Friday, 31 January 2014

CG Artists Toolkit: Rope Normals, Ambient Occlusion and Base Diffuse Maps

These pictures are from creating the Rope Normal maps. It was really cleverly created by use of two very simple if long Bakes being overlaid in Photoshop. With a little tweaking back in Maya with the sizing and multiplication of the tiles a very convincing rope texture was created.

In the Ambient Occlusion tutorial we created Occlusion maps using a program called 'xNormals'. Despite the fact that Maya has the capability of 'baking' out occlusion maps 'xNormals' completes the same task much much faster. Each of the pages below have been imported to photoshop. Each files contains a UV map, Occlusion map and Normals map (each to a layer) for the stone caps and bases, wooden planks and anchors and finally the pillars. Below are images of the Normals maps, having been combined in Photoshop ready for the next step of adding textures.

Using some high resolution photographed textures taken from CG Textures website, the images of a stone texture and wood plank texture were taken into photoshopped and tiled ready for application later. My plank one might need a little adjustment… There appears to e some rather clear cloning going on.

Mudbox Introductions: Busted Robot

In the last session we were introduced to a legless version of a model Simon had made. A walking tank very Steampunk in its styling. We were then encouraged to put into practise what we have learned so far about making our own brushes and stamps in Mudbox to create effects such as rivets and creases. After a lot of playing around I did manage to create a rivet stamp. Although when it came down to messing with the preferences so that it showed up well was another matter. It was effective up to a point but in the end I used my stamp as a guide and sculpted those  that can be seen below by hand.

A necessary feature for our busted robots were 'straight lines' however creating one freehand is next to impossible. Eventually we were shown how to use the freeze tool to create that. (I however continued to have trouble with mine for quite a while as it insisted on feathering the edges I wanted crisp.) I did manage to wrangle a few happy accidents out of it though. In the next few sessions I believe we will be adding more detail such as rust. I got ahead of myself however and applied a texture to the surface already, seeing as I was getting into creating battle scars for this walking tank.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Adaptation: Script

The script below is actually a second or third version of my video info graphic idea. It involves a majority of the creatures I have experimented with although the Great White Shark has been left behind due to some of the woolly information. Scientists simply don't know the true populations. There is also room to lose perhaps one or two creatures featuring in this script, but it is all based on time constraints and how difficult it might be to animate. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Adaptation: A Few More Tweaks

During my feedback session it was proposed to me some minor details that could be changed in order to make my characters that little more real and believable. The images below show some of the changed made when compared to the previous designs that I have blogged.

The condor was in need of some slightly beady eyes. it being a bird of prey. And i felt it needed a mrs sever angular look. Its an ugly scavenger of a bird and also the first design had a head that was far too large for its body.

The Tasmanian Devil was lacking its devil like qualities and so I went back to try and rejig the shapes a bit. I am still not unite sure if they're successful.

Finally a little alteration on the Proboscis Monkey. Lowering the brow to make him look ever so slightly more bemused. And adjusting the colours, seeing as the photographs would indicate theres this wonderful transition to a very ginger/red colour hair.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Adaptation: The last of the Re-Uglifying Set

Below are the final two characters, the Tasmanian Devil and the Proboscis Monkey. With the Monkey I was mainly trying to get a grip on the body shape and I feel I got it with the help of those googled images the only changes to the body were various colourations. I tried to experiment with different eye shapes with the the monkey, I feel the expression will very much express his character. They do seem a little bit sloppy... so perhaps the 'sleepy' one.

Similar fashion to the proboscis monkey I toyed with the eye shapes and designs. What with the Tazzy Devil (as its affectionately known) being the most cantankerous fluffy critter. I made a few attempts at more angry eyes and also slightly crazed ones. They're known for going berserk when threatened.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Adaptation: A little more Re-Uglifying

So I've been working on the creatures some more. Below you'll find the Axolotl has been altered to resemble its wild counterparts, rather than the pink albino ones you can find in the aquarium trade. There was a little play with the face and the fronds across its head but I am in two minds about the colours, hence there is a choice between the brown and grey versions of each style.

Next up is the California Condor. The face shape and colours both prove very interesting. As can be seen on the close up google images on the right. there are all kinds of colour pigmentation's on the condor. Orange, pink, lilac, yellow and so on. I tried to limit the colours slightly and in the end I find myself drawn to head variant 7 with a two tone effect rather than a single head colour. As for the wing shapes 8 just looks lazy and childish so I will probably go for version 9.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

CG Artists Toolkit: Base Normals Maps

The end result of this tutorial reminds me very much of my childhood games on Playstation. 2D texture maps that looked 3D. Learning normals maps has been really quite interesting. Its quite ingenious how this process works! Baking a high res model and then turning it into a texture to stick on top of the low res model (at least this is how I understand it.) You can quite clearly see evidence of this in the third image with the riveted anchor plate. Its really quite clever!

CG Artists Toolkit: Games Modelling High Resolution

In this tutorial geometry begins to get denser, creating smoothed edges without using the smooth preview. In creating the higher resolution components, the anchor plate was made but it has accidentally sunk beneath the main stone cap. I'm sure this gets rectified in the next part however.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Adaptation: Getting Some Facts Straight

I did a whole host of research on each of the creatures I hope to feature in my video info graphic, but here is a sort of concise guide for myself containing the base information I can build on from.

Adaptation: Re-Uglifying Things

I made some headway on the style of the Aye Aye's face. The tests below were slightly closer to the actual facial markings of the creature than my first page, but I still need to choose whether to go disheveled, or frazzled... or both. After that I started to entertain the body of an Aye Aye (And to match their fur and face types I nicknamed them Snap Crackle and Pop). I now need to come to a decision as to what kind of face he should have as this will have a knock on effect on the type of body he might have. The slight messiness of Snap, the utter craziness of Crackle or the clean lines of Pop....

Feedback on the most successful variants will be much appreciated! Thanks!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Adaptation: Post-Tutorial-Re-uglifying Things

Having discussed progress with the project so far I now have a definite tone for my animation. 'The World of Rare and Ugly Animals' will be aimed more towards children. I feel more inclined towards creating a light hearted info graphic about endangered species than creating one which would need to have shock tactics, and be incredibly serious. Especially when the style I have chosen will be quite simple but also colourful. This leaves my script open for some comedic elements to make the whole video much more fun and I quite like this feature. It means I can also have fun with the design aspect a little. 

The last time I began structuring my creatures I made them far too cute, there is no ugly left in them. Since then I have started to reinvent the style slightly with the help of googled images of the fish and inspiring art style, below are my experiments with the Blobfish and the head of the Aye Aye. 

In the case of the Blobfish below, I'm not sure if I would like to add textures to these creatures or keep things to bands of colours.

Meanwhile the Aye Aye has undergone some sequential…. um... dishevelling. I wonder if, to make these critters weirder, whether I should perhaps exaggerate some features. But then again that may be pushing things a little too far...

Any feedback would be much appreciated

Mudbox Introductions: Creating tools

So today we went into more detail on Mudbox after a general overview last week. Quite a lot went on today. So many tools and things to help in sculpting. It proved really interesting. So much so I spent less time doing, more time watching and trying to absorb. But I have a few samples of working.

So the main event covered was creating new stamps. The tools by which you can sculpt your model. We began with making ourselves a 'crease' tool, utilising photoshop and painting a sort of brush shape, and then importing the 'stamp' into Mudbox. There we could adjust various settings and finally use it in sculpting things. The tattoo like test was my final 'crease' Tool being used. It seemed to work quite well!

The below was me experimenting with the crease tool and also things like the Freeze tool, so that I might sculpt the hair without interrupting the facial features (not that I'd moulded any!)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Adaptation: Style Research and Influences

I started to look up some interesting material so that I might find myself an art style.

I came across a few interesting articles on this site displaying some nice info graphics on populations of all kinds of things. They're particularly useful as I will need to find a way to express the lacking populations of my chosen rare animals.

I really hit Gold dust however when this design popped up on google.

And with one click a further fifty could be viewed. Here's a couple of my favourites

This is precisely the simplicity I was heading for when it came to achieving my ugly animal designs. The shapes can be easily disassembled and reconstructed into new thing.  The artwork is by artist Jag Nagra. With a little poking around, I found more of her work. The video embedded below contains other animals as well as many simplified celebrity faces as part of a 365 day project. Its beautifully economic!

If there's anything i can learn from Ms Nagra's style its to not be afraid of using angular lines and points. So far everything I've designed has had soft edges. It's time to get a bit harsher. Back to the drawing board I think!

Adaptation: Stop Motion Tests

Thursday last week I sat down in the evening and cut out a myriad of rounded forms so that I might be able to create a short stop motion animation employing the 2D simple shape of a Proboscis Monkey. I exported those files, fully expecting to upload them that evening with the designs (my last post on 'back to basic shapes') but for some reason the files failed. Here is my second attempt at uploading them...

There are 2 video's- One employs the idea of dispersal and reformation as was discussed in a tutorial session. The idea is that this dispersal can be a metaphor for the potential loss of the species. In time, some sooner rather than later, will just disappear. And fade from memory.
The second video involves a vague transition from the land based rain forest and descending into the ocean waves. Its an example of the flow I might use to get from scene to scene and animal to animal.



Saturday, 18 January 2014

Adaptation: Back to Basic Shapes

So having looked at Fuzzy Felts I started to experiment with trying to create one of my 7 animals in simpler forms so that those shapes might combine, disperse and reform to communicate more about each species and help transitions between scenes of my info graphic.

 Below is my experiment with the proboscis monkey, (from left to right) the first of the three is the simplest version, the second developed eyes and the third had many more articulations. 
I am currently at odds as to which I should go with. I still quite like the face of the simplest monkey. But the complicated one allowed for a wider colour range, more complicated movement, as well as providing more 'base shapes' with which to disassemble and reform into new objects/ other scenes in the info graphic. 

However the complicated design consisted of 22 separate pieces! Meanwhile the simplest knocked it back to 14 pieces. The fewer objects there are the quicker it will be to animate. 
Gosh there are so many factors!

I also gave a shot at creating a Tasmanian Devil, Bobfish and, Aye Aye and Axolotl with the simplest base shapes, meanwhile trying to do a compromise of my Proboscis Monkey. They're starting to look quite cute now. 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

CG Artists Toolkit: Games Modelling

Below is my first attempt at Low Resolution games modelling, where the key is to model economically. Keeping the Poly count as low as possible without sacrificing aesthetics. The first image below is the construction of a bridge. But in order to save time each element is constructed once, so that it can be UV mapped and then duplicated to complete the model.

This second image shows the bridge UV mapped and ready for texturing.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Adaptation: Tutorial developments

Having completed some further research into the Aye Aye and other aesthetically challenged beasties I discovered a website 'Ugly Animal Preservation Society' whose mission is 'drawing attention to the plight of endangered animals the world deems too ugly to save.' (The Telegraph)

In finding these guys, I find there is a whole new niche in which an info graphic on ugly animals would be perfect. It is true that in the  most case with conservation charities, the poster worthy are only ever the cute and cuddly endangered critters and rarely any that are lacking the pizzazz of what is considered beautiful. With this in mind my search into the narrower field of ugly but also endangered creatures and found the shortlist below.

The Blobfish, The proboscis Monkey (I think they're still quite sweet personally), the Aye Aye (Again, rather cute in my eyes), the Tasmanian Devil, The Californian Condor, the Great White Shark and the Axolotl. (Images sourced from National Geographic, but also Discovery news)

Each of these creatures is, in the least, considered vulnerable, but mostly endangered and they make interesting characters to present facts about.

During discussion, the possibilities of art styles arose. I was originally thinking long the lines of 2D drawings, line drawings, scratchy pen and rough watercolour fills, work not too dissimilar to the style of Quentin Blake, but also Simon Tofield (Simon's Cat) It was then suggested to me, to simplify the shapes of my chosen creatures further, aided by the inspiration of 'Fuzzy Felts' Simple shapes cut out of sheets of felt are used in children's games and stories to illustrate or just encourage creativity. But they are often bright bold colours and simple in their design.

It was highlighted to me that a great feature about creating them with simple shapes that they provide a way to transition during the info graphic video. Shapes assembling to form one creature and their deconstruction/ falling apart ready to morph into the next scene and also create a metaphor for the fact these species are endangered. One moment they are there, they exist, but if they're not saved they may just disappear. With this metaphor now firmly implanted in my head I am running with the simple shapes and tested out some shapes in photoshop.

Now I just need to figure out technically how I would like to achieve this info graphic video… 
  • Maya- where there are great textures to be taken advantage of. Or to take another angle, basic 3D shapes could offer a new dimension (pun intended)
  • Stop Motion- I could literally animate with fuzzy felt's or similar materials frame by frame
  • Flash- Animate the simple coloured shapes.
  • Illustrator….

 And so many more possibilities! I need to start experimenting as soon as possible to see which style works best.
First things first, time to get my facts straight...

Mudbox introductions- meet Rainbow

Mudbox is like being handed play-dough when your little. Except with less of the mess. It takes a bit of getting used to, locating your various tools and new shortcut keys, but once you start of course its great fun testing the extremes. Getting to the painting part…. well you can see why I called this lizard guy 'Rainbow'

This is definitely a program I want to exploit at some point. The texturing potential is amazing. And somehow looking at a model that you can almost 'feel' is a rather nice thing.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Adaptation: Post Pitch

So the top scoring idea's were...
The World of Glastonbury

The World of Type 


The World of the Aye Aye

With regards to the Glastonbury idea, it was suggested a taxonomy of the festival goers could be created. Fashionista's, old mods and rockers and such. However it transpires after doing some research the varying stereotypes aren't recorded. But simply the ages and the sheer numbers that attend. Interestingly the average age of the festival goer is over 35! The headline acts tend to be the older bands such as the Rolling Stones (very rarely a band that's younger than five years old) And points have been made that the event is much more middle class due to its pricing, excluding the younger demographics (who has £200 to throw away in their early 20's?)

Looking into the world of type, my feedback latched onto the idea of picking out the most hated of all typefaces and homing in on them. Perhaps exploring why they are hated. Below are a few examples of the most hated/ugly typefaces used. However knowing which ones are hated, I'm not quite sure where to take the idea from here. How would I turn this into an info-graphic?

Finally the Aye-Aye, the rather ugly and unloved and also very rare Madagascan creature. The idea of the creatures persecution was picked up on during the pitch, but if there aren't enough facts about the one creature then the possibility of doing a taxonomy on the most ugly or persecuted creatures. After finding out about the Aye-Aye I decided to look up some of the most ugly creatures on the planet and discovered quite a list. Some are downright creepy. Here are a few I would consider for a short info graphic about the worlds rarer and aesthetically challenged wildlife.

Thee Star Nosed Mole, The Blobfish, the Yeti Crab

The Aye Aye, The Coconut Crab, the Black Dragonfish

 The Naked Mole Rat, The Monkfish, The Goblin Shark and the Californian Condor

Again, much like 'The world of Type' idea. What to do with these creatures and how to form an info graphic eludes me. This is going to take some consideration...