Monday, 9 November 2015

So what am I up too?

 If you've only been following this part of my blog it may feel like I've abandoned it for the 'uni work' section but truth be told Im keeping that one for hand in and this documents my musings a bit more :).
 So what have I been doing?  Well my project have shifted and warped into a new thing entirely. Feeling uninspired by mech design and the enormity of the previous project I decided to focus on a single large character sculpt. I've wanted to create a big monster so I've been throwing around some concepts and mood boards.

So the idea of sublime fear personified in natural disasters struck me and I decided to push a few concepts out in that direction

I set these out for peer review while I considered what to do next. Most people liked the 'spawn' concept. Many cited because of the recognizable forms and disturbing inhuman form. I'm not actually for the idea of making a 'spawn' its a used concept that's kind of IP of Game Workshop, although it add some interesting directions to practice anatomy. The other clear favourite was the 'stone giant' and 'Pyroclasm' which use the elemental giant troupe applied to natural disasters.
The final thought I had concepting wise was what systems would I like this to be for. I could keep it fairly general use but I feel that picking a system and creating alpha rules for the monster would help me developing my concept. I think the old DnD 3.5 / Pathfinder rules would be an appropriate system to do this in as they are open source and have monster creation rules in built (meaning all I have to worry about is balancing). Creating some backstory will be a later development concern.

So whats next? Next I need to look at the key modeling aspects of my concepts. All of them will benefit from continued human anatomy study. Im interested in sculpting wave/cloud forms for all these concepts either as an aspect of motion or as actual clouds in sculpture.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Getting Started

Blind Concepting

Mechs are one of my favorite Sci-fi conventions, Ridiculously cool and impractical, sharing the worst aspects of tanks (big, obvious and in few numbers) with the worst aspects of a human (slow, multiple weak points to shoot and have limited 'repair' options).
 To get all these cliche' out I decide to just blind concept ideas base on my preconceptions (this was really an exercise in what I don't want to do):

Concept Silhouettes 

Value Studies

Analyse: It's quite hard to break the conventional bi-pedal shapes even when trying to design more around function. Is this human centric arrogance? Or a useful consideration of design?
I also made the mistake of watching the new Mad Max film so yeah, there's smoke stacks and bolted on bits. While this 'junker' mech design could be cool it's very cliche' and not really a direction I want to pursue, the individuality expressed by the outwards appearance of the vehicles in Mad Max did give me some ideas for detailed customisation (one core 'hull' section could have several different cosmetic sculpts that show the style of the pilots, for example).

Over all I felt these design were uninspired. But that this was too be expected as I haven't really found a theme.

Industrial military complex

I decided to look at the conventional field of modern warfare to try and imagine mechs built in reality. 

Moodboard 'Tanks with legs and other military hardware'

Hull's of various military vehicles.

If designed as conventional war machines 'mechs' tend to follow the aesthetics of a vehicle type, be they bulky tanks or angular helicopter analogues. This leads to an interesting look but one that jars with my sense of reality (to give an example. The 'legged HUMVEE and tank would lose their comparative speed and terrain coping abilities of the standard version  for no clear advantage, unless those legs scale shear walls.)

What do I want?

Still a bit lost in my design I started to think about the key factors of what I want from this project. Given my current life style there is a very high chance much of my future career will be freelance or personal projects so creating something that could be a stand alone product to take advantage of the vogue for 3D printed art work could be a useful step in my future. 

With this in mind I wanted to identify how my product would likely be used, and how I'd want it to be viewed:
1. It should encapsulate an idea (commentary, feeling) as a stand alone object that might be bought for its own sake as 'sculpture'. (The Big Idea)

2. It should be designed with a definite back story/setting in mind which could be expanded on later.(The Setting)

3. It should be able to be repurposed, with a little conversion work, to sit comfortably in sci-fi miniature table top games. (Practical Construction)

What's the big idea?

There are a few ideas I'd like to talk about in regards to near future tech and mechs. I like the irony of the mech (that their giant steel god piloted by fleshy mortals) or could discuss the slow slide into bogged down global guerrilla warfare that seems to be our generation's lot. But the main thing that struck me about the Mech mithos is how unlikely they are to ever see terrestrial warfare.
 In short giant fighting humanoids would be impractical compared to established war machines (after nearly 100 years of mechanical warfare the infantry man is still an essential part of a modern army) because they are prime targets, need constant support to keep running and are expensive to run and maintain.  In any situation where you could drop a squad of marines, or a company of tanks, 9 times out of 10 its would be cheaper and more effective to do so.
 However with the rise of modern space faring, colonising mars, asteroid mining etc, there is scope for such machines, since anything sent to these hostile environments needs constant support, maintenance and fuel, tough shielding etc.
As we look at modern space projects we are finding more and more private endeavors by major companies, Space X and the proposed missions to mars are all private, corporate sponsored missions whose concepts, timetables and long term goals are kind of questionable.
This reminded me of a quote from Fight Club:
While finding that I came across this graphic.
I really like the theme of 'In space no one hears your corporate espionage' it lends itself to crazy mercenaries working for corrupt corporations, picking each other off of the backs of asteroid mining rigs. The mechs could be parodying modern big corporation design styles (Apple mechs, Google drones, Virgin Space mining and Travel etc) with the modular parts being interchangeable but iconic.

The Setting

Friday, 28 August 2015

Moving on into final year.

 I'm rapidly approaching the start of my last uni term so Im thinking about my final project. I've been considering several options for this mostly based around miniature design.
My first thought has been to work with some kind of table top game, or design my own. Back in college I put about 6 months of work into an IP of a game with 3D printed minis and a clunky rule set and it would be interesting to revisit that world with a better idea of game design.

(Image from 'Steampire' IP 
Credits to Marcell Rideg ( LINK) for photos and 3D renders)

 That being said a large portion of my time has always been devoted towards characters and that holds my interest far more than mechanics so revisiting this project would probably result in me making more and nicer mini's for the IP rather than finishing/creating a functional game.

Along the same lines I've considered creating a faction/character etc for an existing game system (like Game Workshop's Warhammer setting or more Privateer press products) this would have the advantage of letting me concentrate on sculpting and working to another company's style but I feel this is quite a limited project and, hopefully, there will be plenty of time in my later career to have to fall in line with the in-house-style.

 One of the interesting parts of my summer experimentation was playing with the line between a digital game asset and a 3D print ready asset. By using a production flow designed for digital games I was able to create high quality 3D print assets that could be posed a number of different ways with little resculpting/repair. These asset where also created to scale from low poly to high allowing me to create Normal mapped LP asset from the same base as my 3D print asset. Although there are later production concerns (creating a single mesh for 3DP or UVing/texturing for GRA) a lot of my basic conceptualizing and creating can be done to a T posed mesh and then tailored to its purpose.
 This gave me an idea about creating both a 3DP and GRA project.
 During my last project I did some research into a website/company called 'Heroforge' (LINK) who create custom 3DP mini's for tabletop games using a simple multiple choice program to allow the user to select parts, poses etc.

I want to create something similar but trying to for fill a different niche, instead of character models I would like to create sci-fi vehicles, more specifically sci-fi 'mecha' (humanoid, piloted machines).
Using a selection of modular parts I want to create a program that allows the user to build a vast number of vehicles for their games and at a variety of scales.
These parts would all correspond with a 3DP part that could then be ordered as a complete model.

Mock up photobash assets from Hawken 

Sketch up of components

Monday, 10 August 2015

Gratuitous Space RPG

 One of my friends recently completed a challenge to design a space shooter control system in an hour. The resulting unity prototype inspired us to create more.

Game overview: Top down space ship rpg/exploration game. Taking inspiration from games like: Sid Meier's Pirates, Eve online and Gratuitous Space Battles. Explore space, trade between stations, fight pirates or become one yourself.

Must have:
 2D moving, fighting, exploration:
 The meat of the game, a well balanced trade off between speed, fire power and armour as well as non-combat options (evasion, stealth, speed etc)
Salvage, mining, trading : 
The ability to gather resources from your activities.
Upgradable ships/multiple ships to buy :
  a point to gathering resources

Would like:
NPC empires, factions, allies:
 Supporting a station or faction helps them grow and give you new, better and cheaper equipment with that faction, conversely attacking a faction will cause them to refuse you service/send out forces to attack you.

Crew/system Level management:
 Hiring the right crew, training them in roles and keeping them healthy, could also open up possible systems for ship boarding/capture and experience points.

multi-player support:

 One of the things I've become more interested in is modularity with in my design process. I wanted to really experiment with this idea while making the ships for this game so I decided to brake them down into a few major components. The advantage of this is it creates and inbuilt sub-system damage system for the programer (each part can be given stats and functions and simply be removed when destroyed). I have also been designing this as quickly as possible so we can get a first iterations out as soon as possible. Currently everything is at a grey box level:

Quick Sketch Concepts

3D Grey Box Concepts

Project 'Zaga'

 As something of a side project I decided to sculpt a character design for table top minature's company 'Privateer Press' ( I've been a fan of their game systems as well as the miniatures for a while and see them as pushing the boundaries of modern wargames largely by pursuing new techniques in design and productions methods (they created a sustainable alternative to Game Workshop at a time when GW had pushed many other established wargames companies out of business). Privateer Press specialise in 'skirmish' systems (systems using a handful of miniatures a side) which has turned out to be extremely popular due to the ease and cheapness involved in collecting a useable army (compared with other contemporary systems which required £100's of investment to collect an army) this focus on a few miniature also pushed for greater focus on the quality of the miniatures (even 'standard' infantry have unique characteristics with very few repeats).

 The Privateer Press setting 'Iron Kingdoms' is an interesting blend of modern, steampunk and fantasy genres and I wanted to create something for that setting as it ties in with many of my personal interests. Several years ago I played in a roleplaying game where we were allowed to use any combination of class/race/character we could find in the 3.5 Dnd/pathfinder systems, one of these was a version of the Iron Kingdoms (for DnD) and from this bizarre game a legendary character was born:

 Zaga Rel the legendary gun-mage.
Born in the Khador territoires of the Iron Kingdoms Zaga spent his youth growing up around Gobo camps an was often hired by local Khador military forces as a runner/skivi etc and it was among these troops that Zaga's major talents became known. Zaga was blessed (or cursed) with a mutation of the hands making them larger and stronger than normal. Capable of wielding human sized weapons Zaga soon discovered his talents for shooting and sorcery.  During a particularly blood battle Zaga 'acquired' a rifle from the corpse of an elite Widow Maker sniper and proceeded to pick off the enemy command structure faltering the enemy attack. This action earned Zaga a place as a personal assistant to a member of the grey lords (practically the highest honer a gobo could receive) and gave him unprecedented access to forges. Here he designed the first (and only) 'mage lock' rifle (a rifle capable of channeling sorcerers magics) and helped improve the designs of sabot shells.
 A this point report of Zaga become rather sketchy. There are rumors of travels to other worlds and pacts with mighty demons but most scholars regards these as tall tales spun by drunk Gobo's. Whatever the truth Zaga has appeared as an assistant to many a mighty grey lord or as an adjunct to Widow maker squads for a while garnering the closest thing to respect that the Khador nation can give to a Gobo.

For this character I wanted to try and imitate the Privateer Press style of miniatures so I gathered a wealth of Iron Kingdoms reference material:

The model sheets they use were particularly useful in designing my own. I also took note of the head shapes (vaguely Yoda/Pug inspired) and the level of details.

For my own reference material I was strongly influenced by the 'Cossack' dress style as well as using references of frogs, pugs and Steve Buscemi as inspiration for the face.

Initial concept work:

Final 2D Model Sheet:

At this point I started to build 3D as I often find its the best way to test my ideas:

Pistol models

3D Concepts

3D Model Sheets:


Best Possible Renders

I still need to work on the posed variant and final production piece.
 For this I've been learning Zbrushes transpose master as well as learning about turning this mesh into a game ready asset. This has been good practice as a well realised low poly mesh is essential for good transposing and has meant I've rigged a humanoid in maya with reasonable results:

Low res body, posed with HP normal maps

Base pose using Transpose Master

Monday, 8 June 2015

June 2015:

Welcome to the Official blogg for Owen John Badham (OJBad) miniature design.

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