Spider has seen great progress in the last few weeks now that the Spring semester has come to a close. I have recruited a few team members to help, Gretchen Freitag, a photographer and surfacing artist, and Sebastian Kawar, a traditional painter who I’ve brought in as art director. Both are students at the Texas A&M Department of Visualization and I meet with them about once or twice a week to discuss ideas and progress for spider. With their help we’ve been able to make great strides in the color and texturing department!
Sebastian started with some color tests for the Spider and the Tree. Philosophically, the tree and the desolate landscape are representative of death and their colors should show that they are part of the same world. The Spider however is alive, at least at first, and therefore alien to this world. It does not belong, so its color should separate it from the tree and the environment, without being distracting or unrealistic. In the end we decided on an analogous color scheme in the orange/brown range for the desert environment and tree and a dark purple color for the Spider with red highlights.
Dr. Stephen Caffey, an Art History professor at Texas A&M and one of my MFA committee members has been advising me on some of the conceptual aspects of Spider. If the tree is dead and the Spider is slowly dying, then Caffey suggested that the color of the Spider gradually shift towards the tree’s color. Sebastian interpreted this as a dulling and greying of the Spider’s color and did some mock ups of what that might look like.
Sebastian had an interesting idea for the interior of the spider as well. The spider would be re-modeled to include an interior shell. The exterior shell would then be re-textured to be translucent while the interior shape would be brighter, possibly the same color as the eyes. Visually, this new interior geometry would act as a more visual cue for the degradation of the spider, fading over time and eventually becoming a dull grey. Despite the novelty of this idea, I decided against it. I felt that it was a little too overt of a visual cue for such a slow, subtle piece. It might be an interesting idea to hold onto for later iterations, though…
The latest Spider model with the latest textures from Gretchen! There is still a little tweaking to be done on the colors and specularity, but overall it’s an awesome start!
Gretchen actually wrote a custom Gooch shader for the project to help push the low-poly art style. She has been testing it on chunks of ground plane that I’ve given her and is also working on a massive normal map for wide shots of the environment. This will cut down on render times later on, but I think we’ll probably switch back to a chunk similar to this for close ups.
While Gretchen and Sebastian have been working, I’ve been rebuilding the Layout Animatic with the new models. It’s rough and it’s lacking in sound and I often have to talk people through it because it’s lacking some of the crucial animation and effects to make it readable, but I think it’s pretty good for this stage in the game. After some changes and final rig fixes we’ll be ready for early animation.
The next step will be finalizing textures for the Spider and the Tree, and tacking the web, which I’ve honestly been avoiding for far too long. Wish us luck!