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.

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;


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 

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’.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

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.



City Scape art Peice

Todays blog will be a mix between 3D in Maya with art in Photoshop. Firstly we were made to create a scene like a reference we were given on a YouTube video ‘Atomic Puppets’.

The Images below are both made to resemble a burning city in an apocalyptic world, but unlike real cities. This one had to look cartoonish and wacky. So we therefore made a city scape in Autodesk Maya, mostly had to copy and past most of the buildings to create more of an effect in the final version of the render.

Maya Render W/Photoshop Edits
Atomic Puppets Intro


The wacky bend effect which you can see on the top of the buildings, are created by using the lattice effect which surrounds the object in a net which you can modify and create that bend shape an example which is shown below. Now I got told to do this at the very end of the modelling process as the effect would be greater with all assets present for the effect to be at its greatest I find it funny because the bend effect reminds me that of the houses of whoville out of ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas’.

I will be continuing with this art project as time goes on alongside other upcoming projects such as the Christmas game I am to make with a group of 9 and I will also be blogging about during the course of development.


3D Spaceship

Moving on to 3D modelling, a very familiar aspect of my work which is currently revolving around creating a spaceship. And a way better one that we initially built for our final 3D assignment in Level 2, I started with a basic Cube polygon; extruded & elongated to expand upon on either face to therefore create the basic shape of the ship. I then proceeded to extrude further and later on create the more detailed shape of the ship. To do this I use the Tri/Quadrangulate tool to therefore add a smoother edge to the wings.

Now obviously all of this sounds complicated to the untrained eye, alternatively most would this this sounded fairly easy to carry out… it wasn’t. I had problems with rendering and still as I write this blog I have a problem with texturing the hull of the ship due to the ‘Back-face culling accidentally being on during the poly face selection process. Silly mistake which can be learned over time.shiprnd2

Now I am overseeing the final developments by tracking different renders which I have analysed to get the most realistic yet vibrant image to suit my models background. Initially, I had problems with rendering because of the ‘Mental Ray’ package becoming lost therefore I couldn’t see the full potential of anti-alising and the glow effects from the ships engines. Finally, I can say that there is much more to be added such as either weaponry and maybe something which could make this project stick out from the rest.

Friday 30th September

Back to class with Matt working on Maya and those little features which I longed to find out how to work have finally appeared. Features such as mirroring, Mirror Shading which I mostly used as a re-correction to any faulty texturing on the cockpit, engines and other assets which I have created.

Furthermore, I have also discovered that the quad/Triangulation should not be used unless absolutely necessary. That is because I would give myself a bigger job of actually texturing it and more harder to fix if a polygon is out of place. Now I have tried a taught method which involves selecting separate faces then reduce the poly count by simply going (Ctrl + Delete). This is the best way of going about cleaning up models as you can see by these wireframes below.

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Now I will agree that the wings still need some massive re-adjustments but besides that. I think with the new tool that I have, My models will look a lot cleaner and better both aesthetically and performance based.