Concept Art: Guild Wars 2

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, August 31, 2010 3 comments
I don't really play a lot of video games, but I came across the Concept Art pieces for the upcoming NCsoft game Guild Wars 2 today and I was blown away. I played the original years ago, and this looks like a huge step up conceptually and seems to have a much larger scope.

The accuracy from the concepts to the in-game is also really impressive. Here is the translation into 3D from the shot above.

There are more concept pieces on the game's official site, here:  


Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, August 30, 2010 4 comments
For the last week or so I've been attempting to animate my character, but I've been really struggling. I've mostly been playing around with walk-cycles and trying to get the character to look fluid, but I've not really accomplished a lot. I don't think I have enough knowledge of character animation in Maya to create something worthy at the moment, which is really disappointing as I did want to produce a full animation. I've looked at a few different DVD tutorials, focusing on the one I posted about last week, which has taught me a lot about pose-to-pose animating and the shortcuts that can be taken in Maya- but I'm still having a few problems.

As time is getting short, I've realised that chances are I won't finish the animation (Something I suspected from the start) so instead of letting the work go to waste, I'm going to put this project down to Pre-production and Environment design - getting everything ready for animation. I plan to bolster everything I've done so far (Concept Art, Storyboarding, Modelling, Texturing etc.) to show the first half of production. I will have some animated scenes by the end, just not the whole storyboard. Hopefully I'll be able to finish this one day, when I'm a bit more comfortable with animating.

Principles of Animation

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4 comments
Before beginning to attempt to animate my suitcase I've decided to go back a couple of units to study the principles of animation. In Unit 5: Animation, I had a bit of a rough time, skillwise and timewise and I really didn't learn enough about the basics.

I'm going to watch the following DVD very closely, while sketching out the movements for my animation. I want to really figure out how a suitcase would move, especially if it was in a hurry. I'd rather have a small amount of well-made animation than to finish my storyboard fully with some very dodgy movement.

This DVD goes over all the basic principles as seen in our Unit 5 Bible - 'Richard William's Animatior's Survivial Guide'. Starting with Timing, Weight and Posing and then moving on to the more advanced stuff like exaggeration and squash and stretch. The DVD also is Maya specific, which should be a huge help. I'm going to attempt to knuckle down and pick as much as this up as possible.

I'm hoping to have some character boards, sillouhettes and movement sketches by the end of the week for my character.

I've been drawing some quick guides to help me with the animating. After watching the first few chapters of the DVD I've realised how helpful it will be to have a quick list of poses and where the suitcase needs to be at certain times.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, August 17, 2010 5 comments
Yesterday I finished the book I was reading (The second in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and started to read Seth Grahame-Smith's mashup novel 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. I only got half-way through the original book, I think I lost interest, but with the addition of Zombies I'm sure to make it to the end.

The great thing about the way the zombies have been incorporated is that the original plot has barely changed. In Jane Austen's original, in the first scenes the family attend Mr Bingley's ball at a nearby manor, in this new version, all the relationships, events and characters are identical - except they've all been brought up from birth to wield weapons to slice and bludgeon the long-term 'social nuisance' of the undead.

The part which I recognised the most, is the point where Mr. Darcy rejects Elizabeth just after meeting her. In Jane Austen's original, he takes a liking to her later on but in this version, his mansion is invaded by the undead, and he suddenly notices the graceful way she disembowels and beheads the corpses which break through the window.

"From a Corner of the room, Mr Darcy watched Elizabeth and her Sisters work their way outward beheading zombie after aombie as they went. He knew of only one other woman in all of Great Britain who wielded a dagger with such Grace"

I don't know how the author came up with this idea, but it is genius. It is being made into a film next year, with rumours of Natalie Portman playing Elizabeth.

There also seems to be quite a few more monster re-writes including ' Sense and Sensability and Sea Monsters' and 'Queen Victoria : Demon Hunter' which I am DEFINITELY buying.

Final Modelling

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, August 14, 2010 5 comments
I'm trying to finish the rest of the modelling and texturing this weekend so that I can begin to animate on Monday. I'm not 100% happy with the objects and environments, but if I spend too long on them I won't have the time to focus on the character animation, which I want to try and get right.

I've made a start on the passenger carriages, I'm going to add a lot more detail to them (such as the doors and wheels) and then texture. I've also added in the water-tower. I'm going to play around with the lighting to see if I can improve it.

Developing the Environment

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, August 11, 2010 1 comments
I've added a few more surroundings to the platform to make it more beleivable. Below is the end of the platform, where the suitcase jumps onto the end of the wagon, which then jolts and rolls forward to the bottom of a water-tower. Both need to be modelled.

The tress turned out better than I thought, they are just images of planes. Im sure in the animation they'll take some tweaking, but Im hoping not to have them in shot for too long.


Today I'm trying to figure out how to finish this project on time, which is a struggle as it's my Birthday and I'm more than a little hungover. Maya seems to cure my hangovers though, like the technical version of a fry-up.

I originally planned to put most of my time into Animating in this project, as I wanted to concentrate on putting across the character of the luggage. The planning and envionments have taken longer than I expected which is leaving me with much less time for animating than I wanted. I'm aiming to have everything modelled, textured and ready for next monday, meaning I have about 3 weeks of animating before the huge task of rendering. I still have quite a bit to model including the Passenger carriages, Water-tower and a Wagon but If I crack on it should be fine.

Once all my environments are finished I am going to start animating from both ends (The first and last scenes) meaning if I run out of time, it won't be left open, but the middle content will be lacking. This might be a good or bad idea, Im not sure.

Anyway, a few shots of what I'm trying to finish. The first scene when the train is travelling through the desert needs the most work, lots of ground textures and shurbbery etc to add. 

The platform needs some benches and the surrounding environment also. Lots to be done!


Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, August 07, 2010 4 comments
I've completed a bit more of the storyboarding. These are the 3rd and 4th Pages. I've added in a bit of a joke (an attempt..) The suitcase becomes tired and slows down to a stop after running. It then, while tired, glances to the left where a sign reads 'No Unattended Baggage' the suitcase looks surprised and begins running again. (I wasn't sure how well the boards out this across)

The next part will be where the luggage jumps on a wagon, which jolts it, causing it to roll forward, taking the luggage to the base of the watertower, which he then climbs, using it to jump onto the train's carriage roof.

I keep getting worried about the technical side of the project, which is why now and again I stick a few hours into Maya between storyboarding. I've made a start on the train. I don't want to get too bogged down in the technical details, I want it to have a cartoon-ish style, like my environment. I'm UV Mapping it as I go along and the texturing should be simple as it will be grayscale. I'm using loads of different images as reference, picking out bits I like on different steam trains from the period, so it is not an exact model.

Bit of Progress with the Train, starting to texture it (Just the main body and front so far) I reckon rigging the steam wheels will be a bit of a challenge, but i've looked at a few videos and I think eventually I can work out how it moves. I've then got to stick on a cabin and model the passenger carts.

Another quick update with the train:


Update on Summer Project

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, August 06, 2010 2 comments
Stupidly, I destroyed my laptop a couple of weeks ago while sleeping (strangely the next day I remembered a dream involving Raoul Moat ) Today I've received a replacement from my insurance company, so I can crack on with the project. I have the story fully developed, and am just polishing off the storyboards. Im hoping to have the animatic finished soon. I have been working best I can since then and I have some mock-maya scenes set up. I think the black and white film noir look is working so far, but I reckon it's going to look much better with some post-production in After Effects to make it seem a lot more Grainy.

I keep trying to push the surroundings as much as possible, so I've added a couple of classic Western objects into the story. The luggage jumps on a western-styled wagon before running up a classic water-tower (using the pipe) to board the train. This has made the animation even more ambitious and I reckon the next month or so will be a challenge.

Now I feel that time is against me, so I have started some Maya. Below is the first draft of the Ticket Office but I expect it will look different before the end. I've also made a start on the platform, but it is quite empty at the moment. Im hoping to scrutunise all of this to make sure nothing looks out of place or lacking, but I need to save A LOT of time for animating, which I know the littlest about.

I've also started thinking about my book, I think it will be quite short, as I don't want to ramble on (30-40 Pages) and will be quite image heavy. I'll dedicate the last week of August to get it together.

I've still got some concepts to do, I want to work out the suitcase's character to a better extent before modelling and animating him, same with the female. I also want to sketch out the water-tower before modelling that too.

The style as shown in my first drafts below, is quite simple, I want to concentrate on the animation, and the environment shouldn't need much detail as Im expecting the cameras and characters to move quite fast, so small details won't be seen. I haven't changed the concepts much at all for the ticket office, I've stuck more or less to the original sketches. The Platform I have added a wooden-roof, which I've noticed on all my research, I still have a lot to add to the platform (Benches, posters, luggage, etc)

The way I've been texturing so far is to create the textures in colour, and then desaturate them in Photoshop and tweak the levels / curves. It doesn't take too long and keeps some of the detail of the colour.

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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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