Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alien: Texturing, rigging and blend shapes.

Finally made progress on my "colossus" alien. 

I finished modelling, UV mapping and applying the texture. This time round, when UV-mapping, I made sure all the pieces (the head, body, armour etc. are all separate pieces of geometry) fit together on the same map, which is generally much more economical file-size-wise and also makes it easier to paint the textures consistently. It also saves a lot of unnecessary work when it comes to creating and assigning the shaders.
I wanted to retain the jagged edge appearance of the model so I haven't smoothed it, only softened the edges. So the final model is actually quite low-poly, and looks, I think, much more suited for a game than a film, but I'm hoping dramatic lighting and composition will detract from that. (Low-poly also means shorter render times, which is always a plus).

I experimented with different brushes within Photoshop to achieve the "stony" look, and also applied a bump map to make the textures look a little more refined and realistic, emphasising in particular the texture of his armour. It's subtle, but noticeable.

I can now finally begin thinking about the character's movement and animation.
Here is the rig:

I realised fairly quickly I made a mistake with the geometry (incidentally the same mistake I made with my last module's model); I didn't model his arms and legs straight (for example his arms should ideally be at 90 degree angles to his body). When testing the final rigged version, it didn't seem to cause any major troubles. If it causes the legs to bend at the wrong angle, I can use the knee control to manipulate the pole vector, so I'm hoping it won't be too troublesome to animate.

I also made sure this time to lock off and delete any attributes that the control won't be needing. In a professional environment this would make it much clearer for the animator how the body is able to move, and won't cause any needless and annoying movement of controls themselves.

I also added some blend shapes. Although my model hasn't got an expressive face, the body beneath these stone structures is organic; I can't achieve a realistic level of muscle movement, but I created a blend shape where the arms and neck bulk up a bit to mimic the muscles tensing. When he moves his arms around, this should hopefully add that little more realism. (Ideally I would have spent more time investigating how to model arms so that they looked anatomically correct, this way I could distinguish what muscles are where, and use blend shapes to create more accurate muscle movement).

Already, in hindsight, I would have liked to have broken up the face "plate" into different sections so that I could animate some sort of facial movement. I've definitely not gone into as much detail as I would have liked.

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