Update – Section Plan

This is just a brief update on our section plan. Tomorrow we will be printing our final renders for the board so we can begin to prep for the final year show. As we have a larger board we spent the day  preparing for how we are going to align our prints along it as well as what way we would arrange them. We each take a board as shown in the previous post about the section plan, and we each get space for 8 prints, 4 big, 3 small and 1 long. We also spent some time on how we would order it in the end we opted to organise it according to the pipeline in the project. Therefore visually from left to right the project progresses the same as our pipeline. We then spent the evening selecting our choice images and placing them correctly in a photoshop template provided by Jakub. For my own board I presented my selected renders as close as I could to the chronological order of the final animation. I also tried to match it through the lighting and texturing. With the reds of the spaceship being more present at the top and the alien environments green colours coming through near the bottom. I also took into account the most well received environments and found that I favoured the airlock and the hallway environments the most.

Stand Layout John


Transition Area

The final environment

The final and maybe the must fun environment to create out of all of them. The transition area was just a mix and match of everything I had made previously, I left this last because when ever I had to put this environment together I would have essentially a prepared asset pack based on the two environments to use. I also had the tunnel system bases from before to work off of as a base for the alien area and the hallways for the science fiction areas. The idea behind this environment was to be the area where the aliens environment was beginning to bleed on to the spaceship or consume it and become it. Perhaps replicating what its doing to the main character to the ship itself.

Developing the environment

This environment wasn’t changed a lot as much as the assets were moved or re-adjusted or simply pushed further to give the desired effect of a place in the environment where everything had gone wrong. To push this to greater effect it simply meant adding more spaceship assets to the monster area and more monster assets to the spaceship. Another element i found worked well was adding rocky textures in the sci fi area to inform that it is bleeding over.

Final Renders


Designing a monsters lair

Designing a monsters lair. The only time i’ve done this is on paper when i’m playing D&D but to be honest, it actually helped quite a bit. I found the best way to go about designing it is to design the background of the creature. From the start of the project we wanted to have man made objects scattered across the environment. This helps tell a huge tale about the environment the monsters in. Is this some creature that once had followers? Perhaps creatures were sacrificed to this monster, but why aren’t they here? Did this kill them all, or did they abandon it? You can really delve into the backstory for it. So for this creature in my mind I thought it was an abandoned godlike creature, it has the power to bend dimensional travel around it, managing to cause loops and it has the ability to spread its cavernous system across other environments. As this is the case I imagine that this creature destroyed it’s followers and was lost to space until it found our character and managed to latch on. It’s been spreading on the ship for a long time and as you can see from the torches in the monsters lair it has been feeding on this womans timeline for a long time but it might be coming to the end. Alot of this allowed me to creature a relevant environment. Archways that have merged back into the wall. Braziers that are scattered casting dim light but that is the only light source, and it manages to burrow through the cavern systems, spreading its reach further. One of the other aspects i like is that it is hurt by light or has to consume light. As a creature that may have came from a black hole it would make sense and so it rushes towards the sources of lights. The main characters control room full of electronics. It was a fun concept to think about during the development.

Developing further

The design of the environment was pretty final and didn’t require a huge amount of fixing. After the fiasco with flattening and scaling the Cavern i kept the floor very flat from the get go. As well as this the lair itself isn’t visible for much of the animation so the base was quite simple. I did however spend a good amount of time creating a lot of variants of stalactites and stalacmites, as well as braziers. After this it was a matter of placing them correctly and making this fit well in the environment. You can see some renders below during the progress of creating the lair.

Rendering the lair

Cavern & Tunnels

Planning an organic scene

Creating the caverns and the tunnels in the project was the first time i had ever created a full scale organic scene. This was a huge challenge from the get go and so i started with the same mindset as the rest. Get references and do the research. So, that’s what i did and i have got to say, it’s much easier finding cave references than finding science fiction references. Luckily, when I had began researching the look development of the project I had created a mood board of what I had wanted to achieve with the alien environments. I looked at valleys and cliff sides, underwater river passages, cave systems, stalactites and a lot of environment art for the likes of god of war and various games that feature heavy exterior environment art.

Scaling and Flattening

The bane of my existence. I lost count during the project how many times i had to go back and redo the floors and tunnel heights of the cave systems. This wouldn’t be a problem if had waiting to bake every time i did it until i had the go ahead but of course I baked everything and updated the textures before passing it off. However, this did provide the opportunity to find a lot of issues within the environment  and then fix them so it wasn’t completely negative but it was mind numbing. In the future i think just passing off a low poly for test animation would be the smart thing to do. Luckily, scaling and flattening issues were the only issues, everything else was great with the environment. Due to the fact alphas are an extremely strong tool (I use JRO’s alphas) it was very easy to achieve a strong and natural looking cave system within Zbrush without having to do too much fine detailing however some was necessary when adding secondary assets in.

Future reworks

Now that the project is mostly perfected we just have to do some final touches. One of these that I myself can’t leave in the final piece is the back wall of the cavern system. In my opnion seeing it in the final piece gives me so much dread. It looks like a blobby mesh. This can be rectified pretty quickly however by splitting the mesh up and redoing the uv’s on that section and re baking with higher resolution so all is well and I can sleep easy.

The Renders

Overall i’m very pleased with the outcome of the cavern environments. Of course it’s hard to let small things go and i’ll always want to go back and redo a million things but a deadlines a deadlines. At a certain point you have to move on to the next piece of work. Jack again did a fantastic job of lighting it and the VFX adds so much. But with the time spent on building it I have to say im pleased, and I really believe I managed to get across the massive scope of whatever this other dimension is compared to her ship.


The hallways was the third sci fi environment to be created. For this there wasn’t a huge amount of prep. The concepts had been gathered for the previous environments and the bases could be copied so the style stayed in tact, however there was one feature that would have to be maintained. Consistency throughout. This isn’t just referring to the style of the models in the environment but to the repetitiveness of the base model and the assets throughout. Something that I found common when looking through the concepts of any science fiction hallways was the constant use of pipes, door frames and frames to break up shapes. This helped a lot with creating a visually appealing  environment while comfortably sticking to the style of the project.


Little Changes

As always throughout the creation of the environment there are many iterations and changes. The hallways had the most amount of edits out of the sci fi environments due to the amount of secondary assets that had to be edited, changed or moved. Here you can see a few of the different tests done. A lot of these changes involved moving the different light sources. Below are multiple versions showing the movements of assets along with some of Jack’s lighting tests based on asset changes. One notable asset change is the vents on the ceiling in the early shots were remade into floor lights due to their interesting shapes and they looked much better than the large block lights that were in the first version.

The Finale

With the layout planned, the assets created and the assembly finished, it was time to light the scene. Jack did an incredible job and really did well to fill the ambience with mystery and filled the scene with caution. During rendering we did have a few problems that needed fixing like steps in the scene (you can see an example of this above shown in maya where there is a slight step down to the hallway floor. Even though this is such a small thing it is extra work in a tight schedule for animators so this was fixed a few times to make sure the scene worked smoothly with Phoebe and Jakub. Below you can see a few renders of the finished hallway scenes. You’ll also see the hallways in a further post with the transition area.



You can view higher resolution images on my Artstation profile.

Here is a brief slideshow of some of the final shots for my portfolio. After doing some research i found that for environment artists it is much preferred to have stills with breakdowns of the environments. Wireframe’s, the maps used etc. For my portfolio that i plan on creating after university ends I plan on creating several breakdowns using marmoset.

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Jack Creaner – Lighting and VFX, Prop Modelling and Texturing

Jakub Bojanowski – Art Director, Pipeline Technician, Character Artist and Animator

Phoebe Long – Director, Pre-Vis & Cinematography, Lead Animator, Editor


The Second Environment

The airlock was an extremely fun environment to work on. Creating a small confined room with an interesting design was a welcome environment and i’m sad i didn’t start with this environment. However, this was in my mind was the piece that really set the standard and the style (At least for myself) going forward with the environments.

Mind the step

Going over the environment I knew there was a few things that was needed. A suit containment area, monitors, caution signs and windows. Again like the control room we went through various iterations. Changing the ground level, making it thinner so it felt smaller to fit the size of the ship. The biggest shift was the windows. Originally it was going to be two hour glass style windows at the end which would show her full body however we found for the design it was better to go with the same style windows as the Control Room.

Above is one of the early takes of the airlock. I knew the design i wanted from the start but the specifics of it did change quite a bit. Below you can see some references as well.

Hold the door

The final outcome of this environment has been one of my favourites. After the first texture pass of the complete environment there were very little changes needed. I believe that the simplicity of the environment really makes it work and the use of lights from the screens to inform the mood and help push the atmosphere really works.

Floating in space

One of the last additions was the ship exterior. Luckily for this we didn’t have to create a full ship only a small section of the airlock exterior as a silhouette. Purely for the purposes of showing that the tunnel that appears on the other side of the airlock couldn’t be there.

Final Renders