Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Fresh eyes

Howdy everyone!

Today I wanted to say a few words about the importance of "Fresh Eyes". 

What I mean by fresh eyes is the phenomenon that most artists experience of becoming slowly blinded to the flaws and mistakes of a project over time. This usually happens when you have been spending long periods of time working on an image or, in my case model.

I recently experienced an acute case of "blindness" while I was painting the texture for the Chest pack of my spaceman character. Yesterday I posted my progress on the colour map of my model after painting heaps of detail around the edges of wear and tear. I was pretty pleased with it at the time and had become blinded to the (I realise now) pretty clear flaws in the texture. 

Fortunately a good mate sent me a message praising my efforts (you know who you are, thanks for the critique!), after he had done praising me, I ask for his frank appraisal of my work.....

I got back a 3 paragraph concise description of what was lacking in the render and therefore needed to do more work!

After I had, had a quick cry. I took another hard frank look at my render and I had to agree that all of the areas that my friend had pointed out where completely correct and on the money.

For those of you who have not yet seen yesterday's post, here is where it was; as of 5pm yesterday.

Yesterdays flawed render.
After a day of work to address the notes that I had recieved, here is where it is now.

New and vastly improved render.
The lighting in the image has not changed at all, all of the improvement in the colours and textures are a result of lots of tweaking to the shader and the texture maps.

And with out further ado here is a breakdown of the suggestions I received, the main areas of concern are marked in the origional image in green:

Areas where more work on the textures and shader where needed.
A - The collar that the helmet attaches to was a bit bland in the original render. Admittedly I had not yet started to think about it as I had been concentrating on getting the shell of the chest pack textured and had been pouring all of my efforts in that area.

As a result I have now separated the shell from the collar using a layered shader. Using the same method as the shading network for the body is set up. The Shell has a Blinn material and the Collar is using a Phong material with a tonne of facing ratio!

B - The feedback on this area of the render was;

"Taking some of the scratches towards the edge so that its not so uniform along all the the edges, currently goes, scratch marks > space of good paint > scratch marks." 

I had completely overlooked this. I had been working on the assumption that there was a groove running along the gap inbetween each of the panels of the shell. My thinking at the time was that the paint would have been protected in these areas resulting in less wear. Looking at it again this morning, I realised that my friend was right. It was far too uniform and needed more chaos and randomness around all of the edges.

C - The specular also needed some love, I received the following little tidbit;

"Breaking up your specular as well with some noise of some sort (not just with the bump) could be a bit of an extra tidbit. So the healthy texture has some irregular specular as well."

To get rid of the CG'ness of the specular I have broken it up using a custom painted texture that is a little more grainy than just a flat uniform colour. As my friend has suggested I have also added heaps of subtle bump information which I had not yet gotten to at the time. In the end I have used 3 bump maps, one for a nice grainey bump texture all over, one to raise the level of the stripes of paint and lastly one to create the groves for all of the main scratches and dings in the metal surface.

The last little bit of feedback I got was on the properties of the material itself;

"Not sure if the pack is metal or plastic? or metallyplastic? or plasticy metal? lol but if its more metally you could maybe reduce difffuse and push up spec a bit so theres more contrast. but sometimes alot of those properties are light driven."

Again I had glossed over the fact that my material really did not look like it was made of any definative element. All I had to do here was to tweak the specular sliders and bit and hey presto it was looking more like a painted metal surface.

I am lucky in that I have several people who I look up to and ask for criticism and advice on making my art better. 

If you don't have anyone like that then another good way of getting "Fresh Eyes" on a project is to down tools and get out and about for a few hours or even as long as overnight. When you do get back to the project you will find that you will be able to see most of the flaws in your work.

If you are working on a 2D piece of art then a handy trick I have learned is to flip you canvas around, or to look at your drawing from the back (through the page) this also has the effect of changing your perspective on the image and giving you those "Fresh Eyes".
I hope to have all of the texturing completed at some point tomorrow (I have a day off because it is ANZAC day here in NZ) so, yay I get to spend more time getting this guy looking even cooler!

Lastly I would like to say a big thank you to everyone (you know who you all are!) who has been giving me good constructive feedback and encouragement, it means heaps to me to be able to push myself beyond where I have gotten before and better myself at my craft.

As always thanks to everyone for reading, and keep your eyes peeled for more updates.

Take care,


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