It’s all about development!
I really thank my mother for handing me down her stamina to me. While watching some online portfolios and demo reels of animators and technical directors I was fully swept off my feets. I realized that there is a lot of work waiting for me if I ever wanted to be as good as they already are. BUT… I wouldn’t be myself if I got discouraged by this perception. My mother always told me that if you really want something you have to work for it.
So I took a deep breath, got a look at my to-do list and started planning several tasks for the next couple of weeks (including a bit of research for new techniques I wanted to know more about.)
My first day ended in a lot of research for the Meera project. As I told you I wanted to rework the Character Rig, as well as the animations I did for the cutscene. The topic I was looking for was about Wrinkle Maps. During the research for my bachelorthesis last year I already stumbled over this subject, but I had no time for concentrating on that in detail, so I ignored that field completely.
After 30 min. of research I finally found some tutorials and figured out one special thing about that topic: 2 ways to go, but only one is explained for dummies like me. I saw a lot of videos and Show Reels announcing that they’re using dynamic normal maps for creating wrinkles on a low poly surface (and the results were stunning!). But no one ever explained how to do that. Then I found a video of Zeth Willie (I love his videos since the first day of research for my bachelor thesis) and realized what the main problem is about: compared to bump maps which contain only 2 parameters (height and depth), it’s really tricky to bundle and animate normal maps within Maya. Blending the RGB channels of different normal maps result in awkward simulated wrinkles that have nothing in common with wrinkles at all. And the only reason is about the 3 parameters that are simulating the reflection of light on the surface.
To handle that issue isn’t easy. There are a lot of TAs and programmers out there using scripts and shaders (as well as shader networks) to get a pleasant result. Everything I found so far was too complicated for my current comprehension. Although I don’t understand that much of MEL and Python so far. That’s why I tried using bump maps to get a more realistic creasing on Meeras skin and that’s what I ended up with:
The wrinkles are quite sharp at the moment. I think that it would be much more effective if I change the volume of some Blend Shapes and create the bump maps inside of ZBrush instead of Photoshop. It definitely needs some time to get a nice and clean transition from the depth to the normal skin height by only drawing greyscales.
Here is a list of websites and books I really recomment to everyone who’s interested in Character Rigging and some general information about map types.
Zeth Willie’s Tutorials about everything! (look at his vimeo profile)
What I really love about his tutorials are the detailed information he’s sharing. If you ever wanted to know more than just the solution process A or B, his tutorials will please and enlighten you. He explains a lot about the background knowledge every 3D Artist should have, as well as the physical and mathematical structures and proceedings that are behind codes and tools we use in Maya. At the end of every video you’ll know how to do it and on top you’ll be able to explain the functionality behind it.
Jason Osipa – Stop Staring (to see more…)
Well… it’s a bible for everyone who’s interested in 3D and … in my opinion…should be in everyones bookshelf as well. It helped me a lot during my bachelor thesis. Especially the chapters about facial animation. Detailed explenations, learner-friendly style of writing and self-explanatory visual aid.
Polycount Wiki (look at normal maps)
If you have any question concerning basic 3d knowledge please look it up here. These guys are doing their best to give you fundamental knowhow by explaining details and tricks, as well as giving you enough visual aid.
Well, well! Next to my daily work for Two Worlds and Nightmare , I planned to rework my Demo Reel. Til now I collected some general ideas and will hopefully show you the results within the next weeks.
And that would be it for now. I hope you’ll come back soon!
Have a nice weekend! =)