15 Minutes a Day

15 Minutes a Day

Drawing picture from day 007

I am now 2 weeks into something I like to call “15 Minutes a Day”. As a technical artist I find that I constantly have to remind myself to sit down and draw. This can be a struggle given the fact that it’s too easy to say “No, I can’t draw right now, I have to do something else first”. The problem with this is that if I don’t create something with my own 2 hands in REAL LIFE, I feel as if a lot of what I am doing is actually fake. Something about the digital realm of art makes it hard to feel accomplished after spending countless hours on something that is just viewed as pixels. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t do digital artwork, it just means that the satisfaction of making something on paper is much greater to me for reasons I don’t think i can quite explain.

So what am I doing exactly?

Well, everyday I am sitting down for AT LEAST 15 minutes to do something creative with a traditional media. Right now, it’s these amazing Copic grayscale markers I picked up last year. Along with this, I decided I might as well hit the record button and see what happens and possibly try to actually motivate others to do the same as well as forcing myself to get better at managing video editing pipelines and posting / using different social medias. Right now I am 1 week ahead of the actual days which allows me to casually export / setup the videos each week and remain consistent without feeling the burn of the constant pressure to grind each day. This means that I am 2 weeks strong so far and 1 week released.

Here is the official playlist to follow along each day.

What have I learned so far?

Well, as always, the editing / content setup for posting online is the longest part. Essentially right now I am averaging about 3-5 hours to do the final edits which means that more time is going into editing than drawing. So my goal right now is to reduce how long stuff takes to import, edit, and export. I did just cut my render times in half with a new video card and using NVENC H.264 Exporting with a plugin called Voukoder R2 in Adobe premiere. So baby steps. As I get into a flow, then I can start to worry about things like music / more narration / whatever else I can do to add a little bit of polish on top of the videos.

The goals and overall thoughts

I love it, and I don’t think I am gonna stop any time soon. The main goal is to feel that accomplishment each day and to possibly motivate others to do the same. Right now, I want to just keep moving forward and making slight improvements as I go to editing process and content creation. If you like the idea and have thoughts on how I can improve it please let me know. I am always willing to hear feedback and want to get peoples overall sense as to whether this is a good idea or not. Thanks and have a great day!

Manipulator Tools Plugin is ALMOST ready for first release!

Manipulator Tools Plugin is ALMOST ready for first release!

Things have been wrapping up quite nicely as I finish up a ton of cleanup and usability features for the Manipulator Tools Plugin. Here is a bit of a taste of what it looks like to manipulate Vectors, Transforms, and Booleans.

The idea is pretty simple. Do you have variables that you’d like to edit in the editor on the actor itself as a nice way to visualize what you are changing on the fly? This is where the Manipulator Components come in handy. Here is the hierarchy of the test tank blueprint.

Component layout for the “tank” you see above.

You’ll notice, that there are 4 green icons with _MC. These are the Manipulator Components and each one has settings to control what shapes it can be, what property to attach to for editing, and a bunch of other settings like constraints, offsets, and a few other extras. What makes this really neat is you could essentially do what the Control Rig Plugin does but for ANY ACTOR. ANY BP, ANYTHING that can have a component added to it and be added to the world.

Example of what the settings looks like right now. I chose to make it struct based for easy copy-paste functionality from one manipulator to the next.

Right now, I am wrapping up some helper functions and also getting it to be a bit cleaned up code-side. Then I will document how to use it, setup examples, and look into distributing the plugin either via the marketplace or github. I don’t know whether or not I am going to charge for it yet, but it is a CRAP TON of personal time that I have dedicated so far and supporting a plugin is definitely no small task. Please keep that in mind that if I do charge for it, it’s mostly because that money will go into the time to maintain and support it.

Very minimal blueprint logic needed to make that tank do what it shows.. in-fact most of that is just making the “Look at rotation” logic work.

Lastly, the entire system is based off of the current “Show 3D Widget” functionality in the editor. If you are unfamiliar with this please feel free to watch the tutorial video on how to use those. Then, get angry at the fact that you have no control over how they look or work like I did and get pumped for the MANIPULATOR PLUGIN!

Tutorial on how to use the current UE4 Property Widgets

Have a great day.
<3 Zuko

Drew this on the plane to GDC a month or so ago.

Drew this on the plane to GDC a month or so ago.

This was a fun one! I drew it on a flight to GDC. However, I will note that Sakura Paint Pens ARE NOT air safe. This was almost destroyed by white paint pen ink spilling all over my test page. (Thankfully I was smart enough to actually use a test page before opening the cap.) This did lead to a really funny moment with the guy next to me on the plane giving me a weird look as I stared at my hands covered in white paint! Anyhow, I love making these drawings.

zPipemaker Advanced 50% off and the future!

zPipemaker Advanced 50% off and the future!

It has been 6 years now since the release of the very first version of zPipemaker. I’ve been actively maintaining it to make sure it’s functional on each new version of maya and I appreciate every one of you who has tried it out, bought it, loved it, or even questioned it’s existence. So, for a limited time, I am offering a 50% off coupon for anyone who is interested in zPipemaker Advanced that hasn’t yet bought it or just loves collecting digital download licenses.

I have used zPipemaker in many projects that I’ve worked on and for me, I have found it mostly useful for quick pipes or not even pipes at all. Some tools I’ve seen by very talented technical artists over the years have been incredibly complex and have had some seriously nice UX and feel. I have been looking at those as inspiration on where to go next.

Ideas for new zPipeMaybeNotJustPipesMASTER/Ultraspliner … v3.0
  • Spline based system. Not just anim deformers.
  • Rig-like adjustments for editing
  • Better scaling methods
  • Modifier based. Click a pipe and modify that pipe to get the desired control rig style you want for that segment.
  • Attachment based. Click on locator and then hit add pipe. Locators have to be special zPipemaker locators.. or else it will get annoying super fast.
  • Even DupCurve distribution over the spline curve.
  • Duplicate
  • Split
  • Attach
  • Replace
  • Tapering
  • Twising
  • Lattice Editing

Here is a bit of a tease of what could be the future!

Thanks for your patience! <3

Obviously, these are all ideas and not set in stone in any way shape or form. But, I just wanted to let anyone interested know where exactly the next version is headed and that there is in-fact another version in the works. I don’t have a timeline for finish but it is pretty much 2nd in line after the Custom Manipulator Plugin release for UE4. Thanks for your patience and enjoy the limited time 50% off coupon for zPipemaker Advanced. Oh and if you have anything cool you have made with zPipemaker, hit me up on twitter, facebook, or email with some stuff I can use to pimp out the new landing page. Happy piping! <3

Unreal 4 Quick Tip – Shift Dragging Comments.

Unreal 4 Quick Tip – Shift Dragging Comments.

How the crap did I not know this? You can move comments 2 different ways. Group or non-grouped movement.

Shift+Drag changes it for you on the fly!

This.. this.. dammit. You know, it’s the little things like this that I miss all the time and I am just so happy to know about it now. Did you know?

Have a great day <3