Monday, 31 December 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Ashen Bloom The Book!

Hello Everyone,

I'm back and once again posting on our old Smoke Stack Blog, I know I said I wouldn't but I couldn't resist on posting about our books finally arriving at my door (and a week early at that). I wasn't sure what they would come out like mostly worried that something would get clipped out of the prints frame or that some undetermined bleed factor would cut away important content. Never the less they are here and everything is accountable with one rather annoying little exception. They are darker then I thought they would be...

It's not a big problem for the brighter images in fact it makes the book look more authentic and older but some of the factory images are blotted out because of their darkness factor. Rather annoying but I guess it wasn't going to be perfectly perfect. Never the less they still look cool and are well worth the £20.00 asking price, its still an awesome thing to have in the portfolio (with future others :)

Everything has been printed professionally and I especially love the hardcover its really awesome, I thought the internal white pages would irritate me but surprisingly they are okay not bright white, a little darker which kind of works with the book. I was a little annoyed that I couldn't rotate the rear blurb logo so that it was in landscape that's another minor problem they really need to consider a land scape option not everyone prints in portrait! I wasn't sure if the pages would print the right way but I guess I managed to fix the bugs present.

There are 4 copies of the book (Books Yes Books image) one for each of my partners and me one for the Uni to throw in amongst the other talent on our course. Its really quite a handy little book I think we probably have one of the smallest books but its cool because its mini, much more handy then carrying around a massive bible. I will probably go on our private facebook in a bit and inform my old team that the awesome books have arrived and to check out this post so they can have a tiny sneak peak before I bring them all in next week.

The inside of the book is pretty crisp and clear as I said aside from the more darker images it contains which is a bit of a shame considering how awesome everything else is. Don't let me put it down though its not as bad as I'm sure its sounding coming from me... Those that know me know I am a glass half empty kind of person. All of the book is still awesome and I think its pretty well done when you consider how unknown this was for me trying to use a portrait blurb template to create a landscape print... Something I don't encourage for those looking to do this in the future.

Last but not least I will say the books most greatest feature is that it has legs (no not actual legs but it can stand haha). Don't worry I didn't make it walk across the carpet or anything quite as crazy as that but it was just a nice thing to note at the time when I was trying to figure out the best shots to take with my camera. Anyway I'm hoping my partners in crime Lydia and Anita get a kick out of them and if anything I hope they will look back at this little book from time to time to remember the Bloom project, I certainly will when I'm showing this as a portfolio piece or something haha.

Well I think that really does do it now, I wasn't going to do a further post past the deadline complete one but I think this one was the exception that proves the rule. After all this book is post Ashen Bloom and is just a final statement of all our hard work. Anyway I think I'm done waffling and now I really have covered absolutely everything (I have Photoshop Phil lol).

Take it easy people, look forward to seeing you guys in the new year wherever you may be or if you are like me and are working through it haha good luck!!

Over & Out,

Friday, 21 December 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Time Management Deadline Complete

Hello Everyone,

Well here it is the last post before the curtain call leaving the cast time to take a bow before going home and resting before swallowing down a turkey... each. There are no jobs remaining except our own individual ones obviously. There is only the road leading forward taking us into future briefs and the undying unknown. This blog is a reference to success and I will tell anyone who asks me about it the same. We overcame a lot to get here and even though some of us (me) still remain a little lost it has somewhat temporarily closed that door that says "your not worth a damn".

Alan and Phil clearly hit the nail on the head when they referred to our years group work by saying that a few weeks back it was just words on a brief telling us what to do. Now it is something that is beyond that brief, the creation extends beyond its creators. Its come to life in a sense and can now move and emote and pose. It is a world beyond ours and a complete creation of imagination and passion. I will take this moment to thank my group partners Anita & Lydia - good job ladies, it wouldn't have been possible without your dedication... now look at it!!!

Anyway, lets get down to it!! *Wipes a tear from his eye*

There is the task board, checked off and altered slightly to add in the additional 2 week bleed (different from the usual 5 week deadline that I'm used to). The briefs are hung from it along with the time table for the deadlines. Who'd have thought we'd be here already it feels like we only just got back to University and already we are approaching Christmas. It won't be long before were back out for summer break chilling out a little before the final push of Year 3. I say again where the hell did all of the time go?? Haha, Phil tells us as much every single day.

This is me celebrating the only way I know how, to remove all of the ink from the board and revert the board to its pristine state. It was quite a pig to clean I don't mind saying that ink can be pretty stubborn when you leave it on there for a few months. Still I haven't forgotten that there is other work due in when we return I will be dealing with this on my personal blog ( I also have a little gift to give the masses before Christmas - a statement from the REAL "Charles". You may have to adjust your mind-set though the real Charles is not human :) I GIVE YOU THE STAR OF ASHEN BLOOM - CHARLIE!!!

The persona may have been based on Orphan Children and dreamers but the initial idea and basis for the name was from my little woofer Charlie Chocolate. Yes he is little and yes he does wish you a Merry Christmas but it will probably be in the form of a bark. I just thought words from him would wrap this post up better then an entire ream of banter from me. Of course it was after I assigned the name "Charles" to our little boy when I found out it meant "Free Man" which also kind of made the name ideal for the Character... to top it off Lydia and Anita loved it lol...

Well that concludes this post!!
We have said our goodbyes over facebook -----------------------------------------

"Hey Guys!!! Just wanted to say a massive thank-you for putting up with me for the past 12 weeks!! And I've honestly loved working together :) Merry Christmas!!! Hope you enjoy the break ... even with another project and maya tutorials to do!! :D"
"Likewise Lydia! Its been an honour, 1 post to do and then Im closing the final deadline... Weird. Anyway books are ordered, rapid prototypes ordered... See you by the wayside!!"

"Same! Very happy I got to work with you guys And we dont hate each other at the end of it!! Have a lovely Christmas."

Have a good Christmas everyone and I will probably see you back in my personal domain back at the 37 Stitch. Stay cool Smoke Stack you did us proud!

Over & Out,

Unit 7: Narrative - Merchandise - T- Shirt

Hello Everyone!!

I have one post to make after this one and then that's the end for posts on this blog. Gonna miss this little haven but alas I have to return to my neglected personal blog to give it some tender loving care as well as get cracking on other work. I have bid my farewell to my team mates via our personal little facebook group and we have all enjoyed working together separating on good terms so that's what the most important thing is here. While we had some last minute flaws (as we knew we would) I still think we managed to turn it around and get something to show our hard work.

To those of you that do not know, on the last day of most of our animation briefs I usually create a T-Shirt to celebrate the successful completion of the unit. So last week when we handed in our final deadline for Ashen Bloom I had a T shirt in wait collecting dust for the special day. I did the same thing for Agebook (our Unit 6 brief) and on occasion I get it out to have a little trip down memory lane. Anyway this post is about the T-Shirt fundamentally, I didn't do a post regarding the Agebook T-Shirt for Unit 6 but I think this case warrants a little mention.

Anyway lets get to the Epic - Smoke Stack Ashen Bloom Shirt!!

For those of you that don't know the T shirt design was mostly comprised of the Jacket Design I built on Charles. From this I created a customised UV template which I exported from Maya and mapped the UV over the top of a T - Shirt on the spreadshirt editor. I faded the edges but mostly the Gag here was to say that the person wearing it was not real they are but a 3D model. On the back I put a picture of Charles identifying him as "real" even though he is not. You guys get the picture here I don't like trying to be the guy to explain a joke lol.

Figure 1 (above) shows the finished article, it wasn't quite how I wanted it as I wanted to drape the entire front of the UV jacket over the chest and sleeves of the shirt. The editor would not let me expand from the chest area so I had to fade it out. The squares of the jacket are basically the jacket in the first image of this post. I planar mapped the front so I could have the front flat and then I cut the back side of the jacket away and moved it to one side so I could have a clean front map on its own. It looked much cleaner this way, I used photoshop to expand the width of the UV grid.

Figure 2 (above) shows the back of the T shirt, I'm a little gutted I hadn't finished rigging at this stage because I would have preferred to have him in a pose for the back of the shirt. I also hadn't noticed till later but the printing of the darker colours had caused the prints to come out a little murky probably best in the future if I keep it to something brighter. Still I think the T - Shirt does the required job I almost cannot wait to see the books printed so we have something a little more final to hold in our hands... Just a few weeks away..... we have to wait :P

Figure 3 (above) is yours truly modelling the little beast as I said it still looks pretty cool even though it is not covering the entire torso as I would have preferred like a real jacket. It still looks pretty awesome and more importantly I know what it means and the model it represents, again this is just my personal need to have something physical at the end of a project. I don't like my ideas to end on the screen or on a sheet of paper, its nice to have something physical that you get to take with you that its the product of your idea, it just screams that the idea is bigger then the computer... I love that.

I'm a little sad that our journey has come to an end here and considering where we started its made me wonder how we got to the end. We had a roller coaster but it seems to have produced more results then I have produced in a project before and I am glad. We are not constrained by the idea, the idea transcends the limitations of the computer, we can hold Charles or wear a T - Shirt or read a book illustrating our journey. If you ask me that's what every project should be about, we should be doing everything we can to get our things from the digital into the real...

Well I wont waffle any longer I have another post to make which will have a heart felt goodbye to the Smoke Stack Journey. I will look back over this blog when I feel shit just to tell myself that it is possible... YOU CAN DO THIS. I'm sure it will help.

Catcha Later People!

Unit 7: Narrative - Rapid Prototype Charles

Hello Everyone,

Coming down to the final few posts for this blog now, I may do one more post when our books arrive in Jan but that may be something for my personal blog as opposed to here. I don't wish to clutter or fill this blog with tonnes of Junk when there is no more development. Anyway this post is about Rapid Prototype printing particularly for our Charles model, for this I will be referencing the company I have used in the past and personally know. It was said by Phil after our presentation that he would like to know this information so here it is...

The company I used for our Printing is a German firm known as "Expo Nat", they do a number of jobs including Rapid prototyping in various materials. They also provide scanning services for bringing physical objects (such as peoples faces or specific items) into 3D geometry. We met them at one of our many games events where I happened to ask them if they could print a model of ours at the time. While we were waiting for the print we kept coming back to their stall to check on it, when we came back my business partner kept helping them cleaning up some of their scans... Before we knew it they had some work for him in a freelance capacity, I got introduced through him...

Their website can be found at - and as I said they can knock up any number of prints in any shape or form. So if you have any rapid prototyping needs for your project give them a heads up they will do their best to accommodate you. I have been made aware that the Uni have a facility for printing but if you wish to contact an external company such as these I'm sure they will give you a deal. Phil also wished to do a greet with them specifically should other students wish this facility in the future and I think its to reach out to more businesses on a professional basis something which I know they are more then happy to do...

Our main contact on the Expo Nat side of things is Dirk Moller (pictured above), I will direct him to this post once I have made it so he is further made aware of a CG students standing point for printing. Dirk is a nice guy and will do anything and everything to make sure a students need is met for their print. I would present his email but to be honest I think any of the people at Expo Nat will be able to accommodate your needs, just submit a request through their website. Of course if you have an issue understanding it just mail through your requirements from the contact page. Alternatively you can ask me or Phil I will connect Dirk with him when we return in Jan.

The image above shows the print created from the 3D file I provided Dirk which was pre-posed and devoid of any holes in the geometry. The colour print takes on the polypaint from the UVs when sculpting. The only slight flaw is some of the ruffles on the surface where it is not quite "finished" but in this case its still quite cool. Nat told me dipping it in Glue would pristine the colour back up but for this model I thought it worked this way... Charles is old fashioned so its only right that he looks like he's covered in dust haha. Anyway as you can see the quality is top rate so if you need anything printed, hit them up I totally recommend them and would be more then happy to get you connected.

Last but not least the image above is a shot of me on the D-Day for our Narrative Crit, holding little Charles. Dirk asked me to take a picture when I received the model I just kept putting it off but never the less this is me happy with the result. I will give Dirk the link to this post so he can see and join in the masses at mocking my dumbfounded expression. I'm personally amazed I managed to muster a smile I was pretty knackered by the time we took that Photograph.

I almost forgot to mention that Dirk gave me this model for free as well as the models for my partners and the Uni... THANK YOU VERY MUCH DIRK!!! I will be using your services for future prints, can't wait to get working on some more 3D work!!

Well I think that's it for this little post, I have a few more to make on this blog before the dreaded deadline complete post which I always do for my time management. Gonna miss this little blog but at least its here for me to marvel at in the future :)

Take it easy!!

Unit 7: Narrative - Art Of Blurb Printing

Hello All!

First I would like to say Merry Christmas to all I know it is just round the corner but I am still wrapping up a few things (haha wrapping). I have yet to Christmas up my personal blog like I promised Sammy (don't worry Sammy I haven't forgotten). We will just see what magic I can actually whip up, anyway onto Business...

Today I finished development on our Art of Print for "Ashen Bloom" which I ordered 4 copies costing roughly £80 give or take a few pounds. We have it coming from the printing company Blurb which allow you a Book Smart program to custom make your own design. I am a little worried that they had no option to alter the Orientation of the book so I wound up sticking our pages in hoping that they would print correctly... Never the less if there are problems I will be contacting them.

I have used Blurb in the past for book like photo albums so I have been familiar with their software Booksmart which allows you to create your book directly on your PC. I prefer this method mainly because you actually get control of your book before it goes to press. The only discernible problem I have found is that orientation is not possible which is a bit annoying if it is your goal to make a landscape book in the small dimension. Still we will see how the books come out if something goes wrong I will be demanding my money back or some alterations to be made :)

The image above shows the Booksmart program for our Ashen Bloom Booklet, the page on display is the first actual page of the book which I decided to coat a nice shade of black to keep in the flow with the actual book design. I couldn't have brown in some instances so I decided to contrast that with black something which is annoyingly ignored for 2 of the uneditable back pages which will be white but I'm hoping that won't be too much of a problem as long as the content is Rich and tells me that I have done a good job :)

The image above shows the 2 page cover - the front to the right and the back to the left. I wound up creating a tonne of picture pages to forge the layout for our book. The cover is a complete image wrap which cost a little more for a hard cover but I couldn't resist I didn't think this book wanted a dust jacket I just wanted it to be a handy little display piece. I can't wait to see the finished print this will be my first actual book printed FOR ME!!! Of course my work colleagues and we already know that the Uni want one so we have sorted that out too in the 4 we have ordered...

The last image is the overview of all of the pages in our art of from here all you generally do is click order book from the bottom right. Of course at this point it is advisable to go through and check that the bleed areas (areas in which the book will be cut) are not removing content from the book or altering anything that is needed. Suffice to say this process probably took the longest when printing I couldn't just insert the pages from the original Art Of, I had to custom design the placement of some of the text and engineer it so it was not within the bleed zones...

Art Of Ashen Bloom - Blurb PDF

The last thing I thought I would embed was the PDF created by Blurb when I uploaded it to their server. The book will be created from this PDF taking into consideration the orientation provided by the Booksmart program. It's not perfect and probably not one I'd advise to try and read unless you want to download it and orientate it the correct way. The real annoyance is the blank white pages that are hiding behind 2 of my designed pages the layout wouldn't let me edit the back pages so they are white in comparison to my dark layout...grrr oh well.

Well I think that's enough on the book, its all been ordered and I expect it on Jan 08 2013 which is the expected delivery date. We could have got it sooner but at quite a bit more expense and It didn't make sense to me... there is no rush, although I cant wait to see it in its full glory. I just hope the damn thing prints correctly as it is not a portrait layout its very much based on landscape. Still I orientated everything correctly so it should do its job - I hope.

Anyway hope everyone is having fun out there!!


Monday, 17 December 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - DVD Case, Display & CD Design

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for the delay on these posts, been feeling seriously crap but I'm slowly getting the backlog up to date. The submission disc art work was literally a quick job this time, I was rushed just 30 or so minutes before crit and knocked something together, it is for this reason that the final one has a few bits missing from my usual designs. Never the less it works was just a bit gutted that I couldn't spend more time making it "amazing" as it were. Never the less it was quite good for a rush job, next time I may have to consider the disc earlier.

Anyway, the crit went well last Thursday and deep down I had that sigh of relief which was my body's way of shaking off a burden. Every day I didn't achieve something was a day I worried that I was letting my group down but I'm glad to know that I brought it home and in the end everything worked out despite my issues here and there. There are a total of 3 more posts after this one and one more that I may post up in January... I still have a book to make.

Now lets get down to it!!

The disc was a very quick knock together I quickly tried a few things but wound up settling on the house being built into the logo. I then thought I'd dot around some versions of Charles which I liked showing his conflicting personalities. The real vs. fantasy. Of course the Smoke Stack logo was going to be part of the disc also it made my life simpler and help me isolate the sections which I had remaining. The garbage around the top is something I always add I wrote it some time back but it makes the disc look official :P

The cover again was a quick knock together I didn't notice until later but I even missed the course name on the top left grrr.... oh well. As I said when it was printed I don't think I actually noticed, it just looked neat... I probably should have tried to embed a little more of it with Bevel, never the less it still looks pretty awesome especially once its printed. More importantly the design works and I'm so chuffed that I managed to get Charles on the cover with my favourite scratch head pose haha... My favourite because I'm doing it on a daily basis.

The next and final trick is my usual submission disc display a little something I do just because I think it looks cool to visualise. I had to put a glow around this one though, completely forgot about the black text. Never the less this is probably one of my more favourite designs, I just love the mix and match of colours, really does something pleasing to my eye. My need to create media based on books is still unwavering, I guess its my way of being able to see something at the end of the creation process as it is fed from my printer and into my hand.

Anyway I hope everyone is having a lovely break and I will be back hopefully tomorrow with a couple more posts. Still feeling a little garbage.

Over & Out,

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Unit 7: Narrative - Crit Presentation

Charles Turnaround

Ashen Bloom Animated Short

Ashen Bloom Art Of