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3D Art & Design

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Unlock the full potential of 3D design New Expert tips to improve your 3D artwork

Master the latest software

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Create detailed characters

3ds Max  Maya Blender  ZBrush Photoshop


Welcome to

3D Art & Design The world of 3D art and design has always been an exciting one, but it continues to reach new heights year after year. Whether you‘re an animator, roto artist, video game artist or VFX creator, advancements in the standard and availability of design technology have made the industry more vibrant and accessible than ever before. Films like Gravity have set the benchmark for great visual design, and games like Grand Theft Auto V and Destiny have proven that aesthetics are as important on consoles as they are on the big screen. With this in mind, we‘ve created a book that caters to your every need, featuring the most popular industry-standard software. You‘ll learn everything from modelling, to rigging, to compositing, as we walk you through ideas from conception to conclusion. Industry experts provide invaluable advice on Maya, Blender, 3ds Max, ZBrush and more to bring your projects to life. Whether it‘s creating game characters, animating movements, mastering arch-vis or rendering artwork, 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes has fantastic step-by-step tutorials to suit your needs. On FileSilo, you‘ll find free arch-vis models, sci-fi textures, artists‘ galleries, video masterclasses and all the accompanying files to the tutorials in the book. Read on, and enjoy!


3D Art & Design Imagine Publishing Ltd Richmond House 33 Richmond Hill Bournemouth Dorset BH2 6EZ  +44 (0) 1202 586200 Website: www.imagine-publishing.co.uk Twitter: @Books_Imagine Facebook: www.facebook.com/ImagineBookazines

Publishing Director Aaron Asadi Head of Design Ross Andrews Production Editor Ross Hamilton Senior Art Editor Greg Whitaker Designer Lauren Debono-Elliot Cover images courtesy of Jorge Lacera (concept), Gavin Goulden (3D model) Photographer James Sheppard Printed by William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT Distributed in the UK, Eire & the Rest of the World by Marketforce, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU Tel 0203 148 3300 www.marketforce.co.uk Distributed in Australia by Network Services (a division of Bauer Media Group), Level 21 Civic Tower, 66-68 Goulburn Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia Tel +61 2 8667 5288 Disclaimer The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this bookazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the bookazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This bookazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes Volume 1 Revised Edition Š 2014 Imagine Publishing Ltd ISBN 978 1910 439 487

Part of the

bookazine series


Tips 10 18 22 28 32 38 46 50 54 58 62 68 70

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50 tips & tricks in Maya Model an exterior environment in Maya Texture an exterior environment in Maya Bring an exterior environment to life Master ZBrush: model for games Create 3D game assets Perfect your anatomy skills Sculpt the skeletal torso Sculpt limbs in ZBrush Sculpt the legs and feet Create realistic ZBrush sculpts Design a creature in modo Build fantasy vehicles in 3ds Max

76 Tricks

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

78 50 top Blender VFX tricks 86 Fracture with Blender 88 Create fur in ZBrush 96 How to animate a jump 100 Animate action moves 104 Perfect UVs in UVLayout 106 Create an interactive character in Unity 110 Master 3D cloth effects


Master the art of composing great 3D projects from some of the most highly-rated artists in the industry

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120 128 136 138 146 150 152 156

50 hot topology fixes Improve your characters Blow bubbles using V-Ray Metaballs Render glass objects Clean up 3D models Understand hard-surface retopology Retopologise in Mudbox Paint in Sculptris

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Tips Get to grips with a variety of creative software, and master everything from conception and modelling to rigging and compositing 10 18 22 28 32 38 46 50 54 58 62 68 70

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50 tips & tricks in Maya Model an exterior environment in Maya Texture an exterior environment in Maya Bring an exterior environment to life Master ZBrush: model for games Create 3D game assets Perfect your anatomy skills Sculpt the skeletal torso Sculpt limbs in ZBrush Sculpt the legs and feet Create realistic ZBrush sculpts Design a creature in modo Build fantasy vehicles in 3ds Max

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes


Maya ZBrush Photoshop 3ds Max modo V-Ray

Combine a range of 3D software to create a game-resolution asset, then apply it to a fully rigged videogame character

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28 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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50 MAYA TIPS & TRICKS IN

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www.blog.sina.com.cn/ marinefeng Freelance artist

Lifeng Xu

www.kishorevijay.com Senior cinematics animator

Kishore Vijay

www.chadvernon.com Co-founder of Creature Art and Mechanics

Chad Vernon

www.behance.net/mayamouse Senior art director

Turuğshan Turna

www.danroarty.com Lead character artist at Crystal Dynamics /Square Enix

Dan Roarty

www.beezlebugbit.com Director, BeezleBug Bit, LLC

Lee Lanier

www.bloopatone.com Visual effects supervisor

Eric Keller

www.matthieugarnier.com Freelance 3D artist

Matthieu Garnier

www.dawidcencora.tk Freelance 3D character artist

Dawid Cencora

www.berubefilms.com VFX art director, Blizzard Cinematics

Jonathan Berube

www.digitaltutors.com Lead rigging and animation instructor

Delano Athias

Will Anielewicz

www.warpeaceandpixels.com Rigger, animator and lecturer in Computer Animation

Jahirul Amin 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

www.linkedin.com/in/ willanielewicz Senior software engineer

Dragon Tattoo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Thief, Game of Thrones and much more. That’s why we’ve brought together a hand-picked selection of successful industry experts to reveal the tips they have used for the best results with Maya, from modelling and animation to scripting, rigging and dynamics. You’re guaranteed to learn something new!

t’s quite surprising to learn that a lead character artist, senior cinematics animator, freelance rigger and senior software engineer all make use of the same piece of 3D software. Autodesk Maya is one of the most powerful and highly customisable programs available today. It’s the Swiss Army knife of CG software, the tool able to fully produce a polished film or animation without ever leaving the program. At the same time it’s user-friendly enough to be grasped by beginners. Maya’s versatility means it has been used in many different facets of the industry, creating animations, VFX in film and TV and even games. Titles include Halo 4, The Girl with the

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Industry experts share their Autodesk Maya tips, tricks and techniques, helping you master every aspect of this versatile software, from modelling and rigging to scripting and dynamics


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I was introduced to Maya in my ďŹ rst year of college at CDIS (now the Art Institute) in Vancouver over ten years ago. I was blown away with the endless tools and features it had to offer Oriental Delicacy By Dawid Cencora

Dan Roarty 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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MODELLING

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Study anatomy carefully. Learning about the bones and muscles that affect the surface forms will help to sell the idea that your characters have an internal structure. This will inform your decisions as you create the topology. Jahirul Amin

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The adjustment of overall shape and structure is very important in the coarse modelling stage. Getting the muscle anatomy correct at this stage is key for later rigging and painting skin weight. Lifeng Xu

maximise the details. Also, it’s good to keep that in mind that Boolean tools can sometimes help create complex models much more easily. Turuğshan Turna

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A creative way to model a repetitive shape along a path is by using the Animation Snapshot command from the Animate menu. By animating a piece of geometry travelling along a motion path, the Animate Snapshot function will create a duplicate copy of your model every other frame. This can be a great way to create chains, or street lights along your city street network. Jonathan Berube

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Use quads as much as possible. You may have to use the odd triangle, but stay away from Ngons. Quads subdivide predictably, are easier to envelope when skinning and give better results during the UV/ texturing process. Taking a model from a 3D package, such as Maya, to a sculpting package, such as ZBrush, will also be a doddle if you’ve stuck to quads. Jahirul Amin

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You might notice that when you import very dense geometry your scene will slightly lag due to all the geometry currently shown in the viewport. If you want to speed up your viewport turn on Backface Culling in your Shading options. This will eliminate the drawing of backfaces in your scene and greatly improve the overall speed of your viewport. Dan Roarty

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Use the Text tool to create some curves and interesting shapes. Place these curves in front of simple NURBS primitives and project them on one or more NURBS primitives from various angles. Use these curves as trim edges to make holes or duplicate the surface curves and lift new surfaces between the curves. Eric Keller

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Leave the camera at a standard focal length (35) or Orthographic view. Try to use perspective cameras with an appropriate focal length. By modelling in Orthographic view you lose the perspective present in a photo. Dan Roarty

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Design complicated models by cutting them into smaller parts. My aim is always to minimise the poly count and

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A quick way to get a base mesh is by using the Texture to Geometry tool. Create a plane with the same aspect ratio as your projected image, assign the texture to the plane, select your plane geometry and go to Modify>Convert> Texture to Geometry. Browse your input image and then apply. Jonathan Berube

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Prepare for deformation, because good deformation is completely reliant on a model with excellent topology. Pass the model to the riggers at different stages of the development to enable them to test it for deformation. If there are any issues, you can make the changes early on as opposed to on a final model. If it won’t be deformed, then you have more room to manoeuvre regarding the topology. Jahirul Amin

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The Create Polygon feature is great for retopologising a mesh inside Maya. I do this by importing the high-resolution mesh then making it live by selecting the magnet icon. From here I use the Create Polygon tool and draw over the top of the high-res mesh to create my new low-res version. Dan Roarty

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It’s relatively easy to bring a Photoshop shape or line as geometry in Maya. Make a selection from your painted shape and create a working path from it. Export the path as an Adobe Illustrator curve (AI curve), then import it into Maya and start creating with it. Use the path as a base for extrusions or as a Snap Align guide for existing geometry. This is a great method for modelling 3D logos or accurate meshes. Jonathan Berube

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Terra Incognita by Turuğshan Turna.“This project was actually a simple scene that I began to create in order to explore my lighting knowledge with Autodesk Maya. Afterwards, it turned into a classroom for learning the amazing world of Maya’s Cloth and Craft Animation tools,” says Turna

Our contributors reveal how they got started with Maya I’m self-taught. I learned Alias PowerAnimator in 1994 while interning at Buena Vista Visual Effects at Walt Disney. PowerAnimator was the precursor of Maya and shared many similarities. I learned Maya by using an early beta copy while off-the-clock at PDI/DreamWorks in 2000. Lee Lanier In 1982, I was one of the original engineers at Alias Research, the creator of Maya. My task was to prototype a new artist workstation, the Alias Power Animator. I started using Maya in production at Industrial Light and Magic in 2001. Will Anielewicz My first introduction to Maya was when I was still a student. I learned a bit of both Maya and 3ds Max, but only some basic manipulation with no greater depth. I worked mostly with traditional media during my student and professional life, but I found many limitations. The effects that I want to achieve are so much easier to accomplish with CG and Maya is such a fine tool for helping me meet my expectations. This is when I shifted my focus to Maya. Lifeng Xu

Modelled in Maya, Happy Birthday Nana, is an award-winning image from Dan Roarty’s portfolio


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Maya has been Digital-Tutors’ most-watched training, with courses starting over 13 years ago Digital-Tutors

In his capacity as VFX art director at Blizzard Cinematics, Jonathan Berube uses Maya to work on sequences for videogames such as StarCraft II

RIGGING

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Understanding the functions of your body’s limbs and protrusions will help to inform your decision-making during the rigging process. What type of joint is the elbow? How does the shoulder work? How many degrees of freedom does the wrist allow? By answering these questions and more, we can consider where we should place our bones and how our digital characters should articulate. Jahirul Amin

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Stay organised. There really is nothing worse than struggling to search for nodes that are difficult to find because of poor naming conventions. Remember: take the time to rename your nodes. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run. Delanos Athias

15 Standardising Rigs in Maya by Digital-Tutors

Before you even touch the computer, find out what the rig needs to do and how the animator likes to work. Does the character need to run, jump over a fence and then pull off a tornado-kick? Or does he simply sit behind a desk and pick his nose? If it’s the latter, then there will be no need to rig the legs as you won’t see them, for example. Jahirul Amin

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Strive for efficiency. This concept is important when designing control objects. An example of this could be seen on a foot control. If you add foot-rolling

capabilities, it might be a good idea to create a footroll channel on your foot control, instead of creating another object to control that feature. From an animator’s point of view, being able to tweak the animation of a character’s leg and foot roll all from one object means we don’t have to spend the time selecting between two or more controls for the same outcome. Delanos Athias

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Automate what you can, but be very careful with this, because we don’t want to automate so much that we start to take control away from the animator. For instance, if we’re rigging an aircraft that will eventually fly through an environment, we wouldn’t want animators to have to animate the vehicle’s turbines when this can be handled easily with an expression. On the same note, we wouldn’t want to tie the vehicle’s banking control to its side-to-side translation. That type of automation would be very restrictive. Delanos Athias

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Look for ways to add controls that will help animators loosen up their characters. This can be done several ways, one of which would include setting up pliable limbs that can be animated to enhance arcs,

follow-throughs and push silhouettes for staging. These are key animation principles that are, ultimately, used to make character performances more appealing. It’d be safe to say that the more flexible our rigs are, the higher the chances an animator has of enhancing the quality of a character’s movements. Delanos Athias

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By understanding anatomy, we can see what anatomical structures we need to replicate faithfully and which will enable some rigging license. The spine, for example, has 24 bones. Do we need that many bones in the spine for our characters? No. But we do need to know how it articulates so we can mimic the movement that it creates. Jahirul Amin

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Keep joints and controls clean. All rigs should be able to revert back to the default pose by zeroing out the Translate and Rotate values of the joints or the controls. I’ve seen occasions where this is not the case and you can imagine the animator’s fury. Rigging shouldn’t be rushed, because good animation won’t come from a bad rig. Just as modelling affects deformation, rigging affects animation. Jahirul Amin

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Keep it simple. It’s easy for new technical artists to assume that all control rigs must be highly sophisticated, however this mentality can cause rigs to end up over-saturated with controls, making the puppet very cumbersome to work with. Delanos Athias 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Jahirul Amin suggests performing the actions being animated yourself. This way you can better understand the mechanics of the movement

ANIMATION

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Commands or selection sets for your character that are often repeated can be saved on custom shelves by simply middle-mouse-dragging the scripts from the Script Editor onto your shelf. Kishore Vijay

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The Graph Editor is your friend. Yes, it may look scary at first. Yes, your animation curves may look like a bad bowl of spaghetti here and there, but learning to take charge of the Graph Editor will pay dividends later on. It enables you to make broad changes, create fluid arcs and tidy up any troublesome issues. Jahirul Amin

Matthieu Garnier combined Maya with Photoshop and rendered in V-Ray to achieve this atmospheric result

When gathering reference, don’t just look at other animation references but open your eyes to the real world. Go out, grab a pen, a pad, a camera and anything that you can use to document movement first-hand. By solely looking at animation reference from books or online, you are relying on someone else’s interpretation of what they saw. Jahirul Amin Use a polygon edge as an easy way to attach an object to a surface as it moves. Select an edge on a polygon surface and choose Modify>Convert Polygon Edges to Curve. Add a locator and attach it to the curve via a motion path with the Time Range set to Start. Use a point or parent constraint to attach an object to the locator. To make the object move along the curve, animate the U value of the motion path. As long as the history connection between the duplicated edge and the original polygon surface remains, the attached object will be stuck to the polygon surface. Eric Keller

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Customise with plug-ins, scripts and shelves. The most useful thing to realize is that Maya is flexible and has tons of

Kishore Vijay’s animation workflow guide for pose-to-pose and straight ahead blocking, as well as layering methods 1 In general, I block in most shots and start working in pose-to-pose. I then begin working straight ahead through certain actions. For short shots, ballistic actions or animation cycles, as well as for most lip sync work, I prefer to work in a layered fashion. For example, for a dialogue scene that needs many levels of lead and director approval, I would do very detailed blocking in Step mode for all the body animation, maybe blocking in key face poses. I would also animate the face in a layered fashion, treating the upper face animation as a separate layer from the lip sync. I then break up the lip sync into the jaw-up and jaw-down movements, as well as the in and out motions of the lip corners. First I lock down the timing and then begin layering in the mouth shapes and more detail.

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

priceless tools available online courtesy of its massive user base. You can easily look for planning tools, in-between tools, pose libraries, channel and curve filters, or constraining tools. The Grease Pencil was one such plug-in that is now available with Maya 2014. Kishore Vijay

2 When blocking in Step mode, make a selection set or a shelf button that selects all of your character controls and set a key on each pose. This is useful when you need to be able to make rapid changes depending on feedback. It also helps to set up a hotkey to switch between Linear and Step modes as you block, to check for gimbal issues with rotations, especially in the wrists or FK arms. Navigating to Graph Editor>Curves>Euler Filter is a quick fix for Gimbal flips, as is changing the rotation order. 3 Use 2D Pan/Zoom to focus on areas that you want to polish without changing the perspective of your shotcam. 4 Add a reference movie, storyboard or 2D blocking of your scene to the imageplane of your shotcam or a secondary camera for quick reference during animation.

Groups are your friends. Grouping an object before constraining the group allows you to still offset the object while it’s constrained. Constrain the character’s hand to the prop, animate the prop and switch to constraints or between IK and FK in one frame during a fast move, so it’s easier to avoid pops. Kishore Vijay

You don’t need to figure out how to send the next astronaut to Mars but by having a knowledge of physics and biomechanics, you can utilise the wisdom of geniuses such as Newton and Borelli. How does gravity affect an apple falling and therefore how many frames would it take to hit the ground? Where is the centre of gravity on that hammer I just threw across the room and how does this affect its rotation in the air? Jahirul Amin Set up your workspace efficiently. Dual Monitors greatly increase your speed. You can tear off a panel and have a floating viewport in your second monitor. Simply go to Panels>Tear Off or Tear Off Copy. You can also set up hotkeys for most used functions: Windows>Setup/ Preferences>Hotkey Editor. Kishore Vijay

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A quick way to copy a pose from anywhere in the timeline is to middle-mouse-drag from the selected frame and set a key at a new frame. To scrub through your animation, hit K and drag anywhere in your window. You can also change your preferences to increase the height of the time slider and increase the Key Tick Size (Window>Settings/Preferences> Preferences>Time Slider). Kishore Vijay

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When animating, you should be acting out the movement and feeling that emotional beat of the character. You can’t do that by looking at the screen all day, so stand up and perform the action. Understand where your body weight is, what’s leading and what’s following. Are your acting choices clear or could they be stronger? Is your timing working? Questions like these should all be answered before hitting the computer. The last thing you want is to realise 20 hours in that your animation is not working. Jahirul Amin


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SHADING, LIGHTING & RENDERING

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It’s not mandatory that all lights cast shadows. In many cases, you can activate shadows for the key light (the scene’s main light, which is often the strongest) while leaving shadows off for fill lights (weaker secondary lights). Activate shadows incrementally and test render at each step. Multiple overlapping shadows often appear unaesthetic. Lee Lanier

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When lighting, work with one light at a time, creating, placing and adjusting the key light before adding a second fill light. Adjust this before adding a third rim light. This method is more efficient than adding a whole bunch of lights at once and trying to simultaneously adjust them all. Lee Lanier

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Create a new render layer, turn off all the lights, then make a volume light with the following settings: Emit Diffuse and Specular: Off, Volume Light Dir: Outward, Emit Ambient: On, Shadows: off. Select your objects and apply a Lambert shader with the Diffuse Color set to 100% white. Position the volume light to surround your main subject, then render an image sequence. Import the images into your compositing program and use this as the source for ZDepth in your defocus effects. Eric Keller

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When modelling a head, it’s very important to see how the forms, wrinkles and overall structure of the face will read under different lighting conditions and angles. When I’ve created a head I’ll bring a version of it into Maya and test it under different lighting conditions in the viewport. You can do this by creating a basic directional light, turning on Shadows and viewing it in Viewport 2.0. It’s quicker than rendering and also interactive, so you are able to see how it reads while moving and rotating the light. Dan Roarty

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Use the Color Gain and Color Offset attributes found in a texture’s Color Balance section. You can tint, darken, or lighten a texture by changing the Color Gain or Color Offset. You can then layer two textures by mapping the Color Gain of one texture with a second texture. Lee Lanier

Eric Keller on his volume light method Using the volume light method for creating a custom Depth pass opens up a lot of creative potential when you import the pass into your compositing program. For example, you can set the blend mode of the layer to Overlay, place it above your beauty pass and then lower the opacity. This adds depth to the scene by brightening your area of focus and darkening the surrounding area. This can be the subtle touch that makes the image pop. If you animate the camera in Maya, try constraining the volume light to the Aim Locator of the camera so that you can precisely control the illuminated area. This helps especially for creating complex rack focus techniques when you use the depth pass as a way to generate DOF blurring. You can even have more than one volume light as a way to create multiple areas of focus. Be aware that if any objects in your beauty pass have Displacement maps applied, you’ll need to apply those maps to the Lambert shaders on the same surfaces in your custom render layer or the edges of the surface will not match in the composite.

Little Dead Girl By Lee Lanier 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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SHADING, LIGHTING & RENDERING

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To determine bitmap texture resolution, consider the render resolution and Texture Screen Size. If you’re rendering HD 1,080, yet the texture is on an object that takes up a 100 x 100 section, you can get away with a 256 x 256 texture. If the object fills the screen, you’ll need a texture that’s at least 2,048 x 2,048. Lee Lanier

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Mental rays’ Final Gather is a great global illumination (GI) optimisation feature for secondary diffuse light. But there are two major rendering artefacts that often occur: Final Gather flicker and splotchy gradations in soft lighting. I use a simple but counterintuitive approach with the Final Gather Point Interpolation settings. I set the default value to between 100 and 300, depending on the extent of the artefacts, to blur the GI results. Will Anielewicz

Use the Caustic Visualizer for real-time raytracing. This Maya plug-in will dramatically speed up the lighting and rendering production workflow. The software provides a true viewport preview of your Hypershade network, plus batch rendering as well. Details about the plug-in can be found here: www.caustic.com/visualizer/maya Will Anielewicz Porsche 918 Spyder By Will Anielewicz

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

© Andrew Hickinbottom

Maya supports super-white values, values over 1.0 on a 0 to 1.0 scale. You can set any colour swatch that you want to a super-white value by switching to HSV and manually entering the V value. If you render a Floating-Point format, such as OpenEXR with a 16- or 32-bit mental ray frame buffer, super-white values will be stored in the rendered image, so keep this in mind while working on your colour swatch. Lee Lanier

Automatically organise your rendered images by using the Keyword feature in the file name prefix field of the Common tab of the Render Settings. Artists often render many versions of a project and later have a difficult time figuring out which Maya scene file created a render. Will Anielewicz


Tips

I love the career path that I’ve chosen. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with creating work that I love Lifeng Xu

Cyber Girl by freelance artist Dawid Cencora. “If you’re working on a model which is going to be animated you might want to make a basic rig on base-mesh level to check if your model will move correctly,” he says

SCRIPTING & DYNAMICS

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Definitely learn Python over MEL. Only learn MEL if some aspect of the Maya-to-Python interaction isn’t fully implemented. Chad Vernon

the fluid settings to create plumes of smoke or fire from each polygon pebble. Try animating settings for the pebble brush to create an animated emitter. Eric Keller

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Never hard-code anything that ties your tools to a specific pipeline or workflow. Don’t hard-code naming or file path assumptions. These should all be accessible and easy to change. Chad Vernon

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Some MEL codes might save you a lot of time. For example, if you want to select all faces within a UV shell without opening the UV Editor, use this: ‘polySelectBorder Shell 0;’ Turuğshan Turna

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Look at other Python-based libraries and resources besides ones tied to Maya (such as Django and Stack Overflow) for examples on good Python design and implementation. Chad Vernon

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Always separate user interface interaction from actual tool logic. Tools should always be able to work without the interface. Chad Vernon

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Build creative fluid techniques using paint effects. Select your surface and make it Paintable. Apply to the surface using the Pebbles brushstroke found in the Fun folder of the Visor. Convert the pebbles into polygons, then select the converted strokes and turn off Primary Visibility on the Render Stats. Create a Fluid Container and add the polygon pebbles as a Surface Emitter. Adjust

Don’t repeat yourself. Logic, equations, design and architecture should each have just one place of origin. Duplication makes code even harder to maintain. Chad Vernon

Chad Vernon created facial and deformation tools as a creature TD. He has a B.A.S in Animation and VFX from Ex’pression College for Digital Arts

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nCloth can provide extremely realistic folds and form for your fabrics. Create the geometry of the tent or drapery as if it were lying flat on a table. Select the objects which are supposed to collide with it and apply the Create Passive Collider command to them. Select your fabric mesh or tent, place above the collider object, apply the nMesh command, create nCloth and press Play to initiate the simulation. Duplicate the simulated mesh and enjoy a realistic folding pattern. Jonathan Berube

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Make particles chase an object along a motion path. Attach a polygon object to a motion path. Convert the object into a passive collider using nDynamics. In the nRigid Attribute Editor turn on Force Fields. Set the Force Field Strength to a negative value so that it attracts objects. Add the nParticle object and adjust the force field distance in the nRigid settings. This method provides significantly more intuitive and powerful controls. Eric Keller

Global tips for everyone Go full-screen! Sometimes working off your laptop might be a necessity. Maya has a pretty busy interface to begin with, which might make your laptop workflow difficult. Hitting Opt/ Alt+Spacebar will hide all the window tabs away, just like how Tab hides all the tabs in Photoshop. Jonathan Berube To excel in any of these disciplines, you need to do one crucial thing: practise. By practise, I do not mean spend ten minutes here and there or two hours, one day a week. I mean two to three plus hours a day. There may be the odd person where everything just slots into place and makes sense, but for the average person practise makes perfect. When you get to that stage where you think everything is perfect, keep striving to learn more and better yourself as well as those around you. Jahirul Amin Preparatory work is very important. It is a key component for my work. During the observation stage, I focus not only on the effects of aging on human anatomy, I also try to see an inner expression, as well as how this is expressed over their facial emotions. Lifeng Xu Before starting work, gather as much reference as possible and talk everything over with your supervisor. Name every new object and shader. It’s important to keep order on the scene so you don’t get confused when there are many objects. Naming them correctly will be helpful for anyone who takes over the scene later on. Dawid Cencora

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tutorial files: ěũććĴ +.!*(-%ē, ěũćĈĴ3.6#1ē, ěũćĉĴ'.42#ē, ěũćĊĴ'.42#ē, ěũćČĴ'.42#ē, ěũćĎĴ'.42#ē, ěũćďĴĄũ..1ē, ěũćĐĴ 4-3(-%ē, ěũćđĴ!13-"11#+ē, ěũćĒĴ2(%-ē, ěũĈćĴăũ-+ē,

The final environment once modelled and arranged in Maya

Maya

Model an exterior environment in Maya With polygons as your bricks and mortar, learn to use edge loops, lattice deformers and bevelling to create an exterior environment with character

T

his will be the first in a three-part series, first taking you through modelling, then texturing and shading, before finally lighting, rendering and adding life to an exterior environment. In this first part we’ll look at how to model a stylised olde-worlde village that has been inspired in particular by places such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a town in southern Germany. However, as Rothenburg isn’t exactly around the corner, I took a few visits to my local answer to Bavaria’s finest. I spent some time taking pictures in places such as Portchester Castle, the village of Wickham and the amazing Weald and Downland

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Museum in West Sussex. Being in these environments really helped me to get a feel for the kind of look I was after, as well as providing me with a mental library of ideas and images. Accompanying this tutorial you’ll find the concept art I created afterwards. This is a loose colour sketch of the final intended look that we’ll hopefully reach by the end of the series. As you’ll gather when you see it, I’m looking to give the piece a fun kind of feel. I don’t want the lines to be too neat or uniform and there are some big, bold colours to come. What I’m aiming to achieve is for you to be able to see this village as home to a range of inhabitants: a

grumpy old man running the tavern on the left; a loud, coarse woman selling her wares two doors down; and a bloated lawyer with his dusty practice across the street. By the end of the final part, I’m aiming to have created a kind of moving illustration, an environment rich in latent life. Before embarking on a project of this nature, it’s very wise to keep the destination of your work at the forefront of your mind. Will it be for game, film or illustration? If your work is going to be for a game, then a low poly count is imperative and you’ll have to achieve detail through bump or texture maps, rather than through the modelling process. If it’s destined for film, the restraints on the poly count won’t be as severe. However, it’s likely you’ll be required to achieve a photoreal end product, which will bring projection-mapping techniques


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Lights and Normals

The concept art used as the basis for this project

into play. As mentioned, I’m looking to create an illustration, so I’ve got a lot of freedom regarding poly count. My approach will therefore be to model as much as possible rather than relying too heavily on Bump or texture maps. Having the objects physically there makes them interact with light so much more successfully. To create an overall feel of a living and breathing space, it’s going to be important to avoid too much uniformity. Time takes its toll on buildings, as it does on faces, and on no two houses in quite the same way. So, to maintain believability, we’ll be looking to inject unique personalities into those houses as we would to characters. Having said that, it would be suicide to redo topology for all assets, so we’ll be creating some hero assets for bricks, tiles and even whole houses. These can then be reworked, manipulated and lent some idiosyncrasies. As far as technique goes, I’ll be doing mainly box-modelling, working from a simple cube, then creating extrusions and adding edge loops where required. To speed up the process, as well as to add variation, we’ll be using many tools from the animation tool set such as lattice deformers and non-linear deformers. Because our environment won’t need to deform, we can afford to be a little less strict regarding topology (only a little, remember). However, I’ll still be sticking to quads for two reasons. First, the models can more easily be taken into other packages such as ZBrush later on, if desired. Second, quads can be subdivided very easily in order to add extra detail. We’ll be doing a lot of hard-surface modelling in this exercise, so take a look around at your own environment as you work to see how light interacts with objects. Your monitor, your phone, your shelves – most objects will have slightly bevelled edges that pick up light in certain ways. Ensure that you bring this particular reality into your work to add depth and a sense of even more believability.

When modelling in Maya, I prefer to use Viewport 2.0 with the Ambient Occlusion setting turned on. Primarily this enables me to see how close objects are sitting against one another, but it also adds a bit more depth to the models. I create two lights, the first of which is a directional light with Depth Map Shadows turned on. The other is an Ambient light, for which I take the Intensity down to around 2.5. Throughout the modelling I constantly play with the orientation of the directional light to see how the various forms react to it. I also tend to duplicate and mirror a lot of geometry over the scene, which causes the Normals to become inverted. Having lights in the scene will reveal these inverted Normals, but navigating to Normals> Reverse for the inverted polys will get everything back in order soon enough.

Some of the building variations created from the main house

We’ll be building the scene loosely at first using simple shapes and cubes to get an idea of the entire scene. Set up your camera angle, take each building one by one into a clear scene and push each one further than the last. Once you’re happy with a reworked building, bring it back to the main scene and replace the dummy geometry. As you work, try to stick as close as possible to the reference you’re using. It’s very easy to find yourself muddled or unfocused if you lose sight of your destination.  One of our last steps will be to add some foliage to the scene in order to bring more character to the wood and masonry and to increase believability.  To do this we’ll be using Maya’s Paint Effects. This muchderided bit of kit is actually pretty useful for what we have in mind here. It enables you to build anything from grass to cosmic dust using paint strokes. Also, the fantastic Ivy Generator by Thomas Luft (download from http://graphics.uni-konstanz.de/~luft/ivy_ generator) will enable you to get some nice effects very efficiently.

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Rome wasn’t built in a day…

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Import concept art and block out forms In the Viewport panel, go to Panels>Perspective>New. Now go View>Image Plane>Import Image and load the ‘supportingImage1. tif’ image. Under Attributes for the imagePlane1, check Looking Through Camera and Attached to Camera. Next, go to Panels>Tear Off to have this as a floating window to work with in your Maya scene. Now begin using simple polygon cubes and cylinders to block out the scene. Next, create a camera to work towards and reposition these basic shapes to match your reference image. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Shape the tower Now export

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Use lattice deformers To help

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out the tower geometry as an OBJ and import it into a new scene. Create a poly cube and scale it into a brick shape. With the brick selected, go to Edit Mesh>Bevel, increase the Segments value to 2 and play with the Offset value to create a softer look. Use the Insert Edge Loop tool to provide more detail. Duplicate this brick a few times and create a few variations by pushing the points around. Start using these blocks to build up the tower.

speed up the process of creating unique bricks, navigate to Create Deformers>Lattice. Set the S, T and U Divisions to 2 and go into Component mode to push the shapes further. Try to consider the structure as you build the tower up. Although we aren’t going for a fully realistic tower, we still want to sell the idea that it’s had to stand strong for years. Make sure you analyse real buildings and walls, taking notice of the formation of the bricks. Gathering and analysing reference is important, as it will help inform and support your modelling decisions.

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Rooftops Once the tower is

complete, import it back into the main scene and export out one of the low-poly houses. Start creating the roof by taking a polygon cube and extruding out the faces to create an upside-down V shape. Bevel the edges and then insert

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some edge loops. Select some vertices and use the bend deformer to add some curvature to the roof. You can find this tool under Create Deformers>Nonlinear Deformer. Take a simple cube once more to create a roof tile. Duplicate the tile many times to create variations and then place them against the roof using the Translate and Rotate tools.

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Create variations of houses Once you have the first

house complete, you can begin creating variations to fill the environment. By using the main house as a base, you can help maintain a similar feel to the piece as a whole. Play with the silhouette to make each house feel unique. Make some tall and thin, but others short and fat. Try to alter the shape of the door and window frames and use the wooden beams to give each house its own character.

Create the main house To

build the wooden beams of the buildings, a humble bevelled cube is the way to go. To form the variations, try using the trusty lattice deformer once more. Then, with the Interactive Split tool – or, my favourite, the Split Poly tool – cut into the beams and push in the edges to add grooves. The main body of the house also begins as a cube, before being bevelled and cut into for the windows and door. Next, add some extra edge loops so you can ever so slightly push and pull the vertices to break up the clean nature of the cube.

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Use a cobbled pavement You can create a bevelled cobbled stone from a starting poly cube. Duplicate this stone to make four rows. After you have done this, create some variation in each cobble using the Soft Select tool. These four rows can then be duplicated many times over, with some small changes made to break up the uniform appearance that can otherwise occur. As you continue to build up the floor in this manner, you may find the scene file gets very heavy, extremely quickly. If this is the case, then alternative methods may be best advised. These methods include creating a Normal or Displacement map.

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cobbled street give us an environment, but to make this town feel lived in, we need to add some props. These could be market stalls, boot-scrapers, a horse trough and so on. Here I’ve gone for a cart and some beer barrels, a pub sign in the foreground and some bunting running through the street. I found reference online to get some basic shapes and then pushed them further by using the techniques mentioned.

Ivy Generator You can download the Ivy Generator from: http://graphics.uni-konstanz. de/~luft/ivy_generator. For each house that would require ivy, I first selected all the pieces and duplicated the house. I then combined those duplicated polys into one mesh by going to Mesh>Combine. I then went to Mesh>Triangulate and exported out that model. Load up the Ivy Generator, import the model and select a point where you would like the ivy to start growing. Hit the Grow button and watch as the ivy creeps out. When happy, hit the Birth button to see the ivy. Export this and then bring it back into your Maya scene.

Add in some props A tower, some houses and a

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Build the foliage Natural elements will break up the man-made structures and bring age to the scene. For the grass you can use Maya’s Paint Effects. Just load up the Visor, under Window>General Editors, and scroll down to the Grasses tab. Have a play with the many variations of grass brushes until you find the option that suits you best. Once you are happy with your strokes, you will need to convert them into polygons. Select all of the strokes and go to Modify>Convert>Paint Effects to Polygons (Options), check Quad Output and hit Apply. Don’t delete the history on the grass mesh, as we can use the Paint Effects settings to add movement to our grass later on. The Ivy can be made with the wonderful Ivy Generator by Thomas Luft.

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Bring it all together Now that we have all our assets, it’s time to bring them together. One by one, import each house into the low-res scene that was first created. Spend some time rearranging the houses as well as the props until you’re happy with the composition. To help frame your work, turn on the Resolution Gate to the camera. If you’re finding that the assets are too heavy to manage altogether, try using Referencing. You can think of Referencing as pointing to another scene file without actually importing it. Any changes that you make to the referenced file will also update in the file that already has the assets referenced in it. It’s a fantastic way to work and I highly recommend anyone not used to referencing to look into it. The next tutorial will show you how to texture this environment in Maya. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tutorial files: ěũũũ 8ũ/1.)#!3ũ"(1#!3.18ũ ĸĥ/1.)#!3Ĵ#-5(1.-,#-3ĦĹũ (-!+4"(-%ũ2!#-#ũăũ+#2Ĕũ3#7341#2Ĕũ  2ũ-"ũ1#$#1#-!#ũ(,%#2

The final result of the texturing and shading work

Maya

Texture an exterior environment in Maya 3D brushes and paint pots at the ready: here we’ll cover a linear workflow, setting up a look-dev environment, UV unwrapping, plus texturing and shading

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ere we’re going to add shaders, as well as UV-mapped and procedural textures to the environment we modelled in the previous tutorial. The following ten steps will guide you through unwrapping UVs, setting up a linear workflow, creating an environment to test shaders and textures, then finally how to use a shader. To maintain consistency between our shaders, we’ll make a look-development environment, taking all our assets into this space, then testing the shaders and texture maps there before dropping them back into

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the main scene. For this environment, we will be using area lights with the Decay Rate set to Quadratic, as this will create a more physically correct light source. For the ambient lighting we’ll use an HDR image. HDRI Hub (www.hdri-hub.com) has kindly supplied a range of images so we can test our assets under a number of lighting conditions. Be sure to check out the website, as there’s a lot of useful stuff that you can pick up for free. To get all the lighting to behave in a believable manner within the look-dev scene, we’ll be implementing a linear

workflow. If you’re hoping to take your images into a compositing package, such as NUKE, working linearly just makes all the maths work correctly. Though it may fry your brain, it can also become your best friend for life. Just note that there are many ways to approach a linear workflow in Maya, such as plugging a mia_exposure_ photographic/simple node into the Camera Lens setting, or simply managing colour in the Render Settings. One of the important choices when setting up this workflow is keeping full control, as opposed to Maya making any decisions, which is especially


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key when it comes to gamma-correcting any images. This may be time-consuming, but it’s time well spent. As the camera is locked off, we can also go in and start optimising our main scene before shading and texturing the assets, which will be advantageous in two ways. First, by getting rid of any objects that are not seen by the frustum of the camera, we can speed up render time. Next, we’ll only need to shade and texture those objects that haven’t been deleted. If you can’t see it, don’t spend any time on it. All this will create a lighter, more manageable scene. Once it’s cleaned up, we can start exporting out each house, castle and so on, to bring them into a clean scene to unwrap UVs where needed. As we are mainly dealing with glorified cubes, we should be able to use Maya’s default UV-unwrapping tools. Primarily we’ll be using the Planar Mapping tool, or the Automatic Mapping tool, then going into the UV Editor window and stitching the UVs together to give us as few UV islands as possible. You’ll find that many of the objects are also just modified duplicates, such as the floor bricks and the roof tiles. As these duplicates have the same vertex count, we can UV a single brick and then copy those UVs over to every other brick. Sadly, using Maya’s Mesh>Transfer tool will only enable you to copy from a single object to another object. Having to do this one brick at a time will drive any sane person mad, so thankfully Oleg Alexander has created a neat little MEL script called oa Multi UV Transfer 1.0.0.mel (download free from www.creativecrash.com). This script enables you to copy the UVs over to multiple selected objects. The most important factor when unwrapping models is that the 2D representation in the UV Texture Editor looks very much like the 3D object. By this I mean that the spacing between the edges in 2D is similar to that in 3D. This will help reduce textures stretching or compressing, which can look pretty horrible and ruin an image. This doesn’t need to be perfect, as we won’t get up close to our assets, but it does have to be competent. We can use a simple chequerboard to assess the integrity of our UVs. There are many objects within our scene, so to unwrap and then texture every one would be a very time-consuming process. This means for many of the objects, such as the roof tiles, we’ll have to create procedural textures. It’s amazing what can be done by simply plugging some Cloud or Noise nodes into the Color and Bump channel of a shader. The objects that will need to be hand-textured, primarily the main body of

each building and the wooden beams, can then be taken into a 3D painting program as an OBJ file. I will be using MARI here, but anything like Mudbox or BodyPaint will be fine, or you can stick to a 2D package such as Photoshop if you prefer. If you’re taking your UVs straight from Maya to a 2D package, you’ll need to create a UV snapshot from the UV Texture Editor. For the textures, I’ve grabbed some of the amazing references from CG Textures (www.cgtextures.com) to project onto the geometry. I’m not going for a photoreal look here, but using images of the real world and manipulating them will add a heightened sense of believability when working against the procedural textures. Once the Color map has been created (this will also be the foundation for the Bump and Roughness maps if needed), we’ll take everything back into the look-dev scene. From here, it’s a case of setting up our shaders and then there will be some back-and-forth to refine the maps between Maya, MARI and Photoshop. We’ll create the maps at a 4,000 resolution (4,096 x 4,096), which is pretty large. This is because we can always make them smaller and get good results, as opposed to making smaller texture files larger. This enables us to pop higher-resolution maps on objects that are closer to the camera, then use the smaller maps for objects further away. You may find that some of the objects don’t need any texture maps, as they are so far away from the camera, making a coloured shader sufficient. As we are creating a look-dev environment that’s designed to be physically accurate in terms of its lighting setup, it makes sense to also use shaders that fall into this category. The mia_ material_x will therefore will be our shader

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A variation of HDR images to check the integrity of the shaders being used

of choice. It’s a monolithic shader that’s been designed to handle most architectural materials such as wood, glass and metal, as well as being an energy-conserving material. The shader also comes with a range of presets, which can be a great platform to further refine from. Once we have some hero shaders that have been procedurally created, we can duplicate them, then tinker with the Color and Bump channels to add variation throughout the scene.

The environment as we left it in the last tutorial 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Too many objects, not enough time You may find you have so many objects and not enough time to give them enough attention. In this case you can start merging some of the objects together to produce larger chunks. For example, most of the houses are comprised of three body parts. This would result in needing three different shaders and three different maps for the Color, Bump and Spec. Instead, you can just combine the three parts of geo together by going to Mesh>Combine, organising the UVs so there’s no overlap and then exporting out that combined object for texture painting.

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house and also the roof tiles. Although you may be thinking you’ll procedurally handle the roof tiles, they shouldn’t take long to unwrap and you can simply use the oa Multi UV Transfer 1.0.0.mel script to copy the UVs across. At least this will provide you with some flexibility as you proceed.

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Plan your work…

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Optimise the scene First open

up the final scene from last tutorial, ‘00_final_modelling’ (available on FileSilo), and start by getting rid of any objects that can’t be seen by the perspective camera (this will be our render camera). We’re

deleting them here, but you can always just hide those objects if you think they may come in handy later on. Next, break up the scene file by selecting the top group for each asset in the Outliner and going to File>Export. Save the group as an MA file, open up the first of those assets (starting with ‘houseA.ma’) and start thinking about what will need to be manually textured and what can be taken care of procedurally. As we want to add cracks to the walls, we’ll definitely be UV unwrapping the main body parts for each

Unwrap the UVs Select the first of the body parts for the house and go to Modify>Freeze Transformations. This will zero out the Transform and Rotate channels, as well as give us a uniform value of 1 for Scale. When using some of the UV Projection tools, you can get skewed results if you have values in the Transformation channels. With that done, select the geometry and go to Create UV>Automatic Mapping. Next, go to Window>UV Texture Editor and let’s start sewing this back together so we have as few UV islands as possible. Before doing so, go to Image>Shade UVs, which will help reveal any overlapping UVs by going from the blue (what we want) to a purple. Any red UVs will mean that they are inverted and will need to be flipped back to blue. 3

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Clean up and re-check the UVs Next select a row of edges

along one of the islands and go to Polygons>Move and Sew UV Edges. This should start bringing the individual islands together without too much distortion. Continue to do this until you have pretty much a single UV island (you may have the odd loose bits). Next, grab all the UVs and scale them so they fit snugly into the UV quadrant. Don’t scale this randomly on one axis, as this will cause distortion. Remember, we want to keep our 2D representation as close to its 3D counterpart as possible. Next, apply a new Lambert material to the object and plug a Checker node into the Color channel. Hit 6 on the keyboard to go into Textured mode and find the place2dTexture1 node that should have been created. If you can’t find it, go into the Utilities tab within the Hypershade window, select it and increase the Repeat UV to be 20 and 20. If this looks blurry in the viewport, you will need to update it by scrolling down to Hardware Texturing, found in the Lambert Materials Attribute window, and setting the Texture Resolution to Highest (256 x 256). Instead of doing this, you can also just change the Viewport Renderer to be in High Quality Rendering or Viewport 2.0 mode. When happy, you can then export out the elements that will need texturing.

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Editors>Render Settings and changing the Render Using to mental ray. In the Common tab, switch the File Output Image format to OpenEXR (exr) and the Image Size to HD 1,080. Pop into the Quality tab, select Production for the Quality, scroll down to the Framebuffer and edit the Data Type to RGBA (Float) 4x32 Bit. Next, open up the Render View window and go to Display>32-bit floating-point (HDR). You may be told that Maya will update this setting the next time it loads up. If so, save your scene file, close Maya down and reopen it.

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Add the HDRI and lens shader Open up the Render Settings, scroll down to Render Options in the Common tab and uncheck Enable Default Light. Scroll over to the Indirect Lighting tab and click the Create button for Image Based Lighting. When the mentalrayIblShape1 attribute window appears, pick one of the provided HDRI files or any from your own collection and plug it into the Image Name attribute. Here we’re going for ‘sky_cloudy_ free.hdr’ as this gives an even amount of ambient light without being too harsh. Still in that window, select Disable Primary

Visibility under Render Stats and enable Emit Light under Light Emission. Back in the Render Settings, just make sure that Final Gathering has also been enabled in the Indirect Lighting tab. Last, select the Perspective camera and go to the Attribute Editor. Scroll down to the mental ray tab and click on the input for Lens Shader. When the Create RenderNode window pops up, under Lenses, select mia_ exposure_photographic. You will probably need to crank the Cm 2 Factor to something like 10,000 to bring out the image. Please note that the current Gamma is set to 2.2, which will give us a correct image in our Render View. When it comes to rendering the final EXR file, take this down to 1 and this will work correctly in a comp package.

Set up mental ray With the

unwrapping complete, we can start setting up our look-dev environment. First we need to make sure mental ray is installed. Go to Windows>Settings/ Preferences>Plug-in Manager and ensure Mayatomr is loaded. Set this as the renderer by going to Window>Rendering

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house from the front. With the light selected, you can go to Panels>Look Through Selected, to make positioning a bit easier. Make sure to change its Decay Rate to Quadratic and increase the Intensity to something between 500 and 1,000. Scroll down to the mental ray tab and check Use Light Shape and Visible. If the render is grainy, we can come in here and increase the High Samples to something like 32. Bear in mind that this setting could have a big impact on render time.

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Turntables with HDRI

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If you’re looking to do a turntable render by animating the HDRI, you will probably find that everything looks good in the Render Settings window, but when you use the Batch Render, the HDRI doesn’t actually rotate, which is annoying. To counter this, I prefer to simply select all the geometry and the render cam (in this case, the perspective) and group them together by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+G. Now simply animate that group 360 degrees and hit Render.

Emit Light attribute turned on is giving a pretty strong key light, so we can add one extra area light to act as a fill source coming from the opposite direction of the key light source. Go to Create>Light>Area Light and when it’s done, scale it up to be much larger. Here the light is positioned coming from the screen’s left when looking at the

Use area lights to gain extra coverage The HDRI with the

Use texture-projection methods in MARI So we’ve set

up our UVs where needed and created a look-dev environment. Finally, we can start texturing. We’ll take the OBJs that need painting into MARI and from there use Projection Brush to project through an image. Using the texture library from CG Textures, you’ll find a range of images for Tudor houses, which acts as a great base. You’ll should find cracks, colour variation and some good old wear and tear. Use a soft brush with a low opacity and build up the texture while projecting through. This method enables you to minimise the patchiness that can occur when combining several different images together.

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Create and apply the mia_ material_x Once the Color map

has been created, duplicate this channel, rename it ‘Bump’ and then desaturate it to take out the colour. Create a new shader 7

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and add a Bump Shader Module to start combining the different channels together. The Specular maps will also come from the Color map, so when all three are done we can export them out as TIFF files. Go back into Maya, open up the latest look-dev scene and, in the Hypershade menu, go to Create>mental ray Materials>Mia_ material_x. Open up the Attribute Editor and edit the preset to Matte Finish. For all our Color maps (including coloured shaders), we’ll need to add a Gamma Correction node. Click on the Input icon for the Color node to open up the Create Render Node window and, under Utilities, create a Gamma Correct node. Edit the Gamma to 0.455, 0.455, 0.455 and then click the Input icon for the Value. Create a File node and plug your colour texture into the Image Name.

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Add the Bump and Spec Now plug the Bump map into the Standard Bump on the mia shader and the Specular map into the Roughness attribute. Then it’s just a simple case of tweaking the settings and doing some render tests. Once you have done this, try taking all the maps into Photoshop so you can play with the Hue, Saturation and Contrast settings. Run a High Pass filter through the Bump map. Once this shader is done for the body of the house, we can reuse it for the rest of the houses by simply changing the Color, Bump and Spec maps and also adjusting the

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attributes so they aren’t carbon copies of each other.

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Make procedural shaders For the roof tiles and floor bricks, here we’re going with procedural textures. For all these shaders, use the mia_material_x and again starting with a preset push them further. For the Color map, first add the Gamma Correct node and plug a Noise, Cloud or Fractal node into the value of the Gamma node. By playing with the attributes of each node, you can get great results. You can plug in extra nodes within them, such as a Ramp, to add further variation. Once you have the Color map finished, do the same steps for the Bump channel, excluding the Gamma Correct node. Finally, pop all the assets back into the main scene, ready to light and render. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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The following steps will guide you through bringing a lived-in atmosphere to an otherwise static environment

Tutorial files: ěũũũ 8ũ/1.)#!3ũ"(1#!3.18ũ ĸĥ/1.)#!3Ĵ#-5(1.-,#-3ĦĹũ6(3'ũ ++ũ3'#ũ2!#-#ũăũ+#2ũ-"ũ,.1#

Maya

The final image after adding all extra elements to the scene

Bring an exterior environment to life I

n the first two parts of this tutorial series we have modelled, textured and shaded an environment. In this final part of the series we’ll work to bring life to the scene by adding some animation and also including some new animatable assets. We’ll also lend the scene a real lived-in look by dirtying it up and speeding up its aging process a little. So, what elements can we pick out in the scene to inject a little reality? Of course, the bunting and the foliage are the ideal features to work on. With the bunting we’ll be using Maya’s nCloth tools to create the illusion that there is a breeze blowing along the street.

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For the foliage we’ll be utilising the animatable parameters of Paint Effects to give the impression that the wind is gently swaying the leaves. Another new feature that will serve to add more vibrant effects is the creation of the world beyond the street, as seen through the gate in the tower. Here we’ll use Paint Effects once more to make a field of tall grass stretching into the distance. Previously the street looked a little too IKEA, so we’ll also add some grass between the cobbles and to the ground using Paint Effects. We’ll also include a few loose stones on the street using basic polygonal modelling. These additions seem

very minimal on-screen but they bring a lot of character to the environment. Regarding lighting, I felt that last month’s render was too sharp, so I wanted to soften the air and round off a few harsh corners. We can achieve this using volumetric light effects. Naturally, this adds a lot of time to the render but I think the results are worthwhile when compared to using something like a ZDepth pass. Our last major addition will be to introduce some clouds using the emfxCLOUDS tool by Emmanuel Mouillet. This enables us to get a softer transition between our CG clouds and the HDRI and they can also be animated later.


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Testing out the volumetric lighting effects to see what will work best

Where we started and where we left off in the last tutorial

Flags fly and grass dances…

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Make the grass grow First, we need to add in some detail to the street, as it currently looks a little too clean to be real. Export out the ground from where we left off last time (‘01_start.ma’) as an MA file and open it up into a new scene. Go to Create>Polygons>Plane, use the modelling tools to roughly match it up to the cobbles, then go to Create UVs> Automatic Mapping. Next switch to the Rendering module by hitting F6 and, with the plane selected, go to Paint Effects> Make Paintable. Now open up the Visor found under Windows>General Editors and scroll down to the Grasses sub-menu. To add small pockets of grass between the bricks, I used the grassClump brush and modified some of the settings until the right results started appearing.

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Convert Paint Effects to polys and add stones Once

you have painted grass around the scene, select all the strokes and go to Modify>Convert>Paint Effects to Polygons. This enables us to render them in mental ray. Export out the grass as an MA file and we can add it to the main scene later. For the stones, take a simple polygon cube, add some extra divisions and then use the

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Sculpt Geometry tool, found under Mesh in the Polygons module, to push and pull the geometry around. By simply duplicating, scaling, rotating and making small tweaks, you should be able to quickly generate a series of stones that you can scatter around the scene. Once you have the stones positioned correctly, again export them out as MA files.

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Build up the background fields Like we did with the grass, we can do the same again for the fields behind the tower. First create some geometry to act as a paintable surface, give it some UVs and then, using a modified fieldGrass and Straw brush in the Visor, begin painting over the areas that will be seen from the main camera. The good thing about using the fieldGrass brush is that it also animates by default, so we can create some minor movement in the background to keep the scene alive. Hit Play to view the results yourself and once you’re happy, convert the strokes to polygons and export them out.

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Prepare the bunting Now export the bunting from the

main scene into a new scene. To constrain the flags to the string, we’ll need to add some extra edge loops so that when all the bunting elements are converted to nCloth, the flags won’t simply blow away. With the string selected, use the Insert Edge Loop tool to add loops where the edges of the flags meet the string. Next, select the string and go to Edit>Delete By Type>History. Select all the flags (one row at a time) and go to Mesh>Combine so we have a single geometry. This will enable us to only require one nCloth node per flag set, as opposed to each flag having its own node.

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nCloth caching When testing out nCloth, make sure your Animation Playback Speed is set to Play Every Frame, Free. I use playblasts to view the results during testing and then use Caching to bake in the results. To do this, with the geometry selected, go to nCache> Create New Cache (Options). Select a directory to drop the files off and set the File Distribution to One File or One File Per Geometry if you have multiple objects selected. Hit Create and you should now be able to scrub through the timeline freely. If you need to edit the settings of the nCloth, you need to go to nCache>Delete Cache and resimulate the results.

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Use nCloth for the string

Make sure you are in the nDynamics module and, with the string selected, go to nMesh>Create nCloth. You should see in the Outliner that a nucleus1 node has been created, as well as an nCloth1 node. Before playing with these settings, let’s pin the string to stay in place. Select the vertices on one end of the string, go to nConstraint>Transform, then do the same to the other end. Hit Play and you should see the string is now firmly pinned on both sides. Select the nCloth1 node and go into the Attribute Editor. In the nClothShape1 tab, from the Presets menu, select thickLeather. Experiment with the Dynamic Properties a bit to get the desired results for the string that is pinned down, rather than flowing freely. I ended up increasing the Stretch Resistance to 200, the Bend Resistance to 70 and the Rigidity to 0.5.

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Constrain the flags Now select the flag geometry and go to nMesh>Create nCloth. To constrain the flags to the string, we’ll need to use the Component to Component constraint. In Vertex mode, select all the points at the top of each flag then, with those points still

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8

remainder of the bunting and export them ready for the main scene. Repeat the method to make the pub sign swing. 7

selected, go into Vertex mode on the string and select the points that are close to the points of the flags. Once you have all the required vertices of the flags and the string, go to nConstraint>Component to Component. Now hit Play to test if the flags stay on the string or if they fall off. You can then experiment with the Dynamic Properties of the flags to achieve the correct behaviour. I began with the silk preset and then decreased the Mass to 0.1 for the final results.

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Create some wind effects To add some life to the scene, let’s get some wind blowing through the flags. We could simply play with the various fields here and add them to our scene, but instead in this case I opted to use the Wind Speed attribute that lives under the Gravity and Wind tab on the nucleus1 node. By using this attribute I could affect all the cloth elements in the scene in one hit. To replicate this, first we need to set the Wind Direction to 0.2, 0.2 and -1. This pushes the cloth mainly in one direction, but also gives some subtle movement from other angles. Now set some keys on the Wind Speed to adjust the amount of wind affecting the flags. Finally, increase the Wind Noise to 2 to add a bit more randomness to the wind. Repeat the steps for the

08

Work with the ivy It can be

pretty tricky to get some movement out of the ivy we created in the first part of this series. To get around this issue we can re-create the ivy using Maya’s Paint Effects. One by one, export out each building that needs ivy, merge all the building parts together, then delete all the parts that don’t have ivy growing on them to make them lighter. Next, use Automatic Mapping for the UVs so you can use the house as a paintable object. With the Ivy brush preset found under the plantsMesh tab in the Visor, draw strokes over the areas of interest. You’ll find that the initial results create very large leaves, so edit the settings to get the best results. Once you’re happy, with the outcome, save the preset and then apply it to every other stroke being used. I ended up taking the Global Scale down to 0.25 and in the Creation menu, under Tubes, I decreased the Length Min to 0.125 and the Length Max to 1.


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Adding clouds I wasn’t too impressed with using images for the sky, as I felt they didn’t quite gel with the foreground elements. To overcome this, I used the very awesome cloud-generator tool, emfxClouds by Emmanuel Mouillet (www.emfx.fr). He has an in-depth video on how to install and use the tool, so you should be able to pick it up easily. I created a set of four clouds in a clean Maya scene and then imported and duplicated them into the final scene to fill the sky. To light these clouds, I decided to use Light Linking so the image-based lighting node and the directional light didn’t affect the clouds. Using the lighting options within the tool was enough to create the results.

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Add energy to the ivy To get some minor movement from the ivy we can use the Turbulence settings, which you will find in the Behavior tab. I changed the Turbulence Type to Grass Wind, the Interpolation to Smooth Over Time and Space, the Turbulence Speed to 0.3 and the Turbulence Offset to 0.33, 0 and 0. I also increased the Gravity to 0.5 in the Forces tab so the ivy hangs down slightly. If you edit the settings in the Attribute Editor, you will find that you can only edit one stroke at a time. Instead, select all the strokes and, in the Channel Box, open up the Ivy node in the Inputs and scroll down to the Turbulence section to affect all the selected strokes. Make sure you experiment to see what suits you and create Playblasts to compare the results. Once you have the desired results, convert the strokes to polygons and export them out ready to drop back into the main scene.

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Use volumetric effects

Currently the air is very clean, so let’s add some volumetric lighting to spice things up. Create a low-resolution representation of the houses and the tower by using simple cubes. Export these objects along with the current lighting setup (‘mentalrayIbl1’) and the main camera into

add a gammaCorrect node to the Scatter attribute on the parti_volume1 parameters and set the gamma to 0.455, 0.455 and 0.455. We can now use the Value on the gammaCorrect node to set the colour and the amount of light coming through.

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a new scene for testing. You can also export the flags and the sign for testing. Create a poly cube and scale it so it surrounds all the buildings. This will act as the volume for the effect. Next, create a directional light and open up the Custom Shader found under the mental ray tab. Click on the chequered icon to the right of the Light Shader and plug a physical_light node into it. To begin with, set the Color values of the physical_light to something between 10 and 15.

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Include more nodes Next, go to Windows>Rendering

Editors>Hypershade and create two nodes: a transmat from the mental ray>Material tab and a parti_volume from the mental ray>Volumetric Materials tab. Select the transmat1SG (the shading group) and middle-mouse-drop the parti_volume1 node onto the volume shader attribute of the transmatSG1. Next apply the transmat1 material to the cube, acting as the volume in our scene. Select the parti_volume1 node and scroll down to Lights under Light Linking, then drag and drop the directionalLight1 here. Finally

Finalise the effects and unify the scene Open up the Render

Settings, scroll to the Features tab and, under Extra Features, make sure Auto Volume is turned on. Hide the mentalrayIbl1 node and do some test renders. Within the Render view, I’d advise using the Test Resolution settings under the Options to speed up viewing the results. I was aiming for something quite subtle here, so I ended with my gammaCorrect Value set to H: 211, S: 0.176 and V: 0.072. I also set the Extinction 0.002 and the Nonuniform to 0.545 on the parti_volume1 node and the Value to 12.5 for the Color on the Directional Light. Once you are happy with the effects achieved, reveal the mentalrayIbl1 node and tweak the settings if needed. After you have finished this, it’s just a case of importing all these elements back into the main scene file and, again, simply tweaking the lighting until you get the right outcome. Good luck with Maya and happy rendering! 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Master ZBrush: model for games Spacegirl 2013

Gavin Goulden Portfolio http://gavimage.com Software used ZBrush, 3ds Max Expertise Character art, modelling, texturing, rigging and sculpting videogame assets

This is a high-poly model specifically created as a target for videogame-quality assets. The goal is to create a character that can fit in mainstream media, but with a retro feel thrown in for style Gavin Goulden is a character artist at Irrational Games. He has worked on titles such as BioShock Infinite, Dead Rising 2, The Bigs 2, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin and Damnation.

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orking from Jorge Lacera’s concept here, the goal is to create a sciencefiction heroine that’s relevant to the current market, but has a retro feel we can associate with our youths. When working from a concept I prefer to keep the process organic and flexible. I rarely work from a formal model sheet as, usually, the proportions are

already locked down in a big project, since you have to share skeletons. Instead, I prefer to grab a snapshot of the character that best conveys what and who it is. Not every detail needs to be figured out, as usually this is something that the character artist can handle alone. A few extra bolts and panels won’t destroy the overall concept of the subject and

I think time is better spent discovering the character’s overall mood. Here we’ll be using ZBrush with some hardsurface modelling in 3ds Max. However, the following methods can be applied to any 3D program. I will be focusing on high-res modelling using techniques geared towards baking down Normal maps for videogame assets.

Troubleshooting Highlight any areas that will require special attention

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Identify key points There are defining aspects within a concept that help sell the mood

and idea of a character. In this case the mismatched armour pieces (contrasted against the streamlined body armour), the tribal hairstyle and evidence of battle damage are all pieces of the character I absolutely need to emphasise to help translate the concept into a 3D model.

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Plan your workflow When I

receive a character concept I take a moment to analyse how exactly I’m going to tackle the project on a technical level. Generally my workflow stays the same from project to project. I take simple steps like finding symmetrical details that can be copied, aspects that may be exaggerated and anything that can be a problem during production. Too many fine details won’t translate well in a game, but luckily this concept is simple and, other than translating the model into a relaxed bind pose, I don’t foresee any major issues.

32 O3D 3DArtist Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Define the materials It’s very

important to separate the different material types within the character. The subject may appear to be made of more or less the same material, but you’ll see there are several different layers. The character is wearing a spacesuit that has flexible armour attached to it, with heavier armour over it. Defining these elements will influence the character. The suit and flexible armour can be handled in ZBrush, but the heavier armour pieces will likely need extra work in 3ds Max.

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Check the concept and spot any trouble areas, specifically details that may not play well with modern game engines

2 Pick out key elements of the

character concept to help translate it into 3D 2

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3 Break down your concept to

help define your workflow


Tips

Learn how to Concept The concept from Jorge Lacera is exactly what I need to get started. It has enough detail to capture the personality within the character and allows room to play with details as I start modelling.

Tutorial files: ěũũĊ"13(23Ĵ5(-.4+"#-Ĵ spacegirl.ZTL file ěũ423.,ũ+/'2 ěũũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

Sculpt characters to be used as videogame assets Build a base mesh Model hard surfaces to be applied to models Use masks for detailing Prototype with ZBrush’s ShadowBox feature Manage your different layers within SubTools Use NoiseMaker to generate surface detail

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Model the base mesh

Problems & solutions When the concept was being defined for this tutorial, I worked alongside Jorge Lacera to squash any issues that could possibly come up during production. The hairstyle, in particular, was chosen to avoid sorting issues, while the suit design was kept mostly symmetrical to enable a quicker sculpt. With the addition of asymmetrical armour pieces the suit is a much bolder statement. Since it follows the proportions of a female human figure it’s easier to work with and removes some of the guesswork. The main issue with the workflow is translating the model into a bind pose (a T-pose at 45 degrees, upright but slightly relaxed), which is more common and easiest to work with. This process requires a good working knowledge of human anatomy. By creating a roughed-in female base mesh (which can be the base mesh from another project) I can begin to tweak the details to the model. 4 Block out your model with

simple shapes – don’t get caught up in the details

Create a low-detailed model ready for sculpting

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Block in proportions The first step is to block in the major proportions of your character,

while not worrying too much about details and focusing on just getting the forms of an idealised female correct. Usually I model the limbs and torso separately to make positioning them easier. I try to keep the same number of edges on each boundary to make welding the connecting edges together much simpler.

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Get the correct topology At this

stage I correct the posture of the character aiming for straighter arms and spine, as well as relaxed shoulders. I also attach all of the elements from previous steps and tidy the geometry across the entire model. Make sure the polygons are equally distributed, the triangles are removed or isolated to areas that won’t be sculpted over, and that there are no open edges. The level of topology you need for a sculpt is different to the topology required to achieve a well-deformed mesh. The entire model should have the same density of faces throughout, whereas an animated model generally has more edge loops around the joints.

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Use temporary models To help speed up the development process, I like to use temporary models for details that will be defined later in the sculpting process. Other than the head being brought in for reference, the best example for this project is the shoes. The heels that I add here quickly block out the shapes that will eventually be there. This also saves me a ton of time not worrying about modelling the boots right away. The key thing to keep in mind is to avoid the small details at first; get the bigger shapes blocked in and just keep refining.

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5 A good base mesh has equally

distributed polygons to avoid errors when sculpting

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Prototype with the ShadowBox

6 Using temporary models can

really help speed up the sculpting process 7 ShadowBox is a great feature

for quickly prototyping hard-surface models

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

ZBrush has a feature called ShadowBox which can form a model out of a cube using masks. Going to Geometry> ShadowBox will approximate the geometry based on painted masks on each side of the ShadowBox cube. By painting information on each axis you are effectively cutting a model out of a block of material. Using this, I am able to shape the jetpack fins in a matter of seconds. The drawback is that this feature is destructive to the model’s topology, meaning that it’s only useful for sculpting. You may need to retopologise after major edits. Once you’re happy, click ShadowBox again to return to the normal editing mode.

Create custom Alphas & layer on the details Before starting a sculpt, I like to have a bank of assets that I can quickly bring into ZBrush for detailing. For this project, I’m using a few unique Alpha textures for bolts and connecting ports throughout the spacesuit. The great thing about this – and something that should be common practice – is that these Alphas can be saved into a library for future projects, ultimately saving you time later on. Creating these textures is usually a quick process. Simply make a black-and-white texture (usually white is the influencing area) saved as a PSD or JPEG and import the texture into the Alpha panel in ZBrush. Alphas can be used with any brush combination; in this case I’m using them with a Standard brush, with DragRect stroke active and LazyMouse disabled. You can also create a bank of models, like nuts, bolts, clasps and so on, that have universal use. These models can be applied to your 3D application and brought into ZBrush or applied to the model using the MeshInsert brush. The one issue with this workflow, however, is that the base model can’t have any subdivisions when the MeshInsert brush is being used. It then becomes part of the model as a whole and cannot be controlled separately.


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Sculpt the character Build up your base mesh to achieve a high-resolution model

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Shape the head A problem many artists face when

sculpting females is that they overemphasise details when, really, the opposite is almost true. For idealised females it’s safer to make details softer and subtle. Any blemish will stand out and, therefore, either needs to be avoided or selectively chosen (like a scar, mole or a tattoo). Here I spend more time modelling the base mesh and making sure that it subdivides cleanly.

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Add some hair This character has a ponytail of heavy dreadlocks, so for the most part I mask off chunks of the hair and increase the mass using the Clay Buildup brush. I repeat this process for each major chunk of hair and then run over them with a Standard brush to create strands. Dreadlocks, however, are usually coarser due to many frayed hairs. To create this effect I use the Clay Buildup brush with a Spray stroke and an Alpha resembling a pinhole. To complete the overall hairstyle look, I create separate strands modelled in 3ds Max. These are just a few bent cylinders bunched together, with the same detailing pass that is applied to the main hair.

8 Avoid excessive detailing when

sculpting female faces. It will muddy up the model and make her seem a lot less fair-skinned

9 Layer the hair with the Clay

Buildup brush and hone in on the finer aspects 10 Keep it simple: the forms need

to be defined before the details 11 Patching over seams with

separate models is a great way to hide open edges

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Rough in the anatomy Next I rough in the broader anatomical details for the model. In

general, this character is fully covered in skin-tight armour, so anything like finer muscle details, bones and wrinkles are covered up. I focus on the major forms here, defining the bigger shapes like the larger-scale muscle groups in the arms, legs and torso. This essentially acts as an underlying base for her suit and helps mark where the armour plates need to go. Much like the head, I mostly used Move and a low-intensity Standard brush for this part.

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Cover seams and supporting geometry To hide the seam between the neck and body I

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create a thin collar to cover up the open edges. The model blends in well with the body-armour theme and helps hide the terminating edges in an elegant way. It also means it will bake down cleaner and enable the final asset to be handled in separate elements (body and head) without too much work going into painting out the seams and terminating edges properly. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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12

Mask out the body armour Once the body is

roughed in with major landmarks for the bone structure and musculature, I need to start the body armour. By hitting Ctrl you can access the Masking tool. This means that anything painted will be unaffected by geometry changes. To make the strokes crisper I hold down Ctrl again and enable LazyMouse in the Stroke panel. I then mark out the armour panels. Since this armour is skin-tight, I decide it’s best to leave gaps in the armour around areas that will need to deform. This will help avoid any awkward stretching during the posing and animation stage.

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Use deformations With all of the armour pieces masked out, it’s time to push the panels out from the surface to help define the difference between them and the underlying spacesuit. Navigate to the Deformation tab and click on Inflat. With this enabled you can adjust the strength in a positive or negative direction either by manually adding a value or adjusting the slider. I use a value of +2, which is just enough to push them off the surface. The idea for this character is that the majority of the armour is a flexible-but-protective material that’s attached to an airtight, softer suit. To help show the varying materials, I add tighter fold work in between the armour’s panels.

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Try working with layers A great way to preserve your model from major – or possibly experimental – changes, is to create layers. At the highest subdivision level, navigate to the Layers panel and click the + icon. This will add a new layer that holds all your future changes until the Rec button is turned off. With Record disabled, you can also control the visibility of the layer to show the differences before and after the changes are made. Once you are happy with the information on the layer, you can either keep it around (and possibly add another layer to preserve that change) or bake it into the model itself. In this project, the two key stages where layers are needed are in detailing the hair and the body armour. For the hair I was at first unsure if my technique would work, so using a layer enabled me to simply delete the changes without destroying the head model. For the skin-tight armour, I was also unsure whether its pattern would work. Since this was modifying a surface that was better kept clean, I wanted to use layers as a fail-safe to fall back on.

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12 To keep the mask clean when

14 Use Clay Buildup and Trim

painting, make sure that LazyMouse is enabled within the Mask brush

Dynamic brushes to create heavier armour pieces 15 To be more practical, the hands

13 Use Deformation>Inflat to

push the panels off the model

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

are lightly armoured for flexibility and to avoid distortion

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Build armour panels With the armour panels still

masked out, I use Clay Buildup to add more depth in key areas. The aspects that I focus on generally follow the muscles underneath. This is mostly to deform the model properly, but also to make it relatable to the real world and for it to appear more streamlined. Specifically the calves, forearms and elbows are applied to. Once these areas are built up, I can then use the Trim Dynamic brush to help define the sharper edges.

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Create the hands Using the same technique as before, I mask out the various elements of the hand. After separating the palm from the top of the hand, I next mask out the palm and create a ribbing effect by using the Standard brush with LazyMouse enabled. To help split the two halves I then run the Standard brush over the edge of the mask with the idea that the seam between the fabric and the rubber grip will be noticeable. Once this is finished, I can mask out the knuckles and push out the armour pieces using Clay Buildup and Trim Dynamic brushes. To get the right effect for the softer pieces I use a Standard brush with a low intensity for the fabric’s folds.


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Make the most of asymmetry At this

point in the process, as part of the hard-surface modelling phase, I create two separate and visually distinct kneepads and wraps for the upper-left leg and upper arm. These are subtle but significant details that don’t play a vital part in the building of the overall model, but go that little bit further towards selling the idea that the gear she has acquired over time is mismatched and has seen battle. These small details are the kinds of important additions that will bring a unique quality and intangible depth to your character designs.

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Hard-surface modelling With the majority of the sculpting done, I can switch back to 3ds Max to do some polygonal modelling. I export a reduced version of the body as a build to model over, then using Edge Extrusion I build out the armour panels: shoulder pads, neck guard, chest guard, jetpack and boots. With the models all created, I export them separately into ZBrush and subdivide them a few times. Beyond this, everything just requires surface details using Alphas.

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The final touches

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Make the last refinements to the mesh

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Add some wear-and-tear Once the majority of the sculpt has been created, make sure no major changes are going to happen; take feedback from friends and check this against your reference multiple times. Once satisfied, you can jump into the finer details that will help add personality to the subject on a second or third read. Since the character is a space explorer who has seen battle, I want to add some dents and scratches to her armour. Using the Standard brush at a high intensity, with LazyMouse enabled, I mark scrapes in selected areas. To help add edging that will bake down properly to a Normal map, I then bevel the edges using the Trim Dynamic brush. 19

Watch your edge quality

19

Apply NoiseMaker for surface details

16 I like to use traditional

polygonal techniques in order to help keep hard-surface models clean 17 Add subtle details to the

character to throw off the unrealistic symmetry 18 Applying isolated wear and

tear features can bring more personality to a surface 19 NoiseMaker is used to create

hair detail and pattern work on the jetpack

ZBrush’s NoiseMaker plug-in is a quick and easy way to add finer surface detail to your models. Selecting Noise under the Surface tab will open up the Noise Editor, where you can increase the Strength, Scale and pattern being applied to your model. Once you are happy with the noise information on the model, you can confirm the change and return back to the ZBrush viewport. Once there, you can inspect your model further. If the detail isn’t up to your standards, simply click Edit in the Surface panel and adjust the noise information as needed. The great thing about this tool is that the noise isn’t instantly applied to your model, so in order to make it affect the geometry you will need to click on Apply to Mesh.

When it comes to baking down high-resolution information into a Normal map, it’s important to avoid incredibly sharp edges. In general, it’s best not to use micro bevels (edges that are very close to one another with minor height differences) and to avoid pinching geometry in ZBrush. Instead, the softer edges that are created during subdivision are ideal for games. This is because the information will be translated into a straight line rather than a difference in height. When the low-resolution mesh captures information based on a ray cast, if the height differences are practically on top of one another, they translate as being flat in terms of depth. If the edge information is bolder and has more of a gradient from minimum to maximum, the information will be translated to a hard edge which, in reality, is always rounded. With this in mind, it’s best to use the Trim Dynamic brush to help create broader edges or use wider bevels in your 3D application that will translate properly when baking your Normal maps. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Create 3D game assets

Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Spacegirl 2013 Combining different materials and approaches to modelling, we’ll make this character seem less streamlined and more authentic Gavin Goulden is the lead character artist on BioShock Infinite and has contributed art assets to numerous titles such as Dead Rising 2, The BIGS 2, F.E.A.R. 2 and Damnation.

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ere you’ll learn all the necessary steps towards completing this hero character for a modern-day videogame. Over the next few pages I will share the key aspects of my everyday workflow, covering what makes a quality low-resolution model, as well as golden topology and mesh rules you can use in your work.

You’ll learn how to properly lay out your UV map for the best texel density, as well as how to produce the different textures involved to build a material, using both Specular and Diffuse maps where necessary. We’ll start with a basic rig, using 3ds Max’s Biped system, then finally establish a pose that’s ready for a successful videogame artist’s portfolio.

Gavin Goulden Personal portfolio site www.gavimage.com Country USA Software used 3ds Max, Photoshop, CrazyBump, xNormal Expertise Gavin’s main focus is on character art (modelling, texturing and rigging) for games on modern platforms

Start the low-poly model Shape a character model ready for further development 1

01

Use a high-res model as the guide The first step I take when modelling a low-res character is to import a crunched-down version of a high-res one. Usually this means a model from ZBrush with reduced subdivision levels, but it could also involve decimated or collapsed models from 3ds Max. This serves as a guide to model over and doesn’t require a ton of detail – essentially just mid- to low-frequency details – so the silhouette stays the same. Part of this process will also require picking details that can bake down easily. These can include bolts, stitches, laces and other smaller extras. Follow along with the tutorial files supplied.

Concept This concept from Jorge Lacera (http://lacera. blogspot.co.uk) is great for showing the colour palette and material variations that will define the asset. The previous tutorial shows Gavin Goulden’s transition from initial concept to a high-poly model 1

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Importing a reduced high-resolution model is a great starting point


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Learn how to Create a low-poly model ready for the very latest videogame hardware Properly unwrap a character Build Diffuse, Normal, Specular and Emissive textures for your model Rig a character using a premade skeleton

Tutorial files: ěũ(%'ı/.+8ũ,."#+ ěũũ(%%#"ũ-"ũ/.2#"ũ5#12(.-2ũ of the low-poly model ěũ#7341#ũ,/2 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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2

Make every edge count Unlike base meshes for sculpting, consistent mesh density isn’t as big an issue. Here a mesh will be heavier in focal areas or places that need to deform, like the face and hands. When creating a videogame character – or really any asset for a modern game – the key thing to keep in mind is that every edge serves a purpose. The edge will be used for proper shading with Normal maps applied, or for smooth deformations during animations – either by directly being a major edge loop around a joint, or a supporting edge for twisting. This way of thinking should help you keep an asset within budget and make reducing a model or designating edges far more straightforward.

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Model with Edge Extrusion I usually follow the Edge Extrusion method of modelling, meaning I shape a polygonal grid, grab an edge, duplicate it and adjust it to follow the lines of motion I want in the topology. In the initial stages I try to find a symmetrical point to speed this process up. Here the majority of the character is symmetrical, save for a few bold areas that need to be modelled as unique elements. Starting with a reduced version of my model, I split it in half by removing all the faces on the right side of the X axis. Then, with the model selected, I click the Mirror icon towards the top of the screen and create an Instance mirrored on the X axis.

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Use topology for deformation Always consider

the flow of your edge loops when modelling. Key areas, like the knees, elbows, knuckles and mouth, generally require at least two or three loops for proper deformation. This basically means a loop devoted to each bone at a major joint, with one in between for blending. Usually the more geometry included, the better, but you should always consider budgets. 4

04

Apply geometry to support Normal maps

Another important aspect to focus on when building your model is whether or not you have enough geometry to support an effective Normal-map bake. The best example to give, without destroying your model’s budget, is to consider keeping all your round or cylindrical objects as round as possible. As simple as this may sound, many artists mistakenly try to bake a perfectly round bolt down to a five-sided cylinder, for instance. Though this may solve any potential budget problems on the production, the result of your bakes will be warped. This is because too few vertices would be trying to sell the illusion of a complex shape.

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2

Mirroring a model can save a ton of time when creating a low-resolution asset

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By using the Edge Extrusion method, you can easily control the flow of your model’s topology

4 Keep the overall shape of your

model in mind with regards to baking Normal maps. A few more edges could make or break the quality of your asset


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Unwrap & bake Prepare your model for texturing by making a UV map

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Unravel & re-stitch This stage is tedious, but

absolutely necessary to get right. I prefer to use the Unwrap UVW modifier, isolating areas and map planar elements, then stitching them together within the UV Editor. When unwrapping, the key thing to keep in mind is readability. Beyond this, you need to consider the real estate your character is taking up. Avoid stretching and keep a consistent texel density, which can be tested by applying a chequer material to your model. Carefully consider the placement of your seams and try to keep them hidden or have them follow a natural line.

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Manage your models To speed things up I try to duplicate assets as much as possible. For this character the hands and boots only need to be created once. Consider modelling just one, unwrapping it fully and then baking textures and duplicating it afterwards. Once your model is ready, split it up into different elements to quickly get the portions separate for cleaner bakes. Try to avoid overlapping geometry or including pieces that may catch conflicting information during the bakes. A good example for this character is separating the shoulder armour from the body, as you don’t want model information from the body captured onto the armour and vice versa. 6

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Generate Normal & AO maps There are various ways you can bake down Normal and Ambient Occlusion texture maps. To avoid bogging down my machine I use xNormal, which is an application made to generate a series of textures without using a viewport. Simply navigate to the High Definition tab, load the models you wish to use as a target, then navigate to the Low Definition tab and select the low-poly models you need to generate textures for. You can set the Raycast limit, which is the maximum distance the program will search for high-resolution detail, as well as which type of edge information you would like (preserving Smoothing Groups or not). Once everything is ready, navigate to the Baking Options tab, select the type of maps you need, the size and the destination for the saved files, then click Generate Maps. Your chosen textures will be generated quickly.

Overlapping UV islands A smart way to optimise the real estate that your model takes up in your UV map is to overlap UV islands. If a model is going to appear exactly the same in the final result, why bother giving two exactly-the-same pieces texture real estate? Instead, stack these UV islands up and give the new space to other elements that could benefit from more pixels. For this character, the hands, boots and armour pieces were not made to be unique. To avoid errors while baking I grabbed the overlapping island and offset the UVs by 1. This positioned the UVs in exactly the same place, where the texture was tiled, and avoided any conflict when I was generating the Normal texture maps.

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Use a chequer material to test texel density, stretching and placement of the seams

6 Split your model apart for

cleaner bakes when generating Normal and Ambient Occlusion maps 7

xNormal is a great application for quickly generating Normal texture maps

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tips

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Texture the character Produce a basic texture set for your model

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Use baked maps as a guide When the Normal and Ambient Occlusion maps have been made, compile them into one PSD using the Alpha textures generated, with the bakes as a mask. This achieves various islands of information for the textures. Use the ambient occlusion information as a rough guide to paint details that will line up with the high-resolution model or Normal map information. Keep in mind that too much baked-in lighting information will conflict with real-time lighting – use baked-in shading wisely!

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Create Cavity maps Open up CrazyBump, which has a full free demo (www.

crazybump.com), and load your final Normal map. Once this is loaded, you will be able to tweak the settings in the Displacement, Occlusion and Specularity slots. I usually try to generate a tight Occlusion map for cavities and a Specularity map for highlights, which are then multiplied or overlaid on top of my Diffuse map. Since the Ambient Occlusion map takes care of broader details, the Cavity maps are intended to pop out smaller aspects.

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Apply Light maps Another step that I take to help the texturing process is to bring the Normal-mapped model into a scene with a basic Omni light rig. Using the Render to Texture panel (press 0 in 3ds Max), you can render out a simple Light map. This will generate a texture, showing Normal-mapped detail reacting to the lighting coming from above. This texture, set to a very low-opacity overlay, helps ground the character in the world of the game, as well as enhance depth for the final Diffuse texture map.

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8 Use subtle Ambient

Occlusion maps as a guide for large-scale details

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Paint the base colours Now block in bigger details

9 CrazyBump can generate

Cavity maps that will help pop out details in the texture 10 Used subtly, Light maps can

help ground your character in the game world 11 Start texturing your character

with basic colours and worry about the details later

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10

with colours to match the provided concept. These define the different materials within the texture without going into too much detail. I don’t worry about dirt or grime at this stage, focusing only on low-frequency readability and using broader strokes that can be seen at a distance. This character mostly uses a colour scheme of three tones to prevent any of the details becoming confusing.


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Defining different materials Part of what makes an interesting character is the breakup of materials. This can be as subtle as a button on a shirt, or as extreme as chrome armour over a matte surface. This character has great material variations throughout her costume – namely the different types of armour paired with a spacesuit material with low reflectivity. To ensure the material is of the best quality, define specularity as well as diffuse information, rather than simply adjusting the reflectivity of a surface after the fact. One map should inform the other and each is equally important.

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Refine & add details Start breaking up the model

12 Apply small details to give the

character life. Wear and tear can really evoke a story in the viewer’s mind 13 Produce a Specular map in

tandem with your Diffuse map to sell material variations with a range of values 14 Use a viewport shader to help

preview your work in a near game-engine environment

with smaller elements, like icons, decals, dirt and so on. This is where surface-level details come into play, to flesh out the model’s history. The majority of the model can be hand-painted using a hard round brush, with the help of Light and Cavity maps. You can add a metal overlay to the lighter armour, to help break up the surface. The Diffuse texture map is intended to be the base colour of the surface without any lighting being added to it. Applying too much detail as a result of lighting effects can make the material seem flat.

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Build a Specular texture Often a Specular map is an afterthought, but this shouldn’t be the case, as the reflectivity of a material will help sell the differences within a surface. While producing a Diffuse texture you should also be creating a Specular map in tandem. Separate materials should have an obvious difference in value. Generally the closer to white the texture is, the more reflective it becomes. Therefore, white represents chrome and black represents matte. When creating a Specular map, remember that some details will exist there that shouldn’t in the Diffuse texture.

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Review your work

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To preview my progress, I use XoliulShader 2 (available from http:// viewportshader.com). It’s free, easy to set up and is accurate to how a game engine will display your work. Open the Material Editor, set the material type to Xoliul and load in the textures you need. Now apply the Diffuse, Normal and Specular maps, as well as a quick Glow texture. You can also add rim lights, reflections and tweak how the material renders in your final shader. At this point I also enable reflections, a subtle rim light and load in an Environment map, provided with the shader, to control what’s being reflected in the final material. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Rig & weight the model Make a quick skeleton to pose your character

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Use a Biped skeleton 3ds Max has a great rig perfect for characters like this, called ‘Biped’. Locate the Biped option in the Create>Systems tab. After selecting this, change the viewport to Front, then click and drag. This generates a Biped rig that you can then fit to your character model. Once the Biped has been placed, adjust different parameters within the rig itself, like the amount of fingers, spine bones and toes. This character uses five fingers, three spine bones and just one toe for the boots.

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Adjust the bone position It’s unlikely that the Biped rig will fit perfectly to your

character, but that’s okay. You can easily adjust the placement of bones by first navigating to the Motion panel and clicking on the Biped Figure Mode icon (a stick man). Select the bone you wish to change and either move, rotate, or scale it into place. For this character I had to make minor adjustments, like the position of the shoulder. The major changes I needed to make, mostly due to the stylisation of the character, were the placements of the hands and fingers, the hip position, the length of the legs and the position of the head.

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Mirror the Biped skeleton When adjusting the

position of the bones within your Biped rig, you only need to worry about one side at a time. Since this character is symmetrical, you can easily mirror the information from one side to the other, which crucially saves a lot of time. Select all of the bones making up the adjusted half of your model, then navigate to Copy/Paste in the Biped menu. Create a new copy collection, click Copy, then Paste Opposite while in Posture mode. This will instantly copy the adjusted bone position to its symmetrical counterpart.

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Apply some weight Now you need to bind your

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model to the newly created skeleton. Disable Figure mode, select your character model and use the Skin modifier. Once this has been added, go to Advanced Parameters and change the Bone Affect Limit (that will influence a vertex) to a number no greater than 5 (the default is 20). This helps keep the influences on a vertex cleaner, but is also more true to a videogame environment. Generally the more influences a vertex has, the more calculations that will need to happen. Some hardware will even have rendering issues with vertices that have too many influences – so keep it simple and don’t use more than you need.

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Manually modify the influence Once you’ve

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applied the Skin modifier, you’ll also able to tweak the influence a bone has over a given vertex. A good way to do this is to rigidly weight a vertex to the nearest bone and smooth out the transition from there. When adjusting the character’s arms you can weight all vertices for the upper arm to its relevant bone and the same for the forearm. After this you can select a loop of vertices at the elbow and blend them to the opposite bone within the Weight tool’s options (the wrench icon). 19 15 Use the preset Biped system

for achieving a quick character rig 16 You can easily change the

bind position of your skeleton’s bones by entering Figure mode and manually moving bone objects 17 Use the Copy/Paste feature

within the Biped menu to mirror changes you make, for interesting bone positions 18 You can use the Skin modifier

to bind your model to the Biped skeleton 19 Using the Weight tool, you 18

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

can manually adjust how much influence each bone has on a vertex


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Consider the scope When working on your character it’s important to consider what the project actually requires. For example, this model is intended to be just a portfolio piece with only a simple pose. This means that the total triangle count within the model can be a little higher, so long as it improves the visual quality. This means the textures can be created at a higher resolution than normal and the rig only needs to be able to achieve a few basic poses, with minimal distortion. Unless you are intending to fully animate the character, you can save time by weighting it to favour your own specific requirements.

Tricks

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20

The Skin Wrap modifier Another invaluable tool

that you can use to bind your model to a skeleton is the Skin Wrap modifier, which basically enables a model to follow another weighted surface. I find that this is extremely useful for elements that could take a long time to get right, like belts or straps that are layered over the core character. With the Skin Wrap modifier applied, select the target surface and then click Convert to Skin to copy the skin information from the target surface. You can then adjust the Skin modifier on its own if any additional cleaning up is required.

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Make tests with interesting poses With your rig

selected, you can enable Autokey towards the bottom of the screen and move the bones of your character to automatically save a keyframe within an animation. I try to save a few extreme poses that will test the limits of the rig. For the most part, poses produced during exercise are good references to follow. A jumping-jack pose, for instance, will test how the model will deform during common animations.

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Manipulate the character’s skeleton Similar to the test animation for deforming the model, you can also set up animations to switch between various poses. By scrolling ahead in the timeline, you can create a few poses that can then be manipulated later, all without destroying the bind pose of your character (that will be frame 0). When posing your character, you can also adjust its weighting as needed, based on your requirements for the final render.

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Set up the final render Once you’ve settled on a suitable pose, it’s time to create a more advanced setup to finish. Often I find applying a three-point lighting setup using separate Omni lights – a strong key light, a fill light acting as ambient bounce and a back light – produces the strongest results.

Your game-art portfolio Always consider legibility when building renders for your portfolio. The point is to display your work in a way that doesn’t obscure details or deform your asset. Dropping your character out of a bind pose, even a small amount, can help add personality to it and still show it off in a less confusing way than, say, an action pose. In the same vein, you should also consider a lighting setup that doesn’t obscure your character in shadows or coloured light, but still brings out detail with light and shadow.

20 The Skin Wrap modifier can

quickly weight things like straps to a character’s body 21 A swift animation using active

poses can help test the limits of your rig 22 You can create a variety of

poses by saving keyframes on your skeleton 23 By using XoliulShader 2 again,

you can apply a three-point lighting setup to achieve your final result 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tips

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Here Gustavo displays some of the detailed anatomical features that can be achieved with ZBrush

Tutorial files: ěũ#$#1#-!#ũ(,%#2

ZBrush

Perfect your anatomy skills My tried-and-tested workflow for sculpting realistic details in ZBrush

W

hether you’re a digital sculptor, illustrator or designer, this is a great chance to enhance your skillset as I guide you through creating a human skull from scratch. By completing these few steps, you’ll quickly form an understanding of the basic primitive shapes you can use to create a detailed and believable model. I highly recommend that you do a little homework on human anatomy before following these steps, as it will help to equip you for any problems you may come across during the process. By studying anatomical references, we can understand how the human body is formed, the parts it’s made up of and the interplay between them. It’s also always advisable to fragment your work

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

where you can to allow focus. Anatomically, the skull is the part of the skeleton that forms the shape of the head and supports the structure of the face. It’s important to note that a human skull is in fact formed of eight bones, called ‘synarthrosis joints’, including skull bones (known as ossa cranii) and facial bones (ossa faciei). The bones of the skull are divided into two groups: the neurocranium (frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, sphenoid, ethmoid) and viscerocranium (lacrimal, vomer, maxilla, zygomatic, nasal, mandible, inferior turbinate). It’s important to consider technical descriptions to understand a little more about the separation between the bones you’ll be modelling. It will also make the final steps, where you’ll be shaping the

subdivisions of the model, far easier. From personal experience I’ve learnt that by reading books on anatomy, as well as drawing sketches of bodies in different positions, you can gain greater control over basic shapes. Through this careful study we can increase the overall level of realism in our sculptures. Each human skull is different according to the variations of its bone structure; many factors, including age, origin and gender, affect how a skull is shaped. This means if you choose to use a different reference image than the one supplied, you’ll get a totally unique result. In this tutorial we’ll start with a simple sphere in ZBrush, then flesh it out step by step, using several of my preferred brushes and tools in ZBrush.


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This image is supplied with the tutorial for you to use as a reference to guide your sculpting

Grasp the complexity of the human skull

01

Start with basic shapes To begin we need to add a simple sphere in ZBrush and activate Edit mode. Navigate to Texture>Image Plane>Load Image and import the image used as a reference in this tutorial, named ‘Reference Skull.jpg’. Now move the sphere above the front view of the reference skull.

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Adapt the sphere Looking at

the frontal view, we’ll convert our primitive sphere to a Polymesh by going to Tool and selecting Make Polymesh3D. Next go to Transform>Activate Symmetry and select the Move brush with a high Draw Size. Using the background image as a reference, activate the Transp option (Transparency). Now we need to adapt our sphere to the skull using the Move brush. A good tip is to alter the brush’s size according to the scale of the reference.

The bones of the skull have been separated by colours here, to perfectly present their divisions

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Starting the sculpt from a primitive shape helps maintain a more organic workflow

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Adapting the primitive object to the frontal view to begin working on the facial features

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Study the anatomy of the skull Take a quick look at the supplied images (skull references) to familiarise yourself with the symmetry of each shape. Obviously, when we start this kind of work, we can choose different approaches that can make our workflow more effective, based on the result we are looking to produce. Usually when we begin an anatomy-based project, we’re looking to achieve a balance between accurate and believable symmetry. This is also the case when approaching the human skull. I recommend enabling Symmetry only during the first steps, then disabling it later on to get some disproportion and realism. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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05

Make the cavities Now convert

the model to DynaMesh mode and deactivate Symmetry. I’ve chosen to use an approximate resolution of 400 with a Blur value of 0. Now we can apply the InsertCylinder brush to subtract from the sculpt. While applying the brush, hold Opt/ Alt to subtract from the mesh. This saves a lot of time going back and forth to the ZSub option. Apply the brush all the way through the model to carve out the mouth cavity and the mandibular notch, as shown in the image. After this we can release Opt/Alt, then adjust our inserted shape by using the Scale, Rotate and Move options under the Transform menu. Next hold Cmd/Ctrl-click, then drag and drop twice on the background layer.

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Useful tips for sculpting in ZBrush When adding and subtracting meshes from a model, try converting the sculpting to DynaMesh mode. Previously you couldn’t subtract any shape from the model without converting it, but with DynaMesh you can use the Blur option to smooth edges as surfaces. I find this is really useful whenever I’m combining an object between the edges. A quick way to convert the application mode to DynaMesh is to hold Cmd/Ctrl-click, then drag and drop on the background. This will be subject to the previous resolution assigned.

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Develop the digital clay

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3

Adapt the primitive objects to the side view

4

Slowly build up the definition of the shapes

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Create cavities throughout the model using the DynaMesh option

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Modify the cavities while paying attention to the views and smoothing the surfaces as edges

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Give shapes to the mandible and subtract objects

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Looking at the side view (the left side of the skull), continue applying the Move tool to adapt the clay to the reference image. In this case I also use the ever-useful Clay Buildup brush to add or subtract clay according to the requirements. I highly recommend using the Smooth brush to clear up any imperfections while holding the Shift key. This is a great method for getting the best-possible finish.

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Define the edges Once the cavities are shaped out, we need to redefine the edges of the mandible and reactivate the Symmetry option. In this case I start sculpting with the brushes (Clay Buildup or Standard) used previously. Using the Opt/Alt key to subtract from the mesh will help when you have to sculpt with the Smooth brush. Also try subtly flattening the model’s surfaces by carefully applying the Polish brush.

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The mandible’s cavity To start with the cavity of the mandible, we’ll use the same method of subtracting objects as mentioned in Step 5. Insert an object through the mandible (InsertSphere), but be careful just to go through the mandible and not through the skull. This is because we will later be altering the interior of the palate. 6

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Flesh out the form This step is vital for defining the shapes, because we need to begin dividing the mesh and increasing the number of polygons to get a detailed sculpt. Go to Geometry>Divide to control the subdivision level according to what you want. After doing this, redefine the clay using the Clay Buildup or Standard brush. For my sculpt, I prefer using the Clay Buildup brush to define an approximate model of the reference image. I can then clean it up with the Smooth brush. This rough model is a really useful starting point to build out the final model.

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Authentic reference is the key!

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Detail the palate, mandible & edges Now we can try to refine

the skull from the bottom view. This aspect will only improve with practise and by studying skull references from all angles. As we are mainly focusing on the front and side views, by applying the techniques in the previous steps you can create the bottom of the skull using brushes (Clay Buildup or Standard) with Stroke> Freehand set. In this particular case we’ll need to rotate the skull to get a good view from all sides, so I recommend activating Alpha 50 while sculpting and following the references around it.

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Sculpt the teeth Save the skull

as a Tool and create a new document using the supplied image (Reference Skull.jpg) or another image of teeth that you may prefer. Add a cylinder or sphere, then change this primitive shape to a Polymesh object. At this stage we can increase the subdivision levels to better approach the sculpting. Select the Move brush to get an approximate shape for the first tooth and then start to model it. When the tooth is done, go to SubTool>Insert and add what you’ve sculpted. You can then do the same for the rest of the teeth.

I recommend using various reference images from books on human anatomy or the internet. This enables you to get all the different angles and sides accurate, because you can find all the little nuances that can be included. Sometimes you may need to get a real bone to follow the details perfectly, such as faceted angles. A real bone can be rotated so you can appreciate its finer points. Small details like these can be learned when you try to sculpt from images of real bones. Getting a feel for the texture is also crucial. the brush size. I highly recommend taking into account the Z Intensity of the brushes at every step of this process. If you use a high level of intensity it won’t enable you to work as you’d wish to and your results will be slightly obscured. While still using the Standard brush, try building up the small irregularities in the skull and over the teeth, as you can see in the screenshot.

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Hollow out the mandible, palate and the bottom of the skull

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Sculpt the teeth and bear in mind the symmetry between them

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Place the teeth where they belong and try to adapt the shapes

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The roots of the teeth have a certain effect on the mandible and maxilla bones

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The subdivisions of the bones that make up the skull are important for achieving a truly detailed result

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Apply the final details To finish

the model, we now need to create the subdivisions in the skull to get an even higher level of detail. We can begin by adding these subdivisions using the Standard brush with a small size and the Alpha active (I’m using Alpha 59). Be sure to apply with a low intensity, but feel free to activate any other Alpha that you feel could work better. If you find that the subdivisions you’ve made are too big, a good tip is to use the Pinch brush to close or approximate the lines.

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Insert the teeth Once all the teeth are finished we’ll need to insert them into the skull. For this step, save them as a Tool by going to Tool>Save as and name it ‘Teeth’. Open the Skull tool we created earlier and choose the reference image being used as the background. Go to SubTool>Insert and choose the Teeth tool. After inserting this, try to adapt the size to the mandible and make any other changes that you feel necessary. Checking the symmetry is very crucial at this stage.

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The maxilla & mandible Maxilla

and mandible are the technical terms for the areas overlying the teeth, which produce some irregularities in the bone. To sculpt these, we must use the Standard brush with Alpha 50 activated to control

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Follow Gustavo’s instructions and you should end up with a medically accurate torso model

Tutorial files: ěũ(-+ũ ũ,."#+ ěũ#$#1#-!#ũ(,%#2 ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

Sculpt the skeletal torso T

he following is a process that will help artists, sculptors, designers and those without any knowledge of the topic to sculpt the column vertebrae, ribs and hips of a human skeletal structure. As always, I recommend reading books on human anatomy to perfect your skills, but for now I’ll clarify the key anatomical elements. These technical details always help us to better understand how joints work when embarking on a sculpt like this. The spine is composed of various hinged parts connected together called vertebrae. The column is separated into five regions: cervical (seven vertebrae, C1-C7), dorsal region (12 vertebrae T1-T12), Lumbar (five vertebrae, L1-L5), sacral region (five vertebrae S1-S5) and coccygeal (four vertebrae, unstable).

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

The anatomical master Gustavo Åhlén reveals his simple guide to sculpting a human vertebrae, hips and ribs in ZBrush

While most of the spine is separated by intervertebral discs, the sacral region – which occurs in the bottom of the spine within the pelvic cavity – consists of five fused bones without any intervertebral discs between each. Similarly, the coccygeal region consists of four vertebrae also has no discs. If you refer to the reference images you will see this unique section of the spine without separations at the base. With regards to the ribs, they are classified in four distinct sections: the cervical rib, which is located at the top of the torso; the true ribs, which are the first seven ribs attached to the vertebral column and, through the intervention of the costal cartridges, with the sternum; the false ribs, which are the five sets of ribs below the true ribs; and finally the floating ribs, which

occur at the bottom of the torso and are not attached to the sternum. Understanding such anatomical connections is key to following this tutorial. It’s also important that you also pay close attention to the boxouts throughout these pages, as here I will offer details on the processes utilised. Before you begin the tutorial I also highly recommend practising with primitives in ZBrush. This way you’ll be able to grasp the correct use of ZBrush’s tools and increase your knowledge with regards to sculpting the clay into different angles. This is especially vital when working with complex models like skeletons. If necessary you can find good websites with 3D models of vertebrae to guide you through the steps. Hopefully after following this process, you’ll have all the skills you need to build your own skeleton torso.


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Use this reference image to position the hips and ribs on the column vertebrae

Find your way around the human spine

01

Start with ShadowBox These first few steps are really important to grasp, as we will repeat the method detailed with slight variations throughout the tutorial. Go to Lightbox>Tool, select Shadowbox128 and select Edit to make an editable piece. ShadowBox enables us to view reference images from different angles and then use these images to create a quick and easy rough sculpt.

This image can be used as a reference guide to the creation of the column vertebrae. You can find it in high-res in our tutorial files

Explore the human spinal column The process of recognising the different parts of the spinal column is fundamental to understanding the various connections between them. Usually I would suggest checking the angles of each vertebra to get a correct fit, because when we create the complete spine we need to separately account for the position of each vertebra. These separations will be fixed with the vertebral discs. Always keep in mind that these discs are compressed and expanded according to the movement generated by the human body. Also, remember that not all spines are identical and we can find small variations in each vertebra. However, in this tutorial we’ll be working with a general example, just for the sake of simplicity. 1

ShadowBox is a useful tool when sculpting from reference images

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ZBrush’s SpotLight helps us to transfer images to ShadowBox

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Utilise ZBrush’s SpotLight feature Here we will use

ZBrush’s SpotLight feature to add in our selected reference images. Navigate to Texture>Import, then load any of the skeletal reference images you’ve chosen. You can import different images in one step, then go to UV Map and hit Morph UV. This enables us to paint the textures over ShadowBox. Next go to Texture, select the desired texture and choose Add to SpotLight. You can then position the texture over the desired plane. Use the options in SpotLight to resize the image as you wish.

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Tips

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Flatten forms with Trim Dynamic Sometimes we need to flatten rounded shapes and a very useful tool for this is the Trim brush set to Dynamic. Apply this to flatten the ribs after creating them with ZSphere. After using the Smooth tool we can get rounded shapes that make us lose our desired sculpting. The Trim brush set to Dynamic can be used again to flatten these forms. Remember to change the Intensity values to get a flattened shape without losing what you’re looking for. The Intensity setting enables us to make changes while keeping the original form. 3

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05

Redefine the shapes

Deactivate ShadowBox by going to Geometry>ShadowBox. We must now smooth and refine our current vertebra. Use different brushes for this – such as Standard, Clay Buildup and Move – with Stroke Freehand active. Refine the edges of the vertebra and try to get a result similar to the screenshot. The Move and Move Topological brushes are useful for this. Use Clay Buildup to get an approximate shape and then use Smooth to clean up the model. Always keep in mind the intensity of each brush throughout the process.

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SpotLight and ShadowBox are commonly used tools in the digital sculpting process

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Using Lasso Mask and ShadowBox enables us to create 3D shapes from relatively simple textures

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Get refined forms from primitive shapes using Smooth tools

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It’s a good idea to subtract – rather than add – shapes to achieve the result you want

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You should use SubTools to duplicate each vertebra and streamline the whole process

Paint some textures on the ShadowBox This step is key in

06

Sculpt the cervical vertebrae section For the cervical

the creation of each vertebra. After positioning the selected texture on ShadowBox in the correct position for the back, right or bottom view, we need to deactivate Zadd, Zsub and activate RGB. Select the Standard brush with Stroke set to DragRect. Now go to the Polypaint tab and select Polypaint From Texture. After this, hit Z to hide the options for SpotLight, then drag and drop in the middle of the texture to paint the textures over the ShadowBox. Keep editing until you achieve a similar result to the screenshot.

vertebrae we need to make two holes – as indicated by the red circles in the accompanying screenshot. Do this by selecting Insert Cylinder and using the DragRect Stroke. Hold Opt/Alt and add the cylinder in the shape that you want to make a hole. Align this second shape to the correct position. Now hold Cmd/Ctrl, click, drag and drop your model into an empty space without 3D models. You need to drag and drop twice and the second shape will be subtracted from the main shape. We will now follow this same process in the next few steps.

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Get the 3D shapes After painting each texture on the ShadowBox’s three planes (back, right and bottom), go to Brush and select Lasso Mask. Try to position any plane in a perfect frontal view, then activate Symmetry while keeping in mind the correct axis of the symmetry (z, x, y) according to your selected side. Now hold Cmd/Ctrl and try to cut the shapes following the edges of the textures above any plane. You can delete areas by holding the Opt/Alt key while you’re applying the Lasso Mask.

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Model more vertebrae and duplicate them Now we need

to create the lumbar vertebra (five copies), the thoracic vertebra (12 copies), the cervical vertebra (c3, c4, c5, c6), c1 (Atlas), c2 (Axis) and c7. Check out the vertebra reference images to get a good idea of where to sculpt and align each vertebra accordingly. Note that you can sculpt just one vertebra for the lumbar, one for thoracic and one for c3, c4, c5 and c6. Use Duplicate in SubTools to make more copies of each one.

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Aligning each vertebra enables us to get a good final angle

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Sculpt the centre to create the joints between each vertebra

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ZSphere enables us to get floating forms without having to rely on other SubTools

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In this step we need to use ShadowBox and position the hips over the sacrum

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Create the column Now we

can sculpt the sacrum using ShadowBox and the same processes mentioned through Steps 2 to 5. After this, create the centre of the column using ZSphere. Go to SubTool>Insert and add a new ZSphere. Position this in the middle of the sacrum, activate Symmetry, then Draw and apply over the ZSphere. You’ll see how a small red ball begins to protrude over the ZSphere. Now we need to use Move with a small Draw size to drag this new red ball, following the shape of the spine in the accompanying image.

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Symmetries adjacent to the spine When modelling the spine, take into account the angle of the ribs and hips to the spine to keep an appropriate ratio. These may vary depending on the age of the person and their bone structure. There isn’t a perfect symmetric measure, so we can only work with approximations. The angles pictured here will help us find common symmetries in our work, which are important to keep a correct proportion. They also enable us to understand the precise joining between the ribs and the hips over the spine. However, if aiming for realism, remember that actual skeletons aren’t perfectly symmetrical.

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Sculpt in the vertebral discs using the axis (red shape) as a vertebral guide

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Align the vertebrae After achieving an approximate model of the spine using ZSphere in the previous step, go to Adaptive Skin and increase the Density value to get a smooth shape. Now select Make Adaptive Skin to create a new 3D mesh where we can select primitives. Go to SubTool, delete the current SubTool created with ZSphere and insert the new 3D mesh with a high subdivision level. After this we need to use the reference image ‘Reference Column single.jpg’ supplied to centre each vertebra as a SubTool.

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Sculpt the vertebral discs

After centring each vertebra according to the reference image, try to adjust each one while considering the different angles, then begin to sculpt the vertebral discs by using the ZSphere as an axis. In the first instance, activate Symmetry and then apply the Move brush to get an approximate model. Rotate the

column using the frontal and side views as guides. By applying different brushes, we need to get an under relief (vertebral discs) below the level of each vertebra. Check out the red paint in the accompanying image to use as a guide, as these are the allimportant vertebral discs.

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Build the ribs Go to SubTool>Insert, select ZSphere and change its position to over the first thoracic vertebra, below the c7. Use the same process as in the first seven steps and don’t forget to activate Symmetry. I recommend inserting 12 ZSpheres and carrying out the same process for each one. After this, we need to make an Adaptive Skin, delete the current SubTool and insert (SubTool>Insert) the new 3D mesh with a high subdivision level. By using various brushes as in step 5 we can create a convincing sculpt of the ribs. Using SubTool>Merge Down, we can also merge all the SubTools.

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Shape the hips The easiest way to build up the hips is to use ShadowBox and follow the processes mentioned above. Apply the Move brush and then subtract shapes by inserting a cylinder (similar to Step 6). This way you can drill holes in the bottom. I also recommend grabbing the Move Topological and Clay Buildup to add new clay, get an approximate shape and then apply Smooth to the hips. By hitting Opt/Alt we can add or subtract clay. Position the hips over the sacrum and try to attach the bone structures by adding and subtracting clay. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Although consisting of predominantly straight lines, the skeletal arms and hands are full of complex joints

Tutorial files: ěũ1,2ũĜũ-"2ũ ."#+ē. )

ZBrush

Sculpt limbs in ZBrush C

ontinuing this series on sculpting skeletal anatomy, here you will learn how to accurately produce CG human hands and arms from scratch. The techniques used will help you to understand the different ways to replicate these human parts and significantly increase your anatomy skills. It’s always advisable to learn this process step by step and to not attempt the entire tutorial in one go. More often than not, these skills are best acquired after hours of practice and a lot of trial and error. Just persevere and stay confident until you get the results you’re looking for. Reference to the ZBrush manual is highly recommended to understand the correct

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Here Gustavo Åhlén, presents a simple guide to help artists to improve their skills

use of the various tools we’ll be applying. Firstly, we’ll give a brief overview of the bones of the arms and hands, to better understand the approach to creating them. The human arm consists of three bones: the humerus, ulna and radius. The hand is made of 54 bones, which in turn are separated into three distinct groups: metacarpals, which form the core of the hands, the phalanges or ‘finger bones’ and the carpals. The carpal area is an anatomical assembly that connects the hand to the forearm. Although this is a complex area, we won’t be referring to each individual bone of the carpus in these steps. However, the internet and anatomical books supply

great reference material if you want to expand your knowledge and improve your art. Reference images will provide you with a far greater understanding of the joints between the groups of bones, and to better visualise the various angles and rotations. A fundamental point to remember before we progress is to consider the proportions of each bone. You can base your works on models or perform sketches on paper to get a better understanding of the scale of each bone. When using a frontal view as reference, it’s important to understand that although we can’t see it, the hand bones are not fully extended and are in fact slightly contracted. To fully appreciate this quirk, we should use


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Use this image to position the hand and arm, using the scale as reference

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Use this image as a reference for sculpting the hand, taking note of how contracted it is

Here you can see different views of the bones that make up the human arm

Polygroups Polygroups is a useful sub-palette in ZBrush that enables us to combine polygons using different procedures, such as: Auto Groups, UV Groups, Auto Groups With UV, Merge Similar Groups, Merge Stray Groups, Groups By Normals, Group Visible, Group Masked, From Polypaint, From Masking and so on. I have used Group Masked as well as Group Visible to separate the carpals, metacarpals and phalanges in different Polygroups. This enables us to split them into SubTools if we want to.

side views as a reference. Although, the more variety we have in terms of reference images, the more accurate our models will eventually become, so try to find various skeletal poses to inform your work. Finally, the ZBrush Polygroups function is an essential function for separating our models, because it enables us to split the skeleton into different parts as SubTools, or combine them. You can learn more about Polygroups by checking out the boxout later on in this Masterclass, where we will cover how to best apply them in your work.

Create arms and hands

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Start with a ZSphere To begin

we need to add our first tool, which in this case is a ZSphere, so go to the Tool tab and select it. Now click on the background (the work interface) while you drag and drop over it. In order to make this ZSphere editable, we need to activate Edit mode (keyboard shortcut: T). Now go to Texture>Image Plane>Load Image to open the reference images you’ve sourced for accurately sculpting the hand.

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main ZSphere. When this new sphere starts to appear, go to Move (keyboard shortcut: W) and adjust it until the joints begin to appear. Now, over a new joint, draw another sphere and do the same step for each finger. You’ll have to keep in mind that each finger will start from the main ZSphere you originally made. Also pay attention to the brush’s size, as this will define the width of the fingers. Note that you’ll be able to see the joints that are being created in a lighter grey than the rest.

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Use ZSphere to create the hand’s basic shape

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The simple skeleton for the hand is the first step before we convert it to clay

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Using frontal and side views helps us to control the length between the joints

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Refer to the side views In the previous step we were working in a frontal view, but now we need to move these joints using the side views. This process will alter the length between the joints, so try to get similar proportions to the reference image you’ve picked. Remember, you need to change from Draw to Move mode using small values of Draw Size, because if you have high values you will inadvertently modify other joints. Keep this in mind when you need to move closed joints. For further advice for moving the joints, check out some of the accompanying boxouts throughout this tutorial.

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Add the hand bones Now it’s

time to draw the metacarpals and fingers. For this we need to change the brush’s size, moving to smaller values and drawing a new smaller sphere over the

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Save Adaptive Skin until last When using primitive forms on a project like this, we often turn them to PolyMesh 3D, because it’s the best mode to sculpt these kinds of meshes. In this particular case I avoided activating Adaptive Skin until the last step, before converting it to Polymesh. This way we can return to the original ZSphere to make new changes in the joints. To do this, just go to Tool>Adaptive Skin and select Preview.

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Convert the model to Adaptive Skin to begin sculpting

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The Deformation options are very useful to create changes in the unmasked areas

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By using various Intensity values in our brushes, we can maintain greater control over the mesh

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You’ll need to use a wide range of brushes and values to build up the correct details

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Use ZSphere to create separate SubTools for each arm bone

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Convert to Adaptive Skin

After we have the skeleton of the hand, we can see a preview of the model by converting our skeleton to Adaptive Skin. Hit A on the keyboard, or go to Tool> Adaptive Skin. It’s vital that you change the Density values, because this will increase or decrease the subdivision level (SDiv). In this case we’ve opted to use a Density of 5. Now we need to mask all by holding Cmd/ Ctrl and clicking in an empty space. Now unmask the joint areas by holding Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt and unmask the areas as you can see highlighted in the screenshot.

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Define the basic shapes Now

we can inflate the unmasked areas to begin sculpting the joints, which are more bulky than the rest of the skeleton. To do this, go to Tool>Deformation and increase the Inflate levels. It’s also a good idea to increase the clay in suitable regions. After this we need to unmask all, holding Cmd/Ctrl and clicking over the background while dragging and dropping.

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Sculpt the hand Now we are ready to begin building up the main mesh of the skeleton. With your

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reference images close at hand, pick the Move Topological brush and attempt to achieve an approximate re-creation of what you see. The Move Topological brush is preferable because it moves the mesh separately from the rest of the polygons. You can experiment with the Draw Size to understand the differences between the Move and Move Topological brushes. Next you can use the Clay Buildup brush with a low Intensity, such as 20, to gain better control over the clay.

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Include small details This step

will require a combination of brushes. Clay Buildup is used to get an approximate shape; Smooth is used to smooth the mesh; Slash3 will create separations between the bones (joints); Pinch can reduce the space between these separations; and hPolish will flatten the curves or irregular meshes. Try to experiment with hPolish to test this brush, holding Opt/Alt to flatten the mesh under or over the current mesh. Opt/Alt will reverse the current option that’s selected (Zadd or ZSub). After sculpting, you can convert the model in Polymesh 3D by going to Tool>Save As.

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Apply more ZSpheres Open

a new empty document. In this step we need to make different SubTools for the bones of the arms, namely the humerus, ulna and radius. For the humerus, load a reference image, then go to Tool>ZSphere and add a ZSphere. Change the size of the ZSphere and draw over the reference images, following the same steps previously used. Now, to create the ulna and radius bones, go to SubTool>Insert, load a new ZSphere and repeat the previous process. Remember to use separate SubTools for the various bones of the arm.


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Getting a rough mesh for the final model using Adaptive Skin

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Backfacemask is a useful tool that enables us to protect the mesh while we sculpt

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Converting the SubTools into Polymesh 3D enables us to get better control over the meshes Position the bones of the arm and hand over your reference images. Don’t forget to check the scale

Convert the ZSpheres to Adaptive Skin Now we need to

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convert each SubTool into Adaptive Skin (keyboard shortcut: A). Go to Tool>Adaptive Skin and increase the Density setting in each SubTool to get a better quality before sculpting on the clay. Ideally you should get something similar to the screenshot, without a defined mesh and overlap. 12

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Refine the arm bones After

converting these bones to Adaptive Skin, we need to sculpt the clay using brushes, such as Clay Buildup with Backfacemask active (go to Brush>Auto Masking>Backfacemask). It’s advisable to hold Opt/Alt while you are sculpting, in order to subtract the clay (ZSub) using low values of Intensity. The hPolish brush can help you to get a flatter mesh to produce a more defined model. After this we can use the Smooth brush while holding Shift to smooth the mesh using low values of Intensity. Repeat this for each SubTool.

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Convert your SubTools to Polymesh 3D Now convert each

SubTool into Polymesh 3D. For this it’s important to rename each SubTool: ‘humerus’, ‘ulna’ and ‘radius’. If you hit Make Polymesh 3D over a SubTool, this will then create a new mesh called PM3D_humerus, or whatever name you have given to your SubTool. Automatically, this will change to the new mesh created as PM3D. You need to return to the original tool where the three SubTools were and convert these to Polymesh 3D. Once you’ve created the

Mask the meshes so they separate into different SubTools three SubTools into Polymesh 3D, go back to the first Polymesh you created and insert the other two new Polymeshes by going to SubTool>Insert.

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Refine the positions, scales and angles With your reference

images still close at hand, load the two tools (the hand and arm), select one of them, then go to SubTool>Insert and load the other tool as a SubTool. Next rotate the hand and arm, attempting to find a good fit between the two. Simply follow the reference images carefully, taking into account the positions, scales and angles that are used and noting that the hand and arm are not extended but have a slight bend. Activate Symmetry to produce the other hand and arm. You can now export the project as an OBJ file and open it in any 3D software.

As I mentioned previously within this tutorial, if you want to separate the mesh into SubTools, start by masking the area that you want to split, such as the metacarpals or phalanges. Next, go to Tool>Polygroups and select Group Masked. You can either apply Invert Mask to separate the other areas, or do this manually. Once you’ve separated the metacarpals and phalanges into different Polygroups, you can convert this mesh to PolyMesh 3D and then go to Tool>SubTool>Split and select Groups Split. Now select the SubTool and click Close Holes.

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Tutorial files: ěũ (-ũ(,%#ē)/% ěũ4//.13(-%ũ(,%#ũĈē)/% ěũ4//.13(-%ũ(,%#ũĉē)/% ěũ.7.43Ĉē)/% ěũ.7.43ĉē)/% Gustavo’s final work helps to better understand how to sculpt the human legs and feet

ZBrush

Sculpt the legs and feet

Use ZBrush to create the lower half of the human body in this detailed anatomy tutorial

I

n this final section of my ZBrush anatomy masterclass I will reveal the workflow steps for creating a digital sculpture of the skeletal legs and feet. First, a medical introduction to the legs and bones of the lower half of the body, as understanding the structure and anatomy of the bones is integral to the process of re-creating them in ZBrush. The legs are made up of the femur, or the thighbone, which is the area between the pelvis and the knee. The patella is the knee cap, the tibia is the larger of the two bones below the knee cap, and the fibula is the smaller of the two leg bones located below the knee cap. The feet are constructed in separate sectors by the following bones: the tarsus (talus, calcaneus, cuneiformes,

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cuboid and navicular), metatarsus (first, second, third, fourth and fifth metatarsal bone) and phalanges. When we start to sculpt, we need to pay attention to the femur head (upper extremity) and the lower extremity as well as the extremities of the tibia and fibula. The femur head is the joint with the hip and the lower extremity is the joint with the tibia. Understanding these joints is really important because you need to know the correct rotations and how they connect the joints. Reference and medical information can be found via the internet, where you can get a better idea about each joint and how these bones work. By using the brushes Move or Move topological you can approximate the joints between each bone

that we have separated in SubTools. Throughout this masterclass you will find boxouts where I have included detailed explanations about the processes used in each step. I also recommend that anyone reading this tutorial also pick up some books on human anatomy to gain a better understanding of how the skeleton works. Finally, you can improve your final model by adding more details and activating alphas in the brushes to add irregular surfaces. I recommend the use of hPolish brush, because sometimes we get rounded models and a good way to flatten these areas is the use of this brush. The most important steps are detailed in this masterclass, but you can improve the final model according to your personal tastes.


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This image is used as reference to sculpt the feet following the different views

How proportions, scales and angles shape our model When we start a new sculpture in 3D, we should pay attention to the proportions, scales and angles because it lets us gain better control over the individual shapes. When we talk about proportions, we must take into account the length and width as well as the thickness. Sometimes it may be the case that we make a model with the proper length but with the wrong thickness. When we are sculpting a small part of a model and not the complete piece, we can sometimes lose the proportions as linked to other parts. A good way to get around this is to sculpt the smaller parts while using the larger model as a reference. This image can be used to position the feet and legs using the scales as reference

Start simple

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Start with ZSphere The first

step is to attach our first tool as ZSphere. Go to Tool>ZSphere. After selecting ZSphere we need to do a left-click over the background (work interface) while you drag and drop over it. Convert the ZSphere into an editable object by activating Edit (shortcut T). Go to Texture> Image plane and finally Load Image to open the reference image of the feet included with the cover disc. This will aid you when sculpting anatomically correct shapes. 1

Start sculpting the feet It is

time to start defining the shape of the toes. For this, we need to change the brush size using small values and try to draw a new small sphere over the main ZSphere. When this new sphere starts to appear, go to Move (shortcut, W) and try to move it to where you would find the joints. Now, over this new joint, draw a new sphere, and do the same step for each toe. Remember that each toe originates from the main ZSphere created in Step 1 and the brush size will define the width of each section of the toe.

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ZSphere is used to start the model of the skeleton

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The skeleton for the feet is the first step before converting it

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Using frontal and side views help us to control the length between the joints

Use side views as reference

In the previous step I have used a frontal view as reference, but now we need to move these joints using the side views to ensure we are sculpting the correct proportions. This process will change the length between the joints. Try to get a similar model as in the image used for reference. You need to change from Draw to Move using small values of draw size, because if you have high values of draw size you will modify other joints. Keep this in mind when you need to Move closed joints.

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After the sculpting you can convert the feet into Polymesh3D. Apply DynaMesh to add more details and correct imperfections (closing holes). Save the feet by selecting Tool>Save As.

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background. Do this at the same time that you drag and drop.

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Convert the model to adaptive skin to start sculpting details

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The Deformation options are really useful to create changes in the unmasked areas

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Different brushes and values of intensity allow us to get a better control over the entire mesh

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Using different brushes is key to achieving a great final result

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Use ZSphere to create separated SubTools for each leg bone

Convert to adaptive skin

After creating the base sculpt of our skeletal feet we can view a preview of the model by converting our skeleton using Adaptive Skin (shortcut, A or go to Tool>Adaptive skin). It is really important to change the values of Density because this will increase or decrease the subdivision level (SDiv). In this case I have used Density=5. Now we’ll mask all by holding Cmd/Ctrl and clicking in an empty space. You then need to unmask the areas of the joints, holding Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt and unmasking these areas as you can see in the screenshot.

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Define basic shapes Now we

need to inflate the unmasked areas to start sculpting the joints, which are very often bulkier. For this go to Tool> Deformation and increase the levels of the Inflate feature. This is a good option to increase the clay in the unmasked areas. Afterwards, we need to unmask all, by holding Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on the

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Sculpt the feet It is time to sculpt the feet. Using the reference images, use the brush Move Topological to get an approximate clay to the reference before sculpting it. Using Move Topological enables us to move the mesh separated from the rest of the polygons by areas according to the draw size. It is important to test it to understand the differences between the brushes Move and Move Topological changing the draw size. Then, we must use the brush ClayBuildup with a low intensity, such as 20, to gain better control over the clay. Now finally we need to smooth it.

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Add small details Here we use

several brushes; ClayBuildup: used to get an approximate shape, Smooth: used to smooth the mesh, Slash3: used to create separations between the bones (joints), Pinch: used to reduce the space between these separations, hPolish: Used to flatten the curves or irregular meshes. When using hPolish, try to test this brush while you hold Opt/Alt to flatten the mesh under or over the current mesh. Opt/Alt reverse the current option selected (Zadd or Zsub).

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Create a ZSphere for the legs Now, create a new empty

document. We need to create different SubTools for the bones of the legs: the femur, patella, tibia and fibula. To create the femur, go to Tool and select ZSphere and load the reference image. Draw the ZSphere over the image. Change the size of the ZSphere positioning it over the reference images and follow the steps previously used. Next create the tibia and fibula bones. Go to SubTool>Insert and load a new ZSphere, following the same process as for the femur. To create the patella bone, insert a Sphere.

Using the options of deformation The options of Deformation (Tool>Deformation) are really useful to quickly convert meshes, because in some cases we have big scales. A good tip to decrease the scale of the model is using Size into Deformation keeping the 3 axis (x,y,z) to decrease or increase the scale of the shape proportionally. If we import a tool with a big scale and we use the common Scale (Key=E) to reduce it, sometimes we need to rescale a lot of times, reducing the piece very slowly in the process. That is why I highly recommend the use of Size into Deformation to resize the piece quickly.


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Bone expansion and contraction After you have converted the skeleton with ZSphere in Polymesh3D, you can stretch or contract the bones of the feet and legs. A good tip to modify these rotations while maintaining the original length is using Move while you are holding Ctrl as you can see in the image below. There is also another very interesting option available when holding Opt/Alt. If you are working with ZSphere and you drag over the background while you are holding Opt/ Alt you will move the complete model. Check out how Length 1 stays the same length while we rotate the bones.

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Convert ZSphere in Adaptive skin Convert each

SubTool in adaptive skin (shortcut, A) and go to Tool>Adaptive Skin. Increase the density to get a better quality in each SubTool before you start sculpting on clay. You will get something similar to the accompanying current image without a defined mesh and overlap, but don’t worry about it, because we have separated the bones in SubTools. In this case I have used Adaptive skin ‘Density=5’.

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Sculpt the legs Now we can start to sculpt the mesh. In this case I have used ClayBuildup and I have activated BackfaceMask from Brush>Auto Masking>BackfaceMask). I recommend holding Opt/Alt while you are sculpting to subtract the clay (ZSub) using low values of intensity. hPolish can help you to get a flatter mesh for a more defined model. After this we can use Smooth brush by holding Shift and smooth the mesh using low values of intensity. Carry out this process for each SubTool.

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will change to the new mesh created as PM3D_femur. You then need to go back to the original tool where the three SubTools are located and convert them as Polymesh. Once you’ve created the three SubTools as Polymesh3D, you can open the document previously saved for the feet and insert each SubTool (femur, patella, tibia and fibula) like you’ve previously done.

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Once we have opened the feet document and we have merged it with the SubTools of legs, we need to rotate the feet and leg bones to ensure that they have maintained a good fit between them. Before you do this, remember to take into account the positions, scales and angles used in the reference images. In order to do this, you can export the project to OBJ, open it into any 3D software and activate the symmetry to create the other leg. Once you have completed doing this, it is finally time to render. 9

Adaptive skin enables us to get an approximate mesh to the final model from ZSphere tool

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Converting the SubTools in Polymesh3D allows us to gain a better control over the meshes

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It is important to clean the curved areas using the hPolish brush

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Carefully consider position, scale and angle when adding the feet

Convert SubTools in Polymesh

Convert each SubTool in Polymesh3D. Rename each SubTool as femur, patella, tibia and fibula. Hit Make Polymesh3D over a SubTool to create a new mesh called PM3D_femur according to the SubTool name. Automatically, this

Positions, scales and angles

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Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Create realistic ZBrush sculpts Samurai 2013

Hasan Bajramovic Username: hbajramovic Personal portfolio site www.hbajramovic.cgsociety.org Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Software used ZBrush, 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop Expertise High-resolution character texturing and sculpting

Build a realistic samurai warrior with highly detailed armour Hasan Bajramovic is a CG artist specialising in character work, from concept to texturing and rendering

H

ere I will showcase my design and creation workflow in ZBrush and 3ds Max. While sculpting the character from scratch in ZBrush I’ll explain the workflow and techniques that I use on a daily basis. I’ll cover the various ZBrush tools that can help with your creative process, such as ZRemesher, which can hugely speed up your topology work. You will also learn how simple techniques such as masking and extracting meshes from

existing tools can assist your workflow, as well how helpful primitive tools in ZBrush can be used to make some of the character’s elements. Last I’ll explain how to set up lighting and rendering inside 3ds Max and V-Ray, as well as some shaders. We’ll be forming all the armour in an unsymmetrical pose that might prove difficult for some, but a little patience and perseverance will carry you through to a great result.

Sculpt the head and helmet Start from the top and work down

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Block in and sculpt the face Using an existing base mesh, block in the features and proportions that best suit your design. Good reference is key here, as it will help you when establishing the proportions of the sculpt. I can’t stress just how important it is to make sure you set up the proportions correctly. I usually spend 90 per cent of my time blocking out major shapes, and 10 per cent of my time detailing.

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Other types of knots 1

Start on the helmet Append a Sphere tool to your

sculpted head and slice it using the Clip brush. Move the resulting shape around a bit to match the shape of the skull. Now you can append a Cylinder tool and position it on top of the helmet. This is where the Radius Symmetry function comes in handy. You should subdivide your mesh and sculpt in all the details with the Clay brush. Details like embossed clouds can be added using a custom Alpha with a Standard brush. Form the lower part of the mask by appending another sphere and shape it with the Move and Clipping brushes. Now mask an area around it to make separate panels with the Extract tool.

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62 O3D 3DArtist Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Alternative knots can be formed using ZSpheres and Adaptive Skin. I prefer to find good reference for these and you can even search for videos on YouTube to see how some of them are tied. Follow these steps and try to match the shape with your ZSpheres. Once this is done, activate Adaptive skin and if the knot has gaps you can use the MoveTopology and Inflat brushes in the Deformation palette.

Tie knots for the armour Next make a custom

InsertMesh brush that you can use throughout the project for the knots. Start by selecting the Ring3d tool and adjust its SDivide and LDivide settings under the Initialize menu to something like 8 x 8. You don’t want to have too many subdivisions on these rings, since there’s going to be a lot of them. Turn the ring into a Polymesh and then drag out a straight Transpose Curve to make it straight. By holding Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on the middle circle of Transpose you can produce copies of the ring. Arrange these in a similar manner to the screenshot, then append a Cylinder3d tool and move it into position. Merge these into one tool and click the InsertMultiMesh button in the Brush menu.


Tips

Tutorial files: ěũũ.4Ħ++ũăũ-"ũ2-Ħ2ũ!423.,ũ IMM brushes that he uses to create knots and screws

Learn how to Sculpt a head to scale Make photorealistic and detailed armour Sculpt and tie knots Set up lighting and materials Prepare an expert render

Concept I wanted to create a realistic samurai warrior wielding two swords. He has a dynamic yet calm stance typical of samurai demeanour. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Construct the armour Focus on shaping each element of the character’s armour

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Sculpt the mempo (face mask) Begin masking

the parts of the face that we previously created. Once happy with the shape that you’ve achieved, extract the mask as a mesh by hitting the Extract button located in the SubTool palette. Now you have your basic form, enable DynaMesh and shape the mesh with the Move and TrimDynamic brush. You can then add some creases and dents with the DamStandard brush. I like to hit ClayPolish every now and then, since it polishes up the surface effectively. Once you’re satisfied with the outcome, try to keep things optimised by activating Decimation Master and reducing the polycount on the mesh.

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Pose the body You can pose the sculpted body

using a combination of ZSphere rigging and Transpose masking. I personally like to combine both of these techniques. For the ZSphere rig, start off by selecting a ZSphere and loading up your mesh under the Rigging rollout. Once loaded, continue adding and linking ZSpheres until you create a basic skeleton. Once you’re happy, click Bind Mesh and move ZSpheres into a decent position. Click Make Adaptive Skin to build the posed mesh and return to your tool. You can now complete some tweaks by masking, and then applying Transpose and the Move brush.

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Work on the lower body Just like in the previous steps, mask the legs of the character and extract them. Convert the extracted mesh to DynaMesh and move it around until you get the desired shape. After you’re happy with the overall form, start adding some wrinkles and folds but don’t overdo this, since you still need to create the armour around the legs. You can always return to this step and apply more details after sketching in all the leg armour. This way you will know where all the cloth compression is occurring.

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Build the leg armour The leg armour is made using the same techniques as the previous steps: mask, extract, convert to DynaMesh and then block out the basic shape. When you’re pleased with this element, use the IMM Knot brush that we created for use on the helmet to add some details to the armour. Add the ropes using the ZSphere technique from the beginning of the tutorial and apply some details to them using a DamStandard brush.


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Add the missing lower body armour Since

there are eight identical parts to this armour, we’ll create one and then position copies of it around the character. Begin by appending a Box tool and trimming it down to shape. Grab the Move brush to rearrange the upper section and form the arcs seen in the screenshot. Use the CurveTubeSnap brush to create the outer part of the pad. Add the cloud pattern with the Standard brush and a Rectangle stroke, then place knots with the custom Knot brush and copy the created shape five times with the Transpose tool. Play with the pattern of the knots and arrange them as you like. Now copy this SubTool eight times and place it around the thighs. Try to bend them a bit using the Transpose and Move brushes while masking certain areas off.

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Build the torso amour The same method as described in the previous steps can be used for the section of armour covering the character’s torso. Start by masking the body to create the base of the armour and move it around until you get the shape desired. You can repeat this step if you want to add more layers. Next, create another custom Knot brush, the same way we did in the previous steps, and use it to apply detail wherever you deem it necessary.

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Attach armour to the arms Now mask out parts of the forearm and extract them, but be sure to leave an opening on the lower side. Using the TrimDynamic and Clipping brushes, make some tweaks to the extracted mesh and apply knots with the custom brush. Insert rivets by appending the Ring3d tool and positioning it accordingly. Next mask the upper part of the fist and go through the same steps until you get the correct shape. Append the chainmail (you can find an IMM Brush with it on the ZBRushCentral IMM Brush repository) to your model and move it around to match the shape of the folds. This can be tricky because of stretching and distortion, so take your time. You can add all the other details using a combination of these techniques.

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Sculpt the sword

Again, the same rules and techniques apply for this element. Begin by appending a Cylinder primitive for the handle, then add a small curvature to it with Move brush and mask it off to develop the pattern on it. Extract this and, with the MoveTopology brush, bring the pattern closer and make it overlap. Repeat the masking and extracting for other parts of the handle as well. For the hilt we can use Shadowbox and simply draw out the shape with masking tools. Append a box primitive and adjust its size so it looks similar to that of the blade. Now begin sculpting the blade with the TrimDynamic and Clipping brushes. Spend time getting the curvature of the blade to look just right.

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Don’t be afraid to experiment

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ZBrush is such a powerful software, but you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with its tools. All of the elements created in this tutorial can be made with a range of different techniques. Try to find the one that suits you best and don’t let ZBrush scare you! Let your imagination run wild and play with all the tools. That’s the best way to improve. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Review your work Take a break and analyse what’s been achieved

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Try not to hide behind the small details

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work you’ve done so far and make adjustments if needed. I do this all the time and you’ll notice that I change things during the sculpting process. This is the main reason we’re using ZBrush: it enables you to experiment and make flexible adjustments to a model.

Details are always great, but it’s never a positive thing to get distracted by high-frequency detail at the expense of basic form and shape. This can happen to all of us and it’s something that we should try to resist. Practise sculpting human anatomy and forget about the high-frequency details, just get the basic shapes and volume right first. Try importing your work into Photoshop and flipping it horizontally to get a fresh look of your model. You can get a totally new outlook on your sculpt this way.

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Topology and UVs Major parts of the sculpt can be retopologised using ZBrush’s ZRemesher. All you have to do is select the SubTool, open the ZRemesher rollout and select the polycount that you want. Before hitting the ZRemesher button, duplicate your SubTool. This way you can project the details onto newly created topology. If you need more control over the edge flow, use the ZRemesherGuides brush on the mesh and create some guides. UVs are the easiest thing to create in ZBrush, just open the Plug-in menu and hit UV Master. You can then hit Unwrap and ZBrush will do the job for you. If the process requires better UVs, we can go in and tweak things manually, but for the purposes of this tutorial the results are more than acceptable.

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Be critical At this stage don’t be afraid to be your own worst critic. Have a look at the

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Rendering and postproduction Develop textures and finalise the model

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Make textures Create an account at http://

CGTextures.com, if you don’t have one already, and browse through its collection. Most of the textures there are tileable and you just have to load them up. Here you’ll find textures for leather, metal scratches and other types of fabric. You can achieve great results by layering these with the Composite shader inside 3ds Max. For the face you can stick with ZBrush and build up the colour levels slowly. Remember, bony areas have a more yellowish tone. Other areas have a combination of purple and red tones. Use a Color Spray stroke and adjust the colour variation to your own taste. Now extract Normal and Displacement maps from ZBrush.

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Set up your materials Create a VRayMtl for each group of materials or fabrics being used. Load up all the textures that you created and adjust the Specular/Reflection values. You might also want to open some reference images when creating these. The key to creating good-looking materials is in simply observing your reference and experimenting with different values until you’re happy. Samples of some of these materials can be seen in the screenshot. 17

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Begin lighting and rendering For rendering we’ll use 3ds Max and V-Ray, but the

same principles can apply to every software out there. We’ll create three V-Ray lights but any other area light could do the job. Position them similar to the screenshot and experiment with the Intensity settings until you achieve the results you desire. Assign V-Ray as the renderer and, under the V-Ray tab, go to the Environment rollout add some HDRI maps for added reflection. I usually go with Adaptive DMC 1x11. Now we can hit Render. 16

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Final compositing For the last touches and

compositing of your image, you can use Photoshop or any other application that enables you to retouch the image. Start by adding some adjustment layers and tweak the Levels of the final render. To bring out or tone down certain colours you can use the Selective Color adjustment layer. Also try adding some gradients with different blending modes and see what kind of results this gives you. Now is also a good time to go in and paint out any mistakes manually.

Final thoughts It’s a good idea to make iteration renders of your model. Try to build up all the materials one by one. Use free opensource HDRI maps to add great-looking reflections to your metal materials, as well as some environment lighting. Don’t rush things, sleep on it and come back the next day to have a fresh look. Never be afraid to make adjustments in Photoshop and look at your renders as raw materials that need to be polished up. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tutorial files: ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

modo

Design a creature in modo

How can modo be used for designing and concepting a character?

W

hen it comes to creating quick-turnaround concept images for design purposes, modo is a very good solution. It’s even used by Industrial Light and Magic for this very task. The workflow in modo enables fast modelling, lighting and rendering, which is why it’s a great visualisation tool. The program’s excellent modelling toolset, combined with a very powerful integrated renderer and one of the best real-time preview engines on the market, makes modo perfect for visualisation jobs. An artist can create work very quickly, from model to final render, all in one place. With the built-in painting and sculpting tools concept work can also be carried out from start to finish within modo itself. In this project we’ll explore the creation of a creature character. We’ll start with some very basic subdivision modelling, then Vector Displacement sculpting. We’ll

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use the Geometry to Brush feature to create a spike to be applied anywhere on the mesh as a sculpted detail. modo’s painting tools will then be used to paint the texture maps and finally the scene will be lit using softbox assemblies. modo offers several flavours of sculpting. Geometric sculpting can be used as a regular modelling operation, as it affects the geometry directly. Sculpting with Multiresolution is suitable for high-detail geometric sculpting with multiple levels of detail. Additionally there are two types of image-based sculpting: one uses standard greyscale Height maps and the other Vector Displacement maps. Each approach is suited for different purposes, so the type of sculpting should depend on what you are trying to achieve. In this case I’m opting for Vector Displacement sculpting, because it offers two important advantages: first the

sculpting doesn’t depend on topology, so you can create any amount of detail without needing to consider the underlying topology of the mesh; second, this method enables you to apply complete 3D shapes as a brush. For instance, you could easily use this technique to apply fully formed ears to a head. The program’s interface is split into various tabs, each of which enables a very focused workflow dedicated to the task at hand. This means you can work in an efficient manner at each phase of the process, without being distracted with unnecessary interface clutter.


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Create the basic mesh Start with a simple sphere to create the basic mesh, then delete the bottom half and cap the open end with a polygon. Next, bevel this in a couple of times to leave a large Ngon on the underside of the mesh. Now turn on X Symmetry and bevel out some small limbs. The topology isn’t important because the Vector Displacements aren’t affected by it, so you can keep the modelling very simple.

02

Unwrap UVs For Vector Displacement sculpting and

painting the textures, the mesh is going to need to be UV-unwrapped. The seams should be in places that aren’t going to be visible, because they can cause problems with the Vector Displacements. Select a loop of edges on the underside of the model and then a line coming halfway up the back. Now define the seams with the Unwrap command and use the Relax command to even out the UVs.

03

Make a spiky brush Create a

spike by drawing out a simple cone and then use the Bend tool to give it a more horn-like shape. In the Paint tab go to the Utilities panel and select the Geometry To Brush command. Set the mode to Vector Displacement, the Axis to Y and save the image. You can now use the spike as a three-dimensional brush by applying it with the Emboss tool as an image brush.

04

Sculpt the character Now you can use the sculpting tools to add the details to your character, so add the spikes to its back and any other fun details you like. Your resolution is controlled by the size of the Image map, so the larger you make your Vector Displacement map, the finer the detail you can add. Vector Displacements aren’t limited to depth or topology, so you can pull any shape out.

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Paint the texture The next step

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is to paint the textures on the character. Create a new transparent PNG, switch to the Brushes panel, select a hard round brush, Ctrl/right-click to resize the brush and then paint the eyes. You can layer transparent images in the Shader Tree much like a Photoshop document, so it’s best to use several PNGs, one for each type of detail. Use Symmetry to save some time.

Working with RayGL & Preview modo has a couple of methods for real-time raytracing that are perfectly suited to the processes of sculpting, painting textures and lighting. You can use the Preview window to see live updates from your camera view. Also, to keep the application responsive, you can turn off Displacements or the Global Illumination option. Alternatively you can work in the viewport with RayGL, which also offers many levels of control in Preferences (such as disabling GI or reflections), and with the right combination of settings it can be tailored to be very responsive. This enables a decent texture-painting experience in a raytraced viewport.

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Lighting & rendering In the

Shader Tree, set a white material in the Environment slot, turn on Global Illumination with Irradiance Caching, apply a reflective material to your character, and then add a couple of softboxes from the standard content (found under Assemblies). Position the softboxes to create some nice reflections on your glossy character and then you’re ready for your final render. With large light sources like these, the default render settings will work well enough.

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Concept This craft is a kind of Chinese-style battleship, with the wings, cannons and sails based on Chinese temples. I imagined that there would be steam engines inside.

Learn how to ũũ-"#123-"ũ6'3ũ#+#,#-32ũ 1#ũ(,/.13-3ũ6'#-ũ"#2(%-(-%ũ $-328ũ5#'(!+#2 ũũ#5#+./ũũ*-.6+#"%#ũ.$ũ'.6ũ 3'#ũ2314!341#ũ6.1*2 ũũ+.!*ũ.43ũ3'#ũ,(-ũ#+#,#-32 ũũ ."#+ũ6(3'ũ #33#1ũ#ą ũũ!(#-!8ũ -"ũ2/##"

Tutorial files: ěũũĊ"2ũ 7ũ2!#-#ũăũ+#2 ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Build fantasy vehicles in 3ds Max Fantasy Ship 2014

Stefano Tsai

Learn from engineers and find a quicker and more efficient way to build a fantasy vehicle

Username: 3#$-.2(

Stefano Tsai is the owner of Stefano Tsai studios. He works in game and film design, creating concepts and working on the actual production process

Personal portfolio site 666ē23#$-.32(ē("5ē36 Country UK Software used Ċ"2ũ 7Ĕũı8 Expertiseũ3#$-.ũ2/#!(+(2#2ũ(-ũ 5(24+ũ,#!'-(!+ũ"#2(%-Ĕũ1. .3ũ "#2(%-ũ-"ũĊũ/1#5(24+(23(.-

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I

n this tutorial, I am going to show you how to quickly model a large-scale fantasy ship. The first step involves thinking like an engineer, looking for efficient ways to build the ship. After that, we’ll focus on modelling. For this, I will explain how to get the initial parts built, and then how to use

them as an example from which to model the rest of ship. This will include not only its structure and style, but how it connects with neighbouring sections. Remember to follow along yourself using the project files provided to get the most out of this tutorial!


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01

Be efficient Split off the ship’s main hull and think like an engineer – how can we build this ship? If you think of building the ship as one big project then it’ll end up seeming like a lot of work and it’ll be difficult to make any changes. We should keep it as simple as possible. Section off different parts of the ship into different groups and – as you can see from the image – models with the same colour are instanced, so you have full power to change them with minimum effort. Don’t build the whole ship in one go, but build the parts separately.

02 1

Block out the main areas Add the secondary blocking details on the hull and apply different colours to help differentiate each group. In my project, I added the main bridges, master poles, extended the structure and added cannons. To make the process simpler, reuse assets as much as you can. For example, the purple blocks in the image are all the same asset. Extend the secondary blocking on the main hull and like before, reuse the same models as much as possible.

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Include wings For our fantasy ship, there is no way that it would work without wings. It is the element that really makes this stand out as fantasy. Don’t make them too big or too realistic, but try to keep them looking quite fantastical. Be careful not to make them too large, otherwise they will dominate the ship and cover the main hull, which will ruin the overall effect (unless you’re designing a fast vessel). Switch into Clay mode to see the ship in one solid colour, as this way we can see the entire model clearly without obstructions. 3

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04

Build wooden structural frames To make things more believable and to have something to show later on when we open up the panels, let’s build up a structure inside the middle section of the hull’s blocking. We need to consider where exactly the decks are going to be and where we’re going to place the windows and extended platforms, so this means we need to leave them some space. Thinking things through like this will emphasise the believability of our fantasy ship.

Learn to recycle and reuse elements of your work To save time and speed up progress, remember that you can take elements that you have already used and place them in other parts of the ship. You can simply resize or reshape them and they’ll feel completely new. For instance, the middle section of the hull was repeated and re-used most as its structure can be easily extended to other parts of the ship. For the interior of the ship, cannons, steam engines, platforms and so on can all be easily copied and placed around where you feel they make most sense.

06

Step back and check the design

It’s always advisable to check how the overall look is panning out throughout the process. Reveal all of the middle hulls to see how everything looks together. If it looks too straight and formal then the surface is continuing without a break. To add interest, take one of the upper decks, copy it and turn it into a duplicate version. Push it out a bit further to make an extended structure. These new platforms are good areas to place cannons, as they can get a better shooting angle.

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Place the planks on the ships With the main wooden beams and posts ready, let’s start placing planks along them. Remember that these sections need to be tiled, so they can’t be overlapped – everything has be to placed inside their boundaries. We can also add stairs and some windows frames to bring in the sense of scale. It’s details like these that really emphasise the sheer size of the ship. The bigger it is, the more imposing and impressive!


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07

Add functional mechanisms After checking all of

the connected parts, go back to complete the mechanical joints, including the mechanisms for both side sail wings and for the main sail wings. These need to be connected with the mechanical parts and should lead to the central system. In this case, the central area will be the ship’s keel. The keel area has plenty of equipment from the front to the end of the ship, so it’s essentially the nerve centre of the ship. You want to add many details to make it feel functional.

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Finish the rear towers For rear towers I won’t be creating a semi-open structure, so there is no need to work on the interior parts of the ship for these elements. Instead, I focused mainly on the exterior details of the towers. I used images of Chinese temples as my reference for the shape of the towers. To make them feel larger and more imposing, I created an extended structure with parts that hang out. This way, the tower seems to get bigger as it gets taller, and it gave me more space to add some beautiful Chinese roof details. Remember that this is fantasy; while we want things to feel believable, they don’t always have to be physically accurate. 8

Focus detail in specific areas We can’t put details everywhere on the ship, as it’ll get too noisy and it’ll take too much time. Instead, we need to pick a few key areas. To do that, create highlight details for the chosen areas, and in others dial the detail back – you want the eye to naturally fall on your focal points. On my ship, I spent time adding details to the stern tower, the bow, the propellers and master cannons. These elements really emphasise the ship’s fantasy style.

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Complete the bow Generally, this is the most armoured part of the whole ship as it

needs to be built for combat collision. For dynamics, if you want the shape to be stronger, you need to keep it as simple as possible. As such I didn’t got crazy with the design here, then added some metal decoration onto its surface. Something fierce-looking works best!

Stefano Tsai Stefano Tsai is a concept designer and 3D artist. He has worked in the game and entertainment business since 2001, and even though he has spent over a decade in the industry, he continues to adapt and develop his work to take advantage of the latest technological innovations. He is currently working as a freelancer on various film and videogame projects.

Factory production line of scout robots 3ds Max (2013)

Factory production line of enforcement vehicles 3ds Max (2013)

An automatic machine for producing military robots. You can see how friendly the employees are.

A comfortable and cosy production line in a factory, building law-enforcement vehicles.

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Give it power The wings and the propellers are the source of power for the ship. Obviously we can’t get reference for these from real ships, so we need to look elsewhere. The surface of each of the propellor blades needs to be huge to push the ship forward and to maintain a reasonable rotation speed – you don’t want it to spin like a mower! For our fantasy vehicle, it makes more sense for it to move more subtly. Aesthetically, its size can make it a key element of the ship. Don’t be shy about making it much bigger than you think it needs to be!

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Include weapons There are three cannons on this ship – one is on the top deck, another one is mounted on the wall, and the biggest one is near the bottom of the ship. Let’s focus on the biggest one, as it is the main weapon and it’s much larger than the others. It can be seen much more clearly and it should be the most advanced equipment on the ship. Put the effort into these big cannons, as they can be seen much more clearly than other two.

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Work on the rear The rear of the ship is the biggest target for the enemy, as this is

where the officers and the commander rest. Naturally it makes sense to have lots of heavy armour to surround it and to protect the high-ranking officers. I added some decals and decoration on top of this armour to enhance the fantasy feel. I also added some communication equipment and large, armoured windows to show that this is the control tower. Make the tower appear stronger, tougher and well-built so it feels ready for heavy duty work. 11

12

Car study 3ds Max (2013) This was a study project for the front panel of a car. For the image, I tried out two different colour casts, which gave the image a different kind of tone.

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Focus on the front bow Approach the front part of the ship as you did the back: it also needs to be ready for strong impacts. I installed a few scattered structures for pre-crash purposes, so that when it happens it’ll reduce the damage to the main hull. The same goes with armour – keep spreading the same style of armour protection boards around the ship. You want your ship to feel menacing and ready to take on whatever is thrown at it!

Tricks

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Try out different looks Once you’ve built up the basic shape of the ship, don’t be afraid to try out other compositions. This is just the start of the process and the idea is to explore your idea and to refine it. In my project, I quickly grabbed the upper decks and duplicated them to create decks below the ship’s main hull. It’s not very precise, but it gives an idea of how it will look straight away. If you like the new idea, it’s so easy to go back and modify the model to include it.

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Check for overall balance Check the

model to see if everything is balanced. At this stage, I realised that the main mast near the rear tower was too close and covered up almost 70 per cent of visibility, so I deleted it, and then added more details on the other masts to make them appear stronger and to make them easier for the crew to climb up. For the crew’s safety, I also built a few small platforms along each mast. I also added a small rudderesque wing at the ship’s end to give it more control. Look around to see if everything is well balanced and if not, start playing with new ideas.

creation time Resolution: 6,000 x 3,377

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Materials, lighting and render This

image only focuses on the modelling process in relation to the concept and we didn’t spend any time on proper unwrapping, textures or lighting. You can see a quick result on the left, where we have only applied box mapping and a few materials such as wood, metal and fabrics. I used V-Ray 3.0 and an image-based method to create a quick previs image. I also applied an AO layer in Photoshop. To finish up the image, give the materials a slightly rough texture and make the colours and lights a little more lively. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tricks Use industrystandard software to produce realistic 3D effects, animate interactive character models and create perfect hair and fur

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78 50 top Blender VFX Tricks 86 Fracture with Blender 88 Create fur in ZBrush 96 How to animate a jump 100 Animate action moves 104 Perfect UVs in UVLayout 106 Create an interactive character in Unity 110 Master 3D cloth effects

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100 104 76

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Blender Maya UVLayout Unity ZBrush 3ds Max

When working on an exterior scene, start with a schedule, because making a scene with environments takes time

88 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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TOP BLENDER VFX TRICKS

How you can use this open-source software to produce industry-standard results

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W

hether you’ve been using Blender for years, or just suddenly feel inspired to pick it up today, there are millions of tricks and tweaks to the 3D process that will improve both your workflow and the finished result. That’s why we’ve gathered together a group of Blender VFX masters to reveal their tips on everything from modelling to matchmoving. As you’ll find, there’s always a way to do something a little better, easier, or simply quicker. So, read on as our roster of experts discuss how they produce 3D effects – the Blender way.

Website: www.manuel-peter.com Area of expertise: Modelling and texturing

MANUEL PETER

Website: www.fsiddi.com Area of expertise: Layout and animation

FRANCESCO SIDDI

Website: www.3dzentrale.com Area of expertise: Modelling, matchmoving and compositing

SEBASTIAN KÖNIG

Website: www.nizuvault.wordpress.com Area of expertise: Environment art

NICOLÒ ZUBBINI

Website: www.kjartantysdal.com Area of expertise: Modelling, texturing and lighting

KJARTAN TYSDAL

Website: www.blenderpedia.com Area of expertise: Environment art

ROB TUYTEL

Website: www.jezdavo.blogspot.com.au Area of expertise: Environment art

JEREMY DAVIDSON

© mango.blender.org

Tricks

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05 | Detail is important of course, but balancing the level of detail you include is also key

MODELLING AND PREPARING ASSETS ”Work at the right scale level. At the beginning of a production the basic measurement unit is established. In Blender the convention usually used is 1m = 1 Blender Unit.” Francesco Siddi

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”Determine the importance and cost of everything. When that’s not possible, keep everything flexible and divide objects smartly. Avoid making textures and Dirt maps that need redoing from scratch if some piece of the environment is moved.” Nicolò Zubbini

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04 | Thinking ahead to the next stage in the process, and the next person, will benefit everyone 06 | Dirt maps can make an image, but they are a lot of needless work if you don’t end up using them

”Work together with the layout department to decide the best approach for producing assets for challenging shots. In a full city skyline shot, consider how many buildings actually need to be 3D and how many can be a matte painting, for example.” Francesco Siddi

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”Making complicated models for animation can be tricky, so start simple, stay organised and try to consider the stages that come after the modelling. Make sure that the rigger and texturing artists are involved in the modelling decisions.” Kjartan Tysdal

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07 | Manuel Peter used a graphics tablet to help him create this chameleon

”Equalise your textures and materials (set a standard for Brightness, Contrast, Min/Max values) otherwise shaders are unpredictable, unreliable and the lighting phase will be a mess. Good equalisation is mainly objective, but it also depends on preferences and the lighting setup, so discuss this with your team and agree in advance.” Nicolò Zubbini

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”Work at the correct level of detail. Depending on the importance of each prop, set or environment, more or less work will be required. Often multiple levels of detail are required for each object to speed up render times and decrease scene complexity.” Francesco Siddi

06

”Try using a graphics tablet for modelling organic forms within Sculpt mode. Especially since Dynamic Topology is available in Sculpt mode, a tablet can lead to a much better workflow.” Manuel Peter

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”Make sure you grasp and master the Library Linking tools. Understand the concept of proxies: in Blender you can link objects or groups in a scene and override some of their components locally.” Francesco Siddi

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”Keep linked sets clear of transformations and avoid scaling, rotating or moving linked sets or props unless really necessary. This makes the work of environment artists much easier. In fact, in the environment-creation file, they can link the camera from any shot and see what’s visible through it.” Francesco Siddi

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”Add a global parent for cameras with motion-tracking data in order to modify them and place them correctly in the sets.” Francesco Siddi

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”Adopt and follow a proper naming convention for assets and groups in the scenes.” Francesco Siddi

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”The layout system in Blender is basic, but can be enhanced with


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15 | Even straight lines aren’t always straight lines, as Rob Tuytel’s work shows

some scripts. These will ensure you’re using assets at the right level of detail in different parts of the scene. For example, assets can be made at different resolutions to render faster if they’re in the background or out of focus.” Francesco Siddi

skylight (360 HDR images come recommended for the skylight). Thanks to the Cycles render engine it’s possible to create photorealistic scenes with these settings.” Rob Tuytel

19 | Raise the roof and you’ll reduce the noise

”With VFX, interiors must be convincing. Take a look at a random room. What do you see besides the wall, floor and roof? Interior design is a complex area, so study a room before modelling it.” Rob Tuytel

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CREATING ENVIRONMENTS ”When working on an exterior scene, start with a schedule, because making a scene with buildings and environments takes a lot of time. If you’re unorganised you’ll lose the overview and end with an incomplete scene.” Rob Tuytel

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”Modelling environment scenes starts outside, not behind your computer. Observing objects and analysing them is the first thing to do when you start working on a new scene.” Rob Tuytel

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”If you’ve been working on a scene for weeks, you’ve used the right textures and details, but it still doesn’t look realistic, then avoid straight objects. Nothing in nature is perfectly straight.” Rob Tuytel

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”It’s so important to use good textures. The model you created can look stunning, but if you haven’t used the right textures, it will never look realistic. If you’re just starting out, buy a good camera and begin making your own textures. You will need these but you won’t find them on the internet.” Rob Tuytel

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”Try using one light source as sunlight and a bit of environmental

”I often see artists designing a complete room, then closing the scene by adding walls everywhere, even the areas that aren’t visible to the camera. This increases noise! Sometimes I even remove the roof, which helps a lot.” Rob Tuytel

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”For interior shots, remove a window’s glass so there’s an empty hole in the room out of sight. Next, add a light source outside the room. This will blur the edges of the scene. You could also achieve this with the compositor.” Rob Tuytel

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”Even with a high sample rate, you’ll find there’s still noise in the scene and it may be tricky to remove. There is a function in Blender called Clamp, so try experimenting with this to reduce a lot of the noise.” Rob Tuytel

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”Try to work with Normal, Specular and Occlusion maps. This is extra work, but the result is visible most of the time. Any tiles on a floor without extra tweaking will look flat and unrealistic, for instance. Adding some Bump and Specular will show a very nice surface.” Rob Tuytel

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22 | It’s the incidental details that often make the biggest impression

Blender dos and don’ts DO:

DON’T:

“Take photos of every structure you see that looks interesting and use these photos as textures. This will help you understand and create realistic materials.” Manuel Peter

“Do not use the num-pad to switch between side views when navigating 3D space. Instead, use the Opt/Alt key while rotating the view to snap to view to the closest axis.” Daniel Kreuter

“Make sure that the models you share with the team are clean and always usable.” Francesco Siddi

“Don’t avoid the Node Editor. It looks confusing at first, but you’ll come across it often and it’ll help you a lot to improve your work in many ways.” Daniel Kreuter

“Learn hotkeys to massively speed up your workflow.” Jonathan Lampel “Know your budget for detail. If you’re doing background detail, don’t prepare a translucent or SSS shader.” Nicolò Zubbini

“Don’t be lazy. More flexibility in assets will ultimately cost you less time and ensure a higher quality finished product.” Nicolò Zubbini

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RIGGING AND ANIMATING ”Try to think of the animators as children: when given a new toy, they’re likely to break it. Have a go first and if you can’t break it, they’ll have no chance.” Jeremy Davidson

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”Don’t forget physics. Ignore them a little, but don’t forget. Balance, weight and momentum are three things an animator must understand.” Jeremy Davidson

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”My advice from experience is not to rely on pre-made rigs. When making a rig for a character, ensure that you’re building it specifically for that particular character. A pre-built rig will work to a point, but even the most generic biped will need some degree of customisation work done by you, let alone worrying about extra limbs, tails, pistons, jackets, heads or lampposts growing out of who knows where.” Jeremy Davidson

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”Save as much time as you can, wherever you can. Some studios can afford to have one animator working on three seconds for eight months, in others you have to do the best you can. Learn tricks that save time but won’t diminish quality. In small team/huge deadline scenarios, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to look perfect.” Jeremy Davidson

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movement will still be fresh in your mind and you’ll be cleaner in your posing.” Jeremy Davidson

ON-SET AND TRACKING

”Always get another pair of eyes on your completed work. Animator or not, having another person look at your work at various stages will help highlight things you’ve been blinded to from scrubbing the timeline for hours. Take the criticism, constructive or not, and filter out the tweaks you need to make and make them. Your work will be all the better for it in the long run” Jeremy Davidson

”Use the actors’ performances when and where you can. On ‘Tears of Steel’, a few shots featuring holographic humanoids were animated with the filmed shot as a viewport background. We matched up the camera and then the key poses of the actors. With a bit of polishing afterwards, we had animation sequences that could be used in the completely CG environments very quickly, such as the jump cut in the starting sequence that reveals the couple on the bridge are projections.” Jeremy Davidson

”Don’t be afraid to start from scratch. Sometimes spending hours on a shot trying to fix something you can’t seem to get right is just a waste of time. Start over and try again, the

”Tell your actors where the CG elements will be (when you can). The more you can line up CG elements with the eye-line of the actors, the more you can convincingly tie the real and virtual footage

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29 | Work over actors’ performances for quick and easy results


Tricks

together. You’ve got to think backwards a little bit. Adding moving pieces to where they’re focusing their attention will give them something to draw their attention to, if that makes sense.” Jeremy Davidson ”Conversely, tell your CG characters where the actors are. If the actors are touching the characters, make them react. The more you can tie the footage world to the CG world, the more believable your world will become, thanks to seamless VFX footage.” Jeremy Davidson

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”When an actor is interacting with any CG elements you can animate the CG to react to them, but it’s more difficult to animate the actor. In ‘ToS’, there’s a shot… [with] old Thom hugging the robot’s head. We worked out the size of the head from the model file, made a wooden box, painted it green and then gave it to Ton Roosendaal to hold while Derek hugged it.” Jeremy Davidson

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”Use tracking markers. There were countless shots in ‘ToS’ where a robotic hand was grabbing Thom’s face while talking. Creating tracking objects in the scene and then IK’ing each of the fingers

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to them gave me a very solid animation base to work with… This saved me days of work. We were lucky to have crisp 4K footage to work with… but sometimes it’s good to have a bit of foresight when filming and placing tracking markers where you’ll need them.” Jeremy Davidson

25 | Custom-built rigs will always result in better animation for your creations

”Most packages use automatic feature-detection and track a lot of different feature points simultaneously… Blender’s approach to matchmoving is supervised tracking. Track one marker at a time to make sure it doesn’t jump or slide away. You can centre the view to it by hitting L on the keyboard. The longer and the more accurate your tracks, the better the result. Often you don’t need more than 10 to 15 markers for a solid track.” Sebastian König

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”To solve a 3D camera, the tracker needs as much perspective information as possible. Try and ensure that you cover the foreground, midground and background with your tracks, as well as all the areas of the frame. If you have markers that leave the frame, for example in a long dolly shot, ensure that you don’t have multiple markers leaving the frame at the same time.” Sebastian König

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Always get another pair of eyes on your completed work Jeremy Davidson

32 | A bit of improvisation is part of the joy of producing films

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Tricks

Rob Tuytel talks compositing in this Dutch Windmills scene 01 One of the most important things when you start compositing is to have a solid 3D scene and models. You can’t make something nice when you don’t have a good foundation. 02 Before you even touch the compositor, you need to know what kind of mood you’re aiming for in your final scene (also shown). This makes your work much easier than if you’re just guessing which handles to pull. 03 Start with some mist by adding a Map value node. Use the Z buffer (indicating the depth in the scene), combine this with a Mix node and put the original image in the mix. 04 To blend the sky and scene together, you can use a Glare node and select Fog Glow. Pull the threshold down to put some glow in the scene, but use this gently. 05 Add a Color Balance node. This will generate the mood of the image: cold, warm, happy or sad. 06 As you can see in this alternative rural image, understanding colour management – so you can work with RGB curves and the Color Balance node – will get you exactly the feel you’re after. 07 Bring depth into the scene by adding light layers. In this cottage example you can see it’s a good way to create the illusion of depth in the scene. Try it by highlighting an element in the foreground, midground and background. 08 To finalise the scene, enable Defocus in the camera and change it to f/stop with a value of 5.6. 1

41 | Starting with a preset can be a lifeline if you’re on a tight deadline

”To get the most accurate tracks, in some cases you can try to use Affine Tracking with a larger pattern area. Even though this is a little bit slower than regular point-based tracking, this so-called planar tracking is capable of tracking even the biggest and fuzziest features and is extremely accurate.” Sebastian König

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COMPOSITING ”Even though Blender’s compositor has improved a lot in the past year, it can still take a lot of resources and CPU power to edit 4k composites with multiple layers and effects. To speed things up you can disable all the little thumbnail previews and collapse or disconnect the composite output during editing.” Sebastian König

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”Node trees can grow very large. To ensure they remain organised and legible you should use Frame nodes to create visual groups and give them names. Insert Reroute nodes to make the direction of the node connections easier to understand and maintain a tidy node tree layout.” Sebastian König

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”Don’t overdo it with effects like lens distortion, dispersion, glare or vignetting. While they can work really well in some cases, they are often rather distracting and can easily look cheap and amateur. Often it’s not the big effect but the subtle use of visual ingredients that make a convincing and interesting composite.” Sebastian König

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”To blend a scene with its sky background, first you need to make an Alpha mask of the scene and blur that out, or could also use the Glare node to

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blend things together. It’s also possible with mist, but again be careful not to overdo this as it’s easy to get carried away” Rob Tuytel

EFFECTS ”Using Quick Smoke can greatly speed up the setup time when creating smoke FX. Select your Emitter object, then hit Spacebar and type ‘quick smoke’. This will create a flow for your Emitter, a Smoke domain and a Volume material with Voxel data texture. This makes a fantastic starting point for tweaking your smoke effect further.” Kjartan Tysdal

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”Adding generic smoke elements can add a lot of subtle atmosphere and life to a shot. Render image sequences of slow smoke with simple lighting and a proper Alpha in Blender, then use them as smoke plates. You can put the pre-rendered smoke plates onto planes in your scene, render them separately on their own render layer and throw them into the composite.” Kjartan Tysdal

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”The Cell Fracture add-on can achieve a great destruction effect, but the edges of the fractured objects may look too clean. To enhance this look we can add a few SubSurf, Smooth and Displacement modifiers. Use a Subsurf, set to Simple with 2-3 subdivisions, add a Smooth on top of that, then place a subtle Displacement with a procedural texture to randomise the vertices.” Kjartan Tysdal

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Don’t overdo lens distortion Sebastian König


Tricks

© mango.blender.org

48 | If you want to reuse certain parts of your Cycles material, then group those nodes together and copy/paste that group into other materials

Sebastian König’s guide to the matchmoving process “Open Blender and switch to the Motion Tracking Screen layout. Bring the cursor into the main window and hit Opt/Alt+O. This brings up the File menu, where you can choose and load the footage that you want to track. “Hit Cmd/Ctrl and select LMB to place a marker. Choose a point with enough contrast for a good track. If you need to, you can hit S to scale the marker. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T to track forward or hold Opt/Alt and the arrow keys to track frame by frame. You need at least eight continuous tracks to solve the camera. “For a good solution, you have to have two initial frames to provide the perspective information, the so-called keyframes: A and B. You can set these on the current frame with the hotkeys Q and E. Blender also needs the camera data, mainly the sensor size and focal length. Now you can hit Shift+S to solve the camera. If you have a good solution with an Average Solve Error below 1, select three markers on the floor of your scene and choose Set Floor in the Reconstruction menu. Back in the Default screen layout, select the Camera object, go to the Constraints panel and add the Camera Solver constraint. Now you should see the 3D markers in the 3D viewport. Press 0 to look through the camera and Opt/Alt+A for playback. If all goes well, the camera will now be moving according to your footage, which you can display by activating Background Images.”

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”Rendering two or more overlapping smoke volumes is not supported in Blender and will produce artefacts. However, you can create a separate Master Volume specifically for rendering. This master box will have a Normal Volume material, but it will also have one voxel data texture per smoke domain. The trick is to make sure the mapping co-ordinates for the voxel data texture are set to Object and assigned to the Domain object.” Kjartan Tysdal

multiple rendering engines. You can, for example, use Cycles for your main scene and then render FX with Blender Internal in a separate scene. Go into Blender’s node-based compositor, add a Render Layer node by hitting Shift+A and selecting Input>Render Layer, then change it to something other than your current scene. Now if you hit f12, Blender will render both your current scene and the scene you assigned in your Render Layer node.” Kjartan Tysdal

”A single BLEND file can contain multiple scenes, which means you can do all your FX work separately… Each scene can contain its own objects, but you can also link objects from other scenes to have the same objects instantiated into two or more scenes… You can bring single objects over from one scene to another by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+L and selecting Make Links/Object to scene.” Kjartan Tysdal

”The Attributes node is useful if you want to assign specific UVs or Vertex Colors inside of your Cycles material. If you want a texture in Cycles to use the UV co-ordinates from a specific UV map, go to the Node Editor, add it by hitting Shift+A then selecting Input>Attribute. Write the name of the UV map you want to use and plug the blue Vector Output into the Vector Input of your texture. If you want to assign vertex colours, make sure your object has them painted, write the name of the colour into the Attributes node) and then plug the yellow Color Output into the Color Input of your shader.” Kjartan Tysdal

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SCRIPTING, RENDERING AND MORE ”Take advantage of Blender’s powerful Python API and extend its functionality by merging tools together. This enables you to automate repetitive tasks, integrate it with other tools in the pipeline or even work around technical issues.” Francesco Siddi

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”Use a tool like Blender Aid (www. atmind.nl) to keep a project free from conflict, outdated or broken library links.” Francesco Siddi

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”You can render multiple scenes by using the node-based compositor. This makes it possible to render with

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”Blender is constantly evolving. If you run into a problem and Blender just doesn’t do what it should, or even crashes, try to simplify your scene until you get to the core of the issue. If you can redo the problem with a simple example file or even find a way to make Blender crash every time, congratulations, you have found a bug! Now you should go to the Blender Bug tracker www.blender.org/ development/report-a-bug and see if others have already reported it. If not, it’s time for your first Bug Report. Briefly describe the problem so that developers can reproduce it.” Sebastian König

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Tutorial files: ěũũ+#-"ũăũ+#Ĕũ3#7341#2Ĕũ$1!341#ũ 2#04#-!#ũ-"ũ2!1##-2'.32

Blender

Fracture with Blender Learn how to create a physically correct fracture simulation using free software

I

f you woke up this morning with the desire to smash something, this is the tutorial for you. With a new addition for Blender 2.65, you can break objects in a realistic manner and create physically correct animations. The Cell Fracture add-on is based on an algorithm to create a Voronoi pattern (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voronoi_ diagram), used together with the new Boolean Modifier to generate the fragments of the object. The Blender Game Engine uses the chips as rigid bodies and creates very realistic animations. To activate the add-on, open Blender and go to File>User

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Preferences>Add-Ons, then search for and turn on Cell Fracture. Here are the main options on offer: ěũ.(-3ũ.41!# – this defines the basic points for the creation of the Voronoi pattern. You can use the mesh vertices or the vertices of a child mesh, a particle system, or draw by hand the points with the Grease Pencil tool. ěũ#!412(5#ũ'33#1 – this enables you to recursively fracture with an algorithm to obtain smaller fragments. Mesh Data has many options: ěũ 3#1(+ – you can assign a different material to the edge of the fracture.

ěũ 1%(-ũ– this is the gap between the various fragments. ěũ'82(!2 – this enables you to assign a different mass proportional to the size of each chip. ěũ )#!3 – this takes care of calculating the centre of each piece. ěũ!#-# – you can determine in which layer to put the chips and whether to create a new group. After creating the pieces, we’ll use the Blender Game engine to simulate a collision with a bullet and see how to use the Logic Editor to realistically animate the impact. For this tutorial we’ll be using, as usual, only open-source software: Blender 2.65a for modelling and rendering as well as Inkscape and GIMP for textures and post-production work.


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03

Begin fracturing In Object

Mode, select the cup and move it to another level (M). Drawing with the Grease Pencil, break the lines of entry and the exit point of the bullet, then add some extra points that will form the other chips. Each point is the centre of a chip. Enable the Fracture add-on and select Cell Fracture. Set the Point Source to Grease Pencil, Recursion to 2, Material to 1, Margin to 0.000001 and Group Name as ‘fract’.

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Textures & materials We’ll use the Cycles render

engine now, so choose a nice texture for the cup (here we’re using the Blender logo), select the cup and in Edit Mode unwrap the mesh. Don’t forget to use UV as the texture co-ordinate. Add a second material to the cup to be used as cell add-ons for the sides of the shards.

04

Set up the game engine We should have the cup divided into fragments on a new layer. Select all the chips, move them to the main layer, pick Blender Game as your render engine and Game Logic as the layout of the windows. We need to freeze the fall of the fragments before impact with the bullet and enable the impact to its passage. Select a chip and set the logic nodes as shown, then grab all the chips (Shift+G>Group), hit the spacebar and search for ‘copy logic brick to select’. Use the same settings for the straw.

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05 01 

Begin modelling We’ll use

simple objects for this tutorial: a cup to fracture, a bullet to simulate the impact and a drinking straw in the cup to make the scene more interesting. Add a circle (Shift+A>Circles), then in Edit Mode Extrude (E) to model the cup. You can model a bullet in the same way (with a circle and extrusion) as well as the straw (Shift+A>Cylinder). Simply place the straw inside the cup and proceed with your lighting setup. Add a set of white light emitter planes above the scene and two lights at the side (one warm and one cold). Don’t forget to set Ambient Light in the World panel to 0.

5

Simulation troubles Here are some problems that may arise: ěũũ $ũ3'#ũ""ı.-ũ #'5#2ũ231-%#+8Ĕũ-"ũ(-23#"ũ.$ũ3'#ũ!4/ũ(3ũ 2'.62ũũ!4 #Ĕũ3'#ũ-.1,+2ũ.$ũ3'#ũ,#2'ũ1#ũ(-5#13#"ēũ ěũũ $ũ3'#ũ. )#!3ũ'2ũ5(2( +#ũ!1!*2ũ$3#1ũ3'#ũ""ı.-Ĕũ!+.2#ũ3'#ũ%/ũ #36##-ũ3'#ũ51(.42ũ/(#!#2ũ42(-%ũ3'#ũ 1%(-ũ/1,#3#1ēũ ěũũ $ũ3'#ũ 4++#3ũ".#2-Ħ3ũ,.5#ũ++ũ3'#ũ!'(/2Ĕũ2(,/+8ũ1#/+!#ũ(3ũ6(3'ũũ 2/'#1#ũ$.1ũ1#!.1"(-%ũ3'#ũ-(,3(.-ũ-"ũ3'#-ũ4-".ũ3'#ũ 1#/+!#,#-3ũ$.1ũ1#-"#1(-%ē

Adjust your settings Select the bullet, then in the Physics panel tick Actor and in the Game Logic window add a new property: ‘trigg’ (it’s a variable used by logic nodes to unfreeze the animation). Add a motion node, as shown, to move the bullet along the X-axis against the cup. In the Game menu, tick Record Animation and then click Start Game Engine. Blender will simulate the impact and record all movements as IPO curves.

06

Rendering & post work Select the Cycles renderer and go back to the window’s default layout. Choose a good frame from the animation, set the camera and enable the new motion blur for Cycles. Press F12; wait until the end of the render. Save the image and open it in GIMP for post-production (Levels and Curves).

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Ċũ13ũĜũ#2(%-ũ(/2Ĕũ1(!*2ũĜũ(7#2

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Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Create fur in ZBrush

Artist info

Cold as Lava 2013

FiberMesh is just one of ZBrush’s many powerful options, so here we’ll use it to make a truly photoreal and captivating image

Yasin Hasanian Personal portfolio site www.superhero.cgsociety.org Country Iran Software used Maya, ZBrush, MARI, Shave and a Haircut, Arnold, Photoshop Expertise Yasin specialises in texturing, shading and lighting with a solid knowledge in modelling and sculpting

Yasin Hasanian is a freelance CG artist working professionally in the film and game industries

T

hese steps will take you through how to create decent-looking fur with the help of ZBrush. We’ll do this by utilising FiberMesh in different stages of the pipeline, using it in conjunction with other software, including plug-ins such as Shave and a Haircut. Obviously, ZBrush is a program that’s constantly evolving with each release. It’s become a game-changer for a lot of us by offering optimum methods of accomplishing tasks that

are otherwise much more tedious. One of these gamechanging features is FiberMesh, which opens up a whole host of options for producing brilliant results beyond just hair and fur. Regarding other tools that will be used for this project, Maya will be used to set up the scene, Shave and a Haircut for the fur, MARI for textures, Arnold for rendering and Photoshop for post.

Build a concept Dissect the fur structure and analyse photo references

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Gather reference images Either you

are working on something imaginary, or you’re working on something that exists in real life. For the former, it’s not necessary to find reference images, as they may not even exist and so you are basically sculpting and evolving your ideas in a program such as ZBrush. For the latter, it’s recommended that you gather as many photo references as you can. Good photo references are those that help you throughout the pipeline stages. They will hint as to whether the fur in area X is generally soft, tough, short, long and so on.

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88 O3D 3DArtist Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

An overview of sculpting The final Ztool for this tiger has been made available with the tutorial, so we won’t go over the minute details of how it was sculpted here. In general, the head was made in ZBrush from scratch with DynaMesh. One thing that you have to make sure of, however, is that if you start your modelling completely inside ZBrush and plan to send the meshes later to another program, such as Maya, check your mesh sizes as soon as you have blocked out the general shapes in Maya. This means you won’t have to alter the sizes later when it comes to rendering, as this tends to become problematic in complex scenes.

Some facts about tigers Tigers can be up to three metres in length and weigh as much as 330 kilograms. One of the most interesting characteristics about them is their striped pattern, which is unique from one to another, just like human fingerprints. Their pattern acts as camouflage, helping them to successfully hide in the wild from predators. Also, not all tigers are orange in colour. Due to a mutation in colouring, there are tigers that feature black stripes and blue eyes. One significant advantage that the tiger has is their eyesight. They can see just as well as humans during the day. However, at night, they are able to see six-times what a human can.


Fixes

Learn how to ũũ.1*ũ6(3'ũ( #1 #2'ũ(-ũũ /1."4!3(.-ũ#-5(1.-,#-3 ũũ #3'."(!++8ũ//+8ũ1#+(23(!ũ '(1ũ3.ũũ2!4+/3 ũũ.1*ũ6(3'ũ%1..,(-%ũ 142'#2ũ3.ũ1#ăũ-#ũ8.41ũ,."#+ ũũ.1*ũ6(3'ũ3'#ũ'5#ũ-"ũũ (1!43ũ/+4%ı(ũũ#-"#1ũ$41ũ6(3'ũ1-.+" ũũ-+82#ũ/'.3.ũ1#$#1#-!#2

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Tips

Concept

Tutorial files: ěũũ(%#1Ĵē93+ũ-"ũ2!1##-2'.32ũ .$ũ2(-Ħ2ũ2#33(-%2

The main inspiration for this work was nature! Tigers are one of my favourite animals and two of their visually striking characteristics are their eyes and fur. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Lay the foundations Pre-visualise fur in order to get quick feedback

03

Analyse the references After finalising the sculpt,

take some renders into ZBrush to come up with a sense of how to lay the fur on the tiger and what is required for each part of it. As you can see in the accompanying image, there are five main hair types and seven hair systems. Each of these hair types require a different hair system, so the whole project can be easily managed. For example, the cyan area has a distinct sharp type of fur, while the green area has a soft-looking fur type.

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Begin your pre-vis Often you are required to give quick feedback to your client or to make sure you’re on the right track, which means visualising how the work, in this case the fur, is roughly going to look. Before the introduction of FiberMesh, there was no easy way of going about this. For example, completing this phase directly with Shave and a Haircut could definitely take a lot more time and was prone to errors. Now you can quickly apply some fur with FiberMesh, groom it and render it through BPR to evaluate its different aspects.

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05

Optimise FiberMesh In situations where there are

multiple fur types or sections on a character, there are essentially two ways of organising FiberMesh elements to separate them. The first method is to make polygroups on your sculpt for certain regions that have different types of fur and then, when the FiberMesh is created, the fibres actually respect the polygroups, so you can further manipulate them separately. The second method is just making the FiberMesh sections one by one, which may not be as fast as the previous method but enables you to focus better on certain areas.


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Start generating fibres Based on the outlines we came up with in Step 5, we can go over the model and mask each region in turn to grow fibres from.

Usually, on the FiberMesh Modifiers tab, it’s best to zero out any sort of randomisation at the start to avoid an unwanted result and to build up the look manually. Since we’re still on the prototyping stage, the idea is to work as fast as possible without worrying too much about details. After accepting each of the FiberMesh sections, we can groom them with GroomHairLong. Although the fur isn’t actually long, this brush is perfect because it enables more control along each strand’s length.

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Groom the fibres into a pattern While grooming the

fur in this stage, the most important factors you need to be aware of are the direction of the fur, its coverage (thickness), the length and the density covering a given region. These key factors will really help you sell the piece to the client. The Groom brushes, such as GroomHairLong and GroomHairLengthen, handle the direction and length, while density and coverage should be taken into account in the FiberMesh Modifiers tab. GroomHairLengthen is pretty much a Move brush, so you can use this brush to manipulate the hairs or make them longer as desired.

Prepare the mesh After

you’re finished creating all FiberMesh elements, proceed to make a series of adjustments on the sculpt to make the head read better, then retopologise it with the ever-useful ZRemesher by holding Opt/Alt to preserve asymmetry. This step could have been completed sooner in the process, but due to a high probability of model changes in the prototyping stage, it’s much better to complete it at this step. Please note that you can simply skip this step if you are following the tutorial using the tiger ZTL file provided.

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Move to the texturing stage At this point you can begin building up the textures. Most of the time it’s good to paint textures in a 3D texture-painting application, such as MARI or BodyPaint, in conjunction with Photoshop. Send 2 subdiv levels of the tiger head, both low and high, to MARI (or your program of choice). Work on the low level to block out the colouring and switch to a higher level of subdivision to work in the finer details. All the textures here were hand painted in layers, leaving enough freedom in case of a texture alteration. 9

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If you are experiencing any lag or difficulties when working with MARI, try decreasing the Frame Buffer size. Moreover, in normal texture painting you don’t really need to paint in 16- or 32-bit buffers, so try switching to a lower Depth Buffer in order to free more resources on your graphic card. Caching layers have a red sign that indicates they are static and not in use any more. You can always un-cache them later in case you need them.

Volume illusion If you are working on a furry creature based on reference images, always be mindful of the volume and shape of what you are sculpting. For example, if you match your sculpt completely to a reference image on the silhouette and later decide to add fur to it, you will most probably get incorrect results. This is because you’re adding another layer of silhouette on top of the character, making it look fuller. Sometimes you might be able to cope with this later by an overall negative inflation.

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Further refine the fur Make FiberMesh ready for Shave and a Haircut

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Continue building FiberMesh elements

The second version of FiberMesh regions can be created with Shave and a Haircut in mind. Here the accurate appearance of the fibres is imperative. In contrast to the previous type of fur, here we want to exhibit less density and use more precise grooming. For the previous version of fur, most of the time was spent in the FiberMesh Modifiers tab, whereas here the time is spent on grooming. The guideline for this round is still the Step 5 figure, with perhaps some minor alterations after the prototyping stage.

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Layer the fibres Some areas on the tiger fur have a layered FiberMesh set up for higher fidelity in the look development, as well as to have Shave work as expected. Without this, Shave doesn’t really know how distinct the two fur types should be, resulting in a uniform interpolation between the strands. An example of this layered style took place on the tiger chin – one layer with a dense, short FiberMesh and one with less-dense and longer elements.

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Adjust the grooming brushes As you are grooming the fibres while some other objects are visible in ZBrush, you might have noticed the fibres do not fully respect your brush movements and end up with a scraggly look. This is because grooming brushes have the Front Collision attribute active by default. To disable this, go to the Brush palette>FiberMesh and zero out Front Collision Tolerance. This slider keeps away the fibres to penetrate into the object’s surface. In fact, Preserve Length in this tab tells ZBrush to treat any mesh the way a FiberMesh is treated, provided that it is enabled on a brush.

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Shave and a Haircut tools S&H offers a bunch of brushes to comb the hair, but here the only brushes I used were Translate, Scale and, where the strand moved inside the geometry, Stand. Aside from the brushes, the Shave selections came in handy when I wanted to accurately comb the fur, by switching to Component mode, clicking on a selection mode and manipulating the guides one by one or as a chunk. Still, a major drawback of S&H is the limited Undo feature. As such, if you plan to do a major combing, save your scene! 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Fit the pieces together Prepare the tiger fur ready for rendering

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Set up the scene in Maya

Now send all the parts to Maya to prepare them for rendering and export out all the FiberMesh elements to serve as guide curves for Shave. In order to convert the fibres to curves, you can use this script: tinyurl.com/TDAHairAndFurScript. This is why the second version of FiberMesh elements were quite sparse. For each section of the fur, extract a root geometry from the low-res head, grow Shave out of it, then comb the Shave with the curves created out of each corresponding FiberMesh. Additionally, you can make Control maps, such as Density, to further refine the Shave nodes.

Add whiskers

Regarding the whiskers, you can totally rely on FiberMesh from the start. Toggle the Brush Size to Dynamic mode, move to the highest subdiv level and begin masking strong little dots on the places you want the whiskers to grow out of. Next, preview them and, back in the Modifiers tab, tune it in a way that only one strand per dot grows. Afterwards, give them a Profile of 6 and Segment of 10 because we’re going to render them directly and not convert them to guide curves. To finish this step, groom and export these elements to Maya.

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Yasin Hasanian Yasin was born in Iran in 1990. He has had a great passion for both the art and science behind CG since he was 14 years old. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and has been working as a freelance CG artist in the industry for over five years. Yasin has created work for major clients, but he still wishes to one day land a job at a big studio.

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Miss Mutation Maya, ZBrush, mental ray, Photoshop (2011)

Say Cheese to the World Maya, ZBrush, Shave and a Haircut, mental ray, Photoshop (2010)

Maya was used for the base mesh and scene setup, ZBrush for sculpting and Photoshop for texturing

Sculpting and most of the textures were made and hand-painted using just the mouse


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Render and post work Modify your shaders and set up the final render in Arnold

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Set up the shaders Here the Arnold aiHair shader was used for the fur. The same colour texture that was painted in MARI was assigned to both the Root and Tip slots, however, each was controlled with Remap HSV nodes. Set the Ambient Diffuse to 1 so that the shader takes the lighting direction into account. Although the physical range for Indirect Diffuse is from 0 to 1, a value of 2 has been used here for artistic purposes. Only the primary specularity was used with low Strength and Glossiness to maintain the shader’s energy.

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Begin the render There’s only one Skydome light in the scene with an enhanced HDRI texture, meaning both the Diffuse and Reflection were altered. All the Shave nodes had a Min Pixel Width of 0.3, with the default Arnold Transparency Depth of 10, which is enough to provide a soft look in certain areas. A stand-in of the high-res tiger head with pre- and post-render scripts was used to get switched with the low-res version for rendering, which saved time by skipping the displacement tessellation process.

Arnold and fur rendering Arnold is an amazing renderer that’s optimised and powerful. Arnold works well with fur/hair and its IPR even supports node initialisation. For example, you can simply launch IPR and create your shaders, assign them to Shave, tweak them and it just renders it simultaneously. To control fur rendering artefacts, you can either decrease them by increasing the AA samples or Min Pixel Width. However, increasing MPW too much increases render time, as the renderer has to shoot more transparency rays.

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The finished jump in action

Tutorial files: ěũ 8ũ2!#-#ũăũ+#2ũěũ!1(/32 ěũ("#.ũ1#$#1#-!#2ũěũ(-+ũ1#-"#1ũ ěũ#$#1#-!#ũ(,%#2

Maya

Animate a jump in Maya

A giant leap for geek-kind: Jahirul Amin helps you animate a jump

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n this tutorial we will be creating a jump animation. This will involve acquainting ourselves further with many of the principles of animation that you will have read about previously. The jump itself will only last a few seconds, but achieving that brief movement in CG will necessitate a sensitive and skilled handling of timing, spacing, weight, drag, overlap, moving holds, squash, stretch, anticipation and arcs. As a result, it’s a great exercise to flex your animation muscles. Before the fun starts we need to go through the admin. I’m working in 25 frames per second using Maya, although

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the same techniques apply to any 3D package of choice. Second, I will begin the animation process using the pose-to-pose method, so my Default Out tangents are set to Stepped in my Animation Preferences. Third, I have the legs set to IK to enable us to have the feet planted on the floor, but the arms set to FK to take advantage of its naturally occurring arcs. There’s an issue with the FK arms, because as we are using rotations at some point we could hit gimbal lock. This is where two axes sit on top of each other, leading us to lose one axis. If you want to do your best to minimise this sticky situation, get familiar

with arm rotation to work out which rotation is going to work best. For what it’s worth, I’ve set my rotate order as ZXY on the upper arm control. Last but not least, as far as admin goes, we have very kindly been given permission to use and tell you about the fantastic bhGhost onion-skinning tool created by Brian Horgan. Please check it out with his other impressive tools at www.graphite9.com. As usual, at this point in the tutorial, I’m going to wax lyrical about the beauty and importance of getting good reference. Unfortunately we weren’t able to reproduce the reference used in this article. However,


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do take a very good look at Eadweard Muybridge’s Human and Animal Locomotion (1887) and there is reference aplenty on the net. During this exercise more than any other, I found myself getting up out of my chair to replicate the movement and jumping across the rug myself. This enabled me to really get a feel for where the weight came from during the movement, as well as which parts of the body led and which followed. Doing so also enabled me to see the subtler parts of the movement; for example the foot rolls back to anticipate the body moving forward. So I thoroughly recommend that you to take a jump – in the nicest possible way, of course. One way to approach this exercise would be to animate a ball doing the jump, as the jumper is really only a bouncing ball with limbs, and the axis of the ball can easily represent the hips of the character. This obviously will be a rather rudimentary start that will require refining. However, the ball will still provide us with the key poses we need, the arc that we’ll work along, as well as indicating very clearly where we need squash and stretch. The timing will need a lot of work afterwards, as the ball basically travels much faster than our Box Boy model. The spacing is very helpful though, as we’ll see that it’ll be bunched up at the apex of the arc, but more spread out as the arc descends on either side. I took an animation of a ball bouncing from Maya into Kinovea and drew over it to position the limbs, head and neck. You’ll find a video supporting this tutorial (02_ bouncingBall_kinovea.mp4), which shows exactly how I did this. Now I’d like to focus on a few aspects of the process. We’ll start our animation in Stepped mode to set clear and readable poses without getting bogged down in how we’ll transit from one pose to the next, as this can confuse the issue. We’ll remain in this mode until we’re happy with the timing. Then we’ll change our animation curves to Working over the bouncing ball animation to use as reference

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Using the onion-skinning features of the bhGhost tool

Spline and work from the core out: hips, legs, spine and neck to arms. In Spline mode, we’ll be adding in-between poses, which will also involve adding anticipation, drag, overlap and so on. At some stages we’ll also be keying every one or two frames for a variety of reasons – one of which is that as the legs are in IK, we’ll have to force the arcs. Now let’s have a look at squash and stretch. As mentioned, the bouncing ball will help us to know when to squash and when to stretch our jumping Box Boy. Because I have chosen to go for a semi-realistic look to the jump, as opposed to a more cartoony option, it’s not the form of the character itself that’s being either squashed or stretched, but the poses which they’re going to make. So Box Boy’s spine is compressed into a C shape before jumping and when recovering from the jump, then stretched high when transitioning between those two positions. His form is being pushed to its limits, but importantly he is not gaining or losing

length as he might in a more cartoon-style piece. Creating these extreme poses and playing around with the silhouette of the character means that we are adding more contrast and overall appeal to the animation in its entirety. Staying with adding appeal to your work, it may sometimes be necessary to push some poses beyond the boundaries of realism: the reason for this being that what can seem extreme in a frozen frame may look totally natural in motion. For instance, as the jumper hits the ground his knees bend but his head really pulls back in order to keep the arc and the motion flowing smoothly. The same concept has been applied to the fingers that whip back and forth as Box Boy lands and brings his arms gradually back to hanging by his sides in the standing pose. Finally, we’ll turn to Moving Holds. While 2D artists have the luxury of holding a frame without losing their audience’s belief, any break in motion in 3D will mean that our character dies and the illusion is broken. To make Box Boy hit the ground without stopping dead, we’ll use Moving Holds. This is the name given to the technique where the character’s movement continues in a very subtle way, such as the chest rising and falling with breath, or the arms slightly swaying by their side. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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See the forest and the trees Getting an animation like this right is a time-consuming process. Sometimes you may feel like you haven’t moved on very far at all and no forest is visible for all the darn trees. However, a simple solution is to save multiple files throughout the process. This means you’ll be able to compare your before and after shots and perhaps give yourself some pleasant surprises.

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Prepare to lift off…

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Get him a little more prepared for the occasion

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The squashed and stretched poses as Box Boy lifts off

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What goes up must always come down

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The landing squashed pose

Loosen things up Open up

00_start.ma (supplied) to find the Box Boy rig and a rough environment. The environment is in a layer called ‘environment_geo’ so we can show and hide it if needed. Let’s create our first pose and make the character a little more comfortable. Relax his arms and fingers, add a slight angle to his hips and oppose that angle in the shoulders. Move his hips to rest slightly over one leg and rotate his head so it seems as if he is looking at the gap in front of him. Also, put a slight angle in his feet and bend in his knees – otherwise they’ll feel too tense.

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The apex & landing Once he is off the ground and in the air, try to think about what is leading and what is following. Rotate the core (here, the hips) as you would the bouncing ball and think about how the speed of him reaching the apex of the arc should be the same as the speed of him coming back down again. As a result, the spacing should be more bunched at the peak of the jump and

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Make a safe landing As he

lands, have him go down as you would squash the bouncing ball. Really compress his body to take the impact and push the spine into a strong C shape to once more contrast with the previous stretched pose and its straight spine. Going from these bigger to smaller shapes and back again will also add to the appeal of the animation. Really push these early poses, making sure they are as clear as can be. Spend time making your poses fully readable and, if needed, create a playblast and draw over it in Kinovea (www.kinovea. org) so you are not restricted by a rig.

Create the squash & stretch poses Now we’ll create the first

two of our extreme poses: squashed and stretched. Begin with the squashed pose by really compressing his body down. Try to

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get a huge C-shape running down the spine, up the neck and head, then swing the arms out as we prepare to push him off. For the stretched pose, try to straighten the leg and start bringing those arms through. Have the back straighter. Doing this will produce a nice visual contrast to the C-shaped squashed pose.

spread apart further either side of the apex as he pushes off and lands. Delay one leg and offset the arms slightly so we don’t have any twinning issues. At this stage you can already start to indicate the effects of drag on the fingers and toes as he begins to fall, if you wish .

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Rework the timing So far, if we

follow the timing set by our bouncing ball animation, everything will be a bit too fast. Since we are using Stepped mode, we can easily go into the Graph Editor or the Dopesheet and start pushing these keys around in order to re-time the shot. When you are all set, select all the curves in the Graph Editor for every control and go to Tangents>Auto or Spline. Also go to Window>Settings/Preferences> Preferences and change the Default Out tangent to Auto or Spline in the Animation tab. If you hit Play now you may have quite a flat, weightless animation.

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Arcs, arcs & more arcs At this stage, we should really start thinking about getting our arcs as clean as possible. Again, we’ll work from the core outwards, as changes to that region will have a knock-on effect on all four limbs and the torso. Try to mimic the parabola that we would expect to see on a bouncing ball. To help with this, select the root_ctrl and go to Animate>Create Editable Motion Trail. Once you have the hips worked out, move to the feet. As they are set to IK, you will most probably need to set quite a few more extra keys to reduce the linear transition from one key to another. This will be created by default.

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Focus in on areas Animating

the entire character at once can sometimes become overwhelming and

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fixing one area can lead to issues in another. Having the ability to hide parts of the geometry can really help you focus on the areas that need cleaning up. For example, you may want to get the spine working well without viewing how the arms are affected. Then you can unhide the arms and focus on them, knowing that the spine is how you want it. If a Hide/Unhide feature is not part of the rig, you can generally achieve the same effect by selecting the geometry that you want to hide and go to Create>Sets>Quick Select Set. You can then easily find that geometry in the Outliner and hit Cmd/Ctrl+H to hide the pieces. When you want to reveal them again, select them from under the set in the Outliner and hit Shift+H.

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Re-time the animation using the Graph Editor Adding some anticipation will enable the audience to prepare for the action they’re about to see

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Arcs are stunning as well as naturally occurring – make sure you get them in

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Hiding parts of the geometry can help you focus closely

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Use the tools to check your arcs

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Just a small movement can help keep the character alive

Anticipation & weight Once

the main poses are in, we can start adding some anticipation. Place a key between pose A and B, then slightly lift the character up on the balls of his feet. Have him bring his arms up also, ready to swing them back into the extreme, squashed pose. Then, as he lands on the other side of the jump, push him down further than the squashed pose and as his hips lift up have his spine continue to go down. The opposing action here will help soften the potential rigidity of him standing up as one lump mass.

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Motion Trail a vertex When we create a Motion Trail on a control, we want to make sure that it’s creating the trail from the correct place. For example, if we make the trail for the hips, it will work fine as we want it to happen from the control’s centre. However, if we create it on the foot control, we don’t get the right result. As we use the Roll attribute on the foot, the geometry actually pulls away from the control and so the trail is incorrect. Luckily for us a colleague of mine, Constantinos Glynos, has kindly created a Python script, CG_VertexMotionTrail_ V2.py (supplied), that will enable you to create a Motion Trail on a selected vertex. I like to view the arcs being created in places such as the tip of the fingers or the end of a toe, so this tool enables me to do that with more accuracy and confidence.

added drag to the fingers so they flow into the path of action. Also add some drag and overlap to the toes as they go through the jump. Then on the land, have them slam down in a couple frames to help bring some weight and impact to the landing.

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Use Moving Holds Right now, when our character hits his final pose, he stops dead. This really appears very CG, so to reduce this we’ll add a Moving Hold. To do this, copy the same pose another ten frames ahead, then make some minor changes but try to have the movement flow in the direction of the pose before. If the arm is swinging from left screen to right screen, continue that movement from left to right. I have made this quite subtle, but feel free to experiment and see what works best for you.

Drag & overlap To make the

jump more fluid, let’s apply some drag and overlap. Start by adding some delay to the spine, neck and head. Offset each section by a couple of frames and you should quickly get a more natural-looking animation. Work your way down the arms to the hands. For this exercise I’ve also

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A final render including some of the key poses

Tutorial files: ěũ 8ũē,ũ2!#-#ũ$(+#2 ěũ("#.ũ#$#1#-!#ũē,.5 ěũ(-+ũ-(,3(.-ũ1#-"#1ũē,.5 ěũ#$#1#-!#ũ(,%#2ũ3.ũ42# (-ũ 8 ěũĴ#13#7 .3(.-1(+Ĵĉũ 2!1(/3

Maya

Animate action moves Hong Kong GUI: we combine bouncing, walking, lifting and jumping together in a 540-degree martial-arts kick!

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nce you’ve had the chance to experiment with the animation of various different basic character movements, you should feel brave enough to experience the creation of an action move: the tornado kick. This 540-degree move, practised in Taekwondo and other martial arts, sees the body at its finest. It is, without doubt, a very challenging piece to animate, but it brings together the work that we have already done to a pretty impressive crescendo. There’s so much here: timing, spacing, anticipation, weight, path of action, arcs – you name it! The poses are very dynamic and there are opposing tilts between hips and shoulders, as well as twists in the spine. We will be using the principles of the bouncing ball, so our timing for this piece can be established using the ball as the hips of this character. However, the obvious

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addition of limbs – not to mention the spin – will give us plenty to get our teeth into. As ever, the initial work must be devoted to reference. There is an abundance of excellent reference online, so when you find some examples that you like, make sure you analyse them over and over. It’s a very complex move and you’ll need to focus carefully on weight-shift, the spacing of the feet as they move through the air, as well as the natural arcs and flow. Listen to martial-arts trainers online talking about the move: how weight shifts and which parts of the body lead and which follow. I guess you’ll always be in a race against the clock when animating, but it’s always worthwhile prepping thoroughly, as once you’ve started the animation process, having to go back on yourself is even more time-consuming – not to mention dispiriting. Make use of tools such as

Kinovea (www.kinovea.org) to make your life easier. Normally I would enthusiastically encourage you to try the moves you’re intending to animate. However, in this case it may not be such a wise idea if procreation interests you in any way. So in place of this I’ve provided some 2D references that can be taken into Maya (supplied). This is essentially a series of loose drawings using a stick man, which can mainly be used to figure out your timing. When it comes to the poses, these can be pushed further to make the whole piece more dynamic and appealing. In the drawings, the key poses are in red and the breakdown poses are in green. The images also each have a frame number to help you work out where to put the initial poses – although this rough timing can very likely change, so keep it flexible.


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My decision is to go IK, as my major priority is to get the feet touching the floor without having to counter-animate. The price of this decision is having to force the arcs and getting the legs to follow the hips, even if it means sometimes animating the legs frame by frame. You have to weigh up your own personal pros and cons, but I think opting for IK legs results in less arduous reworking. Now let’s get the admin out the way so we can start animating. I’ll be working in PAL (25fps) and as I’m animating using the pose-to-pose method to begin with, I’ll set my Default Out tangents to Stepped.

Kick off!

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It’s all in the arcs!

1 Pre-planning your animation can save all the guesswork later on in the process

Because there’s so much going on in this piece, it becomes imperative that we decide which kinematic mode the limbs will be in, before starting. You should find arms fairly straightforward to animate. The hands do not make contact with anything, but only follow the motion of the rest of the body, so forward kinematics will enable us to use the naturally occurring arcs. Your decision about the legs is harder, however. Your first and last poses have the feet in contact with the floor, which would suggest IK, while the fact that the legs often follow the hips suggests FK. If we opt for IK, we’ll have to add the natural arcs that are

provided by the FK mode and manually move the controls to enable the legs to follow the rotation of the hips. Whereas if we use FK, we’ll be obliged to counteranimate the legs, as any changes to the hips will result in sometimes undesirable changes to the legs. A third option would be to use FK/IK blending, but if there are no features in the rig that enable us to match the positions and orientations of one mode to another, this could lead to popping. Of course, you could wing it and do it by eye, but I’m so obsessive about avoiding any popping that I’d advise against this.

Use references Open up ‘01_ start.ma’ (supplied) to find Box Boy in his default pose. Let’s start by bringing in our reference so we can work alongside it in Maya. Go to Panels> Orthographic>New> Front to create a new camera. Call this ‘referenceCam’ and in the active viewport go to View>Image Plane>Import Image and select ‘frame_01.jpg’ from the Reference Images folder that accompanies this tutorial. Under Image Plane Attributes, edit the Display to Looking Through Camera and also check Attached to Camera. Now translate the reference camera away from the main scene and then set the view as a floating window by heading to Panels> Tear Off.

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A further breakdown of the key poses in the final animation

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Add key poses I’ll now scroll

through the timeline and put in all the key poses using the red images from the reference as a guide. I’m mainly looking to ensure I put in all the contact poses for the feet as they shuffle around, to get a better balance. I’ll also want to make sure that they are following the translation and orientation of the hips as the body spins. At this early stage I want to make sure I get some interesting and strong poses happening, as well as to play with opposing lines, such as those created by the hips and shoulders and the reverse C-shape in the spine. At this stage, try to consider which body part is leading and which will be following. Later on we can think about delaying some body parts to loosen the move up.

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Insert breakdown poses For

the second pass through I’ll start adding in a breakdown pose between each key pose. Adding these poses will enable us to better anticipate how the animation will look when we transition from Stepped tangents to either Spline or Auto. As the character is spinning and we are working with the legs in IK mode, we’ll also start creating the arcs that we can then finesse later on in the process. Focus on the path of action for each limb so they flow from one frame to the other without any sudden popping. We can also begin to indicate principles such as drag on the hands and toes, as well as anticipation of the movements to come.

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Get the timing right Once all the main poses are in, I’ll go through and create a playblast of the

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animation. My main aim here is to check that the poses are clear and readable or if the action is too fast, too slow or possibly just right. I like to stand back from my monitor when doing this, as I think it reveals quite a lot that we just can’t see with the screen right in front of us. In doing so, I find that in my animation I need a few extra frames on each spin, as they occur too fast and cause some popping – especially when the legs cross for the first time. To add the extra frames, I select all the controls and open up the Dope Sheet, which you can find under Window>Animation Editors. In the Dope Sheet Summary bar at the top I grab all the keys that I need to move along in order to give me the extra frames and push them to the right.

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Work from the core Once you

are happy with the timing, select all the animation controls and convert the tangents in the Graph Editor from Stepped to Auto or Spline mode. As always, I begin from the core outwards when refining, so my first port of call will be the hips. For this move I’m mainly using the root_ctrl for translating the character up, down and rotating him, then the hip_ik_ctrl to get some extra rotation in the hips, if needed. I start by going through and deleting any keys that are not doing much for the animation or are adding too much noise. We can then go through and try to mimic the motion and arc we would expect to see on a bouncing ball. Also, you can add extra keys if you need to get the arcs flowing well in other areas, as Box Boy shifts his weight about. Remember, it’s all in the hips, so getting this as refined as possible will be crucial for all the other elements.

Tools & scripts I am using the bhGhost tool, created by Brian Horgan. This tool can be found easily at www.graphite9.com. This is precisely what I will use to check how one pose leads into the next through the various blocking stages. To check the arcs of a selected vertex, I use ‘CG_ VertexMotionTrail_V2.py’ (supplied), created by Constantinos Glynos. By default, Maya doesn’t enable you to motion-trail a vertex, but this tool will do just that.

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Adjust the legs & feet In this move the big arcs will be created by the legs, so as I am working in IK mode for them I will most probably end up setting a key on nearly every frame, especially when the legs are in the air. Be sure to create motion trails – not on the controls, but on a vertex on the model, such as the ankle or the end of the foot. This will create an honest representation of the arc being created by the leg’s swing. Also, as the feet will be pivoting from the toe or the ball, it’s important that when this happens there is no popping. I like to create a locator at the point where the foot will pivot from, then use that as a guide to position and orient the foot. If the foot slides around, we will lose believability in our animation.

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The many key poses used in this complex shot

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The various breakdown poses to finish the initial blocking process

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If the animation is not clear and readable, look at retiming what you currently have

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Work from the core outwards, implementing the principles applied to a bouncing ball

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Focus in on the arcs and check the movement when Box Boy pivots

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Reference Some people will sometimes frown upon the use of reference and will tell you that a good animator should be able to work without it. However, everyone from the early Disney pioneers to the brains behind Avatar have used reference. Whether it’s photographic reference that you will draw beside, or mo-cap reference that you can take into a 3D scene – whatever will get you to your goal in the most-efficient manner and give you the best results, do it. Be flexible and in the words of the mighty Bruce Lee: “Be like water, my friend.”

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Animate the spine, neck & head We’re starting to work up

the torso, so as all the upper limbs are children of the spine we’ll start there. Again, begin by cleaning up the curves and getting rid of any keys that aren’t helping. Push the shoulders and hips to really get some striking poses from the opposing lines. Also, add twist to the torso, orient the chest in one direction, the hips in another and the head in a third direction. This will add further interest to the poses and make them more dynamic. Try to delay the neck and head slightly, making sure the path of action on the head is smooth and clean as it swings.

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Work those arms When

dealing with the arms, I like to work on them separately as I can really fine-tune one arm without the other distracting me. I use selection sets to hide some of the geometry and focus on those arcs once more. Although the arms will follow the torso, we will still need to go in there and clean out some of the poses as they may be jittery in places. Also, make sure to edit the spacing, as in some instances we will want to ease in and out of the key pose to reduce what could be some very quick movement in a small number of frames. This applies, for example, when the right arm reaches the peak of its move.

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Add drag & break up the timing At this stage I want

to make the motion as smooth as can be, as well as to begin offsetting some parts so we don’t come to the final pose and hit it as one lump. I’ll delay the arms by a couple of frames from the spine and in the odd frame. I’ll then push the lower arm further back than naturally possible to really help sell the drag. I’ll delay the hands and also really push the fingers back to help sell the path of action that they’ll be following. To loosen up the approach to the final pose, I’ll

make sure the arms hit the pose a few frames later and also have one arm hit the final pose a frame or two before the second arm does.

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Keep on moving As we hit the final frames, we’ll want to keep the motion and the character alive. To do so, we can employ the technique of using Moving Holds. For the hips, the upper-body and arms, I’ll add a small amount of motion, continuing through to the final frame of the animation. It’s important to keep this motion, moving in the direction that the body is travelling. The change in movement from the final pose to the final frame may be barely noticeable, but the difference between subtle movement and no movement can be huge to the naked eye. You’ve now got all you need for great work. Good luck and happy animating.

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Show & tell I like to focus on a particular aspect without my mind being side-tracked. For example, when cleaning up the spine, I don’t want to look at the arms or even the legs. To help, I use selection sets. Simply grab all the geometry that you want to hide and go to Create> Sets>Quick Select Set. By the end of the animation I have a selection set for each part of the body. To select the geometry in the set, either go to the Outliner and open the specific set you want to hide/reveal or go Edit>Quick Select Set to pick the group. 10

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Use contrasting shapes in the torso. Add strong twist poses

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Add some drag to the hands and fingers to create a natural animation

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Work on each arm individually and further refine those naturally occurring arcs

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Apply a subtle amount of motion to the final frame to keep the character alive 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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UVLayout

Perfect UVs in UVLayout

Tutorial files: ěũ+"8 (1"Ĵ-.ē. ) ěũ+"8 (1"Ĵ1#"8ē. ) ěũ+"8 (1"ē45+ ěũ!'#*#1ĴćĈē/-%ũ3#7341# ěũ!'#*#1Ĵćĉē/-%ũ3#7341# ěũ("#.ũ343.1(+2

How can I work with UVLayout to create effective UVs?

U

VLayout is a very powerful tool that enables you to quickly and easily create high-quality UVs with low distortion. The application can work as a standalone program or as a plug-in with a primary 3D application. UVLayout also enables you to work with polys and subdivision surfaces. UVLayout is the best tool I’ve used for this task and I hope to show you why. Download a trial for the software at www.uvlayout.com. This short tutorial will take you through the steps to help you work with the UVLayout interface and main hotkeys, place seams to create low-distortion maps, create a UV map and apply it to objects, cut or weld shells in the UV Editor, group parts to

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one box and finally pack groups using the tile options. The videos in the source files discuss basic primitive unwrapping, working with the Copy option and unwrapping a ladybird and creature head.

01

First steps First we’ll load the

‘ladybird_noUV.obj’ (supplied) in UVLayout. For more comfortable work with the model, hit Space+MMB to move and separate all parts to a different position (1). Our model is symmetrical and we’d like to activate it, so go to Edit and press the Find button. Click LMB in the centre of the model and hit Space to activate Symmetry. This will greatly decrease the selection time and improve your workflow. Using the G button,

double-clicking on the geometry to mark it (double-click Shift+G will deselect the shell). Select all the small parts, click H and then G to hide the selection (2). Now it’s time to make seams for unwrapping. Use C to make a selection, W to deselect edges and make seams for future unwrapping (3). Depending on what you’re creating UVs for, you can create one large UV map with distortion or use small UV pieces with no distortion. Right now, we can make UVs for future projection painting with a large amount of UV shells. With this object, the head seams are the hardest part of unwrapping (4). Once you’ve finished, drop all of your geometry to the UV Editor using the D button.


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1

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Make final adjustments To

make all of the UV shells local size in Move/Scale/Rotate, click the Local button. On the top of the main menu find the Send button and click it. Return to modo and click Import From UVLayout. To finish up, we can create a UV map wire and render it. This may be helpful if you’d like to manually draw textures. In the main menu open the Edit tab and click on the Auto Fit button. Find Render and open it. Check the AA Lines, disable Outline, choose the resolution you need and click the Save button. If you’d like to make a wire, for example with a 1.1 value, drop any unused shells with Shift+D, click the Auto Fit button and render it.

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02

Unwrap geometry Now to unwrap our dropped geometry (1). Press 2 or E to go to the UV Editor. As we have a small quantity of shells, we can manually unwrap each of them. Move the cursor under each shell, hold F until you like the result, and all areas will turn green. As we activate Symmetry after unwrapping, alignment will become accurate. If you have problems with incorrect or very strong distortion, try to use Shift+F. This option first stretches geometry after unwrapping. To move the shell press Space+MMB, to rotate hit Space+LMB and press Space+RMB to zoom in. Here we’ll focus on a couple of useful tricks. You can manually cut and weld shells using the C and W buttons. To cut an edge, simply move the cursor under and press C. If you start to do this in the centre rather than from the border, for example, this will create a loop. Hit Enter to separate a part, but if you don’t like the result, try to cut some edges to improve shell tension. Use magnet (M) to snap one part to the other then press Enter to merge to one shell, then hold F to relax the new geometry (2).

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Unwrap all the details

Continue with other parts of the ladybird until you see ‘Nothing in ED’ in the editor. In the 3D Editor press T twice to place your texture and + to increase tiling. This will need to align the textures correctly.

I recommend you use one global direction for more comfortable projection painting and future texture editing (1). Now we need to separate all the parts and pair them up. For example, we can combine all the legs into one UV square, as well as the head, eyes, whiskers and so on. This can improve image quality because we have more space for textures. Combining texture parts can improve your workflow and make the process more comfortable. Now we have four squares with ready-to-pack shells (2).

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Re-scale and pack Now we’ll create four packing

groups. Drag a selection under the first square, go to the main Pack menu and select New Group. To see a difference, drag one of the four green arrows with Cmd/Ctrl+RMM and you’ll see a result. Do the same for all the groups. As you can see, when you drag the green arrow, UVLayout tries to find the best way to pack UV shells. In the Pack option click Delete All to remove all your groups. If you have a large amount of UV shells, a better way is to use the option Fit To Sqr, which you can find in the Move/Scale/ Rotate tab. This will bring all the shells according to the UV square and fill the maximum UV space. Click the Rescale button to make all shells one size. After that, try to repeat the option Fit To Sqr, or you can manually select and scale each group. 4

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Use tricks and hotkeys If you have a large number of UV shells and you need to separate different parts to other places, you can split the panels. For example, in the left screen you can choose the UV Editor, and 3D view from the right screen. This increases your workflow and makes work more comfortable. Under Display, find the green button Split Pane.

Most-used hotkeys ED mode C – cut Shift+C – UV space UV Editor F – flatten shell L – lock shell M – magnet selected edges Enter – split or attach shell Shift+I – straight to line R – convert to rectangular 5 – paint expand B – flatten brush P – pin border Shift+P – unpin border 3D mode T – change texture type +,- – change tiling texture Global keys Home – centre screen on selection H – hide tool G – paint selection 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tutorial files: ěũ("#.ũ343.1(+ ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

The character Lola 3000 explores a game environment

Unity

Create an interactive character in Unity Why stop at a rendered image when you could play as your character?

D

o you like to just watch or do you like to play? Now that hardware and tools are up to the job of rendering 30 times a second instead of all night, more and more CG artists are searching for ways to interactively engage with their artwork and character creations. In short, more artists are looking to make games. Why stop with a rendered image or a video when you could play as your character and get inside your own worlds? This tutorial is designed to run you through the steps of importing, animating and controlling your character as a player in Unity. By the end, you should have a great starting point for a game or an interactive demo featuring your work. This

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Masterclass is designed to be 3D package-neutral, so whether you use 3ds Max, Maya, Blender or any of the many supported modelling programs, you should find what you need to turn your character model into a player in your scene. Don’t worry if you’ve not created any scenes though – there are plenty of environments and kits available either for free or paid on the Unity Asset Store. The Unity sample assets will provide all the animations needed for controlling the character and you can, of course, add your own. We’ll begin with the steps you can take to prepare and rig your character before adding BlendShapes, verifying and then importing your rigged file into Unity. We’ll

then set up some of the materials and shaders so that you can get your character looking its absolute best. After that, we will create an avatar to match your character rig and set it up for animation using a third-person controller with the Unity sample assets. We’ll then load in a custom animation and set up a BlendShape layer in order to further customise the character. We’ll also add lights and effects to the environment for a real-time, postprocessed finish. You will need an install of Unity – either the free or the Pro version – and the sample assets, available for free from the Asset Store. All you need to do to get started is obtain your Unity ID, download and get stuck in.


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Building your scene – workflow inside Unity

Go from your character to an interactive player

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01

Prepare your model Unity is a

real-time platform, so keeping your polygon count in check is important. Name your materials and textures sensibly and use normal maps for extra detail. There are no polygon limits, but the more you use, the less memory you have to use on effects, the environment and other characters. Aim for between 5-25,000 polygons, depending on platform, and try to reduce polygons where necessary. Place your textures in a folder called Textures within your Unity Assets folder and repath them before exporting.

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Rig your character This stage depends on your 3D package, skills and time available. Once your model is prepared in a T-pose, you can either create a bone hierarchy from scratch by using your package’s built-in tools to generate skin to a skeleton by assigning skin weights, or use an automated solution like Mixamo Autorigger. For example, in Maya you would use Human IK, 3ds Max uses Biped/CAT and a skin modifier, while Blender relies on Rigify. For more info on preparing your character, consult the Mecanim section of http://docs. unity3d.com/Documentation/Manual for an in-depth guide to the process.

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Another perspective – edge detection with depth of field 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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03

Set-up BlendShapes Decide which part of the character needs morphing and set up appropriately. This means using BlendShapes in Maya or Unity, Morpher in 3ds Max or Shape Keys in Blender. This is often used for phoneme shapes when animating a talking face and works by assigning morphed shapes of the same number of vertices to a target. You can then blend between separate versions to obtain different shapes without animating a complex bone hierarchy.

04

Verify and export This stage is

important to minimise the need for troubleshooting when you set up your model later. Remove unused meshes and irrelevant assets like lights or cameras from your scene, or simply use the export selected. Use the FBX file format if you can to enable file portability and simplicity. If you have your own animation clips, be sure to check the Animation check box in the Export dialogue. Reimporting your exported model into the 3D package is often a good way to verify your model before bringing it into Unity.

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Prepare materials Select your

character and check the associated materials in the Inspector – these should have been created in the Materials folder. Each material has a dropdown for a Shader. Choose one – such as Bumped Specular – so you can define a base colour (tint), specular colour and the texture maps for the diffuse (Base RGB), gloss in the Alpha channel and a Normal map to add surface detail. Reflective materials can also have a cubemap assigned for reflections, which you can render once in Unity or real-time for dynamic reflections.

07

Create an avatar Once imported,

apply a Mecanim avatar to your character model. This maps your skeleton to an avatar to use with any human animation. Select the model’s FBX file in the Project pane, then select the Rig tab and Humanoid for Animation Type. Click Configure to create and configure. If your rig is all good it will show in green, otherwise revisit your bone hierarchy and re-export to more closely match the avatar. Test your skinning in the Muscles tab by dragging the sliders to preview. Click Done when finished.

Import your model Drag your

FBX file into the Project pane if it hasn’t been picked up automatically. Select your model in the Project browser and set up the options in the Inspector panel. Leave most of these as default, but check the Scale Factor as scale can vary hugely depending on units used in your package and export settings. Click Apply and drag the model into the scene. Create a 1-metre cube to enure the scale is correct, then adjust accordingly.

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6

Unity Asset Store As well as the sample assets needed for this Masterclass, you can browse and make use of a library of paid and free assets to work with your project. From scripts to shaders and animations to audio, you can download and contribute to the Unity Asset Store to add to the parts that other projects couldn’t reach. Check it out at www.assetstore.unity3d.com.

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Apply a controller Unity sample

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assets are all you need to control your player. Drag the Third Person Character prefab from the Sample Assets>Characters and Vehicles>Third Person Controller> Prefabs folder into your scene. In your hierarchy delete the Ethan node under Third Person Character. Drag your Character node on top of the Third Person Character node, which already has all scripts and parameters assigned. From Cameras>Prefabs, drag the Free Look camera rig into the scene, add and position a plane game object, and press Play.

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Animate your character You

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can replace the animations from the Character animator with an imported animation. Select your Character Root node and open the animator from the Window menu. Select Grounded State to open the Blend Tree for when your character is on the ground. Select the Blend Tree and click the little circle next to an animation to choose another. Press Play to preview then stop and make your adjustments as necessary.

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Use BlendShapes and tweak your character Create an

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animation in your source package which blends two or more meshes, as outlined in the step 3. Re-export your mesh and include Animation>Morphs in the FBX dialogue. In Unity create a new layer in the animator window, set Blending to Additive and Weight to 1, then drag in your clip from the Project window. Create an empty state and Ctrl/Right-click>Make Transition to transition to and from the clip. Set a Condition with Forward set to Greater than 0.5 for the To transition, and Forward set to Less than 0.5 for the From transition.

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Add environment, lights and settings To immerse yourself in the

game, add other primitives to your plane to create a greybox environment, import your own environment artwork, or obtain props and environments from the Unity Asset Store. Imported artwork needs to have Generate Colliders checked and applied in the Inspector, so your character can walk on the surface. Create a directional light from the Create button at the top of the hierarchy and adjust the parameters in the Inspector.

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Polish with image effects Unity Pro includes several of image effects that improve the look of your scene. Drag the tab out to preview to separate the Game view. Select the Main Camera node under the Free Look Camera Rig. In the Inspector click Add Component>Image Effects> Camera>Depth Of Field to retain focus on your character, but also blur the background to mimic a wide aperture. You can add as many others as your frame rate can handle, so try a vignette or ambient occlusion.

Export your project Once you’re ready, you can output your project to a wide variety of platforms. Out of the box, Unity Free can export to PC, Mac, Linux, Web browser, iOS and Android. There are optimisation considerations for each, but Unity makes it easy to manage these all within one project – as the tag line goes, build once, deploy anywhere. For further documentation and resources, take a look at the corresponding blog at http://blogs.unity3d.com.

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Artist info

3D artists explain the techniques behind their amazing artwork

Juraj Talcik & Veronika Demovicova Personal portfolio site www.jurajtalcik.com Location Bratislava, Slovakia Software used 3ds Max, Marvelous Designer, ZBrush Expertise This duo specialises in high-end interior visualisation and dabbles with all kinds of other 3D projects

Master 3D cloth effects Modern interior 2013 When you want to create beautiful arch-vis interiors ďŹ lled with custom-made furniture and materials, Marvelous Designer can help with a few tricks Juraj Talcik and Veronika Demovicova are creative partners with architectural backgrounds

*Your exclusive free trial allows you to learn the tools and tricks of Marvelous Designer without any time restrictions. However, please note that this exclusive, never-ending trial for 3D Artist readers does have export/save limitations. For a limited trial with export/save functionality, you can download from www.marvelousdesigner.com.

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Tutorial files: ěũTutorial screenshots

Learn how to Create your own bespoke cloth assets Optimise meshes

Concept The goal in this tutorial is to create a high-quality bed with a voluminous duvet filled with wrinkles and details. We want to avoid the age-old look of a blanket thrown over the top, which you so often see in arch-vis scenes.

I

t’s been few a months since we won a licence for Marvelous Designer in a competition held by CLO Virtual Fashion. It’s now integrated into our everyday workflow. We now use it inside almost every commercial project that comes along, creating custom and unique models from reference furniture that we enjoy – such as contemporary brands like Poliform, which was a reference for the bed model used in this scene. This tutorial will teach you how to create a single asset from scratch, showing you each step necessary to complete the task. You’ll be taken all the way through to the final optimised mesh, which will be ready to add to an arch-vis project. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Create a simple bed Begin by modelling the bed before taking it into Marvelous Designer

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01 Make an initial Avatar

We’ll start the process by adding the first Avatar – which is what the base mesh used for simulation is known as in Marvelous Designer terminology. It’s very important to model using real-world units, because the simulation is physically based on the real-world properties of fabrics. We’ll model our bed according to the size of a Poliform bed, which will be our reference for this tutorial. However, you can use any bed reference you prefer. In this case we’ll be box modelling with the Edit Poly tools in 3ds Max. We also use the Quad Chamfer modifier plug-in from Marius Silaghi (€40 EUR from www. mariussilaghi.com/products/quad-chamfer-modifier). Though this plug-in will help us during this part of the process, it’s not strictly necessary. It’s important to have a mesh with a few smooth iterations, to avoid visible faceting on the simulated cloth from the underlying base mesh. Marvelous Designer handles detailed Avatars well, so it’s better to go higher than regret it after the simulation is done and artefacts have appeared.

02 Import into Marvelous Designer

Once we’ve finished modelling the necessary parts of the bed’s structure, we can export them into Marvelous Designer. This will be done step by step for each modelled part, in any order you prefer. Select each part individually and save it in an OBJ format with a respective name – such as ‘bedframe.obj’, ‘mattress.obj’, ‘BackPart. obj’ and so on. This will help keep things organised. Also, keep in mind that we’re using centimetres for modelling, exporting and importing alike, so no unwanted scaling should occur.

03 Create the first pattern

We’ll begin with the easiest part: the mattress cover. Rather than creating a simple square-cut cover, we’ll opt for an inset square that will generate nice folds at the vertical corners of the mattress. After drawing the pattern with the Line tool, select the neighbouring edges at the corners and sew them together using the Segment Sewing tool. Synchronise the pattern into the Avatar window and position it over the Avatar, with the white face of the cloth facing away from it. This will keep proper normals, which are very important. Setting the Particle Distance to 15 will keep preview simulations fast.

1 The selection of outer edges to

be chamfered before applying the Smooth modifier 2 Export from 3ds Max into

Marvelous Designer 3 The Avatar window next to the

Pattern window with the table showing Particle Distance

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Get ready to simulate Master cushioned effects with Marvelous Designer

04 Shape a cover

The simulation will be done in multiple steps to help us achieve the exact look we’re after. First, let the pattern simply fall on the mattress. After it settles, pause the simulation, select four outer edges that aren’t sewn and give them elasticity to tightly wrap the mattress. Lower the Bending value for a softer look and raise the Shear value to create smaller wrinkles. For the final simulation, change the Particle Distance to a lower value and let it compute for a while, until it settles.

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05 Replicate cushion effects

The back elements of the bed frame are sewn together from two pieces of leather. Pay attention to the sewing order so that after synchronisation all the lines between the cloth pieces remain parallel. Notice the edges of our pattern are curves, rather than straight lines, in order to naturally follow the shape of the underlying Avatar. You can start adjusting your cloth values from the Leather preset.

06 Master a bed frame

Using the same process as before, this time we’ll work with multiple pattern pieces. The left and right pieces are identical, but the middle piece is only scaled. Synchronise and position the pattern pieces around the Avatar, making sure the sewn lines are parallel. The same leather material is used for the bed frame. Simulate the Particle Distance value at 15 first, pause the simulation, then change to a lower value (3) for the final simulation.

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4 This table shows the exact

values we’re using for our fabric cover simulation 5 The upper-left window shows

how to position patterns after synchronisation, before you hit the Simulation button. The table shows the values used for the leather material 6 Observe the position of the

patterns around the Avatar 7 The assembled mesh from

simulated parts, shown inside 3ds Max

your 07 Make second Avatar Your finished, quality simulation will run forever by default, so you’ll need to pause it once it looks settled and acceptable. Remember, you’re looking to achieve the greatest realism possible. Now you’re ready to export the mesh back into your 3D application. However, make sure you export only the simulated cloth, and not the original Avatar. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Optimise & simulate Using the new Avatar we can proceed with new cloth simulations

08 Enhance your mesh

in some 10 Add essential physics

At this stage we’re going to re-evaluate our newly assembled mesh at two levels for two different purposes: the final mesh and a new Avatar for upcoming simulations. Here we’re using the ZBrush plug-in Decimation Master, but if you don’t have ZBrush there are other tools available, such as the native 3ds Max ProOptimizer Modifier. Make sure you check the Keep UVs option, as these have been generated by Marvelous Designer so you don’t want them to be lost in the process. First, decimate to 15% and save this as your final mesh of the bed frame, then decimate to a super-low 1%, which can be used as the new optimised Avatar. Even applying such a low decimation will preserve a surprisingly high level of detail and keep the simulations running fast.

Pressure is a new feature shipping with Marvelous Designer and is a little tricky to use, compared to what you might be expecting. This option behaves a bit like helium and doesn’t keep its form, so you have to force it to take the desired shape using various tricks. Remember to always start with low values so your mesh doesn’t fly away. You can add Pressure to all of the inner-pattern pieces, but getting the correct values will require close attention.

09 Make the inner layer

The bed cover is made of two primary layers: inner inflated, which is responsible for the voluminous effect; and a segmented-looking outer, which will create the wrinkles. Again, these details are essential for getting the realism we’re after. At this stage we’ll also create the inner layer by drawing a square pattern, duplicating it 162 times and sewing all the neighbouring edges. This is an easy but tedious process that requires a lot of patience.

8 Shots before and after the

decimation. The compression can be visually lossless 9 Notice the parallel lines of the

sewn edges and take care to avoid mistakes in the flow of their connections 8

10 A table chart showing the exact

values for the inner cloth

Produce UVWs from Marvelous Designer

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One of the brilliant aspects of Marvelous Designer is that it automatically generates nice UVW sets, so there’s never any need to unwrap the meshes manually. This is fortunate, as it would be impossible at their size. The program creates UVWs of a corresponding size to the pattern, so for example if you create 2 x 2m square pattern you will get a respective UVW of the exact same size. You can also choose the Unified UVWs option in case you want all the patterns in the Pattern window to share the same scale of the UVW set. This is a very helpful feature if you plan to apply the same material to all the patterns in the Pattern window, otherwise you’ll end up with a different scale in the blanket and pillows, for instance.

Juraj Talcik & Veronika Demovicova Juraj Talcik is big fan of architecture, contemporary design, technology and videogame development. He owns a boutique company oriented towards marketing contemporary architecture. Veronika Demovicova shares a love for all kinds of design and is currently on her way to finishing an architectural degree.

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White interior 3ds Max, V-Ray, Marvelous Designer, Photoshop (2012) An architectural visualisation by Demovicova for a modern apartment renovation project

Forest Cabin 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2011) This was Talcik’s first exterior project and he still thinks of it fondly, even though he feels it shows its age and lower skill level at the time


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Simulate & adjust Achieve realistic results to complete your design

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11 On the left we have the sewing

flow. The table on the right shows Seam Line values for the selected outer edges 12 The exact values used for our

bed cover’s outer layer 11

13 The red dots represent pins on

the bed cover

11 Set the outer layer of the bed cover

First, create two rectangles, each of a slightly larger size than the underlying grid of the cover’s inner layer. We won’t sew these together, but rather to the outer edges of the grid instead. Next, adjust the selected edges in the Seam Line properties and set the Fold Angle to a value of 360. This should create a nice seam along the sides of the bed cover.

12 Set your cloth values

The most important values here are Stretch, Bend and Shear. You’ll notice that all of these options can be set using two axes: along the width and length. Unless you have a very specific design reason to set them asymmetrically, just use the same value in both axes. We’ll keep the mentioned values low to provide the wrinkly, used look we’re aiming to achieve.

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Country house 3ds Max, V-Ray, Photoshop (2012) This project features the duo’s ongoing effort to successfully create custom 3D foliage, in this case grass and trees. Using bespoke models never fails to add a unique feel to a piece!

Fabric materials

the bed 13 Simulate cover element

Though the internet is full of various ready-to-use, tiled textures these days, resources of quality fabric textures are still scarce. However, a new trend has recently emerged for modern companies to provide samples of their products in digital form. The Republic of Fritz Hansen (www. fritzhansen.com) lets you download quality 3D models set up with materials; Poliform (www.poliformuk.com) gives you low-quality AutoCAD models; and German fabric producer JAB (www.jab-uk.co.uk) has uploaded a huge library of extremely high-res textures to its website. There isn’t a better source for amazing textures than this!

After letting the bed cover fall on the mattress Avatar, we’ll pause the simulation and select parts of the bed cover using the Pin tool. Press W twice on the keyboard and click at various chosen spots, then move them around like you are dragging a bed cover and resume the simulation. Continue until you’re satisfied with your resulting messy look. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Finalise your mesh Optimise and apply your newly made assets

14 Boost the quality

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Once you’re completely satisfied with the look, leave only a minimal amount of pins on the model (or, preferably, none at all). The cloth will settle to a much more natural state, while retaining the overall look. We’re leaving two pins in here, just to keep those distinct corners. Set the Particle Distance as low as your computer enables you to go without crashing or freezing; we’re setting it to 5. Now let the simulation run for a while.

Set Particle Distance as low as you can 15

15 Fluff up the pillows

The golden rule with Marvelous Designer is to only ever simulate one thing at a time. Export the simulated cloth, decimate it in ZBrush, reassemble it in your host application and finally import it as a new Avatar. Pillows use the same values as the cover but thankfully they are much easier to create. Inner Pressure is gradually lowered in order to create the depressed or partially deflated look.

How to fill an open wardrobe We often get asked questions about our wardrobes. It’s very easy to create: simply draw some basic rags on the doll Avatar. This is a very intuitive process. Then just swap the doll for a clothes hanger and use pins to keep it hanging there. You can even find some ready-to-use cool clothes in the free Marvelous Designer repository. In a few hours you can have a full wardrobe with a unique look and high reusability!

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16 Complete the assembly

We can now merge all the exported cloth parts from Marvelous Designer back into our 3D application. They should fit together straight away, so we can delete the internal (pressurised) parts of the pillows and bed cover, since it won’t be visible anyway and will save a huge number of polygons. If you apply various colours to the patterns in Marvelous Designer, it will generate different IDs for them and you’ll be able to easily select and delete them.

17 Final decimation

Now all we want to do is adjust the pillows and bed cover. Using Decimation Master in ZBrush is a good way to do this. We find 15% a great value for visually retaining detail while making the mesh substantially lower.

14 Our ongoing simulation. Since

it will run forever by default, stop it once you like the result 15 Pillows can get away with

having very simple, square patterns, as shown here

16 Use the Editable Mesh Select

ID tool to pick inner faces in one click and delete them 17 The white-shaded view

confirms there there are no artefacts 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Fixes Apply the finishing touches and learn to perfect your hard surface projects 120 128 136 138 146 150 152 156

50 hot topology fixes Improve your characters Blow bubbles using V-Ray Metaballs Render glass objects Clean up 3D models Understand hard-surface retopology Retopologise in Mudbox Paint in Sculptris

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modo V-Ray Maxwell Rend er 3D-Coat Mudbox Sculptris

Quick fixes to lend the finishing touches to your work and increase the believability of your 3D scenes

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50 HOT TOPOLOGY FIXES Expert modellers share their tips, advice and tricks that will help you master this most fundamental of procedures. Read on to find out how you can finally perfect your organic and hard-surface projects

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t’s common in many tutorials for authors to assume the reader already knows how to do certain tasks. One of the often-skipped-by tasks in 3D tutorials is the challenge of creating clean, efficient topology – a daunting task for someone relatively new to 3D. While instructing someone to ‘retopologise your model’ may be seemingly obvious to many, for others it’s a frightening concept. So what is topology? Why do you need your topology to be clean? How does the topology of an organic model differ to that of a hard-surface one? How can you efficiently create clean topology in your models to become a better artist? We’ve brought together a hand-picked selection of successful artists that have been perfecting their topology for many years for a variety of organic and hard-surface projects. Here they reveal the whats, whys and hows of achieving great topology.

Don’t put triangles or Ngons on curved surfaces and don’t use triangles or Ngons on deforming areas. Richard Yot 120

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

OUR EXPERTS Jahirul Amin Website: www.warpeaceandpixels.com Area of expertise: Maya generalist with a main focus on character setup Preferred topology tools: Maya

Toni Bratincevic Website: www.interstation3d.com Area of expertise: Environment modelling and texturing for illustrations and cinematics Preferred topology tools: ZBrush and 3ds Max

Matt Brealey Website: www.badgrenola.com Area of expertise: Hard-surface modelling, particularly product design Preferred topology tools: modo

Craig A Clark Website: www.scorpiocgi.co.uk Area of expertise: Photorealistic modelling Preferred topology tools: LightWave, Bandsaw, Band Glue, Add Edges and New Dimensions 2

José Alves da Silva Website: www.artofjose.com Area of expertise: Designing and illustrating stylised 3D characters Preferred topology tools: TopoGun and ZBrush

Filippo Veniero Website: www.ifilgood.it Area of expertise: Modelling and texturing Preferred topology tools: Blender and Bsurfaces GPL (Blender add-on)

Richard Yot Website: www.itchy-animation.co.uk Area of expertise: Designing characters with a quirky twist Preferred topology tools: modo and TopoGun

Since this mesh is not going to be deformed, the topology does not need to be too clean. There are poles in the face but these will not be seen in the final render © Richard Yot


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What makes good (and bad) topology? When I first began modelling, due to a lack of knowledge about the importance of topology, everything became rubbery and forms did not hold. For example, elbow regions simply caved in when I came to articulate them. I discovered that it all comes down to anatomy and how the skin flows. Jahirul Amin

[04]

Modelling objects with clean topology in mind will consume more time, but with practise you will become faster with every new model. When I use RenderMan, most of the objects are made with render-time subdivision in mind, so I try to keep my objects clean, without any Ngons and only a few triangles.

[05]

[01]

[02]

For organic models, or any other models that need to deform, clean topology is essential in order to help the geometry to deform in a controllable and predictable fashion. This assists in avoiding unsightly creases and frustrating geometry-rendering issues.

[03] Achieving good topology at an early stage can guarantee a truly successful result © Filippo Veniero

Craig A Clark When texturing, it’s extremely important to have excellent topology. This makes creating UV maps so much simpler. Particularly, when it comes to render time, bad topology can cause any number of annoying and hard-to-eliminate shading issues that you should aim to avoid if at all possible. Matt Brealey

Toni Bratincevic

[03]

[01] A deformation head slightly exaggerated to test for any deformation issues © Jahirul Amin

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Always make sure to keep an eye on the general balance of polygons across your model as a whole. Remember to often for polygons with fewer than three vertices. As a general ground rule, delete them if you come across them. Craig A Clark

[06]

© Richard Yot

Good topology is the basis of a successful model. Texturing and animation would be difficult in a model with disorganised vertices – leading to distorted textures and unrealistic poses in the animation. Filippo Veniero


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[07]

In 3D sculpture, if the edge flow follows the surface, your strokes will be in the same direction as the edge structure. This ultimately enables a cleaner result and therefore the need for less geometry to achieve a perfect finish.

José Alves da Silva

[08]

The model’s edges define its overall form. By placing edges at the specific areas that establish the character’s silhouette, you will need a lot less geometry in order to define a model overall, which is crucial for optimisation.

José Alves da Silva

[09]

Bad topology is very likely to cause rendering artefacts or unpredictable deformations that are hard to control. Problem areas are typically found where deformations are prominent, such as the mouth, shoulders or hips. Curved and branching surfaces can also be problematic.

Richard Yot

[10]

As a general rule, don’t put triangles or Ngons on curved surfaces and don’t use triangles or Ngons on deforming areas. Richard Yot

[11]

When modelling for animation, take extra time to make a study of anatomy and make sure to pay a lot of attention to the areas around the eyes and lips. Filippo Veniero

Ngons can disrupt poly flow, giving you little control over the normals of your surface. However, this can be useful to balance good topology and a low poly count. Matt Brealey

[11] Accurate facial features are an essential part of communicating a character’s emotions © Filippo Veniero

[05] While test renders will help, applying final materials can aid you in getting rid of any final smoothing errors © Matt Brealey

© Thomas Lishman

[12]

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[15] With time and patience, your retopology work will get faster [13] For topology, how you use your tools is more important than which ones you choose Š Toni Bratincevic

Š 33Ŋ1#+#8

Get to know your tools & applications ĺĉćĝŊ1#3(-%ĹŠ""(3(.-+ĹŠ polygon loops with -"26ĹŠ(-ĹŠ (%'35# Š 1(%ĹŠĹŠ+1*

[13]

Retopologising can be done in almost every modelling tool available today, but getting the right technique is more important. Learn where to allow triangles and how to terminate some edges. Toni Bratincevic

[14] Dos & don’ts Jahirul Amin and Matt Brealey offer bite-sized advice for good topology:

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ěŊŊ+-ĹŠ'#"ŊIJŊ(3ÄŚ++ĹŠ25#ĹŠ8.4ĹŠ3(,#ĹŠ in the long run. (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ/+(3ĹŠ8.41ĹŠ. )#!3ĹŠ4/ĹŠ(-3.ĹŠ 2(!ĹŠ primitives and merge those together ďŹ rst. (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ18ĹŠ3.ĹŠ*##/ĹŠ8.41ĹŠ/.+8ĹŠ!.4-3ĹŠ2ĹŠ low as you can for as long as you can. (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ2#ĹŠ ..+#-ĹŠ3..+2ĹŠ2/1(-%+8ĹŠ3.ĹŠ '#+/ĹŠ8.4ĹŠ).(-ĹŠ,#2'#2ĹŠ3.%#3'#1ĹŠ (but always clean up afterwards). (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ-+8ĹŠ24 "(5("#ĹŠ6'#1#ĹŠ8.4ĹŠ-##"ĹŠ to on the model. (Matt Brealey) ěŊ #1-ĹŠ-3.,8Ä“ĹŠ(Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊ3(!*ĹŠ3.ĹŠ04"2ĹŠ-"ĔŊ($ĹŠ-##"#"ĔŊ the odd triangle here and there. (Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊ ##/ĹŠ8.41ĹŠ$!#2ĹŠ.$ĹŠ-ĹŠ#5#-ĹŠ2(9#ĹŠ throughout where possible. (Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊ#23ĹŠ.43ĹŠ3'#ĹŠ"#$.1,3(.-ĹŠ2ĹŠ8.4ĹŠ go if the model is to be animated. Pass the model to the rigger early on, let him pop 2.,#ĹŠ).(-32ĹŠ(-ĹŠ-"ĹŠ2##ĹŠ'.6ĹŠ(3ĹŠ will deform. (Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊĹŠ8.41ĹŠ!'1!3#1ÄŚ2ĹŠ'#"ĹŠ(-ĹŠ3'#ĹŠ earlier stages. (Jahirul Amin)

ěŊŊ313Ŋ6(3'Ŋ-Ŋ(-!1#"( +8Ŋ"#-2#Ŋ mesh. (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ1#3#Ŋ#"%#2Ŋ3'3Ŋ#-"Ŋ(-Ŋ3'#Ŋ middle of existing polygons (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ#Ŋ$1("Ŋ3.Ŋ"#+#3#Ŋ2#!3(.-2Ŋ-"Ŋ remodel them if needed.

#5(-%ĹŠ3'#,ĹŠ24 Äą23-"1"ĹŠ6(++ĹŠ only make things worse later! (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ5#ĹŠ3..ĹŠ,-8ĹŠ#"%#2ĹŠ converging on a single vertex. (Matt Brealey) ěŊŊ#ĹŠ+98ĹŠ-"ĹŠ3'(-*ĹŠ3'#ĹŠ1(%%#1ĹŠ.1ĹŠ animator can/should ďŹ x a bad model. (Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊ *#ĹŠ3'#ĹŠ$!#2ĹŠ1#!3-%4+1ĹŠ(-ĹŠ shape as this can cause 3#7341#Äą231#3!'(-%ĹŠ-"ĹŠ(2ĹŠ31(!*(#1ĹŠ to envelope. (Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊ""ĹŠ"#3(+ĹŠ3'3ĹŠ(2ĹŠ-.3ĹŠ-##"#"Ä“ĹŠ (Jahirul Amin) ěŊŊ2#ĹŠ%.-2ĹŠ4-+#22ĹŠ8.4ĹŠ1#++8ĔŊ really have to. (Matt Brealey and Jahirul Amin)

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Personally, modo’s Topology Pen has made a big difference to my workow. The tool places modo as the ďŹ rst option for this task and enables the very quick retopology of any organic model.

[19]

The open-source Blender add-on Bsurfaces (www. bsurfaces.info) is a really handy tool for modelling and retopologising. It enables you to combine the use of freehand lines to efficiently and quickly reconstruct an existing model. Used in conjunction with Blender’s Shrinkwrap modiďŹ er, it does a great job of making the retopologising process easy. Filippo Veniero

[20]

When I switched from Maya to modo I found that a lot of the tools used to control or alter the topology of my objects were a little bit closer to hand (namely the selection tools, falloffs and so on). This alone greatly sped up my modelling process. Matt Brealey

I use BandSaw EX (http:// tinyurl.com/BandSawEX) [in LightWave] to speed up the retopologising process. It’s almost identical to LightWave’s own Bandsaw, but it has the added beneďŹ t of being able to specify edge loops to be inserted an absolute distance from an existing edge. This means you can add in even loops regardless of the variation in polygon size. Craig A Clark

[16]

ZBrush has introduced new ways of retopologising an object, where you can directly paint edges of polygons on the object without the need to precisely deďŹ ne edges. I found this technique particularly fast, but noticeably less precise than working with ZSpheres.

[21]

Toni Bratincevic

[22]

Richard Yot

[15]

[17]

QRemesher [in ZBrush] can automatically redo your mesh topology. This is practically very useful for when you don’t have sharp edges on hard surfaces. Things like rocks or a tree trunk can be retopologised with QRemesher in a matter of minutes! Toni Bratincevic

[18]

To make changes to existing topology, 3ds Max has a set of polygon modelling tools. I export the model to 3ds Max using GoZ, make the changes and then use GoZ once more to bring it into ZBrush again. JosĂŠ Alves da Silva

In Maya, to speed up the retopologising process, I use a fantastic and free MEL script called xyShrinkWrap (http://tinyurl.com/ Shrink3D). With this, you can shrinkwrap one object onto another, enabling you to get your low-poly retopologised mesh to really sit on your high-res sculpt as you work. Jahirul Amin

When exporting your model from ZBrush to TopoGun, divide it into PolyGroups, as this will enable better access to the model. The PolyGroups will be accepted as Groups in TopoGun and you can hide parts of the original during retopology work. JosĂŠ Alves da Silva


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[24] Example of the mesh density of a character for film: a retopology sequence of Captain Bunny’s head © José Alves da Silva

Topology in practise [23] [24]

In film, acting takes into account a lot of subtle secondary movements. Opening the mouth is not a simple rotation of the jaw. All the facial and neck muscles that contract and extend have to be taken into account. You have to create an edge layout that will enable these muscle structures to deform naturally, or the animator will see their creative options greatly reduced. Creating this edge structure is very time-consuming because it’s usually quite dense and should follow anatomical structures with precision.

José Alves da Silva

[25]

There will be a lot of situations where environment models need to have clean topology, like plants, trees and deforming objects. For example, having a metal object that you know will be deformed because of impact will require you to model it with clean topology.

Toni Bratincevic

[26]

You must carefully investigate the anatomical model before attempting to create clean topology on organic meshes. Do not use unnecessary vertices; look at some videos on how the parts of the model will have to move.

Filippo Veniero

[27]

Richard Yot

[28]

If you’re retopologising over a sculpt, you simply need to keep your quads as even as possible. It’s best to develop a couple of different techniques designed to increase or decrease geometric detail in any areas of your sculpt that may need it. Richard Yot

[29]

For videogames, retopology is like a puzzle. Your challenge is to find the best way to describe a surface while using the least amount of polygons possible. Most of the time you will have to include the detail of several different objects in a single shell, such as having a character’s belt, buckle and jacket in the same mesh. All this detail is then recovered by using projection and creating Normal maps.

José Alves da Silv

[30]

Keep everything in quads and triangles, but try to hide triangles in occluded areas. Use Ngons only when working with environment models.

Toni Bratincevic

[29] Mobile game character topology. Notice the loops at joints and how the vertices contribute to the keep the character’s silhouette in the low-poly version © Character by José Alves da Silva Courtesy of Nebula Studios

Unleash the magic of TopoGun Discover the widely used application that’s ideal for retopology tasks… TopoGun (www.topogun.com) is a standalone resurfacing and map-baking application available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The resurfacing functions in TopoGun are aimed at modifying and/or re-creating the edge flow of 3D models. The impressive software uses the industrystandard OBJ file format as well as its own XML-based format. Available in 32- and 64-bit versions, it can handle high-res 3D data, with the poly count limit being set by the available RAM on your system. 3D artist Richard Yot has used TopoGun extensively for retopology, describing it as “an excellent tool. For retopology I would say the application is very important, because the tools make a big difference to how fast you can work,” he says. “Slow and cumbersome workflows will just make the task tedious.” “TopoGun is the fastest software I have found for complex retopology,” agrees José Alves da Silva. “ I use it in projects with lots of polygons and that might need a lot of readjustments along the way. TopoGun offers you loads of tools to create new geometry on top of the original objects.”

[31]

Remember to look at anatomy and use muscle flow as a guide for your edge loops. Block out the initial form and get the topology nailed as soon as you can. In Maya you can use the Sculpt Geometry tool to even out and smooth the edges. Jahirul Amin

In general, any organic models intended for animation will require much cleaner topology. The quality of the topology work done early on will affect the other artists working with the model further down the pipeline.

[32]

Matt Brealey

Filippo Veniero

When working with hard-surface objects, make sure to follow the guidelines of the model and try to reduce the number of vertices.

© José Alves da Silva

[23] © Richard Yot

Getting clean topology together for characters is a relatively simple process. Just start with loops around the mouth and the eyes, and then you can steadily build out from there.

José Alves da Silva used TopoGun for retopologising this model of a head

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[34] Retopology of a hard-surface model sculpted in ZBrush. The doubling of edges at the hard corners keeps the surface sharp after subdivision

© José Alves da Silva

© Craig A Clark

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Topology ready for animation. Notice how the edge loops closely follow the muscular structure © José Alves da Silva

Retopologising an organic mesh Jahirul Amin offers a step-by-step breakdown of his retopology method for an organic mesh in Maya and ZBrush Jahirul Amin uses ZBrush and Maya to retopologise the model of a head here, but the following steps can be adapted for your own workflow too: 1 Create a sculpt in ZBrush using the DynaMesh base mesh generation tool.

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2 Bring the sculpt into Maya and reduce the poly count, if required, using Mesh>Reduce. Create a single poly and begin edge-extruding around the sculpt. 3 Continue to extrude edges outwards and also insert edge loops. Make the sculpt a live object so you can snap the points to the mesh.

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4 Work the mouth using the same method. You can also hold the V key to point-snap to the vertices.

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6 You can leave the model there, if you wish. However, I want to experiment with adding further detail, so I can reduce the amount of Displacement maps required.

7 The edge loops are following not just the muscle groups but also the skin flow. This should help create wrinkle lines that behave in a more believable manner. 8 Once I’m happy, I will 7 then take the retopologised mesh into ZBrush and push the form about to test how it will 8 hold up to deformation.

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For working with hard-surface models in LightWave, first set your base geometry surface to a darkish grey, with a Specular value of around 70% and a Gloss of around 30%. This creates a nice, broad, specular highlight on a dark background, which is incredibly useful for seeing just how smooth your poly flow is.

3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

[39]

Always try to keep edge loops consistent in size, so that when it comes to subdividing, the UV maps are kept proportional. If you only have edge loops on one side of a sharpened edge, the UV will be dragged across that edge, as opposed to remaining in a more even 1 position. Craig A Clark

Craig A Clark When dealing with hard-surface models, I try to avoid retopology wherever possible by modelling them old-school. First I create the polygons in 3ds Max, then I crease the edges by using tight edge loops in order for them to subdivide as effectively as possible.

José Alves da Silva

5 Combine the mouth with the eye region and continue to work on the scalp to finish the head.

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[33]

[34]

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Organic or hard surface?

[35]

For a model comprised of hard-surface meshes, I’ll break it down into simple primitive shapes. I can then start trying to think about how these shapes could be connected together, while maintaining an acceptable poly flow.

Matt Brealey

[36]

Keeping your polygons roughly equal in size as much as possible creates a nice and clean model that’s easy to work on and much easier to texture later on. Craig A Clark

[40]

Tearing occurs when the edge flow around the torso runs at an angle, as the muscles of the external obliques and the latissimus dorsi do. This could cause the mesh to rip apart when twisting, which would be particularly distressing, naturally. To prevent this occurring, you may want to consider not following accurate anatomy as closely as usual. Jahirul Amin

I regularly use the Stencil tools in4 modo in order to combine several more complex shapes together. This is because they provide a good starting point from which to build a larger model. Make sure you clean up the mesh thoroughly after you’re done, though. Matt Brealey

[41]

[42]

[37]

Try to place the edge loops at the extents of muscle groups and along the length of muscle fibres wherever possible, because muscles are what are responsible for most deformations that happen during character movement. In most models you won’t be able to avoid some stars, so always choose a non-deforming area in which to place them. José Alves da Silva

[38]

You don’t need to worry about7 clean topology if you are only going to be modelling static environments that will be rendered in raytracers like 8 V-Ray. Toni Bratincevic

GroBoto (www.groboto.com/ v3) can produce really clean geometry from its hard-surface models. The only drawback is that it’s currently limited in the kinds of shapes it can generate. However, it has a lot of potential for the future. Richard Yot If you don’t have enough topology around the elbows, you will not be able to maintain the shape when the arm bends. Jahirul Amin

[43]


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[45] Combining different shapes to see how they could work together © Jahirul Amin [47] © Richard Yot

General rules [47] for topology

For animated models, deformations should be tested to make sure there is no pinching in visible areas. The topology should always be planned around those sections that will need to be deformed. Richard Yot

[44]

As a broad, general rule when working with models for animation, and specifically with organic meshes, incorrect topology in specific areas such as joints and faces can make it impossible for them to deform them in a realistic way. Matt Brealey

[47] In this example the mouth needs to deform widely, so good edge flow is needed around it to avoid pinching © Richard Yot

[48]

On character models, plan your edge loops to follow the muscle structures. Add a higher polygon density around the face and hands. These are two of the areas that typically need more detail.

José Alves da Silva

[45]

[49]

[46]

[50]

Make sure to find out about the poly-count limit on game models before you begin your work. Ensure that the topology is clean so that it will support the Normal map without any issues. Jahirul Amin It can get incredibly difficult to manage a project’s poly flow if your model is subdivided inefficiently. Always try to use the absolute smallest amount of polygons possible to create your model, albeit while still at the detail level you require. Matt Brealey

Topology glossary for 3D artists

On models that are symmetrical, be careful if working on half and then mirroring to give the full model. You don’t want to end up with duplicated geometry. You can end up with a slight offset, making the duplicates quite tricky to eliminate. Craig A Clark

One of the recurring issues in students’ work is building a character without first thinking of what would lie under its skin. The result is often a square-ish shape, which lacks an edge flow that would allow deformation. Jahirul Amin

The output from GroBoto is dense, but the surfaces will render cleanly with no artefacts © Richard Yot

Our experts have compiled a list of common terms associated with topology tasks to help you on your way… Polygon: A closed path composed of a finite sequence or segment (a triangle, quadrangle or Ngon). Quad: A polygon with four sides. Also defined as a closed path composed of four segments (the most common in CG). Triangle: The simplest geometry that defines a surface. Results from the connection of three vertices. Also defined as a closed path composed of three segments (used in low-poly meshes). Edge loop: A set of connected edges across a surface. Usually the last edge meets with the first again, forming a loop. Non-planar polygon: A polygon in which the vertices do not belong to the same plane Non-manifold geometry: An area for which there is no distinction between an ‘internal’ and ‘external’ surface (like the Klein bottle). Ngon: A closed path composed of more than four segments, or a polygon with more than four edges. Vertice: A point in 3D space. Vertex: A corner point of a polygon or a single point in 3D space. This can be used to define a

single corner of the edge in a polygon, triangle or Ngon. Poly flow: The way of settling the polygons in the model. Smart poly flow depends on what you are modelling, as often models will have specific needs. Poly count: Poly count represents the number of polygons used to define the surface of one object or the whole scene. Wireframe: A visual presentation of a three-dimensional object (by drawing lines at the location of each edge). Edge: A line segment joining two adjacent vertices in a polygon. Face: The 3D surface resulting from the connection of three vertices. Mesh: A 3D object made of vertices, edges and faces. Star: A vertice linked by edges to five or more vertices resulting from the connection of more than four polygons. Shell: A single continuous mesh. A mesh can be made of several shells. Normals: The direction in which a face is pointing, enabling light to hit the surface.

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Improve your characters Blossom girl 2013

Achieve simple, striking and stylised character designs using modo and Photoshop Richard Yot is an illustrator specialising in making quirky characters and worlds with unique approaches

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n this tutorial we’re going to cover the steps towards achieving a stylised portrait that can be used to present, for example, a striking and effective character concept. The main consideration for an image like this is first and foremost design. The piece needs to convey the personality and appeal of the character, so anything else should be secondary. This means that lighting, environment and staging should all serve the purpose of conveying and enhancing the main character. As such these aspects should all be kept simple as it’s main function is to avoid distracting the viewer from the subject itself. Approaching this project from a design point of view simplifies the whole approach to the image-creation process. It also means that a few changes may be needed as the project matures and the final result takes shape. Only the areas of the model that are essential to the design need to be created. In terms of topology it’s vital that the face is modelled to a high enough standard to show off the expression, but in other areas the modelling can be less rigorous.

Start with the head Sculpt & add topology

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01 Define the form of the head

Working with your initial sketch as a reference, add a sphere and set it to Multiresolution mode with six subdivisions to create a very high-resolution mesh. We’ll use the Sculpt tools to shape the head, but at this stage things can be kept very loose, so just think of this as a 3D sketch that’s more convenient to work from than a 2D image. Once the rough form is finished, we can sculpt the nose and lips.

Retopology 2

Many artists are uncomfortable with the idea of retopologising a model, fearing that this means doing a job twice. However, this is a short-sighted view, especially when modelling your own designs. Retopologising over a sculpt ends up saving a huge amount of time. The reason for this is that this workflow enables you to break down the process into two logical steps: the sculpting stage is solely for creating form and the topology stage can be used for edge flow. Trying to do both together is far more difficult. The other big benefit is that it frees you from requiring any 2D reference in the viewport. Also, retopologising in 3D is much faster than working from viewport-based 2D references.

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02 Begin retopologising

With the main form of the head fleshed out, it can now be retopologised. Because this element will need to show a facial expression, it’s important to get the topology around the mouth and the eyes right. The main loops that surround the eyes and the mouth are tackled first and then the rest of the topology is built around them. The mouth is very important because it requires a wide range of movement, so it needs some wide loops around it to enable smooth deformations .

03 Tweak the mesh

With the topology rebuilt around the main form of the head, the finer details can be added. This approach is a mixture of retopology and modelling, where the main forms are retopologised over a sculpt, but all the tweaking is done with traditional modelling methods. At this point the eyes are modelled and shaped and we have the final form of the mesh. It’s best to work on one half of the model, then add in a mirrored instance via the Topo tab .

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The initial forms are sculpted for the topology

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The main loops are modelled around the mouth and eyes first

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One half of the mesh is live, the other half is an instance that updates in real-time


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Tutorial files: ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

Artist info

3D artists explain the techniques behind their amazing artwork

Richard Yot Personal portfolio site www.itchy-animation.co.uk Country London, UK Software used modo, Photoshop Expertise Character design and illustration

Learn how to Design a character Sculpt a base mesh Retopologise Model with modo Handle UVs Sculpt facial details Paint textures Retouch in Photoshop

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Finalise the basic figure Add details and insert more elements into the scene

04 Shape the expression

Once the model is complete, the instanced side can be deleted and the final geometry mirrored over. Apply a new Morph map from the Vertex Map List to be used to shape the character’s facial expression. The lopsided smile is made with the Soft Select Move tool and moving vertices with the Transform tool creates the wink. You can speed up the modelling process by having Select Through active, which will let you quickly move one vertex and then another without dropping your tools .

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The facial expression is created as a Morph map using the standard modelling tools

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Define the seams as edge selections and run the Unwrap tool

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The details are sculpted in Multiresolution mode with modo’s Sculpt tools

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A mask is painted to define a more glossier material for the lips

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05 Add the UV maps

Prior to any texture painting, the UVs need to be created. In modo this process is relatively straightforward: simply select the edges that will define the borders of the UV map and run the Unwrap tool in the UV viewport. It’s usually worth experimenting with the different settings in the Unwrap tool to get the best possible projection. Unwrapping heads is generally best done with Spherical mode, but in some cases Cylindrical might work better. Testing each axis is worthwhile in order to get the best possible projection. Running the Relax tool after unwrapping is usually a good idea .

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06 Sculpt with Multiresolution

In order to add details with Multiresolution sculpting, the mesh must be in Catmull-Clark Subdivision mode (hit Shift+Tab to do this). For the head, set the highest subdivision level to 6, which creates a total of just under seven-million polygons. This amount enables very fine details to be sculpted onto the model. With a female face it’s best to concentrate details only in certain areas such as the lips, eyes and nose, leaving the rest of the face smooth .

07 Texture paint the face

With the details sculpted, texture maps can then be painted with modo’s Paint tools. In this case we’ll use the Airbrush to paint some colour onto the nose and cheeks and a harder brush to paint the lips. Also paint a black-and-white mask to define the glossy parts of the lips, then apply this as a group mask in the Shader Tree to add a glossy material to the lips. Finally some translucency was added to the materials, using the colour maps painted for the skin and lips .

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Concept The idea is to create a stylised female character portrait. I came up with three sketches of very different characters. The most appealing one was chosen as the basis for the ďŹ nished image. I create my sketches in Photoshop with a standard brush.

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Showcase

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Artist

Richard Yot

An illustrator specialising in making quirky characters and little worlds for them to live in, Richard likes giving his CG work some of the charm of hand-made things. He uses photorealism with a twist to achieve endearing, yet slightly imperfect results.

Al Dente modo (2011) This guy has far too many teeth and not enough brains. When creating this character Richard attempted to replicate the look of modelled resin, to give him a repulsive look. He likes giving real-world effects to his renders

The Model Maker modo (2012) This character is another stylised design. The painted-wood aesthetic was intended to complement the form of the facial features. The naive suggestion in the eyes adds even more to the character’s charm

Paper Monster modo (2011) A faux papier-mâché monster created as part of a series for a children’s book. Richard enjoys achieving a mixture of 3D and 2D. The playful juxtaposition of low- and high-tech features is an appealing part of this style

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08 Build the jacket

By roughly extruding and shaping a cube we can shape the basic form of the jacket, then retopologise it for better edge flow. The folds can be added using Multiresolution sculpting and the jacket is UV-ed and textured with Image maps. To evoke the feel of fabric, a Bump map along with Anisotropic Reflections can be applied. Controlling these is dependent on a good UV map, so the care we took over the topology will pay off at this stage .

09 Model the eyes

When shaping the head mesh, some placeholder spheres are positioned to guide the contouring of the eyelids. To create convincing eyes you will need to model a cornea and an iris as well as the eyeball. You can start with a standard sphere, then rotate it by 90 degrees and delete the triangles at the pole. Inside the hole, use a disc for the iris and model a hemisphere around that for the cornea. Inserting these details will enable the proper reflections and refractions to occur, resulting in very lifelike and appealing eyes .

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10 Texture the iris

The best way to create the iris texture is to paint one in Photoshop. You can start by filling in a dark brown and then paint streaks of a lighter shade in a radial pattern coming from the middle. Break these streaks up and vary the patterns you paint. Add some lines in a more saturated shade at the halfway point to simulate the patterns commonly found on the iris. Also use this map in the Subsurface slot for translucency.

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Character design tips Producing interesting characters requires some individuality on the part of the artist. In order to make something original, you need to work on developing a personal style, so that your characters become distinct and have a chance of standing out from the crowd. Your sketchbook, whether physical or digital, is the best way of getting noticed. If you regularly try out new ideas in your sketchbooks and try to push your designs, you will soon find plenty of original material for later development. The crazier you can be in your sketchbook the better – even if you need to tone some of the ideas down later.

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Good topology is crucial on the jacket so that the materials can be mapped easily with clean UVs

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The iris and cornea are modelled, as well as the eyeball, to ensure that light reflects correctly

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The iris can be hand-painted in Photoshop using radial strokes from the centre


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Apply hair and background elements Complement your figure with extra features 11

11 Construct the hair

A simple hairstyle, such as the one used here, can be created relatively easily. Keeping elements such as the hair as simple as possible helps to speed the whole process up. Copy and paste the polygons that the hair should grow from into a new layer, then apply a black material to them. Add a fur layer and adjust a few settings; for instance increase the number of segments to 20 to ensure there is enough curvature. The Density and Length should also be increased, but reduce all the Jitter settings to ensure more even growth. To finish this element, increase the Flex and Root Bend settings to give the hair some weight, then set Specularity to 100% to create a bright highlight.

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12 Shape the parasol

You can shape the character’s parasol with a hemisphere and then arrange the ribs around a radial array. The Work Plane in modo can be activated in order for you to comfortably work at the angle that the umbrella will be occupying in the 3D space. Paint some folds on a Square map with a radial pattern in Photoshop and apply these as a Bump map to add to the fabric material. To finish, add various maps to define the diffuse and translucent tones.

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A simple hairstyle such as this is easily created with modo’s Fur Material

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modo’s Work Plane makes it easy to work at difficult angles in the 3D viewport

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A tree can be created in a couple of minutes using the Sketch Extrude tool

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Hair advice for modo If you have created hair guides or custom curves to act as guides, there are a couple of very important settings that are needed to ensure the hair follows the guides correctly. In the Fur Material tab make sure the guides are set to Range and that the Guide Range Distance is set to a high value, otherwise the guides will have no effect. Finally, be sure to create enough segments for your hair to follow the guides accurately. To soften the look of the rendered hair you might need to render multiple frame passes.

13 Model the trees

The tree elements are a breeze to create in modo: simply start with a flat polygon at ground level and use the Sketch Extrude tool to create an organic trunk. Branches can be pulled out from polygon selections using the same tool. With Select Through activated, you can pull new branches out without dropping the tool. The whole process can be completed in a couple of minutes. Use the Scale and Spin settings on the Sketch Extrude tool to add variety to the branches. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Make the final touches With the character complete it’s time to bring everything together

14 Build the leaves

The easiest way to create a canopy of leaves is to use particle clouds distributed among the branches of the trees. Once these are placed, you can model a few leaves and make a group out of the leaf meshes. Next, add some Replicator items that will use the leaf groups to duplicate the leaves into the particle clouds. You can add some colour variation very easily by using a gradient set to Particle ID to give each leaf a slightly different colour from the others .

15 Apply the blossom

The blossom can be created in a similar way to the leaves, with the main difference being that the shape of the flowers can be driven by Stencil maps. In Photoshop the blossom shape is painted on a transparent background, which can be used as a Diffuse map. The transparency can also be used to drive a Stencil map, which will define the shape of the petals. The flower can be spread with particle clouds and Replicator items.

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The leaves are replicated, with particle clouds controlling their distribution among the branches

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The blossom shape is hand-painted in Photoshop, with the transparency serving as a Stencil map

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16 Lighting & rendering

With all of the modelling and texturing complete, the scene is ready for final lighting and rendering. The main light is a simple Directional Light with a faint yellow tone to simulate sunlight. An Area Light is placed to the right to create some reflections in the clothing and eyes. The parasol is backlit with a Spot Light to enhance the translucency. In terms of rendering, the scene is straightforward since it’s set outdoors and lit mainly with direct light. The global illumination will render cleanly on default settings.

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The lighting and render settings are finalised in modo’s Render tab, with the live Preview providing real-time feedback

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After you have finished, some final retouching and colour correction can be done in Photoshop

Using the Shader Tree

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17 Retouch in Photoshop

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With the high-resolution render complete, some final touches can be added in Photoshop. With the default brush tool, apply some retouching around important areas, such as the eyes and lips, to enhance the rendered details. You can retouch the skin using an airbrush to even out any CG harshness. Add some glowing layers (use a solid black layer and set its blending mode to Linear Dodge) and paint subtle airbrush highlights in them over the hair and clothes. Finally, use some basic Color Balance adjustment layers to warm the image and control the contrast.

In modo’s Shader Tree there are several ways to apply materials to a mesh, either with Polygon Tags, Item Masks or even Selection Sets. If you want a simplified workflow you should exclusively use Polygon Tags to apply materials. This feature has the benefit that materials can be reapplied throughout the scene and objects can be duplicated without losing their materials. Item Masks and Selection Sets can then be used without any materials for things such as item level Alpha channels, and without affecting the predefined materials. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tutorial files: ěũ!#-#ũăũ+#2 ěũ("#.ũ343.1(+ ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32

Blow bubbles using V-Ray Metaballs

V-Ray, 3ds Max

How can I simulate a bubble-blowing effect using V-Ray and 3ds Max?

S

imulating liquid behaviour in 3D applications can be a complex task and usually requires external plug-ins. These plug-ins are typically full of advanced controls for simulation that at first glance can be daunting. However, for more simple simulations, V-Ray Metaballs is a great alternative, as you can get satisfactory results in relatively little setup time. It is very well integrated into 3ds Max and is supported by particle systems and forces that can be used together to generate a realistic simulation. As part of V-Ray 3.0, Metaballs are a new feature available via a simple user interface found under the Create menu. Simply put, Metaballs are geometric shapes that interact with one another, depending on threshold values set via the various different parameters. As an example, two shapes can be pulled together to form a new isosurface. If you repeat this over a much larger simulation, you will start to form a type of blobby liquid. The Size and Smoothness

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parameters impact on the final result of your Metaballs to allow you to create dynamic things, such as soap bubbles, as explained in this tutorial. You can also use Metaballs to create cellular-type structures, and not only that but you can use textures to modify the look of the Metaballs to create a much rougher surface. Metaballs are seen in the viewport along with the particle system so you can easily see how it affects the movement of the Metaballs at a glance. You also can get a really good idea of what the end result will look like without experiencing any viewport lag or high-memory consumption, which is a bonus, as the complete isosurface is calculated at render time. In conjunction with 3ds Max’s particles system, you have full control over speed, direction and obstruction. In this tutorial, Metaballs spawn from a source at speed and as they travel, they break apart forming perfectly round bubbles that drift delicately through the air.

The final touch will be the material and understanding how a bubble should look. As bubbles typically show a colourful, oily effect – much like a rainbow due to how the inner and outer walls interfere with each other – you will learn how to create this effect using a V-Ray material. You will also set up the Reflection and Refraction values to determine how the bubbles interact within an HDRI environment.

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Set up particle emission Go to

the Create panel. Under Particle Systems, drag a PF Source into the 3ds Max viewport and set the size to 10mm by 10mm. Bubbles will spawn from the entire surface area. Open the Particle View and in the Render Parameter set the Type to None, as you will be rendering Metaballs and not particles. In the first Event, click Birth and set the Amount to 50. Select Speed and set it to 200mm. Click Shape and set the Size to 1.27mm – however this is not a true reflection of the size of bubble, as later on you will see how Metaballs parameters also affect size. Enable Scale and set the Variation to 15% so that you achieve a varying range of bubble sizes.


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Control acceleration and distance In Particle View at the

bottom there are various operators, tests and flows that affect the particle behaviour. Click and drag a Keep Apart operator and position it between Rotation and Shape. This particular operator applies a force to the particles that affects how they separate by controlling Speed and Acceleration. The bubbles will spawn as a large isosurface and then start to separate, much like what occurs when blowing bubbles. To spread the particles apart, increase the Core Radius to 100mm. Increase the Acceleration Limit to 1,500mm so that particles spread out quite quickly after they spawn. 2

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Link Metaballs with the particles In the Create panel, go

to the V-Ray dropdown list and add a VRayMetaball object to the scene. Under Positive Particles add the PF source. There is also an option to add Negative particles that work against the Metaballs. This is useful if you wish to obstruct Positive particles with Negative ones. Tick Use Particle Size to disable so that in Particle View you have full control of the size as well as the variable scaling. Under Preview, enable Use and Shaded, then set the Display Resolution to 50 to improve viewport display.

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Define the behaviour Lower

the Threshold to 0.2 – higher values will reduce the size of the bubbles, as the surrounding particles will force them to become smaller. The Step Length can be left at the default value of 1.0 as the isosurface for the bubble is quite simple, but for more-complex fluids you may wish to lower this value. Note that lower values will increase render times considerably, but it is unavoidable if artefacts start to appear in the render. Enable Smooth Field Bumps and set the Radius to 9 and the Smooth Expansion to 1.0. This will remove any stray particles and smooth out the majority to form perfect bubble-shaped spheres.

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Make the bubble material

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Add HDRI lighting Add a V-Ray

Start with a V-Ray material and set both the Reflection and Refraction to pure white. Untick Fresnel Reflections, as you will control this via the Falloff map. Set the Refractive IOR to 1.001. In the Reflection, add a Falloff map, set the Type to Fresnel and set the Override IOR to 4. In the Outer slot, add a Gradient Ramp and set the Type to Normal so that it is affected by the camera angle. In the Ramp, Ctrl/right-click and choose Load Gradient. Locate and select the Rainbow Gradient.dgr file from the files supplied with this tutorial.

light, set the Type to Dome and increase the Multiplier to 30. Tick Spherical (full dome) and increase the Subdivisions to 128. Add an HDRI to the Texture slot and create an instance over to the Material Editor. Find the FeldBergheim2_small.hdr from the support files and set the Mapping Type to Spherical. Then lower the Inverse Gamma to 0.7 to boost contrast. Instance the HDRI to the environment and set it as the Viewport Background. Add a V-Ray Physical Camera and adjust the position and the exposure to suit. Enable DOF and set the White Balance to Neutral. When setting up the V-Ray Render settings take into consideration any DOF as it will require higher AA settings.

Metaballs viewport display quality The Display parameter enables you to see Metaballs in the viewport. Higher numbers give a more accurate view, but also slow down viewport performance. As Metaballs spread further away from the source, you may see them disappear in the viewport, but don’t worry – they are still there, this is just due to the display resolution. Increasing the resolution temporariliy gives a more accurate result, but avoid scrubbing the timeline, as it may be slow to update.

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Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Benjamin Brosdau Personal portfolio site www.benjaminbrosdau.com Software used Maxwell Render, 3ds Max Expertise Benjamin has been using CG for over a decade and specialises in lighting

Render glass objects Ajax 2013 Learn to render in a minimalistic environment to showcase a range of transparent and translucent types of materials Benjamin Brosdau lives and works in Berlin. He is the technical director for Pure Rendering

Prepare the scene

H

ere we will discuss the various aspects of shading, lighting and rendering a glass Greek bust with Maxwell Render. We’ll be using a variety of different transparent and translucent materials to produce the most realistic result possible. There are a number of important aspects to keep in mind when setting up the scene, such as keeping an eye on the correct scene scale and using realistic values for the camera. Moving on we’ll briefly go over the few objects that the scene consists of, before placing the first light sources and working on the shaders for the bust. The goal here is to layer crystal glass over the tinted and sandblasted materials, then finally build the required shader structure for a material made to resemble translucent jade. The settings for the final rendering output, and some quick tips on cutting down render times, will be discussed last.

Notes on realistic scale and cameras When working on projects such as this, it’s of great importance that you use realistic sizes, since they’ll provide values that we can easily relate to in the real world. This is especially true when working in Maxwell Render. With regards to camera settings, Maxwell uses a camera model with values that can also be found on a real camera. Here, an Aperture of 11 was used to provide a greater depth of field, with the Shutter Speed and ISO (film sensitivity) also set to realistic values. However, in theory these can be set to anything you want – for a still image at least – so long as the result looks correct and believable.

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Set up the measurements and units

01

Establish your scale First we need to check that we’re working inside a plausible unit system. In this case we’ll be using a centimetre-based system (cm). Inside the Maxwell Material Systems we will need to input different values in cm, so having things matched up will help simplify and streamline the process.

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Import and check the geometry

As it’s a highly detailed object, the bust has a very dense mesh, which results in a high poly count. Maxwell relies on closed surfaces for faithful reproduction of translucent (SSS) materials, so an STL Check modifier should be applied immediately after importing. Scale the figure to be around 50cm tall to make it roughly human size. Don’t forget to reset the scale afterwards (Hierarchy> Reset>Scale) so modifiers like UVW Map will show the correct results. 3

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Setting the preferences inside 3ds Max

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Applying an STL Check modifier detects no errors, so the model is in good shape

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The general layout of the bust

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Add surroundings and camera After merging the surroundings – a sweep background and a set of nicely folded drapes – it’s time to search for a good angle. This is of course a matter of personal taste, but in this case a slightly lower angle seems preferable, since it gives the bust a dramatic appearance. Maxwell makes use of the standard 3ds Max camera, so no special type of camera is required. Here we’ve settled on a Focal Length of 85mm, which is a classical portrait focal length. The camera’s target, and therefore plane of focus, is placed directly on the bust’s eyeball. Common values from a photographic standpoint apply in Maxwell as well, so an Aperture of 11, along with a Shutter Speed of 1/250s at an ISO of 200, present realistic values.


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Concept The concept is based on a classical Greek bust of Ajax, a mythological Greek hero. The 3D scan used for the model was kindly provided by Torolf Sauerman (666ē #5.+43(.-ı.$ı%#-(42ē"#).

Learn how to ũũ#3ũ4/ũ8.41ũ2!#-#ũ6(3'ũ 76#++ũ#-"#1 ũũ1#/1#ũ%#.,#318ĵ. )#!32ũ $.1ũ/1./#1ũ1#-"#1(-%ũ6(3'ũ 31-2+4!#-3ũ,3#1(+2 ũũ (%'3ũ-"ũ2'"#ũ31-2/1#-3ũ . )#!32ũ42(-%ũ51(.42ũ#Ăũ#!32 ũũ#3ũ4/ũ,4+3(ı+8#1#"ũ2'"#12ũ (-ũ 76#++ũ#-"#1 ũũ2#ũ3'#ũ 4+3(+(%'3ũ$#341#ũ3.ũ 2/##"ũ4/ũ3'#ũ+(%'3(-%ũ/1.!#22

Tutorial files: ěũũ ũĉćĈĉũăũ+#ũ6(3'ũ++ũ,."#+2ũ 2'"#12ũ-"ũ3#7341#2 ěũũũăũ+#ũ3.ũ!!413#+8ũ,3!'ũ 3'#ũ2!#-# 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Use shaders and create light sources Apply the initial shaders and develop the lighting environment

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The Maxwell Material philosophy Contrary to

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Produce a HDR environment It’s preferable to

traditional render engines, it’s important to understand that Maxwell uses a concept that relies exclusively on the assumption that all light is either reflected or refracted. As you can see, there’s no Diffuse or Specular colour options. If you see a red sphere, it’s because red is being reflected back into our eyes. The settings are plentiful, but in this tutorial we’ll pay our closest attention to the Transmittance and Attenuation settings (the ability to let light through); the Nd value, which can be regarded as the IOR; and of course the Scattering and Roughness parameters.

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start working with a HDR lighting system on a diffuse surface, to be quickly able to gauge light intensities and angles. Don’t forget to set the standard Environment Type to None. Usually we’ll add light sources (emitters) to boost particular features on a model or scene. Adding a HDR dome light is very easy in Maxwell; just go to Image Based under the Environment tab and you’ll see the different options available to you. Here we’ve used a HDR (included with the issue) depicting a studio light setup and made sure all the channels use the same file by leaving the Use Background checkbox ticked. With the Intensity set to 4, and a default material applied to all objects, we can start our first rendering. Notice how we didn’t need to input any values for the render setup whatsoever.

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Specific settings for the glass Firstly we’re looking for a crystal glass effect, so to do this we need to alter various settings in the material. Mainly we’re looking after four settings that will control the appearance of the glass: Transmittance, Attenuation, Nd value and Roughness. The test object has varying thicknesses to show the effects. Note how both Reflect slots are set to black but Force Fresnel is checked. This way we can make sure that the Fresnel curve is accurately driven by the Nd value alone, instead of the colour selectors. 7

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Make changes to the sculpture

After adjusting the Maxwell Material and its various settings for the glass, we can start applying the shader to the sculpture and hit Render. Although we haven’t discussed any materials other than the glass itself, these are all are supplied with this issue and are ready to use in your own project.

4 The Maxwell Material with

default settings 5

The result of the first render

6 Settings and their effect on

the look of the material 7

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The first serious test render using a clear crystal glass on the sculpture


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08

Add emitters and Multilight

The look of the HDR image alone seems alright, but certain areas still need more definition and contrast, especially considering the goal of a jade-like material. Emitters in Maxwell are geometric objects (such as planes, but they can be anything) to which an emissive material has been applied. Here we decided on a light from behind and to the right of the camera, as well as another one to the far right, which acts as a sort of rim light. By enabling the Multilight option in the general settings, we are able to control the intensity of the emitters during or after the rendering.

Tips

09

Separate sections for different shaders The effects of additional emitters and using the Multilight function are clear steps forward, but due to the busy nature of the sculpture, it’s still a little hard to read. To solve this problem, we’ll select the polygons that make up the face, neck and base, then apply a duplicate of the glass material to them. The only thing we’ll change in this material is setting the Roughness to around 15-20 to give it a frosted appearance. Now the rays will be diffused more evenly and we can read the facial features with less effort.

Render the surfaces Having worked with highly reflective and refractive objects, it becomes obvious that we actually cannot light those surfaces, but rather they are defined by their reflections and refractions. In much the same way that you can’t light a chrome sphere, you can only place objects that show up as reflections. The more diffuse a surface becomes, the easier it is to read the contours, which is the main reason why we split up the bust into two sections. Using a plain and simple background for glass objects is always a good idea, to keep strange and hard-to-read refractions to a minimum.

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Finalise the crystal glass So far we have dealt with a perfect kind of material without any flaws. This is easily achievable in CG, but in reality nothing is ever perfect, so we can add some extra realism if we introduce an effect called dispersion. Light consists of different wavelengths and it so happens that refractive materials will split these wavelengths into visible colours, much like a prism will do. High-quality glass will actually reveal very little of this effect, but it’s there. The setting to adjust this feature is called the Abbe number. Anything between 25 and 60 is a realistic value. The lower the value, the more pronounced the effect becomes. 10

8 Adding more emitters

enables greater control over the model’s definition 9 Using a rougher glass material

for the face of the bust increases readability 10 Adding dispersion can help

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Tinted glass and frosting Alter the look of the sculpture with advanced shading effects

11

Transmittance and Attenuation

So far we’ve covered transparent glass but have only brushed over settings for controlling a sandblasted or tinted look. For a tinted result we’ll change the transmission colour, though it’s best to avoid a full numerical value of 255 in any of the settings. We don’t need to give it any kind of reflective quality, since the colour is coming from within the object. The Attenuation Distance controls how far a ray can penetrate an object until it’s lost half of its energy. This means a high Attenuation Distance looks lighter and less colourful. 11 11 Gradually increasing the

Attenuation Distance setting while maintaining the transmission colour 12 Slowly increasing the

Roughness changes the look, which will become increasingly opaque 13 This is an example of using a

reddish type of tinted and sandblasted glass

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Produce a sandblasted look

Creating a frosted or sandblasted look is easily done. This can be achieved by increasing the Roughness of the material. The higher the Roughness, the more diffuse the look. Typically Roughness values vary between 10 and 30 but in some cases a higher value can help to decrease render times.

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Make the most of the features

By applying the previously mentioned settings on the actual sculpture, we can reveal some very nice results. Since the richness of the colour is controlled by how deep a ray can penetrate a surface, the various angles and features on the bust create a wide range of different colours on the surface. For the purpose of this example we settled on a Roughness of 25, an orange transmission colour and an Attenuation Distance of 30cm.

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Glass effects Frosted glass can exhibit a very interesting aesthetic, especially when combined with colourful attenuation. Moreover, the effect is easy to achieve and looks sophisticated in arch vis scenes. During a production, corners are often cut to reduce the rendering time associated with frosted glass.

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Replicate a jade effect

Showcase

Create a shader that resembles jade

Benjamin Brosdau

Having spent more than 12 years in the field of computer visualisation, Benjamin Brosdau has gathered a wide set of skills, although he specialises in the field of arch-vis and photorealism in general. Over the years a lot of his works have been published and awarded prizes in many places, such as the CG Choice Gallery or Ballistic Publishing’s Exposé books.

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14 Chesterfield Project Glassware 3ds Max, Maxwell Render (2010) A detailed close-up view of the props created for the Chesterfield project Brosdau worked on. It features a clear crystal glass with mapped sandblasted decorations

Adjust Scattering and Asymmetry A few more settings are required to control the

effect of translucency, particularly in the Scattering Coefficient and the Scattering Asymmetry options. By increasing the Scattering to anything above 0, we can start to introduce more and more particles inside the volume that the rays can interact with and change direction, giving a translucent effect. An Asymmetry setting of 0 means that a ray has an equal possibility to be directed in any direction; a positive value increases the likeliness of a ray coming back out of the volume, giving a brighter, denser look, while a negative value does the opposite. 15

Matrix Kitchen 3ds Max, Maxwell Render (2010) This is a personal project of a photorealistic kitchen, created using Maxwell Render and 3ds Max

Glassware 3ds Max, Maxwell Render (2009) A personal project dedicated to product shot renderings. Props such as these are ideal for arch-vis

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Translucency and coatings After we’ve created a nice translucent base material for

the sculpture, we are obviously missing the reflections on the surface that are typically associated with jade, since it’s most often polished. This is where the coatings come into play. Adding a coating creates a very thin transparent and reflective layer above our scattering material, giving the impression of a very shiny surface. We can control the reflection’s intensity with the Nd number. For this example we want to bring the Thickness way up to avoid colour shifting in the coating.


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Refine the realism Tweak scattering and transmittance to bring out even more detail 16

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Layer multiple BSDFs using maps We have the basic jade aesthetic at this stage, but we’re still missing variation across the surface. To add this we need to determine the transmittance with a simple map created in Photoshop. To go one step further we’ll create another BSDF with the exact same settings above our first one, except for the fact that we’ll use slightly offset values for the Scattering and Transmittance. You can also control the visibility of this effect by mapping the opacity of the second BSDF with a black-and-white map, resembling some loose cloudy shapes. This ensures that we can see the second BSDF only in certain places.

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Finalise the look We are basically done at this point, but just need to set off the final render in the desired resolution, as well as set a time or Sampling Level limit. Don’t forget to leave Multilight enabled and hit the Render button. Now you can take a break until the render has finished. Once in Photoshop we can work on the contrast a little more and sharpen the image to finish. 17

Notes on translucent objects 14 The effects of altering the

Scattering Coefficient and Asymmetry settings 15 The effect of scattering on the

left and scattering with coating on the right 16 Using two map-controlled

BSDFs creates more details 17 The final look of the jade

shader on the Ajax bust

Using the various settings that are available, it’s possible to create almost any kind of solid translucent material while maintaining a very realistic look. The key is to only adjust one setting at a time and remain firmly within the realms of plausibility. As you might have noticed, translucent materials can be very slow to render depending on the settings. It’s therefore a good idea to keep an eye on the benchmark on your machine to arrive at a good solution. As a rule of thumb, the more diffuse a surface is, the faster it will render when you’re finished. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tutorial files: ěũ2#ũ,#2'ũĸ Ĺ ěũ., (#ũ,#2'ũĸ Ĺ ěũ43.1(+ũ2!1##-2'.32 We’ll be taking our decimated sculpt from ZBrush into 3ds Max to achieve a clean working mesh

ZBrush, 3ds Max

Clean up 3D models ZBrush sculpts are beautiful and fun, but now we need to turn that mesh into something an animator can work with

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n a clean and optimised mesh, polygons should serve one of three functions: to hold the form for lighting and a silhouette; to properly deform for animation; and to support the textures (though this is more of a concern in low-res game meshes). The character featured in this tutorial will be made with videogame specifications in mind, although cinematic meshes should follow a lot of the same rules. I’ll be taking you through my pipeline, which I have found to be very efficient and gets great results. Specifications are always changing in a videogame environment, so having a mesh with a flexible topology will

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save you hours of time. As someone who has often turned a cinematic mesh into a videogame-oriented one, I find being able to quickly increase or decrease its resolution is very important. As such I try to keep each vital section of my model very independent. This way, if I’m optimising an arm, for instance, I’m not having to worry about that loop taking an important line out of the leg or face. Throughout this tutorial I will be explaining some of 3ds Max’s tools and why I use them in certain scenarios versus others. For further explanations of each tool mentioned, 3ds Max’s ToolTips system in the Graphite Modeling Tools panel is very

thorough. Likewise, 3ds Max’s Help documentation gives an in-depth look at each facet of the program, as well.

How to retopologise ZBrush models with 3ds Max

01

Check your settings Before

beginning work on the character, there are a few vital points that need to be covered. First of all, Symmetry is an essential feature, but turn off Slice Along Mirror as this can leave floating verts along the central line. Also get acquainted with the Graphite Modeling Tools section and use the high-res model as the live surface.


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Activating the X-Ray display (Alt+X) on the high-poly model will let us see through it while modelling. This is a great way to make sure we’re focused solely on the new mesh.

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Make an initial block-in of the body I always start a new

mesh with a simple poly flow that can be achieved immediately in a few straightforward steps. This will save many headaches further down the line. Because of how the segments of the body fit together, we’re able to increase and decrease the resolution of individual parts without having to worry about the loops getting too dense in another section. Animators that have worked with my meshes have all agreed that this is animation-friendly and my students find them easy to rig.

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Refine the shape Once the quick layout is done, I start using the Conform brushes in the Freeform tab. These act like the ZProject brush in ZBrush and vacuum-form my low-poly model to

the high-res version. As I add more geometry I try to keep my topology even and straight. Whenever things start to get jagged or sloppy-looking I simply hit my mesh with the Relax option in the Edit Geometry rollout. This will indicate any areas that have warped too far. Elements of the mesh where polygons are too stretched or warped will need attention. As long as you haven’t strayed from this topology so far, the SwiftLoop tool should never create a triangle or Ngon on this mesh.

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Sketch out the face The face

is a difficult area to model, as there are lots of flow changes for the purposes of animation. If you follow the flow of wrinkles on an elderly person’s face, you’ll clearly see where the control lines should go. Make sure the flow of the muzzle goes all the way around the chin, as a lot of people bring it over the top of the chin by mistake. Look at the lines on someone’s face when they give a big smile and notice how the line goes from above the nostril to behind the chin. This model

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should reflect that. 3ds Max has a tool called Viewport Canvas that enables you to paint directly on the model. I use this to sketch out my main flows before I start.

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Block in the face I start the face model with two rings of eight polys, plus a box. These will be my starting points for the mouth: one eye and the nose. I warp these shapes to my high-poly surface, using the Conform brushes again, so now my main areas of focus have their basic topology. By switching between the SwiftLoop tool and the Conform brush I’ll add more definition to my shapes. This means that I can also keep an eye on how my edges are lining up on each section of the face, so when the time comes they will connect easily.

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To begin, activate Symmetry, but uncheck Slice Along Mirror

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Laying the foundation of my zombie model

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Using the Conform brushes

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The Viewport Canvas in action

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Always use broad strokes at this early stage

Fill in the gaps At this stage I’m

more or less connecting the dots with the Extend and Step Build tools. These options make retopologising complex areas very easy. I pull out edges and fill the gaps with the Step Build tool, or lay down verts

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Connecting the blocked-in masses with the various Freeform tools

that get filled in with the Extend toolset. As I mentioned in the introduction, if you hover over a tool in the Graphite Modeling Tools panel, the ToolTip will drop down and give a very lengthy description of the tool. I use these options to continue the masses of the face and head, while keeping the topology of the sketch in mind.

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Getting hands right is a tricky process to master

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Notice the nesting that occurs with the wrist. The hand should always be a step down from the wrist

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Using the body topology to ensure the usability of the trouser elements

Approach the hands Hands are a fun problem to solve, as thumbs move in different ways and deform a lot of mass. I have never seen two artists approach hands the same way, and I handle them differently every time I model. All of the end caps on my model’s limbs should still be at eight sides, currently. Eight edges can be 2 x 2 polygons but for this instance, I’ll make them 3 x 1. This gives me three polygons to extrude fingers from – which isn’t the average hand of a human, zombie or not.

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Build up the hand I need to extrude out the three polys and scale them down width-wise. There should be five polys in an arch, which will be the four fingers and the pad between the thumb and forefinger. I extrude this set out twice, with Local Normal turned on in my Extrusion settings. The thumb will come out of the side of the first extrusion and the fingers will come out of the tips of the second extrusion.

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Clothing characters The most

important thing when two meshes overlap is that they share the same topology wherever they are close to each other. If they don’t overlap vert-for-vert, the body mesh will penetrate through the clothing mesh when animating. Working on the body first is best, because all of the poly flow is laid out at this point. I start by grabbing the polygons that represent where

Choose when the time is right How and when to use triangles in models is something people will argue about until the cows come home. I believe as long as you use them carefully and they don’t disrupt the mesh for animating or lighting, go for it. 09 Don’t put any triangles in until you are finalising your mesh. If you are trying to increase or decrease the resolution of your model and there are triangles, they will disrupt your rings and loops. This will cause you to fight for good poly flow and force you to fix issues rather than just quickly and efficiently knock out a mesh. Triangles are very dangerous and often feel like the only option in certain scenarios, but do not fall into the habit of using them just because it’s convenient. They should be used carefully to solidify forms and enhance parts for animation.


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the trousers would be, then hold Shift and slightly move or scale them just enough to make a copy. Now I have a separate mesh I can begin defining it into a set of trousers.

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Complicate the clothing I’ve

decided to give my zombie an open shirt. This will show overlapping meshes that share topology where they are close, but become different as they separate. To start this mesh I’ll begin with the same steps used for the trousers. Now that I’ve made a skin-tight shirt for the model, I can open up the front and use the Step Build tool in Freeform to quickly sketch out the hanging shirt pieces. Depending on the type of project you’re working on, clothing can be handled in a number of ways. Very low-res videogames may have one-sided polys. Some projects will need the sleeves to be capped, while others may need a Shell Modifier to thicken up the whole mesh. For this stylised project I will be modelling the backside to the shirt, but leaving anything hidden by the body open.

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Add triangles & finalise At this

point the mesh is almost done, but I still want a few special edges for UV seams and around the joints. For the UV seams I like to put a line diagonally around the shoulder. This acts like the seam of a shirt when unwrapping. If an area has too many loops around it, I will often use triangles to pinch off a bit of poly flow by making a ring selection. I then deselect the area I want to keep and use the Collapse function to pinch two lines into one. After this is done I can approach the character’s joints. For cinematic animation, there are more complicated rigging systems that will help these areas deform, but for videogames we have to be a bit more careful. I like using the trick of placing a triangle where a joint hinges. The point of the triangle should closely line up to where the bone will pivot from and the triangle should open up towards wherever the joint is collapsing.

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Use ZProject to double-check Before I unwrap my mesh I take my mesh into ZBrush and use the ZProject function to make sure it’s perfectly lined up with my original sculpt. ZProject vacuum-forms one mesh to another and its settings can be found in your SubTool menu. Be careful: this option will project any visible information to the selected SubTool. With this technique you’re able to transfer sculpture data as well as texture information. Usually I will do this to completely replace my original sculpt mesh. This results in my lowest subdivision in ZBrush being my retopologised mesh.

Check deformation for free with Mixamo Mixamo (www.

mixamo.com) offers an amazing service that enables you to upload your character and put a quick rig on it. The process is extremely fast and is completely free. I’ve adopted it as a quick way of testing my work before I pass it to the next person in the pipeline. On top of rigging your mesh, there are a number of animations you can apply to it and see what your character will look like when it moves. Mixamo is great for making prototypes to show your boss or clients, and it helpfully imports directly into most 3D packages.

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Adding more complexity to the clothing elements

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Triangles in certain locations make rigging much easier and even help deform the model

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Mixamo is great for testing out your prototypes

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3D-Coat

Understand hard-surface retopology

Tutorial ďŹ les: ěŊ#.#+(7ĹŠ(-)ĹŠ. )Ä“ #!(,3#"ĹŠ(-)ĹŠ423

How can I easily retopologise a hard-surface model in 3D-Coat?

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ith auto-topology resources at our ďŹ ngertips, manual retopology is still far from a lost art form. With the increasing popularity of hi-poly sculpting and its integration into pipelines throughout many new and old mediums, retopolgy follows right along for the ride. 3D-Coat is a prime candidate in your toolbox of retopology resources, offering a ďŹ ne selection of tools to get the job done with ease and control. Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses and all except the Cap tool can be used exclusively to complete an entire project, enabling you a variety of means to ďŹ nd what avour suits you best. In this tutorial I will cover the means of importing and retopologising a detailed hard-surface mesh using 3D-Coat. I’ll make heavy use of the Retopo Groups and VoxTree palettes to establish a smooth

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and controlled workow, along with the use of the H key to auto-select mesh islands to separate or hide pieces. This will establish a clutter-free viewport, so we can approach each section without our reference mesh or previous pieces blocking our view. Given that the target model is a hard surface, there is further opportunity for more additional UV seams than normally seen on organic models. This provides more freedom to block out topology as individual shells. We will get things started by opening 3D-Coat, then selecting Voxel Sculpting from the intro splash screen. Next select

the folder icon to navigate to the location of the base mesh. Once loaded, the mesh will show up in viewport looking a bit fuzzy and surrounded by the Transformation tool (the fuzzy look is a pre-voxel mass preview). Simply hit the Apply button in the Tool Options dialog box. Do not upscale the mesh, voxels grow massive in detail the larger they are and you run the chance of a crash. It’s best to allow for a moment for the mesh to be voxelised, if you will. Import your mesh as a Voxel to retain the ability to hide and isolate geometry islands within the mesh. Now that the mesh is loaded, we are ready to start. 1


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The VoxTree palette

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First step With our mesh loaded,

before diving in it’s important to grab some topology reference, which is essential for the face portion of our base. Anatomical topology is an industry standard with appropriate loops around the eyes, nose and mouth. We’ll start with the eyes, making sure Symmetry is activated by hitting the S key, or simply clicking the Symmetry menu, turning on X-axis Symmetry and turning off Show Symmetry Plane. Using the Strokes brush, draw complete ovals lining the eyelid. No need to be perfect, you can always use the Brush tool or Ctrl/right-click to adjust points. Next, intersect to create quads, then when done hit Enter and use the Cap tool to close the eye cavity. The Strokes tool is fast and easy, but doesn’t always deliver perfect results, so take this time to block out the rest of the face using the Points/Faces, or the Add/ Split tools.

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Extrude a cylinder After

making sure to create new Retopo Groups to organise your shells, move to tackling the tubes in the character’s neck. Use the H key to auto-select the mesh island and Opt/Alt-click the respective Visibility eye icon in VoxTree palette. Use the Strokes tool and, while dragging in empty space across the tube, create a crosssection loop. After placing a few of these loops, draw a line along the tube and hit

Enter. This is 3D-Coat’s bridge technique that’s great for handling cylindrical objects.

Be sure you make use of the VoxTree palette. If this isn’t open already you can find it under: Windows>Popups>VoxTree. This palette has all our mesh islands separated and easily selectable by hovering the mouse over the mesh and hitting H to autoselect the mesh island. You can isolate by Opt/Alt-clicking The visibility Eye icon, and repeat to reveal all. In addition to the VoxTree, you can make use of the Groups palette, which works exactly like Photoshop layers. The left-most button adds a new group ready to add topology. If the Groups palette isn’t visible, go to Windows>Popups> Groups. ěũũ2#ũı(2ũ-"ũ/!(38ũ3ũ3'#ũ3./ũ.$ũ3'#ũ6(-".6ũ3.ũĂũ#!3ũ3'#ũ visibility of the Retopo geometry. ěũũ.5#1ũ3'#ũ,.42#ũ.5#1ũ-"ũ'(3ũ#+#3#ũ3.ũ1#,.5#ũ4-6-3#"ũ Points/Faces points. ěũ(3ũ3'#ũ2!ũ*#8ũ3.ũ#-"ũ3..+ũ!3(.-2ē ěũũ2#ũ3'#ũ142'ũ3.ũ,.5#ũ-"ũ2,..3'ũ%#.,#318ũ 8ũ'.+"(-%ũ'($3ē 4

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Utilise symmetry Approach the hair like most pieces using the Strokes brush, along with Points/Faces to get down some initial geometry. Use the Add/Split tool to fill in any gaps, making sure to follow the creases. The strands of hair are done on a separate group with Symmetry turned off. Do this by hitting the S key or clicking Symmetry menu and turning off symmetry on the X-axis.

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Rinse and repeat Now approach the mask and rinse and repeat the same method of the previous steps. Establishing the loops for the circle design next, use the Split Rings tool to add additional loops quickly. Next, fill in the rest using the Strokes tool, placing edges along angle shifts of the contour of the shape, while making sure to place geometry along the bevels.

Last but not least Continue to create new groups and

isolating mesh islands as you approach the many pieces located in the neck and shoulders. You should use the Add/Split tool to flesh out these due to the need for precision, given their small size with bevels. You should also be ensuring that your shells are intersecting and leaving no gaps.

Wrap it up Upon completion of all the pieces, be sure to check your work to ensure a gap-free end result. Turn off the visibility of the Root in the VoxTree palette, leaving only Retopo shells visible to check work and make the necessary tweaks. Next we’ll apply more symmetry, as the current symmetry is virtual. Under the Commands section of the Retopo tools, hit the Symmetry button, with the virtual Symmetry still on. Also, be sure that the visibility of the asymmetrical hair strands group is off prior to applying Symmetry. Last, open the Retopology Menu and export the results.

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Tutorial files: ěũTutorial screenshots

Concept This bust was created in Mudbox 2014 from a very simple base mesh (a modified default Basic Head). By exploring Mudbox 2014’s various retopology tools, we can produce impressive meshes with animation-ready edge flow.

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Artist info

Easy-to-follow guides take you from concept to the final render

Craig Barr Personal portfolio site www.area.autodesk.com/ blogs/craig Country Canada Software used Mudbox and mental ray for Maya Expertise Modelling, sculpting and texturing

Retopologise in Mudbox Old Man Bust 2013 This simple bust of an elderly man was created to illustrate the benefits of Mudbox’s new options Craig Barr is a technical specialist for Autodesk – Modelling and Animation

Automatic functions

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utodesk Mudbox 2014 provides a powerful and easy-to-use retopology solution. It’s now easier than ever to create freely without worrying about the underlying topology or structure of the geometry. You simply sculpt, refine and generate a new retopologised mesh. Here we’ll examine how easy it is to create a mesh retopology with Mudbox. This workflow enables a very fast and simple automatic retopology solution, as well as a curve-guided approach to define a specific edge flow for a mesh. In this specific example we’ll look at the different options available to produce the mesh retopology of a bust; in this case that of an elderly man. 1

Begin with the default settings

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Select your mesh

In Mudbox the mesh that’s currently active is considered selected for most operations you can complete. You can activate a mesh by simply Ctrl/ right-clicking over it. Inversely, you can Ctrl/ right-click and pick Select Model (or swipe down in the Marking menu) to select the current model. You’ll find this is a useful operation if you’re working with several objects at once in the viewport.

Use the Marking menus in the Mudbox viewport to greatly speed up your workflow

2 The default settings for automatic retopology 3 A new model output with automatic retopology

(Left: top subdivision Level 5; right: base Level 0)

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Set a Target Base Face Count Go to

Mesh>Retopologize>New Operation. By default Use Curves… is selected, but this will be ignored if no curves are associated with the mesh. Set a desired Target Base Face Count (in this example we’re using the default of 3,000) and hit Retopologize. The process is quite fast and, depending on the density and complexity of the mesh (as well as the hardware you’re using), you should have your result within a few minutes.

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Examine the results By default, the Sculpted Detail option will be toggled on and transferred to this new mesh. The result is a quadrangulated mesh with subdivision all the way up to the top level, so step down to Level 0 with the Page Down key. You can also hit the W key to see the wireframe of the base retopologised mesh. 3

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Manual adjustments Achieve unique deformation for animation

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Use Mudbox’s Create Curve

As part of a computed retopology operation, you can draw curves as constraints to make a mesh more ideal for deformation. Go to the Curve Tools tray and select the Create Curve tool. Draw on the original mesh to see how the curvature follows the surface and becomes live (these curves will follow additional sculpting).

Repairing bad geometry When using data from scans or other sources, the geometry can be low quality. Mixed topology and unwanted holes and artefacts are a few issues that are traditionally time-consuming to clean up. Luckily Mudbox provides simple tools to deal with bad geometry. Under the Mesh menu you’ll find a very efficient solution. Reduce Mesh provides clean mesh reduction, while preserving the volume of the mesh accurately. Hit the Delete key to remove faces and pick the Patch tool to fill unwanted holes. Other tools such as Fair Selection (which relaxes a selection based on surrounding faces) and Tighten Selection (which flattens the faces) are quick ways of keeping the mesh clean. 4

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Capture more details The Create Curve brush’s Size value matches the density

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create smooth curves

of the curve. For finite details (wrinkles, scales and so on), use a very small, tight brush. Hard Constraint curves will follow details at the highest level of subdivision. Holding down Cmd/Ctrl triggers the Erase Curve tool, which will cut and create new curve segments, while Shift accesses the Smooth Curve tool. This is useful for cleaning up unwanted jiggles or the overall curvature.

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6 The orange highlight previews

the attached curves

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Mirroring and attaching curves Now turn Mirroring on to create symmetrical

curves. This is useful for outlining the eyes as well as joining large features like the eye mask and mouth. Start drawing at the top of the large features and, as you near the line of symmetry, an orange line will appear previewing a connection. Simply let go and the curves will join. Now Ctrl/right-click on the curve and select Close Curve.

Use a small brush size to capture more finite surface detail for guided retopology

Make a layout strategy to help define the edge flow

8 Use Curve Loops to define a

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centre line and the neck. Go to View Cube>Right and select Orthographic to freely place the neck curve

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Review your progress Define the loops within the eye sockets with Mirroring on, then add a simple mask around the eyes and a generic loop to help define the nasolabial fold. Form a shape around the mouth, draw a curve around the outer edge of the face and use the orange preview line for connecting. Also define lines at the corners of the mouth and eyes to establish edges for deformation.

Use curves to create edges If you have a specific area where you require defined edges, you can easily draw and define a curve as a Hard Constraint. Curves do not need to be closed loops and can sit anywhere on the mesh. Intersecting other curves is a great idea for areas like the corners of the mouth or eyes, as it can help define good edge flow for animation. Placing open curves as Hard Constraints with a very small brush is an excellent way to define features such as wrinkles.

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Apply Curve Loops Now select Curve Loops In the Curve Tools tray. This tool is very handy for creating curves that flow across the surface with a single click. They can be applied by snapping to axes planes, or by slicing freely across the surface. You can use these curves to define straight edges, lines of symmetry or for the quick creation of repeated Curve Loops.


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Refine the flow

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Finish with constraints and further details

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Control the topology flow Now go to Mesh>

Retopologize and select New Operation. Mudbox enables us to define curves as topology constraints: Hard Constraints (red curves) are used to define areas where specific edges are required, while Soft Constraints (orange) are used for suggesting the direction of the edge flow. By default the curves will appear as orange Soft Constraints, but in the viewport you can Ctrl/right-click on one to define its Constraint type. Ctrl/right-clicking on a curve also enables all curves on the mesh to be defined as a Constraint type (select Make All…) or to be excluded from the operation completely (select Do Not Use). For this example, we’re defining most curves as Hard Constraints.

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Reso r time 1,800 lution: x 2,21 6

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Target Base Face Count Now we can set the

target resolution of the new mesh. Mudbox can output very low base meshes, so feel free to explore different Face Counts. The program can also handle very dense meshes, so there’s no need to reduce beforehand. For the guided retopology output of this bust, we’re using a Target Base Face Count of 5,000.

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Tweak Face Uniformity By default Mudbox retopology will output a mesh with uniform quads. Adjusting the Face Uniformity slider enables you to influence how much the face size will vary across the generated mesh. The more the slider is adjusted towards Optimized (or 0), the more accurate the reproduction of the shape of the output mesh, but with non-uniform faces. This is especially useful for models that have plenty of finite detail, like wrinkles, warts, spikes, scales and so on.

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Transfer the details The checkboxes at the bottom of the dialog box specify details that can be transferred from the original sculpted mesh to the newly generated mesh. By default, Sculpted Detail is toggled on. This setting will subdivide the new mesh to the top level of subdivision in order to preserve sculpted detail. Turning this toggle off will only generate the base mesh. The Sculpt Layers option from the original mesh can also be toggled. Turning on Paint Layers will transfer all of these per-channel to the new mesh. The new mesh will be prepared as PTEX and the textures converted accordingly. Other options to consider include: Posing Information – to bring all stored poses over; Freezing – to bring over areas defined as Frozen for additional sculpt adjustments; and Curves, which is very useful for painting and sculpting on the new mesh.

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and Soft Constraints for guided retopology 10 Mudbox can output very low

or dense meshes based on the Target Base Face Count 11 Mesh retopology output with

uniform faces 12 Mudbox retopology also

allows for the transfer of specific data curves as guides

Mudbox is a powerful and easy way to paint on ultra-high-res and detailed meshes, with or without UVs. Impressively, if you sculpt up a mesh without any UVs, you can take advantage of UV-free painting with PTEX. The great thing about this workflow is that all of your paint is accurately transferred to your newly created retopo-mesh. It’s always easier to lay out UVs on a lower resolution mesh. So, feel free to sculpt and paint to your heart’s content and worry about UVs later. Moving paint layers to a UV version of your mesh is as simple as a couple of clicks in the Extract Texture Maps window.

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9 Curves are defined as Hard

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Powerful 3D painting

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Final retopology When editing in Mudbox, the original mesh is not affected and an entirely new model is created. The new model is displayed for examination once the operation is completed. Under the Object List tab, you will find all operations saved for further adjustment and use. As the operation is fast and your operation settings are stored, you can adjust, remove or add more curves to the mesh, change constraint types and run a retopology operation again with different settings. The Target Base Face Count and Constraint settings will provide the biggest difference in retopology results. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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Tips

Tricks

Fixes

Tutorial files: ěũũ.3'ũ3'#ũ16ũ-"ũ3'#ũ/(-3#"ũ (*(-%ũ,."#+

Sculptris

Paint in Sculptris How can I use Sculptris to paint a character model?

N

ot yet fully developed, but still full of magic, Sculptris’ Paint mode follows in the footsteps of its glorious Sculpting section. Here we’ll take a brief look at the very basic features you’ll want to use. Remember that Sculptris is still primarily a 3D sketching tool and as such the Paint mode mainly sticks to the essential functions. Case in point, the three brush modes: Paint (D), Bump (B) and Flatten Bump (F). While the program does have a kind of smoothing/blur mode that acts equally for Paint or Bump modes by holding down Shift, it’s best to use this carefully, as UV tiles may cause trouble. You can adjust how the brush acts via the Options panel. The fourth button you’ll find in the Brush section of the interface is the Fill (F) feature.

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3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

Even Sculptris’ Color Picker is stunningly rudimentary, where you can pick the hue and brightness on a colour wheel, while a slider adjusts the saturation. I’m not particularly thrilled about this feature, but it does the job for our purposes here. Holding down C enables you to pick a colour from your already painted sculpture. This also goes for Alpha values should you complete any material blending, which is where Sculptris’ power kicks in once again. Another highly useful aspect of Sculptris is its ability to combine colour- and bump-painting via the Options panel, as well as its use of Alpha masks, which I’ll cover last. Supplied with this issue you’ll find the medieval soldier bust that we’ll be using to guide you through the painting potential of Sculptris.

1


Fixes

Tricks

Tips

3

2

01

Head into Paint mode As soon

as you hit Paint on the interface, the pictured dialogue box pops up. 99.9% of the time it’s best to immediately crank the Resolution slider up to 2,048. Tight Mapping often seems like a risky business, as it can lead to some problems on the UV map, potentially scattering it into smaller pieces. Tight Mapping also instigates a much longer process, which is reason enough to go for another option.

02

Fill it up Once in Paint mode, the

sculpture will be unpainted, so pick a skin tone – bearing in mind this example is quite cartoony – and hit F to fill the whole model. This sculpture has three individual geometries: head, eyes and helmet. Hide the head and eyes by holding down H and clicking on them. Now pick a colour for the helmet and fill it. Cmd/Ctrl+H will reveal everything again, but keep the helmet and head hidden for now, so you’re free to fill in the eyes.

03

Time to paint Now it’s time to use the Paint Brush (B), so pick a colour for the hair and apply your chosen tone. The Brush settings work exactly like the sculpting brushes. In Paint mode we can also make good use of masks. In the Options panel you can set the Brush Spacing to 5%, which only matters while the Airbrush mode is off. It is advisable to keep Surface Angle Falloff off at this point.

05

Use some material magic

The two little dots around the material icon let you step through the material slots, so go to the second and pick a metallic material. The Edit feature enables you to paint on that. Go over all the rivets on the helmet with it, then go to the third slot and pick a glossy translucent material to paint on the eyes. Also faintly apply this to all the reddish areas on the skin. 4

Give it some puff

06

Alphas and bumps Pick a Brush Alpha with Stippled Noise, then in the Options panel set Brush Spacing to around 90% and toggle on Combine Color and Bump. Select your chosen hair tone and start adding stubble. You can hit X and pick a colour for the Inverse brush to add pores.

Hiding geometry doesn’t entirely protect it from getting some artefacts of whatever you apply to adjacent areas or fill actions, so you may have to clean up a little afterwards. I would suggest only filling during the very early stages when corrections are easy. Masking is more reliable in this regard, but it’s somewhat sensitive to crashing.

5

6

04

Apply more details Having applied the base coat, we can start to bring in some details. To flush the skin a little, pick a skin tone and tweak it towards red with some more saturation. Lowering the strength of the brush helps to carefully redden the nose, cheeks, chin, ears and around the eyelids. Painting the iris with some imagined lighting is fun and you can finish by detailing the rivets on the helmet. 3D Art & Design Tips, Tricks & Fixes

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tri Spe al ci of al fe r

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