Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Four: Body Progress and Rendering Wizardry

  I have come to conclude that Four's adult form is almost complete. I might have sacrificed the time on the environment to make her work but I feel the sacrifice has some merit to it.

  I continued working on the textures and decided that because Four is fairly small (ish, perhaps the size of a large dog), her skin folds could be easily seen. I have had some setback as on the university PC I was using, the while PC would drop to five frames a second while extracting the occlusion map. What complicated doing it at home was the file couldn't be read, perhaps due to the way I had moved it while I packed up to leave. So I will try and get that first thing in the morning, as the ambient occlusion is crucial to giving something for the normal map to work on.

  The normal map itself came out a lot better after going over the Mudbox model using a stylus and a couple of sculpting layers to separate the detail. In particular what was improved were the folds in the neck and the hips, and the texture of the fins.

  Two of my favourite creatures from Potter spin-off film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were Frank the Thunderbird and the Occamy (the other features were each cool in their own ways). Watching the film I was particularly interested in their eyes. Scenes with Frank showed the way his eyes would twitch about while his pupils would adjust themselves to focus his vision and adapt to minute changes in the light, while the Occamy despite having enormous irises retained their curvature. Both creatures also have irises that occupy the near-entirety of the eyeball, something I tried with Colo Colo last year but because I didn't quite know how to pull off refraction the eye looked sliced off on the front.

Frank (left) and the Occamy (right) with the most prominent things in focus - their eyes. ((c) Warner Bros. Pictures).
  This got me inspired to add similar features to Four's eye. I discussed with Alan about a variable twitch to the pupil dilation that was ultimately discarded in favour of manual control as Four's eyes are small enough that extreme close-ups would be the only way to see micro-dilations. 

  The addition of curvature was quite straightforward and gives the eye more of a feel that it is a full orb, rather than being sliced off on the very front. Part of the eyeball cuts into the eyelid, which under normal circumstances would accentuate that the iris is flat. But using refraction the cornea appears to completely hide this little detail.

  Most importantly, the eye looks like a sphere again even if viewed in a way that would expose the flatness of the iris for all to see. In the days before I had been mentally questioning how to reflect the inside but refraction is so much less complex. They still need a texture to actually look like eyes and maybe a bit more gloss but that's a very quick job.


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