Crisis Point

This was the one: The project that was going to break me. I knew I was taking on a lot of new skills to do this one but honestly didn’t know how little I knew.

The project started with a sketch of an organic stylized atmospheric craft, that was a rough hybrid between the shape of an insect (Stage beetle) and a bird (hawk) – more insect than bird but something that gave the appearance of being manufactured despite the organic flow and contours 


Initial rough sketch

Early Days

I started experimenting with a nurbs surface shaped like an upside down horse shoe stretched into a tube

Here I was trying to pull out the lower aerodynamic lifting surfaces on either side

I thought it made sense to design the craft using separate sections as that would make it more consistent with real world manufacturing processes however this caused major problems when attempting to line up the edges of the different nurbs edges unfortunately hindsight is an amazing ability – which i didn’t possess in this case.

different nurb densities resulted in issues when lining up the different sections

I like to switch between difference parts of the object especially if I encounter an issue in order to keep flowing

above is one half of a cardian joint that I used for the landing strut legs

The craft is powered by a single engine that directs thrust to 3 vector nozzle outputs

The ‘engine blade were actually animated to help with thrust vectoring and power regulation but I ran into issues when using instances due to their center of mass being offset. it was related to the how to control pivot points of each blade instance that I couldn’t get to behave as expected

Part of what makes an interesting design is mixing primary secondary and tertiary shapes. Blender has a nice option that you can use to assign a random color to an object

above is an early test of slicing up the hull into parts using and positioning some of the components such as the vector nozzles – the final result is shown further down this post

Admittedly I over designed several components because I didn’t know what camera shot I would end up using however, the time wasn’t wasted because I learned how to do mechanical rigging which was needed in other parts of the craft

This was an over complicated hinge lift control mechanism for the craft that I ended up simplifying because: A it would likely be too fragile in potentially hostile environments; B it probably would have disrupted the laminar flow in atmospheric flight across the hull!

Once I was happy with the silhouette of the craft it was time to incorporate all the sub components placing them in their respective parts

After cutting out various sections of the hull I started to add in all the sub components. good scene management is a must for anything approaching this level of detail

This might hurt a little

It was time to figure out how to deal with the disrupted hull flow. My solution was to create one singular hull using nurbs (as before) then use the knife project tool (after converting it to a mesh) to “slice” the hull into sections along with a very limited use of Booleans to actually cut out major holes to place components

this was the last assembly with the ‘old’ hull it was time to say goodbye and replace it
here is the almost complicated single flow hull
here I’ve commenced using booleans to cut out the major holes – used very sparingly. The majority of the paneling was done using the kite

Finally happy with the flow I took a break from the the hull to finish the components and design the landing legs struts. It took couple of attempts to get them right

I tried a method with sub divisional surfaces but the result didn’t blend with the other components

The folding leg design was challenging and resulted in modifications to the hull shape because it wouldn’t fit into the hull! You can see in the original design the Legs were never designed to fold into the hull

The final result was derived from box Boolean modelling. So whilst the leg is still clearly mechanical in nature it leans heavily on the insect leg parts (coxa, femur, tibia and a meld of the tarsi and pretarsus)
a good example of everything except the hull (hidden) to get get a sense of that primary, secondary and tertiary shapes I mentioned earlier and check the ratios/balance between them.
A closeup of some of the panel work and boolean cutouts

A fine mess

The texturing was done in Substance Painter after a horrendous time with trying to pack UV’s into a single island because I was wasn’t sure about going the UDIM route. At the same time trying to understand what ‘texels’ are. The mess I made due to my lack of knowledge about texels, stacking uv’s for identical object really messed me up to the point I actually didn’t even open Blender for about a week.

a jam packed uv island in substance. I only found out about UVpackmaster and ZenUV after what felt like forever struggling with UV’s – two essential Add -on’s that I couldn’t live without now
Also added an emission channel for the navigation beacons and other lights
created about 5 materials based on promising advance material science research such as Amorphous metallic composite, polycrystalline graphene, transparent aluminum, para-aramid fibre…was it necessary nope but I found it helps to ground your design with some sense of reality when you start to think about how the elements are manufactured and out of what

After importing all the PBR materials it was fairly straight forward wiring it up

screenshot of all the components with their materials applied
and one of the hull with the materials applied. Note the hull panels were actually created using the knife projection tool (in most cases) then bevelling the result followed by an internal extrusion to get the depth

For the render output I wanted to give it a cinematic look so I used added various effects using the Compositor

i played with a combination of bloom, vignetting chromatic aberration for the final output

The final bit of the project was of course the animation which went fairly well only because I spent time studying ‘hard Surface Rigging’ by Jeannot Landry which really made the animation part easy. It was worth every penny.

I even had some fun adding sound effects and creating a music score (using Garageband on my Ipad)

Ending thoughts

This project was a journey well into the deep end: Was it stressful at points – yes; was it fun – oh absolutely!

I’m so glad I kept going because the sense of reward beat any of the pain points you encounter. I found solutions to almost all the technical challenges encountered and some others were actually none issues due to the final camera shots and angles used.

There were still a few things I would have liked to improve but I set myself a time frame so making every shot and object perfect wasn’t a tenable position. Plus that added time crunch forces you to think more creatively and produce workarounds that one probably wouldn’t have thought of.

Anyway I hope this short blog inspires someone on their journey and if you have questions (or tips for me!) just send me an email

Stay curious and ignore the distractions and the people that say you can’t!

Real time

Hi all,

I’ve been doing a lot of RnD related to PBR workflows and how to generate Real-Time renders As a test I used one of my recent products ‘landing pad and Panels’.

Below are some comparisons of Traditional renders.

Render using Blender Eevee


Blende Cycles Render with a HDR to provide the lighting data


And here you can see the Real Time output

Organic Sample container

More real time work for VR / AR

This time for an Organic Sample Container 

Low light shot of an Organic Sample container
Day Light shot

Portable Fusion Power Station

This is the PS 150Mw fusion power supply that became one of the most popular generators in the late 22nd century, due to their robustness, reliability and portability despite their price.

Paradigm Shift had to be done..
It took a few months but I’ve transitioned my work flow over to Blender and Substance Painter.
why? well I’m glad you asked but I was kinda force to as my main tool Cinema 4D was lagging more and more behind in some areas that are key for me a 3D generalist. As much as I love it’s UI, ease of use and excellent MoGraph tools it was becoming more of a sort of ‘hub‘ that needs to be fed by other apps.
This resulted in a convoluted pipeline that I just couldn’t sustain efficiently. Don’t get me wrong I still love C4D but need to see if there’s better out there for me 😉

So for 2018 and probably beyond you will see a range of work produced using Blender, Substance Painter and Marvelous Designer for clothing design.
Keep an eye out for another blog entry on lessons learned using this new workflow for the ‘Executive Building’ release.

The journey to the Ithaka, continues…i hope to see you along the way.

Making Drones

I spent about a month on the actual concept of what the game is about, designing the
key characters and events
The most important tool at this point was a pencil and paper! But I did some digital
sketches also.
Once the design silhouette reads well I’d sign off on the process




Gameplay and core mechanics
Having nailed down the designs it was on to the core mechanics and game play. I spent
another 3/4 weeks on logic flows for each of the outlined events that can happen during
the game. Again this was done just using pen and paper and I can’t stress how critical
this was before writing a single line of scripts/code


OK.. because I gave careful attention to the previous steps this went fairly smoothly. I
found some annoying/silly limitations with the software but I found workarounds for
about 80% of them (hence my comments before about matching 80%)
I did make one costly mistake here: as I swapped in the real graphics for the proxies the
performance nose-dived. It wasn’t possible to accurately simulate the target devices so I
had to scale back the graphics/effects based on the physical devices I could get my
hands on – not a satisfactory solution but it was all I had.
Writing and adding the music was fun! I found it a great way to opening my mind to
finding lateral solutions



I didn’t realize it would be such a cathartic process creating a game: from concept to
finished product.
Don’t get me wrong there were times I found it infuriating as I tried to navigate the
schism between my imagination and what the tools can actually achieve however the
finished product is indeed something that matches about 80% of my original concept
and is something I am proud of

Geo Alpha Series

I managed to create my first batch ahead of schedule..somehow!?
This series is all jewelry based and called the Geo Alpha Series. (Why that name – well
it just stuck in my head!)
As for the shapes I knew I wanted a heart motif to be part of the design and possibly the
dp logo. The rest of the design was kept open and fluidic 😉
For efficiency I try to model with symmetry modifiers.


Near the end of the design I’ll start to see how to model looks with a sub divided
modifier. I also use the measuring tool a lot to recheck dimensions.
Very important due to real world material constraints (minimum Wall thickness, minimum
wire thickness, etc)

The Geo Alpha Vapour design proved to be quite tricky due to the thinness of the ‘loop’ over the ‘wings’ Had to rework this design several times.



The Geo Alpha Dewdrop design was the most complicated but the work went smoothly
as I planned most of it out beforehand.


I started off with the dp logo as a spline and converted it into a 2D polygon. At that point I used an array modified to form a circular shape


I continued to add the connecting parts, not worrying about the teardrop shape as that would come later


After all the elements were present I applied a matrix modifier to get that nice teardrop
shape. I also extruded for thickness

Tea Light

Here are a few basic Renders from the Tea light project.
It comes in two pieces :

here it is disassembled

And here assembled


As always it a challenge balancing: the minimum material that you can use; material
constraints; stress areas; and make it look cool 🙂
The minimum hull thickness for the four ‘arms’ was tough but I managed it.

Building Cities

So.. How do you build a city?
I suppose you can do it brick by brick if you’ve got time and resources but what if you’re
just one person? Well you can do what I did and use a really cool Add-on for Blender
called Scene City to help you with that task
It doesn’t take too long to get the basic layout generated and after a few false starts I
started to get something that looked quite pleasing.

I really love the reflective properties of the glass and the detail is more than sufficient for very close up views.

Blender and Cycles do a very good job with the rendering but I did have some problems
when exporting using FBX with the textures and materials. As a result I had to export
the OBJ to Cinema 4D then export from Cinema 4D as FBX. It was a minor fix and to be
honest I could have just used blender for the OBJ export – I probably will for my next

Hard Surface crate

Ok I really like creating procedural materials (various advantages) however there are
times you just have to get your hands dirty with UV’ing and Texturing.
Below are the results of a hard surface texturing test in cinema 4D

I spent quite a bit of time making sure that topology was correct before thinking about UV’ing or texturing

Getting to grips with UV’ing

Started to have a bit of fun with layering dirt and wear

Making Shiruken T4

The only thing I knew about this tank is that I wanted it to hover, have a subliminal
Coleoptera look to it and use technology about 50 years from now.

Started with a general shape

screenshot-2016-05-06-16-04-15 It took a few attempts to get my boolean technique right but the general method was to slice a 3d shape out of the main mesh then work on that shape without modifying the border between the meshes. This way I got better control over the topology


here are few parts
screenshot-2016-05-01-20-55-07 screenshot-2016-05-06-16-04-15


Started to work on basic materials and textures.

And here it is close to it’s finished form 🙂