Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Zbrush - Nazi Dino Progress, part 3

Got to spend some more time working on this guy. Going to try to push and get the base model done tonight, if possible, so I can focus on the armor and gun platform this weekend, if I can get enough of my other homework out of the way.

Started working on the back leg by setting up a series of poly patches just below the knee - I wanted to establish the geometry around the lower leg all the way around, so that I could ensure it flowed into the existing edge loops on the rest of the model.

I continued this process, getting the general silhouette of the leg established - I can pull and push the verts as I need to get the overall shape correct soon enough, but for this stage I needed to make sure I at least had the basic geometry there to work with, and the right shape in at least one dimension.

Then I worked on connecting it to the existing body topology and started working on fleshing out just the most basic part of the anatomy - I know this isn't correct yet, but it is at least starting to form the shapes I need. Using the three-view, with the top and right views on the left hand side and a perspective view I can tumble around the model on the right ensure that it will look decent.

Finally, I connect the leg to the rest of the body, filling out the thigh. I'll correct the edge flow momentarily, but at first I just want to make sure I have the polys and edges all working right, keeping the entire model in quads to ensure perfect subdivision for when I bring it into ZBrush.

Then I connect the back around and start extruding out the tail. This got a little tricky until I figured out where the 5-pole needed to be to allow the edge loops to split away from each other and allow the right shape for the tail.

Here I keep pulling out more and more loops to form the tail - right now, there's more then I really need, but I can pull some out as I go - right now I wanted to make sure I had the basic loops to form the belts. When the time comes, I'll select those poly rings, extrude them out to form the belts, and then separate them out to create their own geometry - this way I know they fit snug to the shape of the model, rather then trying to duplicate the organic shape by hand, and I can remove the loops used to create the belts on the tail itself at that point. Additionally, having the belts as their own geometry allows easier sculpting and subdivision, as I can add the loops necessary to protect their hard edges without requiring the same issue on the tail.

Finally, a quick screen grab of the model in its most recent state - I am widening out the rib cage and still need to work on defining the anatomy under the skin on the back legs, finish out the feet and leg thickness, and I've got a lot to do for the crest, but things are progressing pretty well.

Hell yes, dinosaurs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Zbrush - Nazi Dino Progress, part 2

So I got to spend a couple hours updating and revising my dinosaur model today, refining the head and closing it out.

I started by building extruding out the planes around the eye, then shaping the lid to match the contour as it would in real life. For the eyeball, instead of using a standard sphere geometry - they terminate in triangles at the top and bottom, which don't subdivide well, leaving an irregular point - I took a cube and subdivided it into a sphere, ensuring the shape was entirely made of quads.

Here I've continued to finish the sculpting around the eye, getting the lid shaped the way I wanted it.

I then extruded out more planes to complete the cheekbone ridge and start the upper beak. The beak itself still needs a little more work to complete, as it isn't a great job of maintaining the edge loops around to the inside, but it is a complicated area that has a lot of geometry running into a very small area, so I wanted to try to avoid having it get too dense.

Finally, to check my work I set up a Nurbs modifier to simulate the initial step of subdivision and set up a basic pass at smoothing groups. I still need to insert edge loops around the collar to preserve the hard edges and I have a lot of work to do to complete the ridge and the horns that will be extruded out of it, but for a couple hours I got a lot of work done.

I also spent a little bit of time revising the shoulder area, getting a little more muscle definition in. The bulge around the elbow needs to be removed, and there's still a ton of work left, but I'm excited about the project so far - I always love this phase of a project, the exploration and learning process.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Zbrush - Nazi Dinosaurs are a huge thumbs-up

So this week I began the process of quad modeling the base mesh for my next ZBrush sculpt in my digital sculpture class. We were supposed to create concept art for a quadruped creature, preferably with a mix of hard and soft surfaces. Immediately, my mind went to "awesome dinosaur with huge ol' guns on it", because... well, because it is awesome. I found lots of great stuff from the old Dino-Riders cartoon for inspiration, and then came across this beauty.

It was created for an upcoming game, Dino D-Day, for release on Steam for PCs April 8th. Man, I fell in love. It is fantastic concept art, wonderfully tied down and realized (I do wish it had a better front view with the whole anatomy, but who am I to complain?). I know I'm not skilled enough to create the concept art to this level, so I spoke with my instructor who said that if I can contact the developer for the game, he'd give me permission to use the art for the project.

I did some research, found the contact email for the developer and sent off an inquiry. The next morning, this email was waiting for me:

Hi Matt,

You have my permission to use our concept art for your project. Thanks for the high praise.

The only request I have is that you don’t show us up! This model’s already built and will soon be unveiled when the game hits Steam at the end of the month.

Best of luck. Send me some pictures when you get it finished!


So awesome.

I began the research process, looking up as much reference as I could, gathering images and articles from across the web. I gathered images of Styracosaurus, Triceratops and similar dinosaurs, focusing on anatomical reference, scale and color patterns and images to help inform me of their shape - in particular, how the back of the neck connects with the back of the crest, and how their legs are shaped from the front view, as well as general shape were it not wearing a giant mobile gun platform. Also, I looked up similar animals, such as the rhino, and gathered information about how to go about building out the topology, especially around the shoulders, as it would need to deform well, and I've never built a 3d model of a quadruped.

Additionally, in my research, I found that the original piece was created by an artist named Ben Mauro, a former student of DigiPen. All the more reason to really try to nail this project.

With all the research in place, I started the modeling process, using the side view to patch model out the basic topography of the first bit of the dinosaur, then pulling the geometry into place to begin forming the contours.

At this point, my friend Mario Toon gave me some tips on modifying the topology around the shoulder, ensuring the edge loops run concentrically around them to help deformation, should I end up animating the model. Taking his advice, I removed a copy of the front leg and got to work fixing the problem.

I then finished out the basic shape of the front leg - it is going to need a lot of revisiting soon, to get the musculature and shape correct, but at least the topology is all there.

I'll post more as I get the model further along, but I've got other projects due soon that need my attention.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

PRJ350 - Week 9 Progress Journal

It has been an interesting, hectic week. I had to miss a couple of days of school due to being in a friend's wedding, which was a very welcome break from the constant hustle, but it put me behind my projected schedule - one that was already starting to slip from where I wanted it to be. Additionally, the Redmond Digital Arts Festival took place this Saturday, and while I got a lot of drawing for my animatic done during it, it did take up a lot of time that could have been spent in Maya polishing the skinning and getting the initial environment completed. Regardless, it was easily worth the time, because I got to hear incredible lectures and presentations from artists like Bay Rait, Chris Taylor, Stephen Stahlberg and Ryan Woodward. Amazing, inspiring stuff.

Additionally, until Tuesday I was expecting to be interviewing for a job position on Thursday. Luckily, I received a call to reschedule it for the 31st of this month, which was an enormous relief.

Despite all these spectacles this week, I did manage to get a lot of work done, including getting a basic timed animatic completed. It still has a small number of little beats that can get worked out, which will help me tell how well the timing is working, as I'm not entirely sold on it yet, but it is well within the realm of my capability this week, as I plan on powering through the last little road blocks, getting my environment blocked in and getting the first couple of poses actually in Maya this week. I've got a couple of stumbling blocks to overcome for other classes (namely, another big milestone due for CG350, a project I still need to update this blog to reflect), but the pipeline for it is in place and I have no doubt I'll be able to get caught back up.

Much of my time this week was spent revising and tweaking my rigging options and getting the skinning in place. It still needs some work - the belt and the shoulders, in particular, have problems, and I realized I need to set some driven keys for one of my foot controllers that somehow got missed, but it is simple enough to do.

Anyway, with everything I had going on, I didn't get a chance to get a lot of screenshots this week, but I have the animatic available below.