Friday, November 21, 2014


Finally, I can announce that I've been working on: Sentree, a Local Multiplayer Mobile game: with the amazing guys at Glitchnap, along with audio wizard Martin Kvale and vector connoisseur Liselore Goedhart.

If you like yelling at your blind-folded friends (and honestly, who doesn't?): this one's for you. The game will be released in 2015. More to come, very soon…!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Behind the Islands (II)

Above: Some render steps while figuring out the lighting and material for the delicious tentacles in Island Still Life No.20.

For the new Island series I made a bit more use of Cinema 4D's built-in surface and volume shaders to play with the materiality of the objects. It's been a fun search in trying to keep the work digitally stylized while at the same time allowing some of the real-world references bleed through and inform how the materials are rendered. Illustrator was used here and there; by layering its obvious vector shapes over the rendered image, the interplay between those 2D and 3D-rendered-2D shapes allows for a sense of depth without the use of fake camera blurs. I'm quite happy where the work has been going.

You can buy prints of the series at my etsy shop!

There's some more sketchy stuff after the jump.

Above: build and re-build process for Island Still Life No.13.

Above: build process for Island Still Life No.14.

Above: On the left my initial idea to make the pattern in the petals like a peacock's tail (or a chinese sponge roll) didn't make it.

Above: No. 12 and No. 17 have been lost in 3D limbo because I didn't know where to go with them, hence the gaps in the current series' Island numbers. I'm sure I will revisit them at a later point to save whatever idea I can, as I did with No. 13.

[render render render]

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Thursday, November 6, 2014


[islands ii coming soon]

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014


It took me ages to get this piece done for my brother's dentist office, mostly because my initial ideas for the composition didn't work out. You can see more images of the final piece on my behance profile. After the jump are some shots from the work in progress.

Above: Trees! And the initital version of the forest (the grey is just to separate the different parts of the objects, for my ease of mind). I had intended a very dense amazon-like environment, but with so many trees packed close to each other I felt that the composition fell apart and the trees together just turned into a noisy polygon mess.

The old version of the hunters looked like some sort of cartoony sjaman sculptures. Not what I was looking for in this case.

Their new iteration was based on the bodyplan of a stick insect and much more in line with the verticality of their tall tree surroundings. The antler-like head pieces reinforce their connection to the forest and make them look quite graceful. Much better!

The hunters were given rudimentary joints in their spine for twisting and bending. The arms and legs are separate objects placed in an IK hierarchy to allow for quick and simple posing. Above also a look at the cache of staff weapons, some of them reminiscent of dentists' tools.

Having a more prominent focal point helped a lot in cleaning up the composition. Above a closer look at the tooth monument. Some of the fish were placeholder and later swapped for more stylized versions.

[render render render]

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Friday, October 31, 2014


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Thursday, October 30, 2014


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014


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Thursday, October 16, 2014


It's the simple things...

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Behind the Waterworks, part II

My enthusiasm for creating plants stems more from an uncontrollable urge to play God rather than from some fond childhood memories of playing in forests. Actually, as a true city kid I preferred staying indoors, leafing through biology books and making up worlds that were better than the one outside. So you can imagine that creating the little biomes for Waterworks was something I enjoyed doing very much.

There’s a certain zen-like state to be found when playing with the basic components of a tree. There’s the trunk, the branches and the canopy. How do you show them in ways that are interesting, yet recognizable? Different shapes of canopy can present different tree ‘personalities’, as it were. Or maybe a tree will be more sparsely dotted with leafs, making the trunk and branches more apparent. Or perhaps the roots stick out above ground, like a mangrove. Taking these aspects to extremes you end up with some distinct stylization of what seem to be different species of tree.

We couldn’t go overboard making them too much fantasy, but still, in the end I think we were granted quite a lot of freedom. Or maybe Mudvark waged silent wars to press my designs through, that I don’t know.

Above images are screenshots taken from Unity. Figuring out how to properly utilize the assets I created took some time and it didn’t help that the FBX export from Cinema is a bit dodgy. To keep the amount of draw calls to a minimum we decided to bake all the lighting and the colored polygons to textures; a process I personally am not a big fan of. I had hoped that simply exporting the FBXs with colored polygon selections would work easily, but alas, draw calls!

The baked textures had to be pretty small, only 512x512 pixels (at least, I think that’s small). After modeling the objects and coloring the polygon selections they had to be given UVW coordinates. Mostly I create objects by hand drawing polygons and points, which gives a less mathematically perfect look, but that also meant manually doing the UVWs, which took for___e___ver.

Safe to say I’m a UVW wizard now :)

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Friday, May 30, 2014


Buffer channel of a long overdue piece that just came out of the render farm with a slight case of identity crisis.


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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Demon Summer

I can't say I remember that much of the summer of '09, but judging from these little pixel babies I just rediscovered, I'm guessing it was one of those game-fueled ones. And I definitely strolled the pixelation forums a lot. So cuuute!

More Martian faux-game demonicness after the jump - - - - - - - ->

One the far left our protagonist of the story: the lost, and slightly misunderstood, matriarch from the demon dimension XYZ, together with her offspring in their infant and adult states.
Some innocent Martian bystanders of the oncoming apocalypse.
Rowboats! Or: some fiddlings with pixels to get a slick 60s sci-fi metal look

Some slick metal spacecruisers, reminiscent of a time when we didn't need greebles to make our designs more interesting.
The cartoon version!

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Monday, April 28, 2014


The BLN/Nights series lovingly embraces pixels in the aliased renders. Because of the final print size of the images, I couldn't really convey this on behance, so here they are in better resolutions (after the jump).

Click for the bigger picture:






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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Behind the Waterworks, part I

The guys from London-based Mudvark asked me if I was interested in making a strategy game with them, creating all the 3D assets like buildings, plants, landscapes; basically the stuff that I’ve been creating (with gigabytes of love) anyway. How could my inner nerd say no?

Water Works was to be a little educational game for iPad and Android tablets, made specifically for schools in the US (I do hope I got these details right) and was commissioned by US-based Amplify. It takes some cues from games like Sim City to teach the students about the workings of water systems.

It’s been a while since my part of the work was completed, but it took ages to get all the bugs ironed out (I suspect there’s a sizeable heap of emptied red bull cans outside of code-wizard Adam Green’s studio). Now, the game is close to getting released and I can finally share some of the behind-the-scenes extras. Also, with the new Civilization (set in the future!!!) being released I imagine my life as I know it will be over this fall, so whatever I can post I’ll have to do so before then.

There’s a bunch of stuff to talk about, which I’ll do so in manageable chunks, kicking off with the basics: the environments!

The desolate monolith desert would feature gaps in the earth's crust that could act as steam vents.

I can honestly say I’m pretty embarrassed about these concept sketches. Using Photoshop as a painting tool has never been my strong suit, a fact I did warn the guys at Mudvark for. The mix between the hand-drawn lines and the flat planes of color doesn’t hold up very well, I think. And when you look at some of the insane concept art and speed painting works out there on the web, well… I also thought I had a great system figured out by drawing the trees and foliage separately so I could copy and stamp them about later. It gets the point across, but it does look a bit awkward.

A ridiculously failed attempt at doing a sketch in Illustrator. I guess I'll stick to vectors in 3D from now on.

Patches of colored moss, chunks of ice and frozen animals would populate this tundra-like environment.

In order to keep the tablets' processor stress to a minimum, water particle effects, puffy clouds and mist were kept out of the final game.

When I met up with Mudvark's Henry Hoffman and Dan Da Rocha in Amsterdam to talk things through, it wasn’t very clear yet how close to reality the game would have to look. I believe it was over a pancake lunch that one of the guys said: ”Yeah man, you can totally go freaky with the landscapes, the water physics will be realistic anyway”. Or maybe that was when we unintentionally landed at a coffeeshop (in our defense, it did look more like a fancy lounge bar, so I guess Amsterdam tourist traps work even on me).

The requirements of the landscapes weren’t all set at this point, only that they needed to have some elevations, so we could work with guiding the water up and down hill, and some water sources. Different landscape types would allow for differences in scenario gameplay. Some initial concepts were a bit ‘too far out’, like the monolith desert or the large chunks of ice with frozen animals. And we hadn’t pinned down the specs of the tablets yet, so I put together some animals that could perhaps roam around the screen, just to breathe a bit more life onto the screen. Sadly, they had to go.

Above: style renders of the seasonal variations. In this case from top to bottom: summer, autumn, extreme summer and winter. No more patches of moss with tiled textures, but colored polygons adds some nice variations to the ground and could be different kinds of moss, grass, etc.

The idea for the landscape types got changed a bit; we’d use seasons per level instead, which meant only some minor rearranging of the flora and color schemes. A more important aspect of the environments was the landscape elevations, which needed to be fixed early so that the coders could start working on a pathfinding system for laying down the pipes over the slopes and between the structures. We decided to make the slopes go over 1x1 grid squares at a 45 degree angle, instead of variable angles, to make the pathfinding system easier. That meant that all the slopes would look rather uniform in their basic setup. By alternating the plateaus and adding some geometric details we could make it visually more interesting.

An early test for the slopes by Henry. 

Slopes spread over full and half grid squares, a system we didn't choose in the end.

One of the first mockups for getting a more clear picture on the whole landscape, with a town, some trees, and the bumpy slopes.

I don’t use textures in my models; instead I prefer using the objects’ geometry, in combination with the lighting, to create shades and shadows that give depth to the image. For the slopes and cliff walls we could allow some more defined geometry to make them look a bit more interesting, but using such a complex geometry as a collision mesh would be too processor intensive. Instead, Mudvark’s Rhys Thomas modeled a separate simple collision mesh that the pathfinding system could use. While that was implemented in code I could work on the visible geometry and we could save some time doing this in tandem. Also, doing iterations on the collision mesh was a lot faster because of its simplicity, so the coders could lock down any edits more quickly and didn’t have to wait for me to finish my work.

Above: a simple collision mesh and underneath the more detailed landscape geometry mesh for level 4. The colored grid squares were just to indicate where we could place certain structures.

The 1x1 grid was kept throughout even the flat plains because of the borehole buildings. These structures can be used to access groundwater, which has a radial effect for a specific distance, visible from one of the viewing modes. In the initial landscape meshes, like in the above image, I didn't take this into account and as a result the colored vertices didn't show up nicely. With the 1x1 grid we could evenly color the vertices to indicate water presence, which not only looks good, but works well with the tablets' processors too – awesome!

Modeling level 1. We hadn't implemented the borehole vertex system yet, so here the landscape mesh was modeled freely and only the slopes adhered to the grid. The white lines indicated the collision mesh

There's lots more to share (including an introduction to two more valuable team members on the project), so in upcoming posts I'll show some work on the other environment assets and, of course, the buildings.

To be continued…!

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