In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
I’m Lee Gregory and I’m a 2D and 3D environment artist specialising in games.
Monkey Parliament is my very ham-fisted attempt at satirising British politics. I am currently working on building up my portfolio and as an aspiring environment artist I decided that I should attempt to create a scene for a change, as opposed to just individual assets.
We have just gone through a general election in the UK and as a political animal (pardon the pun) I wanted to try and import that world into a form of media where politicised subject matter is fairly untypical. While there are some great games which are politically conscious (Paper’s Please, Bioshock and Grand Theft Auto are obvious examples) I think that the potential for games as a vehicle for social and political agitation is largely untapped. Politicised themes have the power to enrich media and by connection the culture that engages with it – and whilst games are widely perceived as having nothing important to say (which is of course rubbish!), the absence of politicised subject matter will always be another bat with which opponents will use to bludgeon them over the head with.
I believe that a parliament populated with hysterical, nose-picking (Gordon Brown), arse-scratching, screeching apes is the popular perception of the political process in the UK. I thought that this would be a moderately funny and interesting idea to 3D model, so I decided to do it. I came to the decision on a whim but working on and off it took me over a month to complete.
I tried to sneak in a few references to particular occupants of the chamber – for example one monkey/ape was designed as an imitation of Dennis Skinner:
I also tried to capture the “swivel-eyed loons” of the conservative back benches, the imposing, bookish clerks of the House of Commons – and the New Labour front bench who ditched red ties for purple and blue ones in the name of fiscal conservativism:
In terms of the technical aspects of the production, the scene was produced entirely in Blender. I wanted to go low-poly with hand painted textures as this is a style I’m particularly fond of and probably most experienced with.
Texturing was fairly straight forward and I didn’t use any fancy processes to get the desired effect. I just used Photoshop, making use of the layers and their effects and painting in the shadows. In hindsight I might have benefited from sculpting in some details and baking an ambient occlusion map from them to use as a base for the textures – it may have sped things up a little but I’m very happy with the result nonetheless.
An example of some texturing:
I am not an animator and have limited experience animating in 3D. I rigged the apes in blender using Rigify which is a really simple to use, free add-on that comes with the package:
I created several subtle variations in the texture for the apes so that they didn’t all look identical:
For final touches, I made use of some of the cool after-effects in Sketchfab, such as the chromatic aberrations and the bloom effect. I used an emissive layer for the lights which I feel contrasts nicely against the rest of the environment which is shadeless.
Summarily I would like to thank Bart and the Sketchfab team for giving me the opportunity to share some of my influences and work-flow on this blog. I am amazed every day by how awesome the work is that is contributed to the site and I’m honoured that I was chosen to write about mine.