Friday, 7 March 2008

Submission, Conclusion and Reflection

Well, the project is submitted, it's all done and dusted. Now all that is left is for me to reflect on what I have accomplished and learned.

I have mixed feelings on the results of this project. I wanted to specialise on 2D conceptualization and animation. At the end of the project I am supposed to submit Character Designs, Model Sheets, Rigged Models in Maya and some expressive animation.

The early character design I am quite happy with. I think I came up with nice characters that could stand up to the benchmarks I set myself. I am pleased with the way they came out. I would be more than happy to put these on my show reel. I enjoyed this stage very much.

I discovered something about modelling and rigging from this project. I dislike it with great intensity. The models were problematic, and rigging was a colossal pain. On the plus side, having to re-model, I learned a much quicker and more cost-effective form of modelling. I tried to use spline curves and IK handles to make my rig easier but learned that they are very hard to set up correctly. Paint-Weighting is annoying too. I am not quite sure what happened but the cute design I had for the little girl has come across quite scary in the model. For some reason the translation into 3D turned it lost the cuteness.

The animation I am not so pleased about. The first point is, due to the massive problems, I didn't do enough animation. I had to essentially make a film out of a walk cycle. There are some point that I like, Cornelius came off quite well, especially in certain shots. Pocahontas however didn't come off so well. She vibrates around like she's hyper on sugar. I don't know exactly what caused this. Also the hair rigs were awful, I did my best, but the hair animation is bad. I did learn how to use the Trak Editor though.

My few thoughts about the project are that the actual character design process went well, I dislike modelling and rigging and that I didn't do enough animating. I also learned that, even though I enjoy working by myself, animation is not something one can do well alone. If someone is much better at modelling and rigging than I am, by all means model away.

In conclusion, do I think the project was a success. In some respects yes, but in other respects no.


Hello, I just posting about the final render. I will talk more about what I thought of the project in the next post. Here are some images of the final render.

I decided to put some images in the background of London Zoo. There not much, just to brighten it up a bit. I pan some of them, if they are large enough of course.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Together at Last

Here are the two characters, Pocahontas and Cornelius, finally together in the same scene. I haven't done the secondary animation yet, hair etc, and I haven't animated the heads yet. The reason is that Jared suggested that create a little personality movie out of these two walking next to each other, giving each other looks etc. So I mocked up the rough storyboard and timing you see below.
So I needed both characters in the scene before I could animate their heads cause I needed to judge where their heads should look. I just got to figure out how to use the trak editor.

On the plus side, they do look quite nice together.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Reflection and Points to Perfect

Hello, I just wanted to use this post to look back on what I learned from this project so far and what I have to perfect for Friday.

I learned that for character design a couple of important things. Mostly, it is to design for purpose. To be honest the first designs, they would be difficult to move in around even in 2D. They were just too fat, too extreme in places. I know now to keep to three points in my mind for design,

a) Design for Character Physical Description, i.e. if some physical attribute is stated in the brief, e.g. the little girl wanting to be a gorilla, so has gorilla Esq proportions.
b) Design for the personality of the character, e.g. Cornelius bald heard and beard give of a kind a sensible air.
c) Design for physical movement, could it actually move (very important).

These are all important points to keep in mind when designing characters in the future.

I also learned how to model in a more effective way. Starting from a sphere is a much more effective a process because the roundness is already defined. Then creating the arms and legs out of polycyclinders and joining them up is much easier.

It creates a much simpler model.

A few points to fix for Friday is to

1) Fix Pocahontas' bobbing head and animate her hair. This could be fix by placing both characters in the scene and having them interact with each other, looking at each other.

2) Fix Cornelius' Spine movement and arms, make them more smooth. Not so extreme and arching.

Hopefully these are a few points that could help make the walk cycles even better. We shall see by Friday.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Animation Research and Early Tests

Hello, I have finally started animating. Unfortunately I won't be able to do the personality sequence in time for the deadline but I hope to at least do walkcycles for both characters. Below is some of the research I have done based on those two gorilla walkcycles from YouTube I placed in a previous post.

Here is a video from Youtube aof a gorilla walking from it's side. It's perfect.

I have also looked at a BBC Horizon documentary called "Chimps are People Too?" I was very interesting. Here is a piece of it. Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled so here is a link instead.

Here are some quick thumbnail drawings I have done to figure out the timing. Here are just the keyframe walkcycles for both Pocahontas and Cornelius. I was kinda limited in their walkcycles by their designs.

Saturday, 1 March 2008


This is just a test to see if the models and rigs work and if the characters look good together.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Re-Designed Model Shhets and Colour Sheets

Well, since both characters had to be re-designed so they could be animated in Maya I had to re-do the model sheets. So here are the new designs. You can see they have both been slimmed down.

I also decided to do some colour sheets today in Photoshop. Now I haven't really used Photoshop before so they may not be the neatest but I guess they do the job.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Update and First Test Animation

Well I finally have some good news. After re-modelling and re-rigging the models, they no longer crumple up when they move. Hooray. As you can see from the rigs below it took some moving around of the joints and adding extra joints in fat areas to take some of the weight strain. Mainly these joints were place on the belly joints, fat wrist twists and the knees, but in Cornelius he also has some on the shoulders as well. There is still some minor paint-weighting to be done but nothing serious like it was before. I like to thank Mike, Alex, Jared, Louisa, Mo and especially Harry for all the help. It has really been appreciated. Finally things are moving.

I have also done some test quadrupedal animation using the 21 frame walk guide on pages 330 and 331 of Richard William's Animators Survival Kit. I tried to download a dog rig from Highend 3D but it didn't work on my Maya 8.5, so I used the bloke rig from CVA 201. Animating the arms was hard as they were FK. Obviously more personality needs to be in the actual walks for the characters but this is a good first try.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Progress Report and Research

O.K, here's the bad news, it is about as bad as you can get. Basically, I had to re-model both characters bodies from scratch. I decided to start from a poly sphere this time so the roundness is intact and build the arms and legs from poly cylinders. Part of the re-modelling was to make the whole thing thinner but especially to make the arms and legs thinner. More definition on the elbows and knees where also needed as where bigger feet. The model could also not be thick at the ankles or wrists, so I had to take that into account. Mike also suggested for the rigs to add extra joints to the rigs in fat areas, not for movement but just to take some of the paint-weighting from the main joints. I will do that next and try and re-skin them again. Well here are the new models. (Thanks Mo and Harry for all your help.)

Because of this I am running behind schedule and will not be able to complete any personality animation as previously planned. I might not even be able to do the walk cycles. Mike suggested that if I want to concentrate on the animation that I download a rig from the Internet and start animating. I think I will do just that. Below I have manage to find these pictures from a book Adin gave me called Digital Art Masters Volume 2. The picture is called Space Girl and it is by Andre Holzmeister. I like it because she is similar to Pocahontas especially in her legs, so I used her as a guide on how to re-model Pocahontas' legs.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Progress Report and Research Pictures


Well, it's not going well at the moment. I have spent ages doing the paint-weighting and it still doesn't work right. Time is etching away, and I can't get the models to stop crumpling up when they move. I am so fed up. I just want to start animating, I can't be bovered with this. I don't know how to correct it. What am I going to do?

These are pictures from Tarzan 2 I found on the internet. They sort of reminded me of Cornelius and Pocahontas.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Early Test Gorilla Walk

I just done a quick playblast of a Gorilla Walk using Alex's Barry Rig. The right hand doesn't bend to well but this is to just get the poses a timing correct. I followed the tutorial in Richard Williams' Animation Survival Guide. I might need to slow it down when doing it for proper.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Blend Shapes, Colour Experimentation and Paint Weighting

It took all day but I set up the blend shapes. Pocahontas' were much easier as her face is like a cilp on mask. This is similar to how Sally was done in the Nightmare Before Christmas. Cornelius was a bit more difficult since I discovered that some vertices were not merged properly, so I had to go back and re-merge them. The first few drawings here are just sketches of what expressions I might model.

These are what the blend shapes finally look like.

I then decided to do some colour experiments. I drew these two pictures first as templates and then photocopied them and painted them with watercolours.

For Pocahontas, I just tried different colour variations of hair, clothes and skin. Skin is a very difficult colour to get right, especially when you have only 10 different watercolours. I don't think she looks good with blond or red hair. So brown or black hair. Eyes work if they are black or green. Clothes are best if they are contrasting primaries, so no patterns or mixed tones. She looks nicer pale skinned too. Personally I like the top-left one, which is closest to the colours she is now, but the one right of it, just need to change the eyes to green, and in the bottom left corner of the page could work too.
For Cornelius, I think black eyes work best. The one in the middle row to the left is more of how gorillas are actually coloured, which is a bit boring. Blue I don't think works too well. either. I like my original chocolate colour of course, but I like the strong contrast of the black and light brown of the one next to it. The one in the bottom row to the middle could also work too. For the moment however I think I will keep both models as they are.
Paint-Weighting, I hate Paint-Weighting. It's so fiddly and it relies so much on trial and error which eats up time. Pocahontas was skinned with a Drop-off rate of 0.4 and Cornelius with a Drop-off rate of 0.6. This made Pocahontas' belly deform when she rotated on her hips, moved her arms or her legs, so I tried to go in and reduce the drop-off rate to each joint by paint-weighting. Unfortunately, I think something went wrong, (I probably did it too low) because when she moved, the model just broke up into sharp fragments. I going to have to do it again. I hoped to start animating by next week, so I would like to get this problem done and soon.