Art Post: MagicaVoxel Project Part 2

Part I of this tutorial can be found here

Hey folks,

So in the previous project I was looking at the concept and ideation stage of a MagicaVoxel project, and today I've been looking at chipping away at the core/central assets on the project as well as looking at multiple ideas to do with rendering, lighting and fog usage.

 

MagicaVoxel features some interesting tools to allow you to do this; giving you the power to set specific materials as emissive, glass or metallic instead of the typical diffuse. The renderer also enables you to adjust the camera projection and fog settings over the Sky/Sun lights - keeping in mind that fog scattering will not be enabled with orthographic projection. 

I started working on the lighthouse, working from the base to the top. Keeping with our references, I identified some key components that needed to be replicated with this concept that make it immediately recognizable. 

I started working on the lighthouse, working from the base to the top. Keeping with our references, I identified some key components that needed to be replicated with this concept that make it immediately recognizable. 

The start of today's effort is focused on building out the lighthouse, which is one of our hero assets for this scene. I replicated the stripes and base of the reference photos, giving them a weathering effect to help keep consistency with the overall theme. To help instill a sense of age and erosion, or destruction, I started setting out some beams and exposed bricks on the bottom - the idea is that this lighthouse is an appropriated derelict building on the verge of collapse. One of the important elements of this is to focus on large changes and consistent visual elements, such as the spacing of the beams, to take advantage of the block nature of voxels - they lend themselves really well to straight and repetitive patterns.

I lit the scene up a bit more to make it easier to see the rendered results, and started adding more exposed cabling and parts around the construct.

I lit the scene up a bit more to make it easier to see the rendered results, and started adding more exposed cabling and parts around the construct.

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Working my way up from the base my focus lies on establishing visual styles behind the wood and stone constructs, as well as paying attention to adding panels and some wooden beams. The overall concept here is that the inhabitants have rebuilt the lighthouse to make it a docking station for airships; to make the piers and wooden constructs more visible I'm patterning them distinctly different from the stones/bricks themselves.

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Testing some quick concepts with free-perspective and orthographic cameras, I'm look at what some directions might be interesting for the scene - such as a radioactive pool, or a low-level water draped over the lower half of the scene. Exploring these is quick and dirty, but they allow me to get a sense of any potential avenues to take and pivot before I commit further into the scene. The important part here is working non-destructively; the layer with water/emissives is actually a separate world object, enabling me to quickly change or delete it.

As usual, assets in the scene are split up according to materials, animations or prominence. The blue 'sea' object is a single tile layer that enables me to control the elevation and shape of that object independently from overall project assets - however keep in mind palette changes propagate across all objects; if you make 'blue' color assigned to glass, that same colored tile on all objects will change accordingly.. 

As usual, assets in the scene are split up according to materials, animations or prominence. The blue 'sea' object is a single tile layer that enables me to control the elevation and shape of that object independently from overall project assets - however keep in mind palette changes propagate across all objects; if you make 'blue' color assigned to glass, that same colored tile on all objects will change accordingly.. 

Focusing back onto the lighthouse, it's time to wrap up most of the general details. I've looked at adding a docking pier, antennas and the lighting-housing area (pun intended) to finish the lighthouse itself. Whilst I would prefer to actually have a lot more detail, and even more neon-lights, I wanted to move onto the other parts of the scene - ideally, with more time on the project, I'd probably x2 the voxel count and separate all of the assets into more pieces.  

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The final touches on the lighthouse itself are in adding pieces that help push the overall narrative further; such as fuel-tanks on the side of the building and docking piers. It's important to think about the building as if it existed in a real-world and how it may function. Some compositional errors however become evident, such as too much density on the pier area and visual overlap that's causing the overall shape to feel cluttered. Because of the constraints of working with blocks and voxels, ensuring that there's some sense of readability is quite important.

I'm currently also working on a GameJam with Joshua Boggs and Gerard Delaney, so time is a little bit constrained - but I hope this tutorial is of some help!

Part 3 will be out in a couple of days to tackle the backdrop buildings and the vehicle.

 

Emre Deniz