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H++
Updated 9 months ago
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"Neon" challenge entry - "H++"

Link on hi-res image.





Link on hi-res image.



Link on hi-res image.




Link on hi-res image.




Link on hi-res image.



Link on hi-res image.




Link on hi-res image.




Link on hi-res image.




Link on hi-res image.


The Narrative

So, presumably in next 50 years transhumanism will become a common thing, cryonically preserved humans brains can be sliced and scanned to move human consciousness in better, non-biological body (presumably based on electricity, mechanics and optics). Some people will prefer to stay in human-like bodies, this way is named "Humanity+" (or just "H+"). But some people are searching for reasonable maximum for themselves, more productive and effective construction of the body -> more powerful mind -> live better/do more ... here is the concept of that kind - a techdragon. Guess this can be called a "Humanity++" (or just "H++").

Inspiration and references.

In terms of graphics/art/music theme:
Artworks of Mike Winkelmann - pure, 100% NEON! Here is the example of his artworks:
Armored Core 5 trailer - that music theme with slow, "buildup pressure" start and powerful middle... twice in one vido... mmm... nice:
Old launch trailer of famous "Crysis" game - an artificial muscles theme will be actual for me ):

The Process

"Neon" challenge was started at 1st December, but my work on "H++" was started only after 6th December has passed - I just didn't got interesting idea right from start. A whole week was lost but inspiration didn't come by click of the fingers... Watching my favorites on Youtube, browsing my large collection of art gathered from internet, checking that over people already did for "Neon" competition, taking my future plans in to account... Something will come to mind, I know ).
So, a week later I've got an clue and come to very risky, but promising concept - create very complex character anatomy, add skin on top of it + do some simple animations (never did this before, so even walking was out of the list - only simple activity like moving hands/head while sitting) + create some scenes to showcase H++ possibilities and overall transcendence of this body construction + and if I'm very fast it will be good to create clothes for techdragon (using Marvelous Designer first time). All of this just in 5 remaining weeks...

Day 1-2 (December 7th, 2017).
All was started with test run for Unity 2017.3 in terms of compability with Fog Volume 3, NGSS, UBER, Substance materials, declared high-poly meshes support (this one was very actual - character will be imported to Unity as high-poly mesh and I don't need it to be split in random places by 65K vertex limit). Seems all was fine, so I've started doing my techdragon character anatomy in Blender (link to hi-res image):
Note that muscles on previous screenshot may looks like complex thing but actually they are very simple meshes and it's very easy to change that few vertices -> iterate faster. Just classics of 3D modelling: apply Subdivision surface modifier to a mesh and use edge crease on selected edges to shape it in to desired form (link on full-res image) :
December 25th. All of this was done in one day, from top left to bottom right. I'm poor with faces, but at the end of the day I've got creepy but good enough face to work with (my friend Mexanist said that this face looking like Gay Fox's mask). Constantly watching to the various references of dragons and ponies faces on my secondary monitor - it's helps a bit (link on full-res image):
December 26 - 30. Searching for head details - horns, cooling units ("hairs"), peripheral 360 degree cameras on the end of the horns, etc. Four days for this - very slow, but it's complicated - everything is connected here, changing horns position pushes changes to cooling units position and to the ears position (and ears must have space to move back to the "flattened" position). It's just very time consuming to find sweet spot between all of those + this must be good looking too! I'm talentless ... but persistent ); three full time days of moving simple shapes that looks bad, boring, just not good or cheap... search for good references of mechanics is the key here, because my head simply empty in that domain it seems - without good references I can spent whole month doing that with same poor results again and again...(link on full-res image):
December 31 - January 2nd. Head radiators comes to their final shape + some facial features improvements, softer and nicer (link on full-res image):
January 3rd - 4th. More changes to the face... and not for good. Seems that I accidentally found nice facial features and all other attempts are just making thins worse... so, time to return to the backup with nicer facial details and apply minor changes. While messing with that I found that pupils can just float inside eye volume (like a fish in a fish tank) and this looks fine, no need to connect them to the sphere of the eye (and this means - eyes can be any shape and size (non spherical) - who-hoo!; link on full-res image):
January 5th. Applying skinwrap modifier to create a skin on top of anatomy mesh with all details. As you can see to achieve clean results it's necessary to fill all gaps on the anatomy mesh before applying skinwrap modifier. Btw, it works without any problems on ~3M poly models; link on full-res image):
January 6th. Painting skin (right inside Blender, using it's paint mode). Surprisingly, I did it with just second attempt (grey one is final). Weeee! (link on full-res image):
January 7th. First import in to Unity (as is - a half of a million polygons per body, tail manipulators, etc), baking edge wear masks in Substance designer and in between I'm trying to find better color scheme (link on full-res image):
January 8th-9th. There is only a week left and I have no time for experiments with body materials and colors - will stick to this black and white one, at least it's contrast feels good enough. Orange for tail manipulators - fine enough. On most right screenshot you can see that face looks bad from frontal view for some reason... need to fix this again. Time is ticking...(link on full-res image):
January 10th-12th. Finished wings model, created cheap back-mounted arms model (made from techdragon hands with scaling and stretching), and rigged all of that (quite poorly, almost first time doing that with expected amateur set of problems; link on full-res image):
So, it's January 12th and all I've got is five models listed on screenshots above. Definitely, there is no time to create:
  • Clothes - character will be naked. Even if I knew how to use Marvelous Designer - there is simply no time for that.
  • Animations. Originally I've planned to use UMotion (free edition) for this but no time to learn it and create even simplest animations.
  • No time for complex environment scenes - I need to improvise...
  • No time for fixing mistakes rig - I need to hide all problematic places or avoid using them.
I've seriously thought about leaving from competition here but... let's challenge myself: how far I can go in just 3 days? To have more time I've limited my sleep to ~6 hours (but not less - I need to be in good shape to quickly resolve a lot of creative tasks in those 3 remaining days + competition must be fun, not stressful/taxing for my psyche and body). So, it's Unity time, no more screenshots from Blendaaaar! )
First scene is very simple - one platform for showcasing techdragon's anatomy. It was not so cool until I've added this neon ring (do not planned that there will be such beauty, just got inspiration moment while searching for something to fill blackness of the background; guess this was come from Mike Winkelmann artwork references). Everything is high poly there -around 6M summary - and after two shadow casting spotlights final poly count is 27M+, vertex count is 100M+... Unity 2017.3 rock stable ... wow (link to full-res image):
Another essential component of this scene is lens dirt texture I've created for Post-processing stack v2 bloom:
Here is example of ON/OFF effect of this simple lens dirt texture (link on full-res image).
Now to the second "Hangar" scene (link on full-res image):
The trick is simple - just use two lights, one of them must use that circle light cookie and that way will add some nice artistic edge tint. Price is double shadow cost - now there will be two shadowcasting lights (link on full-res image):
And the roof scene:
... a lounging techdragon + some construction models that I've made for Blue Mars virtual world a decade ago (you can see it here ; link on full-res image):
... and awesome volumetric clouds from Fog Volume 3 asset package, set to insane quality settings with self-shadowing (because rules of competition allows that ); link on full-res image).
DONE! Now it's time to create video using Timeline and Cinemachine... ooooops, never used them before. Time to learn - only 10 hours left ... if I will not sleep today. Okay, got some diet coke and after several hours of learning ... done! But quite poorly (watch final video, camera work there is amateur at best...).
Conclusion: a lot of things can be better, but I did something... hope you like it )
Assets used:
  • Unity's Cinemachine
  • Unity's Timeline
  • Unity's Post-processing stack v2 beta 5
  • Unity's Recorder
  • Textures from "Real Materials Complete" package (my own).
  • Models from "Real Models - Crates and pallets" package (my own).
  • Models from "Real Models - Home lights" package (my own).
  • Tools (models of wrenches and stuff) from PBR Building Tools
  • Tools (models of wrenches and stuff) from HQ Tools Pack
  • Plane model from Unity's Standard assets pack.
  • Fog Volume 3
  • UBER shaders
  • NGSS soft shadows
  • Black plates material on hangar walls/floor is from Substance Source.

... AND THE HIDDEN TREASURE FOR PATIENT READERS (you deserve it ^_^)

My motivation source based on combination of TTS (Text-To-Speech) software and good books: put a interesting book to the TTS program and it will read it to you. How this helps to work? Voice, coming from TTS program, suppresses my own depressive/negative thoughs about my current task and I just work and work, submerged to the interesting story from the book, day by day, month by month. This method of "own grumpy thoughts suppression" is simple, does not require effort from puny, weak, not-fully-recovered-from-depression me. It's like a working under good music, but good books are way longer to listen and easier to find. Hope this simple trick will change your quality of creative process same way it did for me )

Lex4art
Lex4art's homeplace - Artist
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Comments
Lex4art
8 months ago
Lex4art's homeplace - Artist
Thanks ^_^
0
David Raso
8 months ago
Game developer - Programmer
I love your Techdragon the first time I see your project I be like « wtf did I just watch ?» but in a good way ! You make Art, you've got a big potential, trust me or not but with more experience you can do exceptional things. Keep it up!
0