Crates, Pots, Knights, Cat Furniture... 3D Gumbo!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Though this is mostly a blog for my sketches, I figure it can't hurt to occasionally show some of my 3D works in progress - stuff that isn't polished enough to go into the ol' portfolio or can't/won't go in for various reasons.

Here's a little project I whipped out real quick after a rather lengthy hiatus from 3DS Max and Zbrush. It never takes me very long to pick it back up, mostly it's a matter of reminding my brain of all the hotkeys (and stopping myself from using hotkey combinations from other programs, heh!)

Anyhoo, it's a Sung (or Song, depending on who you talk to) Dynasty vase.

Low Poly
High Poly
Low Poly with Normal Map

The low poly with normal map also has a specular map on - thus the ceramic shininess. My low poly model was originally about half the polys as the final version, but I found the normal map didn't project very convincingly on such a low-poly model.

Next up is a crate I modeled based on some concept art by Paul Richards for Quake 4.

Low Poly

High Poly

Low Poly with Normal Map

Here's some fun I had with Zbrush a while back. At the time I started playing around, I was thinking about how wonderfully silly the whole rhinoceros-man concept used for Rocksteady in TMNT was. As a result, I sculpted a ridiculous looking rhinoceros-man.

Below is a quick low-poly build of the character Knight in Scott C.'s Double Fine Action Comics. I mainly built him because I thought it would be a fun exercise to take a very flat, 2D-design-oriented character and translate him into a 3D character. I'll probably give him a high poly polish, create texture maps, and build an animation rig for him in the future, just for kicks.

Sometimes, I like to use 3D software as a tool to build virtual mock-ups of objects I'd like to build in the real world. Last summer, I built a solar still, a contraption that uses evaporation to help remove impurities from water, then collects the cleaned water in some sort of container. After making construction drawings, I used 3DS Max to make sure my building plans physically worked. Once I had built the still in 3D and adjusted the size, angle, etc. of pieces, I broke the model into its separate parts and used the grid in the orthographic views to record the measurements of the pieces. Max has the ability to change the units in your file to various real-world units much as meters and feet - it's quite handy!

The solar still I made from wood and glass really worked! Unfortunately, there's no piece of land on the property I live on that gets the full day's sunlight, so the solar still only got a few hours of direct sunlight a day, making the output smaller than what I'd hoped. I learned a lot about cutting wood and handling power tools, though, so it wasn't a total loss!

More recently, I've been attempting to design a cat tower that I will ultimately construct in the real world. Of the cat trees and towers I see, most of them have a stability or logistics issue (or both!) Some of them just aren't very steady, or are structured in such a way that travel between one section to another would be very difficult or impossible for a cat to pull off. In addition to that, some cat furniture is just flat-out unpleasant to look at. If you're going to put a sizable structure in your home, it ought to at least be aesthetically pleasing.

Anyhoo, I'm using 3DS Max to swiftly make mockups of cat towers. I started out by building a bunch of "elements," basic forms you often see in cat towers: condo boxes, tunnels, towers, beds, ramps, and so on.

The first few towers I built were based on towers I'd seen before, only with adjustments made to fix stability or access issues. They turned out okay, but not great.

So after that, I decided to make the ideas from scratch, trusting my brain to absorb all the images of cat towers I'd seen and regurgitate them in some new way.

But they were too boxy! BLEGH!

Fortunately, it wasn't long after that I started getting designs that were approaching "acceptable."

I'll continue to make more designs until I find one I'm absolutely happy with... or I run out of time because a cat has come into my possession, hehehe.

A Long Overdue Update

Friday, September 2, 2011

 Yes, I am still alive!  And I'm still drawing!  As usual, things have been pretty busy over here.  If I'm not doing freelance work, I'm MAKING work for myself to do, because my brain just can't abide being idle (to quote Monk, "It's a gift... and a curse.")

I've taken another rather lengthy hiatus from my graphic novel project (sigh), but have been getting back into the swing of things recently.  Here are the thumbnails for scene 03 of Overtures, for which I generated the final pages months ago:

And here are the thumbnails for scene 04, which I am currently working on.

A few of the pages are still need some help with the compositions and what not.  I'll be sure to work on the problematic page thumbnails before I move on to creating the final pages for them.

Here are some random odds and ends: sketches, in-progress personal projects, tidbits from contract work. 

Below is an assignment for my Web Animation class that I had a lot of fun with!  Everyone had to find a clip from an animated (2D) TV show or film and replicate it in Toonboom Animate Pro using tradigital techniques.  This was my first project in the program and I absolutely LOVE it!  It has its quirks, like any other program on the planet, but man it's great to work with.

The paintbrush in Animate Pro alone brings tears of joy to my eyes.  If I can figure out a way to export the vector information of a single frame as a .esp or other universal vector file format, I am totally going to start using Animate Pro to ink Overtures.

I also have a group project in the aforementioned class, and we're creating an animated short.  Our short is about a unfortunate snake who finds himself dealing with an amateur snake charmer playing a kazoo.  Myself and m'colleague, Kevin O'Flaherty, have been working on storyboards and such.  Here are some thumbnail storyboards I did, followed by some refined boards for the second half of the short.  We're still tweaking the timing and shots, but at this point it's down to the details.

And I'd say that does it for this update!  Maybe next time I'll have those explanations of what I learned while doing the Ed Edd n Eddy master copies, hur hur hur.

The Struggle Continues

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here are a few more Ed Edd n Eddy master copies I did today.  I know last post I said I'd post about some of the things I've learned, and I will; I just have to find the time to illustrate and explain the concepts.

Reference images:


You can actually see some of the under-drawing now, yay!

Funny enough, I had to redraw the bottom pose 3-4 times because I kept over-exaggerating (even this version ended up over-stretched!).  I have a tendency to make Double-D longer/taller than he actually is, so that didn't help.  I really should have considered studying the characters and their proportions before starting the master copies, haha.  Ah, well.

I'm slowly picking things up, but I've still got a while to go before I'll be able to whip these out without a reference.  Perseverance!

"Ed, Edd n Eddy" Kicks My Butt

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Over the past couple of months, I've been getting reacquainted with a show that - for some unknown reason - I stopped watching YEARS ago: Ed, Edd n Eddy. I gotta be honest, I have no idea why I stopped watching it, because it is an excellent show. It has all the sorts of things I love to see in animation... like... you know... the characters actually being ANIMATED! None of that poopy stuff you see so much of today that looks like paper dolls being moved around, no sir!

Anyway, I've been trying to make it a regular habit of doing "master copies" from screen captures of old cartoons, to try to learn the ways of an awesome animator/cartoonist. I usually copy old Warner Bros cartoons, but decided I'd try something a bit more challenging this time.

Now, I'm definitely not saying that EEnE is superior to old WB, but I've found that its style is MUCH more difficult to replicate.  The heads in EEnE don't always follow the basic sphere and pear volumes that dominate much of WB's character design - not in a way obvious to me, anyhow. So, it's a bit of a challenge, trying to figure out what makes the style tick, and what the logic is behind the drawings.

By and large, EEnE seems to be pure gesture, which I dig, though sometimes it means the volume drops out of the drawings (not so cool).

My selection of reference images comes from "Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show."

Annnnd... Here are the master copies I did.

They're far from perfect copies; I've noticed that Edd's hands aren't pushed back enough in the last picture, and I completely goofed up the third image, for example.  But to be honest, I toned down things a lot less than I thought I was going to, so... yay?

The real struggle here was to avoid my subconsciousness' desire to just start copying the lines rather than deconstruct the foundations of the drawings.  I started each one trying to figure out the under-drawing for the character(s), then putting it down before starting on final lines.  Unfortunately, my scanner tends to eat lighter lines, so you can't really see my roughs here (note to self: adjust Levels on scanner) - but I swear I had under-drawings for all of these, haha.  I still haven't quite figured out a system/technique for the... rawness of EEnE, but I'll get there eventually.  In the meantime, I'm learning some cartooning-related things that I've somehow missed up until now.  I'll share some of those things in my next post.

'Til then, ciao!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So, a few days back, I created quick sketch/paint on a whim:

The concept actually came to me a few months ago, when I had the foresight to draw a quick thumbnail of it:

Written around this thumbnail were a couple of hand-written notes about how to improve the composition and such.  Even so, the composition of the paint-sketch I did a few days ago also needs improvements before I can continue on to the final painting.

Welcome to Tangent Central Station!  

Untangling this mess is going to be a bit of an effort.  The zombie slug in the foreground is something I felt needed to be there in order to create some depth, but it causes a number of problems, namely: overlapping Mr. & Ms. Slug is likely to result in a tangent no matter where I put it, but that overlap helps to create the depth I was looking for; I worry that overlapping Mr. & Ms. Slug too much will cut them off from the bottom of the canvas, causing them to appear to be "floating" in the composition, rather than anchored to an unseen ground plane.  Some other places of concern are the top edge of the middle-ground zombie slug's body as it passes behind Mr. & Ms. Slug, and Ms. Slug's elbow protruding in front of Mr. Slug's armpit.  Both of these can be solved by some repositioning; heck, maybe changing those will alleviate the problems coming from the foreground slug.

Currently, the middle-ground zombie slug is pulling too much attention in the composition.  I think this may be due to two things: one, I inadvertently gave him more detail than the other zombie slugs; two, he has more "levels" of lighting than the other zombie slugs.  Together, this gives him more visual information than the other slugs, drawing the attention away from the high-contrast areas I had originally intended as areas of focus.  I think toning down the lights on him alone will help significantly.

Mr. & Ms. Slug's heads are possibly too simplified.  Their heads just don't say "slug" to me.  They need more fat to them, more mass.  I think having a bit of a bulge at the necklines would be a plus.  The "lip" also needs to be better defined:

This area is too cramped.  There needs to be more space between the end of the gun and the attacking zombie slug

Mr. Slug's arm is seriously awkward.  It has a terrible silhouette.  I plan to have some friends pose for me so I can get the anatomy and clothing folds right in the final version; with any luck, the reference will also give me better ideas on what to do with Mr. Slug's arm.

The folds on this sleeve way too evenly spaced.  Having photo/life reference will help here.

Probably wouldn't hurt to have more space between the U and the G for readability purposes.

Some final small notes... I need to bounce around the red that's on the zombie slugs' antennae.  I'm thinking maybe a bit of blood on Mr. or Ms. Slug.  There will be some faint red coloration on the background zombie slugs in the final, though, so that might be enough -- something to test before starting the final.  The other small note would be to improve the grouping on the background zombie slugs.  They serve the composition fairly well as they are, but the grouping could definitely be better.

This probably won't be the last people-with-bug-heads piece I do.  Sitting next to the Attack of the Zombie Slugs thumbnail is...

Mantis and Slug Miss Take-Off

Any additional critiques are, of course, very welcome.