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The Story so Far

The Story so Far

Adam Eli
by AdamEli on 10 Apr 2023 for Rookie Awards 2023

The work that I'm the most proud of through my time at Gnomon with only one term remaining

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Not Quite My Tempo

"Not Quite my Tempo" is my second demo reel project made in Unreal 5. This was my own original concept that I was inspired to make after watching the movie Whiplash at the end of the term before. I wanted to make an interior enviorment that would display the plight of the obsessed artist. A horribly messy room with the object of obsession being pristine and main focus of this piece and the artist's life. I had a lot of fun making little easter eggs of my real life throughout this project. Whether it be the hand writing on a notebook paper texture about real things happening in my life, or a Pink Floyd's "The Wall" poster on the wall because that's my friend Dakota's favorite album and he helped my sanity so much throughout this project. What was important in my head while making this project was to make an environment that I would want to explore if I was playing the game. When I play games I spend objectively too much time just looking at small props and little story elements while avoiding combat.

I finished this project over a period of six weeks- the last two weeks were editing a lot of the lighting and adding finishing grime details. 

A lot of making this scene was trying to make as few props as possible without noticable repitition. When it came to the chinese food and pizza boxes- I assumed that the person living here would order from the same place over and over and when it came to the posters I only had 3 models but 6 materials. Because of this project; I learned that drum kits are really just that- kits, so depening on the drummer they will have different setups and a different amount of pieces. I ended up using shipping boxes to make the center table because when one of my cousins moved into her first apartment out of college she did the same and while I'm sure it wasn't ideal for her at the time I feel like it really communicates a story- I didn't realize how expensive furniture was when I moved out and frankly I still think that paying over $100 for a table is absurd.

For this project I made several tilable materials in Substance Designer that made this project a lot more personalized. I learned a lot about designer in this project and patterns in general. I actually made the quilt texture before even starting on this project in my free time because I wanted to push my eye when it came to patterns and my understanding of substance designer as a whole.


"Swampland" was my first demo reel project, based off the stunning concept by 榴莲班. For this project it was important to me to create the illustrative nature of the concept in 3D and it really pushed to learn a lot about lighting and capturing the mood of the environment. 

This project as whole helped me a lot with my skills in Speedtree, Substance Designer, and Niagra. My final video was technically my final for VFX for games with Roy Yamaguchi- he was a big help with the smoke and the embers on the trees that are decals that use a panner over the emissive amount and color. When it came to substance designer I had most of my experience in it making walls or geometric patterns, so sitting down with the intention of making a tiling bark texture really helped me to look at the shapes in nature and try to replicate that to my best ability- along with the ground texture. In the end both of those things are very dark and downloading a tilable would've saved me some time but it wasn't really about that- I wanted to challenge myself and learn more about the designer workflow to make something I did end up using again in a future project. Overall this project was a lot of fun to work on because I loved looking at the concept so much that making it almost felt like building a puzzle but I had to make all the pieces myself.


This was my final for my Character for Games class at Gnomon- taught by Damon Woods. Damon was such an amazing and supportive instructor that even though my goal is to be an environment artist I really loved the entire process of bringing this guy to 3d. This character was based on a concept by Michael Mowat he put so many little details into the design that made this project so exciting. My favorite part overall was texturing this guy- I ended up hand painting all of the skin textures because I had a very specific look for what I wanted and it was a lot of fun to just zone in for a couple days and get an outcome that I was really proud of. Adding all of the little scars and tattoos really built a story in my head of who this was. Most difficult was definately getting the haircards done- looking at the concept I could tell this guy only had one stringy layer of hair and even that was a challenge just because I hadn't done it before and severly underesstimated how much time it would take. While making characters aren't my preference I would love the oppertunity to make something like this again.

What Remains

For my final in my digital sets class I wanted to make something huge just because up until that point I hadn't felt like I had. I love scenes that are completely encapsulated by nature- in this scene for me the most fun part was sculpting all of the mushrooms- just adding that gross and gritty detail was a lot of fun. This was the last project that I made in Unreal Engine 4 and I think one day switching it over to five and adding things that I've learned since then would be a great time. 

Because I was making this in UE4 on my at home computer optimization was important just to make sure I could open the file in less than an hour. The image above has a breakdown of my process in making sure that this scene could be flown around in-engine. 

What Lies Beyond

For my third Demo Reel project I wanted to make something outside of my comfort zone and usual style so i decided to go with a concept from a Retro Futurist artist named Robert McCall. I've admired his work for a while so while picking a concept from his many collections wasn't easy, knowing I wanted to bring one of his works to 3D was a no-brainer. 

A lot of time of this piece was dedicated to matching the "utopia" energy of the original concept. As someone who loves adding grime to a scene to make it feel lived in- I knew I couldn't do that for this scene, so I had to add story another way. 

My workaround for adding some human factors of it is a detail that only I really care about. Humans notoriously hate walking in straight lines and city planners often forget about that when it comes to designing areas with grass. Around the main fountain of the city center I added "desired paths" meaning that yes there is pavement in certain areas but because of use grass has stopped growing in certain areas to show where the citizens cut corners to save time on their walks. Adding little sprinkles of the human experience is what really makes environment creation fun for me, even in a scene that is a utopia- humans will leave their mark. 

I still have 2 more projects planned for my time at Gnomon, but coming from high school to the foundation program to the BFA has been a wild four years. Since starting at Gnomon my skills have grown exponentially and I've met lifelong friends and built such a strong community that I wouldn't trade for the world. All of my instructors at Gnomon have been so helpful and so kind when it comes to sharing their experiences in the industry and things that they've learned along the way, I'm constantly inspired by everyone I come into contact with at Gnomon and while I'm sad to leave soon, I feel like I've been well prepared for the next phase of my life. 

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