Thursday, 3 May 2012

Maya Character Assignment - Character Poses

After pushing my computer to its limit doing high quality rendering I finally gathered a collection of still renders of my characters in various poses. Here they are:

The characters look at one another quizzically.
The adult plant observes the young plant closely.
The adult plant becomes disinterested in the young plant and looks away. The young plant looks down sadly.
The young plant approaches the adult plant in an attempt to develop a friendship.

The interaction ends on good terms as both the adult plant and young plant look out the window together.

Maya Character Assignment - Environment Stills

Here are a few stills of the kitchen environment, rendered and exported using the mental ray engine in Maya's rendering settings.

Perspective shot of one side of the room.
Kettle and knife holder.
Tiger Lily and Daisy in their environment.
The rather shiny fruit bowl.
I was going to add more lights to this side of the environment but I quite like the dark effect.
Perspective shot of the other side of the room.
The room in its entirety.

Maya Character Assignment - Modelling and Texturing

To create the kitchen interior I used lots of simple polygon cubes and extruded their faces to get the cupboard effect. I found that this extrusion method worked successfully for the fridge, cupboards, sink and microwave.

The sink and neighboring cupboards.
The oven, oven fan, drawers and toaster.

I shaded and textured the various objects in the room using Maya's in-built shading system Hypershade. I used the mia_material preset to create a realistic glass effect for objects such as the wine glass and wine bottles. I gave the worktop surfaces a blinn texture with some reflexivity to really give the sense of a kitchen environment.

The upper cupboards contain various kitchen objects and have a glass coating.
An example of some of the shades and textures I used for the various objects in the scene.

I struggled a little with UV mapping so shaped the kitchen tiles to the wall planes as simply as I could, I will be going over UV mapping in the 'Learning Autodesk Maya 2012' book as I need to practice the technique.

The characters sitting comfortably in their environment.

As you can see from the print screen above, the plant characters were imported into the environment and appear to fit in really well. I had to do some scaling of the flowers and windowsill in order to fit them in appropriately, however, I'm really happy with how this has kept to the original storyboard idea. I was not sure how to give the illusion that a garden was outside of the window so I just assigned a garden scenery file to the texture of a polygon plane so hopefully that won't be too unrealistic in the final rendered images.

The toaster rendered in mental ray. The low resolution renders helped me see any errors and visualise how the scene will look in the end.
Teacups created from a CV curve.
The knives were just extruded and manipulated polygon cubes.

The teacups and wine glasses were created using the CV curve tool and scaled appropriately. I enjoyed creating the unusual shape of the knife holder and I did this by inserting additional edges and deleting faces on a polygon cube.

Wire Frame Structures

The wire frame of the final environment scene.

The wire frame of the characters.

Maya Character Assignment - Storyboard & Concept Art

For our Maya assignment we have been asked to design, model and rig a character with appeal. I was originally going to create a candlestick holder but I decided against this as I felt I would not be able to give it the appropriate appeal. I decided to create two plants as my final idea, one larger than the other to represent adulthood and childhood and have these plants interact together in a suited environment.

The Story

The story will be centered on the developing friendship between the adult plant and the baby plant. The baby plant will seek attention much like any typical infant and the adult plant will be disinterested and not interact with the young plant. I felt that if my plants were well modeled in Maya it would be easy to get this interaction and feeling across to the audience.


I gained inspiration to design these characters from the flower characters in Alice In Wonderland as shown below.

I love the life given to the flowers in Disney's Alice In Wonderland.

Despite the fact as part of the brief we are not to use physical faces, I feel that with the appropriate deformers the plants will be able to portray their individual characters. I also gained inspiration from Pixar's short animation of their infamous lamps which interact with one another in a simple environment and show both appeal and character without any form of face.

Pixar's lamps are inspirational, known characters in the animated world.

The Environment

I decided to model a kitchen environment as a lot of plant pots are placed on windowsills and worktops within the kitchen in reality. I did some research into some source images in preparation for modelling this environment and chose to use the below design as my final idea, with a few of my own ideas implemented too. I really liked the white theme in this interior and felt that the reflective objects such as the fridge, oven and microwave would be objects I could create effectively in the 3D program.

Storyboard Design

The above storyboard I cleaned up in Photoshop shows a few of the poses that I hope my characters will use successfully. When I render out the individual images towards the end of the project I will probably add some more poses if I feel it is needed.

Character Concept Art

The daisy will be the younger plant as they are naturally quite small in size. I want to keep the structure as simple as possible for easy rigging and manipulation in Maya. The petals will most likely be flattened polygons which will be duplicated around the sphere center. The stalk will be a cylindrical tube which will be connected to the daisy center. By adding a bend deformer to the character and a rotation controller I will hopefully be able to move the character into its unique poses.

The adult plant will be a Tiger Lily. When I saw the structure of this plant with its unique bends and curls I realised it would be quite a challenge to recreate in Maya. However, I hope to create this character as best as I can and I feel it will make a nice contrast both in character, colour and size next to the simple Daisy.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Maya Character Assignment - Setting Up Character Rigs

I am in the process of developing the environment and character rigs for the Maya assignment. I have created a number of controllers using the parenting hierarchy in order to move and manipulate the various segments of the plant characters.

The controllers beneath each character allow the rotation of the flowers within their pots - the controller is the parent of the whole flower. While the bend handle allows the tip of the flower to be manipulated while keeping the stalk in place - the flower is the parent of the handle so that the bend follows the rotation of the controller.

By using layers and low quality rendering I have been able to speed up my workflow.

I have developed the kitchen interior by adding textures and shading to the various objects within the scene. I will soon import the characters into this scene and place them on the furthest windowsill in order to begin posing them within their suited environment.

I have again been referring to Dariush Derakhshani's 'Learning Autodesk Maya 2012' book which is proving to be incredibly helpful. I have almost finished modelling the above locomotive as part of one of the tutorials which has taught me a lot about the various tools, specifically how to add more edges to objects.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Maya Character Assignment - Development

As part of our 'Objects Looking For a Character' brief, we have been asked to model, texture and rig an everyday object to give it individual character. I have been working into my character designs which are an adult and baby plant pot and I feel I have made progress with where my work is going thanks to my in-lesson tutorials and self teaching from the aforementioned 'Introducing Autodesk Maya' book.

I decided to do the baby plant pot as a small Daisy and the adult plant pot as a Tiger Lily plant which I am still in the process of developing.

Plant Pot characters in production.
Kitchen interior design.
I have also been modelling an environment for the characters to be placed in. I have decided to put them in a kitchen interior, perhaps sitting on the windowsill which is out-looking the exterior. I am happy with my progress so far with the environment design.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Maya Practice

I've been spending the last couple of days working through the tutorials in Dariush Derakhshani's 'Introducing Autodesk Maya 2012' book to refresh some of my Maya skills and to help me in my 3D assignment. I'm finding the book incredibly helpful and I will hopefully be spending more time on my Maya work with more confidence soon.

A printscreen of the first tutorial where a basic solar system was created with planets and moons which moved around the sun in orbit. This helped me learn some more of the Maya animation basics and refreshed my memory of some of the common tools.

A printscreen of the decorative box from the second tutorial in the book. Creating this helped me discover some tools that I've not used before and allowed me to practice and develop my modelling skills.