backlog of updates: lighting & texturing

February 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This was a really good class. I learned a lot and if I have to work in Maya, I’m all in for lighting and texturing (that’s probably because a lot of it would happen in Photoshop haha). Aaaanyway… The first major assignment was to take one of school’s characters, Bloke, and put him in any setting we want and light it. The facial expression was locked, but we could pose his body. I did have to model and texture anything I put in the scene other than Bloke, but the main focus was to create dynamic lighting that tells a story. I decided to set my scene in the forest with a campfire. Believe it or not, there are 5 lights: 2 yellow-orange lights in the fire pit, slightly offset from each other, in order to cast those wonky shadows you get from flickering fire, 2 blue lights on either side of the camera acting a little as moonlight in order to compliment the orange glow of the fire and define the dark shapes of the characters, the final light is directly on the fire in order to actually light it, since none of the others could. The geometry of the fire also has the incandescence turned on so it glows.

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The final project was to texture a garage scene the instructor gave us. We could model more things for the scene, but had to fit everything, well-packed, into 3-5 UV mesh files. A UV mesh is your 3D geometry laid out in 2D space so you can design custom textures, like so:Image converted using ifftoany

In order to have the mesh, I spent many hours moving UVs around. In order for everything to be in the correct proportion together, put a grid texture on all surfaces. Then you can see if all of the squares are the same size or if there is any stretching and fix them up (pro tip: there always is so be prepared to fork over some time). There is also a lot of cutting and sewing seams together so they are in the least conspicuous places and so the pieces are as easy to lay out as possible. Once you have that, Maya can look at the geometry and create a rough Ambient Occlusion (the shadows objects cast on each other just by being close:

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In order to make things go quickly, I set up tools. Color highlights of each section, so I could easily grab areas with the wand tool and a “lipstick” layer to let me know what direction things are facing. I applied the texture on the geometry so it was possible to see saved updates in Maya by simply reloading.

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Next, to start on the diffuse (color) layers:

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Once the basic color patterns are applied, it is necessary to give the surfaces texture and character. How lived in is this garage? What is new and old? If it is well-used, in what ways does use affect the object? Where do wear and grime and scratches and dents collect?

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The next step is to make a bump map in grayscale. Bump fakes depth in a surface based on the scene lighting. So at an angle, it looks like there is depth, but along the edge it is straight. You can also make a displacement map that will actually affect the geometry to create depth, but you have to have a high enough poly count for it to work, which is not always possible. In the bump map, white = the most raised and black = the most inset.

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The last thing I did was create a specular map. This tells Maya how shiny an object is: white = 100% shininess and black = 100% matte. There is another kind of map for specularity called specular power, which dictates how concentrated the shine is and what the fall off of the shine is, but I did not get to those in this assignment.

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There are so many different kinds of maps you can make to customize the look of an object, like translucence and incandescence, that once you know how to use them, you can pretty much make anything you want. It’s pretty cool. Here are the final renders of my scene:

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concert tour poster

February 5, 2013 at 7:12 am (School) (, , , , , , , , )

Storm Large poster for my digital illustration class prior to printing. I decided to make a general tour poster rather than a specific concert poster. I originally had info on the tour dates, but the instructor preferred it without… and the instructor = the customer, who is ALWAYS right. 😀

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After Effects. love it.

July 20, 2012 at 9:31 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

First assignment with Adobe After Effects: make a self-portrait (or a portrait of whatever…), 30 seconds – 2 minutes long. This took FOREVER. Why did I pick so much stuff!!! It was fun, though. Definitely room for improvement, but overall I really like it. Anyone who knows me will get the references.

The second assignment for After Effects was to find a comic and animate using specific features in After Effects. Art from the online comic Lackadaisy by Tracy J. Butler. She is AH-mazing.

Also, the amount of time this 1 minute short took (about 30 hours)… MAD RESPECT for all animators. Seriously.

Motion graphics with typography assignment: Animate song lyrics in Adobe After Effects. I picked (with the encouragement of others) “8 Mile Wide” by Storm Large. Because it is awesome. It is not safe for work. Or children…

If you want to see her official music video… and you should, because it is pretty great.

Next, make an identity video for a real or imagined film company. The cheesier, the better as far as the instructor was concerned.

Use 3D (or 2.5D, as some say) and camera features in After Effects. Length: 10+ seconds. Concept: a nod to Kamelot (yes, I meant to spell it that way): My friends asked me – the resident expert on special effects – how they made the Game of Thrones intro title sequence. Well, GoT titles were definitely done in Maya or some other actual 3D modeling software, but I was taking After Effects, so… I made this for them. AE doesn’t really have 3D, per se. You can manipulate flat planes in 3D space. So to build a 3D object, you have to construct it like a house of cards, using flat pieces… It was a fun experiment.

There were a lot of assignments… next we learned to use the rotoscoping tools (roto) – you trace around something to replace it with something else or replace everything around it with something else. Tedious, but oddly calming. I chose to torture Ripley… as though she hasn’t had enough already.

Now motion tracking… where you track 1 to 4 points of motion to match movement. You’re welcome, nerds. And, uh, I totally jacked this song clip from MrVoletron’s channel. Because it is awesome and it fit the mood… I wish this clip were longer. Not sure what I did?


I replaced the license plate. Added color effects and blur effects to match look of clip.

Finally… the AE FINAL.

Create title credits (open or close). I chose to make opening credits for the characters from my D&D game night.

The art assets were mainly acquired via deviant art using searches to find art that roughly matched each other and the characters I was trying to portray. Having said that, most of them were modified in Photoshop to adjust the background, add features that were missing, change weapons, etc… then put everything I wanted to move on layers and painted underneath to fill in holes, as needed. In AfterEffects I did all of the animations and effects.

Very sad update… Loki and Relic have died… Ok, Relic is not dead, but he was turned to stone and we have to leave him behind. What? We are in the middle of a forrest and he weighs, like, 300lbs… We can go back for him in a few levels… NOT THE POINT! DON’T JUDGE US! A moment of silence, please.

Thank you.

AE Final art & asset credits:
Ayrel by deviantArt user eliz7; I painted her some legs in Photoshop, so she would be standing, and gave her red eyes for the transition at the end of her sequence
Ayrel’s background by deviantArt user jermilex
Bobetta from flickr user twen5: I removed background and changed her two-handed war hammer into a one-handed mace and added a shield
Bobetta’s mace from a work by deviantArt user MarkWinters – I just needed the top of the mace, but it is a cool image so check it out…
Bobetta’s shield by deviantArt user ZombWill (Will Owen)
Bobetta’s background by deviantArt user ink-head
Loki by deviantArt user isriana; I removed background, added glow and wings, used bounce lightning in AE for his magicalness
Loki’s wings deviantArt user littlegoblet
Loki’s background wallpaper by user sasha2d; I painted out the little creatures
Relic by deviantArt user BenWootten; I painted out the flail and added an axe, replaced the rune on his forehead with an anvil
Relic’s axe by deviantArt user vielmond
Urs by deviantArt user Shikamaru-no-kage; I found some vampire teeth (I think I used Kate Beckinsale’s mouth as character Selene from Underworld) and gave her a second mouth for the transition at the end of her sequence
Urs’ background by deviantArt user jermilex (again… his art is pretty great, not gonna lie…)
Brim by deviantArt user NadrojWobrek; I just had to layer and fill in the background – the fire is on 3 separate layers to grow the flames and there are two layers of smoke around them that come in as the fire gets bigger, very subtle but adds something nice…
Minions by deviantArt user ZombWill (Will Owen again – I love his little dudes!)
Minions’ background by deviantArt user jermilex (YET AGAIN)
D&D Logo (a TM of Wizards of the Coast & Hasbro) found on this Adam Ryen Daniels nerdy wordpress review of the Facebook D&D game
Parchment texture image from Mitch Featherston’s blog The Public Domain

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