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Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


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Manic Moles- Studio Game Jam 2

Continuing on from the previous Game Jam (Plant Trap) our tutor decided to organise another game jam to once again give people the opportunity to gain extra credit. With this Game Jam my team was Me, Phil, Mark and Shane. The topic for this game jam was an application (mobile game) and we have to have 1 main character, 1 main mechanic and 1 environment. We could do this however we liked to build any game we wanted along as it tailored to these categories. To begin the design process as always we planned our what makes a good game. We went down the route of mobile games being addictive, fun to play and easy to pick up. Due to this we collectively thought of examples of games on our phones:

  • Flappy Bird
  • Bloons: Tower Defense
  • Paper Toss
  • Angry Birds

These are just a couple of examples, from this we determined that animals in games birds and monkeys etc. So from that we tried to list as many animals as we could that potentially had or hadn’t been done. From this we narrowed it down to a Mole, obviously games like Whack-a-mole are in existence but we could do our own game with a mole character. From this somehow we decided it would be fun to make him a funky disco mole with huge sunglasses and an Afro who has friendly disco moles and rival gang moles trying to sabotage his funky life. Alongside other moles trying to sabotage his mole hill we looked into common predators for moles, this came back with snakes so another enemy designed was a snake. Then to gain a life we had what moles like to eat which is worms once you collected enough worms you gained a life. My personal involvement in this project was in 3D and HUD, I designed the main character also known as “Molevin” it was a really simple design but could be edited and re-textured to create other characters. Which is what I turned Molevin into the enemy character who had different attire wearing a vest and a top hat with a flower in, then for a boss I scaled it up added a bandanna, match in his mouth and a bomb in hand with gloves on. Simply by reusing and editing the initial main character I created 3 characters for in game use good, bad and boss. I also created a tree stump that i projection painted using a mudbox preset to be used for the environment which wasn’t implemented in the end due to it being a unnecessary obstacle on a small environment game but it was used in the Game Over screen to add a visual. The environment is a field and the mole sits in the middle in what was supposed to be a mole hill but its more of a ditch at the moment. It has randomly place assets of grass and stones in the level just to add to the visuals.

This is my work for the HUD designs, using Photoshop to create simple circle icons, i took images of the characters to link it directly to the game, good guy is people saved, worms are lives, and the enemies are how many you have killed throughout the game. Very simple icons but still useful for covering the HUD elements in the game and also with it being a mobile game we didn’t want too much going on to get in the way of the game so small simple icons were effective in avoiding too much distraction from the game.

Here is the in game screenshots of the working HUD and game with my characters in. The menu system, game over and leaderboard design was made by Mark using the custom typeface we created by using a paint brush to go the font on paper then scan them in to be textured on the signposts. Mark used assets from all team members to piece together the menus, start featured everything, game over features the bad guys to symbolise they won and you lost, then the leaderboard was just visual models like grass, rocks and tree stumps. This game I had quite a prominent role in the modelling due to my increased skills over the year and primarily being the more advanced modeler in my group. As for HUD designs I was pleased with my products as they was simplistic but worked well with the theme of the product. As for the game to evaluate it we was very pleased with the end product it was fun and addictive players had to click (or tap for mobile which didn’t work) the enemies to kill them (1 for standard enemy and 2 for the snake). This racked up your score for kills and the aim was to last as long as possible as move and move waves of good and bad characters came into the level at varied speeds and difficulty as it progressed. Only disappointment I had was that my boss character never got time to be implemented but like the other game jams if we had time to progress we would implement a boss level for example. This was my personal favourite of all the game jams as i liked the style of game we had created. I’m looking forward to next next game jam which is in Cambridge Jun 2015.

Here is the video footage of game play from Mark Shaw’s YouTube channel:


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Client Project- Session 20-22

On the return of Easter as group leaders we was hoping to see our teams work over the holidays towards the project. Unfortunately when asked the majority of the group had focused on their self initiated projects instead of the client, this was quite disappointing as everyone was set targets and agreed to them before Easter. Nevertheless we proceeded with the group meeting after I stated to the group that we all agreed on a target and seen as myself and Phil was pulled from the project due to doing too much work on it and not enough on the rest of our work it was down to the rest to produce work.

With that all being said we had estimated we have around 6 weeks left due to no pinned down hand in dates, due to this we all agreed that to have a 2 week clean up period before the final hand in was a sensible action to take. This would mean we have 4 weeks to finish everything outstanding for every individual in the group, then those 2 weeks would be spent checking all the work for errors, bug testing the engine, and then correcting any errors that existed. This would be a similar procedure than what would be taken in industry, before a game would be shipped everything would be checked, checked again and checked again really. The final product is the key and will be on view to the public for example we don’t want to be explaining why that car is floating above a building its unprofessional and with this 2 week clean up period this should eradicate any issues.

Before Easter in the last session we had been trying to come up with a name for the project (see link for design process of name), with many being generated and one not particularly pinned down we decided to leave it until after Easter to decide on a name, this allowed anyone to have a think and possibly come up with a name for the project. With that being said we finally decided on my idea of “Old Town Memories”. I particularly liked the name because it had a soft ring to it, also it directly linked to our project with us designing a section of Old Town and with it being the 1960’s and most people will still be around from that time period remembering what it was like it would spark memories.

With the named being decided on the design documents for the public eye needed to be done. This would include things such as leaflets/flyers, concept booklet, logo/banner, and a bio of the project. This would be a general input from the entire group as the more input the better. My personal input was that we need a theme to it, a general style for each document which replicates over the other documents gives a professional look to it all. As for style i suggested as I did to David with the UI/HUD elements to research into fashion colour trends on the time period to try link it all in.

Closing the group meeting I emphasised the importance of communication, we need to talk people cannot be at any point in the dark now, if there are any struggles from any individual they need to be open about it so somebody can help to progress them further or take the work from them so its completed. Its crunch time and teamwork needs to be a priority.

Moving on, in-between session 20 and 21 we had a surprise meeting with our actual client John Netherwood the chairman of the Hull Civic Society. The required myself and Phil to take the meeting and introduce ourselves, our work and what we have done with the project. To have a quick and efficient way of showing the project instead of having them playing it, Phil made a matinee sequence which made a fly around of the project disabling all player controller input. Mr Netherwood arrived with his wife to see the project, myself and Phil proceeded to shake hands and take the meeting in a professional manner. We discussed current progress, features and our passion towards showing this to the public. Which we was confirmed with a venue of the History centre alongside the fashion students 1960’s project. Also a near certain of Hull’s transport museum in September when the Hull Heritage week is on. Then any other possible venues we would need to seek out ourselves which we had planned to do in the next session. We are also going to try contact the Hull Daily Mail to do a article on our work at its current stage and then a follow up of where it will be by the time the Heritage week comes around.

Overall myself and Phil was very pleased with how the meeting went, we stayed professional and happily had a back and forward conversations from questions posed from the client. Discussed what they would like to see from the project and so on, it was a really beneficial meeting for myself it allowed myself to gain confidence in talking to potential clients as we was naturally nervous about what they would think. They also liked the name of the project which was pleasing as we had trouble pinning one down initially so all positives came out of the meeting which was great for us.

Moving onto session 21 which will continue into Thursday as we presented all of our work since Easter on Thursday including the client work. Initially in the session we had a brief catch up on what work has been done since last week, this week we had a full group which we didn’t the previous week so everyone was caught up. After that Myself, Phil and our tutor Paul went to go try secure some potential venues for showcasing our work. This would test once again myself and Phil on our professionalism and communication skills. We initially talked to the Transport Museum in which we had to fill out a form to send to the governing board to approve. Moving on it was now open to us to try secure venues, we managed to get Fanthorpes on silver street and prospect centre as definates, then kapow, princes quay, st stephens, ferens art gallery as possibilities. Unfortunately a few no’s came with asking from shops like granger games and thats entertainment but we still tried, rejection is all part of it you dont get if you dont ask.

Then on Thursday we showcased our work for the client. My work involved completion of buildings on Trinity House Lane which were Wetherspoons, trinity market entrance, bob carvers, and Davids handed over building which is currently a coffee shop called Coco’s. I will now go through my building to their current stage from what I did in my presentation in a briefer form with a self evaluation for each.

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These photos were taken by James Branson (his blog) when we all went out taking photographs in the early stages of the project.

 

This is my model of the current Wetherspoons (we are unsure on the original building so may take artistic license to leave it as a pub until we find more). This building has taken me around 3 weeks with working on other things at the same time, as its a highly detailed building I think this is an acceptable time. I have put this down as finished ready to be handed over to the texture team and then to go in engine, the model itself could do with some time taken on optimisation but due to the upcoming deadline my time is better placed elsewhere as the optimisation wont effect us hardly at all and if needs be the texture team can go in to the model and delete loops or polygons to support the unwrapping. The building itself is 21,888 poly’s which with the fine details and complexity of certain features in the building I feel it is a realistic poly count. Issues I came across whilst modelling this was correctly scaling the sections of the building as it seems to be sectioned by ledges, putting the ledge in the right place so that all the window frames, pillars and so on was also to scale was key to the building looking correct. This took tweaking but im pleased with the end product and proportions of the build. The development in my modularity has aided me well in this particular building as extruding pieces like the window-frames, pillars, chimneys, lights etc was the same and only minor edits to the curvature on some parts was needed allowing quick development when adding a feature such as a window-frame. Overall being a later building in the year I feel my 3D skillset had progressed massively in comparison to initial buildings in terms of quality and speed, if any problems arise im confident enough now to quickly amend any issues.

These photos were taken by James Branson (his blog) when we all went out taking photographs in the early stages of the project.

 

This building is the entrance to trinity market, a fairly simple building that didn’t take me very long, as soon as Wetherspoons was complete the building speed increased rapidly. This building I have had to make sure it matches correctly with wetherspoons, i found the modelling of a section of a street so building sections together was far more effective as scale and alignment was much easier to achieve than when your working alongside another person and having to make changes once you realise in engine its slightly out. The building itself I found fairly easy as once again its a later building in my year and I feel more advanced in my 3D work. the only issues was to how to make the extruding shape around the first window in the lowest possible form, which i realise would be as a separate pushed in object to the shape rather than modeled in around the window. Generally the building was simple just swift loops for the windows of the building and door, then everything else modeled separately and snapped to the building facure. Another building im pleased with, finished and ready to hand over to texture and then go into engine. Only addition would be needed if texture team agreed would be the slight fence style look above the door which I thought could be done with a plane that they can make a alpha map to create the fence then a normal to make it pop. Thats only addition needed to this building I believe.

These photos were taken by James Branson (his blog) when we all went out taking photographs in the early stages of the project.

This building is currently Bob Carvers on Trinity House Lane. With this model once again the 3D capabilities are there too do buildings like this with good speed and quality at a good optimised level of poly’s. Not many problems came up, due to this i decided on certain windows when we walk past are sometimes open, all i had to do was select the window poly’s detach them from the building then rotated them slightly to give the impression that the windows are open. The group gave me great feedback on this saying they loved the idea and it makes the building looked alot more used and lived in even just with the simple open window rather than a plain shop facure. Again it was just getting the proportions of the building right in relation to my other models and using gathered photography this was made alot easier. I think of all my buildings I like this the most purely because of the windows, it just makes everything look more real and alive. Obviously I will need to make a simple box to simulate a interior as the windows are open and if a player angles it right they will currently be able to see the sky so a simple box interior will solve that problem.

These photos were taken by James Branson (his blog) when we all went out taking photographs in the early stages of the project.

This building is currently a coffee shop called Coco’s, this was originally another students building (David) but he handed it over to me for optimisation and the addition of an interior. I had decreased the poly count from just over 1000 to 238 and that was with adding an interior with shop window showcase area. Being a very simple building I dont really have much to give feedback on, its a basic building which took no more than 30 minutes to optimise then add the interior section using simple edge modelling workflow to then bridge the gaps. I did notice one issue, nothing major but pointed out in the presentation id overlooked the way it had been done at the front with the windows, and this results in N-gons in the gaps either side and between the windows. Simple fix with connect or cut tool. All of these buildings are now ready to be handed over to the texture team.

Here is a few pictures of the complete street section on Trinity House Lane:

I found that modelling a street section was far more productive and beneficial for myself as a 3D modeler. This was because mainly the dimensions, scale and proportions of buildings, I could use the other buildings i had completed and finished to adjust the new ones to make sure the street looked correct. This worked both ways as any misjudged dimensions could be effectively grabbed and moved into place.

Then for Silver Street I have finished RBS and started the silver street entrance to trinity market.

This is currently RBS bank building on Silver Street. Once again a very basic building wasn’t much to it just a few insets for windows after I had added loops to extrude some ledges. Because of the simplicity of the building I added a small shop window interior so that there is potential to turn it into a shop if we find out the original status of the building and if we don’t then an artistic decision will be made to adapt the building to possible a bakery for example.

And finally from the buildings i presented was the beginning of the silver street entrance to trinity market. This is a fairly complex but also modular building for frames and decorations, then a symmetry modifier applied will allow me to easily check the finished building as its only sensible for speed to model half the building if its complex when symmetry can do the work for you on the other side. This building is currently stalled, this is due to the final hand ins coming to a close we have decided for hand in and the public we have to focus on the texturing of Whitefriargate and Parliament Street, all other buildings will be put in with the basic grey block in the background to suggest that the area is under construction and will be completed for main showcase in September.

After we had presented I took the role off Abbiella to create a professional email so that we could email the clients that we had and hadn’t discussed potential showcasing for the project with. This required me to type 2 emails, both similar but adjusted for seen and unseen clients. Once typed it up I asked my tutor Gareth to have a proof check to see if anything could be improved or any key information had been missed. The final email also had a link to our latest video fly through of the project so that the clients could have a quick taster to what we had been working on and will be showcasing.

This is also the grey block video fly through we showed our client John Netherwood when he came in. I disclosed that this is not the final product but an in progress project we gain alot of benefits from public showcasing for our marks and the projects quality. This final email was sent to Fanthorpes, St Stephens, Prospect Centre and Princes Quay.

After waiting a few days I had successful replies from St Stephens and Fanthorpes confirming interest in allowing us showcasing our work. Fanthorpes was already secured from speaking to the shop manager originally but St Stephens was a fresh attempt of securing a client by myself. Since then myself and St Stephens have been in contact discussing the project and when we would like to showcase it. Coinciding with there times and available for displaying space, I managed to get us a showcasing date before our hand in (19th May) which is Friday 15th May. This required us to have a Public liability insurance cover which initially i didn’t know if we have but with contacting my tutors we do have a copy to send to St Stephens and prepare for Friday. Our location is just outside the elevator near the bagel food vendor stall, next week I will discuss with the group on shifts for the showcase as I personally would like people to man the project in-case any of the public wish to stop and talk to us about what we are doing.

A slight issue with St Stephens arose with my tutor Gareth with that it is the shopping centre/ area that has crushed the Whitefriargate area for business and popularity. So when we showcase there as long as we are displaying it as a student project following on from the previous years of the heritage project and our area is a section of Old Town including Whitefriargate, it can be clearly seen as a project rebuilding an area of Hull in the 1960’s and not a display to support Whitefriargate. This turned a few of the group off as they don’t really want any hassle from the public but at the end of the day its an opportunity to showcase our work that i have secured before hand in so participating in it will add to our professionalism and “getting our work out there” for feedback/review.

Will this just around the corner next weeks focus as that is also the session all the texture team should have the Whitefriargate and Parliament Street area textured, so the focus will be on promotional materials for our project. Any promotional materials we have can be a extra visual for the project for the public to have, which will aid them in understanding the project and what we do to make it what it is.

 


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Classic Mini Model- Self Initiated Mini brief

Brief.

Over the summer i set myself a styled mini brief to try help myself improve my 3d modelling. I did this first by doing an rc car (see in my previous rc car process blog) but to step it up i wanted to model my own car. I own a 1996 classic mini equinox which is my pride and joy, what better to model that a car i can just go outside and see my mistakes in my 3d work. all my reference images are from my own car which i kept flicking to on facebook aswell.

This is how i got on i wont go into too much detail as it was a fairly extensive process, but i have captioned the process images to give you an idea what is going on and how i possibly did it.

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So with putting all this together and finally tweaking everything to my liking, some pieces i added for personal preference. I was basically adding pieces to my car that i may do in the future. This could turn out beneficial when im unsure on buying something on my car i could model it add to it and see what it could look like.

Anyways to the final piece i was very pleased with. I came across lots of problems all of which i felt i tackled well, pinching, z fighting, smoothing issues, verts where they should be, overlapping, and getting the reference images in each viewport work when i change the view angle in my 3dsmax view. During this process i learnt massive amount about how i like to model and things i can use whilst modelling like new modifiers. One inparticular was FFD’s (Free form deformation) this allowed me to use control points to edit the shape of whatever i was shaping e.g. i did this for my bonnet to create a smooth curve on edges and surface. The modifier i used the most was definately Symmetry, this allows you to do half the work, all you do is model half apply symmetry modifier and make sure the mirror is central so that the vertexes in the middle can weld together or adjust the weld distance so it fits your reference viewports. Turbosmooth gave the model the high poly realistic aspect to the model, this varied in iterations dependent on what was nessacery e.g. the rims for the wheels needed 3 iterations due to the complex shapes of the spokes whereas the indicators only needed 1 iteration.

Here it is untextured, im currently looking into Mental Ray texturing and rendering in 3ds max to give myself a realistic looking textured car model.

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So there it is..My high poly Classic Mini!

The polycount came to 879,277, a massive 563,715 of that beging the wheels which is huge in proportion to the rest. This will need to be baked down if i was to use it in a game realisticly, which would be a normal map applied to a low poly version of my mini to give it the appearance of a high poly model.

Update:

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Started experimenting with 3ds Max in Mental Ray texturing using some preset and adjusting specular and gloss levels for certain things. Anything that looks white is Chrome in the actual render window but i need to set up lighting for this to show i will get to this. I rendered it at a couple of angles to see what it all looks like, this made me notice the glossiness and specular of the paint was far too high so it would need to be toned down. Also the glass effect i added to the lights didnt work as i needed to apply a interior texture for the lights it did work for the spotlights, and im yet to seperate the windows so they are just part of the car paint. All work in progress.

All in all im very pleased with the outcome, the model looks just like a mini its all to scale. I must give myself plaudits for pulled this off for sheer grit and determination to improve as there was times it wasnt going right and i wanted to stop but fighting past that wall is the way to improve.

This actually turned out extremely useful doing this car as our client brief is set in the 1960s so i can use my mini with some minor adjustements to match the 1960s or previous model of the classic mini to go into our project. Due to my car the group wants me to do vehicles for the level as its not the easiest of modelling tasks. Automotive modelling really appeals to me and id like to pursue it further and improve more. Any feedback on my mini would be hugely appreciated and beneficial to my progress. Thanks.

UPDATE:

Due to uploading for feedback and critique on polycount, i have been advised to show my wireframes in my showcase of my model. So here are some additional images with wireframes.

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Summer- Self initiated mini brief

To keep myself going over the summer I have been working on several mini projects and even some designing of games with other colleagues.

Brief:

To design a Realistic Car/Automobile/Vehicle or representation of a vehicle (toy, remote control, model) of your choosing (Car, Motorbike, Helicopter, Tank, Remote Control etc.)

  • Pt1. Find or Research your chosen vehicle for use of reference when modelling (Your car/ images/ sketches/ owned item etc.)
  • Pt2. Once comfortable with chosen vehicle (it has to be real, no transformers allowed!) plot yourself out a design process to tackle in 3d modelling.

-for example: if you do a car, the car will need a frame to be build onto, then wheels, a shell, optional interior depending on how far you want to take it.

  • Pt3: Model your vehicle, the idea is to have it looking as realistic as possible so there will be no polycount limit.

-Try experiment with modifiers dependent on what your trying to do…its all about expanding your 3dsmax skill set.

-Tip: When modelling use groups and name each part you are making then you wont struggle later on with box1011 instead it can be SuspensionBolt etc.

  • Pt4: Texture It, Unwrap your model and texture it to look as similar to your reference images as you can. (This is where if you have gone crazy and your topology is messy you might struggle).

Done! set your scene and evaluate your results, its ok if its not exact its all about practice and you can use it to build from.

I will post my results in separate posts.


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Technical Skills/ 3D Realisation- Sketch Up Advanced.

Progressing from out previous Sketch Up lesson on the basics (previous lesson), we had enough to go upon to advance further in sketch up so make a magnitude of fantastic things. Firstly Gareth went back over the basic set up and how we should have it so turn on large skill set, tools and styles. This set our Sketch Up user interface up nicely ready for the advances we was about to make.

We was shown to use the free form drawing tool to create a shape of any imagination just a random shape then to use the push/pull tool to expand it width wise to any scale we could think of as this was our advanced sketch up project. Before we did this for ourselves we watched Gareth create his own Sketch Up model using multiple techniques. First thing he introduced us was to the 3D Warehouse then Get Models, this is the place where other Sketch Up users have uploaded there models to the warehouse for all others to see and comment, but the feature that makes this warehouse useful is that you can then import them models into your current project. So Gareth wanted to go an aircraft he imported many different ideas such as a cockpit from a harrier jet, some small angled drone wings, body of a apache helicopter and much more. These were all full models of e.g. a harrier jet but the good thing was that when you import these you go to Edit->Components in Model->Explode, those steps make the models you have imported spilt into different segments depending on how it was made, the repetition of exploding maybe required to get the smaller more detailed or little parts of a jet e.g. the wing flaps then use the move tool to keep the items you like. Make a Group by selecting the set of objects you want and then clicking make group so it all bundles together and keeps your model moving as one. If you want to mirror an object to the other side e.g. a wing of an aircraft just copy, paste, then use the scale tool to drag across to overlap current format  and flip the image (tip: use the measurements in the bottom right so you have a complete mirror of the image you are flipping/ mirroring). He then pieced together using multiple items and models he liked over the top of the original random shape to make a futuristic 2 seated aircraft.

The mini-brief we was then given you can probably guess is to build our own 2 seated aircraft doing this same process using the 3D Warehouse. I have taken many images on my progress throughout the model and then even animated it to upload to my YouTube channel. After I had finished with my model I could do many things with it of my choice really, I had the choice to upload to YouTube which I did, Export into Photoshop to experiment on it as a model and maybe turn it into concept art, or weaponise it develop the model more in Sketch Up which I will return to at some stage.

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This is how I started you can see the random shape in the middle and then I had gathered a drone from the Model warehouse taken the small front end body wings placed them on what is currently the back of the shape to give it a streamlined futuristic look then the front is also from that drone it was the panels on the bottom of the ship but I mirrored them to give a modern panelled look to add the cockpits onto the ship.

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I then wanted wings for this model so this was key for the model as the wings need to be scaled correctly or the aircraft will look unbalanced its the same with dragons if they have tiny wings and a big body they look like a cartoon funny dragon rather than fearsome so a sense of scale is important. Then I tried to experiment with how to add a cockpit so this front end was from a different drone to try panel it and add a cockpit in-between these mirrored panels.

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This was an attempt to add weapons to the spaceship, which I decided against for now as I wanted the basics of the ship first. But I got rid of the front end from the previous photo as it didn’t look right but the body of the ship was coming together nicely. This was all done with all I learnt from the last lesson on the Sketch Up basics like rotate, move, and scale.2013-11-06 16.19.422013-11-06 16.48.36

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This is the cockpit I found on a spaceship this is the only piece I took from the ship as the rest didn’t appeal to me so I exploded the ship until it allowed me to take the cockpit and place it on the front of my ship, I particularly like this feature and design of it as the glass allows panoramic view for the pilot so he can see a lot more than say a single slot. Also I move the gun scaled it down rotated it and tried to place it on the bottom as I liked the cannon for firepower but it just wasn’t working. I also made the wings bigger to make the scale more realistic.

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This is pretty much the final product I found the rear end of a spaceship as I wanted futuristic thrusters to power my spaceship and then the wing just glide it around in space or future earth. To get just the rear end I had problems with exploding the image as when I tried to take the rear end it was stretching the ship rather than separating. so to do this  and get just the rear of the ship I had to make a rectangle then use the push/pull tool to cut straight through the shape then select the model going to edit->intersect faces->with selection. This will cut the shape when you then move the rectangle out of the way so there I had my rear of my ship. I also needed one more seat to I put a harrier 1seater cockpit on top which is still streamlined.

And there is my finished animated version of my 2 seated spaceship. I showed this to my tutors today they was very impressed with my full animation of it and the style of the ship, Gareth imagined it dropping out of a huge star destroyer then the wings raise up to a glide then the thrusters has the option of hyper speed. That’s exactly what I was trying to get across so therefore I felt like I had done my job with this well and now all there is to do is possibly weaponise it or concept art it in Photoshop.

This was all to let us get better at Sketch Up as its a useful software for doing really quick 3D Designs and concepts for example buildings, I am currently doing a gladiator arena in Sketch Up for my Adaptation task so I have really taken a shine to Sketch Up.

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