The Pixel Crush

-------------------------------------------|Digital Animation & Game Criticism|-------------------------------------------

Friday, 23 April 2010


Me, Dan and Hugh have teamed up to work on the "What" brief. I found the formation brief quite appealing mostly due to the imagery but only one group wanted to work on it and they were intending to use flash mostly. I want to use this group project to further my 3D skills and try something really ambitious which I think is what we're doing. Full CG character animation? I have no idea whether we'll be able to pull this off or not but I know we'll learn a hell of a lot trying because I've never covered half of the necessary processes. Exciting stuff.
Here's a teaser for now that should give some indication of the style we're going for:

Also something that I had a brief obsession with earlier this year, Brinks trailer created by the masterful Blur studios. I cant get over how good things thing looks, I'm in love with the visual style and when you see the way everything moves its just gorgeous, weighty goodness.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Over the easter holidays I wanted to model a character of my own and try and to learn some more of Maya's features. This part succeeded and part drove me round the bend. I had a sketch from a few years ago when my imagination seemed to be more active which I'd found whilst digging through old artwork, meet Udoo the warlock:

click to enlarge...

 So already a number of challenges to overcome. I had to redesign his face a little so his eyeballs weren't protruding from the side of his head, though I like this, it reminds me of the stylized cartoon aesthetic of Rayman 2.  His hands needed a little work, for example wrists. I failed to find a satisfactory way of modeling his zig zag gash of a mouth. After much trial and error I managed to beat Maya's hair tool to submission and used a hair system assigned to curves to create the hair style. I had a lot of fun tweaking the maya fast skin SSS mental ray shader, experimenting with different extents of sub surface scattering and ending up with a nice waxy look. Mental ray's physical sun light shader was what I used to make nice soft shadows in the final render, though I didnt want tover do it, partly because you have to turn the samples right up to avoid graininess. I failed to create fluid for the potion and vapour emerging from the potion bottle. Though I'm quite pleased with the mia material substitute for a nice glass and liquid refractive thing going on. plus bubbles!

Early SSS:

With the hair I wanted a kind of greasy sheen which I wasnt hard to achieve but I couldnt have the hair moved dynamically because of some nasty collision detection with the head, shame. The first attempt turned out like some russian girl.

Modelling the hand for a rather tanned looking Udoo:

I even had to overcome the horrendous UV unwrapping process in order to add texture, bump, specular and reflection maps. I had the help of a free plug in called road kill which was slightly unstable but powerful enought to save me a long time laying out UVs more than I had to already.
This is a close up of the final textures that are too far from camera to show this amount of detail. I forgot to turn off final gather for the hair so its a nice bleached brown.
Potion close up and the leather of his shoes:

This is the original polygon model before applying mental ray subdivide approximations.
A simple camera move around the finished model (as finished as I can manage):