Friday, October 1, 2010

What have I been working on? Could use every pipeline specialist's opinions...

Well, aside from trying to throw in a few images into our monthly challenges, I've been working on a side project the whole time, mostly for leisure and research (which is mostly the reason why I haven't been consistent with the challenges).  Here are some WIP's for a full character I have been working on, from concept to rigged, a longer project that I've been using as a test for new things I learn at work, things I read, etc.

I've always had a thing for stylized / propaganda / pin-up / fantasy art, and this character is sort of a culmination of it (yes, she is a fairy-warrior-fantasy-babe you'd probably find in a comic book for teen boys... with the recent talk about Rob Liefeld, I'm almost hesitant to show this, but hey, stylized anatomy to a certain extent can be rather interesting within its own genre).  Anyway, here are some of the aspects of it:

  1. Sculpted the low-res mesh in Zbrush, but used the displacement and normal maps as a reference / template for the color map.  The color image you see are in fact what you see in the viewport within Maya, no rendering or high-quality mode.  I wanted to develop a certain look that emulates that old pin-up feel.
  2. Planning to use hi-res details from Zbrush for armor.  Probably will attempt a composite render to create a unique feel to the armor.  Looking at references for semi-translucent insect carapaces for the armor.
  3. I have several other characters styled in this fashion so I kept in mind aspects of modularity.  Hair can be swapped, clothes / armor are modeled separately, etc
  4. Tried a lot of rigging techniques / approaches that I didn't know about before.  I did a blended dual quaterion weighting for the whole body and made some blendshapes for the mouth and eyes - planning to focus a lot more on these subtle deformation-related techniques to get a compelling character at the animation phase.
All in all, this is a character I like to keep working on gradually to discover new approaches and try out different things; she's sort of a "trainer character" so to speak.  Regardless, I'd love to hear everyone's feedback about this, the overall outfit is still in its rudimentary phases but I could use some advice from surfacing and rigging guys as well.  Thanks for checking it out.


  1. It's good to know your looking at it from a pipeline perspective, I'm sure your experience in producing your vision will help us all. Unfortunately, I can't offer any knowledge on the pipeline aspect although your rationale for making things modular with an interchangeable system sounds practical and would help expedite production. I like the design of the character, I don't particularly find anything to dislike save for if this was to be fantasy of the mystical type and not the night club type, you certainly need to get the armour and other clothing accouterments in there for the narrative, I know you know this and that's your intention but this is inviting nudges from Cole. Geo looks good and deforms pretty good this would be a great template. Maybe having a base figure you could project different character vector/displacement etc. is the trick like you say.

  2. Richard, theres nothing wrong with stylized anatomy as long as it still works. Rob Liefeld never studied anatomy so his stuff was way wrong. Which is why we tease him.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with her anatomy since it is stylized. It all still works to me. That being said....

    To really make any usable feed back I would love to see some concept art of her armor and stuff, final look, etc. Its kind of hard to give feed back on something if you dont really have an idea of where it is going. So, I will try anyhow, The wing textures look cool, and the skin and hair are working so far.

    I agree with Brian, she has a night club feel to her. If that is her armor around her I would bulk it up a bit and give it a few harder edges, not much but enough to denote that it is armor. If you want it to be form fitting some connection plates and bolts would go along way to showing it is armor. Otherwise keep putting up the WIPS and if you really want some feed back and I will always try to help out.

    Otherwise I think its a good start. I know it gets frustrating as an artist when people comment not knowing where you are going with it. So dont listen to a word I say if Im way off base of where you are going.

    Good job so far though, looking forward to seeing more progress.

  3. Thanks guys for the comments, I will keep posting more of my progress as I work on the armor. And yeah, one of the neat things I discovered about working through the whole pipeline is that you need to find workarounds to sort of "cheat" certain aspects so you don't have to redo work. I've gone through instances where something is "set in stone" so to speak, preventing me from easily going back a step in the pipe to fix it.

    Heh, and I'm surprised Cole hasn't made any juvenile remarks about this character yet, giggity.