Friday, 27 November 2009


I really enjoy texturing my Character, my model was originally in nurbs I thought that I would have to convert to polys as I wouldn't be able to texture. However, I was able to texture on to nurbs surface successfully as my geometry suited the textures that I need. (If I were to do this again I would UV map in polys as my model would be mde out of polys and I wouldn't have the problem with stretching like the front of the hood. However they're are ways that we could pull the texture to suit the look I wanted by going in to the UV map. (ran out of time to finesse). I imported the desired textures in to photoshop and enhanced effects on the fabric and created a black and white version for Bump mapping. Made this into a square format. I then assigned new material by using mostly lamberts and adding bump map. played around with tolerances etc to achieve the look I wanted. I really like the texture on the arms the best as it looks like fabric.
Just a quick overview of schedule

Week 1 Introduction to project
Week 2 Choose project and write out brief
Week 3 visit zoo
Week 4 Brainstorm ideas for characters
Week 5 Model
Week 6 Skin
Week7 Rig
Week8 Texture and Paint weights
Week 9 Animate

This was my ideal schedule. I knew this was going to be an extremely tight project as I wasn't sure what measure to take with each step. The first couple of weeks was taken up by moving house and had no computer so did alot of the preliminary work by hand. At first I spent a long time watching tutorials and reading and found that I was changing the technique of modeling the design of model according to whatever tutorial. This was not because of lack of focus but rather not knowing the best way to tackle my design. I feel that it would have been beneficial at first to go through design and establish the best route to take. A lot of the time was used trying to try different techniques for modeling my character. I started again 3-4 times until I was happy with outcome. using different techniques with EP curve tool and revolving and editing shapes using lattice deformers, Isoparms and Hulls. This was a good learning curve for me as I learnt lots of different ways to model.....not necessarily the best approach with the tight deadline. However I found that the Maya Character book by Cheryl Cabera very beneficial as recommended by Steve but was difficult to follow rigging. I found Steves tutorial easier to follow. Also I originally was going to model Cornelius and decided last minute to model Willie as I thought he would be easier to start of with and a lot of students were modeling the gorilla, if I wanted to finish the concept at a later stage I could combine someone else's model of the Gorilla to animate. However, I will model Cornelius during Christmas as I really like the design and would love to animate the scene with the two characters as described earlier on in this journal. I feel that I have pretty much stayed on top of my plan and it's only in the later stages that I was missing the deadlines set due to ongoing problems. I can see why people specialize in certain areas in industry as you need to know each area in depth be it rigging, texturing or modeling etc. else I think you would just blow up!!!!!

Quick clip of walk painted weights not done yet.

Unfortunately I did not finish painting weights on Willie Billiums. I am very dissapointed that I wasn't able to animate the character for submission. I have had many problems along the journey of creating Willie. Even though I have set certain tasks to be acheived on set days I have fallen behind due to resolving ongoing problems. This was not unrealistic or too optimistic of me but, rather blissful ignorance as I didn't know what to expect. as mentioned before I have not modeled before let alone rig and animate. After applying lights and camera I set the scene ready for rendering. I have animated a small amount of the character with the weights unfinished just to show how the character would look like. This is no where near to how I want Willie to move but just showing how it would look. I had problems with setting the texture to the eyes as I did not set a shader before combining mesh so at this late stage I've had to render as it is. If I had more time I would correct the distortion on the front of the hood and change the color of the cord attached to the hood and the stitches. I would also have the surface texture on the body slightly raised to give form and definition to the texture. Unfortunately with bump map added it was far to defined in rigidity and depth so decided to take off the bump. I basically need another day to get the textures exactly how I would like it. I am pretty much happy with the overall appearance of Willie Billium and feel that it is very close to my original concepts. Ideally I need another two days to finish it. Faran gave me a really good tip on rotating my character for create a camera and move the character instead of the camera when rotating. This gives a far smoother flow when rendering out the sequence. Cheers buddy! I set the camera and set the key from 1 to 96 which gave (if set at 24 frames per second) 4 seconds of animation.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Spent early morning playing around with lighting and camera ready fro rendering.

Problems with conversion

Realized as I was painting weights that when Willie was converted into polys to combine the surfaces the nurbs model and another poly model was contained. Even though I did not notice this when I was animating only appeared when I rendered the scene. Just deleted the unwanted surfaces. The foot had a joint missing which made the feet not follow the movement this was easily rectified in adding another joint.

Key Framing and painting weights

Key framing Willie to establish the deformation so I can paint weights. After key framing the head I realized that the cord around the hood was not attached. This could have been because history was not deleted. This was another problem in the end I had to convert the nurbs model into a poly to combine the surfaces. The result was fine. and smoothed so that the character looked more like the original nurbs model. This rectified the problem of the cord seperating from the hood when animating. Once this was achieved I could finally start painting weights.
I had to show joints-shading-xray go into the outliner choose the skin skeleton and smooth bind. Painting joints to the mesh that surrounds it. I had a problem with some of the mesh so I had to go into the component editor to modify influences that joints have on the affected mesh. Then go back into the paint weights box and paint and blend.

Skinning - 24th Nov

Mmmmm........Where do I start......nothings ever simple.......

I wanted to attach my mesh to the Rigg. Steve's confidence that it wouldn't be a problem was some what optimistic!! (Thought I'd be able to achieve this in the morning.....however, it took the whole day)! I had doubts that I would be able to achieve this straight away by the problems that I've had with other tasks modelling my character. Binding skin did not work due to components not having deleted History. First of all I had to select bones and group them. So I can select set members to skin. Difficult to locate so went into the outliner and the hypergraph to locate certain bones.....this is because I forgot to name three of the bones. (I see why it's so important to label as it is much easier to locate in the hyper-graph). Alex quickly went through Hierarchy in Hyper-graph with me ......Quite complicated.....(will go through during Christmas). Anyway my point is.......binding skin didn't work as I hadn't deleted history on some of the components. When I went through individually each object...the main body would not enable me to delete history. Steve said that I would have to convert the model into polys again!!!! Anyway spent the afternoon doing this only to find that Steve had a brain wave going back to my nurbs model - edit-delete by type-history and additionally delete-non-deformers-history......BINGO!!!!!! It worked.......So by the end of the day I finally had the binding done!!!!! Nice one Steve......

As I need to press on with Post Production tomorrow Thursday I will paint weights and maybe animate Willie!



Let me begin by just stating that originally the intention for choosing this project was too have a go at modelling. Considering I haven't really modelled in Maya I am really pleased with my learning outcome and the result of the character. Even though it has been quite a difficult journey not knowing what was the best way to do things especially when they went wrong.

The biggest challenge was continuously finding hurdles with dealing with a nurbs model. The reason why I chose a nurbs model originally is because most of the tutorials that I had been looking at and following Cheryl Cabrera book tells you to start in nurbs and because I had already achieved most of the model in Nurbs. After constructing Willie so many times in polys (due to actions not working with the nurbs model) I felt that the character was more suited to the original design in nurbs. However, after all the problems and resolving them, right at the end I had to finally give up and convert again to polys!

I have had endless problems with my model and for my first modelling project I am pleased with the outcome. I have learnt a lot from tutors students and from books and you tube videos etc. and most importantly even though I have run out of time to animate my model I feel I have achieved what I wanted from this project mostly through my mistakes and problems.

Originally I was going to model Cornelius and decided to model Willie instead as I felt He would be easier! I was somewhat mistaken.........Even the most simplest shaped character can be a complete nightmare! Especially being my first.... not knowing how to do things and having to learn quickly such as rigging, painting weights etc and what to expect. Not knowing how to do something or what I do when something goes wrong was the biggest hurdle with this project.

I am pleased with the final model of Willie and feel that it is very close to my original concepts. I am not entirely pleased with the textures and will finesse them during the Christmas holiday. Partly because I bump mapped the texture on the body giving it a very rigged texture resembling shredded wheat! I changed the texture and excluded the bump map to give a better result.

I know many students have thought that my character looks a bit like 9. This, wasn't intentional as I had designed the character before I saw 9 and through my research added this in as I really liked the texture. Willie was always going to be made from old natural fabrics and I wanted him to look quite dark and sinister this was achieved by adding the button eyes as you can't sense any emotion.

I feel I have met my original brief by achieving the following tasks
  • Designing
  • Modeling
  • Texturing
  • Rigging
  • Skinning
  • Painting weights
I was never anticipating to go beyond rigging my character but as I moved on to each stage I had this obsessive need to see the character completed. I would have loved to show my finished character moving to give a sense of personality but unfortunately I have still to finish painting weights before I animate.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Rigging Willy trying rigging.....with the help of Steve's Rigging Tutorial and Maya Character rigging book.....Thank you to Clym helping me out and understanding Rigging. This is making joints, parenting, attaching IK Handles, Pole vectoring, constructing locators. Adding eye movements. Just need to establish how to combine Nurbs and attach skin......Then need to finish texturing and start animating.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Haven't forgotten Corny......gonna start modeling next week and probably through Christmas..

Modelling Nurbs and Polys.........

Stressful... was up till 3 this morning converting model to polys and merging vertices etc. had some problems with converting but eventually completed. Alex and Steve have been brilliant.....Alex help me relax showing me a few new tools and showing me simple rigging techniques. Was playing around with the texture and UV mapping and found out that I can actually texture on nurbs... Awesome!! In any case at least I managed to learn how to convert and use poly tools to model....

Willy, (as mentioned before) is made of different componants....body, left and right arm, left and right leg, hood, eyes, drawstring detailing, thread, and modeled wearing a gorillas outfit. This is why the arms and feet are long and baggy, to give the impression that Willy is wearing a gorilla suit. I prefer the model in nurbs as the weight of the stomach is balanced against the rest of the body signifying the big bulge of a stomach that Gorillas have. This is balanced by the feet being slightly apart and feet facing slightly outwards. This will give the impression of Willy woddling as he walks. Although, maybe the same weight and detail would occur on the Poly model smoothed out a bit more.

Had a really successful day today. After realising that I could texture on nurbs I decided to focus on the nurbs model. However reference to polys have been supported as I feel that it has helped me understand the differences. Played around with textures today and bump map. quite pleased how my model looks as it is made of lots of different materials. So good seeing how the textures look on the model as it brings it to life.

I took the textures into Photoshop to get the texture how I want it and bump mapped over it. The effect is too exaggerated as I want it to look like fabric not shredded wheat......Shall play around with it. Clym showed me a cool way of changing the flow of fabric to make the holes bigger or smaller or angled etc. Cheers Clymbo! Touched on Rigging.....gonna try rig my model for next week! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Willy converted to polys....I much prefer the model in nurbs. but I don't know if I can get round the texturing problem......

Hopefully I can start the texturing today!
After successfully modelling my character in nurbs I have now realised that I have to convert to polys for UV Mapping. It's a little stressful as some of the actions are not working as I want it to. I merged cells on the arm to enable me to cut the model in two and mirror. This did not work....surprise, surprise....I hate it when I can't work something out......I wanted to start my texturing tomorrow but I don't know if I'm gonna be able to as I have to sort out the character in polys....what a nightmare.......

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Willy Modeling continued.....

Monday, 9 November 2009

Different approaches - just to get a feel with modelling.
I guess it's been a while since I last put anything on my blog.....that's because I've been hard at work trying to model my character - Willie in Maya. I've not really modelled anything in maya and feel a little anxious of the outcome.

At first I had a problem with my Maya - due to amount of stuff on my computer so I spent a great deal of time cleaning up my computer, to create more free space etc. Anyhow, managed to do so so and Maya seems to be fine - no more lagging!!!

I've been using Maya Character Rigging book by Cheryl Cabrera, Digital Tutors and Escape studio, website and help from my mates at college. I have tried diferent approaches to construct the main body. One of them by using the E.P. curve tool and using lattice deformers. I then imported the OBJ file into ZBrush so I can have a play around with it tomorrow (as I am doing post production stuff today using After Effects). It has been a little difficult trying to establish the best method of modelling my character and have been told modelling in Polygons is best approach. But, Cheryl Cabrera tells you to use nurbs as well as digital tutors and many movies on you tube. I think looking at my model as it is quite rounded I have also tried modelling in simple shapes using digital tutors tutorials. I will then try to change the model from nurbs to polygons. I have tried different approaches to familiarize myself with the tools.