Animation has been coming along nicely, another sample or two will be uploaded soon. However, in the meantime here are the finished environmments. To each of them I have improved some of the landscape, particularly with the mountains to give the final modelled look.
Texturing took up most of the time with the environments, for the physical objects I had to unwrap the UVs and then find a texture to apply over the UV mapping; for some of the landscapes and more general surfaces I used various shaders and experimented with render nodes to get a realistic and interesting look. I then also applied bump maps for the light to bounce off realistically, these basically give the 2D textures a 3D look when lighting is applied.
Final Stage is the lighting. For the indoor scenes I played around with point and ambient lights, with the outdoor areas I simulated a sun with a Mental Ray tool and then played around with the settings to give simple yet effective outside lighting.
Below are the finished environments:
When I started production for Inner Demons I mentioned how I wanted to improve my skills with making Environments in Maya. I set myself quite a challenge with these environments and because of it I have learned a lot in the areas of texturing, UV mapping, Bump Mapping, render nodes, lighting and mental ray, and my knowledge of some important Maya workflows and features has vastly improved. there’s still a lot to learn, but I am very pleased with how these have turned out!
Next step is to finish the animation, more on this to follow shortly!
In my last animation, I did little texturing with UV maps, instead I just applied blanket metrials of the right colour and material. With the more realistic approach of this animation however, I need to use a different method called UV mapping.
With the mesh selected this is the map I am given in the texture editor.
This view is what i apply a texture to, and clearly I cant make an effective one with this that will give a good look. What I need to do is unwrap and postition the UV map so it is flat and textures can be designed more effectively. This process is done by selecting the faces I want to unwrap, for example, her top. I select all the faces that make up her top and cut and unfold them in certain places to give a flat plan of it. I then tweak the UVs slightly if needed to give me a UV mesh I can design textures on. Below is what the texture editor looked like after I had unfolded each part of her body in this way.
Each part of her body is now laid out flat and ready for texturing. I take a UV snapshot of this and use photoshop to make a texture map:
This is brought back into Maya and applied to the corresponding faces marked by their UVs. After looking at the mesh to make sure there are errors with textures or missed spots, I have a finished, textured, Meryl:
For the hair I could have simply made a mesh on her head as seen below:
However, it wouldnt look as compelling as it wouldnt move with her body movements and stay in a constant unrealistic shape. Maya however, has a built-in hair simulator that I can use for Meryl:
I created a scalp mesh and created hair to come of out of it. This is what it looked like when it first came out:
I then need to give it the characteristics I want, including length, behaviour, colour and dynamics (gravity, firction, collisions etc.) I then parented the scalp mesh with a joint in Meryls head so it would move along with her. After a lot of experiementing and tweaking, I had a completed hair shape for Meryl:
Unrendered it doesnt look like much. After I applied some shadow settings, I rendered a view to see how it looked:
I have handled the eyes and mouth differently to the rest of the rig. The eyes and blinking mechanisam were created seperate from the mesh. First I created a simple sphere and designed and texture to go around it.
I then made the eyelids and set up a set driven key so that close. I assigned the set driven key to a Blink attribute I set up on some eye controllers. When I raise this attribute from 0 to 5, the eyes close.
I then applied an orient constraint to the eye and eye controller, meaning wherever I move the controller, the eyes will look towards it.
The mouth was done by creating a simple teeth, tongue and mouth shape to hide behind the lips. Like with the blink attribute, I set up on called Teeth that controls the opening and closing of the teeth depending on her facial expression.
With this all done, the rig is complete and I can now texture it.
Blendshapes are duplicates of a shape that have been changed. They are used for various uses but in this case they will drive the facial animation.
Meryl will need several mouth and eye movements as part of her animation. To do this I need to duplicate the original mesh. On this new mesh I will change it to give her single facial movement, for example, angry eyes.
I then select the duplicate and orginal and assign it as a blendshape. I can then control with a slider the blend: for example the eyebrows will move from the orginal position to the position I put them on on the duplicate. I do this process for each and every movement on her face, including raised eyebrows, a smile, a frown, surprised looks and other expressions. With the sliders I can then mix them up to give full facial animation. Below are the amount of these blendshapes I had to use for Meryl.
These blendshapes are now part of the rig meaning I now nearly have full body and face animation, all that’s left is the eyes and mouth.
With the environments done all I need to complete the rigging so I can start animating.
Below is the completed skeleton. The shapes around it are the controls. With these I can assign them to joints and program in some controls, so instead of selecting joints and handles directly, I can select the controls and keyframe all the movements I need for that part of the body. For example the arrows on the feet not only control the leg movement but also things like the toe bend, the ankle bend, the angle of the foot and the pivot of the toes. Overall, the controls make animations alot easier.
Next I need to apply the mesh. This process is called skinning. First I need to select the skeleton and mesh and select Smooth Skinning. The body and joints have to be exactly in line for this to work properly.
The skinning is a long process with a lot of trial and error. I had to select each joint and paint onto the mesh how much that joint would influence that part of the mesh. Below shows this process:
White areas mean the area has a Value of 1 so they move with the joint, black areas have a value of 0 so are not effected byt joint at all. The grey areas represent areas with a value that is in between 1 and 0. The higher the number, the more the skin moves with the joint. It takes of a lot of painting, checking the joint movement, then going back and refining it until the skin move realistically with the joints.
With this done, the body is fully rigged and skinned, ready for animating. Belows is an example of how the joints now move the mesh:
The most complex environment is the ruins. This are will be a fairly large but varied and interesting area with broken structures, pillars and rubble. Below are some images from the construction of the ruins.
The Lobby is a simple area comprising of an infinite white space and several doors dotted around, the idea being that each door leads to a different part of her mind.
Below is the process of creating the doors for the space.
The last environment to construct is the ruins.