Rank posts some new animation process work

RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazedby the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
edited June 2011 in Artist's Corner
For my second semester Junior Project, we keep a weekly progress journal defining our progress and documenting our process. I was keeping it in a word doc, but decided to move it to my blog to share the progress of the project. To get feedback form the community here and to share the process with those that may be curious, I'll copy the updates to the forum as well. I'll be updating this at least once a week until the project is done.


For the class, we have to create an animated short from scratch, using Maya, Max and other software. We start by building out a story and storyboarding it out, analyzing the beats and making sure everything works while we build out character analysis and art, then model, rig, skin and texture the character or characters, build and light the scene and then animate the entire thing. Depending on our focus, our scene can be between 15 and 45 seconds.

Below is the first entry for the project, detailing my story, breaking it down to a Logline, and then the first pass at analyzing the beats of the story itself.
Story – Pitch and Beat Analysis

Shot opens on a moonlit roadside exterior, somewhere in a thin forest. An ancient sword sticks out of an anvil at the side of the road, an old twisted fence surrounding it. Grass has grown high after years of neglect. Clearly no man has been able to free the sword from the anvil in a very, very long time.

A small goblin coming down the road appears in the left of the shot and, just as he's passing the sword, spots it. He stops to examine the object and gets nearer, getting a good look at it. As he touches it, a beam of light illuminates him. Clearly he is destined by the Gods to be the next great leader of men. He decides to try his brawn and grabs it by the grip, jerking it upward. It doesn't budge. He tries again, both hands on the grip, and it refuses to budge. Grabbing it by the cross guard, he strains and bends and jerks the sword as hard as he possibly can. Finally it comes free and he falls to the ground, the sword in his lap.

Coming to his senses on the ground, the goblin shakes his head, then realizes what he's done. He leaps to his feet, elated, and tosses the sword away into the grass. The beam of light immediately fades as he runs over and grabs his new-found anvil and drags it off screen right.

Logline (story pitch in 25 words or less)


A goblin, finding a sword in an anvil, pulls the sword out but discards it for the anvil itself.


Story Beats


Opening shot: sword stuck in an anvil beside a road under moonlight. Goblin enters screen left.
  • Goblin notices sword.
  • Goblin approaches cautiously, examining sword in anvil.
  • Goblin touches it tentatively. Shaft of light appears above him.
  • Goblin recoils from anvil, cautiously.
  • Goblin touches again.
  • Goblin decides it is safe and grabs the handle, jerking upward swiftly. Sword doesn't budge.
  • Goblin grabs with both hands and pulls hard but sword doesn't budge.
  • Goblin lets go of sword, then musters his strength.
  • Goblin grabs sword by the cross guard, steps onto anvil and pulls with all his might.
  • After a long pull, goblin frees the sword from the anvil. Resulting forces goblin to reel back and fall onto his butt with sword across his lap.
  • Goblin shakes off the resulting confusion, notices sword in lap, and jumps to feet.
  • Goblin pitches sword off-camera into the weeds and approaches anvil, excited.
  • Goblin grabs the anvil and, straining, lifts it, dragging it off screen right.

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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Below is another excerpt from my PRJ350 Progress Journal. This entry is about the visual development of the character itself.

    I initially designed the character after the Warhammer-styled goblins, going for sort of a mean, tough and realistic look, trying to develop a highly detailed sort of character the type of which you might see in a video game.

    InitialDesign_ColorSketch.jpg

    I developed the first iteration of this character after going through a few different initial sketches, then spent time painting it up in photoshop as a greyscale rendered sketch to figure out the dimensionality of the forms and the contrast needed to make each area readable easily. Unfortunately, I just wasn't drawn to the character as much as I'd like, and once I saw what some of the other students were working on, I went back to the drawing board with a new inspiration, wanting to build a character with more appeal and interest in the design.

    OldGoblinModel.jpg

    After a number of sketches, I hit on the following design, which I inked down a turn-around and build a color comp layout, utilizing a number of color combinations to figure out what might look the best in the scene.

    Redesign_12up_ColorComp.jpg

    I really like the new character and it feels like a big break from work I've done in the past and appeals to my sensibility of animation and design. I think this will help hold my attention and interest a lot more.

    I've shown the color comp to a number of fellow students, professors and friends that aren't trained artists to get a wide range of opinions. I have been getting a lot of interest and reaction to numbers 5, 6, 9, 11 and 12. I think, personally, I'm leaning toward 5 and 6, but I want to give it a few more days to gather up more opinions before making any final decision. Creating textures for the character is still a long ways away, anyway.

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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Below is another entry from my PRJ350 Progress Journal. This entry details my first pass at designing and planning the over-all look and feel for the scene.

    Using the cooler, fairly monochromatic colors of a forest under moonlight, I'll be able to use warmer and more saturated colors on the character and the anvil, as well as higher contrast on the character and “hero prop”, to help draw the eyes onto the story elements of the shot. Using the trees to segment two frames of sky, one on either side of the screen, I can build two distinct stages for the action – one for the goblin to enter to and establish his motivation and character, and a second to frame the hero prop and story moments.

    Look%2Band%2BFeel%2B1.jpg

    I'll be drawing on my experience in last semester's CG300 class to model and light the scene. Examples of those renders are below.

    MSwanson_CG300_ExteriorScene_HighRes01.jpg

    MattSwanson_int_Final.jpg

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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Below is another of my PRJ350 progress journal entries. This one details my first pass at a rough storyboard.

    MSwanson_Storyboard_Panel01.jpg

    01 – The goblin enters the screen from Stage Left. Seeing a sword stuck in an anvil, he gets naturally curious.

    MSwanson_Storyboard_Panel02.jpg

    02 – As he reaches for the sword, a shaft of light appears from the heavens. He tentatively accepts this new fact and begins to struggle with pulling the sword free.

    MSwanson_Storyboard_Panel03.jpg

    03 – The goblin, struggling with all his might, pulls and tugs at the sword, stuck fast in the anvil.

    MSwanson_Storyboard_Panel04.jpg

    04 – Finally, despite his small stature, he manages to tug the blade free. The resulting momentum, however, propels him backward onto his butt on the roadside.

    MSwanson_Storyboard_Panel05.jpg


    05 – The goblin shakes his head and comes to his senses. Realizing his situation, he beams at his luck, and then, to our astonishment, pitches the new-found blade into the bushes.

    MSwanson_Storyboard_Panel06.jpg

    06 – The goblin's true intentions are revealed as he grabs the heavy anvil and struggles to carry it off-screen Stage Right.

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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Having hit on the look of the character and having a lot of excitement and interest in the creation of the character model, I got started creating the initial model itself, getting the head blocked out and refined fairly quickly. I also took an export of the model into Zbrush to check for holes and problems successfully, as well as created a rough test of a morph deformation target successfully. It works! I'm on the way, and it feels great.

    NewGoblinModel_Render01_Wireframe.jpg

    The head stands at 586 quads (1,172 tris) right now, a very respectable low-poly count for a cinematic like this. I spent a lot of time studying edge loop topology to make sure I'd be able to have a lot of good deformation in the face when it comes time to animate. I bought a couple of books, one on facial animation and rigging and another book on how to set up a character rig in Maya.

    My plan for my workflow right now is to build out the models in 3DSMax, then import the models into Maya to rig and skin it. I much prefer the rigging setup in Maya, as well as the animation and lighting tools.

    (The following was created a day or so after the post above and was merged with this post as they cover the same topic)

    NewGoblinModel_Render03_wirerframe.jpg

    I've finished much of the modeling for the character, having roughed in much of the costume and completed the limbs and extremities. I managed to complete the model without using only quads, which will help subdivision and sculpting for normal maps in Zbrush, if time allows.

    NewGoblinModel_Render05_ClothesWireframe.jpg


    I want to have an advisor take a look at my topology before advancing much further to ensure that the deformation will work as I hope it will. I still have yet to model the interior of the mouth or the tongue, but that should be rather simple. Once the design is finalized, I can begin making morph deformation targets for the face to help with the facial animation. I'll be sketching out the needed poses for the face before doing the target poses, and will be sure to work with an advisor to ensure that this is done correctly and wisely.

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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    This is the last of the old journal entries I need to update to get the journal up to date. I'll have another entry tomorrow documenting this week's progress so far, but this will get the blog fully updated.

    Not the most productive week so far, due to considerations for other classes – both CG215 and ANI350 hit very hard with their demands for work due this week, so much of my time was spent on those classes.

    Prof. Johnson expressed his concern about the story, in that the technical requirements for the animation were substantial – showing weight and transference of weight is very, very difficult stuff, and he felt that ending the story at the point where the goblin gets the sword was a good “if all else fails” plan.

    In a way, I agree that it would be a good failsafe, but I'm confident in my ability to take on this challenge, providing I don't run into major disastrous issues on the technical side as I did last semester. I am really trying to put this piece together to showcase my ability to portray both acting skill through animation as well as raw, technical animation skill, using the techniques learned in ANI300 and those I will be aquiring in ANI350. Additionally, having gone through the process of early vid ref, I think that the needed poses aren't horrendous, and the entire scene plays out in approximately 30 seconds, which is a manageable goal, in my opinion.

    Having looked at the technical requirements for what I need to do, I have planned for the following:
    • I will need to have IK hands, as they will need to be planted in a single location while the body acts independently a number of times, and doing this with FK simply won't do. It was a major issue last semester, and would affect my ability to animate drastically. If I can, I'd like to set up an IK/FK slider system, and I have resources to assist that process, but it is technically demanding, and may be above my ability. It is currently at a “nice to have” feature, while IK is a “must have” feature.
    • Planning out and doing my thumbnails of the acting is going to be crucial.
    • I want a chance to explore shaders, including Subsurface Scattering for the skin. Lighting and appearance of the character itself is going to be a lot of fun, but it is crucial that both work well for the scene for the appeal to be there and support the character.
    • Making sure that the technical aspect works early is the biggest key, so that I can spend at least half of the semester focusing on the animation, the real centerpoint of the entire scene.
    • I need to get a model sheet and actual 3d models of the two hero props, the anvil and the sword, very soon. The anvil need not be particularly outstanding looking, and shouldn't draw too much attention, but getting the look of the sword right is important. It should be something to be lusted after, and look appropriately regal.

    I also received feedback from other students and faculty about my general topology. For the most part, I'm in good shape, but I need to revise the belly a little to provide the most flexibility, and I will need to reconfigure some of the topology of the shoulders by re-routing the edge loops, always a tricky process. So far the goblin is modeled completely in quads, resulting in great subdivision. I'd like to keep it that way.

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  • F87F87 So Say We All Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    This is very cool! I have nothing constructive to add, I just want to see more. :)

    F87 on
  • BrewBrew Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I think this is great, can't wait to see how you make it look.
    Coming to his senses on the ground, the goblin shakes his head, then realizes what he's done. He leaps to his feet, elated, and tosses the sword away into the grass. The beam of light immediately fades as he runs over and grabs his new-found anvil and drags it off screen right.

    So what happens to the beam of light when the goblin pulls out the sword and falls down with it in hand? Does it follow the goblin or the sword? Your thumbnail makes it seem like it follows the sword as he throws it away.

    Maybe if it follows the goblin, indicating that he's the new king of men, it should stay on him as he drags the anvil away? I mean, just because he ditched the sword doesn't mean he isn't a king now :)

    Brew on
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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Brew wrote: »
    I think this is great, can't wait to see how you make it look.
    Coming to his senses on the ground, the goblin shakes his head, then realizes what he's done. He leaps to his feet, elated, and tosses the sword away into the grass. The beam of light immediately fades as he runs over and grabs his new-found anvil and drags it off screen right.

    So what happens to the beam of light when the goblin pulls out the sword and falls down with it in hand? Does it follow the goblin or the sword? Your thumbnail makes it seem like it follows the sword as he throws it away.

    Maybe if it follows the goblin, indicating that he's the new king of men, it should stay on him as he drags the anvil away? I mean, just because he ditched the sword doesn't mean he isn't a king now :)

    I'm planning on having it follow the sword and begin dimming the second it leaves his hand. Keeping it on him infers that he would be the king of men, but that's a bigger story beat to try to explain in the limited amount of time then I think I can accomplish. It is suggested by the existence of the light, but it would need something additional to help tie that down, otherwise it is too ambiguous. Having it tied to the sword, and his contact with it, is already apparent in the actions laid down, and doesn't require further explanation.

    Rankenphile on
  • SpinalCrackaSpinalCracka Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I don't have anything "critique"-wise to add. Just wanted to thank you for posting this. I see a lot of "finished" work on art forums but rarely do we get to see the process. Half of that is because people don't document what they do and the other half is that they are too embarrassed to show it. This shows us your thought process and that is great.

    SpinalCracka on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Week 3 Progress Journal


    Group pitch critique, modeling phase complete & technical research


    In my previous entry, I mentioned my vid ref I did for basic acting beats and timing. I'm including it as a YouTube link below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvJ00HYoLts

    Began the week with a group critique with Pam Matheus and a number of fellow students. Notes from the critique are below.
    • Overall: Greenlight to proceed
    • Play up “wants the anvil” story beats and thoughts, helps provide better payoff.
    • Belt over shoulder could be problematic. Potentially something to remove? Add to texture?
    • Make belt around waist part of core mesh
    • Push composition to lead eye better to action
    • Too much contrast in upper left, away from action

    Thoughts for resolving these issues:
    • I'm going to remove the belt from around the shoulder, just to simplify technical problems. I can add it to the texture, and possibly create a normal map to help make it look like it is coming off of the mesh, but it will ease animation greatly
    • I'm revisiting some of my composition drawings for the overall design of the scene, keeping the majority of it but working on finding ways of leading the eye.
    • Adding belt to base mesh.
    • Enforcing the acting in the earliest part of the scene to help establish the character of the goblin and his motivations. I've got plenty of time to do so, my vid ref pass clocked in at 30 seconds, so I'm good to go in that regard.

    I completed the final first draft of the base mesh model of the goblin today, unifying the entire model into a single mesh, with the exception of the shoulder pad itself, which will be parented to a special controller or a bone. Should work just fine. Thanks to Josh Jones, I resolved the issue of the topology around the shoulders, and added more edge loops around the belly area to allow better deformation when the character has to bend. Prof. Lu also suggested removing a couple unneeded edge loops to create better, more even quads, and that made good sense.

    I deleted the body mesh that would be covered by his shirt/tunic and extruded the mesh out to match the geometry of the shirt. This went swimmingly well – I originally created the shirt by duplicating that part of his body, using the push modifier to increase its size and then pushing and pulling verts to get it into the right shape, which meant that it shared the same number of verts and edge loops as the mesh below, making it a trivial task to attach it later and patch up any potential holes. I used the same extrusion method to create the belt, and may add a few more edge loops to the edges of the belt if I choose to take the model into a subdivision sculpting program like Zbrush, but that's another issue for a later time.

    Having it as a single mesh will make skinning much easier a task then I had last semester, as long as I don't run into the same technical problems, such as having the Paint Weights skinning tool crash every time I use it. I've included pictures of the progress below.

    2011-01-26_CompleteModel.jpg
    The overall model with the first draft of the final topology, before adding the eyelids. I may extrude the geometry on the right hand to create a fingerless glove, but for the time being I'm happy with the results.

    2011-01-26_Boot_Detail.jpg
    Detail of the connection of the mesh to the boot at the ankle.

    2011-01-26_Neck_Detail.jpg
    Detail of the connection of the mesh to the shirt at the neck.

    2011-01-26_Sleeve_Detail.jpg
    Detail of the shirtsleeve connection to the mesh. These additions keep the entire model watertight, so that there won't be any holes to view. I also connected the underside of the shirt to the hips/legs area, but it is a tricky one to get a clear picture of.


    Technical Research – Rigging & Deformers


    As I delve into the technical aspects of getting the character rigged, skinned and get the deformation targets built, I'll be adding my notes and plans into this section. My primary resources for this are the books Body Language: Advanced 3D Character Rigging by Eric Allen & Kelly L. Murdock, and Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right by Jason Osipa. I'll also be drawing on the knowledge and experience of faculty and fellow students, and will try to attribute my findings as I write them.

    Known Needs:
    • Fully articulated character with standard rigging setup. Won't need world mover, necessarily, but having one will be useful for future uses with the rig, if I decide to keep it for making other animations, such as for a demo reel.
    • Fingers not necessarily rigged individually – he'll only be making gripping shapes, for the most part, although having at least one hand with an articulated pointer finger could help with the humor of the “touching the sword to turn the God light on” situation.
    • Facial expressions needed – wonderment, strain/scowl, confusion, glee.
    • Face shapes needed – wide and narrow mouth, open and closed mouth, eyebrows raised and lowered. Eyes open/closed. (do I need separate eyelids? What's a good method for making these? Need to research further. Edit: Found a tutorial here. Should do what I needed.)
    • May need to model further teeth and possibly a tongue. I created the mouth cavity in the mesh just for this purpose, might as well take advantage of the fact.
    • I am going to need IK hands in order to grip the sword and anvil properly. I'd like to have FK hands up to this point, but I don't know if I'm technically able to, it is a bit complex to do so. I'll do some research and leave notes below.
    • Need 2 bones for each ear. No problem.
    • I'm almost definitely going to need to create different targets for each eyebrow and each corner of the mouth, so I can animate them with a good sense of asymetry, which will add a lot more appeal to the character.
    • I should do some sketches of the different emotions needed, so I can be sure to nail each of the different expressions I need to hit. Drawing out an emotional beat board would be a useful guide to have in the future, regardless. Using the Stop Staring book as well as my copy of Mark Simon's Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists will prove valuable in this regard. Good reference links to remember: Lackadaisy
    • Need to test out a few lighting tricks, such as getting good volumetric light casting with a reasonable render time in a test scene to make sure the God Rays will look good for the scene.
    • I need to start researching shaders for the skin and clothing, as they'll need to look good under the lighting conditions, and this project is a good opportunity to explore these methods to enhance the overall look of the scene.

    I've begun talking with Prof. Chun Lu, who has extensive experience with rigging in Maya, to help plan out the methods to best approach for the needs expressed above. I'll post progress as I get it.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    I don't have anything "critique"-wise to add. Just wanted to thank you for posting this. I see a lot of "finished" work on art forums but rarely do we get to see the process. Half of that is because people don't document what they do and the other half is that they are too embarrassed to show it. This shows us your thought process and that is great.

    Thanks. That was my idea for sharing this - I read a lot of blogs and get to see a little bit of the process, and every little scrap of it I find is super valuable, as a student. I figured since I have to document it anyway for class, why not share it with the forum. I'm keeping a copy of it all on my blog, as well, and basically just sharing a copy of that content here to get critique and share it with a community I've gotten a lot from in the past.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Might as well share some stuff I'm doing for other classes while I'm at it.

    Here's the blocking stage of my first 3d animation set to dialog. Lots to tweak and fix, but I'm fairly happy with the results so far. Hopefully I can keep the quality up as I move into splines this week.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBBwm-ougic&feature=player_embedded

    Rankenphile on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    This is cool, you have a solid little action going. Just going on your video (and I know you aren't an actor, just looking at it as a story board) I have a few notes on the timing. Alot of your actions sorta have the same rhythm, and you'll want to give a few of the points more breathing room to show your character thinking. Like the turn around when he first sees the anvil, that foot can hang in the air for just a second. Same with the last looking up in the air, just a little more pause for the "Should I care about this?" or even if hes just kinda annoyed pause for the "wtf is this light?" The expression will tell which it is.


    I agree with adding a few touches to subtly imply hes gonna go for that anvil, But I think you can do this pretty simply by having him look at the sword like one would look at sword if it was sticking in their living room couch. Just with an an expression that goes "Sweet, check out my new anvil. How..... and why is this sword in here thats really inconvenient and I need to get this out of here and...... what the hell light? Goddamn it come on get out of there. That was more trouble than it was worth! Sweet! Anvil!"

    If you can get those facial expressions of confusion and annoyance, it'll work a bit better than the child like wide eyed discovery, in my opinion.

    Iruka on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    Good notes, Iruka. Appreciate the feedback. I'm definitely going to be working on the rhythm of the piece, and a lot of those thinking moments are precisely what I'll be going for.

    Rankenphile on
  • DaltonCarlDaltonCarl Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    ---

    DaltonCarl on
  • GurtPerkGurtPerk Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    As someone who has gone through this process, I can honestly say you are going about this the right way. Planning ahead and understanding the technical challenges ahead to pull this off is perfect. I think I can offer a few suggestions for continuing to move forward:

    1. The acting/video reference - I highly suggest that you redo the video using a heavy prop for the sword. Convincing feeling of weight and motion is key and is a large part of the animation. I know a sword is kind of a weird prop to make, but ask around. I know Jarcho was able to make something up for me when I needed to make a huge lever.

    2. Character - Right now, I don't understand why he wants the anvil. It's a great gag, but I think if you introduced some elements to the character that made him look like a blacksmith (example like an apron or some heavy gloves) could help sell it for me. It kind of seems random and I think it'd be funnier if there was some reason behind doing it.

    This is also a cinematic model - I feel you can increase the polycount on the character. Be sure to add atleast three edge loops around the elbows and knees. If you need some awesome topology reference for models, go to www.hippydrome.com

    3. 3D Programs - What are you using to animate/render to? I assume you're learning Maya more and came from more of 3ds Max background from sophomore year. Maya is great for animation and I highly recommend it. Learn how to properly light and make mock up models/prototype early. It'll save you a lot of hastle towards the end.

    If you need any reference or suggestions, feel free to PM me and I can give you my contact info for any other advice. Great start dude.

    GurtPerk on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2011
    I'm going to be re-doing the vid ref before going to thumbs and animating, this wsa more for proof of concept and getting basic timing down.

    I've got a lot more refinement to do on the model, and was already forwarded Hippydrome by another student. I'm going to do what I can to understand those concepts more and do some deformation tests with a basic rig before going to final.

    And yeah, I'm doing all my animation, rigging, lighting and rendering through Maya. I like Max's modelling workflow a little better and its UV tools seem more capable, especially for organics, but animation, lighting and rendering tools seem more intuitive and better in Maya. If I can, I'll be using the school's MusterRender farm for the final render, but time will tell on that end.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Rankenphile on
  • SuddenbeardSuddenbeard Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I like what you're doing here! I'm not 3-d animator, but I love looking at these process journals. It gives a much stronger appreciation of the final product. These steps and processes may even be helpful for other art projects people do (like painting and comics). So thanks for this, and can't wait to see more!

    Suddenbeard on
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    This is really neat, Rankenphile. It's always interesting to see other people's processes. Keep posting!

    NibCrom on
  • AwkAwk Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I think you had your stage left and right mixed up.

    tumblr_kumk6hHxdr1qzxkqf.gif

    Awk on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    I meant screen right.

    Rankenphile on
  • comicracycomicracy Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Do they still use lightwave? When I was in college that was big... it was quite a while ago.

    comicracy on
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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    I dunno

    Maybe

    It's not part of our workflow, but that doesn't mean it isn't a tool still in use in the industry somewhere

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    The week has been exceptionally busy, as I've taken on the role of Lead Artist and Producer for our recently named Art Team, Hobos of Might and Magic for my CG350 class, where we're creating a game in the Unity Engine. I'll have more to share about this project shortly, but suffice to say it has taken up the vast majority of my time, and has been a thrilling experience so far.

    I spent last night re-working much of the model I began for my CG315 class, in which I was modeling a crust-punk mermaid to take into ZBrush to begin subdivision sculpting. I threw out the old head and redesigned it, and am far happier with the results. I'm still not thrilled with some aspects, such as the hat, and need to connect the hands to the rest of the body and finish out the forearms - the elbow joint could use some attention, as well, but I think much of this work will be completed in ZBrush itself rather then struggling to get it done in Max working against deadline when I have other work that needs attention.

    2011-02-05_Mermaid_Heads01.jpg

    Here you can see a comparison of the old head (left) to the new one (right). It is far less flat and much more feminine looking, and fits the character design much better. The ears still need a lot of attention, and the cranium shape isn't quite right, but it is a dramatic improvement overall.

    2011-02-05_Mermaid_NewHead_Detail.jpg

    Another shot of the new head. Some of the overall issues are easier to see here, and hopefully they'll be addressed in ZBrush. Since this shot was taken, I've completed the head shape and addressed some of the issues with the hat and cranium, as well as extending the neck down below the shirt and jacket.

    2011-02-05_Mermaid_Body.jpg


    A look at the rest of the body mesh. Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it'll do for now. I wish I had more time, and a lot more experience, but that's how things go with a project of this scope and limited time frame.


    2011-02-05_Mermaid_Hand_Detail.jpg


    The hand, always a difficult model to make. This is severely revised from the previous model shape, and should work well for the purposes I need it for.

    I'll be taking the model into ZBrush this week and beginning my first foray into SubD sculpting. I hope I can do the character justice.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Week 4 Progress Journal

    At the beginning of this week, I had started with the UV unwrap process when Mark Peasley suggested I revise some of the mesh to optimize it for deformation before going too far into the unwrap. As much as I wanted to just get the model unwrapped and start painting the texture, I knew he was right, so I made sure to put attention into the trouble spots on the mesh, which is where the majority of my attention went this week for this project.

    Gobbo_NewMesh_Revisions.jpg

    I made sure to add additional loops around the facial features that were going to see the most deformation, as well as optimizing the joints.

    Gobbo_Knee_Foot_Revisions.jpg

    I added additional loops around the ball of the foot area, as there was going to be substantial bending here and it needed to work naturally. I also added a "patch" around the knee to help keep the form from flattening oddly when it was bent.

    Gobbo_ElbowTopo_Revisions.jpg

    The elbows received the same treatment. I also made sure to optimize the loops around the knuckles and wrists.

    I still need to go in and add the geometry for his single glove, but that's a trivial matter of just extruding and pushing the mesh and then pushing a couple verts around to clean it up.

    Gobbo_FirstDraft_Rig.jpg

    I've also begun testing out my first foray at rigging in Maya, and already really like the setup far more then its Max counterpart. I've got a ways to go, especially getting the IK-FK blends set up properly and the facial deformations in place, but I've begun the research and sketching for that process, as well, and should be good to go in two weeks time.

    With that schedule in mind, getting the model unwrapped and a base texture down in the next week or two is a goal I can handle. Getting a block model built of the environment, the props built and the initial shader research all in the next four to five weeks is do-able, and I'll be starting my animation planning in that time frame, leaving me plenty of time to complete the project and hit all of my goals, providing I don't hit any major technical or personal snags along the way.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Final pass on my animation project:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru8mRXQnG48

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Projects 350 - Week 5 Progress Journal



    Less progress then I'd like, but lots of technical background work, prepping the model for the next phase of development.
    I've spent a lot of time working on getting the model cleaned up and making sure the topology is where it needs to be in order to animate well. I'm considering this last version the final, and am moving on to getting it unwrapped, rigged and ready to go.

    I spent a little bit of time re-familiarizing myself with projection mapping tools in Max, and was able to create a reasonable tiling texture of chainmail, to be used on my little goblin friend's loincloth, which will add a little fun secondary animation to the model. To do so, I created a torus, rotated it into place and then duplicated it and moved it, creating a single pair of linked rings, then duplicated that set and moved it into place. By doing this step over and over, I created a good base mesh for the chainmail.

    Chainmail_Mesh.jpg

    Once I got it set up over a plane, I scaled it to the point where I was reasonably sure it would tile well, then used the Render to Texture panel to project the chainmail mesh onto the plane below, creating an alpha, normal and ambient occlusion map set.

    Rendering_Chainmail_to_Texture.jpg

    This resulted in three 1024x1024 texture maps, one for each of the passes. The transparency map will be hidden in the alpha channel of the diffuse map, once I paint over it. The ambient occlusion pass will be used as the base color channel for a paintover to create the diffuse map, and will help inform the specular map, as well. I'll be laying over rust colors and textures to help that process, when the time comes.

    Chainmail_Textures_Preview.jpg

    To test the new setup, I imported the file into CrazyBump to ensure it tiled well, and it does, at least reasonably well. It isn't perfect, but for my purposes it'll do well.

    Chainmail_ColumnTest.jpg

    I'll be using this method to create better normal maps for a number of the props and pieces of my environment, and using CrazyBump to help create texture maps for much of the process, as well, as it seriously helps speed up the process - making normals for pitted iron for the shoulderpad and anvil, for instance, or the bark of the trees, is a snap in CrazyBump.

    I've begun unwrapping the model, and am looking at a number of tutorials and plugins to help expedite the process. There are good ones available at the classily-titled site Poopinmymouth.com. I've gone back and forth on this process a bunch of times, getting mixed results, but I'm determined to have this portion done by the end of the weekend.

    Finally, I've also begun rigging the goblin in Maya, and after speaking with a number of fellow students I'm moving forward with the process.

    Goblin_Rigging01.jpg

    I've got the skeleton itself in place and have begun basic tests for the skinning showing a lot of progress - the joints seem to deform quite well already without having gone into the weighting refinement process, which means that completing the skinning should go pretty well once the rig is complete.


    Elbow_Deformation.jpg

    Knee%2Band%2Bfoot%2Bdeformation.jpg

    I've started the process of setting up three arm bone sets so that I can have a switch between IK and FK-controlled arms, which will be crucial to the animation I have planned. I've found a good tutorial here that should help the process.

    I've also learned how to set up additional attributes and link attributes in Maya to controllers or controller sets, so I can do things like have a single controller for all of the fingers on one hand, for example. This will greatly ease the animation process, and is good experience to get under my belt.

    I'm going to keep pushing forward on this stuff all weekend, and I have an appointment for later this coming week with Micah Zahm to help fix any issues I can't resolve myself. All in all, I should be through with this technical hurdle soon, which is exciting - this is what nearly sank my project last semester, and I've learned that it is best to go into something this technical that I'm not particularly strong at by planning carefully and seeking help from the folks that know it well, rather then keep bashing my head against the wall and hoping for the best.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Well, I'm jailed for a bit, so I'm afraid you'll have to quote me to see my images in-line. Sorry about that, poor choice on my part. So it goes.

    Projects 350 - Week 5 Progress Journal, part 2


    So I spent a bunch more time this weekend getting the model unwrapped and prepped for texturing. I found a great rainbow and numbered checker pattern so I can be sure I'm distributing the UVs where I need them, and that I'm laying them out in the orientation I want. The unwrap went pretty smoothly, with only a few parts that needed to be overlapped - the legs, arms, ears and eyeballs all share the same UV space, since they can be textured identically. All other features, including hands, the head, the feet and the costume, are textured individually.

    UVLayout.jpg

    The only parts I'll have to be cautious about in terms of seams are the cheeks and the wrists, for the most part. I had to make cuts there to get the mesh to flatten out without too much distortion, but painting over the seams carefully in photoshop by directly importing the model should help create a fairly seamless paint.

    02-13-2011_UVLayout.jpg

    Once I had the UV layouts arranged, I went in and created a flat-color flood, to test out the model and be sure it looked okay.

    TX_Goblin_Dif_FLOOD.jpg

    I then applied the texture to the model. Success. So far, things were coming together, and it was exciting to see him with some color on him - it meant I'm that much closer toward my goal.

    I then applied an Ambient Occlusion diffuse map to the model and set it up with a number of directional lights to eliminate hard shadows, so that I could render out a burned AO texture pass.

    AO_light_setup.jpg

    Once rendered, it created a basic shadowed and flat version of the model texture, which I could overlay on the original flood fill to help inform the shape and give the illusion of light hitting the model. This will greatly speed up the texturing process, and give a much better overall look.

    Goblin_Body001Ambient%2BOcclusion%2B_MR_3.jpg

    TX_Goblin_Dif_FLOOD_plusAO2.jpg

    The new texture was then applied to the model, and the components were re-separated from the mesh. I'm now having to step away from the project for a bit, as I've been neglecting my other work to get this far on it, but I'm glad to see so much progress and I'm looking forward to getting to paint him up.

    Gobbo_with_Flood_and_AO.jpg

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    Just a quick post - got the first little bit of my diffuse map painted up a little, and started playing with a Subsurface Scattering shader pass. Lots of work left to do to really bring this together, but I'm excited about the results so far.

    Subsufrace_Scattering_PreviewTest.jpg

    Rankenphile on
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Well, I'm jailed for a bit, so I'm afraid you'll have to quote me to see my images in-line. Sorry about that, poor choice on my part. So it goes.

    Projects 350 - Week 5 Progress Journal, part 2


    So I spent a bunch more time this weekend getting the model unwrapped and prepped for texturing. I found a great rainbow and numbered checker pattern so I can be sure I'm distributing the UVs where I need them, and that I'm laying them out in the orientation I want. The unwrap went pretty smoothly, with only a few parts that needed to be overlapped - the legs, arms, ears and eyeballs all share the same UV space, since they can be textured identically. All other features, including hands, the head, the feet and the costume, are textured individually.

    UVLayout.jpg

    The only parts I'll have to be cautious about in terms of seams are the cheeks and the wrists, for the most part. I had to make cuts there to get the mesh to flatten out without too much distortion, but painting over the seams carefully in photoshop by directly importing the model should help create a fairly seamless paint.

    02-13-2011_UVLayout.jpg

    Once I had the UV layouts arranged, I went in and created a flat-color flood, to test out the model and be sure it looked okay.

    TX_Goblin_Dif_FLOOD.jpg

    I then applied the texture to the model. Success. So far, things were coming together, and it was exciting to see him with some color on him - it meant I'm that much closer toward my goal.

    I then applied an Ambient Occlusion diffuse map to the model and set it up with a number of directional lights to eliminate hard shadows, so that I could render out a burned AO texture pass.

    AO_light_setup.jpg

    Once rendered, it created a basic shadowed and flat version of the model texture, which I could overlay on the original flood fill to help inform the shape and give the illusion of light hitting the model. This will greatly speed up the texturing process, and give a much better overall look.

    Goblin_Body001Ambient%2BOcclusion%2B_MR_3.jpg

    TX_Goblin_Dif_FLOOD_plusAO2.jpg

    The new texture was then applied to the model, and the components were re-separated from the mesh. I'm now having to step away from the project for a bit, as I've been neglecting my other work to get this far on it, but I'm glad to see so much progress and I'm looking forward to getting to paint him up.

    Gobbo_with_Flood_and_AO.jpg

    NibCrom on
  • NibCromNibCrom Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Just a quick post - got the first little bit of my diffuse map painted up a little, and started playing with a Subsurface Scattering shader pass. Lots of work left to do to really bring this together, but I'm excited about the results so far.

    Subsufrace_Scattering_PreviewTest.jpg

    NibCrom on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    thanks for the quotes, NibCrom. I hate not being able to post images in-line, but I still want to be able to share these posts.

    Anyway, huge update today.

    Projects 350 - Week 6 Progress Journal: SSS Shaders and Rigging



    Huge amounts of progress this week. I spent a lot of time learning how to use Subsurface Scattering Shaders in Max and Maya, as well as getting my rig prepped and ready for animation and skinning.
    Subsurface Scattering Shader Setup
    At the beginning of the week, I got a chance to get my diffuse map painted a little, with a start getting the head and hands a little bit more textural. Once I had a decent start, I began testing out the capabilities of the FastSSS shaders in Max, as I had heard they were a little simpler to use, and my finished model hadn't been exported to Maya yet. I played with the settings a bit and was astonished with the result. I quickly built a base specular map by converting my diffuse to greyscale and painting over the parts that needed tweaking (eyes, shoulderpad, etc) and made a rough normal map using the NVidia photoshop plugin. Enjoying the result, I created a quick turn-around set and rendered it out to use as a target for setting up the shader in Maya.

    Gobbo_ThreeModel_FullTurn_SSS_withNormals01.jpg


    The detail and effect of SSS was astonishing, as it was my first chance to play with it and see the result. Even better, it really didn't add to the render time to any major degree. I burned off another closeup render to use as a target for the Maya shaders and got to work in the other program.

    SSS_TargetDetail.jpg

    The Maya shader system, being node-based, offered a lot more control but was considerably trickier to get fully functioning. I found a wonderful set of free video tutorials over on Gnomon's site and went through them, taking a couple hours to really make sure I understood the concepts - longer then I hoped to spend, but I think it will be far worth it in terms of quality of the final product gained for the investment.

    First I got the basic shader set up and began with the normal map, making sure it was still going to function properly, as the added simulated contour would help inform how the shapes were going to look in the renders, and it would tune the basic three-point lighting system I had set up.

    001_NormalOnly.jpeg

    I then began tweaking the different shader settings, beginning with the back scattering.

    001_Normal_plusBackScatter.jpeg

    Once I got this blocked in, I recorded the settings, turned it off and blocked in the Epidermal Scattering layer.

    001_Normal_plusEpidermal.jpeg

    Again, once this was blocked in, I turned it off and began the Subdermal layer.

    001_Normal_plusSubdermall.jpeg

    I then began turning them back on, first adding a color map to the backscatter layer.

    001_Normal_plusBackScatter_andColormap.jpeg

    Then I brought the color map to the other layers and spent time fine-tuning the weights between them.

    001_Colormaps_andWeights.jpeg

    As you can see, it really knocked back the effectiveness of the shader, especially the normal map, but much of it is due to the fact that the different shader layers need to be painted more to get the most out of this. Also, at this point I didn't have the specular layer applied. I brought in the specular map I had created before and set it up in a rudimentary fashion, and then had to call it a day for this part of the process, as I had an appointment to work on the rigging.

    001_Colormaps_andWeights_flat100spec.jpeg

    I'll be going through the tutorial more to learn to fine-tune the specular layer, and will be following another tutorial on setting up a shader for the eyes separately from the rest of the mesh. I may also set up a new shader for the shoulder pad and the metal of the loin cloth and belt buckle, and possibly the cloth of the old sack he's wearing. The overall paint still has a lot of work to do, adding details and defining the shapes and contrast, but for a lay-in test this is working very well, in my opinion.

    Rigging

    I also spent a lot of time this week meeting with various folks about getting my rig set up - I worked with Suzanne Kaufman for a while, who showed me a lot of great stuff, but it was a lot like drinking from a fire hose. She was rushed as she had other appointments to make it to, and she knows a ton about the process and how to do it right, but we just didn't have the time together to really cover everything.

    Megan Noble was quite helpful earlier this week, showing me how to create new attributes for controllers, how to orient joints and a number of tricks when it came to setting up the skeleton, as well as just answering questions when I'd get stuck or confused.

    Earlier today, I spent a couple hours with Micah Zahm, who was gracious enough to give a couple hours tutoring me on the process of setting up a rig the correct way in Maya, teaching me about simple things I was doing wrong that can break a rig, and the best ways to do it right. It was incredibly helpful, as rigging has always been my downfall before, and he showed me a number of things I found very enlightening about the process.

    Already, I'm finding Maya a much better system for all of this stuff then Max, at least in my limited knowledge. I was able to set up a full skeleton pretty quickly, and actually did it a few times before arriving at the final design.

    rigging_wholeSkeleton.jpg

    I have a whole suite of features built into the design of the rig that I needed in order to have the most success in the limited amount of action I'm planning for the character. Ideally I'd like to use the character for other things later, but for the time being and my current needs, he's going to work out great, I think.

    Micah was very helpful in showing me how to set up a reverse foot rig setup, and helped explain exactly how it works, which is something I've never been able to comprehend precisely before.

    rigging_footbones.jpg

    Essentially, the bone at the bottom of the foot doesn't get skinned to the mesh, it sits along the ground to allow the rig to pivot on its heel, but still allow the model to rise up on its toes or rock on the ball of the foot without lifting the foot controller but still moving the ankle IK, making the knee follow, as well.

    You may also notice he's got a "wiener bone", as it was jokingly named. That is a series of bones created to be skinned to the loin cloth mesh only, allowing for secondary motion as it flaps around when he walks.

    I've also set up a pair of bones for the eyes, which have Aim Constraints for the controllers which float out front.

    rigging_facebones.jpg


    The eyeball mesh is skinned entirely to those joints, and the joints themselves are parented to the head joint to make them follow in space. This lets the eyes rotate around inside the head without moving, but they follow the head as it moves. Just below the head joint is a joint for the jaw. I'm going to build two sets of teeth - one for the top row, which will be parented to the head joint, and one for the bottom row, which will be parented to the jaw joint. This will allow him to open his mouth and have the teeth follow. Finally, I have a pair of joints set up for the ears, allowing a lot of expression and secondary action in them.

    I also spent a lot of time getting the hands set up to a controller. The hands themselves are IK controlled, and are moved by the wrist controller. The wrist joint itself has an orientation constraint to the controller, which allows the arms to be moved by grabbing and pulling them around, but keeping the hands oriented to the world, as they should be. This will be a little trickier in the animation, as it can be hard to maintain proper arcs with IK rigs, but they're necessary to lock down the hands in the world space when putting any weight or grabbing onto objects.

    rigging_handController.jpg

    I also added new attributes to the hand controller and mapped them to the fingers, so that instead of grabbing controllers on every little joint I can manipulate them from a single space - much, much easier to work with and animate this way.

    I still have a bit more to do to finish the controllers, and have a LOT of work to get the deformer targets built for all the expressions he needs (blinks, scowl, wonderment, confusion, grimace, grin, elation, surprise, etc), but I'm getting much closer, and am moving through a step that was previously daunting, thanks to the help of some very kind folks.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited February 2011
    New animation - blocking stage for my second dialog attempt.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qHlpbiPPIo

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    Projects 350 - Week 7 & 8 Progress Journal: Rigging, Skinning, Blend Shapes and Animatics

    The past couple of weeks have been a headache, but they've been incredibly productive when I've been able to work. I'm a little behind the projected schedule, but as soon as I can get past this last little hump and get through this upcoming ridiculously busy week, I should be right back on track - I'm both in a wedding and interviewing for a very exciting potential job this coming Thursday, and preparing for both has required a lot of attention that I hoped to devote to this project this last week.

    I spent the first part completing the rig, learning the ins and outs of how to set up a biped rig in Maya. This is a very tricky, very technical process, and definitely not my specialty, but it is done now, and very functional.

    Entire_Rig.jpg

    I've got a lot of features built into the rig shown above - both arms and legs are IK driven, and I have a reverse-foot setup, allowing me to keep my heels locked on the ground, roll onto the balls of the feet and do all sorts of other great functions. I have a fully articulated spine, a jaw bone for controlling limited facial animation, duo-jointed ears, bones for the eyes, and a series of bones set up to allow secondary animation on the loincloth.

    The eyeballs and eyelids themselves are set up on the eye controllers, and I created a locator object above the character's head to allow him to tip his head to the side without causing odd pivoting or rotation action in the eyes or eyelids.

    Eye_Controls.jpg

    All eye activity is controlled through a series of controllers, using the Set Driven Keys commands in Maya. Through this technique, I can control blinking, eye direction and eyelid rotation, all through a single controller. This functionality was used on the hand controller, as well, allowing me to grab a single object to control the rotation of all finger joints, the spread of the fingers and limited rotation of the palm for exaggerating the form.

    finger%2Brigging%2Bfix.jpg

    When I was rigging one of the hands, I came across a strange problem - all of the translate options for one of the finger joints was just... missing. It appears that somehow the transform node was, at some point, removed, leaving the only available keyframe-able option as Visibility, not a feature I need a lot in animation. The solution for the problem ended up being rather clever - I created an empty group object, basically a null object in Maya that doesn't have any actual data or anything attached to it beyond transform data. I then unparented the finger joint from its hierarchy, parented the null node onto the joint, and then moved the set back into the hierarchy. A little convoluted, but it solved the problem and allows me full functionality of the hand again.

    I've also been working on my skinning, which is proving a little more problematic then I had originally anticipated, but it is coming along. I'm looking up further tutorials and other information from experts to assist, but I've got a good range of poses set up, it's just a matter of figuring out the strategy and learning what the model and rig can and cannot do. In the process, I'm learning a lot about how to better design topology for deformation, as I realize precisely what the theory really means, now that I can see it in action on a model that was this carefully planned.

    Grip_Pose.jpg

    Standing_pose.jpg

    Another success is that I finally got the mouth complete - I was having a huge issue getting teeth to parent correctly to the jaw bone and rotate right. No matter what I did, the teeth seemed to move twice as far as the lip would, meaning his teeth would receed or shoot right out of his mouth. It turns out that the lip was inheriting some of the skin weight from somewhere else, but that has since been remedied and we now have a great looking set of chompers.

    Initial_Teeth_Shader_02_final.jpeg

    Once I got them in, I ran the character through a number of facial poses, using the blend shapes I had set up and learning how he looks as his face distorts. Turns out? Adorable.

    Blend_shapesGoofy_Smile.jpeg

    Blend_shapes_Snarl.jpeg

    I even discovered, by moving and scaling the jaw bone, some additional functionality that the model possesses that I didn't realize - a happy little accident. Behold:

    big_ol_mouth.jpeg

    I've also begun work, and am about halfway done with the initial drawings for, the animatic, a useful stage in which staging and timing issues are resolved before moving toward animation. In doing so, I also created a more resolved version of the background image.

    BG_720.jpg

    It is still a very loose and unresolved piece, but it solves a lot of the composition problems I had before, and getting the more final model of the environment complete this week, getting grass into the shot and getting hte first lighting pass is going to be very exciting.

    Right now, though, I really, really just want to get this skinning done with so I can move on to starting the animation work. Time is running short, and there is a huge amount of work left to do.

    Rankenphile on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    thanks for the quotes, NibCrom. I hate not being able to post images in-line, but I still want to be able to share these posts.

    Anyway, huge update today.

    Projects 350 - Week 6 Progress Journal: SSS Shaders and Rigging



    Huge amounts of progress this week. I spent a lot of time learning how to use Subsurface Scattering Shaders in Max and Maya, as well as getting my rig prepped and ready for animation and skinning.
    Subsurface Scattering Shader Setup

    At the beginning of the week, I got a chance to get my diffuse map painted a little, with a start getting the head and hands a little bit more textural. Once I had a decent start, I began testing out the capabilities of the FastSSS shaders in Max, as I had heard they were a little simpler to use, and my finished model hadn't been exported to Maya yet. I played with the settings a bit and was astonished with the result. I quickly built a base specular map by converting my diffuse to greyscale and painting over the parts that needed tweaking (eyes, shoulderpad, etc) and made a rough normal map using the NVidia photoshop plugin. Enjoying the result, I created a quick turn-around set and rendered it out to use as a target for setting up the shader in Maya.

    Gobbo_ThreeModel_FullTurn_SSS_withNormals01.jpg


    The detail and effect of SSS was astonishing, as it was my first chance to play with it and see the result. Even better, it really didn't add to the render time to any major degree. I burned off another closeup render to use as a target for the Maya shaders and got to work in the other program.

    SSS_TargetDetail.jpg

    The Maya shader system, being node-based, offered a lot more control but was considerably trickier to get fully functioning. I found a wonderful set of free video tutorials over on Gnomon's site and went through them, taking a couple hours to really make sure I understood the concepts - longer then I hoped to spend, but I think it will be far worth it in terms of quality of the final product gained for the investment.

    First I got the basic shader set up and began with the normal map, making sure it was still going to function properly, as the added simulated contour would help inform how the shapes were going to look in the renders, and it would tune the basic three-point lighting system I had set up.

    001_NormalOnly.jpeg

    I then began tweaking the different shader settings, beginning with the back scattering.

    001_Normal_plusBackScatter.jpeg

    Once I got this blocked in, I recorded the settings, turned it off and blocked in the Epidermal Scattering layer.

    001_Normal_plusEpidermal.jpeg

    Again, once this was blocked in, I turned it off and began the Subdermal layer.

    001_Normal_plusSubdermall.jpeg

    I then began turning them back on, first adding a color map to the backscatter layer.

    001_Normal_plusBackScatter_andColormap.jpeg

    Then I brought the color map to the other layers and spent time fine-tuning the weights between them.

    001_Colormaps_andWeights.jpeg

    As you can see, it really knocked back the effectiveness of the shader, especially the normal map, but much of it is due to the fact that the different shader layers need to be painted more to get the most out of this. Also, at this point I didn't have the specular layer applied. I brought in the specular map I had created before and set it up in a rudimentary fashion, and then had to call it a day for this part of the process, as I had an appointment to work on the rigging.

    001_Colormaps_andWeights_flat100spec.jpeg

    I'll be going through the tutorial more to learn to fine-tune the specular layer, and will be following another tutorial on setting up a shader for the eyes separately from the rest of the mesh. I may also set up a new shader for the shoulder pad and the metal of the loin cloth and belt buckle, and possibly the cloth of the old sack he's wearing. The overall paint still has a lot of work to do, adding details and defining the shapes and contrast, but for a lay-in test this is working very well, in my opinion.

    Rigging


    I also spent a lot of time this week meeting with various folks about getting my rig set up - I worked with Suzanne Kaufman for a while, who showed me a lot of great stuff, but it was a lot like drinking from a fire hose. She was rushed as she had other appointments to make it to, and she knows a ton about the process and how to do it right, but we just didn't have the time together to really cover everything.

    Megan Noble was quite helpful earlier this week, showing me how to create new attributes for controllers, how to orient joints and a number of tricks when it came to setting up the skeleton, as well as just answering questions when I'd get stuck or confused.

    Earlier today, I spent a couple hours with Micah Zahm, who was gracious enough to give a couple hours tutoring me on the process of setting up a rig the correct way in Maya, teaching me about simple things I was doing wrong that can break a rig, and the best ways to do it right. It was incredibly helpful, as rigging has always been my downfall before, and he showed me a number of things I found very enlightening about the process.

    Already, I'm finding Maya a much better system for all of this stuff then Max, at least in my limited knowledge. I was able to set up a full skeleton pretty quickly, and actually did it a few times before arriving at the final design.

    rigging_wholeSkeleton.jpg

    I have a whole suite of features built into the design of the rig that I needed in order to have the most success in the limited amount of action I'm planning for the character. Ideally I'd like to use the character for other things later, but for the time being and my current needs, he's going to work out great, I think.

    Micah was very helpful in showing me how to set up a reverse foot rig setup, and helped explain exactly how it works, which is something I've never been able to comprehend precisely before.

    rigging_footbones.jpg

    Essentially, the bone at the bottom of the foot doesn't get skinned to the mesh, it sits along the ground to allow the rig to pivot on its heel, but still allow the model to rise up on its toes or rock on the ball of the foot without lifting the foot controller but still moving the ankle IK, making the knee follow, as well.

    You may also notice he's got a "wiener bone", as it was jokingly named. That is a series of bones created to be skinned to the loin cloth mesh only, allowing for secondary motion as it flaps around when he walks.

    I've also set up a pair of bones for the eyes, which have Aim Constraints for the controllers which float out front.

    rigging_facebones.jpg


    The eyeball mesh is skinned entirely to those joints, and the joints themselves are parented to the head joint to make them follow in space. This lets the eyes rotate around inside the head without moving, but they follow the head as it moves. Just below the head joint is a joint for the jaw. I'm going to build two sets of teeth - one for the top row, which will be parented to the head joint, and one for the bottom row, which will be parented to the jaw joint. This will allow him to open his mouth and have the teeth follow. Finally, I have a pair of joints set up for the ears, allowing a lot of expression and secondary action in them.

    I also spent a lot of time getting the hands set up to a controller. The hands themselves are IK controlled, and are moved by the wrist controller. The wrist joint itself has an orientation constraint to the controller, which allows the arms to be moved by grabbing and pulling them around, but keeping the hands oriented to the world, as they should be. This will be a little trickier in the animation, as it can be hard to maintain proper arcs with IK rigs, but they're necessary to lock down the hands in the world space when putting any weight or grabbing onto objects.

    rigging_handController.jpg

    I also added new attributes to the hand controller and mapped them to the fingers, so that instead of grabbing controllers on every little joint I can manipulate them from a single space - much, much easier to work with and animate this way.

    I still have a bit more to do to finish the controllers, and have a LOT of work to get the deformer targets built for all the expressions he needs (blinks, scowl, wonderment, confusion, grimace, grin, elation, surprise, etc), but I'm getting much closer, and am moving through a step that was previously daunting, thanks to the help of some very kind folks.[/spoiler]
    Projects 350 - Week 7 & 8 Progress Journal: Rigging, Skinning, Blend Shapes and Animatics



    The past couple of weeks have been a headache, but they've been incredibly productive when I've been able to work. I'm a little behind the projected schedule, but as soon as I can get past this last little hump and get through this upcoming ridiculously busy week, I should be right back on track - I'm both in a wedding and interviewing for a very exciting potential job this coming Thursday, and preparing for both has required a lot of attention that I hoped to devote to this project this last week.

    I spent the first part completing the rig, learning the ins and outs of how to set up a biped rig in Maya. This is a very tricky, very technical process, and definitely not my specialty, but it is done now, and very functional.

    Entire_Rig.jpg

    I've got a lot of features built into the rig shown above - both arms and legs are IK driven, and I have a reverse-foot setup, allowing me to keep my heels locked on the ground, roll onto the balls of the feet and do all sorts of other great functions. I have a fully articulated spine, a jaw bone for controlling limited facial animation, duo-jointed ears, bones for the eyes, and a series of bones set up to allow secondary animation on the loincloth.

    The eyeballs and eyelids themselves are set up on the eye controllers, and I created a locator object above the character's head to allow him to tip his head to the side without causing odd pivoting or rotation action in the eyes or eyelids.

    Eye_Controls.jpg

    All eye activity is controlled through a series of controllers, using the Set Driven Keys commands in Maya. Through this technique, I can control blinking, eye direction and eyelid rotation, all through a single controller. This functionality was used on the hand controller, as well, allowing me to grab a single object to control the rotation of all finger joints, the spread of the fingers and limited rotation of the palm for exaggerating the form.

    finger%2Brigging%2Bfix.jpg

    When I was rigging one of the hands, I came across a strange problem - all of the translate options for one of the finger joints was just... missing. It appears that somehow the transform node was, at some point, removed, leaving the only available keyframe-able option as Visibility, not a feature I need a lot in animation. The solution for the problem ended up being rather clever - I created an empty group object, basically a null object in Maya that doesn't have any actual data or anything attached to it beyond transform data. I then unparented the finger joint from its hierarchy, parented the null node onto the joint, and then moved the set back into the hierarchy. A little convoluted, but it solved the problem and allows me full functionality of the hand again.

    I've also been working on my skinning, which is proving a little more problematic then I had originally anticipated, but it is coming along. I'm looking up further tutorials and other information from experts to assist, but I've got a good range of poses set up, it's just a matter of figuring out the strategy and learning what the model and rig can and cannot do. In the process, I'm learning a lot about how to better design topology for deformation, as I realize precisely what the theory really means, now that I can see it in action on a model that was this carefully planned.

    Grip_Pose.jpg

    Standing_pose.jpg

    Another success is that I finally got the mouth complete - I was having a huge issue getting teeth to parent correctly to the jaw bone and rotate right. No matter what I did, the teeth seemed to move twice as far as the lip would, meaning his teeth would receed or shoot right out of his mouth. It turns out that the lip was inheriting some of the skin weight from somewhere else, but that has since been remedied and we now have a great looking set of chompers.

    Initial_Teeth_Shader_02_final.jpeg

    Once I got them in, I ran the character through a number of facial poses, using the blend shapes I had set up and learning how he looks as his face distorts. Turns out? Adorable.

    Blend_shapesGoofy_Smile.jpeg

    Blend_shapes_Snarl.jpeg

    I even discovered, by moving and scaling the jaw bone, some additional functionality that the model possesses that I didn't realize - a happy little accident. Behold:

    big_ol_mouth.jpeg

    I've also begun work, and am about halfway done with the initial drawings for, the animatic, a useful stage in which staging and timing issues are resolved before moving toward animation. In doing so, I also created a more resolved version of the background image.

    BG_720.jpg

    It is still a very loose and unresolved piece, but it solves a lot of the composition problems I had before, and getting the more final model of the environment complete this week, getting grass into the shot and getting hte first lighting pass is going to be very exciting.

    Right now, though, I really, really just want to get this skinning done with so I can move on to starting the animation work. Time is running short, and there is a huge amount of work left to do.

    (if you want to spoiler your post, you can reduce some of the thread clutter)

    I think the little guy looks good so far. What would be awesome if you documented some of the problems so we could see them, also link to any good tuts you find.

    Unfortunately I have no experience in modeling/rigging so I'm waiting to see some animation. Its pretty cool so far.

    Iruka on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    thanks, iruka

    I've tried to document some of the problems, but often these posts are written against deadline of getting things submitted, among four other hectic projects. I try to screen-cap anomolies and such, but I do catch myself trying to cover up issues and making things look like they're going smoother then they actually are, since these entries are also being read by one of the faculty advisors that tends to get his fingers into everything if he hears there is a problem, and has a tendency to make things worse, rather then better. That's no excuse, though, if I'm trying to document this as an honest progress journal that would be useful for someone else going through the process, so I'll be more mindful of it as I go. Some of the issues in skinning I'll be dealing with this week, in particular, I think would be useful do document.

    I'll go back and edit in spoiler tags on the previous posts on this page, at least. Thanks for the feedback.

    edit: added spoilers. Any chance someone would quote my week 6 entry?

    Rankenphile on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    Hope hes not reading the entries on the forums :p.

    Added week 6 to my post.

    What are the splines defining his head and chest doing in the rig? Are they just there for reference?

    Iruka on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    Iruka wrote: »
    Hope hes not reading the entries on the forums :p.

    Added week 6 to my post.

    What are the splines defining his head and chest doing in the rig? Are they just there for reference?

    All spline shapes shown there are controller objects,. They don't actually effect the geometry, they're basically just handles.

    Rankenphile on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    New passes at dialog animation.

    Blocking Plus stage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu9fClGPewY

    In this stage, I have begun working on smoothing the animation together in splines, but haven't yet had time to really finesse the motion. I'm mainly trying to get the first set of motion in, to ensure the timing works and the body moves between poses well.

    First polish pass:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uldveCKNEU

    n this pass, I begin working in the graph editor to really focus on getting the motion as smooth and natural as I can. I mainly focused on body mechanics in the feet, hips and torso, as well as tracking the arcs in the punching arm and the head. I'll be making one more pass at this to refine the animation before moving on to my final scene for the class.

    Rankenphile on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited March 2011
    I kinda find where his leg is landing weird. It seems like it could follow through and end up more in front of him, or his stance maybe would get a little wider to regain his balance. As of now I expect him to be kinda off kilter, cause hes twisting his leg behind him a bit.

    Iruka on
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