Imaging and Data Visualisation Reflection

Towards the start of this module, I found it very interesting and was excited to learn and expand new skills on MAYA. Starting with simple modelling of the Buoys from the front of university, I thought this was simple and easy to grasp as it was something we had already learnt. It was great to finally start paying more attention to texturing and colour in MAYA and applying this tour models.

As the classes went on, the topic became more difficult and I felt that I was struggling to keep up with the new ways of working that we were being introduced to. However, it helped a lot that we were in groups with the floating city project as it was a chance to pick up habits and new techniques from other classmates. Speaking to other people and groups in the class also helped with this.

I found it quite hard to try and focus on what was going on from watching and listening to tutorials on the projector but a lot easier when it was demonstrated on mac computer in class to a smaller group of 3-4 people. I found that it was being talked about promptly, this didn’t allow me time to focus on what was being demonstrated and taking notes at the same time. Because MAYA is so complex, it’s hard to keep up with the tools being used.

I feel like my skills need to be developed and improved further to rise to the level where other classmates are at; some of them have incredible knowledge of MAYA. I recognise that this comes with a lot of practice and working with the programme to gain a greater understanding of the project needing complete and the tools that are appropriate for the task.


Head Retopology

When bringing the head model from Mudbox to MAYA, I had a couple of problems. One of them was that because the model was so high poly, it was really hard to work with MAYA as it was running so slowly. The second problem was that MAYA crashed on me and I couldn’t use it for a couple of days. It came up that it was not responding and wouldn’t let me force quit the application for 2 days meaning I couldn’t even shut down my laptop.

I had my notes on retopology from the start of second semester but I also wanted to watch a tutorial on it as it had been a while since I’d seen the class tutorial. Jess told me about a short video on YouTube that went over the basics of retopology and I watched it which was very helpful.

Alongside my notes this helped me remember exactly how to do it. However, when I tried it didn’t seem like it was working quite the way I seen in class and on the tutorial.

As you can see from these images some of the lines went under the top layer of the model and made the topology look patchy. I wasn’t sure if this was due to creating the polygons too big so I tried to go smaller around the more detailed ares. However, when I started this, it didn’t look as low poly as I would’ve thought. I’m not sure whether this is normal or not. I had the surface of the model live so that the topology snapped to the surface.

Another thing I realised was that a lot of my polygons were very uneven looking and looked pretty messy which was probably due to my own fault as I don’t think I placed the points in the right place. If I had have taken my time and made the points more accurate this might have helped the shape of some of these polygons.

I used the relax tool a couple of times as I realised that this made the polygons neater and may have been relaxing them to the surface of the model, I wasn’t completely sure. When I went back on to finish off the retopology, I got it almost complete before MAYA crashed. It took ages to do but I did realise the more polygons I created the slower MAYA was getting which made it take longer than it usually would on a better laptop or computer. I may have got it completely finished if I used the Mac computers in uni.

Head Modelling

I took photographs of Jess to model for the head topology assignment. I took photos of front, left, right and front right angles to give me a better view of her facial features and shape of her head. When modelling I stuck to the basics; I did not model any hairs on the face or head. Maybe with more experimentation I would be able to do this.

To complete the assignment, I used the programme Mudbox 2017, switching between the different tools.

I started with the basic head model that was given on Mudbox and began to construct the nose. Using the sculpt tool, I stretched out the sides of the nostrils to copy the shape of Jess’. Pressing ctrl allowed me to invert the tool, which is how I created the nostrils and other indents in the skin before using the smooth tool to give a more natural skin-like finish. I found this was quite simple at the start until I started with the other features. I also experimented with the grab, pinch and flatten tools as well as the knife tool but mainly focused on the others.

I found that I completed the face features in order from easy to difficult; nose, mouth, eyes. By the time I got round to the ears, I had got the hang of the tools and the hotkeys which made it less complex.

I thought when sculpting the lips, the small space in between the top and bottom lips was the hardest to create. I couldn’t get the tool size small enough to create the small line so I had to smooth over the rough sculpt and use the grab tool to move sections of the lips and bring them together to give it a realistic look. Same goes for the eyes. It was difficult to get the crevice between the eyeball and eyelids small enough to look natural.

If I was to re-do this head model, I would spend more time familiarising myself with the tools so that I would be able to expand the use of the tools, and other settings, while modelling rather than sticking to 5/6.

Below are images of the model and the sculpture from the same 4 angles.

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Used this tutorial to help me get the hang of some of the tools in Mudbox before using it myself:

Character Design – 02


Quick digital turn around of how I imagine the character to look.

She is able to grow vines when needs be to assist her in climbing and moving around as she is only a foot tall. Snacking on small insects she’ll need this ability to be able to catch her food. Another characteristic which will help her with this task is the flower on the top of her head. It can close and open when desired and also with its own intuition. It can close when she needs to be smaller but also if an insect lands on the flower; it will close and trap the insect. she’s got 2 arms and 2 legs like a human which allows her to move around. Small and petite to be capable of squeezing or passing through small openings. The flower will also close to accommodate for this.

Since she is made purely from vines, she is able to bend and squash and also unravel and stretch up if needs be.

Character Design – 01

When we first got this project, I decided immediately that I wanted to do something relating to nature. I have always loved looking at the different colour and shapes of plants and flowers so I was interested in going down that line. From A Level work, I remembered that there was some flowers that looked like little people which I used to love painting. There are probably many flowers that resemble humans or animals but the one that stood out the most to me was the Orchid and its different forms. It’s hard to imagine so I’ll leave some examples below! Naked Man Orchid, Angel Orchid & Monkey Orchid.

Since I wanted to do something small and petite and the first character that I thought of for inspiration was Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. I was thinking more along the lines of baby Groot from the end of the first film and then he was also in the GoTG2. I was intrigued from his small form and characteristics such as the vines that he is able to grow on cue. I realise that he is supposed to be a tree, however, if I was to redesign him I would make him more flower like and more colourful – just my preference!

I liked him so I started to sketch out a few different designs for my own character. I wanted it to have vines like Groot’s body but with a flower at the top of its head to make it more colourful and more to my style.

FullSizeRender 14
Character Design Sketches/Paintings

Next was coming up with a name for my character. If I could’ve called it Groot I would because it’s cute…although I didn’t. Gerbera belongs to the daisy family and the name is as simple as that. The colours I chose because they contrast and stand out. I wanted to keep it natural looking so went for a green body and red because its the opposite of green and the colours compliment each other.

I also had a look at some facial expressions with the eyes and mouth. I love Groot’s big eyes and simple mouth so thats what I went for.


Naked Man OrchidAngel OrchidMonkey OrchidFlower Name/MeaningBaby Groot Images

Final Animation

After finishing the animation we presented it to the class and the steps that we took in order to complete it from the pitch right through to the final thing. So here is our final animation:


We got some feedback to add an extra scene of the apple rolling right up to the worm…because why not? Dramatises it and it’s a cartoon so why should it not happen. We added this, re-rendered everything again in Arnold at HD_1080 split up over our 4 MacBooks. Using FurryBall, it’s clear to see that this made the image appear quite dark.

Final animation for hand-in:

Animating and Rendering!

Once we had the scene set in place, all that was left to do was import the files and animate then render each scene. Rachael and I met and discussed each scene, what was happening, the camera placement and how many frames per scene in correlation to the animatic. Considering that the animation was to be 24 frames per second, we used this as a guideline for the animation. We had a slight leeway with the timing as our animatic wasn’t as long as the animation should be (25 seconds max.) This was helpful as we needed some extra frames to make the animations look more natural. We divided up the scenes and split them between us to animate. There wasn’t actually a massive amount of animating to be done thankfully so we knew we’d manage.

We created a check list of each scene and then whether it had been animated or rendered so we knew what we had completed and what still had to be completed.

The scenes from the right hand side were the ones that I had to complete by animating and rendering them. I’ll insert some screen play blasts to show the un-rendered movement of each scene.

Scene 2: A close up of the apple, with the only moving camera shot. (24 frames)

Scene 4: Worm leaving its hole in the ground. (took turns as this was probably the hardest to animate)

Scene 7: Apple flying through the sky. (25 frames)

Scene 8: Apple hitting the tree. (19 frames)

Scene 9: Apple falling on the ground. (25 frames)

Scene 10: Apples falling from the tree. (24 frames)

I simply animated these scenes by using the controls on the worm and then moving the apple and also slightly moving the tree when the apple hits. Using the key frame button in the animation menu was the how I created movement.

We looked at some inspiration before animating the worm’s movements. We needed to see the different ways that worms can move and the best way was to look at other animated shorts about worms.

A Worm’s TaleRobbyEarly Hatchling Gets The Worm

When it came to rendering, we used Arnold first time round. We split the rendering across 4 of our MacBooks and a Mac Computer in uni….it takes forever! We changed the render settings:

  • Image format – tif.
  • Frame/Animation – NAME.#
  • Start/End Frame – (frames that need rendered)
  • Renderable Camera – Cam. 1/2/3 etc.
  • Width – 1600
  • Height – 900
  • Image Size – HD_720 (first), HD_1080 (final)
  • Camera (AA) – 6 (higher = takes longer)
  • and; Render Sequence once this was all set

After rendering everything with Arnold, Rachael found a renderer called FurryBall. We used this as we rendered with Arnold in HD_720, so when using FurryBall it came out much better quality for the final animation. Also, Arnold took about 6 times longer to render the frames. For the final hand in on 12th May, we plan to use Arnold to render our frames in HD_1080.