28 October

Another Costuming Post

Padme here

My Padme was recently accepted to Rebel Legion. Specifically, Senator Padme Amidala in her pastel Lake gown dress in which she first kisses Anakin. It has been accepted as Canon/Formal. It means that I can be invited to appear as Padme at events and even sign autographs as her. It makes me a sort of professional character, which is exciting.

I am ridiculously excited about this.

I made the dress out of 20 yards each of Chiffon Silk and Charmuese Silk, the second cut on the bias, or at a 45 degree angle, which uses about 1.5 times the normal amount of fabric, but lets the dress flow really nicely. Both the overdress and the underdress were hand dyed with RIT and idye. The necklace is made of real mother of pearl pieces, and the base is sanded and painted paperclay. The headbands are also sanded and painted paperclay with gold embellishments. The dress is lined with regular pale yellow lining material.

It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

28 October

Costume update – for my niece

This was more construction than actual sewing.

I used some leftover teal/turquoise fabric that I hadn’t cut into yet and had been saving for.. something. A crushed velvet shirt or skirt that was cut up for scraps, craft foam, glitter, 2 widths of elastic, leftover wide ribbon from Padme (dyed and un-dyed), a rectangular scrap of silk chiffon that I dyed for a caplet, a wand from Michaels, a giant Christmas flower that I dismembered and used for the front of the dress, a string of pearls that I bought a year ago for something else and never used, leftover gauzy ribbon from wedding materials, and a trio of pre-made green butterflies from Michaels. And hot glue. but that goes without saying. The dress is napkin pointed, rather than circular and has velvet shoulder straps. The wings are craft foam with glitter and rhinestones and leftover padme ribbon.

This is baby costume #2 for me. The first one was for my first and only nephew, Connor, and he was a baby dragon, though that one was made entirely of 2 colors of fleece and some shiny red fabric. It was my first children’s costume, period, and this is my second. Not pictured is a strip of fabric I stitched for .. something, maybe a headband.

Anyway, I think the key to kid’s costumes in the future will be just having fun with constructing and adding to a fabric base, rather than worrying too much about the clothing layer. In case the dress isn’t long enough though, I”m going to pick up some Tulle and make a poofy skirt to go under the dress separately. This was fun to do, even though I let it sit till the last minute. Since we’re spending Halloween day with my niece and her dads, I may dig out my own fairy costume.

10 October

Unreal Editor class is done

So my 8-week saturday class experiment is over, and I’m glad I took the course, even if it didn’t get into importing your own models, or even making my own unreal-compatible models. Our instructor said that while (all three of us) passed the class with good marks, if we want to, we can tweak our levels and send them back to him so he can see them completed and and play test them a bit.

Once I do this, I’ll post screen caps. Also, once I get the Capture-the-Flag theme working so it’s playable as such.

My level idea was based off some Castle Ravenloft maps in the 3.5 module. I had to do some pretty drastic re-planning to develop something I could turn in completed for class, and something that made sense as a Capture the flag. In the end, this level doesn’t really look like Ravenloft, but our instructor said it really did have that ‘flooded rundown dungeon feel’ which made me really happy. One part of the bottom level is only a little below water, not deep enough to prevent damage if you fall into it, and with debris in the water so you can tell it wasn’t originally constructed to be that way.

I was able to use only the library that was provided with the Editor, but I had to take some shortcuts and do some improvising. There were no torch handles available in the library, so I picked a dark metal column and scaled it down to a size that would be appropriate for a wall sconce. Had I thought about it a little more, I would have used them as chair legs. In any case, they work pretty well.

My level was the only one with:

-A Sky dome and windows so you could look out and see the dome
-Scaled and UV adjusted textures so wall textures blended correctly
-Trees, columns, statues and other static meshes (hard objects) available in the library for decoration
-Themed lighting – blue for the blue flag area and red for red flag
-Discernible theme – flooded dungeon, CTF
-Modified brush tool to make dome shaped rooms and other items
-Complicated layout, 2 paths to each flag, staircases.

I was really happy that he could tell I put a decent amount of work into it, and I’m glad I worked on it outside of class. All that aside, this was definitely a ‘learning’ level for me, and I’m going to ditch the whole thing when I turn around and re-build the full Castle Ravenloft. The biggest disadvantage to doing the entire castle is that for Unreal tournament, it’s not really something that’s playable as a level. It’s just too damn big. It’s something that with mobs, takes players several sessions to get through, and at a bare minimum may take people 20-30 minutes just to explore. On the other hand, it’d be really awesome if I do make the whole thing and populate it with traps, 3D models appropriate to the castle, make my own textures and basically show that I can make this thing. Plus, I really dig creating things from plans.

What I wish we’d done differently, and could have been done in the 8-week class period:

1. I wish the class had been taught to work in additive mode, rather than stressing subtractive. Subtractive was the default when the editor first came out, apparently, and you are carving rooms out of a giant block, essentially. This is completely in reverse to normal game modeling, and as a result, my rooms are not 2 sided – you can see through other rooms when looking out the windows, which I wasn’t aware would be a problem when I started. I actually had to go back and delete quite a few windows that were directly facing other rooms.

What I really like about Unreal Editor:

1. It’s not necessary to UV map anything, just drag and drop textures and scale/rotate/etc. UV mapping will come later on, when I have to make unique items for the Castle, like the Icon of ravenloft – the raven statue, and the devil trees. Actually, the raven won’t be too bad, I believe it’s just pure silver anyway, so I just have to make it shiny.

2. I love that you can start playing from any location, with minimal processing time. I love that you can play your level with no textures at all – it won’t cause errors and you can walk through rooms to test the size before adding items, lights and textures.

3. I really like that holes aren’t permanent. You can place a block anywhere and set it to ‘subtract’ from the wall, and the box will still ‘be there’. It can be moved around, scaled and otherwise tweaked, including deletion which will restore the wall back to the way it was. Instead of deleting polygons that can be difficult to fill up again, the box simply says ‘there’s nothing here”, and as result, does not interfere with textures either.

4. Water is EASY. Setting up kill areas, trigger areas, or just empty volumes that can do nearly anything you want them to do is very easy. Don’t like water? swap it out for lava. Haha, the floor is lava! no, really.

5. Animating objects is extremely easy. Set up time span, set up key frames, and one the object is touched, the animation will run once or indefinably, however you set it up.

6. Realtime examples of what the room will look like rendered – it’s not perfect, but it does a pretty damn good job of showing you what your level will look like once processed – saves a great deal of time guessing on fire, light colors, etc. “building” is pretty fast too.

What I really don’t like about the Unreal Editor:

1. Materials vs. textures. Unreal calls skins “materials” and “textures” are what makes raised and bump maps, and controls shine, transparency and what not. This is somewhat backwards from Lightwave, and I had some trouble in the beginning, attempting to apply ‘textures’ to my walls and wondering where they were. I guess ‘textures’ makes more sense, since they show ‘texture’ – but it still took me a minute or two to reverse the thinking in my personal experience.

2. Wanting to do commands in Lightwave and it not working – this is my own damn fault, but I’m getting used to it.

3. Having to scroll through the level with a mouse to see any part of your level. I almost ran my mouse off the front of the desk getting halfway through my level, which really isn’t all that big right now.

4. Complicated rooms are difficult to construct. I had to trash my starting room about 3 times before I figured out how to make a dome shaped room with wings on it. It’s still very crude, but I finally figured out how to modify the brush to make the room I wanted.

5. Only 8 basic brushes – columns, spheres, cones, cubes, planes, 3 types of staircases-spiral, curved and straight. Meh. At the same time, creating staircases without the brushes would be.. prohibitive, to say the least.

6. Hollowing out complicated rooms in Additive mode. I attempted briefly to make my level in additive mode before switching back to subtractive. In additive, rooms really need to have an inner surface and an outer one. In subtractive, they only ‘need’ an inner one because in most cases, you’ll never see the outside. Unless you’re silly like me and make windows.

26 September

Paladin update

Right now, I’m working on a generic female body shape for when I start positioning and modeling the armor. I won’t actually need to model her unexposed skin, but I do need the form correct before I start placing armor, and of course the head and face need to be right. I’m not posting a WIP of this, however. I might later, if I flesh out the form more for later use, with fingers and toes. Right now, it’s in NURBS form, and very very basic.

I plan on doing a few sketches tonight to try and figure out what the back of her armor looks like.

15 September

New Project

In an attempt to get the hell out of my non-art rut and get working on something new and skill honing, I’m going to work on a character model. I haven’t done one in .. well, way too long. The last character models I made were super low-poly for a robot flash game, and I don’t even have them on the website because of how low-texture/poly they are. They were animated though, so it might be worth linking to them, if the game still exists.

Anyway, here’s the artwork for the model, and here’s what I’m going to do.

It was recommended that I work on a high-poly, 10k count upper limit/range model to look shiny and pretty and to go nuts on it with Z-Brush, and a low-poly model that would be suitable for gaming purposes.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m taking an existing piece of game art to show that I can adapt a model of either high or low-poly of very high quality from someone else’s completed 2D artwork. If nothing else, it gets me to work on (stylized) humans again. I’m going to give her a mount too, since she’s a Paladin, and looks very close to what I imagine as my own D&D 3.5 character that I play in an ongoing campaign. I have an advantage in that there is a good deal of 2D art available for this particular character, which also means I have no excuses for not getting her right.

paladin art

Paladin 4.0 resource art

9 September



My friend and I were interviewed by CNN and can be seen at 1:18 on – she’s the wolf. We’re in the backgrounds of a few other DragonCon related videos as well as Midna and Wolf Link

I entered no costume contests this year, and I think getting interviewed by CNN and appearing there is way better anyway.

Picked up some information on ‘papercraft’ costuming, which involves printing out a flattened 3D model on stiff paper and gluing edges of polygons together. I’d seen it done a few times with World of Warcraft models, and some helmets, but not as semi-finished costume pieces. I’m less interested in this, though it has some potential of designing my own original character costumes and printing them. However, it leaves a faceted look to the final piece which rarely looks good or finished. It might be fun to do a full WoW character costume this way, just to make it look exactly like the game model, including the face and hands. It might be worth doing one this way, but the paper and ink cost might make it prohibitively expensive just to try it out.

Still, this method might work well for a sword, or at least an armor base to get the proportions right, by printing on even regular paper first and taping together to better judge dimensions. I do have a model of Twilight Princess Ganondorf around here somewhere…….

24 August

I need to pay more attention to my website

Maybe I should start working on some tutorials. I did one a while back for turning friends’ photos into fake trading cards.

I’m starting to rethink my color scheme as well, and maybe go for a lighter background. Right now, I’m not sure it’s very inviting.

I think I need to re-examine the things I’m spending my energy on.

I need to enter more art contests, play fewer video games and concentrate on adding things to my portfolio that I’d like to actually work on for a gaming company. I have a dozen rods in the fire, or however the saying goes, and it feels like they’re all turning to ash.

As much as I enjoy costuming, I may have to take some time off from it, too.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have ready access to the internet.

4 March

Obligatory first post

Yay, my website is revamped.

I’ve uploaded new images and added links to other parts of the internets. Which is a series of tubes.

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