Saturday, 21 March 2009

Generi Pose Refinement

I forgot to post here an update on Generi's delicate little pose.

I spent some time going through all the resources provided in week 2 on weight, balance, lines of action and more. And decided to go back in and improve the Generi Delicate Pose. Pushing the pose a touch more and working with where his weight is. This is interesting as there is our inbuilt expectation about how weight in a person is distributed, yet Generi’s proportions make him different. I found that a blend between our expectations and his ‘real’ weight was working best…

Oinkfrog Modelling WIP

I am not sure I know quite enough about character modelling in terms on deformation and rigging restrictions just yet, but the modelling has begun in Maya of my Oinkfrog. He is looking pretty good in 3D so far, though I am yet to look at his face, I could use some advice on that I am sure. His hands and feet were done differently, I used the logic from the video tutes to create the hand with a box which I joined on afterwards. The feet I created with extrusions from the legs instead, but they are alot simpler than his squidgy hands.

He doesnt smooth how I would like him yet, but that will change as I add more detail where required and indeed as I refine what I have already. I am still modelling with an instanced second half - perhaps I should merge them and use mirrored tools instead now??

Here are some images of the progress being made:

Having good reference sketches was handy here, though I did them without any deference to the fact that I would be modelling him very rigidly first and then deforming him with the rig, sooo that meant that my drawings were just a guide and couldnt be traced directly.

Quads and Flows

One of the things I recall being trickiest in previous outings with Maya, was creating detail in one area, without creating it all the way around some geometry. Plus the solution often seemed to involve the introduction of lots of tris, thus staying with principally quads was tricky.

The awesome tutorials by Ryan Kittleson, modelling in Maya to achieve good edgeloops and flow were a great resource and you can see some of his results on his site. The way he models from a plane is very cool, though the initial work I have done on the Oinkfrog have been starting with other primitives, will have to try this way at some point. Plus, I love his hand modelling tute, he makes it all look so simple...

[Grab from Ryan Kittleson's face edgeloop video tutorial]


Another reference file, provided through class, shows a more cartoony hand/arm with tris used to generate the extra detail as we move up the hand:

[Reference pic of arm/hand]


I decided to also do a few quick tests for adding extra quads into a few simple planes without adding tris. These just used extrudes and tiying up and seem to work, though they generate 5 pointed stars, only sometimes does this method create 6 pointed ones (which I understand arent good either)

Friday, 20 March 2009

Generi Delicate Pose

One of this weeks tasks with Generi is to get him into a nice pose where he is delicately balancing on one foot. This makes for a nice exploration of posing his limbs, weight, twisting and balance all on top of some silhouette and energy etc.

I started with a few thumbnail sketches to get some nice flowing lines and stood around the place looking (well pretending to look) graceful. Then diving into Maya created this little pose. Generi isnt the most graceful little dude, but it is still fun to impart some grace while retaining his more playful and cartoony character as well.

Oinkfrogs, Moving Castles and Fortresses

The CGS article on the design and creation of the Team Fortress game is great reading. I recall with great fondness admiring the 'character' the Valve team managed to build into the game. They created a feel for the game that broke away and was done with such style that everyone who saw it was engaged. The little character animations are still awesome to watch and are good examples of how to present strong character designs clearly.

[Pic of The Heavy via the CGSociety article on the making of Valve's Team Fortress 2]

Watched through Howls Moving Castle tonight, wanted to see some traditional animation at play, and besides it's all class. Again we are treated to a host of great characters with very different looks, indeed the main characters change their looks throughout the film as well conveying different aspects of themselves along the way.
One of the elements I admire is the very different movement style we get from everyone, even with the simpler animation. The bouncing scarecrow, the oozing henchmen, the waddling witch, the crooked old Sophie, the tiny dog, the exuberant boy, the rigid soldiers and more.

[Promo image from Howls Moving Castle via the official site]

I did a few more sketches of Oinkfrog along the way as well, fleshing out how his facial pieces come together to achieve different results.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Animation and Character Refs

There have been a suite of references used in both the 3D COFA courses thus far, leading off onto yet more.

First up Keith Lango’s articles, having been working on the walkcycle, these now resonate far better than reading them cold. I particularly like his new method for bringing in the animation details and refinements through using more keys and his tying back to traditional paper animation.

Interestingly, both classes referenced (independently) The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, for the strong use of silhouettes, from both a character design and an animation perspective. Having the character readable in silhouette is critical in the piece, both the type of character and their actions.

[Jasper Morello images from the site]

Pixar popped in with some shorts in the form of Mikes New Car and Presto. They illustrate a whole raft of the 12 principles of animation for sure. I think the felt pose-centric, Presto, is very successful in using the technique to bring a certain franetic feel to things. Speaking of strong keys, the Pocoyo animation was fun to see, making a complete feature of the Pose to Pose method.

There are a growing number of articles and instructional videos, I am enjoying them all actuall, each gives much more than just process, exploring character and animation styles.

WIP images and thoughts for both courses coming sooooon.

Apple Fun of late

There have been a range of new things coming from Appleland in the last little bit. The other day they announced some of the iPhone OS 3.0 update to come (in the US summer) and TUAW has a nice rundown of a few of the key ones. Many will say 'about time' to some of them, but they will make an already super phone even better - there is the presentation on the Apple site.

There is a new Mac Mini and the very nice new iMac range on the computing side of things. The iMacs can sport NVidia GeForce GT 130's or an ATI Radeon HD 4850 - very nice for such a form factor and just look at the style.

[iMac promo pic from the Apple site]

Plus there have been updates to iTunes, iLife (which I havent explored after installing - if only there was time), Safari and more. The Macbook and Macbookpros are still lovely pieces of kit as well of course...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Archicad Virtual Building Explorer

There was (and still is) a ripple of excitement around here with Graphisoft releasing Archicad's Virtual Building Explorer. The idea of having a natural, intuitive, immersive real-time environment to experience architecture and our related disciplines has been a strong theme for the last few years here in FBE. Using engines like Unreal (2004 and UT3), Garry's Mod and CryEngine2 students have created environments that allow designers and clients to experience a place virtually with very simple technology and low cost outlay. The process of tramsforming a model into something nice within the game engines has not been so easy though.

[images from Archicad's Virtual Building Explorer via their website]

Along comes Graphisoft and its nice new VBE which with only a few deft mouse clicks brings a good model in Archicad into a real-time experience. Here is a quick video by Andrew Wallace showing his first foray into the tool:

The VBE page also has a series of videos introducing the various capabilities of the software and here is their youtube version:

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Rigging and Silhouettes

One of the aspects we went through in class was how important a good silhouette is. This came up in both 3D classes in different contexts, first in making animation poses more readable through a good silhouette. Secondly in the character dev course relating to how recognisable a good character is through its silhouette alone.

So here are some silhouette studies for the Oinkfrog and Unicycling Agent.


Plus watched Horton Hears a Who again and some of the special features where they talk through the creation of the single Maya rig they used for Horton - awesome. To read a little more - check this CGW article.

The Frocks Bushfire Appeal pic

The girls asked for a different version of the pic, using some other imagery. I created this version for them which is pretty emotive of the appeal.

Generi walkcycle WIPb

I did some more work on the walkcycle for Generi and created some more inbetween keys. I played with animating him actually moving along as well, this kinda works while I am in 'stepped' mode, but will creep unless I keep the translation of the base stepping - thus his feet planted. I am not actually sure if a walkcycle setup actually includes the forward movement as a start point...

I also took some time in the midst to go through Keith Lango's notes on the animation principles. Time permitting, I might try for a walk with some specific emotion, like anger (stomping around could be fun).

I like this walkcycle breakdown on youtube because of the use of the treadmill - cool idea.

Generi walkcycle WIPa

Working with Andrew Silke's little character rig called Generi we are making walk-cycles with Maya for the animation course. It is proving interesting working with the rig, getting to know its quirks as I also build in all the subtleties of a walk. We are using linear steps for the animation, so it has a jerky feel for now - esp with only keys for the strides and passing positions.

The vid doesnt really work without being able to loop - but here it is anyhow - more to come.