Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Character Modelling Part I

In an attempt to learn new techniques and explore new areas of CG, I have started a new character model. This was all inspired by the work of Don McCullin, possibly the most recognised war photographer in the world and a man who seems completely honest and utterly haunted by his past.

I've wanted to do a character model with this sense of accuracy and detail for a while, and this provided the perfect opportunity to experiment with different modelling approaches. Normally, I use the box modelling method for this type of work. This technique starts with a large polygon cube, with topology slowly being added and adjusted, as if working with a large block of stone. However, this time I've decided to work with an edge to edge workflow. This uses a polygon plane as a starting point, then extruding edges outwards to form the face. This slight change in approach has actually been far better for me. It felt much easier to form correct topology from the very start and everything took shape fairly quickly.

This is the block out phase. Now that the character is modeled and UV'd he will be taken in to Zbrush and sculpted. The final image will be a still render with plenty of detail and atmosphere, attempting to explore the photographic potential of Maya. But for now, it's exciting to be working on new approaches and exploring different possibilities. More to come on this and other projects soon.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sketchbook Update

I've been continuing my efforts to improve my 2d work, so here are some pieces from the last couple of weeks.

I've got a number of other pieces to post soon but currently they are all part of projects that remain under wraps. You can follow my sketchbook here.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Experiments in the Void

In the past, I've always had a certain sense of anxiety when it comes to using Maya. It is a software that looks scary, a huge toolbox with endless panels and menus, all with rules and principles to follow. My confidence with trying new things has always been limited. However, the more freelance work I am a part of, the more I forget about all this. So, why am I going on about why Maya is a big, scary beast? Well, essentially, I've come to a stage in my learning where by I want to try new things. I want to get away from my old styles, explore new possibilities and in short, piss about with 3d software. I want to see what happens when I make stuff without all the stress, rather than always worrying about the rules and regulations.

This is a huge turning point in my work. A point at which I start to enjoy the process more and more, embrace the polygons and just see what happens when I give less of a shit about getting everything perfect. I've always loved the narrative aspect of animation. It is a medium unlike any other, allowing for artists to create anything, unlimited by any physical aspects of film making. This is something I want to embrace and explore. 

Thus, I am starting a new ongoing project, titled "Experiments in the Void." This will be an ever evolving look at how I can use Maya and other CG software to simply explore. I will be using the software like a sketchbook, experimenting and working out new methodologies. Some of these will be inane and dumb,  others will be more practical works. But all of them will help my work progress. So, I'd like to start by presenting this first piece of something, created on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Louis C.K - Character Model

After spending yesterday afternoon messing around with Maya, this was the result. A fully textured, characterised render of the great comedian and director Louis C.K. The time spent on the piece was rather minimal in comparison to my usual characters, but despite this I'm really chuffed with the result. The style and simplicity of the model is revelatory, it has charm and character but also seems perfect for animation. This was the first time I've created a character without following the checkbox of rules. No orthographs, no worrying about perfect topology or smooth skin. I wanted it to get away from everything I worried about during my degree. I created a primitive cube and just started moving points around. I'm a big fan of animator David O'reilly and the aesthetic of indie games like Kentucky Route Zero. These inspirations helped me move away from my usual methods and just create stuff that I found interesting. The final model actually is far more practical than I expected. It could be worked with, rigged and animated if needed. This lower polycount approach not only provides a style that is matches my state of mind regarding CG, but also provides an asset that can be animated in a really interesting way. More tests on this type of animation in the future.

It still took time, but forgetting about the worries of perfecting a model really has opened my eyes. I want to create short animated films. This approach allows for me to create characters that are just as expressive but far easier and possibly more fulfilling than my previous methods. It is relaxed and experimental, with results that seem more exciting than anything I've done before.