Fun with Blender: Physics

I’ve used Blender before, but it’s been a while since I really dug in since I started using Maya for school. The good news is I was able to figure out simple cloth physics within Blender and play with that.

I’d eventually like to be able to recreate this particular tablecloth draping simulation in Blender as well.

Maya gave me some nice, smooth stuff, although the campus computers were far beefier than my home PC in the GPU department. My laptop is a Mac so I didn’t even think it’d be able to render well, but surprisingly, it does. I think that’s because while both computers were purchased in 2011, the PC was refurbished with an old NVidia GT440 card. Whatever is in this mac was relatively fresh off the assembly line.

This blanket scene turned out nice, and my lighting was much better this time!

These are some still renders I churned out. I want to learn how to do fun stuff like bump and specular maps eventually, though I’m more familiar with Maya’s node editor than Blender’s so that may be the next fun thing I stumble upon over a weekend.

Character Design Exercise: Human Wheatley

A couple of weeks back, I posted a preview for a Portal fan-comic project that I’m working on in my spare time. Since then, I also digitally inked and coloured a couple of character designs for a humanized Wheatley. If you’ve only played the first Portal game, or haven’t played either of them (I know a couple of my friends had problems with motion sickness with Portal 2) I’d encourage you to at least find a summary of Portal 2 to bring you up to speed before you actually go to read the comic (there’s still time, by the way, it’s not ready to share just yet).

If you’ve played both Portal games (or even just Portal 2) you should already know that Wheatley is a robot—and not even a humanoid robot—he’s a personality construct (sometimes referred to as a core) that works in the Aperture Science facility. Spoiler alert: aside from the player, there aren’t any humans left in Aperture, save for the enigma that is Doug Rattman, and even he may already be a ghost by the time the 2nd game rolls around.

When I finished Portal and Portal 2, I started looking for Portal fanfiction while waiting on Portal 3—if and when it happens. Right away, I noticed a lot of fanfictions where Wheatley somehow became a human (or an android, or both over the course of the story), and was either friends with or romantically involved with Chell, the protagonist/player-character of both games. There were even a handful of stories where the same thing happened to Virgil from fan-made Portal Stories: Mel, including (but not limited to) Coffee Shop AU (alternate universe) settings, and a particularly riveting Bioshock crossover where Aperture exists almost in-place-of the underwater city of Rapture. Actually, the latter didn’t include Portal Stories: Mel characters that I’m aware of—I just felt like it deserved to be mentioned because it’s really good!

Anyway, loads of fanfic writers who also like to draw (or who know someone that does) like to sketch or render out what they think a humanized Wheatley would look like. Most of the android designs seem to incorperate his blue optic somehow—usually in his chest, like Iron Man—and/or glowing blue eyes. Sometimes they give him blue hair (always synthetic), or just loosely base him off of his voice actor—which is sort of what I’ve done with my design. Even then, there are so many ways to style short, blonde hair (or is it light brown? I’ve had friends where they swore it was blonde but it really could’ve gone either way depending on lighting), different frames of glasses to choose from, etc. Some of the designs I love best, though, include some kind of themed jumpsuit or uniform. Not necesarily the orange kind Chell wears, because he’s not always playing the role of a test subject, but I’ve noticed that many artists seem to favour using grey and blue together.

For my design, he’s wearing a similar jumpsuit to that of Chell, but I took some creative license because there aren’t any (canonnical) male test subjects to use for reference. I looked at pictures of cosplayers—male and female—to see how they created their jumpsuit designs, because there are subtle differences between them, dependant on level of detail and available materials. Working on this comic has been fun so far, and you should expect new pages relatively soon.

PS: once again, this comic project is not connected to, or endorsed by Valve in any way.

Unused: Label Designs

Unused label designs for a clay mask and a face scrub. Both designs needed a unifying theme while still remaining distinct enough to not be confused for one another.

This was one of the most complex projects I’ve worked on in illustrator, due to the amount of detail in the motifs. Early versions included hand-lettering but that was later substituted for an existing font—Arabdances by Mandred Klein. Also, “Sparkle” was later changed to “Glow”.

Niki Gerrier's Visual Portfoilo