Sunday, 23 February 2014

Escape Studios: Weeks 5, 6 & Final Project!

Hi all!

So thought I'd update you on where I am with my course so far! I've completed the final part of my 6 week Maya Core and have to say I feel like I've learnt a mammoth amount of knowledge in such a short space of time! I am now in possession of a laptop that will actually deal with all the things I want to do, which means much more experimentation and perhaps even some personal projects at some point :)

So first of all, we moved onto slightly more advanced texturing, which meant creating a texture from scratch, adding stickers and giving some age to the object. Our tutor had already created a model of a WW2 Canister, and it was our job to create a texture, add some details like rust and scratches, and then adding pre-made stickers and roughing them away. See above for a screenshot of this in progress!

I have to say, I felt a lot more confident with this part of the course, as I've already used Photoshop in my own time for a number of years and didn't feel quite as lost with the software. Texturing is something I enjoy due to the fact you can add a lot of character to your model just by adding tiny details. It sort of creates a story, and you have to think about it a lot harder than say, just colouring in!

We also touched on some of the more complicated parts of texturing, playing with shadow samples, transparency, bump and specular maps in order to create a number of surfaces.

Finally, we moved onto mia shaders, with which you have a lot more control of the product! They also interact a lot more with your light sources to create a realistic finished image. We used a few different objects which we applied different shader presets to, and experimented with the sliders to get a variety of effects. Here are a few examples:

I have to say, i was very impressed with the mia shaders, and we're recommended to use them from now on instead of the Maya default Blinns and Lamberts. You get so much more control over your textures, and I'm not going to lie, it's pretty addictive experimenting with all of the values to see what you can make from it! It does take hours of trial and error, but the finished effect can be really satisfying :)

Finally, throughout the last four weeks we have been working on our projects, and I'm pleased to present my finished still from this:

We had our presentations on the Friday of the sixth week, and I was very nervous about it. Apart from the obvious mistakes (some of the shadows and specularity etc. etc.) I'm really pleased with my work so far and I can't wait to get on with the next project!

Would love to hear any feedback, as I can always improve. I think I might come back to this at a later stage and have a play around to get it perfect :)

Thank you for reading!


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Escape Studios: Weeks 3 & 4

Well hello there!

Yeah, turns out this intensive-course thing can be pretty draining! My lateness is somewhat to do with my internet/laptop playing mind games with me. So I shall be combining two weeks into one blog post. Cheeky, I know, but bear with me.

So I was pretty excited about Week 3, as we continued our modelling lessons and began to sculpt a face from scratch. Character modelling is something I'd love to get into, and whilst there are more catered packages like Zbrush or Mudbox (which we'll be working with a little later on) for detailed sculpting, I think Maya can be really good for getting your basic mesh down!

I am aware how creepy it looks in progress but hey! We started off with the polygons around the eye, and built out from there. We used a reference, and in the end I think he (sortof) looked a little like the guy in the pictures. I think what I enjoyed the most was using the sculpting tools, as it felt like a more organic way of modelling. I think this means I'll be loving mudbox whenever we get to it!

Later on in the week, and into the fourth, we started to learn UV Mapping. This, as it turns out, is one of the most tedious processes in 3D. My understanding of this is: your UVs communicate to the software how your texture should be dispersed across the model, and so they need to match up proportionately with the size of your polygons (not going to lie, was pretty difficult to get my head around). This involves unfolding your 3D model into a 2D space. The way we start this off is with a generic numbered checkerboard texture. With this you can see where your texture will stretch (if at all) and distort once you unfold the model:

We set to work on a hand, a head (one the tutor had made) and the plane we'd made earlier in the course. The aim of the game is to get all of your checkers/numbers as equally spaced as possible. This can take hours and hours of poking your UVs, which is not the most thrilling job in the world but still very important!

Finally, towards the end of Week 4, we concentrated mainly on learning the beginnings of lighting rigs, and working on our projects the other 50% of the time. I think of all the things so far lighting is one of the parts I am struggling with. I'm currently in week 5 and trying to set up a basic rig for my Gameboy, and I'm finding it pretty challenging. Unless you're pretty adept at this, its essentially a game of trial and error until your lights seem to give off the right highlights/shadows. (aka stress central). Here is a basic lighting rig we did based on a sunset environment:

As for my project, it's getting there. I feel a lot more confident with Maya's interface, and I'm even starting to use the hotkeys/menusets without some sort of weird muscle memory. I think it's crazy that 4 weeks ago I had no idea what was going on, and now I'm only a week away (in theory) from having individually modelled, textured, lit and rendered a full photorealistic scene! The deadline is in a week and so I'm not going to lie and say I'm at all relaxed. Here are some screenshots of my model in progress, but I will probably update in a couple of weeks with a more indepth shot-by-shot (and hopefully final piece)!

I can't promise a week 5 this weekend, but I will do my best! If not, I will have a lot more free time after this first project, so I'm hoping to dedicate a bit more time to blogging then.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!