Sunday, 20 January 2013

Aliens Are Better Than Zombies

B-Movie Alien model

Right then following up from my previous entry Zombies or Aliens Which are better?, I asked my readers to choose from eight character designs to determine which would become a fully functioning rigged and animated games character model. The people have spoken, the votes are in, and it turns out aliens are better, zombies didn't even get a look in. The real race was between a steam punk robot and an alien.....
B-Movie Alien concept painting
In the green corner Alien (in a jar with cyborg body)
The peoples choice by a whopping one vote.
Total votes five. Winner!

Steam Punk Cooker Robot Painting
And in the red corner Steam Punk Cooker!
Four votes total runner up and all round friend of kitchens

You can see at the top of the page that the lucky alien has made it into polygons and is now decidedly three dimensional. Thanks to everyone who voted it was great to get so many comments.

My influences for the character were probably many I've watched lots and lots of old science fiction films from a pretty early age as my Dad was a big fan of sci-fi films and books. The last time I looked, his garage was a sci-fi library which would put many small book shops to shame. I guess one film that sticks in my mind would be This Island Earth which has a great monster, Fiend Without a Face definitely had an influence. Invaders From Mars a film I can remember nothing about except a weird head thing with tentacles in a gold fish bowl I guess that right there is movie genius. But the main one and probably my favorite film sequence ever would be from The Life Of Brian the bit where Brian is trying to escape a roman patrol and falls off a half finished tower into a passing UFO. It pretty much documents the entirety of how my mind works and you can watch it here.

 Some minor aspects needed to change from the concept painting because this model is a variation of the cyber punk model. This means that the aliens skeleton has to line up exactly with the previous model. If elbows knees or finger joints aren't precisely placed, you get a very ugly mess. It's a bit restricting but I quite like to see how great a variation I can get using the same skeleton and only altering the skin. In games terms it's called a re-skin.

Below you can see the journey back into 2d that every character must make if it is to be painted, the uv map. One flattened alien opened in Photoshop and painted. I still hate uv mapping and this alien was a right pain. I used Z-brushes UV master plugin which is very buggy and has a mind of it's own. It seems to do a great job if you just leave the default setting and just flatten your character (yes there is a button which says flatten) however if you try to make the program do what you want it either resists or!

Alien UV map screen grab from Maya

Actually I'm getting ahead of myself before I painted the model I sculpted the details in Z-brush. Below you can see the aliens organic bits. I also had a nightmare with this model as I could not get the details to export properly out of Z-brush and needed to get a new program, Xnormal to sort out the mess. I don't know which wastes more time for me, software or the amount of time I spend swearing at it. It has not been a smooth ride getting anywhere with this model but hopefully I will be able to finish off the last bits and bobs without so much trouble.

Alien Organic bits sculpted in Z_brush

Still Z-brush is worth it for the sculpting results. I was just recently telling some fellow artists what a great program it was and how I had found it easy to learn.....oh the irony. Anyway below you can see where I am currently at with this odd ball  B-film creature. I think he was worth all the hassle after all. Some of you may have noticed that to get started on this model I had to vote in my own competition because voting kept reaching a tie between the cooker robot and Mr brains in a jar. I picked him because mechanical characters are not easy to sculpt in Z-brush it's much easier to do organic creatures like this one, even though he does have some mechanical hard surface elements. After I left the comment that voting was closed, Steam Punk Cooker got another vote. Maybe I need to build the cooker too?

Alien Games Model in bind pose ready for rig

I still need to finish up the skeleton and controls for this bug eyed space creeper. In the early tests I managed to get him to blink and the eye should be able to move too, I sacrificed a few of the cyber punks fingers to get the extra joints (I try and keep the joint count the same between variants). I have had a rough version playing all the cyber punks animations so it shouldn't be too hard. The cyber punks animations will be showing here shortly. Also it's worth mentioning happy bloody new year! and 20000+ page views thank you for taking the time for Deranged Scratchings!


  1. Such a cool design. Loved seeing how you made it, and such. Awesome job! I need to make sure I am fit enough to run from this guy....

    1. Yeah even though he has suction cups for feet he does go at a fair rate, I think faster than is humanly possible in line with the amount of patience most gamers have. Of course he never gets tired, best you can hope for is bad programming and bad AI may render him as smart as a door knob.

      Thanks for voting for him, I think he is going to be fun to animate so long as I don't have any more technical hiccups.

  2. ok I totaly forgot what I was going to say, I read your reply Dan and now I have a picture in my head of your Alien with hiccups !!

    1. That could make a pretty cool animation if I could get him to eat a laser rifle and hiccup it out.

    2. sounds good to me :)Enter your reply...

    3. I will give it a go, just got him blinking and able to move his eye. He does have a big mouth but the laser rifle is also pretty big it will need a healthy helping of slight of hand to make it disappear. The hiccup may become a burp.


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