Lighting attempt

I watched a lot of lighting tutorials, but still I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m trying to think about what would look nice and dramatic and not be too concerned with what’s physically accurate. I have some fog in the scene, which I rendered with Maya software because it takes no time and Mental ray seems a bit cranky when it comes to shadows. I might change the angle of the fog, though to match the light better.There’s some sprite dust particles floating around up in there. Right now I’ve removed all the materials and applied a plain, grey mia_material so I can test render and not have to wait a month to see the result. The character is now in what I call “sausage legs mode” because Ludvig is doing some skirt simulations. The lantern is too bright so I’ma turn it down some. For this render I had preview quality but Final gather turned on. I’m hoping to do something more interesting with the colors. If anyone have some tips concerning lighting, please feel free to enlighten me.


I have been animating for a while. The wings aren’t dynamic in this playblast, and I’m testing how different camera movements work together with the live action footage right now. The animation will need tweaking as the skinning and dynamics become more refined, and as soon as we have working blendshapes I can start taking it those final inches. I’m pretty satisfied with this. I could tweak it for weeks, obviously, but I think this is as far as I can go given the time I have.

A little of this, a little of that.

I’ve been doing some various things these last couple of days. Mostly it’s been all about putting everything together and making the scene work. I’ve made some simple particle dust, textured some objects.. retextured some objects. Mari really makes the whole texturing process quick and efficient so if I need to make any changes it takes almost no time at all.

I made some smaller rocks that can be placed wherever in the scene. I’ve also tried out paint effects for grass which I think could work out with some tweaking.

More rigging!

I am almost done with the rigging phase now, the only things I have left now are the blendshapes and the displacementmaps that are going to be driven by them. I’ll only be the few we need for this project,  about 5 to 6 blendshapes and probably a couple more displacementmaps. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be done with all rigging.

The first thing I started to rigg was the wings, wasn’t that much of a hassle as I first thought it would be, fortunately our animation didn’t call for any folding or excissive fanning. Right now all the the feathers are driven by curves and IK splines which in turn are driven by one hair system, this has the advantage that you only have to tweak one node and it will affect all the feathers. The wings themselves are simple IKs and then the feathers are parented to the closest bone. We will propably add some wind to feathers to make them abit more alive. Here is a little video of the dynamics in action and the controls:

The rest of the rigg is pretty straight forward, arms are ik, I added a extra joint in the forearm to simulate the radius bone. I made some driven keys for the fingers for faster animation, so if one finger curls it affects the others to some extent, I also added controls and finger curls for each individual finger for more control. I also started with the nCloth, right now I’m testing out different settings with a lowpoly mesh, when I’m done with that I’ll save it out as a preset, add it to a mesh with abit more resolution and then we will simulate with that. And lastly I’ll constrain a high poly mesh to the midpoly one, hopefully this will cut back on the time we need to simulate and produce some cool results. Here is a video of some of the controlls and the lowpoly nCloth in action:

Color maps.

I’ve spent today and most of yesterday painting textures. These diffuse maps are made in Mari, a ridiculously capable acquaintance (free 15 day trial from the Foundry: It’s been fun to get to know some of the quirks of that application, and I am currently very much in love with it. The channels/masks/shaders way of doing things is very different from Photoshop, but not necessarily in a bad way. I find that the more I learn, the more I can emulate what I would do in Photoshop. Working in Mari feels efficient and satisfying, because I can see right away what I’m doing to the model I’m working on.


Started to with the rigging yesterday, I decided to start with the lantern, the chain in the lantern is driven by a hair system and a IK spline. I put the joints in the at the pivot where each link would rotate and then skinned one link to its own joint. Here is a picture to illustrate.

And a little clip to show you the staff in action:

I plan on incorporating alot of dynamic secondary movement in the rigg to give it more life, and hopefully speed ut the process of making an animation that looks and feels “real”. I will include controls to animate everything by hand if need be though.
I’ll starting on the wings today, they will be driven the same way that the link chain is, one hairsystem for all the feathers, the tip will be dynamic and the rest will be joint driven. I’ll probably throw in some driven keys for fanning and such and be done hopefully by the end of today.
Yesterday I started to retopologize the last pieces and the body was first, I also plan on doing more sculpting after I’m done with the rig. I embeded a picture of the topology and where it’s at the moment, I tried to have an edge flow that could maintain the volume of the bones and larger muscle groups, hopefully that will give some good deformations.

And a small progress picture of the current model, I’ve sculpted the smaller folds and hopefully nCloth will do the rest, the folds are in seperate layers so if it looks strange with the dynamics I can always dial the folds down:



Milestone 2.

This is the updated film that we showed at our Milestone 2 presentation yesterday. For this render we added an image-based lighting setup, mostly to make the contents of the scene easier to see. This will be tweaked significantly in the final sequence. All the major modeling parts are basically done, and we’re moving on to rigging (in Björn’s case) and shading/texturing/optimizing (for me and Anneli). I’ll jump on the animation train in a few days.

Displacement maps and coffee

That’s what this day has been all about. I have been trying to get my floor models out from Zbrush and in to our scene. This time I uv-mapped my lowpolys before sculpting the details. Since the floor is made from several objects, the displacement maps all had different grey values when I baked them in Zbrush due to their relative size in the scene. This was easy to fix with levels in Photoshop, though.

On the parts that I had used clipping brushes I had to use xNormal for the normal map since the ones I got from Zbrush gave me a lot of artifacts. But finally all the parts are on the same texture map, they all have displacement maps and normal maps, the entire lowpoly is 1264 faces and all is swell.

Our first idea was to have a worn mosaic floor, similar to the byzantine ones we have in our moodboard. But we decided that it just might look to busy and we ended up going for a simpler look.

This is how much of the floor that will be visible in the scene. Actually, it’s probably less than that.

Character update

So here is an small update on the character, I’ve been modeling alot these weeks. Gave the character a brand new pair of wings and designed some of the accessories on him. The only items left to do is the actual skin on the character and the cloth. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be done and start rigging.
I plan on adding smaller details later to really push the realism, such as smaller feathers on the wings and some wrapping on his body, alot will come later when i start to rigg and texture the character, there will be alot of bouncing back and forth between the two. I’ve been regularly inserting the character into the scene to see where I need to add more detail and where it might not be as necessary.

Here is a picture of the current model:


Early lighting.

Since we’ve got most of the models up and running and looking presentable on their own, I took some time today to try and assemble everything and get some initial lighting in the scene, just to get a better idea of how the environment fits together. This is what I came up with after messing around a couple of hours. This is at the earliest possible stage, but I like some things about it, mostly the way the light from the lantern and the yellowish light from above work together with the character. I mainly focused on the character and the foreground, but there’s something about the general distribution of light and dark areas which kind of appeals to me, although of course there shouldn’t be nearly as much absolute black as there is at the moment. Also, light directions and colors need to be a lot more “explained” and more recognizable as sunlight or reflected light or whatever they happen to be. As a sketch, though, I think it looks pretty cool.

Lighting sketch.