Monday, February 28, 2011


Bit of a fun diversion project I'd like to share today. I've been recruited to create some graphics and icons for Starcraft player.
Now, normally I wouldn't bother to bat an eye at this project. Two reasons convinced me
1) I am a Starcraft player, and felt that I could make something cool based on my knowledge (not to be confused with SKILL) of this game, and
2) Said player is in the Master League of Starcraft, which is super-exclusive and encompasses just the top 2% of all players.
If you're not aware, Starcraft is extremely competitive, and the top players often have
thousands of lower-ranked players following their strategies and matches. So when a Master
League player comes calling, you don't say no.
Long story short, here are the graphics I created for him. The first is a kind of banner.

The second and third graphics are for forum posts and "pause" graphics on video streams:

The interesting thing here is the tools that I used to create this, namely, After Effects. That's right, zero Photoshop. And it was an extremely efficient way to work. The smoke elements were stock footage shot against black, the red lasers were particles emitting particle trails, and the "K" element opening up was in real AE 3D, which means I could potentially animate this logo to make a cool video intro.

Follow speKter's Starcraft exploits here:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

3D Caricaturization!

Let's begin by saying this is one of the most fun assignments I've worked on: create caricature 3D spaceman characters of everyone on the client's team. Could hardly be called working at all.

Starting out, I took some reference images. Here's one. We'll call him Tim.

The next step was to create some sketches and nail the right look. Too bad I can't draw caricatures to save my (or anyone else's) life. Luckily, I found an extremely talented artist, James Hungaski, who was also excited about the possibility of working with a 3D artist who would translate his artwork into 3D models and characters. We went through several iterations of caricatures until we arrived at one that Tim signed off on.
Here is James's website, give him a holla if you need artwork done...
And while I can't draw caricatures, I do have a small artistic bone in me, so while James tackled Tim's face, I sketched out the full body and suit.

Then, the relevant (front and side isometric) images were imported into 3ds max to allow modeling to begin.

I quickly realized that caricatures don't necessarily translate perfectly into 3D space, so I had to make lots of decisions about the forehead, chin, face shape, etc where to front and side drawings didn't quite match up. I think, in the end, I did justice to the concept art.

Tim requested some small tweaks to the face, as well as a render using an Ink and Paint shader for comparison. I felt that the cartoon look wasn't quite as successful, and I would have liked to keep the face as it was (slightly simpler, with larger, more expressive eyes). In the end, Tim agreed with my assessment and decided to drop the Toon shader, though he stuck to his guns regarding the updated face. Oh well, it's his face, after all...

The final render is at the top. It is rigged using 3ds max's CAT animation rig, which is super intuitive and very easy to set up quickly and use. In a project like this, where the budget doesn't really allow for creating individual bones and rigging the skeleton, that is invaluable. I'm very happy with the final product, and I look forward to watching James tackle some more people. In the face.

I wonder if there is a demand for more artwork like this? Possibly companies are just waiting to be sold on the idea of fun, 3D avatars of their employees.