19 Oct 2023

Having more fun with Blender!


My journey into videogames started a long time ago. When Who Framed Roger Rabbit appeared in the cinema, I was fascinated with Animation, but I could never draw to the quality I wanted to be able to. Instead, I found some 3D Graphics software on my Atari ST. Staring with POV Ray and evolving over the years into 3D Studio I taught myself how to model Spaceships and strange characters.

During my A-Levels I managed to secure a work placement at a multimedia company in South Wales, UK – I was employed to make (amongst other things) 3D models of kitchen cupboards! (to be sold as clipart). I didn’t care – I was being paid to do my hobby!

All of this culminated in me creating a few shots of a space ship flying into the atmosphere (heavily inspired by Babylon 5) in Lightwave 3D, which became the ‘hero shot’ on my first showreel...

Somehow, this led to my very first job in the games industry, which was in 1996 as a Junior Artist at Criterion Games. After a decade (!) of being an artist I moved into a role as a Producer - but that is a tale for another post.

However, as I moved into production the time I got to spend creating artwork diminished, occasionally I would make a PowerPoint look pretty, or colour in a timeline excel – but even out of work, my artistic creativity was put on hold.

Fast forward to 2023 – Where I’m now Head of Production and co-founder of Fuse Games ! One of the things we really value is giving people time to refresh and focus on their personal development. Every Friday we have ‘Off the Grid’ time – where you can do anything, as long as it wasn’t what you were meant to be doing that week!

I've been using the time to release my creative juices and get back to creating digital imagery – inspired by several others around the studio I looked at Blender 3D – starting with the Donut Tutorial and then branching out. I discovered a series of short tutorials by the website - CG Cookie – called ‘sessions’ which are designed to create creative pieces and learn new skills in 2 hours. With each tutorial I followed along and with a few of them repeated things to create my own pieces using the techniques I’d learnt.

I have to say the software is amazing and digital tools have come along so much from my experiences in the early 2000s! It’s mind blowing to think that these tools are free for anyone to use, and the lessons are mostly all free on You Tube too!

As my first sessions experiment, I went back to my beginnings and created a space scene, this time inspired by Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I plan to continue my artistic explorations over the coming weeks and I'm looking forward to the release of the new series of ‘Sessions’ on the CG-Cookie site.. Until then I might poke around at a little game development in Godot or possibly Unreal.... maybe more on that next time!

If you’d like to try some of this yourself, the CG-Cookie Sessions: Planet tutorial is currently free to view on their site.. https://cgcookie.com/lessons/planet-introduction