Low Poly Dump Truck

I need a truck for Penelope Kinnison to drive in the upcoming project Kheprit.  She’s a driver in a science fiction mining setting.

Step 1: Reference.

I looked at some pictures of dump trucks for reference, and decided a truck needs a cab, the bed that raises up, the piston that pushes it up, bumpers, doors, side mirrors, some lights, a tailgate that comes up or down, and big wheels.  I thought about tracks, but they didn’t read as trucks but as tanks.  This is not a military vehicle.  I Google imaged some dump trucks until I thought I had a pretty good idea, and then I modeled the first image.

Step 1: Modeling

One of the things I did was make sure that both the tailgate, the bed, and the doors were separate pieces, to make it easier to rig them later.  I also put the piston in there, even though I don’t think Penelope will be dumping her truck so far.  I also put a box inside the cab, to soak up space.  If I need to put Penelope in the truck, I’ll do it later, in post production.  Modeling a cab interior is too much render work for unseen faces.

Step 2: Rigging

The wheels are linked to the main bone: As I pose it forwards or back, the wheels turn.  I thought about making the wheel bones just a bit off-center with the model: This would make the wheels “jiggle”like a suspension over rough terrain.  There’s also a steering system on the front wheels.  When I made the bed rise up, I realized I needed to fix the back bumper as well so that the bed didn’t smash it.  There was a little modeling redo there too.

Step 3: Materials and texturing

I think I did pretty good here.The lights Emission Strength is driven by bones, so the lights will glow based on the bones.  You can see that I put a logo on the side and front of the truck.  I should probably put a number on the side, since each driver would be assigned a specific truck.  Observant people will notice that I since thought about adding a “windshield wiper residue” texture to the front windshield, I modeled some quick windshield wipers for the front of the truck.  I also pulled the grill forwards a little, since the texture of the truck, not black, was showing between the bars of the grill.

All in all, not bad for a day’s work!

Step 4: Potential enhancements?

I mentioned the texture refinements?  Also, I think that I could get those stacks to belch a little fake smoke if I tried.

How my own artwork gave me a lesson in racism

For the Operations Center scenes, I decided to go “Michael Bay style” as a color effect to differentiate the lab. What’s that? Well, look here:
Basically, I pumped up the blue in the shadows, and added orange to the highlights and some of the midtones. and for some shots, it gave me the effect I wanted:


AFTERDaniel Filmic

Except for Nia and Jason. They have skin that is a shade of brown, Nia darker than Jason. And my color correction didn’t find their skin as a highlight.  It turned them darker, to the point where Nia blends into the background.

AFTERNia Filmic

So I did some research, and I found this:

Wow! I don’t think I’ll master color correction for their skin in time for NANOWRIMO.  I’ll have to go back and correct it for the Comixology Graphic novel.

But It just goes to show that privilege is insidious, and is in the places you don’t expect, and it is part of my job as an artist to look at things and go “that doesn’t look right. Why not?”


Wow!  It’s September already!

I didn’t want anybody to think that I’m lost in cyberspace, so here’s a quick look at of projects:

Here’s a look at some of the families for Shades 2: Suburban Jungle Warfare coming this November:


I wanted to have the Starrs (on the left) all grouped visually through denim, while the Reagans (center) are much less cohesive, and the Aceys (right) are supposed to be visually hard to identify where they each fall on the Gender spectrum.  Teddy Reagan is wearing a cool version of his father’s Jacket (center), but paired with jeans because he is secretly dating Selena (busty girl next to him.)

Each of these is a variation of the other: I started out with one blender model and then tweaked it until I got these different body/head shapes, while making them all look like they’re from the same art style (instead of starting each one from scratch).  Now it takes me about one evening to tweak a character, which is good, because I still have three more family groupings to go,

June Update – Mall Stores

So, for Shades 2 I need to have a scene set in the mall.  And I needed some background stores.  I tried making my own backgrounds here:

Mall1 As you can see, the walls are flat with a store plastered on, and it looks REALLY fake.  1990 Doom era bad CGI.  I tried to add some depth with the doorway, but the warping makes it really hard to draw the inside of the black and white store.

Even a downloaded texture from cgtextures.com would look flat.  I needed to look at some real mall photos for reference.


And what I saw is that they all had a “front” and then I could add a texture inside the store.  So I tried that.

Mall2Better, but the all glass front of the “sole-less ” store is problematic.  And the doors look a little blocky, and Covers looks still too similar to Harbinger’s.  Still, this is promising.

Once of the best parts is that it’s the same interior of a store for all three stores, but with a little UV manipulation, it looks like three different stores.  I think I can get away with three storefront textures, and a variety of store names and fonts for the signage.  A little bit of tint variation will help with the interior of the stores too.

The moral of the story is this-> get some reference, and then realize that there’s only so much you can do with a flat image.  But draw the eye elsewhere (to the store front), and you can get away with a flat interior of the store.

As always, comments are appreciated.