Not long ago my group finally finished up our Low Poly Project meaning all of our low poly assets had been put into one big group model- a tile with 4 different environments on it.
We settled on doing ice, forestry, a race track sideline, and desert themes. We created all kinds of assets to build this up and some are even animated, like Oscar’s penguins and Jack’s fire pit.
We each contributed different models, not only sticking to one of the 4 themes each, and I like how it turned out. Every asset is under 1000 tris and we used textures and style to bring them all together as one race track tile.
The scene is animated but I don’t have a recording of it yet. The car drives around the road over and under, as the campfire burns, cones fall and penguins flap their wings.
Here are some images I rendered out of it this week including a block coloured render which looked interesting. It was a fun project and I’m happy to finally see it finished.
Over the past few weeks I have been using my concept sketches to build a low poly model of an armchair fit for a Wizard. This is the first step towards making my industry standard asset in Maya. The idea was to have an armchair with a low seat and a tall back. Its legs are wooden and its seat is fabric.
It took a while to make as I did some branches which I felt couldn’t be achieved with baking, but I will do smaller detail that way, which is my next step. I am happy with the shape I’ve got right now and am looking forward to finally moving onto the finer details.
This model will go in my portfolio when it is finished so I am paying close attention to making it look exactly how I wanted it to when I first sketched it.
I am pleased with my low poly model and will use Mudbox to start personalising it next lesson.
The other week in Tony’s lesson he introduced us to the software called Sculptris which is a simpler version of Mudbox. We used this to make our own heads. You begin with a sphere shape, which you can use the tools to morph into anything you want.
Smoothing adds poly’s to your model, so there is a reduce tool brush which lowers the polys to keep the model even, and stop risking Sculptris crashing, which kept happening to me in lesson.
I came back into college to use Sculptris again the next Wednesday and in the other room it worked well! I made a Plasticine, Joker-like face in Tony’s the other week, so I did that again, but with a lot more time put in digitally. I was never great at sculpting, so I thought I’d find this really difficult, but once it was running smoothly, I stopped worrying about doing too many little details in case it crashed, and just sculpted whatever I wanted to on the face, down to the hair and teeth.
The face is very exaggerated, as the Joker’s is in comic books, and I left the eyes blank. I really wanted to focus on a confusing, frightening expression, and I would like to have eyes included, but this way it doesn’t allow to eyes to show expression at all. Eyes can smile or not smile along with the mouth; when they don’t it is a chilling expression.
I’m happy with how my first completed 3D face turned out (though I feel I could make it creepier).
Over Easter break and last week I have been working on character animations in Maya. We were given the task by Matt to do a walk cycle and a more difficult choice of our own, so I began by making Moom do his Moom walk.
It was difficult to get the hang of, but I started by placing the feet in the right positions- starting and ending the cycle in the same position. I then switched them over for the other foot mid timeline, and then did the in-between movements. I used pose-to-pose animation for the legs and arms so I could go between the main key-frames and add realistic transitions, such as the ankles rotating before the foot lifts off, and the knees bending and arms swinging at the right times.
The animation does loop, and each leg and arm has the exact same movement as I copied down the transitions from one to the next.
For my second animation I did a skipping cycle. I figured a skip was hopping on one leg whilst stepping the other, then switching legs. Again, this animation loops and I did it pose-to-pose.
I enjoyed making this because of the fun movement and a rig which suited the lively skip. Ellie rig was fun to use but took me a while to get used to. I have found this a challenge but I am happy with the outcome. Ellie’s arms don’t swing, but lift as she jumps. I experimented with making the hips move and the head bob.
The last step with this rig was to make the ponytails bounce and I think it made the jump more realistic. I was really proud of how this turned out.
Both animations were difficult because walk cycles are new to me but setting it out by using the first frame twice (once at the end) and doing it by the numbers to make it smooth and repeatable. I also did both animations walking on the spot, so that if they were used in game they wouldn’t just walk forward and glitch back when it loops, they’d walk only where you move them.
In Matt’s class we were split into groups and had to come up with an agreeable theme for a group project. That project was to build an asset or two each and put them all together in one scene. The theme we chose was fantasy, and that meant we would make a licing space for a Wizard, where he would go to study in his house. In that space we wanted spiral stairs, bookshelves, potions and more.
I am responsible for making the wizard’s armchair. I did some research of photos of chairs I wanted to use as inspiration and also began designing how the chair would look when completed in Maya. My chair had to be tall, worn, and comfortable. I also wanted to include bare wood instead of a polished frame to give it character.
I drew up my designs which I’m liking so far, but if they don’t look totally right in 3D I will change aspects. I have made the body of the chair on Maya so far and it is low poly. will later duplicate the model and make a higher poly, detailed model, and bake the detail onto the original. This will be done using a Normal Map- which is used in industry to keep the poly count low when assets are brought into a scene in a game. Everything will load faster, take up less storage, and look the same as the detail will be in the textures, mainly.
The next step will be to make the legs and framework of the chair in low poly.
This month I have been steadily improving my room project I began months ago in Matt’s class.
I made my living room in Maya and got good feedback on my models and textures. I also was asked to do more small objects and accessories, then to re-do some renders with better lighting and quality.
I did some new models; Curtains (which don’t match photos as I did my old living room curtains from memory, which were cream and could be strapped sideways), candles, clock hands, a radiator, a lamp, and 2 door handles. I found it so much easier to do these models than I did doing the project the first time around. I think some practice during the break in this assignment has helped me get to grips with basic Maya skills- so I can work faster now- and now I can try new things, like using the curve tool to do the curtains.
I fixed my models with Photoshopped textures. Last time around I had big issues with the textures constantly breaking between opening and closing the project, and with them going transparent and messing up randomly. I had no idea how to fix this problem, so I assumed doing more of my room would be tricky. Thankfully, Matt recently showed me how to unplug the transparency that is automatically imported from Photoshop when I use PSD files as textures- I did this to my rug and units and never have had a problem since. Now renders look so much better and you can see my objects properly.
I added the new models into the scene and it instantly felt more like my home. I then set up 3 point lighting for each shot, and used the Maya Renderer to take my pictures. In the rendering window I set the photos to ‘RAW’ and used HD resolution on them. This improved the look of my pictures as they are less washed out, and the vibrancy brings out the textures more.
I added the new renders as a second half to my original project PowerPoint, mainly because I had photographs compared with my last renders to show what’s in the room and how it is to scale. Hopefully putting the updated renders afterwards shows a clear difference in quality and shows off my new assets.
roompresentation1 – This is the updated PowerPoint.
We have begun a group project in Matt’s lessons to create a Tile scene of a low-poly race track of some sort. Team leaders were selected and they formed teams out of the rest of us. I joined a group with Kyle, Jack, and Oscar.
Our team came up with a lot of ideas, many inspired by real life racing and by games like Mario Kart. We eventually decided to do a double sided tile, where each side of the road would have it’s own environment, which meant 4 in total (upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right). I haven’t added to the environment modelling yet though, as I’ve made a car, a flag, and a traffic cone. I can only get photos of the car for now though, since my home Maya won’t open the files I made at college properly for renders.
We have to keep the models 1000 tris or under and we can go as low as possible to keep them stylised. Keeping the car under this number was a challenge as it is the first low-poly model I’ve made, but in our second lesson Matt showed us useful tips about deleting edge loops and using the Mudbox-like feature on Maya to keep the polys down and the model looking good.
I’m getting used to the idea of the low-poly models, until now I didn’t really want to make any because I’ve always wanted to know how to model in detail and create things I see in movies, but I realised I also see a lot of low poly things too- like in Crossy Road, for example. Its pushing me to make something good under a restriction and I’m really liking it.
Making the car reminded the others and I of Mario’s car in Mario Kart DS- I say DS because the graphics make it look similar- and animating the flag reminded me slightly of the graphics (though I’m not sure why) in games like Donkey Kong country 3, where 3D models were turned into 2D sprites, and weren’t too detailed or smooth moving because of the game itself. I realised that keeping polys low and texturing them carefully could make an object look better than if the detail was in the model, rather than its paint.
I’m excited to see how this will all turn out.
Last week I finally completed my animation assignment. My final steps were to Batch Render, and export my animation.
To export the Maya animation footage I did a Batch Render of the scene. This created 3 files of images in my project folder. The second file had the correct perspective of the camera zooming in at the end. I then had to do the process of setting up a project in Premiere before importing the images. I followed Matt’s tutorial and this all went smoothly. I almost tried using Premiere Pro to do the next step at college but there was no time, so I downloaded it at home.
I had never used the software before. I had to try exporting a few times before I got it to work. I had a number of issues, from the background not importing due to my alpha settings on rendering, the lighting being dark, the export settings having an issue, and having the background I added be a second too long. I tried to fix most of these at the time of the export, but the video had to be cropped once it was uploaded to YouTube to eliminate that second at the end.
I had to try multiple different export techniques as a setting wouldn’t show up for me on the one in the tutorial. Thankfully, I restarted the software and did the same thing again, but this time it showed up, and everything worked perfectly.
Because it was late as this stage I exported everything, then realised it was the wrong perspective, so I redid it with the proper footage. I wasn’t too bothered that I did that, though, as I was just excited to hvae figured out how to do things correctly.
To convert the movie clip file that exported into an MP4, I downloaded WinXHD Video Converter Deluxe and ran it through that software before uploading it to YouTube.
I am so happy with the animation I did. I have always wanted to animate so even something short like this is a big achievement. I want to still, later on, fix things with it (like adding another light- though I like the colour payoff here it could still be brighter and have the same effect-, maybe adding sound, and extending the final second of the video) but I’m still proud of what I came up with so far.
This week I finished my animation. I animated movement in my hat, and the pauses where I felt they were necessary.
My ident needed to be 5-10 seconds long, and have the inanimate objects in the scene come to life with emotion.
The idea behind my animation was the robotic-looking Santa Claus would interact with an undelivered present he finds trying to hide under his hat. This present then flinches away when he reaches for it, then comes to him. The hat in the scene represents what maybe eyebrow movement would for emotion; when Santa is shocked, the hat goes straight, and as he leans in towards the present, it drops forward towards what he wants.
I don’t have a Playblast from this week as I’m in the process of batch rendering before I export it, but Matt helped me put a ‘use background’ in the scene and some lights with the shadows enabled. I took a render of this to see how my batch would turn out.
Firstly this lesson we had a peer review of our animations by someone else in the room. I paired with Adam (whose animation is a burger and drink arguing, it looks great so far) and he gave me some constructive criticism. I was told my animation was good and had a lot of effort put into it, but at the time I hadn’t animated the hat fully so that needed to be fixed. He also advised me to leave some pauses in my ident for dramatic effect, which I will hopefully do near the end of my production. I think the overall finish of the product includes edits in timing which would be easier to do when the whole scene is animated.
Last week I animated my box. I had issues with Maya last week, so I didn’t save where I was up to. I had 2 big errors. I had to use a lattice on my box to achieve the squash and stretch effect on it properly, and this caused issues. The lattice was so close to the cube that Matt had to help me be able to interact with the lattice points rather than the cube’s vertices. When this eventually worked I tried to move the frames for the cube along the timeline, but no matter what I had selected in the scene, no frames showed up for my box. Matt also couldn’t figure out why I was having the error but found the frames in the graph editor so I could move them on there, it’s just less convenient.
The other error was that a vertex from the top my santa model had pulled through the entire model and made a spike out of the bottom of the mesh. I tried to move this back and it kept saying to turn off ‘Preserve UVs’ which at the time neither me nor Matt could do in that time. Thankfully the next lesson Matt fixed it for me straightaway and now I now how to d that myself in my modeling settings.
Errors aside I did get some of my animation done that week and finished the majority of it In week 4. I Managed to do the 3 assets; present, santa, and hat. I firstly animated the hat flip, then realized it would wobble a lot trying to make it follow the head movements manually- so then parented the head to the hat and struggled against some automatic movement at the beginning frames for the benefit of having the hat sit on the head and move with Santa as he does smoothly. This took quite a lot of time to figure out but so far I think the animation looks almost exactly as I’d planned.
I still need to do some pauses and other refinements to my animation. I am very pleased with the WIP and I will do cameras, lighting and background next week to complete it before I render it out.