A New Home Blog #3 Coming Along

Work In Progress / 15 April 2023

What’s up everyone!

It has been a while since I’ve updated on this, but I’ve been chipping away at it in my free time. There’s more work to be done, but I am happy with how everything is coming along. Right now, when I look at the scene it feels barren and not as mountainous as I would like. I will be taking another pass at sculpting rocks and adding more rocks to the scene and adding mountains in the background. I also feel like I’m missing a bit of a storytelling element and I want to give that some love.

Here's how everything has changed since my last update:


A New Home - Blog #2 Bit by Bit

Work In Progress / 04 February 2022

Hey everyone! Back with an update. I’ve been able to get back into a bit of a groove working on this. 

I spent some modeling out props for the environment and tweaking the lighting here and there. I was able to get snow set up in Substance Designer and Unreal. There is a great tutorial by Jacob Norris - Forest Snow Ground Tutorial https://purepolygons.gumroad.com/l/Tut-FGS-all?recommended_by=library. It has been super helpful especially in furthering my knowledge on how blueprints work in Unreal and setting up shaders. I’m going to continue tweaking the snow and improving that to how I want over the course of the environment because it is going to need some work along with the terrain.  

I was also able to create a Cherry Blossom Tree for the background behind the shrine. SpeedTree was new to me, but I found it easy to get the hang of everything and there was another very helpful tutorial in Artstation Learning. It’s called Tree Production Using Speedtree with Dekogon and Kat Yang does the Tutorial. It was awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs an introduction to SpeedTree   https://www.artstation.com/learning/instructors/dekogon-studios

It helped seeing where I left off because sometimes I felt I wasn't making enough progress. It helped to put things in perspective comparing my current state to where I left off at. There is still more work to be done, but I am excited to push further.

Old State

Current State

Since my last blog post I had started my first freelance opportunity in August and I finished up in November. I am extremely thankful to get my first opportunity in the industry and since then I was able to get back into this project and pick things up. I have different milestones set for this environment which helped sooooo much in picking things back up. Progress is Progress. Enjoy your wins no matter how big or small! This next phase of the environment is what I enjoy the most and that is sculpting. I want to try and be a bit more in-depth in the next update.




A New Home - Blog #1 Blockout

General / 06 August 2021

Hey what’s up everyone!! I’ve been back at it working on a new scene. It is more themed around feudal Japan and focuses on a mysterious shrine in the mountains. I was inspired by this concept Hearth and Home by Grady Frederick. The composition, mood, and colors are just awesome and completely resonated with me. 


Hearth and Home by Grady Frederick - https://www.artstation.com/artwork/1zObe

I love to keep decent amount shots that keep me inspired and serve as a reminder of the mood I want to convey through the environment. I just think it’s so important to convey emotion through my work and to make people feel something or connect with it.

I am a HUUUGE fan of cinematographer Bradford Young because of how personal and grounded/natural his shots feel. I feel like I kind of carry that with me when I’m thinking about the framing of my shots or composition.




One area I really struggled with a bit was deciding what the shrine represented. I didn’t want it to just be a regular shrine that people just make the journey to visit. This shrine must represent some quality or blessing that people would travel all through the dangerous snowy mountains just to worship and pay respects. Considering it’s such a focal point in my project I want that to stand out the most. After doing some research it started to hit me that having it represent a deity would really help and it gave me much more ideas on the storytelling aspect of my environment. I could push that a bit further.

I had a lot of references of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples even more than what I had on the Pureref below, but I condensed it down to the Shinto shrines I found more interesting because it did feel a bit overwhelming. It made it much easier to choose the features I loved the most.

The block out went through a few stages and I’m thankful for all the feedback I received at this stage. This is probably the first time where I didn’t feel as stressed over the block-out stage. I tried something new where instead of just modeling the environment in Maya and going back and forth updating the scene. I instead created Blockout models of what I thought would be important to the environment and I imported them into Unreal and kind of grey boxed the environment out. Kind of how Tim Simpson did in his tutorial https://youtu.be/4wziE0AYCoo

It felt a little more freeing

As I move forward on the scene the one thing I see being challenging is something I love doing and that is sculpting 😂. Sculpting rocks and little statues are new to me so it should be exciting. I set little milestones throughout the project as well to keep me motivated in case I feel I’m not making progress, or I get frustrated. Any reminder to kind of show how far you've come helps so much because those moments of frustration happen. I’ve been learning to just be patient about certain things.  It has been awesome learning about Japanese culture and I'm sure I will learn even more by the end of the project. This is has been exciting to work on! I hope you got an insight into how I work.

Until next time!


Castle Gate - Sculpting Fun

General / 03 June 2021

What's up everyone!

Very recently I finished this sculpt up and it felt good to just step away and just make some art just for the fun and because I enjoy sculpting. Playing Resident Evil: Village got me really hyped to the point where I really wanted to make something related to it.

Also, another big inspiration is Ivanna Littschwagers sculpts https://www.artstation.com/iliittschwager. Her style is just awesome and always loved how grounded, detailed, and moody her final rendered sculpts are presented.

I plan on getting back to making environments really soon. I've been doing a lot of brainstorming and reference gathering for my next environment but sometimes I like to just step away watch some tutorials and give my mind a mental breather from time to time. I'm kinda glad I took a little break because I've been on and off with brainstorming my next environment, but each time I came back to it with a fresh mind and I'm really excited to start on that.

A little progress gif below because every project starts somewhere and goes through changes. A little something I wanna add is that I remember when I first opened up Zbrush and was completely overwhelmed, but remember to keep at it if you enjoy doing it because it'll come together eventually.


Last Of Us Inspired Blog #4: Final Reflection

General / 08 February 2021

Hey everyone! I wanted to kind of bring it all to a close. Working on this environment has been a rewarding experience it had its up and downs. Honestly, there were points early in the project where I legit questioned myself if I should keep working on it, but I stuck with it in the end. I think we all get those feelings from the time to time, but if you love it keep going for it and stick with it.  The down moments will happen, but not to give you the cliché response there really is a 'light at the end of the tunnel'. I had a lot of help along the way from my Mentor Jobye Karmaker and Beyond Extent, EXP, and DiNusty discords. I couldn’t be more thankful because a lot of that feedback/tips helped improve this scene. I accomplished some goals of mine and took in a lot of knowledge on this project to carry forward.

I want to trust my gut a bit more next time around. There were some ideas earlier in the project that I tried out and probably should have stuck with because ultimately, I ended up coming back to them. I want to be more efficient/cleaner with my workflow which I know will save me much more time in the future and most importantly it is good practice. On the next project, I would like to make block-outs a fun/enjoyable thing to do because for me that’s probably the most frustrating part of the process.

Something I struggle with so much is accepting making mistakes. Everything’s got to be perfect, but that’s why I like to reflect on projects after I finish because there are always positives to take away and things for me to improve on, it was something I picked up on from school. We used to do these analyses after projects so you can assess what went right and wrong. I always thought they were useful. I highly recommend always keeping track of your progress just so you have that reminder of where you improved and started.

I would like to be a bit more consistent with writing up blogs in the future, usually what happens in my case is that I get so locked in on what I'm working on that I tend to push them off. Funny enough after working on a scene with a guitar, I am learning how to play the guitar no joke lol. Until the next project! Peace!


Last of Us Inspired Environment: Blog #2

General / 25 September 2020

What’s up everyone! It has been a while since that last blog. I hit a few road bumps along the way, but I’ve made a good amount of progress.

Working on the Knife was a little exciting because it allowed me to try out some new techniques from this Military Radio tutorial by Simon Fuchs https://gumroad.com/l/spEkf. I still have not finished the tutorial, but it seriously has been such a helpful and awesome tutorial. I have learned so many little new tips/techniques about Maya and Zbrush that have been extremely helpful.

One cool neat trick that I learned is in the Deformation tab of Zbrush. The Polish, Polish By Features, and Polish Crisp Edges are nice if you are trying to get a nice smooth/rounded effect on your edges depending on the prop you are working on.

Take this screw on the knife for example below. With whatever look you are going for you can use the sliders to adjust how smooth you want the edges to be. Even ticking the little circle can give you a different look.

Another cool tip is using the Mask By Feature which will mask out the edges. With using the Mask, you can control which edges you want to be smoothed in case you do not want them to all be smoothed out. You can Grow the Masks, Sharpen them, Blur them, and Shrink them. Ultimately it all comes down to the desired you look you want, but it was super cool to me to see all these different ways you can go about creating the desired look you want. There is no one specific way you must do something which is awesome. Just have some fun and mess up from time to time and figure out what works for you. I really wanted to get back to bringing some fun to the art.

Old Foliage

Update Foliage

Since the last blog I’ve done a little update on the foliage, but I’m going to spend some time improving all of that as I’m working on texturing the props in my scene.

This is just a small update on how the texturing is coming along. Nothing final, but I am so excited to do some more work.

These were some super helpful tutorials about foliage. I would have been so hesitant to try a lot of this stuff in the past, but I am starting to see the fun of just diving into the unknown.

https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Z4v5N by Peyton Varney

https://gumroad.com/l/levelup_blueberry?recommended_by=library by Patrick Gladys

https://gumroad.com/l/vuUUX?recommended_by=library by Karen Stanley

I get so locked into projects sometimes and in the future, I would like to try and be more consistent with showing my process. I think the next blog will be more of a post-mortem of the project and how the texturing process progressed. I usually take a few days after finishing a project to assess what worked well and what did not. This kind of carried over from school and I would highly recommend doing it.  It helps just to see what you learned and what you can carry over to the next project and what needs to be improved for the next. I'm going to spend a little more time on the presentation stage than I normally do because I think sometimes I get in a rush to finish, but if you spent all this time working on it you owe it to yourself to make sure you hit the finish line going strong and your project is the best it can be. 

Until next time!!


Last of Us Inspired Environment: Blog #1

General / 20 July 2020

What is up everybody!! It has been a while since I have done a blog, but I am excited to get back to it. I took a bit of break from environments. This next scene I am working on is Last of Us inspired and I wanted to improve my work with composition, storytelling, and texturing. The most important thing for me is this is something I am passionate about. Usually, my work in the past has been stylized, but I am excited to do something realistic. Earlier this year I was messing around with foliage and it was something I enjoyed so I wanted to start incorporating that into my work a little more.

One of the biggest inspirations behind this little scene was this concept by Vin Hill https://www.artstation.com/artwork/dx3wW. I loved the composition, but also the relaxing, calming mood behind it. It still conveys the abandoned post-apocalyptic feel in the environment. I always loved how nature comes back and just reclaims the environment.

With this environment, I wanted to explore more of a depressive and colder tone. I wanted to fit more in line with the mood I felt from Last of Us 2.

In the beginning I initially wanted to do a diorama, but it just was not clicking. I decided to just focus on a small scene with one shot. I would rather focus on just that and make it the best it can be. I have a bad habit of over-planning. I realized I kind of got away with it in my last environment A Captain’s Peace. I am realizing that I should do my usual reference gathering and prep, but at a certain point I need to cut it off and just get to work. Things change, some ideas just do not work. In the Block-Out phase I need to allow myself to try new things and make mistakes. The phase where I should be a little looser and have some fun, I can be too rigid at times. Welcome the mistakes and remember to have fun.


Something on the side that I love doing is looking at cinematography and how shots are framed. Just the very way a shot is framed can communicate a feeling or emotion. When you combine it with the environment, the storytelling, characters, etc. It is simply amazing to me how it all comes together cohesively to make you ‘FEEL’ something.

I wanted to share some of my favorite shots from Movies and T.V shows. I started my own little cinematography library of shots that inspire me. It is kind of my own little creative activity that gets me excited. I think we all get our inspiration from so many different things and you just got to figure out what works for you. Art is everywhere.

Mr. Robot

Mission Impossible: Fallout


Tron: Legacy

Columbus (One of the most relaxing movies I have watched)

Kill Bill Vol.1

Early this year was a bit rough on the art side. I felt like I hit a bit of burnout and I just did not have that motivation as I had in the past when creating art. Sometimes I feel like I always need to be glued to my computer doing art or something related to it 24/7, but it is just not healthy. To kind of break that habit I started reading more. I have a newfound interest in screenwriting and how stories are created. I also recently started getting back to running again which feels great and I made it a habit to watch more movies. To put it simply, be kind to yourselves and live your lives the best you can. I know currently being in a pandemic it is hard on all of us. I am way too hard of myself and I do not realize sometimes how far I have come. I say to whoever is reading this be kind to yourself and remember where you started and the potential of where you can go. Being patient with the process is something I am still struggling with. Just remember to take things day by day. Whatever bit of progress you make matters. You will face an issue on a current project, but when you get to that next project you will be ready to knock that problem out of the park because you are improving. 

In my next steps on the environment, I wanted to do a first pass on the foliage and get a feel for how it’s going to look in the scene and start working on the main models of the scene that are the focal point which will be the Chair, Guitar, and the Knife.

Stay safe everyone! Until next time.


Pirate Environment Blog #4 - Sculpting

General / 16 July 2019

It has been a while since I did an update, but I overcame a challenge of mine that I knew was going to be the big hurdle and that was sculpting. This was my first time incorporating ZBrush into my workflow and it was a little scary at first, but I just kept practicing and staying with it. I am a lot more comfortable with sculpting and I started developing a little rhythm with each model. Lol I wouldn't have even thought of touching Zbrush a year ago, but everything just takes time and learning from your mistakes. Even though I spent a little longer than I intended on this phase I know I’ll be in a better position on future projects.





Even though I've been mostly sculpting I did take some time to keep playing around with lighting and I also added some more camera angles and areas of focus when I create the cinematic in the end. I'm going to be doing some retopology and I'm really excited as I near the end of this environment. Lighting being one of my favorite aspects of creating environments, I can't wait to start texturing the models and adding the finishing touches. 

I hit a few walls working on this environment, but I was able overcome some challenges and keep pushing. Something small that helps a ton is taking a lot of progress pictures just to see how far you come working on a project. Don't be too hard on yourself because you have to start somewhere. I'm still not sure how I'm going to do the next blog. The next one, might be a big one that will wrap up the entire project or I'll separate it into two with one being the Texturing and the last one being Finishing Touches.


Pirate Environment Blog #3 - Finalized Models and Block-Out

Work In Progress / 16 May 2019

What's up everyone! I am back with another update and I've made some great progress since the last update. My environment was starting to take the shape and tone I wanted to hit so I started putting more focus on finalizing and improving the models in my environment. Just having different references to look at helped a ton when creating the models. While I was doing this I still took time to improve the lighting and the block-out where it was needed.

Since my last update, I felt that the warm colors were too strong so decided to tone that down a little more because I wanted the environment to feel more calm and peaceful.

I had never used Marvelous Designer before, but it was really easy to pick up.  It is absolute magic. I used that to create the carpet, curtains, and the black flag hanging on the wall. I plan on creating a design in Substance Designer for the carpet and of course you got to have that Pirate symbol on the flag. All about the pirate life :).

Something that I kind put off to the side was the placement of some of my camera shots. I think they could still use some work and it'll be something that work to improve as I'm progressing. I wanted to create a short video going through the environment when I finish.

The candles will be lit sooooon....

I plan on creating a shader for the candle flame.

This update will conclude my work on the block-out and I am going to be doing some sculpting on some of the models which will be the focus in my future updates. It's great to see this environment come to life after some of the changes I've made. It helps a ton to get some feedback and thoughts if you're a little unsure on something. The more eyes you can get on your work the better. 


Pirate Environment Blog #2 - Block-Out

Work In Progress / 16 April 2019

What's up everyone! As of recent I've been able to put some time into the environment. Even though I haven't been able to work on it as much as I wanted to, that time has allowed me to rethink the look of the Environment. Previously I wanted to set up it with a diorama look, but I stepped away from that because didn't want it to take the focus off the Treasure Book. I wanted to keep the focus on the interior with a personal touch. I LOVE both realistic and stylized art, but I tend to lean more with stylized and its something I want to get better at with this project and in future projects.

As I was getting more models into the environment to get a sense of the spacing I started to tinker with the lighting to set the mood. I wanted the interior to feel a little more warm/intimate, but there is that subtle cool light coming from the outside that adds a little glow to the book. I'm happy with the current lighting, but it will be something I continue to improve throughout the process.


My next goals involve finalizing and improving the models and getting those prepared for ZBrush. There are some areas where the block-out could use some improvements, but I'm happy with how its coming along. I'm only in the Block-Out stage, but this environment went through many different changes from my original concept. It's okay to change something if you feel its not going the way you want. You may have some frustrations in the beginning, but it will all be worth it in the end :). My original concept was a little too big so I scaled it down to something that I really like, but also focuses on what I really found cool about the treasure book I created which was the sense of peace and wisdom I got from it. Until next time everyone! Going to continue working at it.