Work In Progress / 30 December 2019

Search for a Star: Blocking out Lighting

You can follow my live progress on my Trello page.

Its been a hectic Christmas break... for some reason I volunteered to host the family this year! Now things have calmed down a bit and the stock pile of turkey and stuffing is finally down to it's last mouthfuls its back to the grind. 

Initial Lighting Pass

Just before Christmas week I was visited by Willow Sorour who not only is a good friend but also becoming a bit of a wizard in lighting. She gave me a crash course in what all the buttons do in lighting, what things I should focus on to get the look I wanted and some other tips and tricks. I struggle with knowing how I want things to look but not knowing how to execute it, so Willows visit and 4 pages of notes later I feel a bit more confident!

Here's how the scene is looking now with an initial lighting pass!

This is still just the block out so everything is pretty ugly, however the mood change of the whole scene just by tweaking some lights and getting the atmospheric fog in place make such a huge difference! The lighting set up is currently very simple.

My sky light has been replaced with Good Sky a blueprint for unreal which replaces the default sky dome and makes it a million times prettier. As I want to go for this foggy slightly eerie light the time of day has been set to early morning and the green channels jacked up a bit to push those foliage values I want to capture as most of this environment is to be experienced inside the conservatory itself. At the moment most of the other lights are still white as I want to see how the foliage affects the scene before pushing anymore colour value into the lighting.

I have a large point light where the outer boundary has been pushed as far as it can to mimic sunlight and put this in front of the door. This along with the atmospheric fog will help mimic god rays through the windows and make the statue a focal point as it will be nicely lit up. 

There are 4 little point lights around where my lighting fixtures will be, to simulate the fake warm lights above the statue. Finally surrounded by a couple of reflection captures. I was advised that I might need to add 1 more as its a spherical space depending how my textures go. 



This change has helped immensely affect the mood and I feel more spurred on because of it, I can't wait to get the textures in place now so I can do more with the lighting. 

Meshes and Shaders

Inspired after the lighting pass I thought it was important to make sure I had something that mimicked glass to see how those god rays might work. Not having done glass in a little while I set up a really quick shader in Unreal just for now. In the below screenshot you can see I updated my conservatory mesh to have more posts, but unfortunately my refraction is a bit high so it still looks very weird. As I re-imported my mesh I had to re-do a quick statue block out as well. 

The glass isn't how I want it to look in the end but its a passable place holder. I will need to do a lot of research into how to make convincing looking condensation.

Trim Sheet Test

Finally I wanted to test how my trim sheet would work. I made a very quick base colour trim sheet using images from These gave me an idea of what I needed, what works and doesn't work so that I can move forward and make something more ideal in zbrush. 

From this experiment I know that my base blocks for the most part work fine but I would like to do a base lip to ground it. The iron for the posts is probably too busy with too much detail so just stick with the iron and rivets without the design work. Because of how I've uv'd the posts I should think about a wrap around design as well.
The middle stone section could be a bigger and take up some of the base stone. It should be the same material as the base stone and have a bit of detail in regards to more strips and segments rather than a solid block of stone. The iron work section was hard to tell if this worked or not as its so high up it's not really seen, so I am thinking of making this a relief rather than transparent iron work. However I could keep this as iron work and use it as a trim around the flower beds inside. 

I have actually gone and done goofed here and made the dome glass instead of stone at the very top too!

Base Mannequin

Finally I also began on my statue sculpt. Fully aware this is probably going to take some time I thought I'd make a crack at it whilst I'm still home. Usually when i have created figurative sculpts like this I'll use Zspheres to make the base, however I do tend to make a mess of this down the line. I found the work of Follygon and saw that he uses spheres to build up his own base character mesh which he then poses as he needs to further down the line and then adds extra detail to. i thought this method might help me a lot so I started my own.   

Bare with me here it's still a bit of a monstrosity. However as I started to sculpt on bits I can see how this method is probably going to be best for me as I can focus on each body part without worrying I'm going to stuff something else up. I'm also keeping symmetry on to make sure it's replicated both sides and saves time. 

Using reference I can see my proportions are off but I am hoping to fix this as I keep working through the body parts. As you can see I've already made the head a bit smaller. After getting a little frustrated with the torso I went to my comfort zone which was the head. 

Keeping everything still quite low the head sculpt actually came along faster than I thought it would. Using my sculpture references I'm going for quite smooth and hard edges to build the structure, like the centre reference photo below. Keeping the expression serene.

I've got a week at home a head of me and there's a lot that can be done within this time! Once I get those materials sorted on the conservatory itself I think things will really start to come together fast! This week I am going to focus on my trim sheet and maybe even look at the floor material as well. However I would like to get the majority of my sculpture done so that it's ready for posing and texturing, I am assuming I am going to need to retopologise this in Maya when I am done too!
Once I get this more complex stuff done I will be able to focus on the smaller assets such as foliage, light fixtures and the pond after class leading up to the end of January.