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!


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Portfolio Updated!

Today I finally updated my portfolio! And I admit it was long overdue. A lot of the stuff on there has been there since I started in 2009 and no longer represented my best work. I also took the time to finally take screenshots of the work I did on Crysis 3 and the Crysis 3 DLC. It's nice to give it a spot and create space in my head for all the new things that are coming in the future. It was an absolute blast to work on the Crysis franchise and looking back at all the art & levels in the game, I feel very proud to have been part of this project.

Once Ryse is officially in stores I will add some the things I did for that game as well. I'm also pretty far along with a personal piece that I will put up once its done. but until then please enjoy the update.
To see the updated version just follow the link:

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Back to school, for an afternoon.

Before I left the Netherlands for Crytek I had a part-time job at my old university. I was teaching an introduction class in game art and 3d modeling and a few weeks back I had the pleasure going back for an afternoon and talk about my new job and working on Crysis 3.

Although I had been in that classroom many times before both as a student and as a teacher it was the first time I was actually kind of nervous. It would be the first time in 1,5 years and in that time a lot has changed.

After catching up with former teachers/colleagues I stepped into a classroom that I, quite honestly, had never seen so full before. During that afternoon I did two talks, one about working on crysis 3 and one on getting the job and what I did leading up to that point. After an initial dry throat I had a lot of fun sharing my experiences with the people and giving them a little bit of insight in what went into making a game like Crysis 3. Most interesting part was the Q&A round at the end of the session which was a lot of fun to do. This is also the part where you notice how hungry people are for more information and how excited they are about making games.

It's amazing how much this excitement can also recharge your own energy and passion for your work. During a big production there will always be a moment where you move into an end phase and start to wrap things up. You fix bugs, create those last remaining LOD's, collision models and make sure everything runs smoothly. Although part of the job, it's not very creative or exciting work but it all needs to be done when the deadline hits. It is at this point that it's easy to lose sight of what makes your job so awesome.

I also mentioned the hunger for more information, and I get emails with the same question on a regular basis. Most people who are already working in the industry have probably found their sources. But whether you're a student looking for more or a working professional looking to learn something new or brush up on things, here's a list of sources that can be useful:

- The Gnomon Workshop offers a wide range of online training in digital and more traditional art.
- Digital-Tutors has a great selection of software training for movies, games & digital art
- Eat3D has a great selection of more game specific tutorials ranging from software training to getting started with various game engines.
- 3dmotive offers a range of training similar to Eat3D

- World Of Level Design is a great website by Alex Galuzin, filled with all kinds of useful articles and videos.

- Polycount probably one of the biggest and most active sites/forums focused on all things game art. A lot of information and inspiration can be found here. It's also a good place to share your progress, get feedback and interact with others.

If you are a working professional and have the opportunity to do a talk at a university/school think about doing it. Even if you consider the content of your potential talk to be "common knowledge" or "not really special". Keep in mind you're not doing the talk for peers at a GDC and that for students these things might be new & interesting (always check the level of the audience however). Or think about doing a Q&A session or portfolio review.

If you are a student and have the chance to attend a talk, go. Maybe think of some things you would like to ask. Even if the talk is not that informative, in a lot of cases it's at least going to be inspiring!

I will most likely pay another visit to my old university somewhere in the future. But for now I will keep this blog going and maybe actually make use of my youtube account.

Till next time,

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Reboot! A new country and a new job!

Looking at the last entry date of this blog I realized little more than 2 years passed since I last posted. In the past 2 years I got nowhere near the amount of content I imagined I'd put up here. But that doesn't mean the pasts years have been unproductive...

Before I truly restart this blog I feel I need to give a quick update of what I've been doing in the past few years. 

Somewhere 4 years ago I decided to fully commit myself to becoming a 3d/environment artist with the goal to one day work on awesome games. Ever since I've been working really hard, learning, practicing and absorbing every little piece of information I could find.

After the competitions over at Eat3D (older post in this blog) and the surprising results, I got a lot of positive responses to my work, and this really helped me getting noticed.

As a result I got the offer to work for Interceptor Entertainment as an environment artist, working on
Duke Nukem: Reloaded. Although the project got put on hold indefinitely in September 2011 there was a lot of passion in the team and it was a great experience working on what would have been a great remake of a classic. 
I moved on after the project stopped but it is awesome to see how Interceptor Entertainment and its team has grown and is kicking ass with the Duke Nukem platformer pack and Rise Of The Triad, which should release later this month!

The biggest change in my life was shortly after, when I joined the team at Crytek Frankfurt, in December 2011. I got an offer to do environment art on Crysis 3 and I took it.

Moving to Germany and leaving my hometown was probably the hardest thing I ever did in my life. And certainly the biggest step I ever took. At the same time it was also the easiest decision I ever made. Luckily Frankfurt is only 3-4 hours away from Arnhem and hometown friends visit on a regular basis. I achieved the goal I set for myself 4 years ago and the ride up until now has been great! In the past 1,5 years that I have been here I've met and worked with great people and on exciting things but the best is yet to come.

With this recap out of the way, last restart this blog! Although I'm not going to promise a constant stream of new posts I have a few drafts lined up to work on so keep an eye on this page!