Tag Modo

The Original Plan.

In my final year of undergraduate studies, I and a few of my friends developed a computer game called “Meltdown 2018.”  The concept was based around a return to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant more than three decades after it’s unfortunate demise.

My work on the computer graphics portion of the game triggered a lengthy pursuit that would consume my life for the next ten years.  My goal was not necessarily to develop computer games, but rather to become immersed in computer graphics at its core; I wanted to understand graphics and mathematical concepts well enough to develop software applications based upon these ideas.

Fortunately, I was able to achieve several successes during this period:

  • I developed a modeling plug-in for a popular 3D modeling and rendering application.
  • I developed a NOAA weather satellite image interpreter.
  • I obtained an in-depth understanding of how wavelets are used for image compression (e.g. JPEG).
  • I developed a basic rendering application based on radiosity principles.

For numerous reasons, I eventually abandoned this technical pursuit and focused my energies on the creative-side (e.g. Maya, Gnomon Workshop, ZBrush).  While I have some regrets, I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge and experience since that time.  However, for someone who loves playing in both areas, it’s hard not to return to this original path – at least for a short while!

Mental struggles aside, I thought it fitting to include a video of a software developer (Eric Soulvie) who continued the journey and developed a powerful physics plug-in for Modo (based upon the open source Bullet Physics engine).  It’s called Recoil.

It’s something that I am excited to play around with as I can already envision finding uses for such a tool in a design context.


AcD: Digital Specimens – Sphere

One of the benefits, not just of Modo, but among nearly all 3D packages is the ability to utilize procedural textures when surfacing a 3D object.  In layman’s terms, procedural textures are small mathematics-based routines that simulate such surfaces as wood, marble and other natural (and unnatural) textures.

One technique that I recently learned involves the use of gradients as an input to the variables behind the procedural texture.  When you alter the gradient curve, you end up with varying points of “contrast” which allows for some very interesting and creative textures.

The result of this experimentation is what’s shown here – something perhaps that could be found under a microscope in the digital age:

AcD: ION Arcadia I (Early Prototype)

This is another (science-fiction) concept focusing primarily on composition and scale.  You’ll see this theme fairly often as I find it fascinating!  This concept is a spacecraft that is used primarily for human transport.  If under attack, the ship can actually break apart on its own and then regroup into a single entity once the intruder has departed.  The ship can also hover while on land and does not require explicit landing gear (as shown below).

This craft is part of a larger “ION” world I have been thinking about over the past several weeks and thus, I decided to create an early-stage logo to reflect this new environment.

To see the original renders and full set, please visit my digital illustration site at Ink.

AcD: ION Intelligence Compound

While I’ve utilized a similar “cloned cube” composition in this concept, this is the first time I’ve combined 3D elements with a 2D matte painting backdrop.  While neither of these elements was overly elaborate in its complexity, I’m pleased with the resulting composition and color palette.  You can see a few final concepts below (incorporated in Adobe InDesign), but head over to Ink to see the original scene along with the remaining stills.

AcD: Lost Souls

It’s amazing what you can do with such a simple scene such as the one I’ve created here.  Again, in these examples it’s about the composition and the “look” rather than a heavy emphasis on the underlying models.  I call this series “Lost Souls” as it is about the vast cityscape and the isolation of the individuals who remain here.  I always hesitate to alter the name of my creations as I like to stick with the name that I start with.

Interestingly enough, this scene probably would not have worked if I did not include smaller references of the woman within the scene.  The key is to utilize familiar elements, such as this person, elsewhere in the scene to suggest a sense of scale.

Can you locate the human in the second piece?  If not, check out the original here.

AcD: The Human Element

I spent the past few days doing more experimentation with Modo and quickly learned that the latest version includes sample meshes and textures.  While I typically don’t like use pre-built elements, they do allow one to focus on the core creative vs. being concerned with every discrete element within the piece.

Fortunately for me, one of the collections contains human figures and busts.  I decided to use and replicate a few of these meshes to start moving away from traditional hard-edged designs (buildings, spaces) and towards a design composition that is more personal and “real.”

Coincidentally, this is perhaps one of my first digital designs, if not the first, where people are explicitly included in the scene. Even though these are virtual humans, it is the human element that I think allows for a stronger “connection” to these pieces – at least, that’s how it feels to me.  The human element is definitely something you will start to see more of in designs to come.

Below are a few sample renders, but you can see the entire collection here.

AcD: City of Gold (Masters)

Advanced Concept Design, or AcD, is the title surrounding my newest portfolio.  The City of Gold series that I created this past weekend was expanded upon and further refined.  The result of which is the first entry into the AcD portfolio.

What is interesting is that these designs are all based upon a single rectangle in three dimensions.  The simplicity of the model allows for a greater focus in composition, palette exploration and image refinement.  I am very pleased with how these ultimately turned out and very encouraged for further work in this space.

Check out the entire collection on Ink.

Digital Sculpture: City of Gold

If you have ever seen any of the Star Wars movies, you’ll see a consistent theme regardless of film: immense and seemingly infinite spaces.  In earlier episodes, the Death Star is perhaps the largest “space”, while Coruscant is the equivalent in more recent episodes.

I have always been fascinated with large scale settings such as these.  This is perhaps why I have always been fascinated with cities such as Tokyo and other large metropolitan centers.  The design and complexity of these areas is nothing short of staggering.

To create a digital matte painting of such a space takes considerable effort and planning.  To start an initial exploration process, I created several renderings which I call the “City of Gold.”  You can see the entire collection here.

Additional Renders

(The first render is based upon a Modo tutorial by Andy Brown and the second is a digital sculpture using a combination of curve extrusion and cloning.)

Digital Sculpture: Mirror’s Edge

One of the core objectives of Immersion is to move away from pure two dimensional design and to expend greater energy and concentration in three dimensional space.  These renders below are part of a “digital sculpture” series that I am still toying around with.  For the remainder of this particular series, please visit my digital illustration site.