Friday, 16 March 2012

Normal mapping

After an incredible amout of work, I've been able to get my model to convert to a subdivision from a polygon, allowing me to add extra detail in Mudbox. I prefer working in Mudbox to Maya, as with my Wacom monitor/tablet it creates a very natural feeling interface to model with.

The normal mapping process will affect the UV mapping, so the maps will have to be redrawn- it was already my objective to upgrade and reskin the model but now its a necessity. The useful part of this process is that I can take this very high poly model as a normal map within Maya, allowing me to keep the poly count down on my already loooong renders.

I have also been thinkig about the composition of the pictures I wanted to create, and will be working to improve the backgrounds in texturing mostly. Now that I have mental ray rendering working again I can start to use some of the advanced materials within there to make the environments much more interesting.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Not work but work

For another course, where I have been tasked with creating an animation. For practice and for a much smoother output I have decided to use maya to create backgrounds for this hand drawn animation. Even if I simply use these renders to paint over they will be invaluable in keeping continuity between scenes.

The above shot was created quickly using a simple schematic of a Douglas DC-3 found through google images, with reflective textures added. Although the shot is missing several important features, like windows or landing gear, it lets me see the correct placement of shadows and reflections in the aeroplane's surface.

This may not seem entirely useful for my current project of Lucy and The Blunderbus, but it shows how quickly a model can be created and how much of it can rely on the correct texturing of said model. Despite the 2 million odd blades of grass, the reflective textures and the 2 hour (I'm not lying) render the picture is absolutely wrong looking. It's a good thing I'm planning to paint over it

The Blunderbus

The Blunderbus had a character design far more complex than what I ended up with, with many areas being dropped for simplicity. One aspect, for instance, were his fingers - which were supposed to fold out of his arms to create his hands. This was entirely dropped for time but now I can focus on actually getting them modelled correctly.

His elbows and knees both suffered as well. In the design phase I created joints for his arms to move on but again had to resort to simple spheres to fill in.

A very early design that featured a few elements dropped for time. THEY WILL RETURN
It's been a while since an update so I will do my best to get everyone up to date :)

My models came out reasonably successfully for the first semester, but they do need work for semester 2, so first I will outline my objectives here before talking about progress.


I like the Lucy model I created but I am not entirely happy with the finished result. My main weakness when starting this project was the modelling side of the characters, as I had never managed to create an organic model before. However, by focusing on creating an acceptable 3d model I have ignored one of my skills at texturing.

Although I am happy to have created an organic humanoid model the texturing on the hair and clothes is very basic

Lucy will be getting a makeover to reduce topological errors, such as triangles and polygons that share vertexes, but the modelling side of this character is pretty much complete. Lucy's final model featured simple specular and bump maps - but these are what I am targeting for improvement in this semester. These include the file problems that caused broken connections most of the time when importing or opening the file on other computers than my own. One aspect of correction with topology will be for normal maps to increase the detail on her tracksuit and facial features.

The Blunderbus

Because the main objective of the project was to create an organic character the protector character of The Blunderbus (Don't know if I've explained on this blog, but he's named after a camper van my dad used to torture the family with - the point being that it was an ex-ambulance that was not built for the job but kept us safe anyway) was largely ignored. The model was very simple at the best of times and because of the focus on modelling Lucy he was left with many placeholder elements - the feet, for example, are simple pyramids that I meant to upgrade but ran out of time for by hand in. These are one of the  many modelling based examples that the blunderbus needs.

I have to admit this model came out far worse than I hoped.
So I feel that by focusing on improving weaknesses I have actually failed myself by not allowing myself to use my strengths to improve characters. I have always been good at making mechanical models, but did not allow myself to model the Blunderbus successfully because I wanted to improve skills in other areas. I have been texturing for ages but did not allow myself to use my full skills because I was too busy concentrating on skills that I had not learned yet.

With another semester to improve my models I am hoping to improve where I failed by allowing myself to use my skills.