Sunday, June 29, 2008

Car Door Detailed

I went over to Jake's house to do my work with him and his team. Apparently, he needed a software from me to do his work and he asked me to stay there and do my work with him.

So while Jake and his team members were discussing their project, I flared up my Maya and started working on the door more. It just keeps getting worse. The edge flow got a little messed up, and there were more dents on the car. I had to think of a way to create the curves and edges of the car door. Thus I extruded a few faces and modified the verts to get them into place.

I have a feeling the headlights need a bit of work too. I plan to achieve a photorealistic car at the end of the day. That's my goal. With proper HDRI studio set up lighting and reflective car paint. I plan to use Mental Ray to render this car and hopefully I can composite it on a live action plate. Anyway, here is the actual reference and my model side by side.

I'm pretty excited to start on the interior modeling of the car. All the tiny details. I think it would really add to the photorealism. Oh well, it's my first major personal project. Really excited over the whole thing =)

Next block starting tomorrow, so won't have much time to do my car. But would try to do as much as I can. Hopefully, I don't give it up and abandon it.

BMW Car Door Almost Complete

End of block, so it's obviously slack time. Been feeling lazy a lot for the past few days, but I decided to have a bit of discipline and not ignore on the BMW car modeling project that I started on. I have this bad habit. Once I start on something major, I would start feeling lazy and after a while, I tend to ignore it and not complete it. Which explains my previous works in progress, now abandoned.

So anyway, during class, I was bored so I opened up my Maya and started modeling the door. This was an easy process. All I had to do was create a plane with a bit of subdivision and line up the points accordingly. I had to be careful with the edges and thus the edge flow had to match that of the car's - meaning, the edge flow had to follow the contours of the car. One thing I noticed about this car is that the edges are pretty complex, especially at the door.

Notice how the door curves towards the bottom? I realised that minor details like these differentiates this Roadster from other BMW models. So anyway, I continued with my modeling process. Being my first time at modeling a car, I did not know whether to connect it to the front part of the car or to leave it as a separate model. I decided to connect. If need be, I could always separate it from the model later on. Now this was the most tedious part. The edge flow of the front part was very different from the edge flow of the door. So I had to find ways to get the edges together properly.

These are the screenshots of the door. The edge flow looks pretty messed up, and my management of vertices seems really bad because its starting to look like dented metal. I should be fixing that soon. I plan on concentrating on the edges of the door at the bottom and the top and how they would seamlessly connect to the front part of the car.

Will continue to update with more screenshots next time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

School Work - Project Pitching

I've made no progress with my car so far as I had been really busy with school work.

Basically we were supposed to pitch a story to our lecturers and imagine them to be our clients. So animatics and storyboards had to be done, together with the publicity elements such as moodboards, posters, etc.

So I was incharge of all the technical aspect, a VFX supervisor more likely if I may. I took on the job of creating the moodboards. Basically it's a scene in my school again, just that it's from a different angle. Here is the reference picture I took.

Again, I had to make it look scary and eerie with night lighting. So as usual, I jumped into Maya and began the process of modeling. This wasn't much of a difficult task. Just some placing of models, extruding them and analyzing them through the shot camera. I love architectural modeling and I was getting pretty used to the workflow and techniques. Special thanks to Digital Tutors for that. I finished the model in roughly about an hour or hour and a half. Then I moved onto adding the textures. I knew I was going to use mental ray to render the final image. So I decided to use raytrace reflections, refractions and shadows. Simple blinn materials applied to everything except the floor and the walls. For the walls, I used a lambert and added a little bit of noise so that it doesn't look flat. Nothing is perfect in this world. For the floor, I used fractal as a bump map and added grid lines to it to emphasize the tiling. The entire set is low poly, except for the ceiling lights, which are pretty high res. This is what the set looks like.

And this is what the scene looks like from the shot cam.

Now was the hardest and the most tedious part of the entire process - lighting and rendering. Night lighting is not easy, especially if it had to look a little spooky. I tried a few lighting set-ups and failed horribly. These are some of the renders I took when I was still experimenting with the lighting.

After playing around with the lighting, I finally came to my final render from Maya, using global illumination and final gather. This is what the final render from Maya looks like.

Now was the time for post-processing. I brought this image and the rest of the previous test renders into After Effects and did a set extension by filling in the space. I also color corrected the image to give it more of a night feeling.

Not forgetting that this was a moodboard, we had to add our two characters inside. 3D character modeling and rigging it to pose it is another tedious process. Thus, my team decided to use Photoshop to paint the characters in the scene. My friend, Germaine Phoo Hui Jun did a pretty good job for this. She used a tablet and painted in the two characters.

The image was almost complete. Just the final touch up was left. I brought back this image in After Effects and did a few minor touch ups like adding mist to the scene, glows to the ceiling lights and slight color correction. This is what the final image for the moodboard looks like.

I was quite happy with this final product. This is the first time my modeling scale was at this high a level. I have never built a proper set in 3D before, and this would be my first. A lot of problems along the way, especially in lighting, but when I look back at it at the end of the day, I feel good that I overcame everything and managed to produce the final results.

A few things were still left to do. For example the poster. For this, all the four of us worked on it.

My friend, Wendy Chan Yan Jun, painted the headless ghost in checkered shirt using Photoshop. Another friend of mine, Gary Goh, did the title font. Lastly, Germaine and I created the image below, which is actually the moodboard. I composited all the elements, which were made separately, and made it into this poster.

Also, I had to do the DVD cover as part of the publicity elements for the project pitch. I took roughly two and a half hours to do it. Done in Photoshop.

Credit: Germaine painted the hand pressing the lift button using Photoshop. [Bottom left hand corner of the DVD cover]

Looking back, I realised that I learnt a lot of technical skills and time management. I got more used to Photoshop now, and the Maya modeling techniques and what to expect after the rendering and things like that.

Pretty good learning experience (=

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My First Car Model - BMW Z4 Roadster E85 - WIP

I decided to practice and work on my modeling skills and I had always wanted to model an automobile. Thus I decided to jump right into it. I chose BMW because it's a very personal car to me - it's been my favourite since I watched my first James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies. The design of the car always fascinated me.

I did a lot of research and took as many reference pics as possible of the car. Here is what I plan to create:

BMW Z4 Roadster E85

Personally, I think the design looks pretty cool to me. I also got the blue prints of this car. Once I had my research and reference all ready by my side, I jumped right into Maya, made my own custom workspace, laid out the blueprints and started the modeling process. I worked for approximately five to six hours before I came up with the look below:

The model looks as if the front of the car is dented, probably because I meddled too much with the vertices. I should be fixing it pretty soon, once I get the time from my school work.

More updates when I progress (=

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Previous Works - 2D Digital Artworks

These are few of the stuff that I did previously using Photoshop and Illustrator. I'll try to go in sequence if I can remember the chronology.

This was probably the first 2D digital artwork that I ever worked on. It was part of my school assignment. We were given a simple MTV logo and were told to create it in our own styles. I chose a very cool, windy and icy theme, hence the blue color and fog. Done entirely in Illustrator.

This is the first matte painting that I did using photoshop. It's meant to be a morning scene, probably around 7.30 am or 8. I wanted to give it a dreamy kind of look, thus I added a layer of thin mist and slight wind blowing. Done in Photoshop.

I wouldn't exactly call this one a painting, because it just turned out this way after experimenting. I decided to add the grass and the bush to give it a look of a very polluted and dirty lake scene. Done in Photoshop.

This particular matte painting, I was playing around with color and lighting and how they affected the environment. I did not have any particular mood in mind, but I wanted to create something greenish during sunset. Thus I gave my foreground mountain some detail and left the background mountain a little lain and barren as light was coming from behind the mountain. As usual, I added the fog and light rays and the familiar lens flare to give a dramatic mood to the scene. Done in Photoshop.

The above images are all created for the sake of experimentation. I was exploring Photoshop and wanted to create my very own desktop wallpaper using a set of different themes. The first one is obviously done in a Matrix style. The second is something random, with the focus in the centre. For the third one, I was inspired by the Saw movie poster and wanted to play with grungy and errie textures, thus I tried to create it in that way. The last one, I was playing around with painting fire thus I created that image. Again, I focused on color and light and how they affected the objects in the scene. All done in Photoshop.

That's it for now. More later (=

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

3D Moodboards - Eerie Lift Scene

I know I said that I would post up my previous work, but I thought I had to post this up first.

I had to do a moodboard for a panel I did for my storyboarding project. It was a lift scene and it had to be a night, scary and eerie scene. So what I did was I took a few photographs from my handphone camera for the sake of reference. I was going to re-create the entire scene in Maya from scratch, so I needed the details for the model and the textures.

So based on the reference photographs, I began modeling in Maya. The process was pretty simple. I made low poly models and then converted them to high res models. Once the model was done, I set up a camera for my scene and fixed it in place. From the start, I had decided to use mental ray for rendering since there is that reflecive surface of the lift. Thus, I went on to using the dgs material. But I wasn't very familiar with it, thus I stuck with the normal blinn materials. I made the texture maps in Photoshop and mapped them onto the respective objects in Maya.

The real challenge I faced in this mini project was lighting and rendering. I had to give it a scary look at night. Night lighting was a little bit tricky and I had never done it before in a 3D package. For this scene, I used a directional light as my keylight and about 3 point lights for secondary lighting. I used final gathering and global illumination and rendered it.

The images above are my 3D rendered stills. Rendering time was pretty long for each frame - approximately 5 minutes per still. But I was quite happy with the results. However, it still had to look scary and it hadn't achieved that look. I brought the rendered still into After Effects and edited it till I felt happy with the results. Here's the before and after look.


After - Final Image

I added a blurred background in the black space, did some color correction to individual parts of the scene and added foreground ground mist to give a dramatic effect. Finally, for overall correction, I gave a greyish-blue color grade to the entire still. I was done and happy. My friend Jake told me that it's the best work I've done so far. Well, what can I say? I was at the top of the world :D

I'd like to give a big thanks to Jake and Greg for giving me constant motivation to do this short project and for giving me feedback to improve and get it done to this level (=

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Previous Works in Progress - Now Abandoned =(

I've done quite a few works previously, which I abandoned halfway. Mainly because I was just starting out and experimenting. Anyway, here goes...

One thing about me - I just love trains, be it any kind. I have this toy which I used for reference to create a similar locomotive.

Model Reference

When I modeled this loco, I was just starting out new into the modeling process. I was new to the theory of low poly modeling, careful edge flow, surface normals, NURBS versus Sub-D versus Polygon, etc. As you can see, the edge flow is pretty screwed up and thus I could not move on further to texture it.

After studying a bit of the modeling theory, I decided to try out a human face. As you can see below, it's nothing great. Just the front part of the face, and after that, I decided to give up (=

The video below shows my first ever human rig, in fact, my very first proper rig. Though it isn't perfect and a 100% idio-proof, I'm still proud of the fact that it still works in most of the ways. Not quite good with weight painting, so did not bind it =( Enjoy!

I'll try to find more old stuff from my backups to put it up here in the future posts.