Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vikky’s Hat – Box modeling in Maya, detailing in Zbrush, and a note about reference.

Anytime I sculpt, draw, or model something, I’ve found it to be a good idea to have plenty of reference-- even if I already know exactly how I would like my piece to look. Reference is invaluable. I can’t stress that enough.

My imagination is fluid; it changes with my mood and what I’ve experienced. I’m constantly being influenced and inspired and most of the time, I don’t even realize it. By setting myself up with a donkey-load of reference, it allows me to tackle my projects with a broader spectrum.

When I gather reference, I try to collect things that invoke emotion; whether good or bad, I want it to inspire me. I’ve found that some artists only gather things that they like. For me, I think it’s important to gather things that I not only like but also dislike. It helps me avoid what I don’t want to do, and gives me a clearer direction on where I would like to take my stuff.

I think many of us take for granted that now-a-days the world is literally at our finger tips with services like Google Image Search, and Flickr. Ten years ago if I wanted to see what was out in the world, I was limited to whatever books were in my local library, or I would have to go see it for myself. Today I can visually travel around the world in ten seconds. I love the internet.  

As great as these services are, I try not to let them be my only mode of reference and inspiration; there is nothing like experiencing something first hand, so get there and do fun stuff. Look for unpredictable situations.   

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m a total newb when it comes to Maya. From my understanding, Maya gets a bulk of its allure from the programs ability to work with NURBS surfaces, however my knowledge in working with NURBS is somewhat limited; I’m not even sure if NURBS transfer into Zbrush, so until I read up on it, I’m going to continue doing my modeling with polys. I realize this project is pretty simple, almost to the point of being comical, so hopefully I’ll look back on it in a years’ time and laugh.

This is not intended to be a tutorial, but if you happened to stumble on it and you have some questions, please leave a comment below.


Inside of Maya I started with a very simple poly sphere. At this stage, the simpler the better, I’m looking for the bare minimum I need to find the form; this particular one is divided 8x8 for a total of 64 faces. 

By keeping it simple I can quickly establish the form I am looking for just by moving a few verts. I really like the way Maya is set up for adding additional geometry. With a couple clicks you can add it where it’s needed. (Around the brim edges.) At this stage, I think I ended up with around 150 faces after I added the additional geometry, which is still considerably lite. 

Here is the same 150 faced model, but now with 3 levels of subdivision. You can see it’s starting to look more like a hat. It bumps the face count up to around 8,000. This probably the level I will render at when it comes time for animation. 

I lower my subdivision and export the model into Zbrush using the GoZ feature built into Zbrush.
As you can see, we’re back to the 150 faced model. 

Now inside of Zbrush, I can divide the mesh into much high levels. This allows me to sculpt in the fine details like the cord, stitching and texture. For this particular model I’m at 9 levels of subdivision, which equates to about 8,000,000 active points. (I <3 Zbrush)

Here at the final stage I have all my detail sculpted in, and my textures painted and this model is ready to be exported back into Maya for animation. I’ll probably add some straps, and maybe a piece of hardware in the front, but I’m not sure yet. 

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