Sally’s Face

Here’s a few screen grabs of Sallys expressions testing out the face rig that I worked on over the Chrimbo hollies. (I love the bottom left corner one the best!)

Her body’s all rigged up now after a bit of tweaking to the mesh, I needed to do a bit or work with her arms and shoulders by adding in a few more edge loops, just to get a more even bend. I used Nathan Vegdahl’s  Rigify to rig her body, I hadn’t used it before but it saves SOO much time than doing it yourself.

Now I’ve started adding the shape keys for her face with some control bones. Most of her expressions will come from the shape keys, but I’ve also added an extra layer of weighted bones in case any tweaking needs done to things like her lips. She won’t be talking in the short, but I’m adding some mouth shapes in there in case I want to use her for other things in the future. I haven’t done any animation with her yet, but I’ll hopefully get a chance to get some done soon.

I also moved up to Blender 2.56a last week. This one includes improvements to the Smoke and Fire sims, a major tweak of the Bevel tool, some more additions to the Cycles engine along with other enhancements and bug fixes

Sally face contact

Sally character – wip 2

Here’s the latest mesh of Sally, co-star of our 3d short, iRover. I think this is pretty much the finished mesh now. I still have some tweaks to add in a few folds to her clothes, and I need to work some more on her textures, like her eyelashes, eyebrows and hair. I’ve decided not to use particle hair in this, I still haven’t quite got the hang of it, so I’m sticking to poly hair for now. She’ll also need a couple of wardrobe changes throughout which I’ll work on later. But this will be enough for now to work on a rig. I did some mild tweaking to her face and head, my previous version seemed a little too young in my opinion, you can see the comparison in the pic below. I think you’ll agree she looks a lot more natural.

iRover in the garden

I came out to the back garden yesterday and found this lovable guy playing on the patio!

Another test for Blender using the camera tracking feature. I’m still practicing with this quite a bit, and trying to check out its capabilities since I still get quite excited by the results. Considering this was footage just shoot on my iPhone 4s it turned out pretty good. Blender currently only has camera presets for the top end cameras, so finding sensor sizes and focal lengths for the iPhone on the net can be tricky. However, I found a post over in Blenderartists where Malcando has been collecting settings which seems to have worked perfectly.

I took the opportunity to test out my iRover rig too. It was a productive experience since I’ve discovered a few things that need sorted out before I use him again, particularly his feet. They need some tweaking since they don’t seem to rotate around the z axis without twisting. I had also previously added IK/FK switches too, but I don’t think he’s going to need any FK control for his feet. I may simplify the rig and remove the FK controls. I also need to add in some custom control bones to make the rig easier to pose. And I still have to work on his textures, particularly his eyes, which I intend to have as a digital style display.

Sally – wip mesh

This is Sally, she will be the other star of the iRover short, in other words iRover’s owner. I built her head over the past couple of weeks and her body was adapted from the Pepper model I built a while back. I was never happy with Pepper’s head, the topology was very messy and didn’t animate very well. Here’s my initial sketch of her, I did play around with her proportions quite a bit.

So I did a bit of searching and found a few good professional workthroughs on youtube that helped me sort the head topology out. So a quick thank you to Angela Guenette of Ponder Studios for her ‘Sintel’ making of videos:

And also a thank you to Glen Southern over on 3D World’s youtube channel for his 14 episode topology workthrough. Be warned his whole tutorial is around 2 hours long.

After studying these videos for a bit, I started building Sally’s head and got a better feel for the flow of the curves, it’s looks and feels a lot better now, and I’m 100% confidence that it will animate a lot better.

iRover Rig test

This is another work in progress of the star of the short film which I’m working on with Craig Smith, mentioned previously in the Apartment mockup post. Obviously he’s not textured yet, and the animation is pretty rough at the minute, I didn’t spend so much time on the running cycle since this was just a test to make sure the rig was working okay. Although he’s a robot dog, I still think I need to use some artistic licence and loosen up his legs a bit, his movement doesn’t feel quite right yet. I also think his feet may need tweaking, they’re too long as they are. The rigging is all pretty simple, it’s mostly all ‘hard’ rigged, in other words there aren’t many soft areas in the vertex weights.

Here’s some of the original sketches I did, I think he looked a lot more like K9 back then, when I really wanted him to look more like Gromit. I definitely prefer the floppy ears as they are now, than these antennae types…

I’d started building him in C4D version 8.5 a few years ago. I’d managed to get some really nice renders there, but the rigging wasn’t so hot in that version, so this was as far as I’d got…

But now that I know Blender a lot better, I’ve a better feeling about getting further with the story. I’m still working on the animatic, so I’ll post that when I get the first draft done.

Apartment mockup

I haven’t had much time for posting recently, but I have been doing a few bits and pieces here and there. I’ve finally moved up to Blender 2.59, and looking forward to some of the integration from the GSOC developments, particularly the tracking feature. We’re all gonna have a lot of fun with that, tracking robots into our backyards, etc!
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to plan out a set for a short animation of a script written by Craig Smith over at Motion Comics. It’s been in development for what seems like forever, simply because I can only get working on it between work. More on all that later. I’ve so far been trying to build an interior to get an idea of how things will act out, and roughed in some furniture. I’ve also put some figures in there to get an idea of scale. I had originally built it as an apartment, but I think it’s going to end up being a house, therefore I’ll be losing the bedroom. Still a lot of work to be done with it, but it’s a start, and it’s the first time I’ve ever built a proper interior set before.