We had a discussion of what a possible poster for the Witness could look like and I decided to give it a go and propose some ideas to the team.
My goal was to do a quick set of ideas as fast as possible. These are some of the proposals that I mocked up in a couple of hours.
I eventually came up with one that the team was happy about that we’ll probably show at a later date.
Along with the PS4 announcement we have also released our first official trailer for the game!
We managed to get this working in two intense weeks. It was a great team effort and very happy with the feedback we have been getting from everyone.
(Be sure to watch it in HD!)
The new issue of GameInformer is covering the Witness and we decided to share a batch of fresh screenshots showing the latest progress! Have a look at them here:
I’ve been recently asked to do a follow up to my interview on 3DTotal about a year ago just before I moved to San Francisco.
If you are interested you can have a look at it here.
I also had the chance to get some screenshots out showing some of the work I’ve done so far on the “The Witness”.
This is work in progress and, as all game development is, the current results are a collaboration of my work with other very talented artists! Hope you enjoy.
Its been a long time since I posted but working on the Witness we have a blog to share the development of the game (which I find amazing) so my last update was there, sorry for the delay, here it his the version I posted there.
It’s now been over 5 months since I joined The Witness team as an artist and I would like to share a bit of my experience on the project coming from a “big studio” as well as the most recent work I’ve done.
Just before I left my last job I was working as a Lead/Art Director on a marketing driven project focused on selling as many units as possible. On one side I had high level decisions being made by stockholders whose focus is on turning a profit while on the other side there was the development team who truly believed they would be able to make a good game.
Also I was surrounded by schedules, performance reviews, hierarchical titles, producers, human resources, bonus system and all the other corporate systems that eventually dilute the organic process of doing something creative. While I understand the logic behind it I realized that is not the reason why I joined the video games industry and that something wasn’t right.
Now, after these few months, the answers for these questions became clear. Its all based on trust. In this project, all the decisions we arrive at are very organic. Jonathan has a very clear vision of what he wants and the fact that we can see it and believe in it makes it extremely logical and simple.
Our passion for what we do (and what we would probably be doing on our free time if we weren’t being paid for it) gets distilled directly into the game in a very rewarding process.How much and how we give it depends entirely on us and that creates a natural challenge and pressure that most AAA companies cannot provide.
This trust leads to respect and it creates a very unique work environment. This is something that I’ve never seen with all the project management, task scheduling and scrum meetings that try to fix an inherently broken game. I don’t think video games can be produced like an assembly line, at least not games that have something meaningful to say, and I’m glad that I found people that are doing it the right way.
All this may sound trivial but probably 90% of the game developers that I know will understand how big of an issue this is. I still believe big companies can change their ways and make the same profit if not more, but it has to start from the bottom, the people who are hard at work making the games.
As for the second part, I would like to share what we have been trying to do with the many island panels. As you might already know the player has to solve different puzzles using these panel interfaces scattered around the island.
I started my research by looking at what materials they could be made of, what technology they would use and how they would be assembled and how all this could relate with the different areas and narrative of the game.
This first set of images shows some proposals of how the panel screens could possibly look. I tried not to focus so much on the gameplay but more on ideas that could lead to further discussions among the team.
After some solid feedback and a couple of art meetings I was able to understand what was working or not and decided to do a new set of proposals. Also this time I tried to focus on the more technical aspect of getting these panels to work in the game and if the effort we would have to put into them would be worthwhile.
The same amount of work went into the structure of the panels and how they would be assembled. This time, working with the architects gave valuable input into understanding how they would actually be built in the environment and the amount of work required. On this image you can see a screen capture of several prototypes before being tested ingame.
These are usually modelled very fast with just base colors so I can do several iterations until I find something that I’m happy with.
And finally here is how some of them are looking in-game. They are still in concept but by placing them in the correct context makes it a lot easier to understand what is working or not.
Last time I posted in my website was in October last year and there have been a lot of changes since then,so here is a super quick resume of what I’ve been up to…
At the start of January I’ve moved to San Francisco to work with Jonathan Blow on his new game “The Witness” that you can read a bit about here (Kotaku coverage). It has been a great change for me, from Ubisoft’s corporate minded game development to a more challenging and stimulating experience with a small Indie team.
I’ve also been asked to do a small interview for 3D Total magazine that you can have a look here (PDF format) if interested, it goes over my role as Art Director and the issues that I have faced during the last years as game developer.
I’ve always loved videogames and my goal has always been to try and create something meaningful that can elevate this medium as an art form. I felt my work at Ubisoft was getting very far away from that, purely commercial and marketing driven and I hope, with this move, that I’ll finally be able to make a difference and give my skills to something that can actually make a difference.
The city is full of life and the team is incredibly passionate so I’m curious how the next year will develop…
And since I cannot have a art blog without posting images here is the only released screenshot so far of one of the buildings I worked on recently with a before/after comparison. We are working closely with an Architect studio allowing us to build structures that have a really strong aesthetic balance while staying true to the gameplay.
I’m still settling in so it will take me sometime until I can start posting proper updates but please stay tuned!
As I mentioned, here is the updated version of this character. I think this is as far as I will take it. I’m happy with the final result and how the smile reads better.
I still want to come back and refine him but only after I had a big break so I can see what could be improved.
Just got another image showing one of the suits variations. Besides creating the main version of the suits we also had to make a female version and a texture alternative (since its a fighting game 2 players might choose the same character).
The characters had to fit with the Microsoft Avatar regulations, that meant we only had about 4000 polys and lots of restrictions in proportions and silhouette, as usual its a great challenge to try and work around these restrictions to create a unique character.
The other image is a concept for a character. Its a “General”. I wanted to reinforce strong shapes and just key details. The idea is that he should be clearly readable and his personality should be conveyed by his visual details.
I’ve shown it to some friends and got some great feedback so a new updated render will be here soon. Its mostly fixing his expression (the eyes are too sad for someone who is smiling), adding some pockets to the jacket and polishing the folds and changing the glass of wine to a whisky one, more fitting with his personality.
I had the pleasure to work on the really cool fighting game for the Xbox360 called PowerUp Heroes. It just got released so I finally got the approval to show some of the stuff I had a chance to do.
We had to create Super Hero characters that would fit with the Microsoft Avatar’s world constraints and look cool at the same time.
It was a great experience and gave me a chance to be really creative.
The first one is the Lava female character. The male version was already complete so the goal was to try and create a more feminine version of the same concept but keeping the lava aggressive style.
The second one, the cybernetic guy was a great challenge since we never got a final concept for it. I used polypaint to draw patterns on the body until we found a armor design that would work (his back and arms open to release miniguns and rocket launchers). It was great to conceptualize directly in 3D and be able to see it come to live.
We had about 2 weeks to get each one done so there wasn’t much room for re-design.
The last one is a prop I did for the Shaman character!.
So here it is, did some extra tweaks in the anatomy about a month ago. Looked at it again today to clean up eyes and color balance and I’m done with this piece. I can feel my brain is saturated from working on this character and I think I brought it as far as it could go (actually I would redo the hair once again….). On to the next challenge! (click to enlarge)
As promised here is the alien in the 3D Creative of this month!
I really like that I got featured in the Gallery section as the background image and then in a 2 page spread
I’m also supposed to be featured in 3D Artist but the copies in Quebec arrive about a month late so lets see…
And as usual, having the fake hair bothering me I went back and decided to fix it…
As I mentioned I wanted to avoid hair and fur and the pains it brings with mental ray so I decided to use the old school planes method.
And here is the rendered version. I’m quite happy with the results with just a day’s work. I’m still getting some ugly artefacts in her legs that I have to sort out, but apart from that I’m really liking it.
The hair needs further tweaking, mostly color variation and maybe a bit more length. Also now the eyebrows pop out a lot more as “fake”. And yes, I’ll fix the belly button!
I feel this is it for now, fixed most of the issues and calibrated the image as much as I can for now. I like the lighting and painterly feeling but the hair isn’t there yet, it just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest..
I’ve also tried to add more green to balance out the strong red of the hair and working with typography again to place a title, almost like a sequel to “The Interview”. (click on the picture to enlarge)
I’ll also use this post to share the panther work I did that was supposed to be in the same image as her. She isn’t final and I still wanted to work more on the anatomy and expression to push it that bit further but once I realize it didn’t fit in the composition I stopped. (click on the picture to enlarge)
A couple more days of tweaking and getting much happier with the results. I fixed the eyes, the skin shader and overall anatomy/texture. Still need to fix that damn ugly bellybutton as well as the artefacts in the legs. I also feel the hair might need a bit more polish, I wanted it to have that velvet feeling that you almost want to touch it and right now its more squid like…
Here are the 2 current renders, one in Zbrush and the other Max… she could also use a bit of a smile, might re-work the expression too.
First the alien that I showed last week, its going to get published in 2 magazines this month!! 3DCreative and 3DArtist, will take some photos as soon as I receive the magazines.
Also good friend from work has been rigging him for an interesting idea that we came up with, all still very much under wraps.
In the meantime I’ve been going over the girl that I showed before, lots and lots of variations and poses until I decided to add a panther to the composition. I also re-did her haircut to something longer so it would frame her small head better. Here are some of the results:
From the start I wanted a stylized picture and the focus was on anatomy, composition and lighting. But as the render got more realistic, the lack of fur on the panther and the polygonal hair started to pop out. I tried to sculpt the fur in Zbrush but it never looks realistic enough, always comes out with that “statue” feeling to it.
To do this properly I would need to use Hair and Fur for max which I’ve read its a bit of a pain for shadows and compositing with mental ray and not the goal I had for this work.
So….. I’ve removed the panther from the picture (learned a lot about animal anatomy in the meantime) and started to work on the light and composition of the girl alone. The breasts still feel like balloons, something that I really don’t want and haven’t nailed the legs anatomy for this pose yet, need to get some proper reference.
Finally, all these renders, its the mesh from Zbrush in a mid level subdivision so all the little details aren’t showing properly, that is why she is so “washed out”.
Here is a sneak peek at what i’m currently working on.Everything very much work in progress! Inspired mostly by Frank Frazzeta.
Zbrush viewport screengrab
And as for the Alien that I worked previously, here is the final Zbrush screengrab before taking it to Max.
And just received a Frontpage Gallery in 3Dtotal and the Golden Eye award… I never expected such great feedback from the image, really happy
And here it is, the final version! Really happy with the result. (And its top row at Zbrush Central, yay!!!!!)
And for those interested, here is the previous version, it was about to be the final but thanks to some amazing fellow artist I was inspired to try and improve it a bit further.
Here are some more progress shots of the last week of work in the creation of the alien shoot.
I’ve been trying different light setups, adding new props, tweaking material properties and trying to find the right pose and expression to convey the idea of someone thinking on a question while being interviewed.
I finally found the time to re-learn Mental Ray properly. After having an overview of V-ray, I decided to go back to Mental Ray since it comes with 3Ds Max and I’ll be able to use it at work and at home.
After spending the whole weekend going through PDFs and tons of websites (Jeff Patton is definitely on the top of the list in terms of knowledge) I think I’m finally starting to understand how to use it.
My biggest problem was finding the right settings for rendering a high res mesh from Zbrush. Applying the displacement map in a Fast Skin Shader mesh, finding the right grey values and being able to plug a bump/normal for pores and other details.
Here are some of the tests I did with the alien creature. Hopefully I’ll have it complete over the next few days. I’m still not happy with the pose and he still needs more details all around to feel more grounded as a character.
Been working on this guy over the last week.
Trying to improve my skills in ZBrush and Mental Ray. Skin texture was made with polypaint. Quite happy with the current result but not yet finished. (the neck needs some work)
Following my character research last week, here is another attempt. Same as before, 2 days work, ZBrush and Photoshop.
Doing a private project, researching character design.
Zbrush and Photoshop, 2 day’s work.
Quick lunchtime doodle, about 2 lunches, 45 min each. Just Zbrush, listening to music and letting it go.