This week I rigged the model with a set of bones in 3DS Max which would allow for easier manipulation so that the model could be animated. I also added a HI Solver on the limbs which makes them move more realistically. I added dummy helper to assist when moving different body parts and I added 3 omni directional lights to improve the final render. I kept the animation relatively short as its main purpose was just to demonstrate the rigging. Here is a video of the animated model, by right-clicking and selecting loop you can see that the animation is looped, this is because it is an idle animation that could be active for a long time and the animation jumping at certain intervals would look quite bad.
And here are some screenshots of the rigged model:
The first part of this process was for me to create the bones, this was relatively simple and I had no issue with it, I named all of the bones so that it would be easier to assign the skin modifier, I learnt to do this because of my experimentation with rigging a few weeks back. After creating the bones I applied skin modifiers to certain areas of the body, this would ensure that when the bones moved the body would also move. After assigning the bones I added History Independent Inverse Kinematics Solvers (HI IK Solvers) to the limbs, these allow me to easily manipulate the limbs in a realistic way when animating. Following this I added Dummy Helpers, I linked key bones to these Helpers which allowed me to easily alter large areas of the body. After setting up the rig I wanted to animate the character to demonstrate it, I decide that an animation which included it looking left and right would work well, I added key frames for individual aspects of the body and used the curve editor to make the animations smoother and to loop the animations.
The animations I settled on were a simple, rapid up and down of the upper half of the character which makes them far less static and looks like they have pumping mechanisms inside powering them. I made the torso and head turn slightly out of sync with each other when looking left and right which makes the movement look more realistic. I added motion to the back limb and the arms, ensuring that the arms were not synchronised with each other. I also animated the claws open and close, I made the hand claws snap more quickly and out of time with each other.
Overall I didn’t have much trouble with the rigging and animating, aside from a few minor problems the process went smoothly. I am happy with the final outcome of the animation as I believe the number of separate animations and the gaps in timing between animations work well, for instance when the robot turns the head moves slightly out of time with the rest of it to make it appear more like it is looking in a direction rather than just turning.
This is what I wrote in my action plan for this week:
“Finalise rigging and apply animations to demonstrate the rigging. Add any final improvements.”
I have kept up with my action plan well as I rigged my model and animated it as I had planned to do. I made some very minor changes to textures but otherwise I had no final improvements to do as I kept on top of my workload well.
This link contains the final 3DS Max file and the individual texture maps used in my project.
This is the document which contains the links to my blog posts which meet different assessment criteria for Unit 8:
Here I will be evaluating my final major project as a whole, I will focusing on the pre-production, production and post-production stages individually and discuss how well I thought I did for aspects of each. I will also reflect on my project and write about what I believe didn’t go well and what I could do to improve my future work based on this.
- What was the purpose of the project? What did you hope to learn?
The purpose of my project was to gain experience in several areas. One of these areas is planning, preparing and conducting a project over the course of several weeks, to do this I would need to manage my time and have an action plan for the weeks, this action plan can be found in my proposal document. The action plan describes what I aim to do each week, for the recent weeks I compared my progress against the action plan to see how I was performing when compared to my plan. Another purpose of this was for me to practice techniques involved in the project, this includes researching, creating concept art, prototyping models, developing models with a tri-count limit, creating and applying textures, rigging my model and applying an animation. These techniques were focused around 3DS Max and Photoshop, by doing this project I have gained more proficiency with these programs.
- What was the theme for the project?
The project was a 3D model of a futuristic, robotic enemy character designed for younger audiences, due to this the character needed to convey threat whilst being suitable for people of a young age.
- How have you developed your ideas?
Initially the project was focused around robotic enemies from the Ratchet and Clank series, after receiving feedback regarding my project proposal I undertook a large amount of character research and analysed real life creatures in order to develop a unique character design whilst understanding the reasoning behind my design choices. My final character design is very different from my initial ideas due to this research.
- How much reference material did you find (primary and secondary research)? Do you think you could have done more? If so, explain what you think you could have done.
I believe I did a large amount of secondary research, I spent multiple weeks dedicated to researching the principles of character design and analysing creatures and characters based on my research to further my understanding of character design. In terms of primary research I focused on prototyping and experimentation, I lacked primary research due to the abstract nature of my project as it is a weaponised robot from a Science-Fiction setting. Looking back I could have done more tangential primary research, for example I could have visited locations with technology such as machinery or real-world robotics and tried to apply these to my project.
- Which developers, art movements, designers, media companies/campaigns and industry examples have you looked at to assist and inspire you? Why?
Initially my main inspirations were the artistic lead for the game Bastion; Jen Zee whose unique and impactful art style inspired me, and the game series Ratchet and Clank which is filled to the brim with robotic enemies which still manage to each look full of personality and completely unique from one another.
- Explain how your production board presentation went. What feedback did you receive and how did this help you focus your production?
My production board presentation was extremely valuable to me as it highlighted the fact that I needed to work on character research. Following this feedback I focused heavily on researching character design principles and applied this research to examples from the real world and media. By doing this I gained a greater understanding of what affects how an appearence is interpreted by the viewer such as shape, colour and resemblance to real-world threats.
- How did your work change through the project?
After my project proposal I received feedback suggesting that I conduct character research, this lead to me research character design principles for multiple weeks which I may have otherwise dedicated to the production stage. I believe this alteration was completely necessary though as my character would have been very basic and too similar to my initial inspirations, I also wouldn’t have understood why the character looked a certain way afterwards, thanks to this research I now have a much better understanding of character design. When practicing with texture development I decided that it could serve as a very useful learning experience if I only used textures which I had created myself rather than using any textures from outside sources. This meant that the texturing didn’t end up as realistic as it potentially could have but I did learn a lot about creating textures and detailing these textures in Photoshop.
- Which technical skills, methods and techniques did you use?
My primary focus in terms of technical skills was the use of 3DS Max and Photoshop, I gained a lot of experience employing a variety of techniques in each. I also created concept artwork which was drawn on paper and based upon my research. Throughout the project I gained experience researching and applying my research.
- What were the key areas of development in this project? Use your daily reflections to help you with this
The main areas of development for my project were related to texturing and animating. After creating and applying the basic textures to my character I realised that it looked quite bland, I solved this by creating a screwhead image to apply to key locations along the limbs, I also used vector masks to add wear and tear to the edges of some pieces of metal. Looking back I believe I could have developed this further by adding more detailing to the character through textures. I also had issues with the first animations, the character’s movements looked far too artificial, I fixed this issue by desynchronising each individual animation using the curve editor.
- What experiments and exploration did you do? How did it affect your project’s development? Were there any significant changes?
My main area of experimentation was texturing, by doing this I decided upon the types of texture I wanted for my final piece, I decided not to use any types of glow as I couldn’t get it to work to a degree where I was happy with it. Through this experimentation I also decided that I would not use any textures that I had not created myself so that I could gain more experience with creating textures rather than just applying textures. In terms of exploration I did a large amount of character design research in which I explored designs of creatures and characters from media and real-life. This research greatly affected the development of the character which initially would have been similar to my first inspirations.
- Is the final product appropriate for the intended platform/purpose?
The final product is appropriate for the platform, I previously researched tri counts of characters in games to gain insight into what kind of tri count limit would be reasonable for my character. I looked particularly at the tri count of basic enemies in games to see what would be appropriate, I came to the conclusion that most basic enemies in recent games don’t exceed 10,000 tris, due to this I set my tri limit at 10,000. After my model was finished it came to a tri count of approximately 4,000, this is a little on the low side and I could have made more use of my budget, but due to the angular nature of the character design it did not require as large of a budget as most characters, this is because most characters would be organic which means they would be composed of smoother, rounder shapes which dramatically increase the tri count. Regarding purpose I believe the final model conveys threat well which makes it suitable for its purpose as an enemy of the player. It also does not appear inappropriate for the young target audience because I did not add any detailing such as blood to the character or make the character look too extreme.
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses in your final product.
In terms of strengths I believe the amount of character research lead to a unique design which looks suitable for its purpose as a hostile security robot. I also believe I did well with the rigging of the character, they were easy to animate and the solvers and dummy helpers made the process far simpler. I feel that my modelling was also a strength of the product, nothing on the model clips inappropriately, even when moving, the connections between different parts of the limbs were made in a way where the movement made sense and the character looks very similar to the prototype and the concept art. In terms of weaknesses I believe my texturing could still do with some work, for this project I aimed to create all of the textures myself without downloading any free textures as a way to improve my texturing, due to this the end result of my textures were not as high quality as they could have been. I decided to create my own textures due to feedback I received suggesting that if I believed texturing to be my weak point I should try to practice more with it, I believe this was a very useful learning experience which has increase my ability with Photoshop. I also believe that my low tri count was a small weakness, though this may be mostly due to my research into tri counts, I should have looked more closely at the characters with low tri counts to see which would be closest to my intended character. Due to the organic shapes of many characters they have larger tri counts, this means that I should have looked at more robotic and artificial designs which would have been a closer comparison to my character. Finally I believe that my concept artwork could use some improvements, my artistic skills are limited, but I believe I could have compensated for this by trying to create more artwork or to create the same pieces from multiple angles due to the 3 dimensional nature of the project.
- Find a similar product – place it next to your own – what comparisons/difference can you identify?
When comparing my character to these combat robots from Ratchet and Clank the main area in which my character is lacking is detailed textures, the textures for this character are layered and detailed and give a strong illusion that the surfaces have depth, my model has too many areas which are just a single material with no detailing. This was partly resolved by adding screwheads, scratches and faded paint, though I should have done this to a larger extent and in different ways to increase the quality of my texturing. Due to the detailed texturing on their robot they can give the illusion of the robot’s being complexly mechanical, they can also save on tris due to the textures giving the illusion of depth. These characters also give a better sense of personality, this may be due to the posing of the characters, in this image the characters look very alive, where as my character looks quite static, this may also be due to the fact that my character is posed ready for animation rather than being designed for a static image.
- Review your proposal – what changed, what developments did you make, did you manage to complete everything you set out to?
I believe I stayed very close to my proposal, the character has been animated to look around to demonstrate my rigging, the project did not exceed my self-imposed tri count limit, the character’s design was suitable for a target audience centred around the age of 12 and I used 3 types of texture map for my project. For the pre-production stage I conducted character design research and I created concept artwork. These were the main areas of focus I had set out in my proposal and I feel that I fulfilled all of these with my project. There were a few deviations from my proposal, but these changes were all minor enough that they did not change the course of my project.
- Are you happy with your final piece? Are there any elements you like in particular?
I am happy with my final piece, my favourite aspect is the amount of moving parts the character has such as all of the claws and the way the segments of the limbs move due to the IK Solvers. I also like the end design of the character which came from my extensive character design research and research on existing characters and creatures.
- Is there anything you would change? Why?
The main thing I would change for my character would be the textures, I would add more details to the areas which are currently plain areas of a single colour. I could add layers of plating which give the illusion of depth and suggest that the character has complex mechanisms within.
- Has your experience during this project changed your career goals?
This experience has not changed my career goals, though it has helped me notice that I work better with the more mechanical aspects such as creating models to a set scale or rigging the character as opposed to creating textures.
Combat bot. Available: http://ratchet.wikia.com/wiki/Combat_Bots. Last accessed 15/06/16.