Pirate Ship, The Making of

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When I started this project I didn’t really have a definitive idea about how it was going to look in the end, just that the main theme would be pirates and that I’d put the entire scene into UDK. For style I chose to go for a more stylized rather than realistic approach. For inspiration on how to achieve this, I looked at games like Myst, Monkey Island, Morrowind, WoW…

Since it was to be in a game engine, at first I concentrated mainly on props that can be reused all throughout the scene – crates, bottles, jugs, lamps, barrels, the usual pirate stuff. As the project progressed, it seemed like a good idea to divide the space into sort of a storage area to the back and a comfy captain corner to the front, but still maintain an unkept, dusty feel to it. Needless to say, some of the initial props didn’t make it to the final project and some new ones were introduced.

A big “Thank you!” goes to my mentor, Matthew Massier, who supervised me all during this project and pushed me to add more and more details and props and paint every texture by hand – it was challenging, but I learned a lot.

I’m quite happy and proud that one of the presentation shots was awarded with a Daily Deviation on deviantArt and it received very good feedback. The community’s support meant a lot to me.

A few of the renders can also be seen in the puzzle game Captain Backwater (PC/Mac/Linux, iOS, Android), a fun brain teaser with challenging gameplay and awesome music.

One of the renders has been used for a photo-manipulation by the talented photographer Jordi Pelegri.

One of the renders was used as a background for a video telling the mysterious story of the Oak Island Treasure put together by the team at McWilliams Innovation Centre, School District 23. Coincidentally the story was the main source of inspiration for one of my favorite books, Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, so do take a look at it – it will shiver ye timbers.

One other project is in progress.


But enough stories, let me show you how I did build everything. The modeling part was done in Softimage (XSI), the texturing in Photoshop and the final images were created using Unreal Matinee. I found that UDK’s shaders did a pretty good job at getting me the style I was looking for, so for some of the props I only created diffuse maps and generated the bump, transparency, specular ones in the engine itself.

My scene ended up a little geometry heavy with 31,916 tris for individual props and a total of 71,210 tris for the entire thing, including the instances.

Here are some screen captures from UDK showing the wireframes, diffuse only and light and shadow information for the two main areas of the scene. (Click on the images to get full res version, please.)












This is the fly-through.

These are the sheets for some of the props in the scene (the wireframes are screen captured from Softimage).









Some time after finishing the project I had the opportunity of polishing up in Photoshop one of the renders. Here is the result. (Full resolution at 2048×1170)

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