Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Face Work

I'm making good progress on my thesis this week!  I've been meaning to make a new video for the vlog, but every time I start, I feel like I could do better, and I delete the thing.  I'll get another one up soon.

This entry gets pretty technical, so it may be more for fellow modelers.  But hey, I think it's interesting.  If you don't get what I'm talking about, just read the first paragraph of each number, and you'll get the gist of this.

Here's what I've worked on over the last few days.

1. I improved the blend shapes for Creed's head.  Blend shapes allow an animator to morph an object.  In this case, they're to give expressions to Creed's face.  In the last video, I showed the blend shapes for the six major facial expressions: joy, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, and surprise.  I knew they needed some work, but it was when I had my weekly meeting with the instructor for my Group Study class, Chad Josewski, that he helped me nail down what needed to be fixed.

Now, I thought I would need to redo all the expressions from scratch.  To create a blend shape, you make a copy of the object you're going to morph.  You can shape that object as much as you want to get it into the new shape.  However, you can't add any new geometry to it.  If you add new polygons, edge loops, or whatever, it won't work properly with the original shape.  What I needed to do was smooth out the main mesh, which quadruples the number of polygons, then bring it into zBrush to create the expressions.  I was glad to learn various techniques for making the expressions in Maya, but knew that I could do them more intuitively in zBrush.

I figured that if I smoothed the main heads and the expressions, all that adding of geometry would make them not work together.  That's why I figured I would have to start from scratch.  Fortunately, I was wrong!  The smoothed versions worked together just fine.

So, I was able to simply smooth all six heads, and bring the expressions into zBrush to improve them.  I'm pretty happy with them now, though always open to my instructors' critiques, and making more improvements.

2. I improved the texturing of Creed's head!  It's higher resolution now, meaning it has more realistic detail.

I still need to create bump, epidural, and specular maps, but that shouldn't take long, now that I have a good color map.  I'll probably get those polished up today.

Time permitting, I'll make another vlog showing this work.

For the rest of the week, I have more blend shapes to do for head sculpture, and a lot of detailing to do on the full body Creed and Anna Lynn models.

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