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.