Friday, 24 February 2017

Four: Finer connections.

With some planning, Four has a slightly nicer eye, something that is a little less human

  I may go a little larger with the iris but at present the iris' coverage is quite solid, leaving only a small amount of white. The eye could be signed off.

  Four's boy also needed some simplification. Going over I removed controls that could be covered by a spline IK, which bend the joints along a curve tied to control joints.

  The eyes are rigged and controls are set, the eyelids are connected and the membranes are set as well. So the priority for the weekend is to link up the last nodes, the digits on the and and feet and the fins, tying the controls for the tendrils on the head, then limiting everything so the pose corrections don't break.

In hindsight, this was a more important model, as it will be present for much of the second half of the animation.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Four: Juvenile Almost Complete

  Four's juvenile form is nearing its end. The last deformers have been modeled, the controls are in place, most of them are rigged up to their respective joints and the deformers have all been connected.

  What remains are the finer controls - the channels for the digits, same for the fins and jaw, and the replacement of the eyes with a better model and texture.

  I feel optimistic that I can sculpt out a base grub form and set up UVs and bones by Sunday.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Four: Improving Her Eyes

  Speaking to Alan today I took a minor detour on rigging Four to work on her eye. I want ot try something less human-looking so to start with I experimented with a few eye forms. Currently I like 2 and 6, Speaking with Phil and asking Alan for help in how to install one, I also implemented the idea of a nictitating membrane. A third eyelid that some animals possess to protect their eyes. In Four's case, it would be used to allow her to see while swimming in water.

  A texture still needs to be applied but the mechanics for the membrane currently work.

I plan to rework the geometry of the eye at some point but at the moment that is a secondary priority to finishing off the skinning process, which is almost halfway done.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Four: Weighting the Skin and Facial Deformers

  I set myself a deadline for about the end of this week where my primary assets would be completed. So much of today was centred around binding the skin to the body and hopefulyl signing off and starting on the grub before the month is out.

  I tried a technique for blending the weights where the skin is flexible, such as on the webbing, to make it flow more organically between the toes. For the most part it appears to work, the skin blends and moves more smoothly than on the adult model (which may need revisiting at some point).

  Also in need of creation were some of the key blends for the face. In addition to the setups I created for the first model, I added a set of deformers for the cheeks, to allow Four to visible puff and huff. These deformers are set slightly inside the mouth so that when she motions, the interior of her mouth will hopefully move with the exterior.

  One problem I had previously rigging the eyelids was that when rotating, the control joints would move slightly in a direction that I didn't need them to. To alleviate this I considered an alternative method, where an EP curve would be constructed to find the midpoint.

  Stretching between the corners of the eyes, the EP curve was rebuilt with two segments, a cluster deformer was created so that a locator could be snapped to the middle, which was then moved slightly up and down depending on whether the lid was for the top or bottom. Then the joints were attached.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Four: Skinning and MILA Shaders

I can sign off on the shader for the skin, save for the texture map which needs a bit of variance to it.  Working properly, the shader gives a lovely translucency to her fins and the webbing between her hands and feet. From the success I had, I moved on to  trying the mila shader on other textures, There is some on the claws, teeth and on the eyeball, which appears to have removed the rather distracting shadow that kept haunting my previous renders. 

TO get a more solid shine on the eye, I swapped the blinn for an anistropic shader, which while not as glossy as the blinn, giving only a spot so far, does give a cleaner life-giving glint. More could be done, as this is a start for now.

As can be seen by this render, The next task I performed was weighting her model to her skeleton. Starting with blocking out the weights, a second pass will smooth out the differences, then pose space corrections will correct the deformation that can't be as easily managed with weights.

Four: Skin Improvements

With some discussion from Alan, work progressed today on making Four's skin look more skin-like.

I went back to using a MILA shader to make use of the subsurface mechanics, suggested that for best results in terms of light scattering, i needed to mock the consistency of wax.

With that done, highlights were needed. Using the specular map I had designed for previous shadings, I installed gloss and specular layers to the model. The gloss provided a highlight while the specular provided a tinge.

  With the subsurface working properly, she is looking considerably more lifelike than before. Her skin looks more like it has texture and consistency while the subsurface gives a satisfying tinge to more transparent parts of the body.

The next phase will be to add some difference to the colour of her skin, to give blemishes and areas where her skin might be thinner than normal such as on the cheeks, where blood is more visible. This will give hopefulyl a rosiness that gives her a sense of life that boosts the subsurface scattering going on.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Four: Lighting the Biolab

  As well as completing the incubation chamber today, I thought I might play around with lighting.

  The biology branch of the lab will have several incubators. In the middle will be tables for scientific apparatus, clutter and research notes.

  I find that using a spotlight (below) provides a more dramatic light than using an area light (above) as the light created is much more confined. The spots on the roof see ma little off.

  What the spotlight appears to produce well however is a light from the isolation unit. Creating a stark shadow of the unit's doors. The light inside is confined by being made unable to pass through the glass, the light created from the door is being produced by a more specifically-aimed spotlight to preserve the strength of the light. I may need a third light however to illuminate the rest of the room. This trick can be used in other areas where the light may be different ,such as the adjacent office or the corridor - two shafts of light projecting themselves on the wall opposite the windows looking out into the darker corridor.

The new arrangement of the lab is going to mean some changes to the movement of the camera as it navigates the room. With proper lights in the room I can experiment with how to portray the glass.

  Some time in the past few days was also taken to sketching some posing research, how Four might move as she walks, runs, and a few minute movements that would sell the character..

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Four: Biolab Incubation Unit


  After some thought it was considered that for the plant and grub stages, an incubator was more appropriate for housing the creature than an isolation unit.(shown near the back). The subject can be observed from all angles and a layer of soil will provide the ideal environment to nurture Four in her mossy life-state while also studying her. The screens on the incubator can be used to convey information for scientists and the viewer.

  Today's session also gave me some practice with adding glass. Refraction was considered but first attempts resulted in more reflection. Later tests could refine the mechanic as these are set up primarily as two planes that fit into the grooves all the window models have.

  To demonstrate that Four is one of a number of experiments, the lab will contain several chambers. This will make it easier to view hers from the office and can show the company has several experiments going at a time, The rearrangement of features could also suggest relocation to different labs. A laboratory for nurturing plants or grubs might have different requirements compared to a lab designed to handle animals .

I had fun designing the LEDs and the knobs for controlling settings on the incubators. There is an air that part of the design could include clutter, though 1960s-period science fiction tended to be a lot cleaner, with pipes and wires being hidden. SOme variance in the LEDs could be given - blues, yellows and whites that would flash to give colour variance.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Four: Juvenile Skin Specularity Tests

  Taking what I had done in the week prior, I've worked a little more on Four's skin. To give some resonance I added wrinkles in the texture and later the darkish green patch on Four's back to give her some interesting points.

  There's a little more to do, give her lips some colour, maybe wash out the butterscotch hue, to give the idea that as she matures colour comes to her skin.

  I played about with the reflectivity of her skin, to try and get the right balance of shine and spread.

  The fake rim light that exists appears to be doing its job rather nicely, but that does not mean I can't at least look into sub-surface shading. I feel I am definitely getting somewhere with this current model.