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.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Skeletal Rigging

Right, I think I have finished the rigging part. I have been using Alex's tutorials and the "Learning Maya 7" book.

For Cornelius, because he has to walk on all fours, I decided to do the arms IK as well as the legs. It isn't as good for posing as FK but should help me when he has to walk. I set up the reverse foot locks for both the feet and I have created finger bending controillers to bend the fingers more easily, following Alex's tutorials. His beard is an IK spline curve as I didn't want to have to move it all joint by joint. This way all I have to move is the vertices of the curve. I hope, once he is skinned to set up a jiggle deformer on the belly so I don't have to worry about rigging the belly up too much. The eyes have also been set up with a locator too.

For Pocahontas, her rig is quite similar to Cornelius', as she too has to walk on all fours. She has lots of splines curves in her hair. She has been rigged up with ik arms and legs, reverse foot locks, finger bending controls and an eye setup.

I am going to do the blend shapes next before I skin, hopefully that shouldn't take that long. I am hoping to have it all done by next week so I can start animating.


I have posted up here this cartoon "Donald Duck and the Gorilla" (1945) for research. I know that Cornelius isn't going to be as ferocious as the gorilla in the cartoon but I like the cartoon a lot, it is superbly animated and it could help for gorilla acting.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Modelling Finished

Well, the modelling is finally finished. It took all day yesterday to finish of Cornelius and I think he looks pretty o.k. He still looks a little bit blocky, but it was very difficult to pull the vertices around to round him off. I've left it be because I am rapidly running out of time, there are only four weeks left and I have still got a lot to do. Anyway I am not specialising in modelling so it doesn't really matter so much.

I still got to rig the characters, set up blend shapes and start animating. The animation is the most important as that is the key area I really want to specialise in. I know it is going to take time to really study the animation and animate well and I am worried that I am not going to be able to animate all that I wanted.

I originally wanted to do a walkcycle for each character and a little interaction scene. I really want to make each of these really good so I know that it will take a lot of researching of gorilla movements. I may have to drop doing the personality scene, but that is really important to show. I really hope that I don't have to drop it.

I am just going to have to skip the entire texturing stage, I am not specialising in it anyway, and it will just eat up time and increase the file sizes. I am quite happy with the colours that I originally chose for each of them. I like Posahontas' jet black, gorilla like hair and peach face. She lokks a bit, colour-wise, like a baby chimpanzee. I tried to keep her clothes lightly toned too. Claymation never has harsh, vivid colour.

The problem with Cornelius is that Gorillas are usually black all over, and thats a bit boring. Looking at the book Jared let me have, and I glad I could bring some brown into his design. He looks a bit like chocolate now Still, I should probably do some colour variation sheets, but do I have the time.

Least their size comparison is what I wanted.

Monday, 4 February 2008

James and Other Apes

James and Other Apes, by James Mollison, is a fascinating book where he has photographed the faces of fifty great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos). First I must say, thankyou to Jared for lending me this book.

When you look through this book, you get a real sense of the characters of each of these apes. I have picked out a few of my favourites.

This is Tam Tam, a 4 year old female chimpanzee. What I liked about her is her very expressive brow and eyes, something I tried to get in Cornelius.

This is Katie, 2 years, female, chimp. She is just so funny to look at and she also has a partially bald head.

Gregoire, 60, male, chimp. This chimp is right in the age range for Cornelius. I think he is blind in one eye. I like his beard.

La Vieille, 29, female, chimp. She looks so worried with her long elongated face and brow. Kind of reminds me of the face I designed for Cornelius. I like her coluring too, this lighty brown, I thought I could use that in Cornelius.

Kola, 14, male, gorilla. Look at his head it is so broad. He must be huge. He has a nice orangey tuff too.

Haidar, 2, male, orangutan. Isn't he cute, his small mouth and big eyes remind me a bit of Pocahontas.

Kiwiti, 5, male, bonobo. I have posted this one up because it clearly shows teeth. Important for modelling.

I am very grateful to Jared for lending me this book and I wish to use some of the images as a guide to the blend shapes I create later on.

Just thought I would put these up here, these are some gorilla walk cycles I found on Youtube.
The first one gives the gorilla a lot of power and a really ergent, determined look to him. He looks a bit ticked off. The second one gives the air that the gorilla is a bit dopey. I will have to examine these.

Pocahontas Modelling Finished and Cornelius Started

Hello, it's been a few days but I have been quite busy. A lot of work has had to be done to be kept on track of my production schedule.

The Pocahontas model had to be tweaked to make it appear more round and less blocky when it was smoothed. I pulled some vertices around, re-modelled the hair a bit and voila. All that was left were some teeth, a tongue and an inner to her mouth. I think she looks pretty good, considering that modelling isn't the area I am specialising in. For her, what is need next is for the blend shapes to be modelled, and for her to be rigged and weighted.

Corneilus has a very similar process of modelling to that of Pocahontas, except more dificult as he is larger, naked so all his fat and muscles show, and his heads a weird shape. Soon, I will give him some eyes, eyelids, tongue, teeth and an inner to his mouth. His vertices need to be pulled around a bit before he can be mirrored and smoothed, so he doesn't look as blocky. His colour was based o pictures of chimps and gorillas I got from a book called "James and other Apes" given to me by Jared. More on that in the next post.
I hope to have Cornelius finished by the end of the week, so the difficult process of rigging and blend shapes can take place.