All boxed up

Working under restrictions can sometimes call for planning, compromise and creativity…

I have been set on a task to create a 3D model as a practice project leading up to the world skills event; a treasure chest is my first and by the time you are reading this I am still making progress with this model, just need to start texturing.with the Uv maps and hopefully learn more about PBR texturing.

The use of spikes and a large set of horns gives a hint of character to this model, but the horns could also be vines or tentacles which consequently can lead to confusion upon the eyes of a player, modeler or mere inspector.

CHEST
To create the horns, I had a chance to try a new tool which I had looked into. The NURBS curve tool, this tool allows me to draw out a more accurate line for my polygons to follow through elevation. Additionally, these lines allow me to be more interesting with the wackiness of my poly’s…

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moving on to the Texturing in Photoshop… after an hour of unfolding the entire model including the external assets. I learned these new skills/tools;

  • Automatic unfold
  • Sew/Cut UVS
  • Layout
  • Snapshot UVS
  • Unfold
  • Smooth Unfold

After I finished the UV editing, I found that with the new tools and skills I developed during that time and that UV unwrapping doesn’t take the duration that people take it for. It mostly consists of a lot of prior planning and is easier to do when there are external assets which leaves out the worry of having to cut out odd seams where you can alternatively have more straight forward UV layouts.

 

Heirarchy ‘Parent & Child’ animation…

Coming closer to my portfolio presentation, I have time to improve on my 3D skills in animation. The lesson today consisted of learning about the hierarchy and its connection with the terms ‘Parent & Child’.

Parent & Child

This is a term where the main object is classified as the parent whereas the connected object is known as its child. Here is a visual representation of what I’m trying to explain;

comp_aboutskelhier

After engraving this information in our heads, we set out creating a simple character and animating through the hierarchy and practicing the parent and child method.

This was the basic undeveloped animation heirarchy graph for the character I made which shows that each panel is an asset which has been created in maya or already built into the scene during launch of the Maya application.

Each panel is a parent but only if I give something for it to parent with, this is where the term ‘child’ comes into more focus. It’s exactly the same as in real life, for example; A person is not a parent until child is there to be parented.

Recently I have been working on model in my spare time that I can now for practice my animation, hierarchy and parenting skills… not that in real life of course.

As I started this project at home my first thought was what can I create which has a simple skeleton and has a very simple movements such as a walk and idle stance or cycle. Finally I also thought which can be the easiest to make which is not like which is not like me because I like to have a challenge with modelling and animation. And then I clicked, ‘What was the dinosaur called with the long neck which is really slow?’  – Alamosaurus 

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Alamosaurus Mesh 

Why not, giving the fact that it’s tool it has a long neck and other distinctive features. It seems easy enough to model, with a good JPEG image plane to work with and the right tools to use. And within a few hours I had a full model of an alamosaurus ready for Rigging and waiting to be brought to life.

Rigging- the method used by animators to set up a simple skeleton frame within a model to animate with.

Afterwards I started setting up the hierarchy for the skeletal structure and it wasn’t easy for the first time trying to get the grasps with what goes where in the hierarchy in terms of ‘what should be the parent and what should be the child?’.

I finally figured it out when I thought about logically what should be connected to what, I started by saying Head, Shoulders, body, hips, legs, feet. Basically working from top down but with the head being the main parent. Just like in the image of this blog you see the shoulder connected to the elbow connected to the wrist connected to the hand. Quite logical when you think about it… here it is laid out more simply for you.

 

 

 

 

Shoulder > elbow > wrists > hands.

 

Up to this point I am currently trying to get my head around ‘painting weights’ for the animation so therefore my model does not bend unnaturally to the key pose I give it. I have inserted a clip showing you what painting weights in Maya is below this paragraph. I hope this teaches you as good as it has taught me.

How to create a hierarchy with Maya.

Autodesk Maya – NEXT GEN IDENT

I have been progressing ever so slightly with my I dent animation developing and refining it with minor changes by using the motion graph editor to help me with ‘block animation’ which also means step-by-step animation to help me get those main poses or key-frames just right…

I’ve also been meaning to redo the lighting to either expose the scene and enhance the aesthetics of the scene. In other words basically bringing out those nice colors and making everything look spectacular. The method I thought which was best using was the three-point lighting method this will contain a main light, filler light and a back light that can bring out much more of the model or the scene.

During the pipeline of development, I was told about a new renderer called TURTLE. Turtle, like mental Ray can enhance and improve lighting by taking characteristics of lightning from real environments and apply them to your own scene which overall can inject realism but on an uncanny level which also introduces the term ‘uncanny valley’.

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I DENT scene with motion blur + DoF (Depth of Field)

Uncanny valley – A term used when an event or a scenes characteristic turns out to be not fully realistic.

After all the lighting was complete I then moved on to cameras and the animation of the cameras, for this I did not need to use block animation. Instead, I switched over to the camera view which I wanted to animate and by moving myself to where my assets looked best I could insert a key frame, this would show off my version of what I wanted myself and the audience to see.

The only problem that I faced during this task was trying to get timing right, but I learnt that by going through the timeline I can pick out key points in the scene and position the camera to where I want when I needed. By doing this I found it a lot easier and a lot more successful to improve camera animation within Maya.

Continue reading “Autodesk Maya – NEXT GEN IDENT”

Block animation in the industry

When starting an animation, you will have to take into consideration the pipeline of development from beginning to end and for animators to do this they have to start with either one of two methods and this is how I will lead on to the main subject of this blog which is the use of block you will have to animation within the games, animation and film industry.

The first step in the pipeline of develpment is to either drawer out concepts for a storyboard of your scene which can make it visually easier and better to tell the story you are trying to show. These drawings must match up with positioning of characters or effects and also the position of the camera within the scene and the frame.

Another way to start developing animation for the characters on scene is to actually go out, rehearse and act the specific actions which the characters will undergo during the animation regardless of camera movements. The aim is to simply get the key poses for the characters on the timeline and to also find out how long this scene will take and this is why I block animation lends a hand.

By using the method of block animation, animators can analyse those key poses and place them specifically where they should be when they should occur. And with use of the graph editor tool in Maya animators can fine tune the movement of the animation and this means going into such detail as the X Y and Z axis also known as the ‘vector movements’.

  • Vector 3 – X, Y, Z ‘Axis’
  • Vector 2 – X, Y
  • Vector 1 – X

As soon as block animation is finished the movement of the characters is then made to be smooth and given a more natural look to them. So basically hand movements and footwork will look more natural have more Curve/arc and anticipation which are a few of the many principles of animation that I have learnt over this year.

I have been working on and IDent which either promotes myself or the next gen course, I was told to put the block animation method into practice which I did but didn’t find it easier to use as some of my tangent Lines why not being ‘blocked or stepped’, this made it incredibly hard to add efficient timing into my work and also made the animation design seem a lot more harder to work with. I finally chose to not use block animation and therefore cube with the smooth estimated movement which Maya calculated for me and then fine tune the animation movement later if needed.

Blocked and stepped – a method used to show key poses of a character or scene without estimating movement within frames of those poses. Keeping animation very clean and organised.

Throughout the time learning about block animation, I have realised the benefits and drawbacks of using this method such as timing, preparation between key poses and making it either easier or harder to animate a character step by step to give it more natural looks and movements.

Maya Room Scene – Final Post

This will be the last time I upload a post relating to the room scene which I have created in Maya. Looking back I feel like I have achieved so much that I never thought I could achieve in the 3D world of Maya.

But it hasn’t all been easy…

As I was coming to an end of modelling one of the fireplace models, I saved the file and left it for the next day where at the point I open up the same file and the whole model corrupted… A single tear rolls down my eye.  But I didn’t let it get the best of me, I had time to rebuild the fireplace, continue UV unwrapping and lighting until I pretty much got the same model which I had prior to the event which taken place.

On the other hand, modelling other assets was like looking at a masterpiece in my opinion. Learning about specular maps, Normal Maps, Bump maps, texturing and other ways to add life to a 3D model. Now when I start creating another asset for a scene, I tend to have an eye of realism. Therefore, everything needs to look amazing and without any major faults such as missing sections of a model or twisted polygons.

These are some renders which I have just done before I started this blog…

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Overall I feel way more confident in modelling and how to look at something and find different ways to start from what points. Additionally, I have more experience in texturing with Maps. These are the different types of ‘Maps’ which I have used to complete each asset in my room scene;

  • Bump Maps

Bump maps are what gives a flat plain, a bump like texture which corresponds to the JPEG it has come from. This saves a modeller hours of having to sculpt out a specific texture, also this bump map was created on Photoshop with a greyscale filter for it to therefore have effect on the models.

concrete_08_uv_h_cm_1-copybmp

  • Normal Maps

Similar to bump maps in every way other than this Map consumes a lot more memory in comparison to Bump Maps but it has a more accuracy whilst engraving into the texture which comes in handy especially if you are into realism.

seamless_green_fabric_texture-copynmp

  • Specular Maps

Specular Maps are really different in how they appear and how they are made in comparison to other Maps. Simply, the White is where the reflected light will show and the black will absorb all the light. Take not though… this file has to be saved as a ‘.tga’ file format otherwise the effect wont take place.

woodcvr-holespc-copyjpg

  • Reflection Maps

Reflection maps are quite tricky to execute but how they are made is quite easy, all that’s required is a panoramic photo and Something to apply it to this will give out a reflection effect to any material you can apply it to. This will be somewhat distorted when applied to something which has a curve.

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Panoramic photo

So that’s it, I am really happy with how my room has come out and I hope to take away a few lesson in how to become a better 3Dmodeler.

Click the link below for my Room Scene PowerPoint Presentation where I show off my favourite models, renders and explain how I done those models.

room-scene-powerpoint-presentation

 

The 12 principles of animation ‘Illusion of life’

I have just watched a clip of the 12 principles of animation from Disney. I have also taken into account the vast range of different ways which an animation or a real life object can be altered to either look more fluent or fun in a way.

Click the link to watch the full video: The illusion of life

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Extract from Illusion of life ‘Secondary action’

Squash and Stretch

This principle delivers weight and volume to an object as it moves throughout a scene.

Anticipation

Gives the illusion of preparation through movement prior to the objects main movement

Staging

The presentation of an idea so it is therefore clearer to the audience what is being shown.

Pose to Pose and Straight

The idea of animating through two different methods which give out a smoother animation.

Pose to Pose

Charted with Key drawings so you can therefore plan out what will happen through the timeline of your animation.

Straight

Working the animation from frame to frame/drawing to drawing to complete the overall animation.

Follow through and overlap

When the main character moves from one space to another and suddenly stops, the rest of the body continues to follow through. Therefore nothing stops all at once.

Slow in and slow out

When the action starts, less drawings make the animation go faster. On the other hand, more drawings make the object move slower.

Arcs

All actions tied to an object give out a round or arc movement, it gives out the perception of natural action and better flow to an animation.

Secondary Action

It’s an additional action which therefore creates additional supplementary actions to give the main action more dimension and interest within the scene.

Timing

More drawings make between poses make the animation slower yet keep the animation smoother yet less drawings present the animation with faster movement but with a more static movement.

Exaggeration

Keep the common views of reality yet come across that view in a wild and wacky view.

Solid Drawings

The practice of drawing out three-dimensional objects taking into consideration their weight and volume.

Appeal

It is the charm and the personality/charisma of the character action which is aesthetically pleasing to the audiences eye.

All of these principles should be able to alter and improve the way we animate anything from 2-dimensional drawings to 3-dimensional models and drawings. There is a book which can help any aspiring animator hoping to make a mark on their work. This book is called  ‘The Animator’s Survival Kit’ by Richard Williams. It can be bought online and contains everything which you would need to know about any form of animation within the creative industries.

 

City Scape Final piece

Finally finished the city scape art piece which I had to complete and this is the final version.

city-copy
Final Version

My final changes such as adding more depth into the clouds and randomized windows had been recommended by my tutor so I went out and done exactly that alongside other additional re-adjustments. Firstly I added many more adjustment layers to make some extra effects especially one with came across as a surprise to me as I applied the adjustment layer with the mask over the top of a specific layer.

effecthex

This small screenshot I took is a representation of what had been done to the adjustment layers to create this surprising new effect making the lighting of my City scape a lot more cartoon like, now… as you can see, both of the layer masks have been edited with the black brush tool to act as an eraser to wipe away the effect in a specified position. This has been used to create the semi-transparent smoke effect about the city.

The image on the right shows an outline effect which can be seen in video games such as Crackdown where the outline cartoon effects is shown which may infer that Realtime Worlds wanted this effects to make character and buildings easier to see.

Overall, I am really proud of this project as I can advance on my Photoshop skills to further become better at concept art in many other art styles.