Saturday, 11 May 2013


We have had various 3D printers in the Faculty (BE) for some time now, but having the MakerBot Replicator 2 devices close at hand has allowed me to experiment far more than I had in the past. While we have better machines, the sheer accessibility has meant alot in this case. One of the technologies to watch in this area is the Mcor IRIS. This new type of 3D printer uses plain office printing paper, some glue, ink and a little cutting to create fully coloured 3D models from paper.

[Mcor IRIS 3D prints via the official site]

While there is no plastic, the system would clearly burn through paper at a rather horrific rate. The results however look simply remarkable - the idea of being able to bind together colour printed pages really delivers. While much more expensive to buy than the things like our Replicator 2s - that colour is hard to ignore.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Monster Printing Experiments

The testing of the MakerBot Replicator 2 continues, we are learning a fair bit about how to get the results we want (when the dreaded heater sensor cable isn't stopping things - replacement will come at some point...)
We now have some 'white' filament which I am really looking forward to trying, the very transparent plastic we have been using that came with the machine is fun in many ways, but doesn't allow the form to be seen well at all. The almost crystalline look makes things feel much more jewel-like, all sparkly and translucent. When we set the shells to 1 and the infill to 0% you get a feel like solidified water - it may be hard to tell in the photos below, will try and take more that really show the effect.

Some of the other tests involved errors in models and what that results in for the print. You can see how a Max cylinder with a deleted poly prints - the Makerware software kinda tries to fill things in with imperfect results. The famous teapot, which is a poor model for 3D printing because of the curved base and the holes like the ring around the lid which doesn't join to the body. The teapot does print though as the infill holds things together.

When I did the Mudbox test I had no intention of 3D printing it, but when it came to do a high-res test - what better. The model is full of larger and finer details that would be a good experiment for the printer. The result is so so cool, when printed out at various sizes, the bigger ones are just a delight to hold.
Will have to think now whether the Loch Dreagan game should have the generic representative shape or a fully textured one...
Note that bringing all those polys back from Mudbox to Max to create the STL took a fair chunk of processing, plus you can see the nice plastic spaghetti that was made when the model didnt stick to the bed because I hadnt tidied up the base to be perfectly flat.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Dvein - wonderfully gloopy digital wizardry

Now that I am working with my 3D tools much more for the Loch Dreagan elements it is nice to see the incredible wizardry that people display with these very same tools that still feel rather clumsy in my hands. So lets take a look at some inspiration from Dvein - their project page has more, but I love these three!

[Magma pic via the project pages on the Dvein site]

The Vein / Magma
This short but breathtaking little vid shows off the talents of the Dvein studio with a range of digital tools, but 3ds Max is at the heart of things. There is a complex blend of live action shooting with digital elements that come together to make the music video. See their project page for more on Magma.

Eva - Film Main Titles
I love seeing this sort of complexity brought to life, a joy to watch and engaging right from the get-go. The opening titles for Eva are a lovely example of something simple, followed through with grace and dedication.

A quirky little piece for IdN that shows how cool blobby things can be, Morbidus.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Microsoft IllumiRoom

While we are looking forward to immersion like the Oculus Rift (now coming to TF2 btw) it is cool to see folk like Microsoft expanding the screen beyond its borders with ideas like the IllumiRoom. The idea of using a projector to fill out the room with supplemental imagery based on the on-screen game/image is a clever idea for enhancing the experience and helping to transport the user beyond their regular lounge room.

The demo videos look very nifty, taking ideas from arty projections and bringing them into our space. Whether the projected content was an extension of a 3D World, distorting the lounge room to match on-screen experience or just related fun the idea looks very engaging. I liked the idea of my furniture shaking in response to in-game explosions etc...

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Monster Modelling

I feel mighty rusty with my 3D modelling and did most of it in Maya for the MDM in any case - so I have been watching my Digital Tutors videos for 3ds Max (intro and character) and thought I really need to do much more than watch. So armed with some notes and the software I dove in to see how much of the knowledge had stuck. Here is a series of screenshots that show my progression from a humble cylinder through various stages of box modelling type creation of the basic monster form. Since the current plan is to stay with nice basic shapes for the primary board game playing pieces, I kept things simple. But I was looking ahead in terms of more detailed modelling to come for the animated or game engine versions and maybe signature 3D prints.
Lastly I took the base model into Mudbox and spent a few minutes throwing details on, just to see how that process works. It is pretty clear that Mudbox likes you to have a pretty decent base mesh to begin with, so I will need a 3ds Max version with enough polys to craft arms, fins, mouth etc before I bring it in. Despite that, it is interesting to see how quickly a much more detailed Loch Monster comes into being with Mudbox (even if he does look a little too dragon/dinosaurish).
This image in this set with the blue monster was a look at the previous build as I try to work on the evolving shape plus you can see some thinking for how to include 3D printing supports.


I have also been working more on the mechanics of the Loch Dreagan gameplay itself. It is a fascinating balance of tactics, luck, point accumulation and opponent blocking. I have quite alot of detail in the turns and game components, next step is to develop the first draft set and see if it all hangs together. Seeing the kickstarter for Roll For It, I can see how the common cards mechanic in my game can really work, esp combined with the private 'desires' as well.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Dodge Island Col

I decided that those two sketches of Dodge needed at least a rudimentary colour underpainting. Plus I found that the island of La Palma is a quite scary match for the rough drawings we made on the night for our icelandic-like home in the new Dungeon World campaign, So I grabbed a few reference images from the web as well.

Here is my map-like colouring for the 2 Dodge sketches followed by pics of La Palma island and then various other-worldly images of Iceland.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Realm

One of many games on Kickstarter is the point and click adventure, The Realm. I am not sure yet how fun it might end up being to play - but the concept art is gorgeous.

The Realm is set in a far distant future where the world has been reclaimed by nature. Our once proud cities now lie abandoned - overgrown with strange plants and twisted vines. The locations in The Realm reflect the real-life landscapes and architecture of the North East of England. Some humans remain, but they are now leading a more simple life based around small rural communities entirely divorced from modern technology and science. The age of magic and mysticism has returned and there are rumours of stirrings in the forests.

Here are a few of those lovely pieces of concept art for the game that no doubt helps sell the idea of the game, get their funding as well as drive the project forward for all the creators on the team.

 [The Realm concept art via the official site]