A Red Letter Day

It is with much excitement that I am finally able to reveal why things have been just so quiet around these parts since late last year.  Black Mesa, the mod project I have been involved with, as a environment modeler and texture artist since early 2007 is finally coming out! Yesterday we announced our planned release date of September 14th 2012.

Black Mesa Power Up

The whole team has been involved in pretty intensive polishing and testing in preparation for this release. This hasn’t left so much time for personal (non-Black Mesa) projects, which is why things have gone somewhat quiet around here.

Below is the official statement released by Carlos Montero (Project Lead) on our forums:


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Climbing Rose Tutorial

Here it is! Finally found the time needed to put the finishing touches to this one. A bit like it says on the tin, this tutorial goes over the process I used to create the rose prop from my Fantasy Graveyard. It’s maybe not quite as novel as the grass tutorial, but having worked this process out I am already finding places I can reapply some of the methods.

As before, if anyone makes anything cool using this, I’d love to see your work! Just drop me an email or post a link in the comments.

Added Traditional Art to Portfolio

I had some Ink and Pen sketches I had produced for my coursework in my final year of university up before. But now I have spent some time photographing the larger painted pieces I have produced over the last few years. These new pieces should help show my artistic ability outside of the digital realm. I’ve added a couple to this post, to see the rest go check out the new page HERE!

The rose tutorial is coming later today, sometime this evening, I promise!

Postcards of Skyrim

Skyrim has been a massive hit on productivity of late, it’s just too good. The time I have spent “playing” the game “properly”, is probably easily balanced by time I’ve spent just inside the world taking in the environment though. I think artistically the world they have created is much stronger than Oblivion, which whilst it had different environments in the world, the changes were very subtle. In Skyrim on the other hand you can walk from open sparse tundra to frozen mountain peaks and on into dense pine forests all within 20 minutes. This makes exploration so much more rewarding, and I have found myself less tempted to use fast travel as the journeys between objectives are actually enjoyable.

As such, these qualities in the game have spurred the photographer in me to feel compelled to record these sights in screen shots.  I set about tweaking the game in accordance with numerous guides available around the net to squeeze the most I could out of the game and into these screenshots. Once I felt I’d pulled as much potential out of the engine as possible, (with my game remaining playable), I set about taking my screenshots as I played and explored. These are mostly for my own amusement, but I have also decided to share them here.

I may post any more shots I take during my play. And I am forcing myself away from it today in the hopes of finishing the rose tutorial which feels long overdue at this stage. There’s plenty more shots to see if you click through.


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Hand Painted Grass Tutorial

Like promised I have the first of my articles featuring my workflow on the fantasy graveyard finished. First up is a tutorial that goes over my workflow I developed to create the grass textures in the scene. I came up with this method myself after finding very little similar information  on creating good hand painted grass textures quickly. Hand painted textures searches in Google are also drawing in the most hits to my blog from search engines, so I thought I should maybe capitalise on that already existing audience. Here’s hoping I don’t let you down intrepid Googlers!

hand painted grass tutorial link

There’s the link ^^ I hope I’ll have some other similar articles done soon. Oh, and if anyone makes anything cool using this, I’d love to see your work! Just drop me an email or post a link in the comments.

Fantasy Graveyard Scene Finished!

With this post I declare the scene actually, properly finished. It was hard drawing a close to this project, and as any artist knows there are dozens of things I could spend hours tweaking until they are just right, but at the same time there’s also the insatiable itch of wanting to move on to a new project, and new challenges.

This update brings a whole host of new detail to the front half of the scene. The narrative is fleshed out with the use of the cart and the mound of earth from the open grave. I also put some time into increasing the atmosphere by increasing the contrast in the lighting and adding a 2d backdrop to help set the mood. I also modelled out a quick separate rock model that I used to add some three dimensional detail to the exposed earth all over the scene, especially in the cut-through at the back.

There are plenty of images over on my portfolio: Graveyard Scene In the next few days I hope to write up an article or two of sorts that explain some of my workflow in creating this scene in more detail.

Coffin Cart

The feedback garnered from my last update was that the forest area behind the fence was a great addition, so good in fact it also out-shadows the front area of the scene. In an effort to balance this out I am doing another (hopefully final) pass to the front area. I hope to deepen the narrative more with this third pass, as well as fill in some of the empty space with more interesting things to look at.

On the flip side. That cart wheel makes a little more sense now.

Fantasy Graveyard Scene. Now New and Improved!

OK, so first things first. Guess I need to get used to not calling things complete so quick on here. I wasn’t considering it final, certainly not before I had let it free and had a chance to gather all that valuable feedback, but that unfortunate choice of words for the post title certainly left me stuck for this update.

So here is the update! I spent the last week working like mad on all the new foliage pieces I’ve added. The largest part of the work is visible behind the railings, but when you compare these shots with the last lot you can also see just how much I have done to the front area too. Nearly every asset has got another pass of love. Most of this work was done to bring a greater sense of unity to my colour pallet, I felt things contrasted a bit too much before. A lot of props before were also very monochrome as I had pointed out to me, so this was a chance to remedy that too.

I think it’s a stronger piece for the extra work, let’s hope you do too. There’s some high-resolution stills after the break as before. I’ll wait and see what sort of reaction this update gets, make any suggested changes and then I’ll set to work on a portfolio page for it.


Continue reading Fantasy Graveyard Scene. Now New and Improved!

Got Wood…

The feedback I have received so far on the scene has been almost exclusively positive. I have begun working on my improvements that will hopefully quash the few criticism people did have with the piece. The first (and largest) area for improvement I have decided to tackle is the space behind the graveyard railing. The criticism was there wasn’t enough interesting stuff to look at during the time this part of the scene took up in the turntable video. I have decided I will remedy this by creating a small patch of scrubby woodland floor. It’s going to feature mushrooms, dead wood and bracken to hopefully liven up the space.

Up first is a set of tree bits, a couple of stumps and a log. They all share a 512*512 map, diffuse normal specular and gloss, and come in at 256, 966 and 646 triangles respectively (left to right). Click through to see some wip/breakdown shots.

graveyard tree stumps log lowpoly

Marmoset render of the lowpoly textured Tree Bits


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Completed Fantasy Graveyard Mini Scene!

My Fantasy Graveyard Mini Scene is complete and assembled in Maromoset Toolbag! First up a video turntable of the scene, be sure to watch in HD! Click through to see some high-resolution (better compression) still shots.


Continue reading Completed Fantasy Graveyard Mini Scene!