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...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy & Sad

Here we go with some facial faces... Delgo doesn't have many vertices in his face (sorry about that, delgo) so these expressions will be rough (to say the least) but I understand somewhat how these blend shapes are supposed to work. First you copy the entire geometry, then modify the facial vertices (I used the sculpt geometry painting tool, kinda cool) to get a new facial expression, or part of a facial expression (such as eybrows up) and then you get a gradient of expressions based on the intermediates between your original and the new facial feature. Look how delgo is magically transformed from a happy little amphibious dude to a very upset and not so charming toad creature... (toad being a derogetory [can't spell it sorry, {now I'm using nested braces and parentheses and brackets... cool}] Lochni term [maybe]).

So onwards and upwards, my fellow listeners (ahem, readers). Inverse kinematics are on the horizon and a topic which I personally find very neat. I believe this is because anim8or had no such feature when I was using the program, so this introduction has been very satisfying for a rigger/animator-to-be, such as myself.

Until next time,

PS If you are uncomfortable with being able to see where I store my project files... umm... I actually don't know what to say now.

More than one way to skin a frog

So it's been a little while since my last post. I've been doing some skinning and joint limit setting. All that really means is attaching my skeleton to my figure, and making sure that the joints don't bend unnaturally. I didn't do a perfect job, but if you think about it, it's actually pretty difficult to figure out which of your bones lets you move in certain ways. Take your ankle for instance... how many axes can it rotate around, and how far in each?? I don't know either... I figure mostly the z-axis on my model (up and down) with a little side to side movement. There's actually fewer bones in my skinned model than in a real human (or Lochni) so there will be imprecision (believe it or not). Anyway, now I can pose my frogman in nearly almost any position I choose. I have him long-jumping here or something. Actually I was going to do a lotus flower yoga thing for a cool screenshot, but I just realized I didn't give enough rotation in the femur head (or hip) to allow that. Oh well, maybe he's a really inflexible frogman. I doubt I would be able to pull off a lotus thing if I sat down and tried it...
Now (or maybe a bit later... setting joint limits for all 30 or so of the hand bones was quite tedious... you figure out your hand and get back to me) on to blend shapes for the facial poses! Next time, delgo will be frowning and/or smiling and/or raising the brows.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mac Pro

So the new mac pro is out, which is the computer I've been waiting for to do my animation and such on. Unfortunately it's way more expensive than everyone was expecting, so I'm going to have to figure out exactly what I'm wanting. I still don't want to stay with Windows, and Linux doesn't really support all the software that I'm wanting to use yet, though it does run Maya which is very cool. I just want a stable, solid platform with very high processing power to do rendering and video editing and modeling, etc. If I decide to go for the more expensive option right now, I could have a virtual 16-cores in my computer, but I haven't figured out yet whether I'll even be able to take advantage of that. I don't really know why I'm posting this, but I guess since it's part of the process, blogged it will be.

Later people... I'll be doing some skinning hopefully today or tomorrow or the next day. You know how it goes...

Jack Skellington

Or Delgo Skellington rather. Just finished creating the skeleton for my little character here. You can see the skeleton under the skin in the first picture there. I decided to give a rear view, since the front side was getting a little boring. Anyway, the second image shows just the skeleton, which isn't all that impressive since there's no 3d bone structure, like a skull or anything. Great, I hear you say, now you're all ready to animate him. Well... not exactly no.

Right now the skeleton isn't connected to the mesh at all, so the next step is to skin the character, which means connect the "skin" to the skeleton and make sure that the arms and legs move without big creases in them so it's relatively natural. I guess I'm mostly just uploading pictures at the end of each stage, but I guess that's ok for now. Maybe I'll do some true WIP pics later on in a more complex project. Great, I hear you say again, so once the skinning is done, it's on to the walk cycle! Well... hang on again.

After skinning comes blend shapes, where I can make some facial expressions which I can setup independent of bones to help me animate the face later on. (I don't really know how facial animation will play into a walk cycle, but I'm sure it's important. I know I make faces while I'm walking...) Then comes inverse kinematics, which is a more natural way of moving multiple bones. When you lift your foot, you're telling your ankle and foot to move upwards and you don't even think about your knee or hip, even though those joints are part of the process. IK makes animation easier that way, so I need to set that up as well. Then comes more rigging, which sets up things like eye movement, vertex jiggle (who knew...?) and creating a character set (I guess I'll find out about that too). THEN we get to the walk cycle.

I have to remind myself that my 30-day trial is going to expire on March 21st, and I still have three and a half projects to work through in this book. We'll see how far I get. Anyway, things are going to get more interesting and maybe you'll get to see some poses beyond your typical arms spread out, eyes straight ahead deal.

Until later,

Monday, March 2, 2009


Ta da! Some color on the old beast. Again, I didn't want to spend a great deal of time on this section, so it looks a bit made-in-paint, which is partially true. Altogether it's a bit low-res, but the end result isn't too bad and it'll be alright when I start rigging and skinning the character which comes next, and I'm kind of excited about.
On an unrelated note, Rock Band is cool.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Finshed character modeling

So I'm pretty much done the straight modeling (and I've just realized that modeling has only one l, sorry) of this delgo character. I'm not that happy with how the head turned out, but I didn't want to spend too much time on it as I'm still just learning the various tools. Apparently it's bad form to have polygons with 3 or 5 or more sides (quads only, please), and I'm really bad at creating edge loops that allow me to do that. The rational for that is that it makes further modeling and animation easier. I'll have to pick up some tips along the way to help me in that particular area. So I'd be happy to hear what you think about this delgo geometry here. There's some bumps around where the clothes should be starting and stopping if you look very hard. In the next section I'll be just painting the clothes on, and I didn't really realize that, so it does look a bit funny.

Next stop, some colour hopefully.