Overlapping of meshes is fraught with danger, you need to be so careful there to prevent confusion when baking.

This is my second attempt at the UVs...the first was, embarrassing, and I'll no doubt tell you all about it, but not today :D To increase the texel density and allow for more detail on the car, I used some mirrored UVs. None of them merge on the axis so there isn't any distortion. I also stacked my UVs for the first time to increase texel density as well. 

I have been busy! What about you?