Friday, 27 November 2009

The Finale.

So after a very hectic last 2 weeks of my project, it comes down to deadline day. I must say i'm very disappointed that i didn't get to finish. Unfortunately my weight painting wasn't good enough to make any proper animations. It's a shame that I ran out of time as, i really felt like i was getting the hang of the process.

I did however manage to get some renders of my model throughout its process and placed them into a montage to hand in. I tried out some poses also but i just didn't feel they were good enough to render out. However despite not being able to finish my project to it's entirety. I am extremely pleased with how my model looks. I've never really modeled a character before and i was so thrilled to see how my design translated into 3d.

I think reflecting on the way i worked in this project, that my main problem was my persistance with one task at a time. If something went wrong in the process, instead of moving on where i could and getting help later on, i stayed put and kept trying with no prevail. I think this was ultimately my downfall, as my trouble with the 3D paint tool set me back alot further than i was comfortable with.

After that I let panic set in and everything became more and more rushed, ultimately lowering the quality of my work and the amount i was learning. Though I was incredibly proud of my mesh and the way the model looked, I do feel my designs were a bit too ambitious for my first ever character. I should have stuck to simpler shapes or maybe not have give him so many human characteristics.

Ive learnt so much about modeling and the tools i can use in this project. I feel alot more confident with the maya interface and comfortable that i can handle myself when things go wrong in maya. Even though I didn't meet the outcome i wanted, I can't help but feel proud anyway with the amount i've learnt this term and how far ive come in just 8 short weeks. I'd like to thank all the tutors for putting up with my constant questioning and for all the hours they put in helping me with this project.

That is all!

Painting Weights.

After receiving my basic rig from puppet master, I could move on to Painting Weights. This has now become the biggest hurdle as time is running out. I know that there are many ways to paint weights, i.e. the component editor or the Paint Weights tool. I decided to use the paint weights tool as the layout of said tool is similar to the 3D paint tool, which i used whilst texturing.

I knew this would be the biggest hurdle as like the rig, it had to be completed to show any kind of movement on my model. However, this piece of the project has to be completed just right, as, this determines how the mesh works with my rig. There are all sorts of problems that can occur, and i was also quite worried that the tool i wanted wo
uld not function properly as it is very similar to the 3D paint tool.

The process has been long and hard. My mesh, though fine at the feet and knees, has been very temperamental in the torso and arms. The best way to complete this task was to create a short animation that i could scrub through, that distorted the mesh as much as possible. Then use the paint weights tool to fix it. The tool worked fine, however the whole process was trial and error and unfortunately took me a lot longer than i wanted to spend on this part of the project.

Below are some images from this project.


The Rigging Process was long and hard. I used the book as guidelines and became increasingly stressed as I had already lost time due to the problems with the 3D paint tool.

I started by creating my joints. Which was fairly straight forward.
However when it came to the rigging there was a pr
oblem with the instructions with the book. This was incredibly frustrating as it was to do with how she explained rigging the arms and creating the elbow navigator.
I had already lost time to the texturing and i began to panic as i still needed to paint weights and animate. Luckily Steve emailed with a life line. A shelf installation for maya called puppet master which basically created a basic IK rig for you. So After battling with the instructions with the book a little while longer. I decided to give it a whirl.

It worked, kind of, most of the rig worked except the fingers, but i couldn't complain as it catapulted me forward to the weight painting stage.

Monday, 23 November 2009


So I moved on to Texturing. The book only has a small tutorial on it, and the outcome is very basic. But still, I wanted to keep Cornelius simple and clean looking.

I started by creating my UV map using the Automatic Mapping tool. With that done, I went to the rendering menu and used the 3D Paint tool, under the texturing Menu. This allowed me to paint my textures straight onto my Model.
This sounded to good to be true. It unfortunately it was. For some strange reason, the tool doesn't seem to work properly for me. Perhaps its my copy of Maya, or maybe my laptop. I end up painting on this.
However after playing with the tool, I managed to work through, even with the strange black static, by switching between using the 3D Paint Tool and the UV Editor. It took a Very Long time, but here is my UV map (which looks terrible and complex)
And here is my textured Cornelius.

Post Formative... :(

After the Formative it has become clear that I am not meeting my personal deadlines. This is upsetting as I'm really enjoying this project. It seems I did not take into consideration the Post Production Project whilst planning my project. I must admit splitting my time between the two has been hard work and this is something I will definitely have to improve on. Whether it be setting more realistic goals or picking less ambitious ideas.

After thinking long and hard about it, I have decided to drop Pocahontas from this project as I feel any attempt at her would be rushed and this may cause the standards I'm hoping for Cornelius to slip also. I feel this is the only way to have an outcome I am happy with on both projects.

All I can do is learn from this experience.

You Eyeballin' Me?

I could not wait to give Cornelius eyes, as at the moment he looks like just a mesh. No Life, No nothing. So I got on it right away using the tutorial from the fabled book.

I created A nurb sphere and used the Hypershade editor to create a phong surface for the eye balls. I then used a 2D texture Ramp with a U Ramp setting to create the pupils and Iris.

I then created another Nurb Sphere, Slightly big
ger than the first and edited it's start and end sweeps to create Cornelius' Eye lids.
Heres the Outcome.

Mirror Geometry.

So I finished Modeling half my geometry, the next step was to mirror it so I have a full Body. It sounds like an easy step, but this was the hardest thing I've had to do in this project yet.
I followed the instructions in the book i bought, by using the mirror geometry tool. However when i used it, the vertices in the centre of the mouth pinched together. The book warned that this could happen and the only way to fix it was to either play with the mirror geometry settings or to move the verts at the centre of the mouth further away from each other. I tried both of these however and for some reason it just didn't work.

So then I asked Steve and he told me to d
uplicate the mesh, flip it on the origin and merge the vertices. However I got the same results, pinching in the centre of the mouth. He then reminded me to check all the centre verts were snapped to the origin. So I went through them all and sure enough, some were not. So after fixing this problem I went back to trying to do it the book way. Yet again the Mouth verts pinched and it did the same trying it Steve's way again. I looked it up on the internet to see if others were having the same problem and found it was quite a common problem. But the only way of overcoming this was to keeping playing with the mesh.

So after a few days of trying with the same results, I got quite annoyed and was about ready to scrap the mouth all together. But In one last attem
pt I played with maya, experimenting with other ways to combine separate meshes. First I duplicates the Mesh and flipped it on the origin, then i tried combining the mesh. This worked and the mesh became one, however the central verts from both meshes still existed so I had a strange seam. So I tried merging the verts and it worked. So FINALLY after possible one of the most horrible week long set backs I have had in this pro
ject, I had a complete mesh. And despite loosing a week to this I couldn't help but feel incredibly proud.

So the last thing to do in this step was tweak the geometry as after mirroring it looked a little too fat and not very organic, especially on the head.

Modeling Head

So after Modeling the hands and feet i moved on to the head. I came across several problems whilst doing this. The book i was using as reference modeled the head and body within the EP curve we made at the start. But as I made my gorilla quite stocky and muscular I couldn't really do this as he doesn't really have much of a neck.

So i Decided to block it. The main problem that occurred during this process was moulding the vertices to fit a basic muscle structure for a face, from a bulging neck which it was before. The whole process was very time consuming. I then had to Extrude eyebrows for him and pull back basic eye sockets and a mouth for Cornelius.

Finally I notices that there was a hole at the very top of cornelius' mesh. Which after scouring the internet for hours I found I could bridge the vertices for so yet another problem solved.
Overall i'm pleased with the low poly head. The next step is to mirror the geometry.

Keep On Modeling

So it's been a while since my last update. And if I'm completely honest it becomes so easy to get caught up in Maya that I completely forgot about the blog. So sorry as I'm about to update in bulk.

Anyways, the next step in modeling i took, were to block model the hands and feet. I felt cocky on this one and went ahead thinking I knew what I was doing with them, but rule one is to never be cocky with maya as... it will knock you on your arse.

I started by extruding squares from the arms and and then scale extruding five more faces off the end face of the palm I created. These were to be extruded outward to become fingers. I followed the same steps with the feet.

Only after I did this, did i discover that i had in fact made the palms of both the foot and the hands, like 800 sided poly's. I spoke to steve however and he said it is fine, as when i take the model into z brush it should fix my palms by splitting it into tri's and quads for me. So overall, great success...i think? :S

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Modeling Begins!

So I started Modeling as soon as I received my copy of An Essential Introduction to Character Rigging. Its a really good guide and really explains the modeling process.

I started buy creating the torso with an EP curve and then using the revolve tool. It creates a nurb surface which you can manipulate using a Lattice Deformer for a really nice organic shape. I then converted the nurb to a polygon and had to adjust the vertices to roughly model it back to the same shape. I am now Block modeling the rest by extruding faces etc.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Cornelius Character Sheet

Cornelius' Final character sheet.

Im running slightly behind on my schedule as i have yet to finish Pocahontas' character sheet. However today I will be focusing on making a basic low-poly model of Cornelius on Maya. Finally taking the plunge into modeling.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Pocahontas Concepts

Whoop! I really like how these came out... rough but they are only ideas. I promise i used no reference, but I'm shocked at how much the fat one looks like Lilo. whoops!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cornelius Concepts

More concepts for Cornelius; (click for fullview)
Just a few different shapes for the head and a few colour experiments before i move on to the final design. I chose these colours as they are bright and appealing. My personal favourite is the blue guy, i think the tartan waist coat works well with him.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

More Research!

Look what just arrived!!! It's in pretty bad shape, but it was darn cheap. The Art of The incredibles will help me along with my concepts hopefully!
UPDATE: It's an amazing read, I'll try and take some photos of some of the character concepts. It was so nice to see how many different styles they chose and how they went about finding textures. One of the best buy's ive even made.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

A Couple of Concepts;

Here are some concepts for this project, these are very very VERY early stages, just doodles whilst thinking about the characters.

These are examples of my experimenting with gorilla heads. I personally like the top left sort of disney-esque style.

Here is a small full body concept. I actually really like this image and would like to follow this up. (please ignore the doodle of Freddy Gaffney!)

The following two concepts are for Pocahontas Billiams. I have to say I absolutely hate the image on the left and I'm not overly fond of the image on the right either. However I feel i should show my progress in design. I DO h-
owever LOVE the idea of Banana Hat, so expect that in further designs.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Research; 3D Films

To get me started looking for inspiration and style I sat myself down to watch a few animated movies, this helped me as it was a good chance to look at character models at professional level. It also helped me look at styles I like and point me in the right direction for concept artists to look at.

The first film I watched was Up, I found this exceptionally inspirational and though there were no sign of monkeys or gorillas (but there was some pretty show stopping dogs), the children in this film rocked my world.
Literally everything about
them was incredible. This couldn't have come at a better time as, I must admit Pocahontas' design was playing on my mind a lot as of late. Hopefully seeing this movie will steer me towards some design ideas and some research towards the concept art.

Here is an example of some concept art for up which i found via the internet, there was no information on whom it is by, but i can hopefully find out with a bit of research and by purchasing this book.

After thinking about the
brief, and knowing that I would be using a
gorilla in my project I decided that i should watch a film involving creatures. I decided to watch Monsters vs Aliens. However much I love the film, I do not feel it benefitted me a great deal, although the use of colour in this film is magnificent and watching the animation on Dr Cockroa
ch was a little helpful as he is a civilized character (most of the time).

Lastly I watched possibly one of my favourite Pixar movies. The Incredibles. I knew I HAD to look at this movie since I completed my research on gorillas. The reason for this is because after studying the silver backs frame in the images I chose, their powerful stance and body shape struck me and reminded me instantly of Mr Incredible. I knew I had to watch this movie so I could study Mr incredible's frame and see what sort of model I could work with. I have to say this helped me great deal and i can already visualize the sort of frame i want to give Cornelius.

The incredibles also include the characters Dash and Jack Jack, who were definitely good to look at for some additional help in designing Pocahontas. I especially love some of the concepts I found for some of the characters. More art I must look into.

Research; Pocahontas

For research on Pocahontas I looked online for some references, but mainly for clothing. For her actual character however I am just going to throw myself into design and see what I com up with.

I will however make a short list of things i would like to see come through her design;

  • Missing Teeth
  • Bright Colours
  • Tatty Clothing
  • Pigtails
  • Mismatched Socks
  • Freckles
  • Converse
  • Banana Hat
  • Mock Monkey Poses

Research; Gorillas

I have been researching gorillas for my project and have chosen a few images as reference for my designs. The images i have chosen are all of male silver backs and all are in strong poses. These images give me a good idea of how they stand and the proportions of their limbs etc.
The first image shows a
silver back standing in a very intense and powerful pose. I love this image as it gives me a great view of his arms and back legs. Which I now feel would look amazing exagerated.

I chose this image because its quite similar to the first and it offers me
a side perspective. This image also has a lovely view of the curve of the back and mighty shoulders.

I chose this image as its a nice shot of the head and allows me to see how large his head is in comparison to his body. It also offers a lovely chance to see fur coverage on the gorillas body.

I chose this image as its a brilliant reference for the facial and skull structure of the gorilla. It is also good as there are lots of apparent details on the face which stand out. Hopefully this will help me when designing the face of my character and allow me to emphasize it's features.


Here is a brief over look of the weeks to come, I know its simple but it helps me monitor my work flow. I've given myself a lot of time to model as I'm going to try integrating both Maya and Z Brush.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Brief

Hey guys,

Welcome to my Blog for this terms project, Industry Exercises 1. This blog is my design journal where i will be posting research, ideas and progress from this terms project. So first up I'm going to discuss the brief.

The Brief;

I've decided to go with the character design brief, like most people in the class. I've chosen this brief as I have fairly strong skills in drawing and feel that it would be best suited to me. I also believe that the modeling and rigging involved in this unit will push me further and help me develop skills in both these areas. This will be challenging and exciting as i have never modeled and rigged a character before, let alone seen any of my designs taken from 2D to 3D. I will also try my hand at texturing which will benefit me in the long run as I feel Concept and Modeling may be my preferred path for the future.


Looking at the characters from the brief I feel most drawn to Cornelius the Gorilla (like most people I'm sure) and Pocahontas Billiams. I think i feel most drawn to these two characters because reading through their descriptions, i notice that Pocahontas wants to be a gorilla, and Cornelius is the most civilized member of the zoo. I can really see character dynamics between these two characters, i can imagine them interacting. More clearly than any of the others.


I'll will be researching gorillas to look at the way they move, the way they look and their proportions. I will be researching other artists representations of gorillas, along with other artists styles which i would like to take influence from. I will also be looking at colour, lighting and will be looking for tutorials on rigging and modeling.


I will be producing several concepts for each character and then a final character sheet to help me model. These concepts with include colour experiments, proposed textures and a few facial expressions.

The Next Step;

The next step for me in this project is to produce some sort of timeline to help me plan my work, from research to modeling to rigging etc...

Hopefully this will help me manage my time on this project and allow me to see where I'm falling behind and arrange my time accordingly.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Finally Have this set up... i've so far spent all day changing the layout... Time well spent!

Next i have to complete some sort of re-written brief and a timeline, followed by posting all my research, which i have to narrow down to make relevant for my concepts. Normally I'm used to using sketch books, however I must admit, i'm quite liking the idea of blogging.