I used to be very active in drawing. My afternoons were long, entertaining lapses of mind stillness and fun, sitting in front of my white pages notebook, sketching and drawing everything from characters to spaceships, sword designs and dragons. I kinda went rusty in the drawing department after I started giving most of my time to a computer and doing animation, but the same creative flow still persists in me; so I guess I traded one media for another.
To this day, I love drawing, and in a sense, I’m still doing it. Maybe the media changes and the tools are different, maybe a pencil and paper is now a tablet and Photoshop. Maybe my creation process is now tridimensional and involves learning how to make consistent topology and avoid mesh intersection, while it was more about cleanliness and line weight in 2d. But something persists: I love watching my old work and compare it to the new one.
One of my favourite activities was to look for old notebooks with drawings of characters and then, right next to them, draw the exact same character and basic pose. It always marvelled me how much I’ve improved without realizing. It’s not until I see those two drawings together that I can recognize that progress is a fact, and that improvement is sometimes too subtle to see, but time gives it a reality that is just as solid as me at 8 years old right next to the 33 year old me. They look like two completely different persons. One could even be the son of the other one. But they’re the same. Progress is real in that way.
With that said, brace yourselves. You’ll do some scrolling today.
Wow. Just wow.
I can’t believe it only took me a month to figure out the rig. I thought it took like 5. I can’t believe I did the whole cockpit in less than a month, or that I figured out the landing gear rig from scratch 3 times. 3 different times. Texturing? Man, it seemed I’ve been painfully going through the maps in Photoshop day after day, hour after hour, without getting anywhere. But look at the last one! The result is amazing compared to the beginning. It’s like it’s two different planes. It’s like one is the son of the other one.
Just for fun, I wanted to see the same progress in the Battroid mode. I know there’s been serious change between each version:
Things get slowly to the point that I can call it finished, without really being finished at all. There’s always more room for progress. Of course, this project won’t continue forever. There’s plenty more things that I want to make! Still, these moments of reflection, of putting the new version next to the old version and say wow. This is what’s it all about.
Right now, I’m refining the diffuse texture, the shaders with anisotropic metal, the insides of the robot and adding more and more small detail. The HDRI environment map was a revelation and I felt so happy I learned about it. Still, there were some issues. I started getting a heavy amount of fireflies that nothing could solve, not even ramping up the seed limit to 200. There are lighting issues I have to solve, and that involves learning more about rendering. While clicking things around to see what would be the problem, I accidentally found it: the HDRI map was a weird format called EXR. No idea why. But once I switched it with another one, the problem was gone.
Coming up: More texturing for the cockpit and gun, extra fixes, lighting, rendering and shaders. Gotta get this right. Only then I feel competent enough to adventure into the next stage:
The VR Cockpit 😉