Saturday, December 19, 2009

A done and a WIP

So as I promised (I think) here's a render from the directed study project that I did with three other people who were doing a combined CSC/Art Bachelor's. I was actually quite pleased with the final product and I have the feeling it will be on youtube eventually, so stay logged on for that (tuned doesn't work anymore).

I've also started a battle on simplymaya as I think I mentioned, so here's a couple WIP screenshots from that.

This one was a bit ambitious, as I'm going to basically have to construct and texture an entire cartoon city, as well as build, rig and animate a character in a car. I'll have to stay busy with this over the holidays, but when it's fun, it's not really hard work.
Here's the battle threads if you want to follow along there:
Dango77 is my "opponent". He's really good at modelling, and really nice too, so it will be a lot of fun.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Quick note

Getting really really close to finishing the directed study project. I'll post a production still (i.e. a rendered frame) if/when I get permission from the others. We'll see if this ends up on youtube ;) and if so, there will definitely be a link.

Entering a mini-challenge/battle with someone on simpymaya, so there should be some good WIP shots for that. I know... Christmas will be really busy, but I couldn't resist. This blog has been silent for too long.

My computer has been rendering pretty much straight for 48 hours with 8 cores at 100% and yet there's a cool breeze drifting from the output fans. I really love my new computer. Worth every penny. Maybe. Anywhoo..... I'm just backing up my computer and trying to upgrade my OS. I tend to blog when I'm waiting for some other task to finish.

I'm doing the read-a-book-a-month personal challenge, starting with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley as my December novel. It's a mind stimulating book, that's for sure. I might post up some of my thoughts on it when I'm done if anyone's interested. That's pretty much all that's new for me, and the disc is almost done burning, so I'll bid adieu. (Call and raise you an au revoir)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Movin' right along

So you've probably noticed I haven't posted anything even after I finished Nanowrimo. Not to worry, I have been working on Maya (and Mudbox a bit), but since I've been going through training kits that don't follow a single project through there haven't really been good WIP items for me. I've also been working on animating my scenes for the directed study which is coming along and getting close to finishing.
So I'm in the middle of:
Intro to Rigging: Kinda technical and quite long and disjointed (hahahahaha... anyway) so I can only take relatively small doses of that at a time
Intro to Mudbox: Lotsa fun this one, working on the tablet to do some digital sculpting. This one actually does have a project to work through so I'll probably post up a couple screenshots next time. It does make my hand sore after a while, I need to get a good position on the stylus that allows me to press the buttons on it comfortably.
Intro to PaintFX: Just started this one, and it uses a tablet too... but pretty interesting so far. I haven't found PaintFX to be useful much in the past, but I'm sure this will change my limited perspective.

I finished Intro to Dynamics a while ago and learned how to do some pretty nifty things. I'll have to give it a try on a project of my own sometime.
On a note that is more related to my potential career, released a Maya toolkit that allows you to import PDB models (empirical structural info on molecules) and work with them for purposes of animation. I'll have to play with that too. Looks very handy for a topic that would otherwise be a pain. I'll keep you posted as I go through these training kits. I think I'll have to take a break after these few and see if I can apply the principles to a small project of my own. Tutorials work best in combination with repetition of the techniques, so I'm anxious to strike out on my own. Builds more confidence as well.

More later,

Saturday, November 28, 2009



Edit for reuploading winner badge:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Severing a Dendrite

Well... I guess I could wait until it's all over, but I felt like quickly posting this. I'm almost there!! Just passed the 43,000 mark, and I'm feeling good about how the climax of the novel is shaping up. Barring an unfortunate unforeseeable event, I'm certainly expecting to pass the 50,000 goal before my deadline of Saturday evening. Cheer me across the line :)

I don't think I'll share the manuscript with anyone really until I've had a chance to edit it (I haven't really read any of it in fact... :S) but I may post an exerpt when this is all over. Then it's back at Maya! Whoo! Been a while since I did some of that on my own (the directed study is still going and is keeping my toes in Maya, but I want to do a lot lot more come December and into the new year).


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Alright, so this'll probably be the last post for a while. I'm still doing some tutorials until the end of october, but once halloween's over, I'ma gonna write me some book! (Yes, the quality of that sentence will likely be indicative of the overall novel).

I'll try to embed a little widget here so you can see my progress too... It'll be good to be kept accountable so you can cheer me on when I hit a rough patch. Or it might be terrifically embarrassing if I finish the month with a few thousand words complete.

My Nanowrimo Page
Might not work here, but I'll see if I can get it going before November...

EDIT: Ok, it's working now... still writing strong! We'll see how week 2 shapes up.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Victorian Luxo Sr,

For the directed study I'm taking, one assignment was to model, rig, and animate an inanimate object.
Here's my victorian lamppost. Hopping along. Very unconvincingly.

Not that proud of it, but I guess it sorta worked out. The main thing I figured out was that if you don't rig something exactly right and understand everything about the rig, the animation will be a pain in the lower quarters. It was. And I still have to figure out the rigging process. I know, I rigged Delgo so much time ago, but I only really absorbed some of the process, and not everything applies. E.g. delgo was a single mesh, whereas this post is made up of components, but some of the components need to be skinned (deform with joints inside). Therefore, I didn't know how to parent parts of it, and the whole thing got a little wonky with translation. But, I brute forced it into a hop and hop, and still learned some, though I need to sit down and spend a great deal more time on tutorials for both rigging and animating. I don't know if I've said this before, but I'm not that good at animation, and I don't enjoy it as much as modelling. I guess once I've learned a lot more, it should be more fun, so we'll see.

In other news, I'm really wanting to try my hand at NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write a 50K word novella-novel during the month of November. I have a very bad habit of not finishing projects, but maybe, just maybe, this one will stick. All I have to do is write 1-2 thousand words an evening. It'll be a breeze. I really want to write a good book someday, so this will be a way to write a sucky book now. I'm sure it'll be fun while it lasts, and even if I only get to 10 thousand words, I'll have learnt a book-load (haha, I was gonna say boatload) about writing. So this is all to say, I probably won't post a lot in November. I need to take time to do some drawing too, so maybe that can be a December project, and I'll go super intensive on the Maya starting in January. Man, if I think about how far I've come since March... really far. But could be further.

Well, the video is almost done uploading, so wish me luck with the writing and I hope I'll have something to show for it by my birthday :)
I probably won't be able to show it to anybody cause it will be frightfully embarrassing. Hmm, still uploading. What else can I say. Have a safe and happy Halloween! I've been working through a dynamics training kit. Very cool and fun. I learnt how to make a soft body (which is like a piece of cloth for example without using nCloth) and how to bake simulations and create snowfall. I'll maybe post some screenshots of that as I go, depending on how interesting they are.

Okay, that's enough from me for now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Finally some new renders!
Did this pair for my directed study, continuing with the harp model.

Click 'em for larger view!
The violin was done by another guy in the directed study group, and I think these two "characters" look great together. The assignment was to use exactly the same models and camera angle, changing only the lighting to put the focus on different things. I guess it's sort of a cop out to point a spotlight on two different things, but I did change quite a bit more than that. I'll give you a lighting breakdown, just for your interest?
Scene 1: Two spot lights both focussed on the harp, with fog (containing 3d volume noise) and raytracing shadows (raytracing shadows don't work as well as depth map shadows for blocking light fog, but I couldn't get the dmap shadows working properly, i.e. strong enough)
Directional fill light to lighten up the places outside the spotlight
Point light with negative intensity to blacken out the corner where the violin is a bit more.
Directional light behind the harp pointing at the camera as a "rim light" to give the main character a bit more shape and "kick".
Scene 2: Reduced intensity on right spot light
Point left spot light at violin
Remove light sucking point light
Give violin a rim light too
Realize that the renders look horribly different on each of my two monitors... really going to have to figure that out; so, sorry if the scenes don't look as good as they should... (haha, now you think they're supposed to be awesome even if they look like garbage to you...)

Oh yeah, and of the whole scene, I think I'm happiest with the curtains. I added a bit of bump noise to give it a velvety look. I think it sorta worked.
What do you think I should fix? Or your fav bit? And I won't be offended if you say the violin, cause it is pretty sweet.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let there be light

Just finished a DT training course. Actually two. The first was a visual guide to animation, which introduced a bunch of animation topics in a basic, graphic, non-software specific manner. Pretty neat, but pretty general and not too much I didn't already have an idea about. The recent one was Introduction to Lighting, and that one went into a lot more depth and I took a bunch of notes (they have a note taking tool built into the video streaming, kinda like highlighting bits, very handy). I'm not going to post any pics, cause I don't really feel that the result of the tutorial was my own work (less so than the pod, I mean). But I should post a render or two of the scene I need to create involving the harp. Should be up tomorrow or the day after.

PS Just realized that was a pretty uninformative and uninteresting post, but I haven't posted in a while, so in case you were wondering what I was doing...

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Working on texturing the harp right now, and I was having some problems with getting the UV mapping to work correctly, so I decided to play around with some lighting and rendering techniques. Not very complicated stuff, but mental ray makes it like... wow! Anyway, I can't really take credit for this image, but I'm pretty happy with it nonetheless. I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff wrong with the image that I should work on, like getting the composition and light directions better, but I think I need to get back to the texturing. It was fun while it lasted. Next week I'll have some better renders I'm sure.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stop harpin' on the new computer!

Catchy title, eh? Ok, I guess not. Well, it's finally arrived. I've planning on buying it for almost a year, and now it's arrived, assembled, loaded up, installed, booted, and all that other stuff that computer's need to do before the real fun begins. Love the SSD, booting and loading apps is super fast. Maya (after it's been cached) starts in 8 seconds, which doesn't sound like much, but it's the difference between "yeah, I'll work on maya for a bit right now" and "meh... when I have time". Seriously. Windows 7 is installed, and... (sorry Mac and Linux fanboys) it rocks. I skipped Vista for obvious reasons, so it's all fresh and sparkly and snappy (boy is it snappy) and effectsy (which I typically don't like *cough* bouncing dock *cough*) but they're alright. I can tell the system noises will get tiring though. And... it's still windows, so far from perfection, but hey, it runs (most of) my software. I'll throw some Ubuntu on later as a secondary OS (yeah, sorry again Linux) and maybe a hackintosh someday??? (Keep the dream alive, fanboys!)

But I digress... I haven't really stressed the computer yet, but the initial playing around has been pretty sweet. Played Batman: Arkam Asylum for a little bit, great graphics and framerates (55+ fps! though w/o aa) and maya runs smooth as a rabbit's bum. (Deviated from the typical simile for the sensitive readers out there...) Well now, so I modelled a harp for the directed study I'm taking at UVic, and relatively pleased with the outcome. I think it's probably the best modelling I've done to date, though you can let me know if it still sucks. So there you go, the title made some sense. Blogalogalog.

And here's a WIP wireframe of some lever details:
That's my wife's harp in case you were wondering. I don't play. But it is a beautiful instrument. I'll be texturing it next, so stay tuned! (Despite the fact that this website doesn't broadcast on a specific frequency... or does it?!)


Saturday, September 19, 2009


I just finished another DT course: Intro to MEL, which is about Maya's Embedded Language for making little scripts and customizing the program.
Say you want a quick way to hide some attributes for all objects that are selected... well Maya doesn't come with a single button to do that, but you can make one! And create new marking menus, which are almost like mouse gestures in a way (if you haven't used Maya before). So the main project was to create some pretty little flowers entirely using MEL. Here they are:

Ew... a jpeg... but the png's screw up the transparency for some reason and blogger only accepts jpegs, pngs, bmps, and gifs. I'll try a bmp next time.

All the texturing, modelling and everything was done with this little script:

global proc flowerMaker () {

int $numPetals = `rand 10 15`;
$createShader = 1;

//check for petal shader
string $shaders[] = `ls -mat`;
for ($myNode in $shaders){
if ($myNode == "petalColor")
$createShader = 0;

switch ($createShader){
case 0:
print "Shader exists\n";
case 1:
//build shader network
shadingNode -asShader lambert -n "petalColor";
shadingNode -asTexture ramp -n "petalRamp";
sets -renderable true -noSurfaceShader true
-empty -n petalColorSG;

connectAttr -f petalColor.outColor petalColorSG.surfaceShader;
connectAttr petalRamp.outColor petalColor.color;

setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[3].color" -type double3 1 0 0;
setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[3].position" 1;

setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[2].color" -type double3 1 1 0;
setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[2].position" .5;

setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[1].color" -type double3 1 0 0;
setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[1].position" 0;

setAttr petalRamp.type 8;

//build core shader network
shadingNode -asShader lambert -n "coreColor";

sets -renderable true -noSurfaceShader true
-empty -n coreColorSG;

connectAttr -f coreColor.outColor coreColorSG.surfaceShader;

setAttr "coreColor.color" -type double3 0.5 0.222 0.028;


//create flower core
sphere -ax 0 1 0 -n "core";
string $myCore[] = `ls -sl`;
scale 1 .5 1;
move 0 .2 0;

//connects to core shader network
select $myCore[0];
pickWalk -d down;
string $myCoreShape[] = `ls -sl`;
sets -edit -forceElement coreColorSG $myCoreShape[0];

// build the petal
sphere -ax 0 1 0;
move 0 0 -1.6;
scale .7 .3 1.7;

string $myPetal[] = `ls -sl`;
parent $myPetal $myCore;

//connects to shader network
select $myPetal[0];
pickWalk -d down;
string $myPetalShape[] = `ls -sl`;
sets -edit -forceElement petalColorSG $myPetalShape[0];

//move the tip of the petal
select ($myPetal[0] + ".cv[3] [7]");
move -r 0 1.5 0;

//move center of petal down
//U loop
for ($uCV = 5; $uCV <= 6; $uCV++){
//V loop
for ($vCV = 0; $vCV <= 7; $vCV++){
select ($myPetal[0] + ".cv[" + $uCV + "] [" + $vCV + "]");
move -r 0 -.3 0;

//closed the loops

//duplicate petals
select $myPetal[0];
float $degreeApart = (360 / $numPetals);

for ($i = 1; $i < $numPetals; $i++){
rotate -r 0 $degreeApart 0;

// randomly rotate the petals
float $petalRX = `rand -10 10`;
float $petalRY = `rand -10 10`;
float $petalRZ = `rand -10 10`;

rotate $petalRX $petalRY $petalRZ;


select $myCore;
rename "Flower0";


That creates one flower... yeah, so it would be easier to just make it by hand, but this really taught me a lot about MEL's syntax and commands and different things you can do with it.
I think I'm going to work through another modelling tutorial project next, so hopefully that goes okay.

I also am going to be doing a directed study at UVic to learn some Maya and stuff, so that should be fun. I'll keep you posted on that too.


Friday, September 11, 2009


So this is a little project Daryl and I did, unrelated to computer animation. I've been playing around with different types of animation, for fun, and this is one technique that's pretty atypical for animation. It's basically live-action stop-motion, and it's called pixelation, though I called it pixelmation, cause that makes more sense to me. You pose, take a shot, pose again, take another shot, pose again until you get the idea. These little animation projects usually end up less than half a minute long, and that's fine with me. Not looking for any feature-length stuff. I often get tired of a project if I work on it for weeks, so this length was great by me. Now I'm pretty much rambling again, so I'll post the video now and ramble some more while it uploads. Hope you enjoy it.

Ok, so apparently blogger's new editor that I just switched to doesn't support video uploading yet, so I had to save my text and switch back to the old editor and now it's processing the video. I'm going to be going back to learning Maya now, though there's a couple little projects I need to finish up in the near future. I really need to get all my stuff backed up off my old computer so when my new compy arrives I can have that available. I don't really have much that's critical on my computer. Most of the stuff I have that's not in the cloud is just stuff I've been using to learn things. Like my pod. And music. Well, I own all my CDs, so I just have to burn CDs of stuff I bought from iTunes. I've basically used up my computers to authorize with my iTunes account. I wish they'd thought about that a bit more... really unimpressed with that system. For example, I used up two of my available computers on the same computer, just cause I switched OSs a couple times. Ah well, there's ways around it I guess... legal ones, I mean. Or at least, I think it's legal.... anyway, the video's done processing, so I can stop typing.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So I officially finished my first DT course: Intro to Maya 2009... over 9 hours of video tutorials. Yay! At the moment, I'm doing a relatively high quality render of a frame of the animation that I produced over the course of the course (that's alliteration, sorta). The tutorial would have had me render the full 200 frame animation, but considering that I've been rendering this one frame for half an hour and it's not halfway done yet, I think that would be a bad idea... think a week-long render here.

Anyways, in the meantime, here's a render that I did during the dynamics part of the lesson, where I simulated a lightning type effect between the engines and a smokey dust cloud from the back of the engines. Usually renders have default lighting, like the textured pods from the last post, but in this case, since the lightning effect carried its own light, the default lighting was disabled, leaving an eery nighttime looking shot that I kinda like, so here it is.

Remember, you can usually click on the images to get a larger view of the pic, but just click back to get back to the post. That sounds obvious, but when I do that, I always close the tab accidentally cause most web-apps open a new tab when you click on an image. Bah. Then I have to right-click on the tab bar and select "undo close tab" which is one of the awesomest things about firefox. Yes, I said awesomest.

So, just think, when I get my awesomest new computer, I'll be able to render out animations like this with ease, instead of waiting for an hour for a single frame.
It's gonna be sweet.

Next up.... I guess I gotta finish up color grading a little piece that Daryl and I have been working on so you can also see that. I'm pretty pleased with the effect that we achieved there, but you'll have to wait and see for that one.
I'll also edit this post to include the final image once it's done.

Alright, here it is after an hour and a bit. Comments and crits welcome as always. The background was supplied for the tutorial.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Textured Pod

Here's the finished textured pod:

Really annoying with the paint tool as my viewport is very very laggy, and most of the strokes didn't even show up, so I used the supplied textures for a few things. Also rendering is very slow on these things sometimes, so I'm really looking forward to my new computer, which I purchased yesterday!!

It's being assembled before shipping, so I don't have to deal with that or DOA parts or RMAing stuff... which is very nice.

Specs: (for all those techy types who are interested)

Core i7 920 D0 Stepping 2.66 GHz (but I may overclock it :) )
Asus P6T Deluxe V2 Mobo
Lian Li PC-P50 case (with two fans on the roof... cool)
6GB DDR3 Corsair Dominator RAM (with plenty of room for upgrading and oc'ing)
120GB OCZ Agility SSD boot drive (yay, fast booting and app start-up... sweet)
1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD (for all my storage of music video pics models etc..)
750W 90% efficient Corsair PSU (easy on the ecosystem and the energy bill)
EVGA NVidia GTX 275 Video Card (for demanding games and smooth viewport... mmmm)
Samsung DVD writer
Nmedia card reader and eSATA and firewire and USB ports
Noctua heatsink (massive mound of metal)
... I think that's all, I may have forgotten something here, but that's the gist of it. Can't wait can't wait... :)


Friday, September 4, 2009


So I'm working through some video tutorials by Digital Tutors, which I'm quite enjoying. Had some playback problems with the video streaming, but I emailed customer service, and they sorted it out quite well, so that was a definite plus. I have access to their entire training library, for a subscription fee, which I think works out well for my situation, which is to learn a whole bunch of areas as quickly as I can. Basically high-throughput learning... some people are complaining because they can't buy training DVDs anymore, which I can understand if you just want one or two tutorials to keep.

All that to say that here's a WIP for the project that I'm working through. Cooler projects than the Autodesk book, that's for sure (delgo... hmph... that movie made like $600,000 total apparently...). Just finished the very fast-paced modelling with relatively good results I think. I'll keep you posted as I go through texturing, rigging, animating, adding dynamics and lighting, and rendering, all within this training course, so pretty much all the content (and with more depth so far) as the book I spent all that time doing. Plus there's time pressure here to get as much learnt as I can with one month paid for. Alright, alright, here it is:

In other news, I'm going to be buying a sweet new computer in the next little while. I'll definitely put a post up of the specs and maybe a couple pics when it arrives... looking forward to it!


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Here's a little speed challenge that my brother and I did. We had to do a cityscape type picture in under 2 hours but we were allowed to do a paint-over of a photo if we wanted, which we both did to some degree.

Mine's the top one here, of a "power plant".

And the competition, here, of a "city at night" (I got to name them...)

Comments please...


PS I've pretty much finished the Maya Foundation book. I only have one bonus lesson to do on compositing with Toxik. After that, I think I'll do a free tutorial from Digital Tutors on modelling a character for rigging, which I guess is similar to stuff I've done before, but I want to try out the DT format before I pay for a subscription to them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

...and fire!

Here we go with some dynamics stuff:

It took me the longest time fiddling with the animation speed, the catapult basket shape, and the firing tangents to get the rock to actually hit the darn wall... I thought it would be easier to just move the wall into the path of the rock, but for some reason it was locked to its original position... and the path wasn't actually the same twice in a row when I changed some seemingly unrelated factor. Ah, frustration. But here we go in the end, a simple playblast of a rock knocking down a wall. Dynamics are pretty awesome, I have to admit. Imagine animating it all by hand... what a pain.
Well, next up is some path animation I think, so I'll hopefully get working on that soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Load the catapults!

New milestone here... :)
Posting a playblast (not a real render, really just an animated screen grab of the camera movement etc. In this short film, our hero Delgo conquers great obstacles and loads a catapult.

I don't know if you can tell, but during the animation, after he **SPOILER** releases the rock **END OF SPOILER** his hands go weird and swivel around a couple times. I tried fixing it in the graph editor, but I have a feeling the problem goes back to the rigging, so not really sure how to completely fix it. I know my wrists can be picky at times. The whole thing still feels quite rough to me and I'd work on a lot of details, but I'd rather spend the perfectionizing on my own project, so I'll move on to rigid bodies... that is, dynamics. Let's smash some walls with this siege weapon!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pickup animation

So I finally got back to my maya beginner's book and did some more animation of delgo lifting a rock onto the catapult. There was a bit more artistic license with this bit, though I still got through it by checking every keyframe against the book's... and he still looks a bit of a robot... haha. Here's a screenshot of part of the process:

Nothing too special. I'll upload the whole animation once it's pieced together. I think that's the next section in the book, i.e. combining the walk cycle I did and the pickup animation into a complete little clip. Should be fun.

I'm looking forward to finishing this book so I can order some training DVDs which I found on Digital Tutors. We'll see if that happens first or me ordering my new computer!! Yay! I'll post the specs once they're finalized, but it's looking really sweet right now...


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Furniture challenge

So... due to an unfortunate series of events I haven't been able to do much on my computer, including concept art, so I'm going to have to just post my bro's entry and give him the win this time :)
Seriously, he did a pretty nice job, and I couldn't really figure out how I was going to visually convey the concept I was thinking about... ah well, I'm going to spend some time tonight working on my Maya again, hopefully get back to Delgo, who I haven't worked on in a long time.
Anyway, here's my brother's futuristic furniture:

I'll get back to you once I get somewhere with my Delgo animation.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Challenge 1-Alien

So here's my final concept art alien submission pic thing:

I'm moderately satisfied with how it turned out... learned a bit about photoshop and brushes, layers, workflow, lighting and all that sort of thing. I'll be doing lots more painting in photoshop to practice lighting and color schemes and stuff.

Erick produced a decent effort, but neither of us spent a ton of time on the pics, so the first challenge resulted in a draw. (haha, get it)

Next challenge: Due Saturday evening, a piece of futuristic furniture...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Concept art challenges

So my brother just got a Wacom Bamboo tablet and he's wanting to do some practicing, as am I. Therefore, we're starting periodical drawing/art challenges of some theme/topic that must be completed within a few days.
Our first challenge is this:
Create a hominoid alien with lots of character in full color with a simple background/setting by Saturday evening.

Should be fun, I'll post my final image (and his too if he lets me, and then you can judge them :) )

PS A "short animated live-action film" ("Huh?" I hear you say?) should be coming soon as well... stay tuned.

PPS I know... I haven't been doing as much computer animation lately, but it'll happen, I promise.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Fish (Or, The Flight of the Bumblebee)

Daryl and I made this short film (short film) on Saturday in a new format I like to call MMA (mixed media animation). It combines Stop Motion, Digital Compositing, and Rotoscoping to make a little piece worthy of Cannes (or at least cans).
Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

DIY iPod Touch Case

If you've got an iPod Touch and want a very cheap way to cover it up and protect it from all those scratches and bumps, look no further. Here's an excellent do-it-yourself iPod case for the very affordable price of one or two bucks... as a bonus, you get 12 pieces of minty fresh chewing gum!

Notice how the size is perfect; in addition, there's a handy semi-circular opening for easy access to the all-important home button. If you've got your tunes in your pocket and are worried about proximity to keys and other dangerous items, this handy case will alleviate all concern. To use the touch screen, just slide the case off the top to view the screen for any touching necessary.

Hope this has been an informative and handy do-it-yourself post for all the ipod-owning-skinflints in the world.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Finished character

Yay, so I finished the little character guy thing. Didn't come out great, but the point was to learn some tools and workflow, which I did. Here he is.

Not sure what's up with the aliasing... that's definitely something I'll have to work on for the next project. It seems to have something to do with depth-map shadows, but that's just a guess. So that's one thing off my list. I guess I'll get back to Delgo next and do some animation. I'll upload a vid once I get that done... should be fun.
Until later,

PS Hmm... on looking at the final image, the aliasing doesn't seem to be a problem. I wonder why it looked bad on my render output in Maya... ah well. Always something to figure out.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cartoon Dude

So I think the first or second thing on my list was to finish up a tutorial I was working on. Not quite done, about 3/4 done actually, but I thought I'd post a WIP so you could see how it was getting on. If you remember, I modeled Delgo from a poly cube (actually, I didn't post much at the beginning, but that is what I started with); however, this tutorial starts out by blocking out the shape with NURBs, which I think might be more common. I suspect that it takes a bit longer, but it gives better topology in the early stages. Then I converted to polys, and connected everything up, which was time-consuming and a bit frustrating to maintain quads and still have good topology. I think that just takes a lot of practice. I still haven't decided whether I'll be doing a lot of this sort of modelling in my career (I suspect not) but I'm sure it's a useful skill to have and the principles apply to everything (even shopping).
I do hope my rambling style of writing isn't off-putting. I'll try to be more concise in future. So, without further ado, the picture:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drawing Skills

So I've decided for a variety of reasons to leave the super villain challenge, one of which is that my character got scooped (sorta) by a ten year old... ah well.
Another reason is that I want to spend some time learning the basics of drawing, form, color, line, composition, perspective, etc. You know, the boring stuff...
But really, to become a good modeller/animator, I need to have a good eye (and a good hand to capture what my eye is looking for) and this is the simplest way to develop it I think.

So all that to say there's no 3d stuff right now and I need to push myself to keep working at the simple things before I get too ambitious.
So I think I'll create a...

To Do List:
-Finish cartoon human figure tutorial
-Do project 4 in my Maya Foundation book
-Do several sketches to practice and become competent with my Wacom Tablet
-Learn some color theory and produce some colorful digital canvases

Well, I think that's a good start of things to do for now... keep pestering me if I don't produce anything in the next while. It'll keep me moving, which is what I need to do at this early stage in learning and practicing and learning how to practice.

Talk to you soon,
(hopefully with some sort of image next time)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dr. Mel Ishis sketches

Here's some little sketches I did this evening for Dr. Mel Ishis. I haven't really used my tablet in a long time, so it was kinda fun to play around with sketching. I'm not really a very good artist, so apologies for the not really very good sketches, but it's at least a start to the project.
C & C welcome of course.

Updates to the character as I drew some stuff:
Dr. Ishis cut off his hands (one by one) and replaced them with robotic mechanisms for the increased precision and strength necessary to build a weapon of mass destruction (the style for the hand was kind of inspired by the Coraline super villain mom lady).
Through years of neglect, the evil doctor's lab coat has become torn, stained, patched, and burnt by sharp objects, chemicals, sewing machines, and bunsen burners, respectively.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Simply Maya Challenge - Super Villains

Well, I'm back in Victoria finally and looking forward to getting back into Maya.
There's a new challenge over at simply maya which I have entered. I'm going to be just starting some concept sketches for an evil scientist type.
Here's the little back-story I made up for him:

Having been mocked about his stature for years by his taller coworkers, the diminutive but brilliant Dr. Mel Ishis PhD. has finally turned on the Institute for Scientific Discoveries and Academic Thought for the Origins of Kinetics (I.S.D.A.T.O.K.) and its population of narrow-minded and petty scientists along with the whole planet by extension (and further pettiness). Using his background in kinetics, Dr. Mel Ishis has drawn up plans for an intelligent weapon with the capacity to destroy life as we know it (leaving, incidentally, the millions of uncharacterized organisms on earth virtually unscathed). Unbeknownst to all, in his aboveground lair, the evil doctor tinkers away with tungsten, neon, stainless steel, animal tissue, and used television sets. Finally, he steps back in awe (and so that he can see more than just the bottom of it). He has done it at last. Dr. Mel Ishis has determined the fate of our race; he has created...

...well I'm not sure exactly what yet, so I'll leave you hanging there. It'll be sort of cartoony, and I'll definitely post some WIP pics as I go.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Final Ship Model

Here's my final model. Actually, this is the model that is final due to time constraints, because I'm leaving for Europe in a few days, and the SimplyMaya challenge this was for is finished on June 1st, so I won't be here to work on it. There's a ton more that I would have liked to do on it, including plenty of detailing, texturing, animating, and especially adding smoke and particle effects for the engines and stuff. I'm relatively satisfied with most of the model, so I hope you like the idea of it at least.

I will be posting hopefully more frequently once I get back from Europe (~early June).
Until then, there won't be anything new here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Little update

Here's the start of the middle section of the ship that will connect everything together. I've been learning a bit more about render layers and everything, so it looks a bit nicer than some previous renders, I think anyway.

Hopefully my next update will be more substantial.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

fuel tanks

Here's another part of my ship, the fuel tanks. Once I've got all the parts of the ship modelled, I'll stick them together and you can see the final product. Feels like I've hit a bit of a wall, learning-wise, but I'll try to push forward and keep improving.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Escape pod

Here's a render of an escape pod I'm modelling for the spaceship challenge. I'm learning a bit about rendering, so now I can look more professional in my WIPs.

In other news, I'm going to be starting a process to work out/develop a potential interdisciplinary master's degree for UVic. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spaceship challenge

Sorry it's been a little while since I last posted (I know, you were all on the edge of your seats waiting), but I entered a modelling and texturing challenge on purely for learning purposes (and to have fun).

I'm posting there more than here, cause people are replying and giving me tips and stuff, so it's really helpful to hear from pros (now you're jealous and insulted... sorry again).

But I'll still post some WIP pics as I go... here's an engine:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I wear my sunglasses at night

Here's some cool shades:

..or at least a wireframe of half of them. I think the model isn't too bad, but I'd kinda like to spend a few more hours working some detail into them, such as the hinges and nose thingies. I tried out some renders to see if I could get a nice reflective surface.

I'm not very happy with the final product, but I decided that it was quite time-consuming to just tweak settings. I can't figure out why the shadows are so blocky. I tried changing some anti-aliasing settings, as well as shadow resolution (the obvious place to start, I thought), but still not great. I think I need some solid theory/explanation for a large number of the very numerous settings and options. It seems as though the same options appear in several locations as well, such as shadows and illumination for objects, materials, render settings, etc. Lots to learn.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Render types

I figured out how to get a series of images into a video format. You may remember that I got Autodesk Cleaner XL shipped with the rest of the software. Well that has the capability to convert an image series into a bunch of different formats, like flash, quicktime, mpeg, avi, etc. Only thing is it doesn't support .iff files either, so next time I do a batch render, I'll be rendering as a tiff or something like that.

I also was able to do some experimenting with maya's different renderers, including mental ray, the hardware renderer, software renderer, and vector renderer. Yes, you heard me, vectorized computer animation. Cool cool.

I won't post any renders, cause there's nothing too interesting, but now I'm officially finished project three in the book. Next up is some more animation as well as some dynamics (rigid bodies and particles and stuff) so I will definitely post some animations when I get there. But first as I promised, I have some sunglasses to model and texture and render. Not really sure how to start on these ones... (loft some curves, NURBS?) I think I'll stick with polygons since that's more what I know. I guess we'll see how it goes.


Motion blurred frog vid

So I've just learned some lighting/rendering techniques. Pretty basic stuff, but good to know. There's a ton (tonne? metric... good band) of stuff I need to learn with respect to lighting and rendering. Especially if I'm going to be simulating microscopic fluid lighting conditions. More on that later.

Here's a lens flare effect:

Not the greatest composition. You can sort of see part of the catapult outside the door. This building/room was what I did for project one of this book. It's sort of a throne room, but I set delgo up to walk out of the door into the bright bright sunlight. Cool. As I write this, I'm running a batch render, so hopefully that'll finish up soon and I can post a little animation. I'll see if I can figure out how to convert a series of images into a postable animation format. Frame 50, ok, here we go...

Alright, well it worked out mostly, but unfortunately I can't find a solution to convert images to video. VideoMach doesn't handle .iff files from what I can see and that converter is what I've used in the past. Oh well, I'll figure something out eventually.
Here's a still from the animation.
Never mind, blogger doesn't support iff either. I'm not going to re-render, so you'll just have to speculate what the animation looked like. (Hint: walk cycle of delgo walking towards the catapult with shadows and a bit of motion blur)


Sunday, April 5, 2009

MacDoonlads (don't sue me)

So in accordance with a recently received challenge, I decided to put together a brown paper bag. This took only a few hours. If I had longer I would have put more work into the crinkles and edges and stuff, as well as the rendering and texturing (so everything really).

I learned quite a bit during this, especially in UV mapping, which is really tricky still, but I'm getting more familiar with the tools and controls, if not exactly learning the best way to approach it yet.

Without further ado...
a brown paper bag with an ominous logo:

I'm not really sure why or what interprets the black background of my render as a transparent checker look, but I'll look into fixing that and producing proper renders soon.

Keep checking back and let me know what I need to fix (or send me challenges),

PS Forgot to post a wireframe

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rigged & Textured Catapult

So here's my rigged and textured catapult.

The texturing wasn't great by any stretch. I'll have to work on that, but it's not as much fun. I've heard from other people too that they don't really enjoy UV mapping, which I didn't do here, but is related. I guess I'll just have to practice up on the whole texturing UV mapping side of things, so that it won't be as painful.

And I realized after I deformed the catapult arm that it won't line up with the little hook like it does perfectly in the book... how was I supposed to know where the bent arm would end up? Ah well, again, just learning the process.

Paint effects are next... cool.
I'll keep you posted.

First Render

So I've officially installed Maya and run a quick render to test a few things. Here it is:

I know, it's really boring, but I wanted to see if:
a) Maya was working -it is, yay!
b) I had been given access to Maya Unlimited versus Maya Complete -this is a fluid effect (an ocean, if you didn't notice), so I have all the cool features that Unlimited has to offer, yay!
c) there were any watermarks or things on renders to designate it as a student version -there aren't, yay!
d) Maya could cause me to pass out in awe -actually, no it didn't, probably for the best.

So there you have it. I'm up and running. Now should I...
a) start modelling (which I looked up and found out that American has one l and British has two l's... British it is)!!!
b) install Mudbox!!!
c) make bread and do housework :(



So it begins...

My parcel has arrived. I have unpacked it. I am now holding 10,000 dollars worth of incredibly powerful software in my hands... (pauses to pick up the five DVDs)
I cycle through them.

Autodesk Mudbox 2009 Student Version. Digital sculpting and texture painting. Similar to what sculptures do with clay, but without the gooey. I am very much looking forward to tackling this with my tablet (Erick, may I request the return of my tablet?).

Autodesk MotionBuilder 2009 Student Version. Real-time 3D Animation Solution. Used in film, games and TV for creating believable character animation and movement quickly. I likely won't use this as much, since I'm not sure what functionality this will have that Maya doesn't that I would be able to take advantage of. It seems as though Autodesk has many software solutions with overlapping applications, which makes choosing between them difficult. This packaged choice wasn't at all difficult, however.

Autodesk Toxik 2009 Student Version. Node-based Compositing Software. Used to layer together elements to create beautiful final images. Looking forward to learning this software to prove that the result is more than the sum of its parts. I may switch over to Adobe's After Effects at some point, but again, I'm not sure the differences in functionality or application, but it can't hurt to learn this first while I have access to it.

Autodesk Cleaner XL 1.5. High-quality Encoding. This is used to convert my output into various formats, such as Quicktime, DivX, M4A (ipod! I think), TIFF images, Flash? Getting my videos into your preferred system. This one was a bit of a surprise as I didn't see it listed in the package components, but it's very neat and I'm sure this will be a welcome addition to the training process.

And finally... drum-roll please

Autodesk Maya Unlimited 2009 10th Anniversary Edition Student Version!!! The most amazing and widely used complete software solution for modelling, texturing, rigging, animating, lighting, rendering and dynamic simulation in the world! Most of the special effects in TV, ads, movies, and video games incorporate this software into their pipelines. This DVD will potentially be the cornerstone of my career. Enough said. Let me get started now.

Until next time (and there will be a next time for sure now),

PS If you don't believe me... behold the majesty

Thursday, March 26, 2009


So I bit the bullet and forked the cash!

I just ordered the student version of Maya Unlimited 2009. It actually comes as a superpack, which includes Maya Unlimited (which includes Maya Complete, Fur, Hair, Fluids, Cloth, nParticles, and Live), Mudbox 2009, MotionBuilder 2009, and Toxik 2009.

I'm totally stoked to get all these goodies. It should arrive in a week or so, so stay tuned for some screenshots around then. So I paid about 450 (just over 500 with shipping/tax etc.), but I added up the totals for all the commercial versions of those packages and best I can figure, (I couldn't find an actual price for the current motionbuilder) it's over $10,000!!! How's that for a sweet 95% off sale!

Stay tuned for the continuation of biocinematics,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Machine of War

So here's the final catapult model. One screenshot has the wireframe over the shaded geometry so you can see where all the edges are... cool? The catapult even has a rock to fire, which I'll get to in the next project or so (yay rigid bodies!).

I think this may be it for my 30-day trial, as the next few days I'll probably be out and/or busy. If I post again, it means I've been bad and got a new 30-day trial... or I've shelled out for the student version or I've been crazy and shelled out tons for the full commercial version. Donations are welcome... ;)

I hope you've enjoyed watching some of this stuff get put together. I'm really hoping this isn't the end, but if so, thanks for reading, and if not... keep reading and commenting! And tell other people to do so as well :) (little advertising there).

Until next time?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I've just started modeling a NURBS catapult, but right now it looks more like a spoon. It's nice to be back with the creating something out of nothing feeling. I haven't done much with NURBS, so it's cool to learn about surfaces and isoparms and control vertices and profile curves and lofting and revolving and blending and detaching and all that. I'll post another pic once it gets looking like something interesting...

Until later...

PS I've just realized that my trial expires on saturday... yikes. Well it was a good run. I'll see how much I can do and then I'll try to figure out whether or not I want to buy the student edition yet. I still haven't decided on a future platform yet, so I'll first have to determine whether or not I'll be able to install the software on multiple OSs(?) and/or computers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Keep on walkin'

And that brings me to the end of project number 2! I didn't post anything from project 1; it was pretty basic stuff and the end result was unimpressive, and I wasn't doing this blog yet. I got delgo walkin' along pretty well. It was pretty easy to follow along with directions to make the various joints in the various positions. Oh yeah, and all the rigging stuff made it wayyy easier to do all the animating, even though I was griping about it... ah well.

I'll see if I can post a short video of the walk cycle, but I'm not exactly sure yet the best way to render short animations with decent quality and not too huge of a file. I'll figure something out. But first I'm gonna head back to some modeling, and put together a little catapult thing in project 3 using NURBS (non-uniform rational b-splines if you didn't know... I think Daryl might have mentioned that in a comment somewheres...). Here we go!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Ready to animate!

Alright... after many days of modeling, texturing, and most time-consuming and most frustrating, rigging... mr. delgo is ready to be animated. I would wax eloquent on what I did to rig him all up... (sorry about all these ellipses, I'll cut back) but I'm not entirely sure what I did do. I think most of it involved making delgo easy to animate. I guess we'll find out now, won't we. I'm really really hoping I didn't screw something majorly up, cause it would be tough to go back through and un-make-unkeyable some attribute that I don't know what it does after the fact.

So here we go... I'll finally be able to post some pictures that aren't of a spread-eagled-armed pose. To tell the truth, this frogman isn't getting easier on the eyes... oh for a clean slate. In time, I tell myself. I just have to finish this thing up.

Enough rambling, on to animating.

More crazy fun

So it's been a little while, but here we go again. Rigging isn't easy. It's pretty hard to understand all the attributes and do things right the first time. Because I've come to figure out that it's a lot easier to do things the right way than to go back and try to fix some underlying problem which could mess with everything that you did after it. I know there's ways around things, but it'll take me a long time to learn them. Anywho, it's hard to do things the right way when you don't know what's coming down the pipe... or rather, what's coming up in the book. Here's a rather charming picture of a jiggle deformer in action.

Oh yeah, the wrist thing got sort of sorted out unintentionally. When I came back to the project after a little break, I redid the steps, and it didn't work and then I redid the steps again and messed around a bit, and all of sudden, boom, fine (mostly), so I have no idea, which is probably not very helpful (believe it or not, this delgo dude isn't exactly about the final product).

So back to the jiggle deformer. That massive weird stuff is his sleeve. It's supposed to be bouncing around a LITTLE bit to simulate cloth movement or something. You might be able to see the other arm being deformed a bit. So I'll see if I can undo this and redo the jiggle deformer in the future, but I'm good to take a break for tonight and come back to it. I'm almost done this project... (I think).

So a couple of somewhat unrelated notes... right now I'm waffling between getting a mac pro and a really sweet PC. Convince me one way or the other, I'm virtually exactly between them at this point. They both have pros and cons... rrrghghghg.

The other thing is that I may get to do some other modeling for a project of my brother's (a massive project with very little expertise in the many required fields between all involved... shh ;) but trying and learning is the best way forward) so there may be some other models getting posted in the near future. I'd really like to tackle another modeling project right now, but I really don't want to leave delgo "unfinished" or I fear this project will come to a standstill. Keep me motivated, people!

Until later... keep your sleeves in check!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Ok... I'm getting a bit tired of mr. delgo here, but I'm getting close to the end of the chapter, only another section on rigging and animating a walk cycle to go, and then I get to go back to modeling (yay!). I've been working on the IKs recently, which has been interesting, but wayyyy over my head for the majority of it, by which I mean, I understand what I'm supposed to do, but I wouldn't be able to figure out how to design this myself. Anyway, here's a screenshot of some driven keys for making the feet move naturally so when the ankle is lifted, the toes stay on the ground kind of thing...

Then I moved on to constraining the wrists, which was where I ran into problems, because one wrist worked fine, but when I tried to do the EXACT same thing on the other wrist, it totally screwed up and the wrist bent back on itself and all sorts of bad things. I know what the problem is (the manipulator isn't rotating the wrist in the same axes as itself) but I can't figure out how to fix it, because I did do exactly the same thing both times and all the attributes look the same (and no, it's not a mirroring problem, but thanks for suggesting it...). Anyway, then maya crashed, and so I'm going to take a break from that for a bit. Delgo may end up having only one animated wrist, but we'll see how things go. I really don't want to get too hung up on one section when I have so many areas left to cover in this very basic introduction to the software. I'm not sure I'll finish the book by the 21st, so I may download the 30-day trial again (shhh, don't tell) because I haven't yet been able to evaluate all the areas (eg dynamics, animation, nurbs, paint effects etc).

Anyways, wish me luck...