Update

I want to keep updating this over placement year hopefully, so here’s a look at what I’ve been up to!

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One of the gnomes from Gravity Falls!

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This was particularly fun because I’ve never done a full character piece before in maya! It was great being able to mess around with textures and lighting. I’m working on a different one right now, hoping to better my character modelling skills for my next show reel!

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Actual UV Mapping

So in the past I’ve mentioned being quite ignorant of how to properly UV Map. Usually my method included heavy abuse of automatic and normal mapping in hopes that if I tilted the render camera just right then the angle would hide any deformities in the texture. In extreme cases, I would go above and beyond to remake my model to achieve the previous method.

Thankfully though my roommate happened to take notice of my weird ass technique and told me to cut that shit out.

Apparently it’s just a simple case of applying an automatic map, taking a screen cap of the maps, then simply drawing the texture over them. This is great for character textures, and I understand I’ll need to work harder during the summer to better grasp how to do it properly, but I’m just so glad that the things I make are no longer looking so plasticky

This here is a model of my character Keegan. I made the head bust completely in maya. I didn’t initially plan on making him specifically, I was just waiting on a render and wanted to see if I could really make a semi-detailed head bust without the help of Zbrush. I was very happy with the results. After slapping on an automatic map, I put my textures to the test in sai paint. Keegan, like most of my characters, has a very bright pallet, so it was difficult to see what I was doing sometimes. You would think that after being blinded eight times over by extreme saturation I would chill with the neon, but I guess I just really love not being able to see.

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The day I paint someone without freckles will be the day I die.

It took several hours of editing and reapplying the textures, but my current result looks something like this. There are still minor changes I need to make, but all in all I’m very happy with what I’ve managed to do with UV Mapping, and very satisfied that I have a better idea of what the hell I’m doing

 

 

Personal Project

Though last minute, I decided to do another character sculpt. I doubled checked with Alec, as I had originally be assigned to help the final years, but they had so little work to do for me that I decided to do my own project.

This time however, I chose one of my favorite characters instead of one of my own. I’ve been watching 80s cartoons since I was a kid, and one I was particularly attached to was GI Joe. I started watching Sigma Six when I was really little (a mistake and travesty) but around the time I was in junior year of high school, The Hub had released a newer version called Renegades.

Permit me to binge a bit. The show was different from other incarnations because it focused less on the glorification of the American Military and more on the mistakes it can make and the country’s over reliance on mass corporations. The show centered around six characters as they are framed for a terrorist attack and are forced to flee from the military and Cobra.

The art style was that of the late Clement Sauve, who was a Canadian comic book artist. Sauve’s art style gained mixed reactions from the fans. Sauve greatly influenced my own style, though I can admit that while it looks nice sequentially, animation was not something that complimented Sauve’s art.

Anyway, Sauve worked on Renegades until his death in 2011 from leukemia. The show ended shortly afterwards and the plans for season two were scrapped in the shadow of the live action sequel. (God damn it.)

Anyway since I was a kid, Tunnel Rat had always been a favorite of mine. He was introduced in the 1987 GI Joe movie as a side character introduced to sell more toys. Having grown up around New Yorkers and developing a somewhat eccentric personality myself, I remembered being amused by his thick Brooklyn accent and similar character traits to my own. This version of the character not only had what I think is a very appealing design, but in general the writing for him was also very likable. I decided I wanted to sculpted my cartoon favorite.

 

I started off in maya of course. Having only recently learned how to correctly merge verts, this was a lot simpler than any character drafts I’ve done before

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He’s extremely low poly here. I had to smooth him out a little more before tossing him into zbrush. He was created using a few cubes and the merge verts tool. Considering I was in the middle of like eight different projects, I was surprised to find that this only took two hours

Once in zbrush, I decided to start working on his face first. T-rat has very sharp features, which would be difficult as I wasn’t used to it. The last sculpt had been my character Pepper, who has a very soft and squishy face. I managed to get some good details though using the smooth, standard, and polish brushed

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Then I got to work trying to work on his clothes. As pictured above, he wears very baggy clothing, and I wasn’t sure how to get that effect in the program. At first I started out just globbing up his legs with the clay build up brush. My plan was to work on it like physical clay and scoop out the eventual shape of legs.

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Yikes.

So while figuring out what to do, I talked with Rose for a bit. As she has more Zbrush experience than I do, she recommended using subtools. That had never even occurred to me until she brought it up. However it was a suggestion that basically saved the project. I used cylinders for his legs instead of globs, and squares for his shoes, which I wound up redoing in maya anyway.

The hardest part was getting somewhat seamless subtool merges. I learned that in order to do this, I had to merge the ones I wanted, export them as OBJ files, then import them back in and delete the old ones. Did this still have seams? Yup. But could I work around them and erase the lines? Hell yeah I could.

After getting all his details in, it was time to texture. Which is something I’ve still not mastered

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Big sigh. He looks like he’s made of clay here.

I wound up making a lot of his assets in maya anyway. His pockets, bandana, shoes, backpack and hair are all from maya. It saved time, and made working around topology easier.

Eventually what I wound up doing was exploring the skin shader a lot more and learning what shades to mix and match for the best tones. I also played with the hyper shader and bump mapping, two things I’m still not confident in. I used the hypershader to texture his pants, then used a bump map which I upped the diffuse of to keep a lighter color. Those were the hardest parts.

In the end, I used a light set that Alec had given the class. The final result was this

 

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I really enjoyed making this, and it felt great to work with a character I loved so much. I still need to work on mapping, as this is by no means perfect, but I’m very happy with the end product. In general I hope to do more character sculpts in the future. This was a lot of fun. Stressful, but fun.

Daisy Final!!!!!

Guess who’s tired?? ITS ME! Again! But boy am I feeling proud of my teammates and myself. We worked really hard on this project and came out with a wonderfully animated and designed short that the hospital is gonna love. So as usual, let’s get to the mass post describing the process!

We started out assigned to do a short regarding the hospital mascot Daisy the Cow. Daisy is a hospital safety mascot created by the hospital curator, who cares very deeply about the safety procedures at the hospital. There is a statue of Daisy inside the hospital, which Eding bought and painted herself.

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We were given the task of creating  short starring our pink cow alongside a blue character that had not been revealed as a specific animal yet. Not knowing anything other than this concept, Lauren, Glenn, Holly and I got to work digging around to see what we could find about the hospital and Daisy.

  • The Royal Belfast Hospital for sick Children is the only hospital in Northern Ireland dedicated specifically to the care of children
  • There are approximately 107 beds
  • The emergency department treats approximately 33,000 children each year
  • There is a school within the hospital for the children
  • The hospital has been in existence since 1889

(courtesy of Holly’s blog)

There wasn’t much unfortunately other than the above listed, so we began looking at Daisy alone and thinking about who she was and how people saw her.

Personally I first imagined Daisy as sort of a maternal figure or a leader. I sketched a small doodle of her as a doctor, while Lauren saw her a more of a mother, and Glenn saw her as possibly a patient at the hospital.

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Figuring we would learn more about Daisy as the project progressed, the four of us decided to toss around the more ambiguous task of our assignment: The Blue character. Who were they? What were they? And why were they so grumpy, as the hospital had specifically requested they be.

My initial thought process was that the character felt uncomfortable in the hospital. This was something I identified with as I’m rather squeamish regarding medical subjects. I figured the blue character would be a young child who didn’t feel safe or comfortable in the hospital and Daisy, once we figured out her role, would help them feel more comfortable.

Then the four of us approached the grumpier perspective. Perhaps the character simply didn’t like being there and chose to stew about it. This led to a few fun ideas with a rnage of animals

 

 

 

Eventually though, we settled on the idea that maybe the blue character should also be a cow! We parted ways shortly afterwards, and dug around a bit for inspiration in style and design. Personally I liked the idea of a massive, hulking character who was actually just a big softy, but first I needed to figure out how to actually draw cows

 

 

 

Finally I was ready to start. We had decided on two bovine characters, a brother and sister. During the sketches I settled on the name Bruce. It just seemed to suit him

The story essentially, was that Daisy existed to help maintain the hospital safety procedures in the hospital. She informs the audience of her role, and how there are some people at the hospital who don’t really understand or like her, but she’s certain they’ll warm up to her. She then spends the rest of the story helping Bruce relax in his room. One of the procedures that’s considered a safety aspect is making sure the patient is comfortable, which is why Daisy is visiting Bruce. The hospital does this neat thing where they give the child a “What Matters To Me” board, where they can list the things they would feel more comfortable with be it a toy, some books, or a certain song. This is what Daisy makes sure Bruce has.

It is true that some people didn’t much like or understand Daisy. They thought she was a little childish. Considering she’s like, eight, I’d say she’s doing a good job. The previs can be found here

 

 

 

Daisy’s design was easy, and very well received by my team and by Niall and Aeding, but Bruce was proving to be pretty difficult. Considering there was an age limit in the children’s hospital, the team wondered if Bruce should really be as massive as I was drawing him

 

 

 

Lauren requested I look at younger designs, as it would fit better with the mood of the narrative.

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I didn’t like these as much if I’m being honest, however I did start to develop a personality for Bruce. I decided he was non-verbal autistic with a special interest in bugs. He broke his leg chasing beetles. He seemed grumpy not because he necessarily was, but because the hospital is outside of his routine, and he doesn’t like it. It’s difficult for him to process. His books help him sort through how he’s feeling and help him focus again. (Plus Daisy’s constant company became very regular and it helped him make a new schedule for his stay)

This was the final design chosen.

 

 

 

Now finally I could get to modelling. Glenn had already requested we let him model and rig Daisy, so while he was busy with that, I got started on Bruce.

I began with a cube in maya, and after about an hour of extruding and beveling and general sculpting nonsense, I finally had a shape I was happy with. Bruce’s main mesh is made from just the one cube, which I was super pleased with. I tossed him into zbrush the next day, and sculpted out his finer details like his hair and face

 

 

 

Now came a time of frustration. I was starting to also help Holly with some assets. We did initially have a fifth group member, but seeing as how she decided not to do any work, Holly was buried in the modelling Emma should have been doing. Lauren was busy modelling the hospital, but she stepped in as well to help and the two of us got some of the more pesky assets out of the way

 

 

 

While finishing that up, I also was getting through my rigging process. It wasn’t too different from the last time when I rigged Lenry, however this time I couldn’t use interactive bind, and also I did something called an IKFK switch for the arms.

The switch can be tricky, as I’m forgetful and sometimes don’t name everything I should in the outliner. Essentially, an IKFK switch is when ou basically duplicate the main skeleton arms and create IK handles on one set, and leave plain the other. After that you work on a series of orientations on the FK arm. You then double back to the real arm and constrain the orients you created from the FK. You then use the create a channel and assign the respective arms to the on and off switch.

It’s much more complicated than I explained, but it is a valuable trick to learn. I was very happy with my progress. I’d finished rigging, my blend shapes were done, and I was all set to skin

 

 

 

Then my computer crashed and I lost everything.  ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

So after screaming for a solid ten minutes I talked to Alec, informed him of the situation, and pulled an all nigher to fix everything. He had fewer faces than before, but at least I had something to show

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Holly and Lauren were cranking out some good work. The rooms were coming together really nicely and Lauren had some amazing textures going

 

 

 

At this point we were ready to animate. Glenn had brought us a nice looking character, though we did need to touch the rig up a bit, Bruce was finally back on track, Lauren’s side character was coming along, and Holly had competed all her assets!

 

 

 

(Test animations by me, model by Glenn)

We split up the work as evenly as we could. Glenn took over lip-syncing, I did the opening shot of her skipping, the shot of her walking down the hall, and the shot of her leaping happily into Bruce’s room. I also did all of Bruce’s animation. It was very simple since he doesn’t move a lot.

Now we’re simply waiting for things to render. We’re putting together a playblast to hand in that can be watched here. Hopefully by Wednesday, we should be able to have the full animation finished.

Many thanks to the hospital, Niall and Aeding specifically for trusting us with their character! This was one of the most exciting project I’ve worked on yet, and I’m really starting to feel very content modelling and rigging characters. I also got to try some great new assets this time around.

All in all I feel much more relaxed than I did on Double Denim. I wasn’t struggling to do everything at once, I didn’t feel excruciatingly rushed off my feet and angry the whole time. I feel more confident in my work, and my ability to recognize when I need to step back. I’m feeling more accomplished, and I actually feel like I’ll be able to get a decent placement.

One thing I’m definitely trying to do is include goofy shots from the progress, so here please enjoy these. The whole project was haunted

 

 

Daisy Animation tests

Some very simple tests, a walk and a skip. There was a rig set back that led to lending a hand in fixing it. These are to make sure that it’s okay to use for the short.

Bruce is back and fully rigged and skinned, I’m just waiting on Alec’s opinion on some errors in the mesh. Other than that it’s become sort of a stressful waiting game. I’m tired as usual.

Room test

Bit of a side project going here for my show reel. I’m making my dream study space. A lot of the textures for the book cases are books from around my room, plus once I get my textures, I’ll have my own drawings out on the desk as well. The candles flicker pretty nicely too, and I’m excited to see what I do with it for the final render.

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Back on track!!!

Shout out to my computer for making a very valiant effort in killing me though.

I did make a few touche ups particularly in his facial expressions, but other than that I’m finally back to where I was. He only has four faces now, and neutral smiling, mouth open, and confused expressions. It took shorter than I expected, and I did get some extra rigging experience done as well. All in all I’ve learned to back up my work whenever I can. Now finally back to skinning….

Delays

Boy howdy there’s nothing like a good old fashion crash to destroy all your progress four weeks before the deadline. Usually I’d say I’m boned, but I can do this.

My rig still exists, I just have to reapply my attributes. My model still exists, I just have to redo my blendshapes. My textures still exist, I just have to reapply them. This is only three things and then I’ll be fine.

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.

Assets for Bruce’s Room

Helping Holly with some room decorations!! I love stuffed animals, and based these off a few I have around my room. This also gave me some time to shell out some more show reel material (something I’ve been extremely stressed over)

 

The bear is actually not mine, however I modeled him based on this one Etsy shop I love. Her page can be found here!

Aintzi is a spanish known for her incredible work with mohair and crocheting. Her grandmothers were both seamstresses, and though she never got the chance to meet them, she too grew up with a love for craft and has been making a living off of it since 2003.