Saturday, 6 August 2011

CRS-4 General Purpose Droid

As part of my efforts to re-design the world of Pale Black, one of the first major asset I dumped and rebuilt from scratch is the security droid. After some painful contemplation, I have decided that the previous version looked too...what's that word..."anime"-like. Sure it looked aggresive, but considering that it's purpose on the station was to protect the onboard population, I couldn't have it look as if it was going to rip out your spine whenever it was coming at you.

So, taking some pointers from real world robot designs, I came up with something more subdued and neutral. Something that wouldn't normally make babies cry but if looked at under the right light, could (hopefully) make your skin crawl.

I present to you, the CRS-4 General Purpose Droid.
As you can see, the station employs three variants that serves different roles. As with many major assets, I did a short writeup about the droid's characteristics to ensure continuity with the design and it's behaviour. I'll close this post with an excerpt from the writeup:

".....What the CRS-4 lacks in intelligence and durability, it makes it up with a relatively low startup cost and an even lower operating cost. The droid’s parts are designed as modules and can easily removed or re-attached in the field, even by untrained personnel. This reduces the need for dedicated technicians just for droid maintenance, as long as the operator maintain a healthy inventory of spare parts......"

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Download - Chipped paint Lightwave3D preset

Yes, yes I know it's been a rather long time since my last update. While I have been hard at work revamping a lot of the assets, I have also been kept busy with paid jobs. In fact, this project is the only thing that keeps me from burning out from all those mundane, un-creative jobs that pays for my meals.

Anyway, I am working on a short teaser at the moment. The teaser will not only serve as a demo of the visual style and quality I'm aiming for, but also a means to experiment with my production pipeline. I've made some progress, albeit slowly, but I'm hopeful I'll get it done very soon. Oh, and having one of my workstations die on me the last weekend didn't help.

One of the things that I had started to develop early on was a metallic chipped surface shader that I could reuse (and easily modify as needed), since the story takes place on a space station where there will be many, what else, old, scratched metallic surfaces.

I have completed a version using only the layers system in Lightwave3D with procedural textures and gradients, the result of which you can see below:

A version of the shader was applied to my early prop models, such as the barrel:

You can download the preset here (Newtek Lightwave 3D v9.0 or higher required).

I am currently working on a node-only  version of the shader which will allow me to control the amount of chipped areas via a weight map, such as on the edges of an object.

Using a procedural shader saves me the trouble of painting chipped paint textures for every single object, and I don't have to worry about texture sizes since procedural textures are resolution independent. The downside of this approach is the increased CPU overhead when rendering since the textures have to be generated during rendertime. But considering the alternative of using high resolution image maps, which will incur memory overhead and possibly a larger impact on rendering time, I think it is a fair compromise, if not a solution.

Alright then, back to work!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Aaron Sim's Archetype

Aaron Sims, renowned concept designer (The Incredible Hulk, I am Legend) has released a teaser trailer for his film project named Archetype. Watch the trailer below

"Your Memories are just a glitch

RL7 is an eight foot tall combat robot. Only problem is he's starting to remember once being human. Now on the run from an all powerful corporation that will stop at nothing to destroy him RL7 desperately searches for the truth behind his mysterious memories before it's too late.

Directed by Aaron Sims, starring Robert Joy (Land of the Dead, CSI: NY) and David Anders (Heroes, 24).

For more information on Aaron and his latest projects, go to, and"

This is particularly interesting for me because there are certain aspects of this project that is similiar to what I have in mind for Pale Black. Nonetheless, I'm sure there are many key differences that differentiates both projects, lest people start saying that I'm ripping off Sims (or he is ripping off Pale Black! Har Har!).

It is great to see another robot film, nonetheless.

On another note, again, I know there have been little updates lately. I am reviewing some of the work I've done and is pondering whether to implement some changes to my work, which could mean redoing some completed assets. I'll keep posting.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The power of spreadsheets

Pale Black is not a major production by any means, but it's a pretty daunting undertaking for one person. That is why it is important for me to document and track the progress of everything in this project.

I don't use any fancy tracking applications that shows me flowcharts, progress bars and completion percentage, nor do I need them. I do want a lightweight, simple and easy to use solution. In fact, as it turns out, I only needed spreadsheets. I also needed portability, since I'm not always in front of my workstation and I didn't want to carry a laptop or thumbdrive with me all the time. That is why Cloud applications, specifically Google Docs, is a godsend to people like me. I can update my documents anywhere and anytime as long as I have an Internet connection. Currently, I keep all my documents pertaining to Pale Black, including scripts and treatments, with Google Docs.

But enough of that. You can see below a screen shot of my 3D assets list:

It is as simple as it gets. The name of the asset, the type of the asset, reference concept art, status of the 3D model (whether it is modeled, textured, rigged etc.) and the level-of-detail (LOD) of the 3D model. Everything is updated manually which is not that much work since there aren't that many assets.

A shotlist is created for each episode, and as you might've guess from the name, it lists the shots that needs to be done to be assembled into a coherent episode.

Excuse the mosaic, possible spoilers!

Again, it is extremely simply. The information included are the shot number, description of the shot, audio (sound effects, music and dialogue), remarks (usually highlighting unique techniques for the particular shot) and the current status of the shot. The shotlist allows me to estimate the number of shots for each episode and track the status of each shot as well as what I have to look out for when I revisit any particular shot.

Strangely, these two documents not only helps me keep track of the production, they also have weird way of motivating me. The feeling of checking off tasks in these spreadsheet are very gratifying to say the least, and gives me, however minute, a sense of achievement every time I mark something as "Done".

I would like to add that Google Docs is by no means a replacement for MS Office or even OpenOffice (Which I use for my other works) when it comes to functionality, but if you are only in the market for a free, simple and portable alternative, it proves to be an immensely useful tool. That, and it saves the document that your are working on into the cloud every few seconds, saving you the heartache of lost work because of a computer crash....that has gotta worth something!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Generic corridor

A typical sci-fi corridor, complete with fog and alarm lights. The big white square on the upper left corner is suppose to be a display screen. Still a WIP at the moment, though.