Animation – Response to Critique

Last week we were given constructive critique on our short animations. We do have quite a few bits to tweak. Overall the critique pointers were expected apart from a few which we overlooked. It was great to be given the chance to adjust a few things in order to try and perfect our short. I will include a list below of the things we need to address and document our progress on the changes.


Title Change – Due to  running out of time we had quickly inserted a title We were advised to look into science fiction movie title sequences and take some inspiration from them.

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As we don’t have much time to spend on making these adjustments, I feel it might be best to go with a simple solution.

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Lighting – Overall our lighting was working ok but we hadn’t spent enough time figuring it out before the rendering stage as more of our attention was fixed on textures and cameras. We have been advised to make some colour adjustments, mainly because the astronaut’s suit colour is too dark in comparison with the dark starlit sky. I feel that lighting will fix these issues. A light added inside the lander will help silhouette the astronaut when jumping from his lander whilst another spotlight parented to the astronaut will help light him up within the scene, increasing the contrast between his blue suit and the environment.

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Camera Angles/Opening scene – In our opening scene the lander lands beside a mountainous hillside. This is to be centred with the hillside not being visible as having it land so close is quite unrealistic. To fix this we have decided to change the positioning of the lander and camera whilst also smoothing out the terrain to prevent any further difficulties.

There was also a staging error which is hard for the audience to read. This is when the astronaut plants his flag and looks over to see who had opened a beer nearby. To fix this we may have to reposition the adversary astronaut along with his assets.

Billboard Readability –  Our current billboard design is currently not readable with the logo’s text being the wrong colour and the text too close together. These factors along with the neon glow has made it difficult to read and not clear enough. To fix this we have  changed a few colours, this is to make it clear of the brand’s identity. The font has been changed to coca-cola’s font to make it more easily recognised and readable.



There is a part of our scene where the shadow of the build building comes over the adversary astronaut. We were advised to make the transition of his flag into the billboard more clunky, coming out in different places etc. This was our original idea but I guess we got too caught up with other details to spend more time on this.

The updated final animation is below. The main difference is the light.

Character Development and Ideas

When thinking about astronaut designs we have decided that our characters will have smaller proportions with slightly larger heads. The concept artwork by David Correa depicts a little astronaut which looks similar to how we have been imagining our design. As a group we all did a few character design drawings and brought them together, then decided upon a design we could work from.

Initial Ideas

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After we had sketched out a few character ideas we had decided that Michaels drawing of the Russian cadet was more what we had imagined. More character ideas can be found in my sketchbook.


Jack went ahead and started modelling the astronaut in Maya and since then has done a great job with texturing and rigging him also. Below shows a 3D turnaround Jack put together of the final character design.

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I had taken this image and done a few colour variations in photoshop for the two brands. From here Jack chose which colours to use for texturing.



The rig of the character can be seen in the screenshot below.


The texturing of the astronaut turned out really well, thanks to Jack. The colours are quite dark though than I had imagined but hopefully lighting can pick them up a bit. Overall our character turned out great, our main task now is to give him some personality through body language whilst animating. This will be a tough job as he doesn’t have a face, but fun…hopefully. 🙂

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Moon-like Terrain Process

For the making of the terrain I went through a few different stages and although it looks simple it took me a while to figure some things out, especially when it came to texturing in substance painter. The maya to substance painter workflow took plenty of tutorial watching to figure out some simple instructions.


The image above was taken during the Apollo 17 Moon Landing in December 1973. Johannes Hevelius had depicted this type of rough terrain in his map of the moon, made in 1647. (shown below)

WIKIMOONMAP                                                 Image Courtesy – wikicommons

‘There are two primary types of terrain on the Moon: the heavily cratered and very old highlands and the relatively smooth and younger maria. The maria (which comprise about 16% of the Moon’s surface) are huge impact craters that were later flooded by molten lava.” – wikipedia

moooooon                                                  Image Courtesy –

I started the base model with the idea that we could have mountainous areas and a flat area near the lander for the astronaut to jump on, to help make things easier for animating. I also thought it would help a little with showing the scale of the environment. The general idea is that the planet is quite small, smaller than our moon anyway.

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I had been advised to create a low poly mesh first and then to create a high poly over this. From here you would use the low poly for UV mapping and then once textured you would bring this back into Maya and place over the high res model. I had tried this multiple times and then decided to just take the high poly mesh into substance painter and texture from there. It might not have been the right way to do it, but I will hopefully get more time to spend learning these techniques soon.


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The first image above is the high poly mesh rendered with a sky dome light. The second image is a screenshot taken while working on the model.

Texturing in Substance Painter

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Above show the results of terrain texturing in painter. I think it turned out well in substance painter but when its transferred into Maya  the settings vary therefore it doesn’t have the same look. More practise getting to know how the programmes work together is needed for a good transfer. Despite the terrain not rendering exactly how I had imagined I still really enjoyed trying out UV mapping and texturing in both Maya and Painter.

Michael found a great tutorial that goes through the texturing process of substance painter in simple steps.

Another 6 part video series Jack had found on youtube was very helpful in showing where to plug in maps that I had made in Substance Painter. It also went through how to change and add nodes to help the specular lights show up correctly on your model. Iv’e learnt a lot which is great. 😀

As aforementioned in the rendered images, no texture is really present when brought into Maya, which is a shame but at least I tried.

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References (2017). Wikipedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Apr. 2017]

CityLab. (2017). This Old Map: Johannes Hevelius, Bright Side of the Moon, 1647. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Apr. 2017].

Space – Concept Research

As I will be focusing a little more on the environment design such as the stars, planets and terrain I have collected a few conceptual pieces which will help drive my design and ideas forward. As a team we have agreed that a surface similar to that of the moon would be our main type of terrain. We also were thinking that some higher ground may help create a better sense of scale to our scenes whilst also adding some visual interest.

Environment/Terrain Design Research

Mark Molnar – Dune Project (below)


“Eldion Passageway” by Anthony Schime is a nice piece of work which depicts colossal stone blocks in the foreground and middle ground that add to the sense of depth whilst also helping to convey the size relationships between the humans and the environment.

eldion_passageway_anthony scime                                                         Image Courtesy – Schime

Michael Kaczmarek – 3D moon terrain sculpt



Wayne Robson – 3D Environmental Terrain



Wayne Robson’s work is amazing. I couldn’t find anywhere online that showed me his work flow but I can take some inspiration from looking at it. The textures are great and although it is not really moon-like, the aesthetics are very natural and pleasing to the eye, something I would hope to achieve a little of in our terrain sculpt.

Character Design

David Correa – Loved Correa’s little space dude, tiny but lots of personality.



The video game Little Big Planet has an astronaut outfit which is another design similar to what were going for.


Patrik Bjorkstrom’s concept art piece below has a great character with similar proportions that we can take inspiration from also.


References (2017). Behance. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 March 2017].

BadKing. (2017). Moon Surface Model. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 March 2017].

LittleBigPlanet Wiki. (2017). Spacesuit Costume. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 March 2017].


Nasa’s Retro Posters, Logos and Styling

I came across a few poster designs which Nasa had made to “offer a romantic view of Space travel“. The retro posters offer a glimpse into how Nasa might interpret the future of life in Space. The colours are very vibrant and remind me of some retro posters you might find in concept art made for video games. The images are shown below.

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Image Courtesy – NationalGeographic

The styling of the posters is very simplistic and eye catching. This is very nice although for our animation we are hoping to make it high resolution with a sort of semi-realistic look, instead of a low-poly aesthetic. As a group we were hoping to have a little fun and design one of these types of posters each for a bit of practice with blocking our shapes and colour.

In our story there will be two rivalry drink companies  ‘fighting’ it out for advertising space on some distant planet, so this calls for two new logos. I have found a handy sheet online with some iconic drink logos displayed.

drink logos

We will be taking some inspiration from names and logo styling and colours to reproduce our own. As I had aforementioned, some game concept art contains a lot of similar work, this namely being the work from Fallout 4. Below are a few images displaying what we have in mind when thinking in terms of how to display some of our concept ideas. These images are taken from ‘The Art of Fallout 4’, art book produced by Bethesda Game Studios.

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Nuka Cola is Fallout’s spin off version of coca-cola. We are going to try a spin off version of the same brand to see how it looks. It works as great reference as it is set in the future and had that space-vibe. Some of their logo designs are shown below, again we are hoping to make a page containing possible logo designs for our drink companies.

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Fallout had also made some poster designs for their gameplay. They remind me of the Nasa posters above. From here I plan to design some logos and lay them out on a page, with different colour variations and shapes.

References (2017). Retro Posters Show NASA’s Vision for Our Future on Mars. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017]. (2017). The Art of Fallout 4 (9781616559809): Bethesda Softworks: Books. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Mar. 2017].

Spacesuit Designs and Landers

The design of the spacesuit and lander for your animation might not be so important on the grand scheme but it is something to look into as it may help enhance our storytelling technique. If our astro-dude is promoting a certain drink, maybe his lander can reflect this in some way, or maybe his suit can be connected to an endless supply which he drink through an internal straw, with the juice being carried in a huge container on his back? Anyway’s I done a little research into different designs of both. Having a look might influence new ideas and inspiration.

This image below is fantastic in showing various spacesuits. Michael has drawn a concept of a spaceman which I really liked, it reminds me of the soviet one shown below, its orange. 🙂SPACESUITSINTIME                                                                    Image Courtesy – shortlist magazine


Michaels drawing above is great, I love the over stance and proportions of him. Hopefully we can build upon this design making sure we think about how we will go about rigging him.

suits                                                                           Image Courtesy –

For convenience and for my own sake I will take the definition of the purpose of a lander from wikipedia: “A lander is a spacecraft which descends toward and comes to rest on the surface of an astronomical body. By contrast with an impact probe, which makes a hard landing and is damaged or destroyed so ceases to function after reaching the surface, a lander makes a soft landing after which the probe remains functional.” –  wikipedia

lander                                                                                       Image Courtesy – NASA

Below are some sketches I have made in my sketchbook of various lander shapes. I like the type which have the huge barrels at the sides as in our animation they could be holding litres of the fizzy/alcoholic drink the spacemen are advertising.


Group credits

Michael Lilley-

Erinn Morrow-

Jack Ellison-


ShortList Magazine. (2017). Brilliant Spacesuit Timeline. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Mar. 2017].

Tested. (2017). Exploring the Aesthetics of NASA’s Iconic Space Suit Design – [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Mar. 2017].

3D Galaxy in Maya

A realistic looking Space environment might be a difficult task to produce in Maya. I’m unsure how many lights I can include to give the illusion of stars or if there are other way of getting around this. I have come across this article which has a good tutorial on how to create a 3D galaxy/space scene within Maya. I will give this a try and if I fail I will try a different approach.

I have followed some tips from this article (link here).

After having read through this tutorial I realised that creating a galactic environment full of stars is actually quite simple using Maya 3D brushes. Below are some of my first experiments with these brushes. I think they turned out ok, maybe not as organic as I would like, but the colours are pretty. Once we get the overall feeling of our light sources and colour for the animation as a whole, I feel we can then decide upon a definite colour scheme for the stars. I feel the red stars are pretty cool and could be used to help with the overall fizzy juice symbolism that is present in the animation.

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Below are some photographs I have taken of quick space watercolours I had done before trying it in Maya to see if I could make load a painting in, but this definitely wasn’t going to give the finished look we needed.


From here I then decided to try a digital painting but this was still to no avail. When I loaded this image into Maya and set it up for Image Based Lighting it looked quite pixilated.


References (2017). Creating a galaxy in Maya using Paint Effects – Page 1 – Paint FX Tutorials for Maya. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Apr. 2017].