Sunday, December 04, 2011

Appealing Deformation: Clean Mesh = Predictable Articulation

So you just spent some time on your brow weights, getting your spans to flow in a nice appealing smooth shape. Congratulations! Now let's mouse over the below image to see how it holds up in the opposite position.

(hover mouse over image to see poses)

Gross. It doesn't hold up at all. What was smooth in the down pose, is now jagged in the up pose.

In order for the emotions of the character to read clearly the brows should flow as a cohesive unit, giving us a soft arc when the brows are up and a bold straight when the brows are down. Take a look at these drawings of Aladdin to see examples of bold and clean brow shapes.

(hover mouse over image to see poses)

This all boils down to how clean our default mesh is. The more even and clean our edge flow is in the default state, the better chance it has of holding up in all poses. We are talking very small positional changes that have the potential to create very large and very noticeable improvements in our rigs. Once our mesh is cleaned up, we will even see that smoothing weights is a bit more predictable and useful.

Below is a version of the mesh cleaned up in it's initial state, an how that now plays well with our two poses.

(hover mouse over image to see poses)

Now obviously we can't have every edge smoothed out and evenly spaced; our models would become mushy and bland. In a later post I will go into how we need to be mindful of vertex speed when adjusting influences and how skinning workflows should involve setting key-frames.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Eating Salad for Breakfast

If you are anything like me, you have a hard time getting vegetables in your diet. I buy lots of them with the intention to eat them all, but I end up throwing most of them out the next week because they turn. I think I've found a solution that works for me, maybe it could work for you.

Two weeks ago I finished reading "Born To Run" by Christopher McDougall. The Author who suffered injuries every time he tried to run more than a few miles set out to learn if humans were, as his doctors said, fragile and not built for running, or if we are actually the best long distance runners and our expensive sneakers and our tendency to be obese has just made us bad at it. I'm sure you can tell from the title, what he discovers. In one of the chapters, the author mentions how he is trying to change his diet to train for a 100 mile ultra-marathon. He has concerns about tiring of seeds and vegetables and falling back into his usual routine of hamburgers, when the Dr./Athlete he is talking to says, "Have you ever had salad for breakfast?"
"You get leafy greens in your body first thing in the morning and you'll lose a lot of weight," she urged me. Because a monster salad is loaded with nutrient-rich carbs and low in fat, I could Stuff myself and not feel hungry--or queasy--when it came time to work out. Plus, greens are packed with water, so they're great for rehydrate after a night's sleep. And what better way to down your five vegetables a day than forking them all down at once.?"
So I tried it and have been doing it for two weeks now; the longest I have been able to do any sort of dietary change. The problem for has always been: I never crave vegetables throughout the day, and given the choice I will fill up on pasta and meat and leave the side salad sitting. When I wake up, I am always thirsty and my stomach is hungry but at the same time not ready to handle food. Eating salad for me takes care of that hunger, and like the McDougall said you won't feel queasy, even if you workout right after eating.

So that certainly isn't the normal kind of blog post for me, but I wanted to share that in case you have the same trouble forcing down your veggies in the hopes that maybe it could work for you too. Besides if you eat all your veggies first thing in the morning, the sooner you can have your dessert.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In progress digital sculpt

Blocked in this sculpt over the weekend.

I tried sculpting it from scratch in Sculptris, but I just don't think that workflow works for me. It was taking me forever and I wasn't getting the control I wanted, so instead I blocked in this low poly version in Blender and I will try importing that into Sculptris to add some detail.

This is based off of Brittney's print "Rainboots" (image found here).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sculpting concept art

I started modeling Kane in my free time to improve my understanding of the other half of deformation. Rather than build my learning on a foundation of (my) weak design, I convinced Brittney to let me use hers. Since then I have been working on some new characters and I am still learning tons.

When I started on these two love birds I found myself going down the same path as Kane. The sculpt was losing the appeal that was in the concept art. Now it is tough sculpting a three-dimensional character with a sketch from only one camera angle. I prod Brittney for a quick sketch from a different angle now and then, but most of the time I am guessing. I found that trying to eye it, for me, leads me down a path of too much detail too soon and results in a mushy design that no longer looks like the character I set out to make.

(first attempt at the female dancer)

(first attempt at the male dancer)

In the past few weeks I have been working on a clay maquette in a sculpting class at Disney, and well whadayaknow? My clay sculptures were suffering from the same problems. I sought guidance from one of my fellow trainees, Ryan Tottle who is getting trained up in the modeling department and he showed me the importance of finding the big shapes with the clay first. He told me how to stop smoothing things out and adding little layers of clay bit by bit. He taught me to just go for it (the shapes) and have some fun bringing those shapes from the drawing into 3d.

I took this attitude back to the male dancer and scrapped the face I had already created and started over, working simple. Another modeling trainee, Ke "Jackie" Jang introduced me to an interesting method of projecting the concept art onto the surface while you sculpt. This allows for two things: It allows you to get accurate shapes from the profile just as you would with an image plane behind your sculpt, but it also allows you to see the model textured with the drawn shadows so you can see how that relates to the actual shadows of your three dimensional sculpt. He had some great success with it at work so I thought I would give it a try at home.

(work in progress using the concept art as a texture)

It isn't the most ideal setup, since the concept art I am using isn't from a full on profile. The character's head is tilted ever so slightly so there is still guesswork to be done. I think the result I got using this method was closer, but still has some tweaking to go to compensate for the mismatched perspectives. After my tweaks I am going to try this method again on the female dancer and I might just revisit Kane for old times sake.

(the progression of the character sculpt)