Work in Progress, Part 2

Fantasy Castle

Now that I’ve figured out the lighting setup on low resolution render. I need to further refine this 3d sketch. Since I used World Machine, my UVs and mesh for my geometry are not optimized. UV mapping is a process that places a texure map onto a 3d object.


Think of a texture map in UV space as wrapping paper going over a box you want to wrap.

Now, if I look at the topology of the geometry I got from World Machine, you can see the mesh is not optimized. The divisions are not evenly distributed. Ideally you’d like to see even squares across the form for your texture map.


Import the geometry into another application, Zbrush. Now I am a new user to Zbrush, but I have really enjoyed working with it. Bear with me if any of this seems super simple to regular Zbrush users. Continue reading “Work in Progress, Part 2”

Work in Progress, Part 1

The Fantasy Castle

I’ve had this idea for a fantasy type castle piece.


I wanted to try a different workflow for it. The mountain hills were to be a type of butte style landmass like out in Arizona/Utah. I didn’t have a program, E-on’s Vue on my home computer yet, so I decided to try using World Machine to initially sketch out some land masses. It is a procedural terrain creator.


Using filters and different parameters like the “Erosion” filter Continue reading “Work in Progress, Part 1”

Day to Day

Thanks everyone for tuning in last week. It means a lot.

Working 9 to 5….or am I?

So the hardest part of working from home is settling into a routine. My day is totally up to me now, but does that mean non-stop work at the computer or turn into couch potato mode. My first two weeks were I took it as a vacation with some light work; Organizing files on the computer, Looking some tutorials, purchasing some more software, etc. I also find my day is more flexible which is great. If I say meet a friend for coffee during day, I make up the time after supper that day. As long as I work a solid 8 hour day I succeeded in putting in a full days work.

To do or not to do

How to start the day, I make daily “To Do” lists. These are marked on scrap paper I cut up into quarters and keep in a stack on my desk.


These lists range from work related to errends I need to make. I have tried software to makes it more official, but for some reason the immediacy of scribbling on paper and seeing the list on my desk has always worked well for me.

Smaller and smaller chunks

For larger tasks, I use excel or google docs to keep track of and note progress.


I will then break down larger task into smaller bite size chunks. For instance, I am working on a fantasy type castle Matte Painting.


So once draw up the sketch and finalize my composition now I need to break down the work needed to complete the piece. I decided I need to finish this piece by the end of month. I have 2 ½ weeks left to complete it. I broke down the work and what I wanted to learn while doing this piece. I knew I wanted to do this in 3d software, with Maya being my primary application. Other applications I wanted to delve into were Zbrush, Mari, and World Machine. I assigned tasks in each with a time line to complete them. Since I was learning new software I gave myself more time plus I needed to watch some tutorials on the applications as well.

Next week, I will go over this castle project in more detail and you can see the progress of it.

New Paths


With a layoff of over 500 people and closing of one of our facilities at Dreamworks, I was laid off at end of January. There had been signs for DW that major shifts were happening and changes were needed to reflect these shifts. There was no problems or issues with my performance or the performance of the other 499 people; Dreamworks just needed to reduce it’s workforce in huge numbers in order to continue running. Due to the severity of the layoff, severance packages were handed out. Everyone had different contracts to what this meant and I had certain savings banked up for just this very thing, so I am not worried.

Change is a good thing.

Now the compelling question was: what did I want to do next? Working in Animation for over nine years was an amazing and enriching experience. I was able to work on such stellar films as How to Train your Dragon 2, Kung Fu Panda, Rise of the Guardians and numerous others. Now is the time to switch gears. If I wanted to delve into Live Action VFX work, I’d need to re-develop a “photo-realistic” portfolio.

Training up on new tools and software is crucial as Matte Painting has evolved more into a cg digital environments arena. I also have some small projects that have been on the back burner for several years. I know I can’t finish all of this at once but what I could do is create a medley of my projects to combine into a singular goal.

Change allows for growth.

My grand experiment is I will use the time re-honing my skills and work on these projects to be a platform to showcase new work. It will be several months before I begin to contemplate looking for new work—roughly mid Summer. Afterwards, I will begin looking for work, while wrapping up these projects. Now, don’t get me wrong if a plum contract comes up I’d consider taking it, but I figure when will I have another time where my schedule is completely clear to create content of my choosing.

This blog will chronicle my efforts. If you would like to watch the ride, please click to follow my blog. My aim is to post weekly every Monday morning. I hope you enjoy this journey.

To end with, my favorite Robert Frost poem:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.