All for Socks at AltBlackpool

A few weeks ago I was invited for an interview with Kirsty Jennings at AltBlackpool.  It was my first interview, and I was scared, frightened and petrified trying to nurse my Chai Latte while trying to sound as interesting a person I could be, but failing miserably.  Kirsty managed to weave from my terrible babble a beautiful piece for the paper, and I’m delighted and rather emotional reading my creative endeavours being seen or recognised (is that to egotistical?).

You can read the wonderful piece here…

Thank you Kirsty and the paper for a beautiful write-up that I’m completely astounded and delighted by.

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New work update

I just wanted to share some recent client work with you.

I spent about a month or so on one project, a music video for Audio mainline.  It should be released next month, however they have made an edited trailer for it here…….

It was a fun project to work on, I used a variety of techniques to produce the results the client wished.  I will share some of the methods once the final video has been released.

I have also been working on a sculpt of a young girl for her parents.  I think it should be finished in a few more days and then 3d printed to sit where they desire in their home.  Again a lovely project to work on.  They gave me a minimum brief and free rein, and its paying off into a lovely pose.


Another one I finished recently was a book cover for a kindle book, entitled Empty Bananas.  The project only took 2 days, and I had the added bonus of reading a delightful book beforehand and visualise the piece on the cover.  Complete free reign this time to just go for it.  Very fun to create and experiment.


I’m also working on a number of personal project for my portfolio.  Ill show you some.  But I hope to have all completed by the end of March…

So first there is Laketown, just started….

9 boat6

Im also reworking my Princess Mononoke model


Making a 3d print of a Ballet dancer


And a super hero.

master1 2

And I just completed reworking the texture on my blade runner spinner


And created a low polygon version of my monster

2 3

So once these models are complete, a new demo reel should be up a week or so after (just waiting on the models) and a serious rejig of my online portfolio will be in order. …

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Low polygon Sofa

I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial on the sofa so here it is. I’ve done a main breakdown of the methods used in the construction, then glossed over the end since I pretty much talk about the same method in the TV and stand tutorial.

Anyway for the construction.

Firstly, after digging around for some reference on the trusty internet, I used shadow box for the sides and back, and for the base a cube.

12A few tweaks, mirror and weld, dynamesh, cuts and inflates resulted in this mesh.

3The grooves were simply created using a diamond shaped alpha and a standard brush, and standard brush for the adjoining lines, with lazy mouse up.

45I think then a slight inflate using cavity masking blurred and grown. To give more definition to the hills. Next a rather low poly button was created, and added using insert mesh.

6The buttons around the arm were created using curve insert mesh. Again very low poly to deal with the amount (I increased the polygon count later when polypainting. But I didn’t want to exceed the capacity of Zbrush by going to high to early).

7Next to add the seams I masked off one side of where I was about to draw, then used standard brush with lazy mouse to push up the area on one side.

9Next were the folds. Using dam standard, smooth or the standard brush.

10The final sculpt after modelling

12Legs were a simple cylinder primitive masked and scaled.

13The base texture was from my wallet, scanned, high pass filter with colour layer above, make tillable (in ps) and used in spotlight to project the colour and some added detail with a low z intensity

15An ambient occlusion mask, and cavity mask filling with a low colour.

16Then the brass parts coloured. And legs to get the final coloured high poly model

17Originally I carried on with the model in Zbrush, creating new topology (rather too much topology), uvs and projecting it (producing some awkward stretching in areas when low poly) I finished it in max and Photoshop creating the model you see below plus wire frames.

3clay_Wire5baseIts ok, but rather high poly for a lot of the detail that the normal map can do itself. In the end the silhouette is all that is important for the mesh, so I went back to it later, using a low poly cage created in max (about 270 polys) from a decimated model, and baked textures in Xnormal. This method is by far faster and produces cleaner results. Using Marmoset to test the object also allowed me to jump back and forth quickly after bakes, and after some feedback the final model at 284 polygons using a diffuse, normal, spec and gloss 1024 map is finished.

Renders plus texture are below. To see my methodology of creating a low poly asset from a high in more detail check out the TV and Stand post.







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TV and stand creation

I have two new works to blog about this week. The first is a hard surface model using Zbrush as the main program and finished as a low poly asset. Here are some reference shots first to give you an idea of what I was planning.

refI liked the pattern of the stand, and the shape of the TV created some challenges. To start the stand was fairly easy dynameshed object from a box. The basic shapes were created from primitives, masking, inflate, scale, move etc. The draws were separate to begin, so was any major shapes. The pattern I originally created in shadowbox, but found better results a “extruded” alpha from a box, with the box clipped off after. Lots of cheeky mirror and welding in places solved a few scale issues and helped produce the final shape of the draws. In the end pretty much everything was standard Zbrush modelling tools.

stand1Next the texture. I think I relied on spotlight for the majority of the work. Using a z intensity of say 6 or something. Something low. Then to add the worn removed paint, I added a wood texture, and painted on where I wanted it to be worn down using a trim dynamic for the scratches with a hair alpha. I really aged the stand much more than the original ref to give it some character.

master2By this stage the objects were all still separate entities. I only merged them all into one object when I wanted to disseminated them later, or export the model. More of that later.

Next the TV.

master1The initial shape I created from a box using the clay brushes then finally h polish. After that, to get some nice sharp edges for the back, I exported the mesh into max, and created a low poly cage. Took that back into Zbrush and increased the polys after polygroups, then dynameshed for the cuts. I could have done all the retoplogy in zbrush, but I prefer the poly tools in max (until v 4.7 is out).

The vents and other shape cuts were all done using dynamesh subtract. Sometimes however this produces bad results. Therefore an insert mesh with negative selected will cut the surface. I originally created the whole vent as one object, but separate blocks work better for cutting. One at a time.

The cuts produced nice polygroups for each section, which helped with the final texturing later, allowing me to mask off areas quickly with little cleanup for the screen and labels. The buttons and scart plug were all separate entities which made it easier for the texturing.

master3The textures were fairly standard. Similar to the stand really. A nice trick is to take a selection of the reference with little shadow in Photoshop, copy the layer twice, produce a high pass filter for the first layer, and add the second as colour. And use the third as reference to bring the colour back to original (layers, colour balance, hues etc). This should give you a nice tillable texture (it may need a offset and a slight adjustment) to use across the object. It’s a quick method that creates a nice base to start from. I used this method for both the wood base of the stand and the base plastic on the front and back of the TV.
Anyway to quickly finish the textures. The screen I created a quick alpha of stripes for the close up TV lines. Originally I tried surface noise to a mask for this, but it just wasn’t detailed enough. Then finally used a reference image, imported to Zbrush spotlight to colour pick the screen colours. The labels are edited ref put into spotlight with obviously no z intensity on screen or labels.


To get to this stage was a fairly quick process. All the main work is done, so both the stand, and TV were merged objects (still as separate stand and TV though), decimated to under 100,000 polys each, then brought into max for a quick build of the low poly. (graphite modelling tools allowing the vertex to “stick” to the high poly model). A nice trick to this in Max is to have the screen as shaded, no wires, and have the low poly in the view configuration set to “display selected as edge faces”. Therefore you are not using to many resources trying to draw all the wire of the higher, and it’s a lot easier to see!

Anyway the TV came in at 418 and stand at 552. I could have floated the knobs but I wanted it a closed mesh. Then after UVs and smooth groups, I went back to Zbrush and exported the very high poly merged meshes with poly paint on as objs into Xnormal and the lows, and baked the TV and stand separately. The low poly, Albedo and normal imported to Marmoset to check.

I had some trouble with both objects projecting correctly after viewing in Marmoset, but each method I tried to fix were really obvious. The legs of the stand were projecting part of the underside, so I built a cage in max and used that in Xnormal which solved that problem. However the TV “handle” and scart lead were projecting horribly. Both were influenced by the rest of the object close by. So I cut out the area in Zbrush for the high, and did the same for the low (well the uv map of that area) and reprojected using just those sections. Producing a nice clean area I could import back into the texture. The good things about Marmoset and Xnormal is they are so quick you can really spend a lot longer testing and re testing the model to get it right.

Final checks and specular and gloss created, using basic colours with levels and hues adjustable to produce the right lighting for each material. Once the lighting was right, then detail added on the spec and gloss. I tend to have the same methodology as here ( when creating the spec and gloss.

master5The final polys are about 1110 with the lead (created in max using a spline, and a duplicate with lower polys (I think 3 sides in the end) uved and baked in xnormal. The texture were for both the TV and stand a diffuse, normal, spec and gloss at 2048 but I could happily have reduced them to 1024 with a sharpen more applied.

tv_texture_mastertv_stand_masterAnyway here are some close up renders


I have also been reworking a sofa so will post up a short tutorial on that in the next few days. But it’s pretty much the same method after the high poly creation.


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Book competition closed

The book competition for a copy of my first publication is closed! Congratulations to the winners, Paul and Lee. For everyone else here is a link to the book on Amazon, in Paperback or Kindle format.

And here is a wailing alarm. Just because.


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Competition Time!


I’m running a very easy competition to win a copy of my new book All For Socks – Just read an extract and sign up! Follow the link for more details and to enter!

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Marmoset character tutorial and Renderman signup

Just a quickly to show a great tutorial/showcase of the features of Marmoset in Character rendering. It really helps detail the incredible tools the program offers.


And speaking of rendering Pixar are set to release their non commercial Renderman soon, you can signup now to register.

All the best


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