Friday, 27 November 2009

The End of Unit405

Its the last day working on this project. The result..... I will write in detail after I catch up with some sleep.. its been a very long week..lack of sleep.. my brain has melted from the maya overload. =_=

Brief C: Character Design:
Aim: To design and animate a character for a potential animated advertisement for London Zoo.
Visual style should reflect traditional Claymation techniques but generated in CG process.

The character I chose to focus on was the silver back gorilla, Cornilius.
Cornilius - A middle aged silver back gorilla, the most civilised and sensible occupant of the zoo.

Processes I went through to achieve final:
-Research on silver back gorilla's - study of their body structure and movement.
-Watch gorilla documentaries.
-Comparisons of other developed cartoon monkeys/gorilla's.
-Design various drawing styles.
-Colour tests on one design.
-Produce a final character sheet, ready to model in maya.

-Study various modeling techniques online.
-Bought Rigging book
-Found working with NURB's were easier to modify into a gorilla structure using isoparms and lattice deformers.
-Practice modeling and deforming the model to capture detailed features.
-Practice RIGGING. + study controllers needed for my model.
-Start on final model.
-Study BlendShapes - facial expressions made easier to animate.
-Rig the final model
-Skin and paint weights - (so many problems painting weights)

This was the first time modeling my own character, alot of research was needed since Im not very fluent in using maya. But with good help from online tutorials and friends around me, I managed to model the final thing with ease. However, when things got a bit too technical, problems started blooming.

Problems I encountered during the first stages of modeling....
How to model using NURB's. Its not as hard as people say it is.^^ It really gives a more natural feel; working with curves rather then blocks of polygons. I've learnt how to set and use deformers to my advantage.
Firstly, using an EP curve to trace over HALF my character sheet, I made a NURB by revolving the curve. The first problem I encountered was the hole produce on the top and bottom of the model. To counter this, I fixed up the lines neatly and deleted unnecessary points around the edge closer to the inner point of the model where it would revolve around. I did a few tests to get this right, and found the points out of lined would revolve around itself and make another object INSIDE the original NURB particle I desired. Another problem I encountered was, the fact that a gorilla has a beard king of thing going on, with only their face and chest showing their actual skin. I couldnt get that effect on my model - I just didn't know how, after playing around with the maya controllers, I found something called "Hull" to fix the problem. So now, my model doesn't look like a chicken OR seamonster!

Things I enjoyed during modeling...
Lattice deformers! How I loved using them. By using a lattice deformers, I dont actually touch the actual mesh. Its kind of like scaffolding.. but instead of supporting the object, I can use lattice points to mould the mesh at ease. Then by deleting the history, it gets rid of the lattice deformer but leaves the result as it is! =) I like moving the vertices and using deformers instead of extruding polygons by a mile. extruding just hates me, never works out. So Im happy nurbs worked out.

BLENDSHAPES!^^ - Duplicating the mesh, then changing the facial expression using deformers, morphing targets and moving the vertices. After creating a blendshape, changing the facial expressions became so much easier then the older models we've been given to animate with.

Problems I encountered during skinning stages...
Surprisingly, I had no problems actually making the joints and controllers. Placing the joints in place, then mirroring them, and basically organising each part in the process. Parenting controllers to joints was also very enjoyable. Parenting the parts was such a simple job! =D

Skinning and painting weights onto the model was just a plain nightmare. I'm sure people spend months on painting weights alone. Its such a stressful job of fixing the influences as I move the different joints. At first, whenever I moved the arms, the force would bend the side of the head. I thought to myself, perhaps I made the head too big? I then found a tutorial online, explaining the theories of painting weights. Painting weights made more sense, but it just wouldn't work. If i had more time on the project, I might've had more time to experiment with weight painting. During first year at ravensbourne, we didn't have a lecture on painting weights in depth. So I learnt quite a lot from tutorials. After fixing the arm and head issue, the head became too heavy to move, then the spine went a bit deformed every time I tried to move them.
I failed to fix this issue, and found no tutors for advice. So I animated using blendshapes. It cant fully move, but the changing process as it moves seems much smoother.

From this result, I animated a turntable of my final model. and a short sequence showing how the blendshapes turned out. I'm not very satisfied with the result, too much research was needed, and I need to study harder on skinning especially. I'm probably going to continue working on this character since I worked so hard to get this look. Or maybe make an improved version.

I wasted time researching on different people's approaches to modeling and didnt take account of time.However, by doing this I made less mistakes, and approached the tools on maya with confidence;knowing the meaning of what I was doing as I went along made the process more meaningful. I may have spent too much time on character designing alone.

Must really get out of that habit, drowning in the moment when Im drawing - it really puts you in your own world. So there's nothing to regret,its been very intence and I've learnt too much from this project- especially from the errors. Its disappointing in a way I didn't get to animate this guy properly, but not in another way; after stressing over painting weights. Its taken alot of concentration to get this far.

Since we haven't had actual guidance this term and I've been ill most the time, its been kind of worrying, but the hard work paid off, and now I feel I have the confidence to challenge next terms briefs =D

Print screens of the results coming soon~~ (Its on another computer =P)

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