Wednesday, 10 December 2014

First magazine article published!

It's finally here! 

After several delays on the publisher side, the magazine containing my first official article is finally in stores. It is featured in the "Game Development" special issue of iX-magazin one of Germany's biggest IT magazines. 

The article follows the workflow for a hero-asset I did for Ryse from start to finish and explains the steps involved in the creation process including a bunch of workflow tips. I'm really happy with how it turned out and it was an interesting experience writing one of these. I wouldn't mind writing more in the future!

Big thanks to all the people proofreading the article, providing valuable feedback (both on the English and German version) and helping out with the necessary things to make this happen!

p.s. i'm not really sure what the pixel art is about.. :D

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Nikita scene work-in-progress

I just wanted to share some quick work-in-progress shots of a scene I've been working on in my spare time.
It's based on the tv show "Nikita" and the command centre of the black ops organisation "Division".
I'm a fan of the show and especially this area, which I think has a very interesting design.

The modeling/texturing for the main area is all done although I will need to tweak some texture values and lighting. For now I'm playing with setting up some shots. And once it's really done I'll do a proper write-up/breakdown.

Earlier stage of this scene can be found on my polycount thread here:

More coming soon!


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Time to update your tools!

Tools are important  for every artist, whether it's better paper, paint with higher pigment values or digital tools that will significantly speed up your digital workflow. Especially in the digital realm tools keep rapidly evolving. And this is a good thing. Especially in the AAA games industry people expect bigger and better looking games every time.

If tools wouldn't evolve, we would no longer be able to keep up with these expectations and deliver within an acceptable budget, both time and money. Luckily there are plenty people who love making things easier, faster and better for the rest of us. And for that we should be really thankful.

I have mentioned some tools before in this blog but after the recent GDC and the announcements made during that week, I thought it would be a good moment to share some of the updates.

Quixel Suite

The first time I wrote something about the tools from Quixel was way back in October of 2010. Before it was a full company and they just released a handy tool for creating normalmaps called nDo. Over the past years they iterated on nDo and expanded with dDo, a tool that will quickly speed up your texturing workflow. I think it's great to see people with a good idea being able to create a business around it and do well.

During GDC they announced Quixel Suite, a complete package at a great price. It includes the new versions of NDO & DDO and comes with the new 3DO model viewer that hooks directly in Photoshop for direct viewing of your results. Lastly it comes with MEGASCANS, a material library full of materials scanned with surface capture technology, which provides you with all the maps you could want for your materials like normalmaps, clean diffuse/albedo, AO etc. The video below gives an overview of the tools included:

You can pre-order Quixel Suite and find more information at their website found here: If you would like to try it out first, both nDo2 and dDo have a trail version available at the bottom of their pages.

Marmoset Toolbag 2

Another great example of a useful tool developed for internal use that grew in a great stand alone product available to everyone. Marmoset is a stand alone model viewer/realtime renderer which is very easy and straightforward to use.  I've used the first version of Marmoset Toolbag quite a lot and I have found it incredibly useful for making awesome presentation shots of hero assets or mini-environments.

The new version, Marmoset Toolbag 2 released back in December 2013, but since I didn't really gave it the attention it deserves yet I'm giving it a spot in this post.

The new version comes with a whole bunch of new features to play with including BPR rendering, the option to add multiple meshes and a new way of using and setting up the camera for you shots. It's also much easier to build and compose bigger scenes with the new version. All these new features are build on what made Toolbag already great so if you ever used the first version of this software you'll feel right at home in this one.

The website comes with a bunch of tutorials to get you started and there is a 30 day trail so there is no reason not to give it a try. Find it here:

Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 is here, announced and released at the same time during last weeks GDC. It is available now and requires a monthly subscription. However they launched with a great deal of documentation, videos and easy-to-use website to get you started and it seems to be well worth the money.

Since this is a big new iteration there is to much new stuff in this fully functional game engine to quickly sum up. But the website and videos are loaded with everything you would want to know.

What I specifically like about Epic's approach for the release is that they brought Zak Parrish on board to work on the tutorials and documentation. He has a long history of creating training videos for the Unreal technology through 3dbuzz since Unreal 2004. He has also coauthored the Mastering Unreal books that where of great value to anyone who was looking to get started with the engine.

Find more info here:

Cryengine - Cryengine As A Service

Crytek also had a nice announcement during GDC, Cryengine as a service.
This new service will provide its subscribers with the latest cryengine technology used in games like Ryse, which includes the new BPR pipeline and tons of updates. It will also be contentiously updated with new features as they roll out. More and more studios are starting to use the Cryengine for their next projects and now subscribers will have acces to exactly the same tools.

When the service will officially start has not be announced yet, but more info is available on the official website found here:

Wrapping up..

This is it for the tools updates for now, however there is a lot out there and things keep evolving so I will probably do another one of these updates somewhere down the line. If you feel there is anything worth checking out let me know. For now have fun checking out the above tools/engines and make something awesome!


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

5 Years! time is flying.

What's with the cake? I recently realized that this month (February 2014) marks my 5 year anniversary in the games industry. It seems time just flies when you are doing something you love, it's crazy right? Who knew.

Perhaps 5 years is not really that big of a deal but I didn't want to let it completely pass by. Because for me it has been quite the ride and experience.

I'm not going to do a recap/summary kind of thing but I thought it would be fun to dig up some old art and share it in this blog post. This is basically the oldest stuff I could find, and represents my very first steps I made in late 2008. Disclaimer, I am aware of how unimpressive this is, but we all need to start somewhere. Feel free to laugh out loud, I know I did. So here we go!

My first 3d model

Technically not the very first model, but it is the first one I did after following the first few lessons 3d modeling at university. At this point I knew how to do simple lowpoly modeling, UV mapping and simple texturing. The assignment was to make a textured low poly vehicle not more than 1500 polygons and get it in the Unreal 2004 editor. This was the result I put together after way too many hours :D

Considering the first three models where a low poly crate (or "box"), a low poly wooden barrel and a low poly palm tree, this model was quite a step up in complexity. It was also the first time I was confronted with the puzzling results of a "flatten mapping" in the UV editor.

My first level

In that same period I also made my first level, build mostly with brushes in the Unreal 2004 editor, and a few custom static meshes and textures that I made. The idea behind the level was a single player, exploration/puzzle kind of experience in a small abandoned town hit by a sandstorm. The player's goal was to escape the town but to do this he needed to find parts to repair a car and get rid of some "bad guys" at the town's exit points. It's all very exciting stuff! :)

Not much later, I got my hands on Unreal Tournament 3 which shipped with a new version of the engine. I tried to recreate the basic idea of the level but rebuild with assets that came with the new version.
Here's what that looked like.

So, these are pretty much my first steps, first few weeks of messing around. There was a lot of stuff I had absolutely no clue about, things like normalmaps etc where all "next-gen" magic to me at this point. But it was a start.

Not long after I got my first internship at a game company, this internship turned into a junior position afterwards and then it really started rolling.

My first shipped title

So there we are,  februari 2009, I began working on my first official game that would actually be sold in a store.

The first game I started working on was for the Nintendo DS system and the IP was based on a Belgian/Dutch kids tv programm called Mega Mindy. The IP itself wasn't really exciting to me, working on an actual game was and I learned a lot of things during my time there.

Below is an image of one of the levels I did for that game.

And here ends this show and tell. I must admit searching through all the old files was a lot of fun. In some way its weird that it has already been five years. At the same time an insane amount of stuff happened in the past few years. Without a doubt the games industry is filled with passionate, like minded and creative people who absolutely love what they do. I honestly cannot imagine myself working in a different industry so I'm looking forward to the next 5 years!

Hope you had a good chuckle seeing some old stuff. I'm going to eat that cupcake now!