Stalker Trio - Clear Sky

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Mega Uploads


Kel-tec RFB

Pictures from Chernobyl

Building a Scene


Robot Arms


FPS Tutorial

Building a Human

Bolter Model

Junior's Modding Workshop - Virtual 3D Creativity

15 August 2008


In deciding to add a new page on Modding, and 3D Modeling in general, I've taken down some prior entries from other pages of THS and more appropriately placed them here.

While the desire to get into 3D modeling came about about some years ago, with the release of several modifications, and specifically weapons packs, for Rogue Spear, and then later Ghost Recon, it has taken this long for me to get some decent literature on the subject. As I write, I've still not booted into a screen of 3D Studio Max or witnessed the origin for real. Still, my brain absorbs the information necessary to make a healthy beginning into this foray of virtual engineering. And speaking of which, I can already say that a prior appreciation of real world engineering allows me to better understand the texts I've been making my way through.

The world of vector graphics permits you to construct anything you might otherwise create in the real world with wood, metal, cardboard or plastic, in virtual space, and then manipulate it to operate as any mechanical device would, through animation.

While my initial interest in modding computer games came out of the pains to discover a particular game was, while great in and of itself, didn't feature my favourite pieces of hardware - more than a decade on it is evident there are far more uses for the skills of 3D modeling than that. Television constantly bombards us with CGI and animations in advertising. Feature films are released where there is no live action scenes at all, and the video games industry now well and truly outstrips Hollywood in making money through the virtual universes its creators produce. On top of that, architecture now makes full use of virtual spaces to depict either proposed or existing engineering feats of the real world to assist themselves in design or to show their works to clients or those they are contracted to.

Technology now allows structures themselves, as well as effects like smoke, water movement, lighting or even weather to be depicted with such realism you wonder if you're not actually in the real world. But to be able to create these sorts of amazing atmospheres and environments starts with the first step. I've done that now, so its just a case of continuing the journey...

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08 January 2013

Files, Programs... and fun with UT static meshes.

While I need to get down WinRAR or similar to decompress some small applications for this whole jaunt into UT modding, I was able to get The Compressonator today, and do what the tutorial demoed. But rather, I did it with the standard issue assault rifle rather than a character model. The second image shows a slight modification of the texture, put on the mesh. Yes, the Kiwi DPM again, on the forestock this time.

Unreal AR

[ Unreal AR ]

Unreal Kiwi AR

[ Unreal Kiwi AR ]

In order for any new textures to have an effect in-game I think there is a need to make it part of the texture package proper and reintroduce it, rather than just bringing it into the game as a BMP via UnrealEd and the texture browser as normal. Tried several time to do it, but it didn't change the rifle's appearance in-game.

The above link I believe is the best, most comprehensive tutorial online to import your models from Blender into UT2k4. As I mentioned to a mate today there's plenty out there for UDK, and as expected the stuff for the older version of the game is a rarity. Still, it is like learning to drive with an old clapped out bomb, or shoot with a .303 jungle carbine...

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05 January 2013

Recent Adventures in Unreal Land

It has been a long while since the summer of 2008 and my little venture with Design School and my first foray into UnrealEd. But, thanks to an awesome Christmas present I'm back behind the wheel of virtual world creativity. While some of the tutorials aren't so precise, and some differ with different versions of the editor, I've been managing to make my way back to the level of competence where I left off. Movers, triggers, that sort of thing. And I've added water volumes to that as well. Evil pools in which to drown... you know the story.

Worked on Bot Pathing for the first time. It is relatively straightforward, and asides the normal node there are plenty of others which make it easier for bots to navigate stairwells and lifts, and tactical ones like AssaultPath, but most importantly I have to work out how to use GameObjective . Even when they're not set up as well as they might, bots still seem to get around the map easily enough. Oddly I have noticed that they came through the wall when I had set up two stories and started at the bottom level, only having nodes in the upper level.

Going back over my old notes I've made up a new textures package and started putting some in there. UnrealEd only accepts a handful of file types for this, so had to convert the ones I'd prepared to BMP. I suspect UDK has more options. Now I want to go over doing a transparent one, as we were required to do at skool. That is, so for example, it looks like writing on glass. Speaking of which, my attempts at doing up glass, much less breakable glass has yet to see the light.

While I managed to get my own textures into a package, and can put them into the editor, the only problem I've encountered is, I can use a transparency (.tga) and it comes up in the editor fine – but when I go in-game it doesn't appear.


Unreal III, UDK and Static Meshes

I've heard that UDK, which comes with UT3, uses mostly static meshes. This means its even more imperative for me to discover what file type the game uses for its models, so I can export from Blender, convert it to whatever file type is required and import it into the engine. That's really the ultimate goal. It also, as a preliminary step, allows me to export from the game (which I can do already) into Blender, and then modify the character or weapon model, and pop it back into the game.

The Compressonator

The program required to import textures onto game models from Unreal into Blender is The Compressonator. It allows you to convert .dds files which the game uses, into .png which Blender can use. Once again, it is a case of going back the other way when I get to building my own models and need to make the textures to go with them. This aspect, model and texture format is key to the whole venture.

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24 November 2012

Unreal Tournament Editor

I looked over some old skool files and discovered that it was a version/file type issue which meant I couldn't play through the maps I had made in UTEd way back during DESN 104. I only had access to UT99 which uses .unr files. Skool was a newer version of the game and editor, using .ut2 files for UT2004. Played through the old tutorials and want to bring myself back up to where I was. Still, its just a muscle memory thing only since the real need is to be using something more up to date. Was really happy with what I achieved at Uni, but needs to be able to be put into purposeful application otherwise its all a bit of a waste of time.


It takes dedication and devotion of time to get to that point of getting something you can show to a prospective employer or someone who might back your commercial enterprise. Since Hammer SDK is online through Steam it really isn't practical for me, without the Internet or a decent system at hand. Plans for getting some useful real world skills, and putting the modelling skills into an engine are going to have to be put on hold for sometime.

There's more for me in the creativity rather than the playing of games, which is the same for literature in that sense. When I think what happened with Counter Strike, and other works, it reminds me that its doable. Just comes down to the logistics of it all. Commitment isn't the issue.

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12 October 2012

Hammer SDK

Having been drawn to the Hammer SDK (Source Development Kit) I quickly went about looking up some YouTube videos and websites for tutorials even though I don't have the Net, Steam or PC (that's just me). There is even a soundtrack you can download. By Joel Nielson. Not bad, especially when its time to go without lyrics for a while.

The first thing I noticed about the SDK was how similar it is to Unreal Tournament Editor, which I was introduced to at Uni on my Design course. Learned so much, created several levels for Unreal. Just want to be able to properly utilise those skills for something tangible, if you understand me. Hate having skills I can't apply practically.

So Hammer will allow me to take that knowledge and experience and transpose it into a modern engine. This one is what Half Life 2, Half Life Source, Counter Strike Source (both updates of the original game and mod respectively, into the new engine, with all the new physics) and Left 4 Dead are built in.

Its time soon (once my final draft is in) to get a handle on the basics, then build on that to make something more useful, providing a significant outlet for my Blender skills.

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09 July 2012



[ KiwiMech ]

After Friday, and just being burnt out from writing and reading, decided to do a little more modelling. Though I have planned to do a lot more for my mates, only a little has come to pass but in a day and a bit, I came up with the first rendition of a Mech of one sort or another. While I prefer legs over wheels, tracks will always come first, so thus, we have bi-catapill-oid if you will. Will be doing quite a bit more down this line, and also a purple and yellow robot dude... Want to animate both, and the Mech will no doubt get a couple of smoke stacks that actually smoke, and maybe a wind-blown banner. Had a Cadian shock trooperish walker in mind initially I suspect.

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05 July 2012

3D Sculpting, Unity 3D and brushes for texturing.

Sculpting, rather than box modelling is another way to get things done, when you're doing biologicals, like human heads. A mate put one up a while back online for me to look at and I was thoroughly impressed. It took me until now, and only after I walked into a few videos via a different search, to get some stuff on it. I will put up images when I have something worthy to show.

Unity 3D

This is a Open Source Game Engine, which can utalise Blender models, via saving in . Being mindful I have only very limited experience with Blender GE, this one, could be easier to use. Either way, it is a tool, and plenty of good stuff has already been made using it. Also, while I love the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. world, the quality of documentation and tutorials out there for modding it are very low. The few times I've been into the SDK its been a horror story of its own. Perhaps the game will serve as inspiration, and it will simply be a case of using other tools to produce a similar experience, somewhat further down the well beaten track. It would be nice just to be able to put one of my own models into the game but its simply not intuitive and most certainly hasn't been brought up to date, which goes against the developers' original voiced intention of making it mod friendly.

It shows you are making progress when you can guess what a tutor is about to say in what is happening.

A guy I watched said you don't want to be using pictures from say Google, for your textures, since they have content. You are best to make your own textures using Gimp or Photoshop. You can go to the likes of Brusheezy in order to download countless brushes to make them. So, for example, rust would be a classic for metal, wood, rock, sand and so on. This is also a good place to ensure you understand unwrapping and getting those textures on your model, whether it be a rifle, a character, some armour, or, in the case of the tutorial I watched, a section of gate with portcullis spikes.

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27 June 2012

Introducing Character Animation with Blender

Introducing Character Animation with Blender
Tony Mullen
Wiley Publishing, Inc. (2007)
ISBN: 978-0-470-10260-2

After some months, and having gone through a little of it, due to getting it out from the library, I have finally picked up my own copy. A lot cheaper than I thought, this is going to be a serious asset, and perhaps, in terms of character modelling and animation at least, be considered the Blender Bible. With skool and focusing on the scriptwriting side of things there won't be much time for developing my Blender skills for a while, but at least it will be there when I do have the time to properly commit to it. My focus will always be writing, creating worlds and character; this is simply a bonus.

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17 June 2012

Blender, E3, Vostok Games... and writers in gaming.

Back into Blender

HaZardUS 03

[ HaZardUs 03 ]

Well, only due to this Kid's TV program ex we are doing I'm trying to get back into some Blender. That and wanting to get down some graphics for my mate's website. Well overdue. Doubtful I will get much time to put into it in a proper sense of broadening my horizons and skill sets. Always find though that if I am away from it, unlike writing, it takes a wee while to get back into the swing of it, having to remember some stuff again. Have installed the latest version, which is 2.63a.

E3... and the death of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (2)

If you're not much into gaming, the culture, the industry or what its all about, best you avoid the rest of this post. Considering all what I have to do, I probably should have dodged it too.

It appears that the end of this game was not due to money but something to do with securing rights of the I.P. Which makes sense since some of the development team from GSC Game World have gone off and set up a new company, and are working on a new game. Happens to be a Massive Multiplayer Online FPS. See below.

The regular expo of electronic entertainment is massive and allows the industry, bigger than Hollywood, to promote their wares; games, hardware and even revolutionary forms of technology new to the business. A good heads up as to what to expect over the coming year and what you might want to pick up.

This one looks good, but only for PS3 by the looks. When I saw the promo on BBC, had the feel of Fallout 3.

All the very best to Vostok Games. When these guys worked so long without pay while waiting for financial backing for the new version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. it becomes evident that in a world of commerce, it still isn't always about the money. So they go off, form their company and keep on trucking. Good to still see some familiar faces in the staff there, like Oleg.


The only problem with MMO is the “online” bit. When you're not online, when you don't have a connection at home it becomes a little bit ummm... Saves on addiction I suppose. And I already have enough to do. Want to see where this goes of course. Very much assuming it will be just S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in a different format. Finding it hard to grasp yet the concept of all the inhabitants [ human and zombie at least ] being players somewhere in the world does have a certain appeal. Hoping that, in that case, there are far more different character skins that can be adopted, just so I can put New Zealand on the map. There has been a shift to this form of gaming for a very long time. Single player and LAN is deemed old skool.

Vostok Engine technology sounds very much like where the X-Ray engine would have gone. It is interesting that they say A-Life won't feature. While dominated by actual player characters that's understandable, but in respect to N.P.C.s [ if there are any ] but most specifically, animals and zombies and so on, there has to be some form of, A-Life, surely. No day-night cycle would suck. The dynamics of the game, tactics, so much changes with the cycle. With all the details to consider, it must be remembered, this beast is still a long way off from arriving on a PC near you.

When we think about all the complexities of game design, the technology, the aesthetics, the game play, there is so many different avenues you can travel, so in the typical group needed to make things happen there are certainly going to be various visions. As long as some version(s) of the imagined worlds come to fruition that should be the only thing that matters, but its about commerce, and about the market place, and not everyone is going to come out happy. Forget the writers and all the worlds & characters become the same old same old. You can see a lot of that.

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10 February 2012


MP5K machine pistol

[ MP5K ]

In an effort to produce a series of weapons based on my characters' loadouts, here is a MP5K. Modelled it up a few days back now. As a fellow modeller said recently, have to smooth out many of my edges. One has to keep the poly count down if it is to be used in games, but for demos, for other purposes no worries. Modifiers are good for this - I used smooth on the pistol grip section and was very happy with the result. For the rest of it, in time, I would simply use edge loops.

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09 February 2012

Modding Mission

While many were excited by the prospect of modifying S.T.A.L.K.E.R., with the introduction of the SDK, and even plenty of tutorials dotted about the Internet, it soon became clear things would be ad-hoc at best. Unfortunately in regards this, the game was partly promoted on its capacity for modding and GSC Game World's wish to see it as such. The quality of the SDK, documentation and tutorials is very poor, but some of this can be translation issues as well.

On the long weekend, Kryton and I made some progress into adding a new weapon to the game – asides our gaming session till 0300. Long time since. What we discovered, we believe, is that not all the components of the model were present, so it is a case of tapping into other weapons and seeing what components are there. This was a MP7, and since bits of a Mac-10 and a P90 are floating about in the game itself, but were not adopted in the release, its not so surprising.

My work, as modeller, is pretty much redundant until such time as we can get a ready-made model in from elsewhere. Part of the learning curve you might say; that is, all the textures, models, rigging and so forth, as well as icons and what not for the menus. It is the art of reverse engineering, seeing how everything fits. And in time, I'd be very keen, as it progressively gets easier and easier, to do up proper step by step documentation for others to follow. My dream of a complete conversion is a long way off. For now I'll settle for getting a weapon into the game, then... one of my own. Had an old zip file for adding a AK-47 into Clear Sky, so, variations in the original aside, it will hopefully not only be complete, but also be possible to import and see what is going on.

We had discussed it before, and even though there is some good material out there, including plug-ins for Blender, which I use, Fallout 3 might be nice to play, but its not MP. Sure, it might have saved them plenty on development costs, but any game of this sort which is not multiplayer is missing out on a huge player base. Plus, in terms of our choice, when it comes to a complete conversion, set in the world of my novels, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has it about right for the environment. Really, just need more snow!

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29 January 2012


RPK Special Edition - work in progress

[ RPK Special Edition - work in progress ]

Have been modelling away, slowly, as I find the time about the reading and writing that is taking priority at the moment, to build up a collection of weapons which are used by my characters and their adversaries. This one above is a RPK-16, mounting a M203 on a universal interbar painted for snow ops, utilising a 75 round drum magazine, and dubiously acquired night sights. While this stuff is solidifying my skills, its not building new ones, so I am looking to model up a Humvee next – which will be modified to be one featured in my first novel. So, to find tutorials on wheel and tyre creation...

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21 January 2012

Mega Uploads

Saw this thing on BBC last night about this company who is being busted big time under the online copyright laws. The US has asked for New Zealand authorities to act on its behalf, to extradite those responsible. They showed the big arsed mansion and all that, Rolls Royce, and American classic cars, etc. First time I'd heard of them, and yet, today, I roll in to download some tutorials on developing FPS games in Blender, and I find this game out of Indo called Z-Virus that has been developed with the Blender Game Engine. And guess what, their free download is off Mega Uploads, so I couldn't get the game.

As for the reports that the jokers running this show had sawn down rifles and what not. A bit more dramatic effect for the media. Even if it is true – they had armed cops there after all – why have these weapons, act all tough, like you're some mobster of old or something, and then not play the game when the heat's on. It is frequently said it is simply to intimidate the competition. Well, there is always a bigger fish.

And people put their own lives, and others, at risk, for money, worldly gain. Dumb arses. Big time. The photos coming through of the top dog say it all really. Upload that and smoke it. Could say a bit on how these sorts of scenarios typically pan out, but I take it for granted that my regular readers know how the world works.

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14 January 2012

Complexity of a 3D Model

Sometimes I have to move away from the engineer side of me and not think about actual component parts – as with rifles such as lower receiver / upper receiver, bolt group, if the model doesn't require that sort accuracy in terms of the individual parts being modelled, as it most often is with games. One must consider what the model is intended for. Pretty much all you need is the weapon, and the magazine / clip / drum which must be separate for reloading procedures. Whereas, if you're doing something which needs to show detail, it can be a good idea to model individual items even from the project management point of view. I'm trying to get into the habit of naming parts, so that when there is thirty cylinders, you can say; barrel, gas plug, gas tube, bolt, bolt retaining pin, receiver pin, drum, cartridge, scope... This is a good thing to get onto in the early days for later on when you are doing very complex models.

With doing the holo-sight for this Sterling SMG model, I'll be able to now sort out windows for my house, and Plexiglass for the Huey I need to build. It will be a representation of the one featured in TtG. Yes, the plan is a complete conversion using my world, characters and technologies. At this stage it will just be nice to get a weapon of my own into S.T.A.L.K.E.R. But yes, some day...

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12 January 2012

Kel-tec RFB

The other day, was it Sunday? while I did some more work on a revamp for my mate's new-look site, I also squared away another chapter for the new novel, which I realised I needed to ask another mate some questions on. Then the idea to finally make a start on a Kel-tec RFB model come to me, and before I knew it it was 0400hrs. But, the basic model is done. This one has taken me a couple of days, but the geometry is still a bit rough in places. But with more practice I'm learning how to minimise that.

More than a bit painful is getting image textures on a mesh. I can get it onto a single one, as the plane shows with the US flag. Can scale the image right now, so they occupy the right amount of space, and can flip it on X/Y axis but can't rotate it. You can see this with the American flag here, I can't rotate it to get it to be on the horizontal.

Also have to work out turning a weapon's component parts into a single mesh, so I can apply the reference image to it. In the meantime, I just used materials on this one, which gives you colours, shades and some variations like clouds (for a rusty look say) or marble. Am pretty sure its compulsory to use textures to import a model into a game.

Kel-tec RFB with Materials applied

[ Kel-tec RFB with Materials applied ]

There is something about modelling a 7.62 NATO weapon. It must be that the RFB uses old SLR magazines. A real round, a real rifle. Now, to get it into a game...

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06 January 2012

Pictures from Chernobyl

Mate flicked me this URL the other day. It has a swag of pictures from the Chernobyl area. It will take a little time to load but it is well worth it. There is plenty of opportunity for modelling from them, and they are high enough resolution as well to get textures off them too, I think. But for the moment am just a little busy.

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01 January 2012

Building a Scene

The fear of idle hands means the last few days I've been working on some graphics, via 3D modelling rather than conventional 2D, mostly for my mate's website. And I've been rapt with the results. The work you would have to do in Photoshop to get these effects – well, some of them would be impossible. But 2D has its uses – each tool for its job, with a fair bit of cross-over.

a house of sorts...

[ Building a Scene ]

Have also been working on a scene, a house.

grass clumps in Blender 3D

[ 3D generated grass ]

Started by learning how to generate hair, which is also used as grass, via particle physics. Really powerful tool, amongst so many tools. The version on the left reminded me of Waiouru tussock.

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05 December 2011

Southern Reaper... and modelling the FG42.

Nerves are setting in for this graduation business. It should be a celebration, sure, but heaps of people - and the idea that all that work doesn't exactly mean “work” in the sense so many out there see it to be. Never mind, there are other things to occupy my mind and my time, which helps considerably. Once it is over, maybe I will be able to appreciate it a little more.

Managed to find an article from the ODT, my old local rag, which had something on the big Ex I mentioned which was happening while I was down home. There was also a bit in the latest Army News, and will be more in the next issue. Full blown Combined Arms deal, which doesn't happen often, and nowhere near as often as it should, but with budget cuts being what they are. And one will note that it is never about defending New Zealand's territory, but going off and doing peace-keeping somewhere else in this or other necks of the woods. Reminds me of a wee tune... If you go out in the woods today... you might get a heck of a surprise...

Someone needs to tell the article writer the phrase is not “over and out”, but “out” if you are ending the transmission, and “over” when you've finished what you have to say but expect further communication. People watch too much TV, too many movies :) and even some professionals don't get it right.

Now, who gets to pin a name on these Ex's and Ops? What an awesome job. Southern Reaper has a nice ring about it.

Some Modelling

Got down some good high res pictures of the FG42, my favourite all time World War II weapon, the German Fallschirmjägergewehr, Paratrooper rifle. When I flicked off my stuffed up textured basic PDW cut-out, a mate suggested texturing seperate elements; stock, magazine, grips etc, and it so happens I got down a tutorial on doing exactly that – so that will be my next attempted solution, to UVW Unwrap component parts of the model. First, to model up a new weapon... a FG42. While the basic model can be whipped up quite quickly, to make it into something reasonable after that takes the real concentration. Reminds me why I loved Enemy Territory so much, for Return to Castle Wolfenstein.


[ FG42 Fallschirmjägergewehr ]

FG42 Render

[ FG42 Render ]

Right, have three things to do before I hit the hay tonight; do the cloth tutorial, using my (yet to be finished) character model as a base, do the smoke/flame tutorial on my (yet to be completed) basic robot arm, and lastly, take my old catepillar track tutorial, duplicate it, and link them both to some sort of base – perhaps my robot arm, and animate it. Then, taking all that, will be able to progress to doing a Scorpion.

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01 December 2011

Robot Arms

Spoke to Kryton on the weekend, this idea in my head (yes I know, dangerous bloody things), had the old 80s series Whizz Kids in my head. Loved it. Richie had a whole heap of computery bits and pieces, thanks to a absent father who worked on oil rigs or something, sent him out this stuff. One of the things he had in his cluttered techno-geek room was a classic (now anyway) robot arm. Decided, in order to test my skills, and develop new ones for my show reel – basic by any level of the imagination – to get into further training without having to do the basics, would model up and animate a robot arm of type. Maybe even link sound to it, have the engine burn out, spark up etc, using particle smoke. At the very least I will learn parent /child object relations, and have some armatures in there for coordinated movement, and have the claw hand pick up an egg maybe, or a stick of jelly...

Speaking of robots...

It had me thinking as I come out of Blender, the inverse. In order to form a concept of a robot, one must consider what one is not. Thanks to all my readers. The few, the brave, the no-clones.

24 November 2011


P90 model - Blender

[ FN P90 - Render ]

This is the finished model of the FN P90. One can thank Open Source for the software, Belgium for the weapon - and oh, Stargate SG-1 for popularising the latter. Wasn't too keen on the iron sights but since it is from the image, and I don't know (except maybe going into Photoshop and deleting them) how it goes with regards texturing later on. Note that the foresight is "AK" style, since this is how GSC Game World did it for the MP5 in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., for which I intend to import this.

Unfortunately I went looking for the follow up videos and they're not about. So, while I have my model done, fixing a bit of the rough geometry not withstanding, can't go much further in terms of texturing. And am sure it is compulsory to texture before you can import your models, otherwise things spit the dummy.

While I was struggling to get my head around loop-cutting via reading in Essential Blender, with doing these tutorials, getting hands on and applying it to something practical, e.g. actually building a model, I now understand it. This is where you produce additional polygons at a given point in order to better shape your model as it would be, e.g. to produce the effect of curves.

Another major bit here was my modelling up the scope bracket. While Daniel extruded out I had problems doing this, so built up a block, added some loop cuts and just made a hole, then filling in the removed faces for essentially the same result.

While my P90 isn't anywhere as good, it LOOKS like a P90, and its my first attempt. Thanks to an excellent tutorial (conversely there are lots of rubbish ones out there) got a reasonable model out of it all. Awesome. Plus I'm back into the swing of things, not getting confused with the numerous buttons one must press in order to get things done.


P90 model - Ambient Occlusion

[ FN P90 - Ambient Occlusion ]

Discovered that another three videos I had from the same author demonstrated different ways to texture. One was Ambient Occlusion, which is under Bake - which simply applies darkness on edges where light would not fall so much. Another is to "project from view" approach which allows you to take elements from a reference picture and apply them to the relevant parts of your mesh. The third is to use an image. Unfortunately, for each, I can get it on the model, but when I render its not applied. Have done it successfully once before with a basic box, so just need to sort out that simple little part of the process I've left out.

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20 November 2011

Introducing Character Animation with Blender... and FPS Tutorial.

From my recent journal entries you may have noticed I've been to the library recently. Reading is good. Books are good... Picked up this one (and another on Open Source software and its use, including Blender) and have slowly being making my way through it. After going into the fundementals for Blender it sets you up for another way to do a head, in Chapter 2. Then, like David Allen Ward's tutorial series, it goes into creating a Captain Blender character, which you go on to animate later on, which, as the title suggests, the book specialises in.

Introducing Character Animation with Blender
Tony Mullen
Wiley Publishing, Inc. (2007)
ISBN: 978-0-470-10260-2

If I want to get into Natcoll next year, without starting from stratch and scraping the barrel for more courses, have to show I can at least animate something. This will be the ticket. The other option is the BCT - Bachelor of Creative Technologies at Weltec. You can dispense with the last year and just get a diploma, which would be enough to get me the skills I need to do what I have planned out.

This one also features a disk, and in there, asides from Blender and some additional stuff like a Python (Game Engine built into Blender) crowd / battle program, it tells you it has Elephant Dreams - the first animated short film made with this open source software. Well, you get in there and it tells you they couldn't fit it on the disk. So, off to the website and you can pick it up as small as 40 odd megabytes. The higher resolution is more around 400Mb. Suggest getting it - well worth a look and shows just what can be achieved with this free software.

Faces - Blender 3D

[ faces-on-de-face ]

Above is that first tasking, to construct a head. It can get messy, and like I've said before, fixing problems is good, otherwise your troubles are compounded down range. Still, as I've also mentioned, much better to make a few mistakes as you learn much more by sussing out how to fix them. And like crafting a 3D model, there is more than one way of doing it. With complexity comes flexibility. As I move along in the book, will post additional pics. Hopefully too, will be able to put up a video of future animations once I suss out armatures and rigging. And still have to successfully texture and import a rifle model yet...

FPS Tutorial - Modelling the gun in Blender 2.58 - Part I

Speaking of which, using I was able to download the first five in a series for building and texturing a P90. Yes, well, I can now confidently build any firearm, but, it was the next part in which Daniel got into texturing, so I need to top up my account and get the rest of the series down. Excellent series for beginners.

Not sure yet, but I believe this is meant to be put into Python. My tutorials are now coming in for 2.57 up to the latest of 2.60a. The new interface is somewhat crisper.

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24 June 2011

Building a Human

A few days after the Bolter mission I got into David Ward's tutorial. Well, you learn by doing, and eventually, one hopes, you gain muscle memory too. The head is most definitely the most difficult part, and the ears the most difficult part of that. In any case, here are a few pics. The head bust demonstrates the aforementioned point. It's an alien OK. It has ears... like a Narn. Looks more like something intended to scare small children.

Head Bust Bad - Blender 3D Head Torso Bad - Blender 3D

[ Head - first try ] ---------- [ Torso - first try ]

I think I will be modelling plenty of hoods and respirators, and gloves and such like. Plus, doing up armour, like a Space Marine's from 40K in particular, avoids much of the challenges - but rest assured I will be working on it until I can model a human head as required. Its important as an artist, and important in the business. While aliens and mutants are a big part of that, it can't be an excuse not to put in the hours to get the skills. Remember too, I wasn't using any picture reference either. Yes, there are lots of triangles, and lots of horrible geometry when you look at the thing in edit mode, and that's clearly visible in the render. Johnny Blender, at least for the meantime, is Johnny Freak Show. Thanks to David Ward for his efforts in his excellent tutorial. Thoroughly professional lesson from start to finish from a talented 3D artist.

One day soon I'll be able to do a reasonable impersonation of a human being.

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21 June 2011

Bolter Model

After an eventful and productive weekend I am sitting here on my bed, almost 0100, having sussed out my first model for a wee project, brilliantly conceived by Kryton, which I shall dub Project 40K. It is a Space Marine bolter for the game... many more to come. Like a decent soup like Mum used to make, its chunky, and not only serves well for the style of the game, it also is relatively simple and a good thing for a beginner like me to be tackling. Speaking of tackling – the next thing to do is get texture on it, and the Gepard I have completed. We spend the weekend trying to nut out the SDK, and getting back into the gamedata files, modding sound and statistics.

[ Warhammer 40K - Bolter ]

I managed to learn how to do this Boolean operator business as I mentioned a while back, under 3D Max on the Modding page. Used it to do up the barrel, flash eliminator and the hole in the foresight. You've got to build the two meshes in Object mode. Got down a tutorial and the YouTube member remembered learning boolean operators in high school.

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14 June 2011

Modelling a Character

So, am on the final run for my essay. Difficult though, as I have to cut around 500 words from a piece that reads well, flows properly. Have to pretty much cut out a chunk and stitch a seem to tie it up again.

Not totally unrelated, but virtual rather than literary, the making of characters is my next step and I know its a reasonable leap. Still, Kryton wants me to model up a Gepard PDW so will do that. And then of course there is the thing of texturing, and importing a model into the likes of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Going from mechanical, manufactured to the organic is going to be a steep learning curve. But, one step (or is that limb?) at a time.

Found this guy, randomly, as you do on YouTube and went off to his personal website as well which looks pretty good. He has the best tutorial on building a character in Blender I have found. Not ruff, but goes from head to toe and textures it. While some aspects aren't 100% clear it is about simply getting more time on the mouse and keyboard and doing it, rather than having every little point explained. Have looked at the first three files which go into building a rather detailed head, so there's a lot more to do. But once I've gone through it a few times, from start to finish, I'm confident the skills will be there for anything else related to character modelling I might want to do.

Just takes time. Have been looking at the Media Design School, but really don't want to be in Auckland, even if I would be focusing on study alone. Instead, looks like it will be Natcoll, here in Wellington. That means waiting out till February next year. Still, a bit of work would be nice and it means getting some skills up to speed and building a decent showreel by then, which is quite manageable.

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21 January 2011

The Essential Blender

Got to Real Groovy the other day to pick up a book on the shelves there, called The Essential Blender. On sale for $50. Prefer hard-copy, rather than PDFs and reading off a screen, but you take what you can get when in the realms of Open Source. Its not a nice looking interface this one, but its a powerful tool and just takes a wee bit of getting used to, particularly if you've had much experience on the likes of 3d Studio Max. Of course, the price difference is phenomenal!

The book comes with a disk with installs for all OS, of Blender 2.44... so, as long as you have a machine that has enough graphical power to handle the labours of 3D mathematics, you're good to go. Much like the Open Source community, this has been put together by multiple authors. After guides to installation, and a introduction to 3D art itself and the nature of said programs, plus the specific Blender interface, the fun begins.

The various experts take you through working in Blender and manipulating objects and what can only equate to a gentle intro to animation - later this gets a bit more in-depth, including rigging and shape keys (which allow the movement of meshes without actual animation - like say, the movement in a cartoon character's lips as it is talking), lighting, textures and so on. Lessons lead to the building of a bridge, and creating a monster's face.

With my previous experience I'm pretty confident that it will a good combo of gentle easing into what is there, while providing me plenty of challenges with the benefit of plenty of new skills along the way. Particles, like fire and water, and strands, as you require for things like hair, is something I'm really looking forward to. It will be nice to get my head around texturing so I can do something with my rifle models, too, but organics is a whole different deal, and the results are a lot less forgiving.

While it is not (and what can be in terms of this huge domain of virtual creativity?) definitive, this book, according to the introduction, is the official guide to Blender. The index is not very extensive and there are no keyboard maps or such like tools, which would have been nice, but it has focused chapters on the major aspects of the application. If you want to specialise in the gaming engine or get more depth in terms of animation you'll need to go elsewhere. All in all, though, for a book of just over 350 pages, its got the topics you'd expect and looks to be an excellent place to start. If you are only interested in particular aspects you can easily flick to the relevant chapters as they're not geared to be dependant on each other. Bonus.

I'll have more on it as I progress through it, but in the meantime, the details of the book are;

The Essential Blender: Guide to 3D Creation
Roland Hess (.ed)
No Starch Press (2007)
ISBN: 978-1-59327-166-4

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07 June 2010

Izhmash Vityaz

A mate flicked me an email not so long ago, informing me of the Vityaz submachine gun. Basically for all external appearances, asides a slimmer and plastic magazine, it looks like a AKR, abet a little more modern - plastic furniture instead of wood. Sorry... just had a thought on the environment... Basically it uses a special 9mm round which gives it armour piercing properties. I have yet to find out if it a 9x18 modified round (not enough velocity in my view) from the Makarov pistol. Though, essentially, what we have is a Russian PDW, Personal Defence Weapon capable of defeating modern body armour. All the raw facts need to be sussed in order to realistically punch in characteristics of a weapon if you're planning on using it in a game.


Yityaz Yityaz

[ Izhmash Vityaz ]


Since my main focus is on modding for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series of games it is nice to finally do up a Kalashnikov style weapon. Has taken me about two and a half days and so far as basic modeling principles go I'm pretty sussed now. I can do it, but there is far more to learn. Also, accuracy in detailing has to increase. Finer features and parts can all be done by zooming in and taking the time and using the right primitives and modifiers.

With the Vityaz the basic process has definitely sped up somewhat, but also I'm getting a handle on the little errors that come up, like patching up faces that for some reason don't show up, or polygons which are not quite right and come up odd when you render the model, shadows showing them up. Even just becoming confident with the keystrokes and what does what is a huge motivator. You can get on with building the model, getting the results you want, without paining over how to get there. But you can tell by the larger images, more work can be done to improve this model, particularly in making it more streamlined.

Yeah, and then, as I say, you can refine your techniques from there, progressively learn new and better ways of doing things. The key to this whole thing is pushing the envelop, so you have to be driven. You don't get any better, or more confident to tackle real world problems without constantly taking the next step in the learning curve.

Though its a rare item, making such discoveries, and since its from that part of the world, I'm inspired to model up this Polish bull-pup rifle, too, as I recently mentioned on my journal. Have a request for a PDW (MP7 that is), and although I did one up earlier on in this particular foray, a new model with far more detail must be built before it is worthy of importing into a game. Importing - another major step in this process. Want to approach this one by doing up every component typicial of the field strip. The more photos you can have of a weapon (or any other object you can name to be modeled) the better you'll be - both for importing into the program as a guild to your building, but also as general reference as you go along. But before I do anymore weapons, I have to jump in and make a character model.

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10 May 2010

Mac-10 Mk2... and rolling with the dreams and aspirations of friends.

Way after my beddy byes... but I have redeemed myself on the Mac-10 front. This is my second attempt at a decent machine-pistol, ah la, .45 ACP. Thank you mister Ingram. I am evidently on a roll... but since it is 0055, I think yes... And I have skool work to do as well. Am really rapt with this progress. Funny how you have a go at something, initially it doesn't work out - you come back to it a wee way down track and everything comes together. O is for awesome. Praise be to good mates and open source.

Mac-10 machine pistol

[ Ingram Mac-10 - Blender 3D ]

Yip, all this has reminded me tonight of history, technology and old mates. Had a mate who was a genius on POV Ray, a rendering program he used to use on my old Amiga 500+. He did up a Battle Tech mech and it took all night to render, but for back then, the results were amazing. Computers today are super computers in comparison. He could also do machine code - which I'll never be able to do!

It reminds me of so many other mates over the years who have skills, knowledge, experience, that all seem to culminate into where I am today. If it wasn't for them, and their ongoing support, well... I hate to think. They keep you rolling, keep you inspired, and remind you that while the world at large doesn't get it, and sometimes even they don't, they recognise the dream, the drive and what it is to be part of that. It is as if there is a part of you in them, part of each one of them in you. Life is for living and that's a very special part of it.

Colt Cold Cup

Happy Muther's Day Ma. Have a wee pressie coming your way - but no, cost no money, just time and effort and the testing of new skill sets. Artistry of another kind. Sorry it couldn't be the real thing; the smell of cordite, the feel of metal...


Colt 45ACP Gold Cup

[ Colt .45ACP Gold Cup pistol ]

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07 May 2010

First Weapon Renders

Well... didn't know when I'd get a chance, but with getting my hands on Blender (which is open source - not as intuitive as 3d Studio Max, and far uglier, but still a powerful tool) I've been able to struggle away, get to grips with the basics, and get a couple of models done. They're basic as, and essentially extruded and sub-divided cubes and not much else. With some texture applied (eg: metal), like painting really, a great deal of basic or rough modeling can be covered up.

There is a big process of putting a new weapon into a game but am sure looking forward to it. The Mac-10 is my first try, very blocky - you get the idea, and the HK USC (I made it with a shorter barrel than the civvie version) has a bit more realistic shape to it, looking far more like it is meant to. You can get right down to the bolts, rough surfaces for pistol grips... and of course, for changing out in game, you need to do up separate magazines.

Mac-10 USC45

[ Mac-10 machine pistol ] ---------- [ Heckler und Koch USC45 ]

It may seem weird, but after taking my first jump into it at Uni for DESN 104, I'm really rapt to have finally modeled a weapon. You can see some of the stuff I did for the course on my Portfolio page. In my own time I did a smoke grenade, and started a PSG-1 but it never went anywhere, as I got really frustrated.

Well, now its working out. Now, it actually feels like at some stage modding the likes of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to my own world and characters is a distinct possibility. My ambition is to do a complete conversion, in turn, as a promotion to get a team together to develop a FPS / RPG based on my primary literary works. But... one step at a time. And this is definitely one. A big boost.

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12 September 2009

Cabinets, Galil Tutorial, Compound Objects, and modeling the real world.

Got to work on some modeling tonight. Part way through the set of drawers I mentioned. A few tricky bits but its a case of remembering to follow the instructions to the letter, not assume anything or think you can skip anything due to prior experience. Little steps...

IMI Galil in 5.56mm NATO

Looking over a tutorial to build up a Galil rifle told had me thinking that it is probably a good idea to practice individual portions of such projects, to learn key processes, such as the idea of in order to bore equally spaced holes through a cylinder (say for a flash eliminator) you put a a couple of cylinders through a tube, by going to Compound Objects and choosing Boolean, clicking on "Pick Operand B", click on the given cylinder and thereby create the holes through the original cylinder at the end of the barrel.

Thanks to Ran J. Levay for the model and the insight.

Had a yak to a guy I know who does this stuff professionally - he said he learned to do Boolean operations on the first few days of his degree, but didn't actually use them until four or five months later. He told me to be mindful of them so far as low-poly counts on your model, for gaming purposes. They are a bit intensive, and there are, as I've said in the past, more ways than one to get a particular outcome. Often you can just work with a shape's existing geometry, extrude etc, in order to get the desired look.

Realise that, while most of what I want to learn is based around characters and weapon models for gaming applications, without learning other areas such as animation or other things I'm likely to miss out on a lot, and even forgo discovering easier, more efficient ways of doing particular things. Plus, logically enough, if you want to build gaming type environments, they contain vehicles, furniture, organic features, structures, everything you find in the real world environment so its foolish to get tunnel vision and only be putting together models of soldiers and pistols and rocket launchers alone. You can't get a job rendering up a house based on architectural plans if you haven't ever modeled a house before...

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03 September 2009

Motivation for More Modding

More talk of modding and the suggestion made that introducing a bow might be an idea. Well, I'll be happy just to render one up. Rigging is the problem but that's a long way off. Just getting it into the game would be great. Having it operable regards limb movements might be a trick, might even be impossible, but one can only see by trying. Speaking of which, the thoroughfare software wise in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. land is somewhat disjointed at best, but 3D Studio Max is industry standard and I'll be very keen to get some decent hours under my belt with it. Back to the text books, with a somewhat different flavour to what I am used to.

Note to self: remember that the AEC Extended Primitives have heaps of foliage options and architectural items that can be used for maps. And I can use the Hose primitive under Extended Primitives as a superb base for a under-barrel GL, eg: draw it out and slice it down the middle.

Going to be taking a wee look at Call of Duty 4 - no, not the ongoing saga of this particular franchise but the contemporary version of the WWII FPS. Very realistic I'm told but for those investigating military simulation they can't seem to get trigger groups sorted. Maybe every weapon capable of automatic fire can only fire in automatic. Well, maybe they were trying to replicate the movies... Sad. Some do like the idea of replication of real-world tactics and not just chewing through the ammo for no result.

And now, alas, I must return to my studies...

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22 December 2008

Final Assessment... and a bit more modeling.

After sending off a parcel home, and receiving one, I was off to make the most of the labs again. Today I got started on a MSG90. No, its not some horrible thing in your food, but it is one fine piece of German engineering which can be helpful in acquiring a meal. Expensive, but no where near as expensive, and far more robust, than its excessively refined PSG-1 cousin. About half way there, should be able to finish it tomorrow but the results are going to be a bit rough, I can tell.

As I said in the labs and fixed up my email / login problems the results for the third project came in. A B+ means, after the other two I'll end up with a respectable B average. The comments were moderate, and it seems that too much detail in my concept was my downfall for a better mark, or rather, to much academia and not enough imagination from the other side of the fence. I'm glad of a pass anyway, and hope to do a few more Design papers next year to make up the points needed for the double degree business.

Investigate Magazine were kind enough to send out a couple of complimentary copies of the September issue in which Defence Matters was published. Think I'll flick one off to the old man and see what sort of reception I get. Try to show that my life hasn't been all a misfire, stovepipe misadventure.

Gidday Shakes. Hey man, all the best to your mob ya Aussie bugger, and we'll hook up soon eh.

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21 December 2008

Some Kiwi Smoke.

Of my academic studies, next year, just making up points means it won't be so hard a thing to grind - so the balance of my various studies, including those martial, it is an apt time to return to the Dojo. Today I was in the labs, even though the 104 is now unofficially (officially we have another week) over. I downloaded a few tutorials, one a character model, which I'll begin tomorrow, a 30-30 lever action, and a smoke grenade. It's an M18, but, well, as you can tell from the comparative pictures below, you wouldn't want to give the thing any sort of official designation :) Today a ruff as smokey, tomorrow, a fully textured G36 with a KSK splash sandbox paint job.


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27 November 2008

Further Rendering...

Another night in the labs until 2100, but I got 65 of my renders done of my "simple" object. Need 50 by Monday, and 81 (what a beautiful number...) required for the second experiment. Our favourite one will be textured. I think I know which one it will be - classmate reckoned it looked like Batman. And low and behold tonight on the late news there was word that there was a forthcoming comic which will sign the death of the Dark Knight. Super Heroes have perished before. We shall see. But what a franchise.


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26 November 2008

Solid Works, 3D Max, Morphing... and 81 versions of... something.

Solid Works is a pain. The tutorials are hard to follow for a newbie. Have to make sure your menus are set up exactly as required in the tuts. We learned to use it to produce a 3D image from a 2D pic, in order to take it into 3D Max and get onto the good stuff of manipulating things. Glad we can now ditch SW and move on.

Sorted what I needed to do, and to be honest, I could have done it better without the tutorials. Played around with morphing and other manipulations. Have to produce 81 versions of the same initial 3D image. All about learning the design process and appreciating that you don't do just one or two renditions of any given project to come up with a final product. I've learned that in very different creative worlds.

Getting help, helping your mates. I can tell you this, if what the lecturer says about time spent to get a pass is anything to go by, I've got to pass, despite the difficulty and time constraints. Heck, to learn that we learn in a day on Solid Works what a normal semester take in in two weeks... Tonight I was home before dark. Last night, 2100. Gotta make it.

Three of my renders, the green one the original. I like the brown one cause its ended up like a row boat. The image idea has an abstract simple version of Santiago Calatrava's Tenerife Auditorium.

render09 render02 render05

Tenerife Auditorium

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25 November 2008

UnrealEd, Static Meshes, First Assignment... and the art of lighting a scene.

Found out I have to go up the hill to get my access card sussed out. All after a week and a half. Bit shabby really. Especially when we don't have too much spare time to do so much work.

Discovered static meshes in UnrealEd, which are hundreds of pre-made objects you can insert. I used several different rocks to put in place to save trying to build them from scratch. Given a bit more time and effort, producing a pretty reasonable map will not be too difficult.

As old as it is, this program is a good introduction to rendering. I'm seeing it like learning to shoot with an old pig of a .303 jungle carbine, then going onto something far more refined, like a Remmie 700, the 3D world equivalent being 3D Max or Maya. Yeah, like no one should really learn to drive in a late model car, much less an automatic.


Has been really good to help out class mates and share the learning experience. Feel good about achieving so much in such a short time.

Got the first experiment in just in time, along with most of my classmates. Think we all know, given more time, the results could have been far better. I had last minute problems with my lighting - ones for my "normal" room kept rendering red. Deleted them and inserted some new ones. Pretty happy all things considered. So true, lighting goes a long long way to creating the atmosphere and presenting the final product. Doesn't matter if its a promo for a game, a 3D model of a house, or a video for a new product...

Can't believe you've been here for a year D. Hopefully the renewal of the visa won't lead to anything near the hassles of last time round eh. Been good to know ya man, and all the best in finding a new digs.

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24 November 2008

Door Security, Getting to Grips with Unreal Ed, Results

Managed to get into the building yesterday. Just waited for a friendly student with a working card to turn up. Whole swag of us waiting so I'm definitely not alone. Dunno why its closed on Saturdays but open on Sundays. Maybe the people who own the building are Jewish? Opps, starting to sound like Sgt. O'Neil. Low and behold this morning, I can get in the building. Didn't even have to go and see someone - which it was looking like, for sure.

Was odd too, checked for my results again on Friday, no cigarette... I mean cigar. And checked yesterday and sweet as, there they where. Gave me the energy to work through till 2030. I got the mainstay of my map for this first "experiment" as they like to call them here. After all the other tries, finally getting the hang of the program and sorta know where I'm at with stuff. All in week.

Personally, think I've done really well, never having been near the program before. Unreal Editor is okay, if not a bit dated and not meant as a professional tool, even in Game Design as such, but once you get the hang of it, the fundamentals stand you in good stead if you don't go straight to the likes of Maya of 3D Max.


Got the result for Scriptwriting a wee while back. Nice and quick that was, especially with a course which had so much paper work. Got an A- for Asian Cinema... rapt. Better second essay, my Blade Runner one, and a kick arse presentation, which is perhaps the best one I've been involved in. Entertaining too people reckoned. Always a bonus. And a B+ for Popular Music. Wanted to have a A- to sit next to the 200 level course, but with being crook just on when the first essay was due there are no surprises.

Anyway, better bug out for my first Design lecture of the new week. Then at least five or six hours in the labs...

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19 November 2008

Third Day, Some Kinda Map...

Today I was nailed for thinking about too many aspects in regards the designer I'd chosen as my influence for the first project (experiment we're calling them). Must be the fault of three years straight study. Oh well, rather have too much info to run with than not enough. Can't be done for not doing my homework. And, apparently, if you come every day, do the work, do the self-directed stuff and are seen to put in the effort, you'll pass. Well, if yesterday is anything to go by...

And today I actually solved a few problems, got my first proper map together - in the prescribed manner - two rooms joined by a corridor. Sweet as. I'll right more on it on the Modding page soon I think. Getting the hang of it as we work our way through UnrealEd, for UT2004.


Hopefully experience with Dreamweaver (we present our work on a website of our own design which must reflect the themes of the virtual environment we've created) and Photoshop will help to balance up with my lack of knowledge here, and I can spend more time concentrating on my newbie status. Seriously looking forward to 3D Studio Max.

I have got a 30 day trial of 3d Studio Max, but no PC to run it on :(

Another day and my access card doesn't work. No after hours time in the lab for me, still. Better be sussed by tomorrow...


11 September 2008

First Renders, Jeeps, RPGs ... and getting ahead of myself.

In what ended up being the early hours of Wednesday the 10th day of September I did my first, quite ordinary render. It is the results of a somewhat disfigured cube. Yes, one does always start with a cube. Was a bit tricky remembering keys and commands, but as with all things, practice makes... ummm, well, a more efficient worker bee. That brings me up to about page 29 of the file mentioned below, and being as I have a meeting tomorrow with skool mates and it is now 0040hrs I better bug out and get some zzzzzz...

And now it be 0252hrs on the 11th... Just flicking through the file I see I get to make a die (singular for dice) which includes the pits in the cube shape to denote the numbers on each side. Further on to that, I was quite surprised to see what looked like a mutated RPG (rocket propelled grenade) launcher, as if it was part of a snap together toy. Well, I get to build the entire Jeep, RPG included. It is broken down into steps, unsurprisingly: seats, tires, mud guards, fuselage... I mean car body thingy. Wicked.

Additionally there is a wee project where you render a wolf, based off a photograph, linking a .jpg file as a basis for a model. Basically, this is how you'll start out with a weapon for a game from what I can gather. Just at the moment, I'll be quite rapt just to make it though this tutorial.

First Render - strange cube



03 September 2008

Learning Blender... and first port of call for documentation.

The following document goes from the very basic to advanced methods in Blender. Much of the material is transferable to other packages and is a very good starting point.

This is the key reference to start out with when using Blender. I've made my way through the first twenty pages. The first few sections are on finding your way around the interface. At 140 pages I should hopefully be done by the time I start Summer School. Deeming they use it in DESN 104 this probably wasn't a silly idea. Many of the terms and techniques are totally compatible with the industry standard 3D Studio Max so there shouldn't be too much double handling during the learning process of the latter. Will be back once I've made some headway on the modeling side in the document. I'll drop in some screen dumps of what's been created.

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19 August 2008

Blender... and Design courses at university.

It took a while to click, but eventually I investigated the Victoria University's School of Design in regards what they had to offer in the realms of 3D modeling. My initial correspondence reminded me of Blender, a open source 3D modeling program which is well worth looking into if you're running Linux etc. I'm going to explore that angle myself in time. Much of the terms and methods are the same as the industrial standard 3D Studio Max. Asides that, I still have to find out what the textbook is for DESN 104, so hopefully I can preempt some of my learning before Summer School starts. If its theory, and not hands on computer lab work at the 100 level, then I'm likely to give it a miss.

The URLs below provide some idea of the output and course content offered at . While the courses offered in Auckland are more the atmosphere I'd prefer, I have to weigh that up with the city in which I'm studying, and my capacity to study successfully.

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14 August 2008

Introducing 3ds MAX 2008

3ds MAX 2008

In my break between Scriptwriting and my Film tutorial headed into town - after a steak and cheese pie and a Cookie Time, and grabbed this 3D Studio Max book. Another look over the shelves ended up convincing me to invest in a different book from the one I had first had my eyes on.

Introducing 3ds MAX 2008
Darviush Derakhshani and Randi L. Munn.
Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc. (2008)
ISBN: 978-0-470-18494-3

This volume starts out with the very basics and deals with the full spectrum of modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering. The whole nine yards is covered. The other book, which featured the development of a character model based off Hicks from Aliens, and the building of a Pulse Rifle, was labeled as a Intermediate to Advanced level focus, which, at this stage, is just a bit too advanced for me. Anyhow, the one I did get is some 600 pages, and with a student discount ended up being under $60. For a full on text like this, not a bad price.

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11 August 2008

Text Books for 3D Projects

On the way to Uni I went into Borders to look up their computer books pertaining to Maya and 3D Studio Max. They had a text on Maya for $50, where most are approaching or exceeding $100. I think because this one was done by a publisher who does educational based text books - the same people who did the text I got for (X)HTML and CSS for COMP 101, it ends up being considerably cheaper. Still, flicking through the pages is a bit daunting, but that just translates to challenge. You just take one step at a time, working from the basics, building confidence and not jumping the gun. Things like seeing how much is involved in constructing a hand or a face for a character model for example...

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10 August 2008

The Long Hard Road of 3D Modeling

19 days for the world wide release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky, the much awaited prequel to Shadow of Chernobyl. All those things of the original vision now realised by the sound of it. We will soon see. There is a tin box SE version being released once more, and I'll be up for that.

The only reason I can see for owning a PC... these fine games, and the capacity to work with Autodesk 3D Studio Max so I can learn this modding business. I'll be picking up my first book on the subject next week, and have been downloading plenty of tutorials. Real skill sets too, in 3D modeling, texturing and lighting, to get involved in some serious projects. From what I can tell so far, its going to be a long hard road, but one well worth it. Got a prospectus from the Auckland (ick) based Media Design School in regards some training in this area so I can get more skills for realising my vision - taking my world into the virtual...

But that won't be for a couple of years. Have to train up myself to have the skills to be accepted, plus working for at least a year and saving to pay my own way through it all. Hopefully by then I can get into a similar course here in Wellington, rather than have to go up there... Looking into the technical nature of this stuff, whether you play on your old original Playstation, are a hard core PC gamer or have a PSP in your bag, it really opens your eyes to the skills required by the artists who create these games. As for the programmers, I can't begin to even entertain that route! More about my thoughts on this on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. page.

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09 August 2008

Beginnings of the Modding Mission...

While Kryton makes some headway in understanding the cryptic nature of code, from the programmers angle of the modding world, I begin my journey of the 3D artist. This entry is simply an initial statement of intent. A motivator... With that in mind I've looked into things enough to know that it will be a long hard, but very rewarding, road to get to the point of confidence. As we have begun with altering weapon names to their real names, and modified trigger sets to their real world options, I will begin with equally basic models, such as the tutorial I discovered on how to make a round... rather than the rifle :) There are about two dozen steps, and then the texturing (which produces a object with realistic surfaces, rather then a bland structure).

Eventually, there will be a dedicated page for this side of things, as we intend to take this to its fullest extent and produce a complete conversion. This is early days, but there is enough in the detail of such a mission as to justify a separate entry page for everything that will go on. This will include, as a result of experiences, so basic tutorials to help others on their way. As others help you, you pass on the knowledge and benefit of experience.

Next week I get my first book on the subject, with a trial version of 3D Studio Max to get started. It features the modeling of a US Colonial Marine Corps character (of Aliens fame), and I think the modeling of a M41A Pulse Rifle... There will be investment of some serious text books as time goes by. Quite involved, but a very worthy mission, in order to gain some real, practical, tangible vocational skill sets. The fun and games come at the end of some very hard work.

Below is an example, from Oblivion Lost a few months back, of a rendered Faction Leader from Clear Sky, one the model, the other completed with textures. This gives you some idea of the process and what can be achieved.

Faction Leader model

[without texture] [with texture]

Below is a link for the modeling of a US MAC-10 machine pistol, often mistaken for the Israeli Uzi. It gives some idea of the building blocks in constructing the weapon. Then comes the texturing, to give it that metallic look on the surface, or, for example, wooden stocks. The effects of lighting on those surfaces comes further to that.

Some sense of direction might be in order, so I've come up with a list of initial projects, more or less in order of difficulty:

barbed wire (there is a tutorial out there which I need to find again)
round (rather than the rifle - I have the tutorial)
baseball bat
staff weapon (from Stargate SG-1)
Kabar USMC combat knife

retexture the bandit model
retexture USP Compact pistol model
retexture MP5 submachine gun model

Sterling SMG

SAS trooper in CRW kit

But before I get onto that...

Useful Links

One will need the Developer's Kit [SDK] to get their works of art into the game... It is a bit over 300Mb.;79029

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