NCCA Innovations Project


As part of my degree at the NCCA (National Centre for Computer Animation) Bournemouth I have to deliver an 'innovations' project

The project must demonstrate my ability to critically explore experimentation and innovation in my chosen field
of study by producing an innovative and experimental piece of work and a report that contextualizes and critically analyse it.

The project may take the form of the production of an animation, the development of a piece of software or the
combination of the two. Alternatively it may be a research/inquiry project where the ‘product’ is a research report, usually in the form of a written ‘paper’.

At the end of the project I must present a report, which is a critical analysis placing the project in context and evaluating its success.

For my chosen field I have decided to investigate the use of 3D sculpting software (namely ZBrush) and it's possible uses within a jewellery design and creation pipeline. I have strong links with Oishii Jewellery, a national jeweller based in Dorset dealing in silver contemporary jewellery ( ). Over the last few years I designed their website and produced many of their marketing pieces for both on line and printed media purposes. For this project I will be working closely with them to recreate a professional pipeline project as realistically as possible to produce a final finished piece of jewellery based on my designs.

I decided early on that if I was to keep the project as 'real' as possible I would need to have a client to produce the commission for. This is where my 17 year old daughter helped out. She acted as my client and I had a number of 'meetings' (usually at the dinner table with a pen and pad to hand to jot down notes and ideas) in which we discussed her likes, hobbies, interests, etc. etc. This gave me a better understanding in regards to how I should develop my concepts.

My daughter making her dad proud in her 'Star Wars' T-Shirt and going over ideas for the jewellery piece

The concept art process was a very liberating one. I decided to produce all of the concepts as 'rough sketches' in ZBrush. I created a library of primitive ring base meshes using Maya which I could then import into ZBrush as .obj files and sculpt very quick designs and then render out extremely quickly using ZBrush 4 Release 3's newly improved BPR renderer and a custom 'silver' MatCap material I created. MatCaps are the native ZBrush material shader format. This way of working was a lot quicker than trying to convey the idea using pencil and paper and gave me a more realistic image to show the 'client'. Here are a selection of my concept designs using a simple sketch MatCap:

And here are a few using my custom silver MatCapand the new BPR renderer:

The last design is the final design my client chose to have made into a silver ring.

Raw pre-polished ring straight from the casting process.

My lovely 'soon wife to be' then worked her magic on the ring and filed away the rough edges and polished and finished the ring into its final state. I was really impressed with the speed at which she worked during this process (definitely an art form in itself). 

Libby weaves her magic during the polishing process.

And here is the finished real piece of silver jewellry (how cool is that? lol) :

 Overall it turned out great for a first attempt at this kind of work. One thing I was not 100% happy with was the quality of the ring when it came back from the company that made the cast (on further investigation I don't think I would use them again as they were not the best value for money).