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.


  1. It's a great model and instantly recognisable. I like him a lot and I admire what you are doing, however, if you did animate him you would have to lend a thought to the beard as it doesn't match up with the typology under it would be very hard toskin. My advice would be to stitch it into the head model. The it would sit nicer and be skinable.

  2. Thank you Phil, I think there may be an incoming post about merging Dogme 95 and animation. Exciting times!

    And thanks Jon, really glad you like it. I was actually thinking the same if I ever animate him, making the head one unit so that it can be bound and controlled easily. However, plenty more ideas working out in Maya so this may happen on a new model.

  3. Yeah, just store it away, next time you'll naturally gravitate toward doing that in the first place. Best off just getting it to be muscle memory / natural during the process. :)

  4. It's something I'm beginning to realize myself right now. Instead of just hitting your head against a wall to fix a 'mistake' (it's not a mistake in this case, it's just a "ahh, next time..")- You're better off leaving it, moving on, realizing that there's a better way and it will naturally incorporate into your next piece of work :D Feels more organic and less stressful that way.

  5. Thank you Jon, I know that feeling. It's very easy to get stuck in the details of Maya for every little personal project and sometimes this just hampers progress. Instead, viewing it as a way of experimenting and taking the errors forward seems much more exciting.

  6. Interesting work Jordan. Nice choice of style too, oddly it suits Louis C.K. (A shocking but likeable clown).

    ...I must remember his Hertz rental advice next time I'm in the States.

  7. Thanks Alan, it's been a refreshing experiment that seems to be leading in some interesting areas. I've got a lot of ideas in the works which will hopefully really push my work in some new directions. I was actually watching the Beacon performance last night. There's just a refreshing honesty to Louis C.K that makes him so likeable. I think the fact that he understands his own flaws and explores them is what seems to appeal.