Monday, 30 April 2012


The following are all sources of infomation used in my gallery, weather for facts & statistics, images to base my concepts off or for specific articles, infomation on paleoanthropologists' research and finds or tutorials for UDK:
  •  MuseĆ© de neanderthal, Dordoigne, France
  • Le MuseĆ© national d'Historie naturelle, Paris, France
  • Natural History Museum, London, England
  • BBC's walking with Cavemen, TV series.
  • BBC's walking with Beasts, TV series.
  • climate change in pre-history by William J. Burroughs
  • BBC's Eye-to-eye with your ancestors by John Lynch and Louise Barrett


 So overall I'm very much in two minds about how this project has turned out. In terms of how much I planned the project, there's no question that I did my research, but I felt as though I tried to take on too much. During the production, what I was producing, for the most part, was how I wanted it to be, but keeping up with the amount of work I'd given myself proved difficult and really showed through most during this stage.

Looking back at the planning, I really took it head on, well in advance, taking advantage of the fact that I was living in France before this project stated. I visited museums "musee de neandurthal" and excavation sites and really got down the facts and figures that I needed. When I came back to the UK, I followed through my research, visiting the natural history museum in london and filled out the gaps with books and online research.

When It came time to actually planning the level out: whiteboxing and doing all my concepts, my research really showed through. particularly with how I wanted each species to look and the kinds of assets I wanted to definitely be in my level. I quickly had an idea of how I wanted the lighting to be and got straight into combining all these factors and blocked out thelevel in UDK. However, when It came to writing up my technical spec, and asset list, I soon realised that with the number of assets I would need, that I'd given myself way too much. Luckally, I had accounted for this possibility already and knew exactly which rooms I could and couldn't cut out. In the end I ended up reducing the size of my level by 50%. 

With the technical spec submitted and uploaded to this blog, ( I set about working my way through the asset list. Once again though, Even though I had a plan, more crash began to show as I realised that I had given myself too many assets, and had to cut some out of the list. It's not that I couldn't model the assets, Only that I probably wouldn't be able to texture them. Texturing is most definitely my weak point and can take me up to 3 times as long as it would to model an asset.

When getting my assets under way, I started off with the busts and skulls, which to be fare, I did take to long on, but they're probably the most successful parts of my level. That and my Dinofelis skeleton. Once I had those done I came to the most problematic area of my FMP, the display boards. For the infomation there was no question that I had enough infomation to fill the boards. The problem was that half of my research was in French. It took a massive amount of my time to translate all that research, and then type it out and make into into a display board format. In addition, Once I added the boards to the level, they couldn't be read. Initially, i thought that a 512 texture sheet was generous, but It wasn't enough for the text. It was only readable at at least 1024x1024. This meant that I would either have to have a level full of illegable writing, re-design my museum to not have writing or go beyond, well beyond, my texture budget. I chose the latter, purely because having no writing seemed completely unbelievable and I didn't have enough time to redesign my level; which would result in a loss of planning marks. In the end my overall texture size came to, 280mb. The biggest flaw in my planning process. Probably should have tested the size that each sheet would need to be before I tried to put each one into the level.

In any case, the rest of my asset modelling went mostly to plan and was within my triangle budget.The only other difficulties I had was with my neanderthal proportions, and changing in lighting between different production levels. Overall, looking at what I have and what I initially planned, particularlly with the last room, It's obvious that I initially intended to have much more assets than what I had. The final room feels empty in comparrison to the other rooms, and there are obvious spaces where there should have been archways or doors into other rooms, which because of my display boards, I didn't have time to change.

Overall, despite all my planning, and my outcome being largely very loyal to what I intended, I can't help but feel that If I had just planned a bit more, the overall outcome would have been better and I could have set a more realistic set of budgets for my intended goal.

last few additions

Just a collection of the last few things that I've skulpted and added to the level. and I guess that it, done...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Neanderthal done

Neanderthal character model is now rigged, skinned and posed. The plasticy feel i was going for came through fine and the dead eye isn't anything to worry about on this kind of model.
NB: lighting needs to be re-built

Friday, 20 April 2012

Neanderthal part 4

So I've got all the maps baked out, and textures pretty much done. Took longer than I thought because I had problems in Xnormal with the cage not fitting and then when i did get it to fit, it gave me a load of artifacts all over the texture which took me hours to get rid of.  Then when it came to applying the texture and making sure it looked ok, half the texture just decided not to show up, and I couldn't work out why...

So the only way I could see if anything worked out was by importing the mesh and textures into UDK and this is my current character,

There's no lighting on ir or anything yet, but need to sort out the buggy eyes, the head still needs shrinking and the hands need work too. there are other things like remaining artifacts still around but overall this has turned out ok for it's purpose.

I've also started putting alphas on but I'll probably finish that over the weekend.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Neanderthal part 3

Ok so I diceded that It would be much easier and quicker for me to just make all the seporate parts that I made in max and make them all one mesh, and work on them as one, but then use a larger texture sheet. Purely because I don't know how to use multisub-objects in UDK and simply don't have time now to work out how to.

I didn't go crazy with the amount of topology, I only went as far as 1.25~ million triangles in Zbrush, mainly for exporting and baking time. I'd like to have this infomation as ambient occlusion, cavity and normal maps by tomorrow but with my therapy in the middle of the day I need to keep work time as short as possible, so I can move onto other things. I do ofcourse intend on adding alphas for the hair and for in parts but with them being expensive in terms of memory I need to be conservative with them.

Also, THE HEAD...arrrgh. I'm going to have to scale it a bit in max. I'll bear in mind that it still needs to be bigger than a human head but gosh, it's just too big atm.  

Neanderthal part 2

The next stage after making my naked Neanderthal was to put clothes on it. It's clothes would have been crude hide cuttings strapped to the limbs and body of the Neanderthal so with each section I tried to get this across.
Hide jacket

Hide Gauntlettes

Hide Boots

Generic pelt, most likely a wolf pelt

Hide greaves


The whole upper body was pretty much designed based on this easlier concept it did, and the lower half on earlier sketches of what I wanted the overall image to look like.

Next stop Z-brush.