Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fetal Transposition

The first assignment for the Medical Legal class I'm taking this fall was to look at a single view of a fetus and draw it at 90 degrees to the original. Most of the time when trying to understand something in three dimensions, I need at least two views, e.g. front and side. It was really an exercise in filling in the missing information using relationships and shading cues. I decided to try to block out the form in ZBrush to help out with the problem.
This is the original image:  

ZSpheres to figure out where all the limbs go:

And some rough sculpting to flesh out the form:

And the final image with side by side comparison. I didn't follow the sculpt exactly, since there were some points where it wasn't completely successful, and my first sketch attempt was not so great. But this is my second version, and I paid closer attention to the original image, and I think it is a reasonable approximation of a 90 degree transposition.

Well, lots of classes this semester and lots of projects on the go. I should be posting some leprous work soon, a ZBrush vertebra, and perhaps some Unity work in the near future too.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Model viewer test

Testing out a new site/plugin I heard about on the simply maya forums. Could be kind of cool to share models with. Seems promising. Click and drag around, change the shader to wireframe on shaded, etc.
If the viewer doesn't show up, make sure you're visiting the blog itself on a modern browser.


Friday, September 14, 2012

"Physically Accurate Lighting in mental ray" from Simply Maya

I have the privilege to review a tutorial from Simply Maya called "Physically Accurate Lighting in mental ray". This is a 2.5 hr tutorial designed to get you up to speed on using the physical sun and sky system and other indirect lighting principles to light interiors (and exteriors). The tutorial starts with a solid explanation of linear workflow, which I have heard a lot of enigmatic references to but never had the courage to tackle. While the descriptions and demonstrations of linear lighting and gamma correction far from satisfied all my questions, I now feel like I have enough to go on and I will definitely try to use linear workflow on any future lighting projects. I am also curious to explore Gen's PMM Linear Lighting Buddy plugin.

The goal of this tutorial is to create a lighting setup that can be very easily modified for light at any time of day. As such, physical sun and sky figures prominently. Portal lights, final gather, and global illumination are all utilized to supplement the main lighting provided by PSS. I found the explanations of PSS and portal lights to be more detailed than FG or GI. FG and GI are often described more in many introduction to lighting tutorials.

After setting up the lighting system, the room is textured using mia_material_x and misss_fast_shader2_x exclusively. I found some of the shader connections to be quickly done and confusing, but they ended up being repeated several times, so it becomes clear what is being arranged. There are several good tips and tricks offered to both optimize render time during testing and also improve quality in the final render.

To summarize, this tutorial is not a lighting basics course. It assumes a good understanding of maya's interface and general lighting principles. The main purpose of the tutorial is to take lighting in mental ray to the next level of accuracy and realism. Explanations are well articulated, while leaving room for further study (much like a lecture can be supplemented with textbooks). The final render is rather pleasing, and it is easy to imagine applying very similar workflows to many kinds of projects. I'd highly recommend this tutorial for anyone wanting to explore linear lighting techniques and physically accurate setups.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Juggling Balls

Spent just a few hours experimenting with a few features in Maya I haven't used much. I like juggling, so I thought to render some juggling balls on a clean white background. Though they look like spheres, I used nCloth to give the balls just a tiny bit of sag and weight. I used image based lighting (IBL) which I'm not sure I'll use much in the future (seems too hard to control), and I added some depth of field (DOF) in PS using a zdepth render pass. DOF in post (PS) is faster than DOF in Maya, but I'd like to experiment more with both of those to see what kind of results they can give.

Maybe I'll call this the "Bad Sketch" Series: #5/1000