Saturday, 28 March 2009

Oinkfrog Maya WIP

More progress on the oinkfrog. After getting the body, hands and feet looking ok, I set off on the trickier head. At first I thought I might use a box to build his huge mouth and then stitch it into the main model (you can still see it there in the first screenshot). What I ended up going with was to extrude polys from the existing head out to the side and then add vertical loops to build in enough detail to accommodate the deformation that will come for it.

Following that, I had to do rather alot of tidying up of the verts, to get something that felt like it fitted with the character and had nice lines in both directions.

Onto his snout, this I also extruded out from existing faces and after some judicous cutting extruded back a nostril as well.

They eye took a little planning, and though it is in there and working, I am not sure how it will deform yet, or how well the nice wrinkles around the actual eyeball will function. I think the next step will be to build the eyeball and setup the lattice deformer for it so I can see how it fit together...

I think my loops, edges, flows and poly density is looking ok so far while keeping him in character. There arent many tris and such things either, so I am happy with how he is coming along. He IS taking me waaay longer than he should for his complexity. I seem to have to spend a fair bit of time adjusting verts, and I can see that a nicer sculpting package would give me a much less mechanical approach (have to try Mudbox/Zbrush)...


Apart from the excellent reference provided in class for our modelling and soon-to-be rigging, here are a few others that caught my eye of late.

First up the entries from last year in the Dominance War competition. Since they use low poly counts as in a game it is quite easy to see the pily layouts that they use and how they approach tris, edgeloops and edgeflows. Apart from the quality of this work, which is clear in all the finalist's entries I am inspired by how much of the modelling is done with mapping rather than polys - not sure if we are looking at that in the COFA courses this session. In this aquatic character, we can see where they introduce tris to deliver detail to areas and the get better flows of polys around various areas of the form. The face has the polys ararnged for decent animation as far as I can see:

[Image from the Dominance War site showing Adrien Debos entry]

There is also this very cool rig I found a while ago by Victor Vinyals. He has a super video showing character rig in action - a few images from it below. I love the controls he has built in and the model seems to deform beautifully for him. I really hope we get to setup our rigs like this by the end.

[Images showing Victor Vinyal's rig in action via his website]

While we are here, have a look at this piece by Ryan Kittleson of his Don King bust...

[Image of Ryan Kittlesons model and rig]

OK - back to my Oinkfrog modelling and some animation work...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

EQ 10

Everquest is 10 years old, yep it must qualify as old_school now. I have amazingly fond memories of a time (yes that long ago) when Andrew Smith and I were intrigued by the MMORPGs, EQ was new and Ultima Online was a little more mature. We decided to dive into Eq and our gaming lives changed forever at that point. I recall being completely amazed at the scale, the longevity, the complexity, the numbers of players, the grand persistance and the community.
Back then it felt like a new frontier, the 'west' was wild, we didnt have guides, websites that revealed all or a game that played fair. But the effect was intoxicating. There were many who were sceptical, yet as they were introduced to the genre - the appeal was obvious.

Here are some images from my Everquest days with the Gnomads (Smooching is my char) and the shots show all the nice original models and interface and well - how daggy it all was... The first image shows us gnome-swarming an Ogre - was very funny. Then images of us out in some memorable spots like Crushbone doing our thing.

I have these great little memories from my first forays into the world, feeling actually quite scared to venture out from my Dwarven home, and finally making it all the way to Kelethin and being dumbstruck at the city in the trees - all of this and I had seen a tiny tiny percentage of the world. Beyond that we had many other characters and even the creation of our all Gnome guild which had some fun times for sure.

Check the Everquest 10 year anniversary site for more on the event or even the main EQ site for how the game and its 15 expansions is going.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Solid State Drive Awesomeness

The improvements in the relatively new technologies of Solid State Drives (SSDs) is cool to see. Check out this cool video that show the kind of performance coming our way just by switching in this type of tech and building into a very cool desktop (I love this one):


It makes me wonder what sort of real-time 3D environment research desktop/s we might be able to build for FBE later this year - hell laptops as well for that matter...

Generi Lift WIP

One of the tasks for this week was to get little Generi to do a nice lift. Below are some quick shots of the main keyframes I setup for this. It is interesting how many controls even a simple character like this has for each and every pose without having to tackle the face, I can see why animators only get a small number of seconds done each week.

Though working on nice clean keys is critical to nailing the communication of the main parts of a shot, I think it will take a little bit of getting used to, seeing past these steps to a smooth animation while working with the keys.

I have enjoyed thinking through the levels of realism that should be used. With a character like Generi, it is appropriate to build in a fair amount of cartoony animation. For a more realistic character and production, the balance of presenting readable action with clarity while keeping the illusion alive must be far trickier.

Anyhow, here are the keys thus far:

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Dominance War IV

The Dominance War competition brings out some class creative talent from across the many 3D and 2D communities and we are just setting sail into Comp number 4. The results people produce are inspiring for all and the competition restrictions (like number of polys) seem to inspire even greater heights of excellence. I would love to have the skill (and time) to flesh out character concepts to this level - maybe one day.

Anyhow, lets take a quick look at some of the winning entries from last years DW3. If you register on the site, you can see a raft of high-res images and wireframes and other details as well (which I wont post here - just some shrunken versions to get you going)...


Imrod by Dmitry Parkin
The detail that is brought through onto the character with so few polys shows some talent with the tools for sure. I personally like how some rough poly massing transforms into richly detailed armour plates.

[Images of Imrod via the Dominance War site]


Hela by Chang Gun Nam
In very much the same vain, but we get two for the price here, again awesome use of mapped detail.

[Images of Hela via the Dominance War site]


Freyal Emporer by Joongmin Park
The comp has a whole class for the 2D artists as well and they produce work of this calibre.

[Images of the Freyal Emporer via the Dominance War site]


Check out the full set of DW3 finalists here and be prepared... Ah hell - love them all so much have to include another entry:

Rzalka by Adrien Debos
This aquatic idea works so beautifully, getting the feel and flow of the deep.

[Images of Rzalka via the Dominance War site]