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.