Friday, 15 May 2009

Rigging Dorothy

I dont really have any experience with chracter rigging, so i saw this as a way to push myself to learn it properly. Which is the case for all the other parts of making this character.

I know its kind of cheating, but for this ive used tutorial videos on how to set up a proper character rig. I decided to follow every step of it even though i probably wont need all the joints and handles etc. But i figured at least ill know how to make a proper rig.
This rig is more than we need, and its complexity has presented me with various problems that i am having a hard time fixing.

First of all, when i try to bind the mesh to the rig, it flips out and the bodyparts doesnt stick to the rig. Well some of them do, but other parts just sort of fly off. And this is a big problem for me as i am running out of time. This weekend was supposed to be when we made a proper test of everything that has to come together in post production. And with only 3 weeks left, we really need to get some clips processed and put into the post production machine called Jackson.

Anyway, back to the rig.
The purpose was, like i said, for me to learn how to make character rigs. I definately got the basics memorized. But there are alot of different constraints between objects, joint etc. and it is just impossible to remember all of them.
But if i can't figure out my problem by the end of the night, i am going to have to spend yet another day on this character just to get the rig right. Or maybe ill just build a new, simpler one...

I actually managed to rig the head up perfectly. I can control the jaw and eyes. And ive even created blendshapes for the face. Sublte expressions that might come in handy.
We probably wont need all the rigging for the face, (like the jaw opening and being able to rotate in z and y(?!)) but it was way easier than the rest of the body and didnt take very long.
And its better to be safe than sorry anyway!

Despite the errors and the exhaustingly long time this process takes, i really am glad i know so much more now.
And after a few adjustments (or even a totally new rig) i will be ready to start the most fun part of this project... the animating!

Texturing Dorothy

I started the UV-layout process without further knowledge of it than what Georg taught us in class.
And from what i remembered "you take a picture of every single polygon, lay it out on a 2d plane, mix em around, attach, cut'em, sew'em to make them fit a checkered color pattern and then export the whole shebang as a picture which you can then make into whatever you want".
And it was actually that easy. Taking "pictures" off all the polygons was the most boring part, but even that didnt actull tae too long.
I never did a proper UV-layout before and im very pleased with the outcome.

I did the head first, since i figured it would be the bodypart that needed the best texture. I really dont know much about make-up, but several subtle details makes a better overall texture.
Rosy cheeks, a little bit of red on the lips, shaded eyelids and freckles were easy to make and i think they really made her a more believeable character.
I had hundreds of ideas for the textures, but like i said, we didnt want to focus too much on how she looked.

By looking at reference pictures from the timeperiod, it seemed that the "dresses" the women wore in the workplace were really ugly and boring, but single colored, which made it easier for me.
I felt i had to add something to the outfit to make it just a tad more interesting. Hence the buttons and collar. And i colored the details of the jacket darker.
But it still looked very boring, so i added subtle stains which are mostly faded out. And a tear in the bottom hem using transparency layers.

I think the dress looked really nice now and even though it is basically just a cylinder with two cylinder coming out the sides, all those little things i added now makes it look more exciting and characteristic.

Modeling Dorothy

I started bulding a basic shape of a girl body in a way that if anyone in the group wanted to change anything around, that would still be possible.
Then, after reading and watching several tutorials on how to model a human head, i started on that too. I had never tried it before.

She turned out pretty nice. Big eyes, small ears... a little bit too usual cartoon style if you ask me, but at this point we needed to make up our minds so that i could start the texturing, rigging etc.

At first, she looked adult and kind of sexy. But since we agreed not to have her look like that, i had to tone down some things and make her head bigger. And i also increased the size of the feet to make her look "goofier".

Now, with all the shapes roughly like we want them, i needed to start the UV-layout process. I was not looking forward to it, since i know it is a long and boring process.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Dorothy- Character development

Like i said, Nick and i are responsible for the 3d elements of our project. And we divided them equally between us.
Basically, we have two main 3d characters (The old Dorothy and young Dorothy). And we figured we´d just make one each. Everything from design to finished rig, and then we can all help with the animating.

The Character Design

We were going a bit back and forth about what to make the Dorothys look like. And we settled on the idea of having the old, storytelling one more realistic looking, and the memory version of her, a bit more like a cartoon character.
Because the story revolves around her memory, We wanted to put more focus on the young Dorothy.
We thought a good way to symbolize this would be to have the interview part straight forward without much cameramovement, with an interviewer facing Dorothy, with most of her surroundings literally out of focus and best of all, that you never actually see her eyes to take away some of her personality (we also saw this as a good way to save time modeling, rigging etc).

Young Dorothy

I had some problems trying to figure out the specifics of young Dorothys look, clothes, style, accessories etc...
The only criteria i had in mind was to not make it look like something straight out of a pixar or dreamworks feature.
Oh, and we were thinking about it but decided to stay clear of making her "smokin hot" as we didnt want to direct too much attention at HER, but rather at what she does.
So we started scetching out some ideas.

She was 16 at the time, so we didnt want to make her look TOO cartoony. She needed a little bit of normal proportion to her physique. But we figured her head could still be big and cute.
And a simple ponytail to mininmize animation and rigging never hurts either. But it also works well with the theory that the women in the actual workplace would probably have to put their hair up whilst working.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Hayle project

We are a couple of weeks into production, but as i finally have some time to breathe, i figured i´d put down what we have so far.

In my group is Jackson, Rory, Nick and myself. We work really well together.
We split the group in two. Nick and I are doing all the 3d work, and Jackson and Rory are making all the 2d work. Jackson is appointed producer, and Nick director, but we all have our say.
We are gonna make everything except the characters in 2d.

The characters are:

Old Dorothy (present time. Telling the story)
The interviewer (present time. Functions as the interviewer, though insignificant to the story)
Young Dorothy (retrospect. Acting out the actual happenings of the story)

We chose a story about a woman named Dorothy Cook´s accident at her workplace many years ago. We chose this particular one because it, in contradition to the other stories, doesn´t give a lot of specific descriptions of the surroundings. Which gives us the magnificent opportunity to make our own:)
And the story has mystical elements to it, that honsetly doesent make sense. And are quite unrealistic. We found that intriguing.

After watching a lot of different styles we decided to go for a STEAM-PUNK inspired look. Mostly concerning the city. We figured a dirty, complex town of steam, industry and tons of detail, would be a goood contrast to the rest of our story. And it gives the "2d department" of our group a good chance to show their skill.

In the actual story Dorothy tells, she falls on a steam pipe and goes unconcious for six days(!!!).
You cant help but ask: what might have been going on in her head all that time?
Which presents us to another, and even better opportunity of creative expression; to show what happened (maybe only in her head) during those six days.

We are basically going to make the dream state a scary-confusing-warping-wierd-thumping-colorful place. And the STEAM-PUNK machines working around her, we are going to sync up with music that sounds like machines and that gradually increases speed intensity etc.
Jackson is good with music and sound effects, so he wanted to take care of that part. Which i think is wonderful, since i have a LOT of work to do on the 3d models.

Speaking of which, i gotta get to it again and i will post what i have so far in a bit.