After feeling stumped on my first draft of my children’s book, I decided to share it with a couple teachers I know and got some great feedback and additional resources. One of those resources is the California Standard on Math for Kindergarten ( http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/K/introduction/ ). I had no idea what kids know at that age, and this gives me some great guidelines! It also made me realize that my book could be a teaching tool as well!
I also spent some time watching some Maya modeling videos. I really love the cartoony look for props, and since I am limited on resources, I figured I would start modeling some things myself.
I’ve also began to build out pieces of my game. I used the template for the ThirdPersonController project that Unreal has to get some character movement. I also started working on some UI and collisions in my environment. Still thinking a lot about how to use this space and incorporate #STEAM principles.
I finally got Mitzy’s shop to a place where I felt like I was ready to test out my theory – I could use this same environment for my game and the children’s book.
The initial concept for the children’s book was someone would come to Mitzy’s shop needing help making something. Mitzy then would make the item and during this process various STEAM concepts would be introduced (problem solving, numbers, counting, iterating, etc.) As I started to actually write it and mock up some screenshots for the images it quickly became complicated and boring, more like a How-To & Step by Step instead of a story.
Finding that balance between fun & STEAM concepts will be key. The children’s book will be an introduction into this world. The game and any play along videos will be more hands on and educational.
Below are some images I put together for the book – I was thinking of starting each book with various items that Mitzy makes.
Mitzy was making something practical in this story – I want to push the things she is making to be much more whimsical and fun. I got through about 10 pages for this draft and realized it wasn’t right. Back to the drawing board!
Made some more progress in Mitzy’s space. The area’s I’ve been working on lately feel more cohesive and not a kit bash of assets. Hoping to make her whole space to feel like this. Definitely will need to revisit the earlier areas I worked on.
Did some searching on stock.adobe.com for free assets and found some planets and a space shuttle! Making sure to incorporate all aspects of STEAM into her space.
I’m continuing to incorporate various elements to expose kids to concepts and items that they will continue to see in STEAM. The Utah Teapot, A space shuttle, a powerful PC, and a green screen are a few of those elements.
The Utah Teapot was the first CG element I rendered at UCSD with my own ray tracer and it is widely used in the Graphics community. The Utah Teapot has various elements that allows it to be a great test for initial rendering and lighting. Computer Graphics was one of the hardest and rewarding classes I took at UCSD – It pushed me in the right direction and I knew this is where I wanted to be.
I’ve been spending the past couple days playing around a bit more with the look and feel. The hard part about using the Epic marketplace is trying to achieve consistency between all the assets. I would still like everything to be a bit more cartoony but I am trying to do as much as I can in the engine (simplifying materials, playing with scale, etc).
I was also distracted by my terrible modeling skills, so I gave Mitzy another pass.
I grabbed the ArchVizInterior Ray tracing project to play a bit with colors and lighting to see if that is the best approach for the children’s book. I didn’t spend any time trying to reduce the noise in the shadows, but it is on my list of things to keep exploring this week.
I continued working on Mitzy’s Maker space today. I started thinking about how she would move in the space and how is should be organized.
In the middle of working on this, I realized it would be helpful if I had a CG Model of Mitzy to place around and figure out the scale of this world. I made a rough one in Maya just to help me get a better idea of her size – She is small but mighty! (Mitzy will eventually be modeled by a professional, but until then…)
My first goal for this project is to begin building the world. I’m using Unreal Engine ( https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/ ) for this project. I can use CG assets purchased from the Epic Marketplace to build out the environments. The goal is to expand the children’s book into a play along app. Creating all of this in Unreal initially will allow me to easily create the app.
First, I browse to see if I can find assets that fit the look and feel I am going for. This is going to be a fun and vibrant world, but still practical. I start importing all of the asset packs that I think will be useful.
Had fun curating all the assets I am going to use. Hoping to nail down the layout soon so I can start decorating.