Looking back at my project, I am happy with it. I’ve worked steadily away on it since the beginning, and I feel that it shows. That being said, I do have some reservations with it that I wish I could have either addressed earlier or had more time to fix.
Primarily, my main concern is scale. Although I knew keeping my environment small was important so I didn't overstretch myself, I had always entertained the idea of having something large and expansive to traverse through, with lots of surprised in store. I have to be reasonable in that the scale I imagine is likely impossible given how much I had to learn to achieve it in the process, but it’s still something that I feel would have been nice. Toward the end I felt a little frustrated that my level would move forward in huge leaps, and then slow down whilst I spent ages fixing and building things. Although this was very much necessary, I wish I could have expanded into my extended scope more.
I also feel somewhat unsure about level population. Although I made a lot of different assets, I knew I wanted to tell a story without cluttering the scene. That being said, I look at areas like the temple front and feel that it might have benefited from a little more set dressing – although I’m not sure what I’d put there. A large part of my decoration involved large wall paintings, so there was still plenty of visual interest. It just felt like I could have maybe taken the environment further if I had more time – making small statues to stand on the corners, for example.
Speaking of statues, I feel that my statue could have worked better. I’m pleased with it in that it’s my most detailed sculpt ever and I also learned a lot from producing it, but it has been riddled with so many problems and doesn't look as good as I would have liked it. Although I have finally fixed the seams on the shoulder, there are still other visible seams and the baked lighting is a bit muddy. I’ve also spotted a lot of anatomical errors – the ridge of her nose, for example. I really like the silhouette, but I feel that if I had more experience, the execution would have been a lot better.
Of course, there are some elements that, as far as I know, seem to be out of my control but are frustrating. From the beginning of the project I've been plagued with strange blue-green blotches on my lightmaps, particularly on anything light. They appear seemingly at random and on anything of marble colour. I've asked around for solutions but it seems to be par the course with UDK, which is a pain.
For all the negatives, however, there are elements that I really enjoy within my environment. I’m a big fan of the lighting set up, especially within the temple hall. The candles and many glowing elements really pull the ambience together, giving me the air-thick-with-magic feel that I wanted. In general, I feel like the ambience has been achieved, especially after putting in sounds. I feel I’m communicating the feel I was going for to begin with – reverent, powerful, slightly imposing.
I’m also really pleased with how my paintings integrated with my environment. Since the level change they’ve taken up a much better place in the chamber, and they provide both a source of interest and also decorate the temple in other ways – through the relevant particle effects and lights I’ve added to them. I’m also very pleased with the animations – although I feel I could have pushed them a lot further with the time given, and I also wish I’d put a zoomed in, blurred version of them behind the full shots in the flythrough, I’m happy with the outcome. It’s something I never thought I’d try and really challenged me in my approach to planning a painting, whilst still being fun. It also gives you the ability to view your image from a different angle as well, which makes creating it all the more fun. I’m really glad I gave myself the opportunity to implement illustration into it.
In terms of story, I’m not entirely sure how much comes across. Part of the problem that had been holding me back was my dedication to the personal project I was springboarding off, and as a result it hampered my creativity since I was considering how possible it would be within the world. However, after changing it I decided to go with what visually and creatively felt right, and if I wanted to incorporate story elements later on then I could fit them into something that already existed and gave me a framework to work with. However, even though I did this – having an altar, the huge murals on the walls that (at least, to me) tell the story I had come up with, evidence of the characters in the environment, I feel like it didn’t come across as well as it could have. Alongside this, the fashion elements and decadence were hard to put in when the majority of my time was spent on the environment. I feel like if I had spent more time considering that side of things, it might have been communicated better. However, considering how much my concern with story had dragged me down to begin with, perhaps it was for the best.
I’m also not sure how art nouveau my painting felt. There were definitely elements that had a Mucha feel – my stained glass windows, my paintings, the swirls and flowers that adorned a lot of the assets – however I feel like it didn’t come across in the physical architecture as much. After spending a while on the first pillar, I realised that making elaborate, intricate environment models constantly would be a huge time sponge, as well as giving me less room to work with in terms of hand painting. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision at the time, I simplified a lot of the complicated architecture I had concepted so that I could get things done. Looking back, I’m glad I did, even if I didn’t quite achieve the delicacy and poise that I was originally going for. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure whether they would have worked well together anyway.
All in all, I’m really pleased with this outcome. I’ve worked hard at it, learned a lot whilst doing so and pushed myself. My flythrough is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while – setting shots to music – and it’s been well received. I’ve developed my time management skills and remained diligent for months, and although I found the beginning to be very tough and emotionally draining, pushing through helped me create something I’m proud to put my name to. It’s a great note to end the course on and I feel it’s pretty representative of my art style. Ultimately, it’s not been easy, but I’m really happy with how everything has come together.