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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AutodeskMaya… I hate you, but you do good things

October 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

SO. Last term was pretty brutal. I was taking two 3D modeling classes in different softwares at the same time: Cinema 4D and Maya. My advice… NEVER DO THAT. C4D is the easier to use software. It is not quite as customizable, but it is a little faster to do things and stable. When you see 3D effects on TV like ads with crazy 3D, animated logos, some CG animation and effects – most of that is done in C4D. Maya is used more for high budget film CG and effects. This is the entertainment version of software from the same people who make AutoCAD for architects and engineers, etc. It is an intense program that does so much, but is also a finicky bitch that you would like to have die in a fire. It was a 100 level class in which we learned the basics of storyboarding, building a scene (literally and conceptually), lighting, texturing, and animation. So when you watch this video, know that it took about 3 months to make (minus 2 other classes, full-time job, and the occasional break for food/sleep/sanity) – I built pretty much everything. The plants are mainly paint effects, because using them was part of the class… and that was the best use of them, really. Sadly, they kind of “twinkle” in the animation, which I don’t really care for. The character was provided by the professor, because character building and rigging for movement is wicked advanced. My finals week, I slept one night out of five… so that was how that term went. But here it is… There are a few things that I could go back in and play with, but overall I’m happy with what I did.

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Cinema 4D

July 27, 2012 at 12:20 am (School) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

So here is my first real beauty shot from Cinema 4D. We had to model a minimum of 3 objects. It took several evenings and I actually modeled 6 things, but you only see 3.5 because that was what was worthy of capturing (and met the assignment requirements). Fun… Definitely more user-friendly, even if not quite as capable a program, than Maya – which I am also taking a class in right now (oy), but our term will be cumulative into one animated short so you will have to just wait for that.

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