Friday, September 24, 2010

Because the world can't have enough aliens

As usual, I haven't updated for a bit, so I guess it's about time to do so now. I'm still doing plenty of work in Zbrush and Maya. A few months ago I had the pleasure of traveling to LA to attend the 2010 Siggraph event. For those who aren't familiar, Siggraph is essentially the biggest 3D animation convention of the year. It's a very inspiring event where you get to see new technologies, behind the scenes lectures from all the big studios (which means, lots of Avatar this year), and demos of new software. Well, of course I came back with a new sense of urgency and inspiration.

I spent a great deal of time at the Pixologic Zbrush booth this year as they were showing off the much anticipated ZBrush 4. Pixologic selected a handful of the world's best zbrush artist's to come down to LA to demo the software and I have to say, this was one of the coolest, most inspirational things I've sat through. Probably my favorite demo was by an artist named Jelmer Boskma who is primarily a character artist. You can see his work here: . During his demo he showed off a technique for super quick concept drawing that he had picked up from someone else that basically involves mirror painting with a smooth brush. Now, I haven't done much drawing or digital painting for awhile so I'm still getting used to the technique but I have found it to be very useful. Here are a handful of rough 15 minute concepts I came up with.

I ended up taking the first image a bit further while modifying it to work better in 3D and sculpted this from zspheres in about 1.5 to 2 hours.

I have yet to render a turntable but will update with that as soon as I have one. I really intend to keep up with this sort of work as it doesn't take much time and is capable of producing pretty strong concepts.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Squid and the Whale and Monkeys

Well, clearly I'm terrible at keeping up with blogs. I guess I've been vague both in my writing and in my thinking as to what I really wanted to do with this blog. However, my few readers are probably unconcerned about this so let me just get down to my newest works.

I've been pretty busy lately finishing up the Rhesus Project with NIH while moving into some new stuff using Unity3D. The Rhesus project went pretty well, I got to go out and watch infant Rhesus Macaque monkeys imitate my animations and I must say, this was a pretty odd feeling. I consider myself to be quite lucky because I don't think I'll meet too many 3D artists who will get to say that they used an animation to interact with monkeys. Ultimately I was pretty happy with the final look of the monkey but I have to say that I really wish I had more time to spend on rigging and animating. I think it's pretty obvious that these aspects were rushed and this is unfortunate. Regardless, the model came out well, so here are the two movies. They're not the world's most exciting as they had to have 20 seconds of nothing (control) and 20 seconds of repetitive expression so the monkeys would catch at lea
st some of it. You can't just force a 1 week old to watch animations.

Secondly, I've spent the past month or so competing in cgsociety's 25th Hardcore Modeling Challenge. The subject was the Oceans and I went for a Sperm Whale attempting to make a meal out of a Colossal Squid. I was pretty happy with the final model. I still intend to texture the models and get them into Maya for a proper Mental Ray render setup, etc.

So here's the final submission for the challenge. I decided not to texture for the challenge this time so the focus could be just on the model/sculpt itself.

And some orthographic views.

My next order of business is to try to wrap up a model for my friend Dan Govar, author/creator of the stunning comic Azure. I've also been a inspired by his new website to maybe finally go ahead and create my own site. I've got stuff all over the web but think it's about time that I try to really organize everything. We'll see if I actually do it though. Until next time, hope you enjoy this work, as always please feel free to critique or comment on anything on here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rhesus Monkeys at the NIH

I've been working on a project at NIH for about half a year now. The short version is that I am creating a digital Rhesus Macaque monkey to show to infants to aid in cognitive responses to facial expressions. With that intro I'm now going to just mirror a post I am making on my science blog (there is no real science, but it's all science related. I'm just an artist, not a scientist). Quickly though, I want to note that this amount of time is due to me redoing the entire project about halfway through, that and spending way too much time trying to figure out fur in maya.

The project is finally starting to really come together on my end. Rebuilding the model was a very good move, I'm much happier with the model now and I'm having more success with how it moves. I decided to attack fur one more time since I have a new improved model. The hope was that the fur would magically look better on a better model that had a better texture underneath. This turned out to not be true, however in my new attempt I learned a few new things, the most important of which was that UV size determines the density of the fur. This was the reason I was getting awful looking patches of fur around the shoulders. So I redid the UV map which was kind of a pain because it also forced me to bring the new map into Zbrush so I could export new normal maps and texture maps.



So, with those fixes the fur started to look better. I'm still facing the issue of a weird hairline around the face. I am considering adding one more fur description just to define the hairline and make that work a bit better but for now I've moved on to blendshapes and rigging to test how the fur looks and moves when I animate the model. I have yet to rig but my blendshapes are finished. Another problem that I faced was with fur jittering but I found out this can be fixed by simply creating a texture reference object. This freezes the placement of the fur so it all is more or less baked onto the model and doesn't float all over when the model moves.

So here is a clip of my first few blendshapes, I've added a few to the rig but they aren't seen here. This is still a preliminary render. Not the final:

Friday, January 15, 2010

A few more speedsculpts and a busted power supply.

To those of you who follow me on twitter, you no doubt know that I've been hit with a case of power supply (psu) death. Fortunately I bought a Corsair and they have a pretty generous 5 year warranty. They are replacing the piece for me for free, no questions asked. While it's wonderful that I dont' have to buy a new one, I still have to wait for a new one. Well, this has been tough because it turns out my Zbrush addiction is worse than I had realized . Really this is probably a good thing, but still, it's been a boring few days at home. Kinda nice I guess to be able to just play video games, and finish my Lost re-watch without the guilt of knowing I should really be working on characters, but I miss it and I'm really dying to get back to it.

This happened on Saturday so I was unable to complete the Ana model in time for the release of season 2 of Azure but I'm sure we'll figure out a way to use the model.

In the mean time I have been able to just do a few speedsculpt warm-ups at work. I'm nowhere near my goal of doing one a day, but at least I'm still getting a few done.

So, please enjoy, here are two new ones. Both were approximately 45 minutes.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Azure collaboration/fanart

I started working on the character Ana from Daniel Govar's Azure comic on . The idea came because I keep meaning to do some 3D work for Dan, namely the underwater vessel, Pearl. Mainly so he doesn't have to keep drawing it. However I've been keeping my focus on character work lately and I don't have a single female character in my portfolio yet so I figured this would be a good start.

The holiday season really was good to me, I got a lot of rest, read a lot of George Martin and played a lot of video games. This also meant that I produced next to no work. So now I'm getting back into it with Ana. I just have a head so far, and no ears, but I wanted to post a work in progress anyway to sort of hold some heat to my heels. I'm hoping to really get through this character quickly and have a completed, posed piece by February 12th for the launch of the next chapter of Azure.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dan's work be sure to check out his comic which is linked at the beginning of this post. Also feel free to check out

He's a monster artist who produces way too much awesome work. He's a good guy to watch if you want to be inspired to produce more work than you thought you could.

Well, anyway, without further ado, here is my first work in progress.