Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Mutually Exclusive Realms of Experience"

"We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to Permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or "feeling into." Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience. " -Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

Glean from this what you may, I just wanted to share this excerpt because it has affected the way I look at crafting experiences, or attempting to at least, within the realm of game design. I think it's important to look at what we do as creating new experiences for each player to perceive in their own way, rather than trying to create specific past experiences and force our associated feelings onto them. I feel like a lot of the time the reason we have trouble communicating our ideas is because we make things too personal. That being said, I also believe that its good to draw from past experiences to create new ones. I feel like maybe someone brought a similar idea to my attention before but I can't remember.

As important as crafting experiences is to me I've decided to embrace a new obsession...anyone who has talked to me in the past month can probably guess what that is. So camera at the ready I have decided to begin consciously exploring and studying the world around me though the lens of visual effects. I find myself doing this already, I feel like I've always noticed and appreciated these things, but I think it would be more helpful to me to document my findings rather than just sending them to the dark closet in my mind where so many other things end up. It gets cluttered in there. So, I may have gotten a bit sidetracked, but the actual reason I was reading The Doors of Perception is because I'm really interested in trying to create hallucinogenic effects and I was hoping it would lead me to greater understanding on the subject.

For now however, some Holiday themed gems from around my parents house, or as I like to call them: XmasFX

These ugly lights in the windows were the first thing I noticed when I got home, I give them props for flickering, but they aren't fooling anyone, not sure if they're trying to though.. Its funny because I made a candle particle for both of my big projects this year. In the real world if something looks fake, people accept it as such, in a game word, that doesn't really fly. Unless its very obvious that its supposed to be fake people will just think you did it wrong.

This is more something you can only see through a lens, but for me I see it through my glasses so I accept it as a valid phenomenon. There are a lot of cool things you can do with light refraction. I have these glasses that make all the lights on the tree look like snowflakes. So cool.

Distorted reflections are always fun...I've spent many a time doing this when I was little...and last summer.

Eye bugging fabric...this one was kind of hard to pick up on film.

other stuff:

I'm sure I'll find more interesting things whenever I actually leave the house. In this cold blustery weather I've noticed a lot of great things happening with smoke that I can hopefully document as well.

Cheers for winter break...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fantastic Environment

Another 7 week group project. This one still needs a good deal of work until I'll be pleased with it. It was my first try at primarily concentrating on visual effects so I want to really polish things up for my portfolio. I've really found something I love in taking this track however, and it would seem I'm pretty good at it considering I got the bonus points for vfx on both of our projects this semester.

Our concept is pretty self explanatory. It is a surrealist desert of  time, that is actually inside of an hour glass.

Image claims
-sand blowing over the dunes particle
-heat distortion material
-pendulum blur
-sun particle
-glass material
-gold material
-really just all materials
-pouring wine material
-as well as various models/textures

There is a lot of movement involved in these things so its easier to read in movie form. I just have to make myself a new camera move and I'll post it up here. There is a night scene (the bottom of the hour glass) too that will be in the camera move. My main focus for this project was actually an event that triggers in which this shrine crumbles and you fall to the bottom through the center of the hourglass that is more like the inside of a clock, and that of course will be showcased in the camera move as well. Hopefully that update will be soon, winter break is upon me so work resources will be scarce for a few weeks while I go home

I'm working on a character concept as well right now, that also needs a lot of polish over break. Not really what I want to do but its kinda fun.

Her name is Belle. If you know the game she is inspired by, you're awesome. If not she's basically a Victorian female gunslinger, half vampire, undead-hunter. Awesome, no? We'll be modeling, rigging and doing some light animation on these next semester.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Realistic Environment

We had our final critique on our realistic environment assignment today. It was a pretty good critique as all of our teachers, the head of the department and visiting artist Vincent Proce were all there. I was nervous but it went really well and my group and I got great feedback.

I worked in a group of 4 on this. Our concept was a post war tree house inhabited by children trying to survive on their own. The tree is the only thing left in their world that is living and thriving. It is surrounded by ruin and waste as a result of nuclear war.

Here are the final screenshots, contact sheets and video deliverables from the project that were due today. We are going to go back and do a smooth camera move as well because the walk through didn't turn out as well as we had hoped. The reason we chose to do a walk through was to highlight the physics assets so that was successful at least.

(click to enlarge)

My favorite shot

Hero Bridge!!!!

Inside one of the rooms

Realistic Environment from Elizabeth Landis on Vimeo.

I'm feeling pretty good about myself and my work right now. Granted, I hardly feel human anymore, but I think I'm on the right path to becoming what I want and who I was meant to be. It's like everything finally clicked and fell into place for me. I learned a lot of things from this project about group dynamics, UDK, and most importantly about myself. Luckilly, the things I learned about myself made me feel confident that I can do anything if I stay focused. My peers seem to have a lot more confidence in me too.

All the hard work I put into this has bestowed its reward. Now we wait for the grade.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pure Creation

This is my first finished drawing for game art assignment. The one in the bottom right corner is the inspiration for my next assignment, the fantastic environment (gotta finish the realistic environment first, updates on that later). Besides that one, the butterfly monster is probably my favorite. I always wanted an attack butterfly at my disposal.

Here is some of the process that went in to creating these, doodles, textures, and silhouette variations:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Escher Modular Construction Kit DONE

Ain't no rest for the wicked (awesome).

I would say more about this, maybe after I recuperate from this past long laboring weekend, but its hard to form words right now. I made a camera move vid too, but it needs to be tweaked a bit so I'll drop that on here later.

This one is a WIP shot before I did lighting and stuff, but I like it

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

a chance to breathe

So this first week was extremely intense, but getting back to work feels wonderful.

Today I got to eat, sleep and drink so I feel a little more human again and decided to update my blog.

Here is some of what I've been working on. For 3D we are creating modular construction kits, I chose to use the theme of Escher architecture so that I could use my ascending/descending staircase, which has evolved a lot from being just bsp in udk to a nice clean model in maya :). I just got to the texturing stage which is exciting because I'm doing something pretty new for me and making it stylized rather than realistic. The goal is to make it look drawn/sketchy, but still architectural.

texture progress in udk, still needs work

other assets in maya:


fence (this is actually four pieces put together
stairs, they can either be in the base or be two sided for more of that escher style
four sided building piece
arches, showing old and new topology
some of the assets put together with the stairs

Our teacher is giving us the long weekend to complete the assignment so the next update will hopefully be awesome finished assets.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meanwhile, somewhere in the outskirts of San Francisco...

I need practice so practice I shall. Just a quick speed paint of a scene from my last trip to visit my sister in good old san fran...I think it captures the mood of that trip pretty well. I want to do more of these, I've never been good at painting environments, it's something I definitely want to work on. Also trying to experiment a bit more to get away from my always soft air bushed style and use more texture.


With everyone talking about Bioshock Infinite today it got me wondering: Which is the scarier prospect...drowning under the sea or falling from the sky? Either way I like the use of uncomfortable and strange terrain (or lack thereof) in the bioshock series, that in itself is kind of a thrill.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Just like everyone else in the world, I too was inspired after seeing Inception. The idea of creating impossible architecture is what really got me excited, which isn't surprising because I've always loved optical illusions and the art of Escher. Thinking of a game world as a dream world more so than trying to create the real world opens up a lot of doors to things I didnt think I could do before.

So heres my first shot at it, the ascending and descending staircase. (sorry my blog layout doesn't allow for the full size video)

Here's a link too (this is actually a different version from what I thought was a better angle): 2010-08-02_2215

This is far from perfect, basically its a prototype. I added one bot in there to demonstrate how it works. I originally wanted to use a crowd, and while it did work to a point it was very messy and as we all know, the crowd is stupid and does not like to stay on its path, also that problem of using triggers arose again and I couldn't recall if we ever solved that and if we did I don't remember how. The lone soldier does his job. Poor little guy is trapped forever in an endless loop. It would be a lot more believable too, if I could figure out how to get rid of the teleport effect...the goal is to make that transition seemless. (If anyone knows how to do that please let me know.)

The hardest part was figuring out how the stairs actually work in 3d space. I went through a lot of math to figure out that there really isn't that much math involved. The stairs spiral up and in and the numbers of the stairs go 9, 12, 6, 3. After that it sort of just comes together. The angle isn't perfect but I blame that on UDK's camera.

If nothing else this served as a fun project that helped me brush up on any UDK skills I may have lost over the past couple of months and I learned a bit about the updates to the July beta which is the version I was using. Btw, you now need a GameCrowd_ListofAgents archetype (which is hidden in the actor classes tab with the other classes that need the two boxes at top unchecked) as well as an UTGameCrowdAgent archetype to get crowds to work, if anyone went into their old files and was wondering where everyone went.

I can't wait to get back to Ringling ^_^ its coming up so soon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life is becoming less of a mystery.

I haven't updated in a while. Partly because I don't have much to show you, mostly because I've been doing what I consider more important things right now. Don't take that as to say I haven't been thinking about my art or game design goals, because I have, I've been working on small projects but mainly I've been working on my larger goals of self improvement.
I've been working on self promotion in the form of my in-progress portfolio site, which I hope to fill with better things as this upcoming semester progresses, and of course get a domain name for. Which brings me to my other activity, making money for that, going to GDC in March and some minor school expenses.
I've been reading a lot, inundating my mind with all kinds of new ideas and imagery in the hopes that it will come in handy this year when I'll be needing ideas the most and also just to feed my craving for knowledge and pretty words. This exploration is really what opened my eyes to the fact that I've been holding back my true potential. I found something within me that I hadn't really noticed before, and if I had, chose not to nurture.
When I mentioned self improvement up there I did not mean that I am trying to change myself. It has become clear to me very recently that there is nothing wrong with me or in need of change, except maybe my perspective. I just need to take what I thought was my greatest weakness, accept it and make it instead, my greatest strength. Needless to say I am feeling a lot more confident about my future goals now that I have realized this.

So heres to this upcoming school year, I'm looking forward to it now more than ever, and without trepidation.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Frustration and Time

The concept of time is what I consider the worst aspect of life. It's just so oppressive. I'm always waiting for things, trying to have time for things, planning, trying to be on time, meet deadlines, it's exhausting. Time flies when it shouldn't and lags when I don't want it to. I'm always thinking of back then and someday, and worst of all, I always feel like I'm wasting it.

But unfortunately I can't sleep without hearing a ticking clock...

And isn't that just the way things always go? You

can't go on without the one thing that drives you the craziest.

Just a quick sketch inspired by the classic story, "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" by Harlan Ellison. I've been reading a lot. I've also been trying to do more art just for me, things I like, things I'm inspired to do, trying to not just become another artist for the machine. I have my whole life to create what people tell me to.

Oh, and I got myself a shiny new computer, if that doesn't make me feel better, nothing will. Hopefully that will facilitate my getting some work done.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A tribute to the time machine

Visit carlisle: where you can get retro books, retro toys, retro clothes, retro movie going experiences,(my personal favorite. What I wouldn't give to watch City Lights in that beautiful old art deco theater) retro dining, even retro candy, and what isn't retro is historical. Honestly I have trouble defining the difference. Maybe retro is hip, and historical is educational and therefore unhip. Anyway, I never really noticed all this before but as I sat eating a squirrel nut zipper (which are delicious by the way) it all became transparent as lace. No wonder I am the way I am, I grew up in a time machine.

I'll leave you with this:

"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known. " F. Scott Fitzgerald

Just food for thought, gentlemen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I was showing my work to a friend yesterday and I realized I had some things missing from here, one being the lighting assignment we spent like half the year on in 3d for games. So here are my screen shots from that. I should note that the lighting is all that was changed and all the assets and level design are property of Unreal.

Original Concept Paint Over:

Final Product (Top:Before; Bottom: After):

It changed a little bit from concept to completion because when I did the original concept I wasn't aware of all the cool things I could do with lighting. It was a really good learning experience.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Currently Playing: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days

It seems appropriate that at the beginning of this very long summer I start playing a game that revolves around counting the days. I've had this game in my possession for a while but haven't had the time or interest to play it. Honestly, even though I have played every other KH game out there, with much excitement and exuberance, I felt as though maybe I had grown out of the franchise. Kingdom Hearts was the first game I played on the PS2, Christmas day I believe in the year 2002. Coincidentally this was the same day I decided I wanted to be a game designer. It was so beautiful, it's beauty further enhanced by the fact that the last game system I owned was an N64 and there was quite a graphical leap there. I was easily hooked and reeled in, mesmerized by the pure feeling it evoked in me. But that was just a moment. Growing up and away from that I realized that it wasn't the most wonderful game ever made and went on to play new inspirations.
I digress...
358/2 days is not quite as beautiful as KH1 because even though I am playing it 8 years later it has the graphical disadvantage of being released on the Nintendo DS. It's still impressive for a hand held though. It's definitely not the big gray game boy I carried around in the little pink bag embroidered "Elizabeth" when I was a little girl. I seem to be running on nostalgia today...
This game is a lot like all the others, more like its console counterpart than the previous handheld KH game, "Chain of Memories", but there was one thing, a pretty small thing I guess, that stood out to me as being kind of special, and that is what the game calls "Intel missions."
The idea behind these missions is that you go to a new world and try to figure out everything you can about that world, the people who live there, what happened there, how things work in that society etc. without talking to anyone, just exploring the clues left behind. One example would be seeing claw marks in a castle and from that deducing that a beast lives there and is involved in some kind of struggle. What's this then? A lesson in environmental story telling? Yes, it is sort of given to you in a very direct way while in most games it's up for player interpretation and observation, but a lot of the time these very small details go unchecked by the average player anyway. It teaches you to pay attention. It really appealed to me because, as you all know, I have a bit of an affinity for deduction and pretending to be a detective, but also because I love environmental story telling.
What is unfortunate however, is that the game stops giving you these Intel missions pretty early in the story because your character is better suited to hitting things with the key blade than doing anything meaningful I guess. What really bummed me out was that there was no Intel mission for Wonderland...I really would've like to see how the game explained that one.

In general 358/2 days isn't bad, it's fun, got a decent upgrade system (known as the panel system) that feels a bit like packing UV's in Maya, a simple combat system, game play is a bit repetitive but jumping around worlds constantly keeps things feeling fresh, and I have no clue whats going on with the story, but hopefully that will sort itself out by the end.

So I guess I haven't grown out of it completely, it's sort of the same way I feel about Disney World. I don't want to buy into it, but when I'm there I just can't help it. Nothing like Disney magic to bring out your obnoxious inner child.

Lol^ amusing google image search result

I think next I'm going to play Metro 2033 and see how it compares to the book. Should be interesting.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The sacrificial altar was disguised as a throne...

So this is it. Today is the last class of game design II. We successfully spent a month creating a concept for a game that couldn't be made, and made a totally different game in the span of about two weeks. I'm fairly proud of us. Since I was put on the tech team but then ran out of things to contribute there I decided to do some art for todays class. The concept of our game revolves around aztec/inca cultures and my biggest contribution to it was the idea and implementation (with help of course) of a sacrifice mechanic in which one player from each team must reach the goal point as the sacrifice for your team to win the game. It's a team oriented game where three classses must work together to reach this goal.

So the art I did for today are some concepts for what the Sacrificial Altars may look like for each side. one side revolves around a snake god, (sort of like Quetzalcoatl) and the other around a sun/cat god (like Tezcatlipoca) Its supposed to be dark comedy so the style and characters are cute, but its also very bloody and violent, in an exaggerated way.

It will be interesting to see just how far we go with this over the summer/next semester.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Something Fun and Something Done

Well I haven't updated on my character for a while, but for all intents and purposes she is done. Could be better but this was my first attempt at a character and I should move on. We are in the process of rigging right now. We aren't going to animate them but we are testing them with the default unreal animations which is...interesting. You can see from the victory pose below. I also got someone to photograph my game for me and I should have those pics tomorrow :) Vic is for Victory!

And lastly, this is totally unrelated but I like it so here it is. This was just something fun I did for my friend Kelsey. We had an art exchange and this was my contribution. Roller derby pin up! We went to the roller derby for the first time a while back so I thought it might be a nice memory.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Here is just a progress shot of my face sculpt. We learned this neat trick to import the 3d model into photoshop and merge the face image right onto the mesh. That's why it looks pretty creepy with the texture on (left) but it's helpful. She's starting to look more human than porygon! I do like sculpting, I wonder if that will be helpful at all in the future...


Just as a side note here: My mod of Clue, Flappers and Philanderers, from last semester got into the Best of Ringling show this year! I worked really hard on that and I loved every second of it, play testing, taking photo ref and even creating the art assets. I'm really happy and honored that it was one of four to get chosen for the show. Thanks to my play tester's and everyone who put up with me while I was working on it. I know I get a little crazy sometimes, but that's just because I'm passionate :). I still need to take better shots of it for my portfolio, when I do (after I get it back from the gallery) I'll put them up here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The invisible woman

Just a progress shot of the sculpt on vic, I've only done her clothes so far. Don't mind the collar, it shouldn't be black but the normals are facing the other way and mudbox doesn't like that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Well we've started modeling our characters, and oddly enough I'm sort of enjoying it. I mean it still gives me horrible neck pains, but I'm doing a lot better than I normally do. Not sure why, but I won't complain.
These are just some work in progress shots of the base mesh and then the rough clothing I just added. She's still a bit disconnected. She's starting to look like a detective though, as soon as I put the hat on her I was really excited.

Base Mesh

Rough Clothes

Now to sculpt and texture, hope that goes as smoothly so she's awesome in the end.