ThereIsNoJustice's Sketchbook
I have been thinking this past week or so, about what will happen with AI again. If you're already sick of that topic, now's the time to just scroll down, sorry.

I was reading this post on a new, impressive AI music generator, and a musician commented something like, "Have you guys tried talking to an artist and paying them or even just getting them to work for free for practice? The music world is saturated with tons of musicians who would like to work on your project, whatever it is."

And the responses just opened my eyes. One was like, "Why would I interact with another person when I can hit the same button a hundred times instead?" And another, "If I'm working on my project, I don't want to have to sync up with someone else and wait for them to iterate, take feedback, and get back to me later. I want to have a bunch of options in front of me and to simply pick one." A lot of the comments were like this. If the human art was better overall, fine, but it comes with all the messiness of having to deal with the human. And not dealing with the human is highly desirable.

AI is here to stay in some form or another, so betting on it being made illegal is not going to work in the long term. If the AI companies are forced to pay artists, or even if they end up charging, it will still be cheaper than hiring an artist.

Add to that, the online world was already flooded with content. Your painting was already lost in a sea of other paintings, forgotten almost the instant it appeared on the internet. Now the ocean of content is millions of times larger and the space any singular artist occupies has shrunken dramatically to almost be microscopic.

This solidified the idea that any individual image, song, etc. is no longer a thing that has value. Only a larger project has value, and this is a direct effect of generative AI. The only way to stand out and to create something of value is to make something more than images, songs, etc. It's whole product now or nothing at all, it has no value. Whether that is a comic, a game, a movie, whatever. It's nowhere near enough to try to compete with AI generated imagery that can be created at the press of a button.

Anyway, with that in mind, I've gone back to working on this game project I had going. I still will draw for fun, and for making comics, but I've scrapped any plans to do one-off commissions.

The game project, Survival on the Droid Moon, is also inspired by all the AI crap going on. I might start doing devlog type youtube videos so I'll save myself some typing.

I'm going to brush the cobwebs off Blender tomorrow and start modeling this thing.

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Modeled and put spooky, evil orb into the game. Also, gibs, skybox, and some rifle concepts.

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I don't think it's possible to embed tumblr vids to the forum. I'll put stuff on youtube in the future.

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I'm pretty sure one of the 7's will be the one I'll be using.

Good to see some concept art are here felt kinda on my own on that topic for a while not gonna lie.

You know what make gun look more alien?Organic form.For more human looking gun design hard edge and symmetry work fine.I suppose you choose thing to be more blocky because you aren't yet at a modelling level where you feel confortable modelling organic and bevel shape or is it just that the character is human so the gun design are human?

My Sketchbook

Perfection is unmeasurable therefor it impossible to reach it.
Awesome updates, really digging those gun concepts. They all work very well IMO and are well thought out. Great job!

Darktiste: The blocky-ness is the style I'm aiming for w/ the player faction. Helmets, armor, buildings, should all be kinda blocky. Though maybe in the future I can mix things up and add 'skins', but that's a long term goal and I don't want to get ahead of myself.

cgmythology: Thanks, dude!

A bit has happened since last update.

I was supposed to work on a comic, and I did put about 2 weeks into the project when the client dropped off the face of the earth.

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It was surprising because the client had paid me before. But a total waste of time. Honestly, I was due for something like this to happen since all my clients before that had been chill and respectful.

Then I was talking to some other folks about game dev, and it became apparent I really need some kind of social media presence or nobody will know that whatever I work on even exists.

So I'm going to work on some game-related animations and hopefully that will put my youtube channel into people's recommended list. And even if that fails, I'll still be able to use it as an animation portfolio, which would be good anyway.

Here's my first animation, and some studies. With the hair, I focused on building up the values and details slowly. That's the way to go.

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Oooh, lovin' the latest sketchiiies! You have an awesome sense of space, and really enjoying your exploration of forms :D

I'll hop on the bandwagon of AI!

I understand the moral ramifications, but it excites me as a reference tool, and just hearing my own stuff bounce back to me.

I still love bouncing ideas off of people and stuff, though, I'm a social person, afterall :)

But, I am also a highly disorganized person, and inputting my information to an AI and having it come back in an organized, concise way has been, I admit, thrilling.

I feel like I should probably feel guilty for this, and that lurks in my mind as well, but overall... I see the potential. I just hope capitalism and stupidity doesn't ruin it. T_T


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Bookend: Thanks for the kind words. And yeah, the AI situation is complex right now. I just know that other people will use it, so I figure I will use it where I feel it's not harmful to other people. So to me it's fine to use for learning or placeholder art that will be replaced w/ real human art later, or something like that. But it's going to be interesting to see how things play out.

I've still been sketching some, mostly for fun, and working more and more on the game project lately. I've got the turrets and general factory mechanics working. I really want to jump into the enemy and player art and modeling, but each decision from here on out will have a lasting impact. Any mistakes or changing my mind will take a lot of time if I need to change course later.

Anyway, I realized that using texture brushes will be good for both the concept art and actual textures on the game models, especially the enemies. I have been thinking a bit about what makes a good horror, mutant, otherworldly looking creature. But before I sit down to even draw the enemies out I need to make sure I know exactly how I want them to work in the game. The further I get into the project w/ incorrect enemy designs then the longer it will take to fix that mistake.

The two most important choices I have to make for the enemies are:

  1. If they can fly -- Right now this is my solution to players trying to camp in unreachable places, like if they build a platform in the sky. I think it will work really well as a solution, but I'm worried that players might feel that the enemies have an unfair advantage. I think the best thing to do is to only make the enemies fly if it's the only option available to them, otherwise they behave more like zombies. I hope players will tolerate that.
  2. Having long reach -- Give them arms which are 1.5x - 2x the normal reach an ordinary human would have. Fighting swarms of melee enemies can feel really easy, especially when you have multiple ranged weapons. Even though the game increases in difficulty over time, I think maybe this would be a way to increase the difficulty a bit right from the start. Maybe there will be ranged enemies later on, but just having the melee enemies feel like a threat that the player doesn't want to get anywhere near might be good. If I do make this kind of enemy and it doesn't feel quite right, then I can always make a more traditional zombie-like enemy and turn this one into a rarer enemy, so there is that.

So my next direction is doing a few more buildings models, and doing a handful of studies w/ texture brushes as prep for the enemy designs. I started using them on the Tracer and plaster cast sketches below but I still feel rusty w/ these brushes. I think working on temp layers is the way to go, though.

Also, I did a number of youtube vids, some animations and gamedev logs, but I'll just link the first/main gamedev log vid. I do feel like I now know everything I need for making animations for the game. It feels great to have that workflow figured out.

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Dropping in to say hi in your thread. I see you too are a man of culture (I hope you get the reference).

The way you exaggerate the figure reminds me of Kim Thung Tae's and some of the anime/manga artist's work.

Some of my favorite artists in the past have been artists who focused on the female form, like Gil Elvgren, Adam Hughes, Frank Cho, Boris Vallejo, Milo Manara, Seprieri, Shirow Masamune, and I'm also good friends with Steven Stahlberg (I used to work as a writer/director/art director at his company). You're probably familiar with some of them, but if not, definitely check out their work.
Your game project is quite ambitious! The Godot engine is a good choice I think, it keeps evolving and is not tied to any company. But the burning question is: Will there be any ladies in the game?

Lunatique: Hey, that's cool you worked with Stahlberg. I've followed him since a long while back. I'm only familiar with some of the other names you mentioned but I will check them all out.

Leo: I had this conversation with a friend, and we reached the conclusion that putting an attractive lady in your game, and then in the game's thumbnail/cover was the way to go. So yeah, I think there ought to be. Probably an alien lady?

I did a few studies with the texture brushes and I feel like I have a good enough handle on things to start working on the enemies.

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Merry xmas/happy holidays.

I really have gotten stuck in 'programmer mindset', even when it comes to the art side of things. When it comes to coding, if you sit down and just start typing, that's how you get spaghetti code. But scribbling around to find ideas is important on the art side. I've had this feeling like I shouldn't put a mark down unless it's well thought out and perfect, but that's obviously wrong. Anyway, at least I've caught this tendency.

I did sketch out the 'common enemy' after I basically knew ahead of time almost exactly what I was going for. In the vid, I think I talk up how weird I wanted to go with it, but since this is the most common enemy, I really just want it to have a couple freaky aspects: the arms, external kind of veins/tendrils, and the tech coming out of its face/head. I want to go for crazier and weirder stuff with less common enemy types later, though.

Next up is modeling this dude out. I also want to make a plan for 2024. I'm a little bit dreading it, but I'm thinking about going back into coding bootcamp mode. 10-11 hours days, just crazy amounts of work. But it's necessary. The longer the project goes on, the riskier it is in terms of actually finishing it.

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I disagree on not being able to doodle code. I see coding as mechanics, and it doesn't hurt to try some cogwheels together. Of course, the final code will be nothing like the trials, but the trials do help to materialize the final form. Also the "final code" is still not final, because you'll probably have to optimize some parts in the end.

I like the Z arms of the enemy, although I'm wondering if giving it more tendons would make it more formidable and scary. As is, the arms look weak (but are still totally fine in a magical zombie logic).

Hey, I find the expression on your girl sketch so fun that I couldn't resist doing this paintover. Let me know if I should remove it from my post though.

Leo: Well, on the code, it depends. I wrote the code that handles the resources moving in this game once. Then I rewrote it a second time. Then I rewrote it again a third time.

The third rewrite is the way I should have written it the first time, and if I had, then it would have saved me time. I couldn't leave it the way it was because it was needlessly complex and confusing. As a result, the game had bugs that I couldn't find in the code, because the code was too fucked up to follow. I felt a real sense of dread having to go back to that part of the project. I didn't write it the best/clearest/least confusing way I could because I wanted to go fast.

And to be sure, it's not necessarily wrong with some code to go fast. Not everything involves actual data structures and algorithms types of issues. Sometimes there are five ways to change a variable on user input and the method you choose doesn't matter. But when you run into a higher level of problem, it's absolutely better to plan things out first, as long as it takes. That's when 'slow is smooth, smooth is fast' kicks in.

I suspect you haven't yet had your ass kicked by programming in this particular way, but you could be a much better programmer than me. I'm not sure how it is for other people. When I was in the coding bootcamp, there were people who seemed to fly through the code, and people crawling through it. I felt like the only person somewhere in the middle.

The enemy, yeah, he's not meant to look too imposing. He's the weakest enemy and, at least initially, will die in a couple shots. I probably will buff the amount of veins/tendrils on him, a bit. I'm worried about creating too much detail/polys for Godot, but we'll see.

I like the paintover. I think your idea would be an improvement on the image, taking advantage of what turned out to be a little bit awkward of a pose and expression.

That particular image has a funny story to it now. The initial reference image is a girl in her room with a totally different expression and hair over her face. The only thing I definitely wanted to get from it was the color vibe and pose vibe.

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I started drawing/painting it, then ran my partially finished image through AI for a paintover. There's a pretty great classical painting lora out there. This is what it spit back out at me.

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I showed this to Muzz and he pointed out that the AI created a better flow with the pose and eyes than both my painting and the reference. In the AI image, the torso, neck, and head all bend at an increasing angle.

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The eye pose is also better in the AI image than my painting or the ref. Out of the three, it feels the most natural. The eyes lead the head, which leads the neck, which leads the torso. I was too focused on fiddling with the texture brush to notice this. But this is the kind of stuff I'm talking about when saying we ought to be using AI as a learning tool. You can bet I'm going to be thinking more about this kind of flow in the positioning of the torso, neck, and head from now on.

The main issues I see in your girl painting are:

-Too much of the whites of the eyes are showing, making her look a bit surprised/alarmed. This can be remedied by enlarging the irises (which also helps her look more innocent/cuter, if you don't mind that), or closing down her eyes a bit.

-Her bottom lip is significantly thinner than her upper lip, to the point of creating the illusion she might be sucking in her bottom lip or biting down on it with her upper teeth.

-Not enough definition to the teeth that are showing, making it seem like her upper front teeth are very long and coming all the way down and touching her bottom teeth or her bottom teeth are very long and protruding way up and touching her upper lips. Neither is ideal if attractiveness is part of the goal.

It's interesting that you're utilizing AI to help you in that way. A lot of artists find it disheartening how AI-generated art has advanced so far in just the last few years that they are spitting out results that are better than vast majority of the artists can do. But we're also seeing a lot of backlash against AI art in the general population now, so in a way it's nice to know that must people don't like the idea of AI generated art, regardless of how good it looks, knowing that it's just machine learning stealing bits and pieces and sensibilities from countless artists, while taking away jobs from real human being artists it's stealing from. So your approach is basically being smart about the whole thing. Use it to your advantage, while the result is still through human artistic sensibility, but aided by AI who did a lot of R&D on your behalf. Whether this is seen as cheating or just being resourceful will probably be debated, but at least it's an attempt to take the weapon used against you and making it working for you instead.

As for the common enemy creature design, I agree that the arms with that extra segment looks odd and unconvincing. If this was my design and I was troubleshooting it, I would ask myself why that extra red segment of the limb needs to exist, and why the forearm design seems to include the deltoid as if a whole arm was ripped out of a body and then reattached to that red segment (but also strangely missing the elbow)? Why is the red segment missing the muscle mass it seems to need to control the very long and heavy-looking forearm? Does it make sense? If not, are there better ways to achieve an interesting design that elicits the desired response from my audience?

When I do creature design, because I'm also a writer/storyteller, I always first ask myself what purpose does this creature serve in the story. What am I trying to achieve with it that will enhance the story? How this creature came to be and why did it grow/evolve the way it did? The design elements have to make logical sense in the context of its typical habitat, it's diet, its hunting/gathering methods, its social hierarchy, its survival tactics, and its overall environment in a larger sense. If you study enough evolutionary biology, you'll see patterns of how and why different creatures evolved the way they do, and then combine that with the history or robotics, there are also patterns of how scientists utilize lessons they learned from nature and applying them to robot, prosthetic, and biomechanical designs. These things become internalized so you can call upon them when coming up with effective and interesting new designs. With every design element, simply ask yourself, why does this element exist in this way? Is it logical and feasible based on the criteria of presented by mother nature and the principles of biomechanical design? Are there better ways to do it?
Lunatique: Good points on the portrait. I would have done better to go closer to the actual face the AI 'suggested', but at the time, I just... didn't like the look of that face. Haha.

Regarding the public reception of AI, it seems like there are some holdout places where people will defend artists. I have had the general impression that it's not an important issue to people, unfortunately. That's one reason I made a hard switch to working on a game project. Not just that AI can create images that people are satisfied with, but that a huge crowd of people never respected art or artists.

In some way, there's a social aspect to this, too. I know two people who were artists who switched over to making games, and I can see it working for them. One of them released a visual novel and got way more traction with that than he did with just his art. Now his art is a part of something, so people care about it. Generally, people don't care about art/artists/artistic skill, they care about the stuff it's a part of -- movies, comics, games. I guess it's obvious in hindsight.

Started to model out the common enemy dude. This guy isn't textured yet, so pardon the all-blackness. I've also changed things a bit from the concept.

You guys were right that beefing up the mutant arms looks better. I'm also trying to use these reflective black eyes, because they're spooky, and because using different eye colors might help to give different enemies flavor, at some later point.

I considered giving him individual teeth and all that, but I'm worried about introducing too many polys. This guy will be getting spammed all over the place. So my idea is to paint some gnarly gross stuff for his mouth, like it's been sealed off by the evil red goop. If that still looks bad later, I'll try adding some teeth here and there. I also tested painting alpha masks on the clothing, which is fortunately pretty easy. I've got one battery in his noggin, and I'll duplicate that after texturing it.

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Part way through texturing my dude. I shifted more towards the green zombie look. Normal flesh tones weren't really that spooky/monster looking.

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Thank you for the backstory behind the girl painting. The increasingly steep angles plus the eye direction make a lot of sense indeed. With the eyes to the left I interpreted her as being surprised and distracted in the middle of something else, which also makes sense in the middle of a story.

Zombie dude is starting to look creepy alright :) Can Godot apply LOD natively? You could show the teeth and other details only when one is close enough to the camera/eye.

Agreed that fundamental architectural code benefits from careful planning but... sometimes you can't go around testing a dozen different solutions as "doodles" before you decide on one and polish it, because no one but the veteran coders know in advance what exactly is needed in a relatively standard configuration. There's a limit to theory, is what I mean, and we want to see stuff running to fully realize what's going on.

Leo: That's good thinking. I heard a recent version of Godot introduced automatic LOD. I didn't look into it much until today. Manually hiding entire chunks of mesh is a good idea as well. But even with that taken into consideration, I think it would still be pretty ordinary to have 30-60 of these guys right in front of you on screen. They are a melee swarm enemy after all. So I'm just going to play it safe.

I pretty much blasted through the rest of the texturing of this guy. Even got rigging done. I thought that would take multiple days for some reason. I think previous attempts with weight painting have gone somewhat wrong. Haha. There might be some minor adjustments to make with the weight paints so I'm going to keep my eyes open for clipping and such while I do some animations.

Other than that, I'm going to take tomorrow off from anything related to this project. Maybe take a try at another portrait. We'll see.

There's a really great vid on weight painting in Blender. If anyone out there has been having issues or tried it once and bounced off, this is where I learned the trick to it. It's all about using the smear tool rather than draw, blur, or average 90% of the time.

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Awesome model, anatomy looks great and you nailed the yes with the previous post... definitely has that creepy vibe you were going for, so its well done in that regard. Keep going!

Stress level hit 11/10 recently so I took a bit of a break. Getting back into it now.

Got this dude rigged and doing some shambling, running, sprinting. These are the toughest anims, I think.


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