Category Archives: Animation

Bobasatrania (Bobzilla)

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The murky process of recreating a fish from fossils has it’s challenges. This fish, in process of being modeled for a presentation at the Bow Valley Habitat Station, existed some 240 million years ago off the coast of Pangaea. Pangaea being a large super-continent that was composed of all the existing land masses throughout the world that eventually drifted apart. So overall, fossils that are found throughout the world tend to exhibit similar characteristics. You can say, all the fossils come from the same pool of fish.

My process of building a model usually begins with much research, where I gather a mass of examples from the internet so that I have enough variation of fossils to make assessments of overall shape and form of the fish. As well, I collected images of currently existing species of fish that are of similar shape or form. What is unique to the Triassic fish is the heavy scale and bone structure. It was tough times for being a fish, so they needed a tougher outer shell.

Everything begins with sketches, drawing out a base template that will be loaded into the 3D application as a guide for modeling the fish. As well, through the drawing process, I become familiar with the various parts of the fish, which allows me to assess shape, form and function. Certain details can be difficult to determine because overall, a dead fish doesn’t directly extrapolate out to a live fish. Fins tend to shrivel and get skewed through the process of decomposition and fossilization.

For modeling, I use lightwave because it’s light, has multiple layers that allows be to store backup elements, and I’m extensively familiar with it’s tools. The process of modeling is organic, as polygons slowly get extended over the shape of the form while being cognitive of how the polygons will react after rigging and animation. The quad polygons have to flow along bends where the body or fins may flex. I build the model in base grey before bringing it into Bodypaint for colour.

Diversity in practice

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Along with a the variant of creative pursuits, I have work that keeps the business side fluid. It usually involves the assembly of e-Learning type resources, and the building of websites from multiple streams of the economy. And adding on fairly extensive design a layout projects, which is in line with my personal historic experience and education. I’m hands on, I manage at times, but I much prefer to stick my fingers into all facets of production. My brain swings from creative to technology, when programming, css or jquery is required.

When settled and I have time, I always come back to writing, illustrating or building something in 3D. I did some reworking of a cow illustration I did some time back, and made some adjustments that made the cow more presentable. I wanted to minimize the presentation of the udder so that it wasn’t overly out there, but was still apparent. This image evolved out of a story that revolved around a cow that moves to the city during the early 1950’s to work as a short order cook. Alice the cow… It was a time of change, when urbanization took hold in this country, and masses of people left their rural life , to chip out a place for themselves in the big city. For me, I’m thinking that it would be a great experience to take this cow and build a 3D model out of it. To be rigged so that the cow could transition from a typical quadrupedal to a bipedal stance.

Perhaps, rebrand the title to “Urban Cow”, and package it as a 13 x 22 minute CG animated series.

Building Animals in 3D

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Sometime ago I was contracted to develop a series of models that I then converted into interactive rotational VR objects. Providing full 3D versions of animal species offered a far better reference for identification than 2D. Initially it was fish, and then it extended out to birds and mammals.

The challenge was creating an efficient process for building the animals, because I had limited time allocated for creation of each model. After doing some testing, going through trials, I determined that best approach for me was to use Lightwave for modeling, export the models as Obj, and import them into Bodypaint where can I set up the UV’s, and paint and texture the models.

[singlepic id=12 w=320 h=240 float=]

First up was fish. Much of the initial work was research and drawing, having to identify traits that are specific to each species. Most fish have the same physical body parts so focusing on; fin placement, head ratio, and other unique traits would help in clearly depicting the species. I also had a content expert on hand to provide secondary feedback. I penciled out a side and top profile for each fish to use as as templates for modeling. After constructing a few fish, I was able to narrowed the time to create each fish down to about 3 days. Bodypaint was a big help with reducing time to paint and texture, because it allowed me to paint directly onto the 3D object, and add bump, colour, diffusion and transparency in a single stroke. This helped with simulating/creating fish scales, because I could create scale brushes in Bodypaint that allowed me to apply multiple effects in one sweep. Another benefit is that Bodypaint is very similar to Photoshop, so it was easy to pick up and apply it.

Birds and animals were another challenge because they are far more complex and introduce other details that are not as easy to replicate in 3D. With the birds, it was the introduction of feathers, and with animals, it’s hair.

For hair, I had this plugin for Lightwave that I used previously, Sasquatch. I did try using the application native hair module, fiber effects, but at the time, it was unstable and could produce the results I wanted. Sasquatch it was to be.

In all it worked reasonably well, and turn over was respectable. The benefit for me with this project, was discovering an approach that had good results for the final product, and the opportunity to do some extensive 3D modeling.


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