Sunday, 29 December 2013

FMP: Castle fortifications Research

A castle is defined as a fortified residence, meaning it is very distinct and separate from related establishments such as a palace, which is un-fortified; or a fortress, which is purely for battle and not residence. Its purpose is to be a symbol of power in the surrounding land and its acts as a central hub for which offensives could be orchestrated and prepared for defense against outside assault. 

 In terms of the foundations and layout of castles, there are two cases which have proven most interesting. the Mott and Bailey and the concept of concentric castle design.

This castle design involved more than one curtain wall, so there was not just one castle wall, there was an inner wall as well, a means of dividing the castle into regions. I like to think that the further into the castle yo go the higher ground it has for additional tactical advantage. Minas Tirith is a good example of this in terms of its different levels.

The motte was a portion of the castle build upon artificially raised ground (a turf) for tactical advantage, it was generally used if the other part of the settlement was under attack or overrun. It was man made and had to be built up from ground level and the type of soil had an impact on its strength.

The bailey was the central courtyard that was encl
osed behind the curtain wall. 

The are major elements which are a part of the construction of the castle; not all of them are military based but they are shown to contribute to the settlements overall strength.

Watchtowers: Usually placed away from the castle as a means of communication and lookout for potential threats.

Turrets: They come in different shapes as they can have different effects.
- Rectangular: the most common and allowed efficient use of internal space, however the corners for vulnerable to collapse from mining on the outside.
- Round: Its shape allows it to be more resistance to incoming projectiles as they have a higher chance of missing the target.
- Horseshoe: A combination of the two above; the semicircle exterior and the straight rear.

In certain cases there are octagonal ones as well, such as at Raglan. 
Smaller variants (bartizans)can also overhang onto the outer wall, usually on the corners.

Moats: Castles would be either be built upon or near water sources or the moat can be dug or excavated around the castle after its built. The effectiveness of this is that it prevents the use of siege weapons and battering rams as they have to be brought right up to the castle wall to have any effect.

Gates: The major weak point within a castle, therefore it must be heavily defended and fortified. Two options in this case include a portcullis which serves as a secondary door and halts the enemy advance.  The other is the use of a drawbridge which when not in use can serve as the best barrier against attacks.

There doesn't always have to be just one major entrance gate, if I am to take the idea on concentric castle design on board, then there will be need for more gates to divide the castle. Gatehouses are also utilized and a separate fortified entrance guarding the entrance to the castle itself, however the terrain and layout of the level will affect if this will be included.

In addition, the fortifications types can have a significant impact on development, and whilst not all of them are mandatory, they contribute to the design and effectiveness of its defenses.
The Wall: The walls(battlements) of the castle in general will account for a large percentage of the level, it will be far and reoccurring so it is a high priority to break it up with as much as possible. This can include the following:

- Alcoves
- Staircases

- Windows
Arched, Lancet and casement with latticework are the most frequently occurring in my first hand research.

- BastionsStructures that project out of the wall and divide the battlements.

- Doors
Doorways into the turrets and towers will sometimes to be blocked by doors as an additional barrier in the event of invaders making it onto the ramparts.

- Arrowslits
Vertical openings in the battlements to allow archers to repel invaders whilst being protected. Certain slits were X shaped as a horizontal slit was also necessary for crossbowmen. 

To begin with castles were built mostly from wood and timber since it was cheap and easy to construct, however didn't last long since it was flammable. Stone was more effective and strong despite its costs and weight. 

All of these findings and research have been found in articles concerning the Middle Ages (medieval period), although there has been the odd castle offensive/defensive from the ancient times which can have a place among everything else, most notably booty traps.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Ubisoft Character: Tribal Shaman

I have confirmed my decision to go for a African shaman on this project. I am aware that it isn't precisely a warrior at first glance as the brief requested, but in a sense they are not entirely useless in the event of combat, I mean after all the brief did state the work 'mythical' hint hint.

I really wanted to have a tribal mask to cover her face; they are seldom seen in real life images so I feel it would be a good way to define her status. It would be removable so in the final renders I could have ones with/without the mask. As for a 'weapon' inside of a classic spear 'n' shield I'm going for a staff, heavily adorned of course. 

While I haven't based my character from any specific African tribe, I have researched facts about certain tribes and taken the into consideration and tried to apply them to the design. For example in the Zulu society a women's martial status is known by the amount of clothing she wears. Mine is wearing clothing over her breasts and has let her hair grown long, this indicates that she is engaged and is showing respect to her future relatives. Furthermore it seems only men wear leopard hides and the amount they wear shows their social status. So straight away you can tell I'm being rebellious in this sense!
I want to emphasis the heavy use of hides, skulls and feathers

Above is my chosen final design. I am aware that at this point I have not experimented with faces and hairstyles, however I would like to begin building my base mesh and when I get round to it I can come up with a final facial expression. I have chosen a youthful figure so this character will be in their 30's ideally. Now to commence the modelling.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ready for takeoff

So the Codemasters Brief has come to a close. On this occasion it was a hand-in that wasn't as stressful as previous occasions. In the final days of the project I had left a couple of important objectives until last but with the help of my colleagues and a bit of personal tweaking I was able to complete them and they made a huge difference to the final outcome. So here's the 'Warthog'. 

On the whole there are two features which i feel I could have significantly improved on, the first is the emptiness of the hangar, I could have filled it with an assortment of items such as missile boxes, crates ladders and drums etc. When I'd finished building the hangar it was at that point during the project that I knew I had to move onto the next process in order to stay on track.

The other was the general quality of the skybox used. It was hastily made and although it displays more or less what you would see outside, it just feels basic and unrealistic because it was all hand painted. 

In addition it seems that my choice of vehicle wasn't entirely the best in terms of sticking to the brief. The a-10 is not an entirely reflective aircraft so I cannot show off the Codemasters shaders to their maximum potential, if I had chosen one with a more reflective chrome material that what have been more ideal. But in spite of this I did enjoy creating the Warthog, and I'm pleased with the customized paint job that accompanies it. I'm also relieved that the body text and images can out at a decent level after reducing the texture sheets.

Our next project was announced on Friday. It's a character project so naturally I'm not all that confident in that field but it turns out that it has changed from last years version. We are to design a female character with a choice of African, Indian, Chinese or Japanese decent, and in addition to that it can be from any historical point up til the present day. This is a great degree of freedom here. Now I'll be honest part of me wanted to go straight for a samurai for some nice armor designs. But I now want to go for something more unique. I'm thinking of an African shaman, with an ornate tribal mask, attire and staff. Let the moodboards and research commence.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Vehicle Project

So I'm currently half way into a vehicle project set by Codemasters; which must be set within its own suitable environment in the final render. This brief has a heavy focus on the use of shaders they provided and additional maps to bring out the material qualities of the vehicle.

The idea of creating my own vehicle was tempting, however I knew all to well that the concepting and design process for me would take well over a week and would really set me back I felt. I settled for an aircraft eventually since at the time I was tempted to go for an aircaft featuring during the World Wars, since I was familiar with multiple models featured, however I didn't feel that I would be making decent use of the tris budget over my final choice, so I settled for the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II. It has a very distinct shape and it it renowned for its shark and warthog nose jobs; I felt this project could be a chance to take that part a step further.

The process of creating the plane was pretty straightforward, albeit the parts where the engines connect with the body and the parts at the rear of the wings, it took a while o get the geometry looking correct.

At this stage I had a good 2,000 tris remaining, however I considered how would I have it in its environment without its landing gears deployed? It just wouldn't look right, so I proceeded to producing the gears. The nature of these was more complex than anticipated and I had to compromise in certain areas since I eventually exceeded the limit. However I was able to return to below bydget by removing several unnecessary loops in the geometry. 

I have just finishing creating a hangar which will serve as its environment, I want to complete all modelling by the end of the day so I can move on. As mentioned earlier I want to concept some potential paint jobs and see how they look as this would allow some variation in the material qualities. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

FMP pitch

At the end of last week I presented my idea for my Final Major Project. In short: Castles.

I have always been a fan of castles, cathedrals and buildings with similar architecture. During the summer I visited Raglan, Caerphilly and Chepstow Castles to gather some first hand reference. Together this trio provided a tremendous range of tiling brick textures, window frames, gates and doors. 

Initially I was intending to focus solely on the exterior but I found some beautiful interior rooms such as dining halls, chambers and staircases. 

During one of the visits I had access to a variety of  siege weapons which gave me the idea of having the level set in the aftermath of a siege. Having part of the castle wall destroyed; and perhaps revealing passageways into the interior.

In addition there were books with recreated images and cut-throughs of various portions of castles to show how the interiors would have been. 

Inbetween castle visits I also managed to gather some statue reference, you gotta have statues in a castle.

Factors I want to consider are:
- Assets
- Location
- Sounds & Effects
- Scale

The latter is crucial as I have been informed that we'll have less time then previous years.

The pitch was met with approval, which is fantastic since I did harbor worry that having only one idea would be risky. But having showed how enthusiastic I am about it and how much background research I have gathered hopefully foretells how the project will pan out when the time comes. 


Hi there

This will be my current blog for my third and final year of Game Art Design at De Montfort University. Here I will be posting up work from my courses professional briefs, everything related to my Final Major Project and any additional work I can fit inbetween.

This blog can be redirected from my previous one at

Here's to another tense productive year.