Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Skivvies and a Note on workflow

So after looking at Vikky’s Body sculpt in the previous post, I realized the breasts were kind of off. They seemed just too… buoyant? (If that’s the right word.)

Granted Vikky is kinda exaggerated and stylized, but there’s a bold line between good and ridiculous. My previous sculpt had obviously crossed that line. It was my friend who tactfully pointed it out. When I came back to it with a fresh set of eyes, it was obvious and I made the corrections.

One major thing that was tripping me up was how the body looks with and without underwear. It’s subtle, but underwear and bras and what not make a person hold themselves differently. The Bra Vikky is wearing is obviously some sort of pushup. I guess she likes the attention?

Many thanks to YouTube user "ksalki" for posting a a great video on building geometry/clothing in Zbrush. I was going to use the mesh-extraction method, but the video he posted gave me much cleaner topology. His video can be seen here.

On workflow, I feel a bit lost. In a nutshell, here’s why: Zbrush exports normal maps to Maya to make a mesh look smooth and awesome… which if fine, but the rub is that Toon shading doesn’t work off normal maps… (to my understanding?) Sooo… I’m not sure what to do. I think for the time being, I just continue to work on her in Zbrush, and have a hi-rez version that I can hopefully do something with. I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

I finished two more training courses, “Introduction to Hypershade” and “Mastering Maya Render Nodes” both courses were informative and put together well, but because of the nature of what they were, I found them to be boring. I fell asleep five times while going through them.

One final thing that I’m really excited about is the fact a friend of mine has decided to join me in bring Duke vs. the Dead to life. (c’mon puns are funny…) She’s seems just as excited about it as I am. We’ll see what comes out of all it.

I need to get back to work.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vikky’s Body - fleshing out the form

Last week I spent a lot of time studying the female body in an attempt to understand Vikky’s form. (I wish I could say I was studying it first hand, but it was all reference photos… Jokes.)

Anyways, below is the progress I’ve made.

Before I attempted to sculpt her, I figured it would be best if I could draw, and because my experience with figure drawing is limited, I thought it might be a good challenge.

I started with a lot of reference, and a bunch of gesture drawings-- I was trying to capture her as she was whipping around, to rear with the zombie in the foreground, but I don’t think I did the pose justice. In my mind it was much cooler. I still need to read up on dynamics/force in drawings. Also the lighting is a bit off, but eh, it was a body study, so I’m fine with it

Once I completed the drawing, I returned to the sculpting aspect. Getting everything proportionally correct took me longer than I’d care to admit. I had to continually superimpose reference of Andrew Loomis’s “ideal” proportions to set the landmarks. I her arms might be a little short, but I’m not sur., I’ll have to see her in a pose, and it should be an easy fix if needed.

Because this model is designed for animation, I made sure to keep an eye on the topology to try and match the movements her body might make. There were a couple times that I had to go in and change a few things. I might still have to adjust the topology in certain parts, but for the most part, I think it’s pretty clean.

Anyways, here’s the final model with a fast skin material applied. I’m not 100% satisfied with it, but it should work for now. I think the shoulders look kinda wonky, but we’ll see what it looks like once I get shirt over top of it.

My next step for her is to start modeling on her clothing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vikky's Body - still needs work

I completed three more training courses, all by Digital Tutors: Maya Basics, UV Layout, and Female Android Modeling. Sadly, I have to say these courses were not very helpful to me. They are kinda dated, going all the way back to 2001 or somewhere around there. I believe they were using Maya 6 in the videos, and well, some of the processes are outdated. They were put together well, kinda slow in parts, but overall, just outdated.

Anyways, I finished modeling out Vikky’s body, but I’m not very happy with my results. They feel lifeless and kinda blah. I was reading that you should only rely on the base mesh to represent about 20% of what you are trying to achieve, and have the rest be made up with lighting, texture, animation, etc., but still I’m not happy.

I think I’m going to do a quick body study, and maybe spend a day or so drawing another concept piece in Photoshop. Once I finish that, I might start from scratch on the body again, or modify the one I’ve got. We’ll see.

Here is the progress through my training so far:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vikky's Gun - Animated

So I wanted to see if I could apply what I learned with toon shading to Vikky’s gun. Below are the results I’ve come up with so far.

Knowing what I know now, I might adjust my workflow.
Previously I was thinking of taking everything into Zbrush and sculpting in the high detail, then exporting the normals… but that doesn’t really work with toon lines. Hrmm… We’ll see what I can come up with.

As it is right now, I’m pretty satisfied, but I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I spent the last week working through the settings in Maya toon, and now I feel confident in being able to develop a look I’m going to use for Duke vs. the Dead. The course I was studying was from Digital Tutors, titled “Rendering with Maya Toon” Overall it was pretty informative. It was put together for Maya 8, I believe, but all of the principles still apply to the current version of Maya 2012. It started off slow, just explaining ramp shaders, which was kinda boring, but I can understand why the instructor used it as a base.

Overall I’d rate this course a 7.5 and recommend it to anyone looking to get into toon shading in Maya.

My next step is to keep refining Vikky’s body, and then toon it up.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mastering Maya – The Long Road Ahead.

I think it’s time to evaluate my ambitions and what I’d like to do with the Duke vs. the Dead project.
As much as I’d like to start with production today, and have it finished in a week or so, and have millions of people viewing it in a month… I simply know that’s not going to happen. The truth is I don’t know enough. I’m still a newb when it comes to Maya.

There’s no doubt, it’s complex tool. To do things right I’ll have to familiarize myself. Otherwise I’ll end up just getting frustrated.
At this juncture I think it’s a good idea to take a moment and look down the road and realize that there is a lot to learn. Below is a list of the courses I plan on educating myself with.

From my count, there are 60 courses/volumes. I’m guessing that each course ranges from 10-30 hours of study time, so I’m looking at anywhere from 600-1800 hours of study.

That’s kind of daunting when you think about it… On the high end, if I spent 8 hours a day on it, it would still take me nearly half a year to go through all these.

To boil it down, I’ll have to remember to try and be patient with myself and focus more on the joy of learning rather than the final result.

There is no benefit in getting frustrated and belittling myself because of time; doing that will only impede my progress. I’m always hard myself, but I think it’s time to start accepting things for what they are; otherwise I won’t be able to get a grasp on the situation.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vikkys Gun - Done for now...

I’ve finished with Vikky’s gun. (For the time being, at least.) I feel like it took me way too long. (about 16 hours) Below you can see the model with no texture maps applied.

Overall I’d rate this model a 6 out of 10 - it just didn’t come out like I wanted. There are a few features/brushes inside of zbrush that I’m still struggling with. You can see where the handle and the frame come together, it just doesn’t look right. (I guess I’ll have to read some more.)

I wanted to wire the parameters together so that when the hammer is pulled back the chamber would rotate accordingly, but I think that might be a little too technical for right now. I didn’t add in any fine detail yet because I need to establish an overall look for the animation I’m trying to create. The fine detail might not even show up.

My next step is to establish the overall look for this animation.
I’m thinking along the lines of some stylized cell shading, but we’ll see. I want to try and match the look to my original concept drawing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Zombify yourself - Like CGfoxTrot on facebook.

I thought it might be fun to base the zombies in Duke vs The Dead off of real people.

if you are interested in potentially getting zombified,
all you have to do is like my blog page on facebook.

This in't a contest or anything, just a fun way to be interactive.

Simple Shapes and Topology – How I Understand My Model.

When I look at something I see topology. My imagination draws and connects lines over surfaces. I’ve been doing this since kindergarten, only back then I didn’t know it was called topology. I simply called them “computer lines.”

I think I developed this way of seeing the world out of necessity. In the mornings when my kindergarten class was asked to say the pledge of allegiance and place their right hand over their heart, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know which hand to use.

For some reason or another, I’ve always had trouble discerning right from left. It still haunts me to this day; if I’m driving and my passenger says turn right, I’ll turn left. At the time it made me feel stupid. I would look at the other kids and I just couldn’t figure out which hand they were using. I got in trouble for it, but the teacher thought I was just fooling around.

That night when I went home, I sat in my room and tried to understand the concepts of left and right. I think what was throwing me off was that these things are relative. Without right, you can’t have left. At the time my little brain just couldn’t grasp that. Then with my imagination I started to draw lines on the walls. For the first time ever I saw myself in 3D space.

Everything became absolute. Everything I saw had a line and orientation. It was a good feeling.
One of the awesome things about 3D modeling is that it forces your eye to see simple shapes and topology. No matter how complex a model may seem, it still can be broken down into simple form. It’s a lot like creating a puzzle and putting it together all in one step. In the picture below, you can see how I start with very basic shapes to “block out” the form.

This isn’t anything special, most 3D artist do the same thing, but the challenge comes in thinking ahead of the form. If you’re going to lay down a sphere, it’s good practice to understand how that topology is going to tie into a different form, like a square for example.

Pulling topology together is an art form in itself and in my opinion it’s grossly underrated and unappreciated.

 People that don’t know much about 3D modeling just assume that the program is doing it for you, but this is not true. Good topology is a result of a good 3D artist. I’m nowhere near mastering my topology game, but I’m finding Maya’s interface much more intuitive over Max’s.

The tools built inside of Maya quickly let me zip through different options until I find one that works best.

A lot of artists will say that topology isn’t that important – you can hide bad topology with the right lighting and shadows, and they might be right, but that’s not going to stop me from striving toward topological excellence. Ha.

Below you can see I’m almost done with Vikky’s gun.
In my next post, I should have the whole thing finished.