Monday, 28 February 2011

Maya Tutorials: Intro to Dynamic Tutorials Week*3

Here are the week 3 tutorials for Dynamics, this week we explored other tools which can create really interesting effects. Surely a lot of information to absorb.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Transcription: Erich Zann Full Body Modelling

Having some family coming over this weekend, my working schedule has been disturbed. But having fun and relaxation is also important.
So I took sometime to finish Erich Zann model and to experiment with Fur as Hair for the character.

Here is the fully modelled Erich Zann:

Erich Zann Full Model - Non Smooth  

 Erich Zann Full Model - Smooth 

For this model I just have to ask Alan how to go about creating wrinkles and how to get the buttons working. Already some questions for next Tuesday.

As mentioned before, I have experimented with fur to create hair. For this purpose I have done some Fur tutorials from last year. 

And then tried to replicate a good grey hair.

And then added on the head the experiment and it worked very well. Surely a step forward on my character modelling.

P.S: Phil, I have finished the survey. And I haven't forgotten the animatic, I will continue it, as soon as I have some quiet working time.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Transcription: Additional Voice Over

After receiving some feedback from Phil about the animatic, he mentioned that I should may get a voice over to describe what the narrator actually sees out of the window. So I emailed Robin Bowerman, asking If I could possibly have 1 extra line done.
He kindly replied after a few hours with 3 versions of the same narration, here they are:

Personally, I do like the 2nd version, as it really as a lot of emotion into the reading. Surprise and Fear.
What do you think ?

Lastly, I would like to thank again Robin Bowerman, for this extra favour.

Animation: Pinocchio Marionette Animation by Frank Thomas

A few days ago, I decided to relive my childhood by watching a Disney classic. It was Pinocchio, the wooden puppet. Knowing a bit more of animation nowadays, I  have watched it from a animators POV. And I can say I was fascinated by the animation in there.  in particular, this scene animated by the legendary animator Frank Thomas.

Frank Thomas animated Pinocchio in his first appearance as a wooden puppet which was alive, and I was amazed by the how he did this piece of animation. On the "Making of Pinocchio", he mentioned that he could  not use any real live action footage to aid him on the animation as it would be really difficult to find, so everything had to come from his head.  
I dont know how he did it but the movements, weight and material are so believable , making us think that he is really just a wooden marionette.  

A beautiful piece of animation I would like to share!

Transcription: Erich Zann Body Modelling

Lately, I have been juggling between starting to get things modelled and to finish my animatic, So I can advance confidently onto creating my animation.

So here is the body modelled for Erich Zann, based on the turnaround I have done for him. As always some things have to be readjust to the 3D world. Though demonstrating a more effective model.

For the curious people that already spotted that Erich Zann's coat is not finished. that area will be finish pretty soon but I have to ask Alan, as I want to create a cloth simulation for that section. A cloth Simulation that will feature two types of material, so the simulation doesn't get so jiggly.

Now onto the head.

Here is the progress:

Also I would like to thank Ethan (Aflockofpixels) for the hand topology of the character, this topology was used throughout our narrative project, and I can say it can bear more detail perfect for this character.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Transcription: Experimenting Gobo Lighting W/ Maya

Today,I took some time to explore the lighting in my animation, being one of the things that will give extra information and create the atmosphere of the scenes. I want to have a clear idea how to achieve the wished look.
Last week, Phil mentioned gobo lighting and how I could use lighting and shapes to create a good range of distorted shapes in the scene, called gobo lighting.

So after reading some tutorials, I found that it is a really easy process to do in the maya world, however a lot of tweaking is needed at later stages.

Firstly I started to create an image with some random shapes in photoshop. After I set up my scene in maya, with some dummy objects a plane an a spotlight and then on the colour node of the spotlight added the image, with this technique the light projected by the spotlight is based on the painting I did.

1st result: 
Gobo Lighting Technique 1- Add image onto Spotlight

Although I liked the first result, something that was visible was the lack of blurring on the edges of the shadow, so I thought of another technique.

The 2nd technique I have used was instead of adding an image onto the spotlight colour node, i have actually created a plane with the image and transparency so the light would go through just like in real life.

 Despite looking really similar I really like the effect So I tried even further by adding colour to the light. 

Here is the coloured version.

Although it looked slightly better the edges were still too crisp, i know I could play with the filters, to create a more blurred light. However after presenting this problem to Alan. 
He simply gave me the advice of using the same technique but them blur the image in photoshop. 
So without further ado, I experimented it and it works just fine. 

1- Point Light Rig                              2-Point Light Rig

What is good about this technique is that I can simply create a gradient colour for the light and have different tones. 
I can't wait to try with it, for now here is the coloured version with this technique.

Finally,  just a note for the comments by Phil. I have been reading the comments. and indeed I will put the next animatic as polished as possible as I have now a clearer idea what I have to have and what not. Hopefully, the next one will receive a green light. 
That is my mission for tomorrow! For now I carry on modelling the character!

Transcription: Using Print Making

Alongside my last experiment with the shadows, I did some other techniques in order to find some good shapes for the concept art but also the Gobo Lighting, which will create the mood in my animation. So I experiment with Print Making.

Firstly, I grabbed a lino panel, then began to cut distorted shapes on in, so it could be used as a surface for the print. Later I applied some paint and with the overall board covered in paint added an white paper on the top and pressed. Although I didn't have the right tools for the job, Im really pleased with the outcome.
Which I will be certainly use to create some really nice Gobo lighting patterns and textures.

Alongside with this smaller size print I have a high resolution came right from the scanner where I will be able to crop some of the shapes to create variety.

The Process:

Finally, I would like to thank to my girlfriend Ivana, for lending me one of her lino boards with the most amazing patterns carved on them.

Transcription: Shadow Projection Technique

In one of my early tutorials with Alan, he mentioned to find different and more spontaneous ways of creating concept designs mainly for my art direction. The process he mentioned then was to place some objects on a table, and then with a strong light define the shadow that it casts and therefore use it as silhouettes for concept art.

So I decided to get on with that process, first I placed a few objects on the table I began to draw their form based on their shadow.
I found this process really enjoyable, as it allowed me to find new and spontaneous shapes, without being too much mindful about them.

The Digital Versions: 

The Original Versions (because I really like the mark making on them) 

Shadow Projection Process

These exercise not only helped me to get a good idea of how I want my art direction to go from this time onwards, but also the outcome of this experiment will be used later to create the environments with the help of Gobo Lighting

Monday, 21 February 2011

Transcription: Size Comparison Chart

My characters are full resolved now and ready to go to the modelling stage, something I'm looking for to do. However, some other things have to be done meanwhile, such as resolving the animatic and the concept art for the environment. This tasks will be done simultaneously with modelling the tasks.

These characters only need to be painted but that i will do once again simultaneously with other task, just before texturing. 

For now, here is the Size Comparison Chart of the 2 characters the viol instrument. 

Now lets get on with the rest!!

Transcription: Characters Turnaround

With my characters resolved, I wanted to explore the in a 3D view, not only to understand them in different angles but also to use it when beginning modelling them. 

Erich Zann Turnaround

Young Man Turnaround

Alongside getting the front and side views of the character, I have also drew the turnarounds for Erich Zann's instrument, the viol.

Viol Turnaround

Transcription: Young Man Face Expressions

Having the final design done, I really wanted to explore the personality of the character. By creating a expressions sheet I wanted to see all the emotions which the character will have throughout the animation. Not only, these sheet will help me at late stages when creating the blend-shapes for the character, it is also a process really fun to do, in which for a few hours you are able to embody your character.

Transcription: Young Man Final Design & Silhouette

As I was happy with the final body design, I posed the character into a more relaxing pose just to see how the design would turn out. The pose also reflects the character a curious young man maybe carrying around all the time a sketchbook to write down things.

Alongside the design is the silhouette, just to see if the character is  recognisable or not.

Transcription: Young Man Body Development

After choosing the silhouette I was most content with, I began to develop it even further.
Being the character, a student at university impoverished by his life, I want to keep in mind the skinny factor. while Erich Zann's body is the ultimate skinny due is frenetic and stressful life, I wanted the young man to be skinny but to have more mass. 

Transcription: Young Man Character Silhouettes

With Erich Zann pretty much in its final design stage I wanted to bring the young man to the same level. Indeed. He had his face design however the body was in its initial stages. So I did the process used before, firstly began by sketching out in the Program Alchemy some body shapes silhouettes  which I thought it would belong to the character.

With no hesitation, I felt that the strongest silhouette was no. 4, So I began developing it a bit further!

More to come!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Transcription: Erich Zann Final Design & Silhouettes

With everything decided for Erich Zann Character I just want to create 2 poses for the character, firstly is when he is walking with his instrument. He is mentioned to be a really lean, small, bent person, so I thought of having the viol to be overpowering him, just like a  burden that he has to carry all the way to scare the strange things that come from his window. My idea is that not only he would be dragging such enormous piece but also, it would use it as a walking stick or at least to support his frail figure.
The second pose is when he is playing, once again I wanted the viol to overpower him, although being a genius, it is the viol who produces the music. I wanted the viol to be big however I didnt want to increase even more the size as it would begin to disconnect with the character.

And the silhouettes: 

The design of the viol, comes firstly from some collages I have done at the beginning of this project. I wanted it to be slightly irregular and curved, as it would  connect with Erich Zann's body shape and become one piece. 

Here are some more sketches to support the design of the viol, as well as other studies I have done when creating the final designs.

Transcription: Erich Zann Face Expressions

As soon as I redesigned Erich Zann's face, I really want to experiment with different expressions to see how extreme I could push it. So I began to draw a neutral face, skeptical and surprised then drew the negative expressions such as Mad, Angry, and Insane (dead) its final appearance , and then I tried an opposite emotion, Happy. 
I'm happy with the outcome, and I can see that I will be able pull really good expressions with this design. 

Transcription: Young Man New Face Design

After receiving some feedback from Alan on the previous design, I understood clearly what needed to be changed. In order of having the Young Man character and Erich Zann at the same style, I tweaked the face design of the young man. My intentions were to keep the logic of the character mentioned on the last post, the main points, such as ears and nose and then emphasise those shapes.

So I came up with this design:

The idea was to stylise the character but still keep it with a friendly face.

Transcription: Erich Zann New Face Design

After looking back at Erich Zann's character I felt it was still looking too realistic, so I decided to exaggerate the face, to create a more stylised character. I felt that the body and the face weren't connecting so I made some last minute changes in its design.

My idea was to create an even frailer character. and even more irregular.

More to come !

Friday, 18 February 2011

Transcription: The Music of Erich Zann 2nd Draft Animatic

So after sorting out the audio, i went on the tried to recreate a new animatic, with Phil's advice, I attempted to look at the story in a different way and create a animatic which basically will focus on the objective of the story and not all the elements and stages within it.

I think I'm going in a better way now, though It may still need some changes.

Transcription: Final Professional Voice Over Choice

Today, I had a really helpful talk with Phil regarding my animatic. In the meeting we discussed things that needed changing and what to do next. So firstly I want to get the final voice over version chosen so I can apply the right timing and mood to the animatic. Then I began to recreate the animatic with some ideas that Phil gave me.

This will be posted soon. For now here is the chosen voice over version.

Along the way some of the voice over may not be used or slightly modified according to the animatic.
And Phil it was indeed helpful, I have been trying to approach the animatic slightly different, i will post it asap.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Transcription: The Music of Erich Zann- Professional Voice Over

After a few days of searching for a good voice to my narration part in the animation, I finally found it, by using the website,  After my email to voice artist Robin Bowerman, he kindly did 3 variations of the reading in different tones and voices. I was so happy with the outcome that I kept listened in loop while creating my Young man/Narrator design.

It clearly will set the mood and pacing for my animation.

and thank you Robin Bowerman.

You can find his website on here.

Transcription: Young Man Face Development

With already some ideas floating in my head of how the character would possibly look, I began developing him. With fairly good designs that came out of the Alchemy test, I decided to mix the strengths of each design together and generate the final one.

The young man is a friendly, young and curious chap, who happens to be studying at university. My idea was to create a character that is quite easy going and friendly, being curious and slightly adventurous.
The main points for the character are the ears and nose, to emphasise curiosity and being nosy.


Transcription: Young Man Initial Silhouette Study

The Design for Erich Zann Character is pretty much resolved now just have to create the final one quickly create some face expressions to aid me to create the blend-shapes. So before it gets finished I wanted to bring the young man character to the same stage. 
Firstly, I began by creating a couple of silhouettes in one of my new favourite tools Alchemy, and then began to sculpt the inside. I love this method of approaching character design as it gives you freedom to go any way you want without even thinking about some rules of character design, but the most rewarding thing is the happy accidents that happen along the way, which can generate ideas for the final design. 

For this character y aim was to create a rather friendly and more generic guy, nothing over the top like the old Erich Zann, however he also has the main points of interest.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Transcription: Erich Zann Character Design Development

So while I am getting animatic sorted I have took some time to begin developing my characters, Erich Zann was the one on the list. 
With previous aid from either Collage or Alchemy silhouettes, I began to explore the character. My main aim with the designs I have been doing is to trick the audience slightly, so for instance, according to the book, Erich Zann is a bent, small, lean person, with blue eyes and satyr -like face. 
My designs despite following that description, I took some artistic licence by emphasising the fragility of the character, for instance, by making frailer, will surprise the audience when the old man gathers strength to play the music he does. 
The main point on this characters are the ears, hands and maybe nose. Firstly, ears and hands because he deals with his insane music that himself plays, and secondly the nose, to emphasise the oldness of the character. 

Here are the the face and body development of the character :

Left is to dress up the character and create the final design in a different pose. Also create some face expressions to aid me when creating them in 3D

Transcription: Young Man Prop Research

The previous post was related to Erich Zann's props, in contrast this one will be my research into the young man props. The character is a friendly, yet disturbed chap, which not much information is said about apart from being a student at University. Being the story set in 1920's, I have researched the fashion of young people back then, My vision for his design is to wear a waistcoat, trousers and maybe glasses.

So here is an influence map with the pictures I found interesting:

Transcription: Erich Zann Prop Research

Before I finish my character design for Erich Zann, I wanted to get a clear idea of the props he will have, being a viol- player, he will need the instrument, the viol, but also the clothing, for instance, his personality is of a lonely, old and sad character. I thought instead of using clothes of the right period,1920's, to try earlier fashions, for instance, he will be wearing 1900's fashion, not only they belong to a completely different style, they look more elaborate, and delicate. This choice also accentuates the age between the old Erich Zann and the young man. 

As the artist Iain Mccaig said in one of his Gnomon Workshop lectures, the best way to do research his by drawing the pictures you looked at. So following is a quick study of some hats and of bony or skinny hands, one of the main points of interest in my character.