So I started working on the environment and the pickup. I chose to build a 1939 Ford in honor of my Dad since he was born in that year and he likes Ford pickups. He actually likes the style of the 50s Chevy, but I stuck with the Ford since he likes Ford now. :)
BingBing is actually in the ship with his hand on the joystick. I'm trying to work out the storyboards and will be finishing up the models next. I plan on "wonking" the shapes a bit.
I'm finally getting around to doing my little alien bingBing. Recently, I was playing around with my daughter and I introduced her to my little alien friend that I've had in my head for many years. He's actually based on a character from a made for TV movie I saw about a little alien trick or treating with a bunch of other creatures and kids. It wasn't animated, and I can't remember the name of the movie. I only saw him once, but he was the inspiration for my version of him. So I did a quick sketch of him.
A few years ago, I wanted to build a classic flying saucer - in 3D of course - and make up a story to go along with it. I had a short story idea for an alien "family". The story would include a young alien getting into mischief or left behind. He would chase dogs and burglars.
I did an early test of the mother ship, the parent alien, and the small classic saucer for the little guy. After a few efforts, I ended up with the first pass and then some. I had more ideas for more little aliens that I might share later.
I never got around to the new final version that you see in this concept until recently. As I mentioned earlier, I was explaining bingBing to my daughter and acted out his personality for her - she ended up recording it and showing it to her friends! Now I had to replace that "vision" with the actual thing that was stuck in my head. So here is the latest bingBing:
I finished modeling the mouse - at last! Even before I had a final mouse model, I was playing around with fur settings. Lightwave's FiberFX (fur) is not friendly. It's very quirky and buggy! I tried so many tests - sometimes it sort of worked and sometimes not. A funny thing happened to one test. I modeled the mouse out of scale without realizing it - I usually model to scale. So when I shrunk my mouse down to the right size - about 6 inches - I didn't adjust the fur settings - Hah!
After more attempts, I gave up on it. I'm not even going to show these tests! In the end, I was going to settle for a velvet type fur effect. It works. Its basic and stylized, and sometimes less is more. I really wanted some more depth to it, so I began searching the internet for a velvet shader. I only found one basic one for the Mac version of Lightwave, and one excellent one for the PC. It was an older shader. The mac version was for a PowerPC mac because it did not work in OS X ! It was updated in 2007. Bummer. Since I did not have Windows on my mac yet, I was going to settle for the basic shader.
I found new hope the last couple days. I was watching the new DVD release, "Despicable Me" this weekend with my family. Cute movie. Loved it! There was this nasty little dog in it that was a great little design. I liked the way his fur was fuzzy and long and splotchy in some areas. I realized I could do something similar for my mouse.
I thought I could make better alpha masks than my first attempts - using alpha masks to control the amount/length/etc. of the hair. I made these in photoshop from a basic side view. Also, I wanted to use ZBrush to paint the skin of my mouse. This was more of an effort, but after some trials, I think I have enough to get by. This render is just an early test. The model in the render is a day old - I have detailed the feet and hands and started the new improved versions of the skin texture and alphas for the hair.
So I am doing a sequel to the Georgie and the Robbers Story (by Robert Bright). I'm not going to make any money off it, and its a tribute to Georgie, so I hope its OK.
Alright, I won't make it a sequel, but it can stand on its own and maybe the ghost will be named Gus. There.
The first scene starts with an evening shot on an old country road. In the foreground is a mouse. I started out by referencing the small secondary characters in the story. A mouse, an owl, and a rabbit, and I might ad a crow. So I looked to the Georgie book for inspiration. Not great, so then I googled mouse cartoon. There were so many styles. I ended going back to Georgie and the Robbers:
Next stage was modeling. This was going to befun! I had trouble with the legs. I didn't finish the arms yet. I started thinking that I should model him on all fours. Here is my progress:
So I finally got around to building my Moon in Zbrush. It all started in Lightwave 3D first. It was just a simple sphere that I exported as an OBJ model. Once in ZBrush, I loaded it and tried to add Moon dimples with displacement effects - but I forgot the steps for this kind of thing. What threw me off the most was how different the Mac version of ZBrush 3.12 was compared to the version that I learned last summer - on the PC!
I wanted to keep the flow going, and not stop and read how to do it. I ended up using a preset ZBrush Sphere! Sometimes we can make things so complicated. I had what I wanted about 15 minutes later - just the mesh. This is where things got more interesting. . .
Painting the Moon surface was pretty straight forward. I clicked on a few buttons, got prompted with some helpful tips from ZBrush and finally activated the painting tool. Somewhere between painting and exporting, I managed to assign and re-assign UVs! I didn't want to repaint the mesh on the new UVs. I figured I would mess with it in Lightwave.
I was having trouble matching my new texture to the Moon UVs. It was off - way off! I remembered that I had to flip it, but I flipped it all over the place. In Photoshop, I flipped it vertically, horizontally, rotated 90 cw, 180 cw - I had at least 4 or 5 versions saved! I think I made/initiated UVs twice. I couldn't figure it out. I ended up not using the UVs and I did a simple "old school" spherical projection in Lightwave. I added a reference null so I could rotate the texture and position it in real-time. It worked - finally!
So I placed it in the scene. The textureeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee was too pixelated. I should have exported the texture as a 2048 x 2048 map. Next, I will show some of the problems I had with the image in Photoshop and how I fixed it. (oops, time to go to sleep) Goodnight.
ZBrush that is. Seems like there is never enough time.
My friend Gaurav Mathur came up with the idea to learn some 3D apps together. The apps were Modo or ZBrush. We chose ZBrush. We would help each other with tips and techniques from our own projects. What a great idea!
My first attempt will be to model a 3D Moon - a classic cheese moon. (As we all know, the moon is made of cheese.) It's a re-visit - again - from my little ghost project found here.
I never finished it, so I wanted to finish the roof and possibly add more detail to the house. I also wanted to redo the lighting and make the moon more interesting. Here is a render of the lighting changes:
I've already updated the roof, and the next step is to tackle the moon. . .
So, I decided to change up the color of the lights. I also took Marissa's input and put in a round window. The ghost can fly, but more changes might be needed. I started painting textures with my new wacom intuos 3 tablet. There is soo much to do!
So I redesigned the ghost - again. I wanted him to have hands. They would appear from under his ghostly garments. I was having trouble with way the "sheet" was flowing. The ClothFX in Lightwave were limited and worked good enough for some things, but not my ghost design. So I scrapped it - sort of. I kept the head.
He kinda looks like he's not really into it with this simple pose. I rigged a simple bone rig for now, and I might need to add more detail for more control.
Here is a test of him in his environment, flying around.
So the ghost is coming along. I still need to work on the surfacing, but I'm close to my original idea. The ghost is in this position - I call it the DaVinci pose - to prepare for rigging. I will be setting a simple bone rig on him.
So as the house is being created, I like to do render tests to make sure its going in the right direction. I'm using a directional light for the moon. The camera is a real camera. The "lens" distorts the rendered image and there is some slight darkening in the corners. It gives the rendering a subtle realistic effect.
I finally got around to designing the ghost. Its like a cross between Casper/old-school and Squidward from SpongeBob. It sounds weird, but I think its close. I did some tests with cloth FX and got some decent results. I'm still playing with the surfacing.
Yes, that's right. I'm starting a new animated short for a new contest. I just found out about it last Friday. I have my story now. Its about 90% done. At first, I wanted to save some time and steal my scene from last year. But I changed my mind.
This is a new original story that I fleshed out between me and my wife Stephanie and daughter Marissa and a friend from work, Kelly. I'm pretty happy with it. I will probably ask for some feedback from some of you to. I came up with a title, but I want to wait til later - it might spoil it.
The contest is put on by ALICE radio. I figured, "What the heck?"
So, I decided to create original art - mostly because of copyright concerns about my project from last year. I like that ghost too much to let go. Even if it's just for promotional purposes. I need to ask the radio station the details about them having rights to this new project.
So I was so excited about the whole thing, that I even did an internet search on some scary music loops that I want to use in my short.
Here's some teaser shots about the work in progress. The first image above is the latest render. I used the lighting and sky as my starting point to save some time. The newest tools in Lightwave 3D are better than last year. I might try and simplify the textures and maybe stylize it some. The image below is blocked out- I found some old houses on the internet to get this one. In the last image, I am starting the final construction on the shape. I am creating patches to model the house. By doing so, I can have my walls curve and I can exaggerate the form a little:
I originally started this project with Marissa in June 2008. We entered a local contest called "The 48 Hour Film Festival". Marissa wrote the story and recorded the narration. She did a great job. My part was to create our story in 3D. Even though I made a HUGE effort in creating the models, I did not have time to render out the animation - even if I wanted to. Nor did I finish the models. I don't know what I was thinking. We even picked out the music!
So I thought about showing it at the following film festival a couple months later. But I didn't make that one too. So we thought about making it for 2009. But I missed the contest entirely! I didn't hear about the contest until a week after the deadline. Bummer. So - over a year later, I thought I should get back on it and just finish it!
Here are a couple shots from that first attempt: (above picture and below)
So now, Marissa is a year older and so is our story. :(
But there's hope! SO I finally got around to it again. Here are some new pics of the project.
This is a shot of the modeling process. I used many reference photos and took many measurements at the site - which I forgot to mention was the Benicia Public Library.
And this last test shot. I remodeled the fountain this year and finished most of the landscape - except for the plants. Remember, I have to model everything! I actually did not model the cool looking tree. I downloaded it from Turbo Squid.
Don't you hate it when you lack motivation and need some inspiration to do something creative?
I hope to get back on two of my projects again soon. I'm collaborating with my daughter Marissa. She's twelve, and is very creative. The project names are "The Fountain" and "Creepy". We started them last year.
I hope to post some images soon.
In the meantime, I'm learning Modo now! Finally! So go to work!
So I decided to enter the contest. Its a simple piece, but it captures the basic mood. I love Halloween and the creative ideas that seem to come alive around this time of year - especially the stuff made for children. I have good memories of Charlie Brown, Georgie the Ghost, and some of the styles of childrens book illustrations from growing up in the 60s and 70s. That pretty much sums it up.
So here is the concept. Expect to see the progress over the next couple weeks as I make it into 3D art.
There is a new Halloween 2008 Contest at www.spinquad.com. Anyone going to enter this contest? I might. Any ideas for a short or a picture that tells a story? I wish I could finish my little story (above) from last year's entry. I didn't win, but it was fun!