Star Wars - Redemption on FlippedNormals ♥

News / 15 September 2020

Assets are also available on flippednormals, following the same licensing rules as what's provided with sketchfab version. Note that once artstation will provide the same I'll fully enjoy sharing these with you here =)

https://flippednormals.com/downloads/mevenn-full-rig/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/clone-trooper-full-rig-2-skins/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/battle-droid-b1-full-rig-5-skins/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/droideka-full-rig/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/speederbike-74-z-full-rig/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/starfighter-arc-170-full-rig/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/mevenns-starfighter-eta-2-actis-full-rig/
https://flippednormals.com/downloads/vulture-droid-full-rig/

Here are a few preview of what can be done with these characters (as well as with any you can get from me). This help bringing your animation takes being pushed to the next level (I highly recommend to render with realtime engines such as Marmoset Toolbag, Unreal Engine, Unity...etc. I do mine mostly with MarmosetToolbag or UnrealEngine (for levelart))



Each of these assets contains :


+AKT files ready-to-animate on akeytsu

+FBX files with and without skeleton

+PBR stylized textures, in 4K

+animation samples into each Akeytsu file


Don't forget to credit me or the project and if you want to share what you've animated, feel free to post it below =) (I don't want to miss it ;))


These are sold under the "Personal Use License" of flippednormals, more infos here : https://help.flippednormals.com/article/47-licenses

I simply want to allow users of akeytsu to play with all of these wonderful characters & starfighters. This does not mean I'm stopping the project.
Rigs are made to work well with Akeytsu, and while you can completely bring them on maya or Blender or whatever else, I strongly encourage you to take a look at this animation software (no matter if you're an experienced rigger/animator or a 3D newcomer). Akeytsu helps on :

-animating
-time & rhythm managing

-skinning with huge precision
-rigging with ease complex controls
-learning animation principles

-posing your characters/props for your porfolio

-boost prototyping animation workflow

...or simply having fun animating anything =) 


Des Bisous ! ♥


- Vexod14 -



Star wars redemption on sketchfab ♥

News / 16 July 2020


Each of these assets contains :

+AKT files ready-to-animate on akeytsu
+FBX files with and without skeleton
+PBR stylized textures, in 4K
+animation samples on Akeytsu file

Don't forget to credit me or the project and if you want to share what you've animated, feel free to post it below =) (I don't want to miss it ;))

These are sold under the "Editorial License" of sketchfab, more infos here : https://help.sketchfab.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004276346-Licenses
I simply want to allow users of akeytsu to play with all of these wonderful characters & starfighters. This does not mean I'm stopping the project

Des Bisous ! ♥

- Vexod14 -

Some cool news about star wars stuff I make =)

News / 25 June 2020

Sooooo. I just want to tell you about something I have in mind since a few weeks now : what If you could get Mevenn, some clone troopers & battledroids to make your own stories within akeytsu ?

Okay. Calm down. That's just an idea...

Ow and, of course this is not made in behalf of Nukeygara/Akeytsu. I made rigs and uses them on this software, and as always I would recommend against trying to reconstruct rigs anywhere else since akeytsu is...well. Good for your health. I won't write down a novel again, I'm sure you got this ;)

An important update is incoming about Akeytsu, in case you didn't notice it will contain a lot of cool features including cameras.

Link > https://www.nukeygara.com/blog/dev-roadmap-2020

So yeah ! Cool news !
It will soon be possible to animate a lot more things than what we've been used to while using the well made UI & ergonomy of akeytsu toolset =D

I'm not teasing anything here, since the roadmap has been published some months ago. But damn. It will be incredible and I can't wait to have this, as well as seing what peoples will do with it. And at some point I dream of reusing everything I created for Redemption to make a cinematic instead of a game (with the help of Thomas Chaumel of course, since I also dream of having his animator's level and I guess framing will add something big to (re)learn...pfiewh !)

We are all actually very busy on our own jobs and can't really spend time working on the game, but we found that making short clips was easier to do and at some point : funnier. The (little) team we are is still willing to put this project to and end and, if possible, share it with all the supercool peoples who supported us with lovely comments (this REALLY means a lot to developers ♥ So..thank you again for that, you're the best !)

So. If I were to share such cool character rigs, then the only way to go would be...sketchfab.

They provide exactly the license for such case, the "Editorial" one. This allows me to share some of my star wars assets I made patiently, carefully, with my own modeler/texture artist vision, in a cool way for everyone.

I'm not willing to share absolutely everything I made, since a lot of assets require understanding of my own workflow to make the best use of them inside of UE4. But I think some characters may stand as great "puppets" for your animator reels, or for things like "animchallenge" ;)

You could make something like this for example :




That's how I would expect them to be used. But I also want your feedback on this point : Would you like to pay for these akeytsu rigs since their use would be limited by the Editorial License ?

I let you read exactly/carefully what this license can offer here : https://help.sketchfab.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004276346-Licenses#editorial


Some models under editorial license can be bought, I've changed their background to a "Dark Blue" so you can quickly see them ;) (And yeah. You don't dream. Obi wan's lighstsaber I've made a few years ago, the Blaster of Mevenn/troopers and the ARC-170 starfighter are available now =))


So, again, feel free to answer to the highlighted question and I'll see if it's a good thing to proceed to a cool release of a few characters =)

All the best !

Des Bisous ! ♥


  

Creating a new character...

Making Of / 22 April 2020

Hello there !

This post won't be about Star Wars Redemption (sorry !), but about the new project I've been working on last weeks. If you've followed my twitch streams you may already know this new character, named "Maewenn". I want to go back on the very first steps of her creation, it's mostly about concept art and Akeytsu =)



So first of all, this character was meant to be just a skin variant of Mevenn from Star Wars Redemption that could be used anywhere I want to promote Akeytsu, but the more time I spent on drawing/doodling pieces of this new skin, the more it turned to be a new character. it was the opportunity to rework drastically the face, I always had issues with Mevenn, even after all these years of improvements I still needed to "fix" it once I was animating her face, same goes for her body. While Akeytsu offered me a quick way to test new proportions using the existing Mevenn, ZBrush was the final step to separate Maewenn from her big sister, the idea was to have a more dynamic character, taller, thinner, with more "matching" shapes and from a different universe, more about sorcerers, knights, potions, magic !

Here are a few doodles I made from time to time to capture ideas of designs for the new skin :



TIPS : Draw with pencil+paper any idea you may have, and at anytime (I always keep a sketchbook and a criterium with me ;)) 

So once a few of these ideas has been laid out, take your favorite app (akeytsu ;)) and open a cool rig, close to your design if possible (so here it was obviously Mevenn), and simply reshape the character rig up to your proportions needs, if the rig/skin are pretty well done it's fairly simple and fun to do, but the best part is that you can choose posings that are perfect in terms of perspective, and they will also give good clues and an overall idea of shape and anatomy on which you can base your character later on ;)
Here are the two main poses I made with Mevenn, for the wand object I simply used a few boxes as a landmark :


 Then I simply drew my armor designs over these various screenshots in Photoshop, at this step the idea was more to block out materials and shapes than anything, it's not meant to be definitive. 


The first one is not my favorite one at all, since it was a warm-up one, but there's still a few shapes that starts to comes together pretty well, I especially liked the left leather glove balanced with heavy metal claws, I think it adds both elegance and strength to this sorceress hand.

At the conceptart step : Iterate a lot and try to find matching shapes, here you don't see every steps of every parts, but I test a lot of lines to get something that have a cool flow to start with at the modeling step. I know this won't be final final final, but this helps finding the good shape in the end. At this step, feel free to imagine whatever you want. Place yourself into the character role and figure out what she would like to have in your hands, what to wear and how it feels to be under a hood or into a heavy armor =)

I've based my final design mostly on the 3rd concept but I've looked a lot to the second one, as well as my quick doodles from time to time when I was sculpting. At some point I made a few more sketches to define local parts a bit better. As you can see the initial name was "BattleMage Phoenix", this was about a heroic-fantasy version of a Jedi. The double blade was a difficult part to figure out once in sculpt part, as a lightsaber it's easy to retract and carry on your belt, but with solid blades, it's harder. That's why I finally ended up leaving this weapon really behind, which consolidated my will to create a character appart from Mevenn.

Then I choosed ZBrush to create the Highpoly character model (as well as some lowpoly parts), and I really liked the possibility to manage my poly the same way I do on 3dsmax while having no lag and the ability to turn any desired meshes into sculpt-able parts. Here's a WIP screenshot just before sculpting body parts



After that, I used 3dsMax mostly to cleanup my lowpoly mesh and do UVs, then Toolbag for bakes of my base maps (Normalmap, AO, Cavity)

and finally 3DCoat to handpaint the whole stuff. It's important to keep in mind that at anytime a quick draw could save you hours of processing, so at texturing time I wanted to help myself with a quick colorsheme test on the previous concept

Here it is : (based on the concept I made earlier with a few adaptations based on the final model of course ;))

 
And here is the final result in Marmoset Toolbag 3 :


Front/back views with all stuff laid out :



I'll stream the rigging/skinning process (and later I may do some on animation aswell =)) this Thursday ( 23th April 2020 starting around 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM, FR time), so if you want to joint in and follow how to rig this in akeytsu, or if you want to ask me questions about how to use this super cool animation and rigging software, feel free to jump in ! The twitch stream will set here : https://www.twitch.tv/vexod14 and I'll be doing this on my own initiative, so not in behalf of Nukeygara/Akeytsu, it's just a cool software more people may like, so I'll show it off, that's as simple as that ;)


That's all folks !

Des Bisous ♥

Akeytsu tips & tricks #1

Tutorial / 16 April 2020
  1. Combine Update skinned Mesh + retopology to skin perfectly with ease. This also works great with cloth : if you have to skin a "thick cloth" with volume between back and front faces, simply skin a single-sided version of that same cloth and transfer its skin weights to the final mesh ;)  

    Here are the steps of the video below :

    1  duplicate your "issued" mesh
    2  unbind it and export it to 3DCoat (import it as reference mesh for retopo)
    3  perform a clean retopo on one side, apply a symmetry and export it in fbx to Akeytsu
    4  Import new retopo mesh in Akeytsu
    5  Duplicate the whole existing character and remove any useless meshes
    6  take both skinned mesh (from dupplcated character) and retopo mesh, then perform an "update skinned mesh". You should now see your retopo mesh skinned "badly" (in fact it's just your previous issued skin)
    7  hide first character in order to focus on retopo mesh
    8  smooth like a fool, be generous in your strokes ! Tip : I used a looped macro that does click THEN release click so the brushing feels more natural ;)
    9  show back your original character
    10  select root joint of your "retopo character" directly from the tree, then select all its vertices and hit "Alt+C" (copy weights)
    11  select now the root joint from your target mesh, the original, and select the vertices you want to paste values to (select larger areas, no matter if it hits other areas especially if they're rigid, you could clean them after all)
    12  hit "Atl+V"
    13  you're done ! 










    1  duplicate your "issued" mesh 2  unbind it and export it to 3DCoat (import it as reference mesh for retopo) 3  perform a clean retopo on one side, apply a symmetry and export it in fbx to Akeytsu 4  Import new retopo mesh in Akeytsu 5  Duplicate the whole existing character and remove any useless meshes 6  take both skinned mesh (from dupplcated character) and retopo mesh, then perform an "update skinned mesh". You should now see your retopo mesh skinned "badly" (in fact it's just your previous issued skin) 7  hide first character in order to focus on retopo mesh 8  smooth like a fool, be generous in your strokes ! Tip : I used a macro that does click THEN release click so the brushing feels more natural ;) 9  show back your original character 10  select root joint of your "retopo character" directly from the tree, then select all its vertices and hit "Alt+C" (copy weights) 11  select now the root joint from your target mesh, the orinigal, and select the vertices you want to paste values to (select larger areas, no matter if it hits other areas especially if they're rigid, you could clean them after all) 12  hit "Atl+V" 13  you're done !
  2. Use mixers to animate step-by-step. It's probably the most memorable trick Aurélien Charrier showed to Akeytsu users. When you have to make a walk, you have to focus first on pelvis movement, then legs+feets, then the trunk, head and finally the arms, details like hands or facial expressions comes at the very last polishing pass. Iterate

    For this 4 legs fast paced walk I had to think about how the body moves, how the weight translates, and all this considering I'm not a full-time animator (despite I really enjoy making animations ^^). If you look at the Vulture droid's legs and how it's articulated, you not only have to deal with 4 simple legs but two pairs of legs linked to R & L kind of clavicles, but as stated above, I worked by iterations and this saved me from hours and hours of working on crap tons of keyframes ^^ Here the walk consists in 2 keys (3 & 4 are phased versions of 1 & 2), the head is slightly animated on top of it so I can have this look around/checking peoples movement which was initially done by Thomas Chaumel (for those who do not know, he is the animator behind StarWars Redemption ;))

Once you're okay with the base, everything else follows quickly. Here I do not used any IK/RF solvers, everything is made using good poses :)

3. Add twist/roll joints to your limbs (arm, forearm, thigh, calf...you name it !). It's not fully automated but still pretty simple to achieve, here's an example I gave several times on Nukeygara forums :


> For more convenience, align perfectly this twist joint to the disconnected joint he should twist from (here, the wrist), so when you twist your wrist, take the twist joint too and you'll achieve a perfect twist ;)

4. Load custom rigs instead of UE4/Unity ones. To do so, simply replace FBX stored in "C:\Users\Public\Documents\akeytsu\Templates" (keep the same names so akeytsu could find them). You can also replace icons if you want by editing what's in "C:\Program Files (x86)\nukeygara\Akeytsu\Resource" ;)
This can be helpful to load full rigs with a base mesh already skinned on it to tackle tons of characters skinning by using the update skinned mesh command =)


  5.Allow the tip toe joint control. Yep. It's THAT simple (Thanks to Addison DeBolt for showing it on Nukeygara forums) :


  6. Skin face joints using a mask mesh. Why ? Because doing so will allow you to transfer perfect weights to your final face mesh, of course you'll need to test & tweak the result, but it's far easier to skin "without thinking" at first and spend the less time possible on manual edits ;) This mask should be done outside of Akeytsu in a retopology software, take the one you love the most (my choice goes with 3DCoat). When creating your retopo skinning mask, keep in mind that each vertex will later have to match a joint. The skin weight transfer will then transfer a lowpoly weighted mesh to a "higher" one, so each vertex which falls inbetween two joints will simply receive the exact weights that technically exists between two distant vertices =)


  


  7. Proper orients.
That's the base of a cool rig to use. I've made an article for nukeygara about how to create a simple facial rig based on joints : https://www.nukeygara.com/blog/create-a-facial-rig Everything told here applies heavily on any other part of a rig (not necessarily a human one). It's a logic of who controls who. It can be a joint controlling other joint(s), a joint controlling a group of vertices, and most important : keep in mind that a joint is just a simple keyframable pivot, and a simpler way to manipulate geometry =) Rigging can be tedious if you don't have a good toolset, hopefully Akeytsu offers well-thought tools that ease the process a lot !

8. Smoothing out your animation.
If you encounter some jittering/imprecise transforms at some point of your animation, there's a few things you can do to fix that. The most obvious one is to open you curveboard and check for abnormal peaks, starting from the master joint and descending throughout the hierarchy after each fix until the very end. Yeah, tedious (even in Akeytsu). Another thing would be to avoid having tons of layers with timing offsets, because it will end up creating bad interpolations when the whole stack will be mixed. The thing I use a lot, is the tween machine. Since it's out, I simply take the keyframe that has a bad interpolation behavior and then I "tween" parts (still from master joint to the last one in issued part of the hierarchy). Doing this avoids opening the curveboard and fixes all transforms at once instead of going one by one ;)   


  That's all for this one ! Tell me if this helps you on using Akeytsu, and if you need specific explanation of some tricky points ;) 

Star Wars - Redemption | Work in Progress #16

Making Of / 04 April 2020

Hello there !

It's (again) been a while since I didn't post things about redemption, and as I've said in my previous post the production of it slightly decrease and I'm more committed to other projects (you should hear from it soon, it's not as big as Redemption, but it's something I make with at least as much love)


There's been a few things about the project though, in order to showcase a software that needs more exposure/use I'm also working on, I've made a couple videos which illustrates how cool it is to animate with it. You've probably heard about it if you're following me : Akeytsu

 So here are how I did two animations of Mevenn (I've reworked a few animations of her since Thomas is quite busy since nearly one year, I guess I'm shifting on animation too now. I especially like animating her face btw =))




I want to say here, again, that Akeytsu definitely is a strong, powerful, wonderful, brilliant software for rigging and animation. Yes. Even rigging, even if it doesn't have plenty of constraints or scripting tools, it's a software where tools are here for you to animate with, not to bother you or fix a little issue at one specific point. This results in a simpler user interface, a better user experience, well...a more efficient workflow that does the coffee, what else ? ;)
If you use the tool wisely, you can tackle complex rigs and bring things at your advantage. You can animate more than just bipedal characters. Each one of the Star Wars - Redemption assets I/Thomas have animated in Akeytsu, has been rigged in Akeytsu. This means yeah : Mevenn, Battledroids B1, Droidekas, Starfighters of any kind, doors, weapons, jetpacks, clone trooper helmets...AnyTHING.
And the best part of this software is that you can learn how to animate for the industry with it, no matter what's your skill level actually is.
I've made a masterclass at Emile Cohl last year to students who, about animation, only knew about traditional 2D pipeline. Half a day and they were already kicking-off pretty good stuff with complex characters like e-LysE (https://www.artstation.com/artwork/rRNGoE). Even my own parents who are definitely not into the game industry but medical field, learnt how to use it in one hour (basics of course, not the whole software, but enough for making animations and enjoy the process ;)).
So I MORE than encourage you to bring your characters/props into akeytsu, and enjoy animating again. Really.
Akeytsu offers a free 30 days trial, you can get it here : https://www.nukeygara.com/get-license/try-akeytsu

Now that's said, lets get back to Redemption project. Since November of the last year through the end of January this year, I've been working pretty hard on...this :



  


(Sorry about the image quality, I've only a quite bad phone for that ^^"). So yeah. An artbook. I've only printed a few of these for friends, family, and collaborators. This piece is about 96 pages only (so not a super big artbook but hey, I'm almost alone making this project and was completely alone on this part ^^). I made this to have kind of a final piece for this project, since it may never reach what I wanted it to be, at least this book tells the whole story behind Redemption, about its artistic development, about Mevenn's background, and about me at some point cause this project is finally a really important part of me, and I'll be quite sad to left it behind of course...

Here are a few artworks I made for this :  


  



 Ow and last but not least : if you want to read it, you can get a PDF version of the whole artbook here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/1n8ipnxn11ms3ic/TheArtOf_StarWars-Redemption.zip?dl=0 (language is French only). Of course, please refrain from sharing the file once you have it. Share the link of this page instead (and please credit me). Thanks =)


And pour finir : Des Bisous !

Star Wars - Redemption | Work in Progress #15

Making Of / 24 November 2019

Hello dear followers !

First of all, if you want to take a look at the two last things added to the project :

Geonosis : https://www.artstation.com/artwork/w1L0V
Lumberia : https://www.artstation.com/artwork/4AWaL

Plus a quick tour of the actual state of the demo :




An update about the current state of the project

I've been heavily focusing on it last weeks (curious thing as I've also a (super-cool) job during the day, I should rest more, but instead of it I work like a machine ^^").

So here is a summary :
- Now we have a build. Yeah. Game is finally standalone, playable on a (good enough) windows PC. That's something we should've had a long time ago but anyway, now it's there. And it's cool
- Since our only game designer left the project months ago we've faced a problem : we had to do blueprint. And as an artist, it's always a pain to dig into this for many reasons. But hey ! Look at the cool part of the solution : you're going to learn it ! And it becomes more and more fun to use finally
So now, I also take care of blueprints
- I've started working on Lumberia last year, because I had enough of desert environments of both Geonosis and Space corridors, and I've started to create modular environment assets to build a dungeon. You've seen some of these on the past updates when I was trying to create my master env. shader, now everything works I can show a bit more of it. Every environment benefits of it, and it speeds up a lot the way I worked them. But I'm not 100% satisfied with what I get, since I think it involves still too much repetitive task and could be more optimized. Next project should start from it and improve it.
- I've also decided to stop developing the project, not due to any strike (don't worry), but simply because I've figured out that I've mostly developed it alone, and I can't keep doing this. It's above my will now, I need to do something else than working again when I'm "off-work", and focus on shorter project. That's why, at next December's end, Redemption's updates will heavily decrease and hopefully reach 0 faster than light. I think this project could've been far far away than what we have now, and of course I'll be forever sad about it, but time has come to leave it behind and explore new horizons. Next project won't be about Star Wars by the way.

That said, there's still one big month to add more stuff =P


Des Bisous ♥ 


  

Star Wars - Redemption : Disclaimer

News / 31 August 2019

Hi folks,

This article is an explanation of some of the limits of this project (since I never really did it) so for everyone wondering about legal stuff, sharing, contribute opportunities...etc

First of all : Star Wars, as well as all proper names of characters, alien species, spaceships, environments, planets, or technology having to do with the Star Wars franchise belongs to the license holders.
Our project is not meant to solicit, compete, or distract from any products, released or in-development by any of the Star Wars license holders.

We make it in behalf of our fan's hearts, and on our spare/hobby time.

Star Wars - Redemption is a fan project made mainly by Thomas Chaumel (aka Akeyblack) and Etienne Beschet (me, aka Vexod14).
We received some help/contributions from Fantin Gislette (GameDesing/UE4 BluePrints), Steven Ménager (GameDesign/Animation) and Anthony Daneluzzi (VFX/TechArt) at some point. Now, our team consists only in Thomas and I, which is finally the original team behind the project, Thomas has been animating Mevenn years before I was thinking about making a real-time project with this character (you may find some old anim takes on his vimeo if you're curious ;))

This project is not made in the name of/for any company. "Square Phoenix" is just our "2-guys" group name (easier to isolate on discord ;))


We do not aim to recreate an old game, but obviously, old games - as well as our own personal game culture - influences our choices. Same logic applies about films, music, concept-arts...or simply our world (which inspired me Lumberia, If you know some of the "Savoie" landscapes in France ♥) We want to create a game we'd like to play, depending on what we can achieve (of course)

We make each pixel, each vertex, each joint, each keyframes of this (huge) project from scratch/ground 0, by hands, and we're really proud of it. And it's actually the best way to learn and enjoy what you are making, build workflows that suits you the best...etc (well that's my point of view)

We use this project as a sandbox to learn/practice on things we couldn't at work, because we do not have always opportunities to work on such parts of a game development. It's like a ongoing journey to learn skills based on a universe we are familiar with, one we believe in, one we truly love. As an example : I do character art, concept-art, environments, vfx, level-art (to name a few), at work I mostly had to deal with making environments only, or characters only. I enjoy both, and more than just these two. That's a part I really enjoy on a side project.

But, as this requires a heavy amount of work, of learning, I figured out I almost constantly work (except when I sleep), and I'm wanting to do something else on my spare time. Maybe another project, probably smaller, simpler, less time consuming and faster to achieve. That said we still want to finish this project and then move on something else, we're still working on it as much as we can

Now then, to clear out another point : we do not want to extend our team. Because this project's assets needs to follow a particular art direction/workflow/and very specific technical requirements, and as these assets consists in hundreds of hours of artistic development, on account of requiring to be dedicated to the project as much as possible. That's why we carefully chose our team members. Really carefully.


Also, for these reasons, we do not allow, in any way, to share/ripp and/or reuse our assets, viewers, images, videos, or any material we've created without our permission. And it goes far beyond this project obviously. I've seen too many times ripped versions of 3D models I made for Star Wars - Redemption that some "smart" guys ripped from my Sketchfab/Arstation. These guys also pretend it's good for my notoriety, number of followers, likes...no matter what, here is my forever and anytime answer : I do not like it. I do not allow/support it. I do not thank you for ripping my models (surprise !)


Star Wars - Redemption is a part of our portfolio, an hommage made to this magnificent universe, and it's made by fan artists, nothing else.




I want to thank especially George Lucas, for creating such a great universe where everyone can imagine a story and being a part of it (sometimes I wonder/hope it really exists somewhere =')).
Thanks also to John Williams, for creating so many wonderful and inspiring music pieces (not limited to Star Wars ;))
Thanks also to Dave Filoni for creating The Clone Wars, the TV Show which is the main inspiration for Star Wars - Redemption (can't wait for the last season ♥)
Thanks also to everyone who contributed to expand the great Star Wars universe !



This article should clear out some mistakes/misunderstands, and answer to several/redundant questions I receive regularly.

Thanks for reading

Vexod14

Star Wars - Redemption | Work in Progress #14

Making Of / 10 August 2019

Hi dudes !

Some news since last time I posted something here (it was about 6 months ago =O)

FIrst of all, I'm so happy to work at Nukeygara since 3 months, I learn a lot of things there, and I work for one of my top favorite enterprises, makers of the wonderful Akeytsu ♥


I made this cute level to showcase animations ;) We'll see this later in this article


Now, let's focus a bit more on the animation part of the project done mostly by Thomas Chaumel (https://www.artstation.com/keyblack), I did only a few of these animations, mostly the new Idle with a focus on facial expressions (still WIP)

Whole new animset done on Droideka, here are some of these :


Retract


Roll


Deploy


Turn Right


Stun Attack


Our main character (Mevenn) had some upgrades ^^ Here is a first try on a new weapon, we wanted to have something cooler and we're damn fans of Darth Maul...soooooooooo(cisse) :



Finished design :



As well as her face :




(this "new" face wasn't exactly what I wanted on some parts, especially about her chin area (if you know the Bogdanov brothers...). So I had to fix it, but the main fix was to adjust her nose, remove lower eyelashes, adjust her texture work on her face (more stylized and assumed details), adapt her warpaints to a more "magical/nature-connected" look as she was born on a forest planet (Lumberia ). Her whole new armor set was about this as well as themed with "Phoenix" creature patterns and colors.


I've also increased the texture quality we had in Akeytsu :

(that's her final face btw )




Some cutted geometry on haircuts, so now materials are simpler in UE4, no more transparency, better perfs






I also tried some R&D to allow twist & roll joints, obviously not fully reverse-controlled automatically as Akeytsu doesn't provide such constrains yet, but it worked pretty well and you could create exactly your bends/arcs as you want, plus it's appart from your IK chain, meaning you could use squash'n strech with a red IK ON ^^


Here is the hierarchy, twist/roll joints are offset from their IK parent joints so you can figure out who controls who :




The only hassle we encountered then was about selecting our base IK joints ; as they were no longer weighted to any vertices we were forced to search them in the picker list, or reorganize them under your IK handles so you could "quickly" access them using up arrow key...just a pain tbh ^^"


I fixed this cool idea by simply avoiding the middle joint (or the first twist) of each chain and using only one MidArm/MidUpperArm joint, and swkinned half of each arm's part to each joints. But there's one little trick which allows for a quick & good control : while you will find logic to skin your "wrist-to-MidLowerArm vertices" to your "LowerArm-RollJoint" and vertices from this middle to the elbow to your LowerArm joint, the upperarm works differently. Skin vertices "near elbow" to your Arm joint (instead of the Arm-Roll ), and vertices from shoulder to mid-arm to your Arm-Roll joint. This will avoid breaking your arc on your elbow, allow for a faster "FK joints" selection which is cool for posing (these Arm+lowerarm joints will be clickable on elbow area =D), and finally allows you to adjust your shoulder shape with ease so you'll have perfect control over it


This improved hierarchy looks like this :



As I reworked the leg & arm rig, I also wanted to improve the facial one. There was some issues on animating the previous iteration, especially on Mevenn's jaw cause I decided to parent every mouth joints to a single mouth controller, which was cool and stupid at the same time ^^" So once improved, I can achieve all these movements with a few clics :



More details about this facial rig :


And here are some beauty shots done in a dedicated level in UE4 (really done just for rendering purpose, nothing else )


And last but not least : I wanted to make an homage to the guys who made this project possible ♥


It is also important to notice that the project "StarWars-Redemption" is obviously not affiliated with Nukeygara in any way, there was just an awesome team making an awesome software at the same time I wanted to simply pose some of my characters, then I animated them, created some environments on unreal, called for friends to help me on dev and on animation and that's it  

Akeytsu even gives back Thomas Chaumel the taste of animation (animator on the project and one of my best/oldest friend). It also gives him the will to work definitely in the industry. Now he works for TeamTo Valence (FR) and enjoys his new life as an animator. His ID "Akeyblack" on discord is someway an Easter-egg to this beautiful story


So, many thanks to Aurélien  Charrier, Cédric Vidal-Duvernet, Yannick Rousseau, Charles Sultan, Robin Ciron, Thomas Robin,  Charles-Arthur Bourget, Annabel Grindatto, and every others who worked on this wonderful software ♥ You truly are the Best !


Level art is also in progress. I had difficulties to create these levels only using boxes with absolutely 0 artistic feeling, and a friend of mine, Julie Pain (a great character artist btw, go check her art :  https://www.artstation.com/jumy), told me to bypass this first step and create levels directly by using the assets I've made. I know that's not the common way to achieve levels and that usually you have to make blockouts because your art department doesn't have produced as much assets as needed or simply does not exist yet, but here, as I already have all cool blocks under my hand, why would I not use them especially if I have to create level designs ?
That's by far the best advice I had for months, and I recovered the joy and emphasis of creating, simply creating, imagining worlds like I always liked to. Things may need adjustments or reworks, but at least I can feel faster the ambient, the mood...of the place I'll build =)

I've improved many assets and have also nearly finished a big bunch of temple assets which can be seen far away in the following screenshot ;)
I've also wanted to change the way I lighted my scenes to have a more artistic control over it, so here I diminished my sunlight intensity near 0, same for the skylight, in order to bring focus lighting onto points of interest in the environment. I also faked a godray effect using pretty oldschool techniques (a lowpoly mesh, some vertex colors and a panner for the base effect). This helps a lot to drive the eyes through the environment



Here the effect is much softer but adds a little atmosphere near tall rocks =) Clouds on the ground are made using a simple light function with custom handpaint noises (basically the same from those I made & use to texture the whole project)


That's it for this post, there's much more stuff I need to polish before showing them, but now you can take a look on my twitch you may sometime see how it's going on : https://www.twitch.tv/vexod14 (be kind, I'm a perfect noob when it comes to streaming my stuff ^^")

Des Bisous ! ♥

Star Wars - Redemption | Work in Progress #13

Work In Progress / 15 February 2019

I've been busy  last months, I'm still trying to find a new job which sometimes involves doing an art test (time consuming but lots of learning), and I've been fortunate enough to work with amazing clients such as "I From Japan" (you're in my heart guys ♥), soooooo I had not that much time for Star Wars - Redemption (sorry sorry =X !) 

I've also made a first try for a waterfall

I've created some water effects for Lumberia, I want to add some other features such as underwater sun scattering but don't know how to proceed yet, except by placing manually some meshes with a fake effect, I'm not a huge fan of it as it's not something managed dynamically. But of course if the final level is a small one it would be a good choice  

This is our environment material. Almost finished (need to rework the variator's part, simplify some areas to be able to use this material over more stuff than walls and pillars, it's probably the most difficult part to achieve for me as I feel I'm new to game development tricks, especially about environment art). This one took me a lot of time and iterations as I wanted to have a specific result and didn't knew all the required tricks involved to make it, but things begin to look nicer and nicer and I'm pretty happy with the result I get at each iteration
Now we can simply blend two surfaces (here a sculpted Sith wall and bricks), add noise "Variators", animated or not, which I'm using intensively when I'm texturing all my assets on 3DCoat, add or not a "SnowSandMoss" layer over the whole mesh depending on Z+ projection, add a distinct color to each of these surfaces...each of the features are controlled by at least vertex color + most of the time a custom mask texture...and plenty of other cool controls =D The goal is to simplify a lot environment asset's creation while keeping an artistic control on top of it =)

I've made some new tiling maps for the upcoming assets (it's still WIP and may change later) :


I decided then to try out reworking some of The Venator's corridors using this new workflow based more on a good UV unwrapping (meaning a precise one where each vertex coordinate is wisely used and not just randomly packed) :


using mostly these two textures + a decal/trim for all local details and break the texture tiling :



(the following is an old one I did last year)

About Leveldesign, which is currently just not done (each "level" I did was only to test the assets, and how I could build things with them ;) I know it's just not conventional but initially I just wanted to create environments after my daytime job based on star wars universe, I didn't want to do a demo or a videogame at this time. It allowed me to push art in the direction I loved)

So...I decided to make a fairly simple shader that shows distances in our upcoming levels and will soon be used for starting level design, at last =P

And now we have a new Mevenn (new face, new Phoenix skin) integrated into unreal as our playable character ! New anims are rough for now but all moves are intended to be faster than what we had before, not meaning they'll be simpler ;) We really want to take advantage of Mevenn's ability to manipulate and control her lightsaber by distance, so animations may be more exaggerated on the next iteration =)

A first glimpse at the game now we've added more and more stuff, it's still really WIP on anim/gameplay level but it's also a strong base for all that we want to build up next =) Big thanks to Fantin Gislette (Game Designer) and Thomas Chaumel (Animator), this part is definitely yours ;)

There are some issues with popping objects in this level which may come from the huge forest being made in this map ^^"

That's all folks ! And really sorry again for the lack of stuff this time (probably will be the same next time, but as stated in the project's page on artstation, Redemption's development workpace is meant to be chaotic/irregular, but, well...it's just a fan project ;))