Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Term 5

Another term down.  What a roller coaster this was. Lots of projects, lots of classes, and a ton of things going on outside of school that made it a bit of a rough ride. I am super happy that I finally got to really get started with characters and creatures. Let's break it down, shall we?


This class was purely lecture based, just to get us familiar with the programming language of maya. We learned the basics of mel and python and I wrote a script to save me some frustrations with modeling and rendering. If you are not a maya user, ignore this next part. ;)

In maya, whenever you import an .obj, Visible in Reflections and Refractions are off. This will cause things not to render properly. This little mel script simply grabs all polygon objects and turns it on. Feel free to use it:

string $transforms[] = `ls -tr`; //lists all the transform nodes in the scene
string $polyMeshes[] = `filterExpand -sm 12 $transforms`; //filters out all the non-polymesh nodes
select -r $polyMeshes;  //selects all the polymeshes

string $selected[] = `ls -sl`;
string $item;
for ($item in $selected)
setAttr ( $item +".visibleInReflections") true;
setAttr ( $item +".visibleInRefractions") true;

select -cl ;

Character Texturing

  Texturing is quite an involved process. We were provided a model that had cloth, metal, leather, and skin that needed to be textured. Its not just as simple as painting directly on model. You need to paint the specularity, sub-surface scattering, bump, and diffuse.

Character Kinematics

This class was all about building a proper bone structure inside a model so that when it is ready to be given to an animator, it can move, twist, and bend properly. There is a lot of little things that can go wrong with rigging so this class was very technical. I chose an awesome sheep model by Steffen 'Neox' Unger, who was kind enough to share for free. The skinning ( the way the mesh interacts with the rig) will be worked on in next term's skinning class!

Creature Sculpture

Awesome class. Week 1 was very intimidating but set the stage for the amount of hours we would need to put into our homework. My classmates could not have been more encouraging and inspiring. Once we started to see the quality that a few people put into the first couple assignments, it really pushed our creativity and attention to detail. One of the most important parts of this class was story. Our professor, Mark Dedecker, did not want to see simple lifeless models. We needed to make posed characters that told some sort of story, indicated personality, emotion, etc. This was one of my favorite classes and I want to take it all over again! Here are all my projects in order of completion.

two people sculpts, two animal sculpts,  the morph between each human and animal. After looking at pictures of random people, I determined that this man looked like a Doug, and that his inner animal was a koala. This assignment was definitely a struggle. Especially with the baby. The happy babies I came across looked a lot like a puffer fish to me, but I definitely dipped my feet into the creepy realm with it (a.k.a. the uncanny valley)

Koala Doug Morph

Baby Puffer Morph (hello uncanny valley... live and learn)

 week 2: sculpt an quadroped, sculpt a lycantrope version of the animal, meaning wolf to werewolf, and making a somewhat sentient creature. I can't remember why I chose a baby pygmy, but there was just something really adorable about them. The lycantrope version is named Sherman. His story is he loves hide and seek, but isn't very good at it. Despite his small size, he fails to use it to his advantage.

Baby Pygmy Hippo

Sherman: Pygmy Hippo Lycantrope

week 3: 

Turned this one in last, see the final down below

 Bug week. Create your own insect based on actual insects. I chose a praying mantis and fuzzy moth as reference and created the Leg Warmer Manis. Unfortunately these went extinct in 1992.

Leg Warmer Mantis

week 5:

Dragon week! We were each given descriptions of our dragons, all unique. Often times it seemed that the description was a bit of a contradiction which added an extra challenge to the execution. Here is the description I was given:
This dragon has a thin elongated body with a thin tail and neck. its fine gem-like scales are beige. on either side of its tail are sharp, blade-like extensions. this dragon has six elongated, thick limbs with five closely mounted digits on each foot that end in a long claws. it has frill like wings that stretch between its forelimbs and the end of its tail. this dragons head is wide. it has slitted eyes that are obsidian. the back of this dragons head and neck is protected by thick bone. a bony ridge separates its nostrils. two straight horns extend from its forehead.
It was difficult to keep the wings out of the way of the 6 thick limbs while he was supposed to remain long and skinny. He's a bit awkward to me, but at least he can smile about it.

Hopping Glider Dragon
week 6:
Two creatures interacting, making physical contact
So the original weird idea I had as a kangaroo that wore wombats on its feet. The wombat has a pouch as well, but it is backwards. I later decided that I would just make a breed of bunnies that had reverse pouches. Flurn is a grumpy hairless dog-like creature that looks after his bunnies. This symbiotic relationship allows Flurn to keep his feet warm while the bunnies are kept safe in his pouch during the day. They also get to snack on any crumbs that might fall in his over-sized pouch. Pouch buddies for life! The physical contact was important because we had to show the compression of skin against skin.

Flurn and his bunny slippers
This assignment was pretty loose. I decided to recreate a 2d cartoon character in 3d. I decided to take the character Brooklyn from the old Disney tv show Gargoyles. Not a whole lot of reference to work with, but I think I made him look as similar as I could. At some point I would like to go back and give him proper hair.

Our final was to revisit one of our projects this term and push it further. Since I had slacked on week 3 I decided to work on my fairy tale/ mythology creature, the Alp Luachra. It is a parasitic fairy that waits for people to fall asleep near a river, then crawls down their throat, into their stomach and eats their food, robbing them of the nutrients. I wrestled with how to make it look parasitic, and decided to go with the leech looking mouth. The additional story I came up with was this creature was once a normal fairy that turned evil, so as punishment, its wings were removed and all that remains are stumps. This creature was described as being newt-like, so at some point I will add the frills down the spine that some of the water newts have.

Alp Luachra

Advanced Compositing

This was our second class where we learned the compositing program Nuke. I truly can't see myself going back to after effects now. Node based compositing is the way to go! Once again, Martin Hall provided projects for us to work through in class.

Look Development

This class was about achieving a particular look with everything from metals and plastic, to cloth and hair. For my final, I decided to revisit the chess piece I modeled from Luke Mancini's concept a couple terms ago. I didn't get nearly as finished as I would have liked, but its a good start. It took me a while to settle on what colors to make everything since I wanted to stray from the concept slightly. Hopefully I'll get to do the other pieces someday.

original concept by Luke Mancini
Queen: rendered in vray