Stop Staring Test – Beautiful People

I recently bought a copy of ‘Stop Staring – Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right’ by Jason Osipa. For anyone wanting to perfect their character animation and acting, this book is a must. A couple of things though, firstly, the book is mostly geared towards using Maya. However a lot of the basic principles can be translated to many other software packages with a bit of tweaking, which brings me to the second point. In my opinion you would need to have a good intermediate knowledge of your chosen 3d program to be able to work with the book if your not using Maya. All that aside, there is an amazing amount to be gleaned from the book, from lipsync, the main principles of mouth shapes or ‘visemes’ and how to control them, all the way through to the correct topology when building a head. Well worth the money.
So I’ve been trying to translate the principles of using one bone in the armature to control Shape keys with IPO drivers in Blender to get some basic lipsync working on a rig. I haven’t gone into any of the eye controls or expressions yet, but that will just be an extension of what I’ve created here. I’ve only used three shape keys here, the X location of the bone controls the narrowness of the mouth and the Z location controls the openness. Just a basic setup to make sure I know how it all works before I take it onto a proper rig.

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My First Blender Project Pt2

Originally posted 22/07/2010 on ‘I Luv Pixels’

So, I finally got around to finishing my dragon commercial, and what a great experience. It was a 20 second TV commercial for a local supermarket, and my first real start-to-finish character animation created in Blender (2.49) It was an intense couple of months, a proper crash course in learning Blender, bringing together all the things I’d learned over the past couple of years, and learning more advanced things along the way.

The modeling seemed to take the longest, and I’m putting that down to the fact that I was trying to model the character based on the client’s design. The rigging also took a fair bit of time, mainly down to the fact I hadn’t really done any intense rigging in Blender before. The other sticky point for the whole modeling and rigging process was the fact that the character was a dragon, with six limbs to deal with. Two of those limbs were also wings, which had to be fully rigged, although in hindsight I probably had more controls on the them than I needed. However, if he needs another outing in the future, at least all the controls are there.

The texturing process was relatively easy, unwrapping the UV’s was a simple process in Blender once you know what buttons to push. Organising the mesh on the UV was another learning experience, but again, once you get play around with it for a while it’s very intuitive.

Here’s some more wip screen shots:

This is the final mesh and rig –

The mesh UV, unwrapped and layed out:

The final UV texture, can ya tell what it is yet!

And the rendered texture on the eye, with environment map:

I learned so much about Blender on this project. Up to this point I knew the basics, so this gave me a chance to get to grips with more intermediate aspects of Blender. I definitely feel a lot more confident with it now, the mystery and fear of the the interface has disappeared.

One of the great things I discovered was that it’s very flexible if you start jumping around with your workflow. There were certain points where I had already rigged and unwrapped the UV’s, only to discover I needed to change the mesh slightly, (since it was such a complicated rig, there was a lot of bending and joint problems) I had no problem adding faces then unwrapping and adding to the UV mesh. Another strength with Blender, once you get used to it, is the weight painting, particularly the Painting Mask. It’s a bit tricky to get used to the way it works, but once you do it’s a very powerful feature. I might get around to doing a little tutorial at some stage.

Just for reference, compositing was done in After Effects, and textures and sky were painted in Photoshop.

I’d also like to thank David Allen Ward (Youtube: ward 7299) and Paul Caggegi at The Process Diary. for their great online character tutorials. If you’re interested in doing any character work in Blender, I’d highly recommend you check both these links out.

So to finish off, here are a few screenshots, the rig setup and the finished commercial (now that I’ve figured out how to embed YouTube videos on here), hope you enjoy:

Screenshots:

– The setup and rig in demo.

– The finished commercial on the clients YouTube channel (Don’t forget to hit the like button 🙂 )

My First Blender Project Pt1

I’m now working on some 3D for work so I thought this would be a great chance for a crash course in Blender. I’m working with Blender 2.49 mainly, both because I haven’t got around to trying out 2.5 yet and also because I can’t get 2.5 to work on my Mac at work for various reasons.

So, here are some WIP images of what I’ve been building, early modeling screen caps and some early textured renders, testing out the rig.

The character design came from the client, I’m not sure where the original design came from but I didn’t have a lot of reference for him, so I tried to model him as closely as possible. I can’t show any of the animation tests I’ve done so far, since it’s for a commercial but I’ll post them in due time. He is fully rigged (that was a learning experience, my first character rig in Blender) Basically, I’ve gone through the whole process of building, UV mapping and body and face rigging from scratch (including the wings, 6 limbs altogether!), using any tips, tutorials or videos I could find on the web. Believe me, there are plenty. A few frustrating hours here and there trying to figure certain things out, or losing stuff I’d done, mainly through my own inexperience. But all in all I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out so far. Here’s my current, and pretty much finished model and rig, with final UV texture.

So all I need to figure out now is animation, lighting and rendering. Piece of cake!