Apr 29, 2011

The Works

While I may not seem the huge sports fan (and overall I'm not), certain competitions can really reel me in. Among those are the Olympics and the NHL playoffs. This year the Stanley Cup tournament is turning into quite nail biter as my current favourite the Vancouver Cauncks battle their way to close victories.

While watching the game I'm trying to multi task on 3D stuff. I'm having limited success. This is both in terms of my work level, and the product I'm producing.

My biggest frustration is the Parasaurolophus. While I'm happy with is proportions and build (really a carry over of the Corythosaur... though Parasaurolophus surprisingly has a WAY longer neck than other Lambeosaurines when I started looking at references...) the colouration of this beast is driving me up the wall.

In fact trying to get "realistic" looking shaders and colour schemes as a whole is starting to try my patience. While I'm sampling my colour palette from photographs of various natural things I have in my library (man I love being a shutter bug), getting them into agreeable patterns is not happening for me so far. The Corythosaur organically fell into place, where everything else (probably because I'm thinking about it too much) is just not happening.

To shake things up, I swapped over to fixing my Ceratopsians again, starting with Styracosaurus. Using references from Ryan's reclassification of Styraco I'm quite happy with the results.

I have to say I'm quite surprised with how flat Centrosaurine frills are compared to how curled most people tend to draw them. I might have to do a quite AE post about this...

So overall this guy is getting to be in prime shape for Mark 7 conversion (once the puter store gets in my RAM upgrade).

Again look how flat that frill is. I've had a certified Ceratopsian expert (doing his PHD on them) check it, and he agrees with it. So cool.

I think I'm off to a strong start with this Gorgosaurus shader, but it is not finished. There is debate about the brown bands along the back.

Any thoughts on any or all of these.

Apr 19, 2011

First round of Mark 7

So took my first pass at real vertex (in particular displacement) modelling. Fixed up the shoulder blade area to satisfaction. An unforeseen side effect of displacement has been a substantially increase in memory usage with the model. Which I get while I'm displacing, but this effect continues once I reintegrate the changes into the Vertex mesh. The way I understand it once I use the memory to go through with reintegration (man does it slow down the computer) this should make the changes permanent, and the computer shouldn't have to track them beyond the mesh (which isn't too memory costly in proportion to displacement). In good news I have some money from my B-Day and a 1 year inspection coming up for my computer. I'm going to double my RAM to try and combat my recent memory issues with this and environments. I also played with the skeleton rigging to see how far I can push it. This is NOT the shoulder improved model. Anyways the battle goes on.

Apr 18, 2011

Posing for success

Alright so today's toil all added up a few minutes ago when I played with my skeleton rig. Turns out I got a LOT done. Apart from the feet posture (which admittedly throw off the effect, but this was a 5 second play around with everything) I think it is getting there. Next steps include displacement modelling (veins and wrinkles), and trying to figure out UV map alignment.

Reinventing the Wheel errrr Corythosaur

So with an entire afternoon to progress on my Corythosaur what did I get done?

I just repainted it! Grrrrr...

Okay that is a lie. I actually put a lot of work into remodelling the leg for rigging and posing this guy. That than required a tweak to the leg shader, which got me thinking I should do something with the tail. Which of course lead too a shader chain reaction as I than needed more striping everywhere else. I also got around to fixing the crest's texture like I'd meant too. Very please with it.

Apr 17, 2011

Corythosaur best of my "current" abilities

Alright. So after a day of toiling on the Corythosaur (well technically evening, spent the day with R doing chores), I've got him to the best that my current strong 3Ding skills can conjure. While I feel he is looking pretty good, there is still a long way to go before perfection (and I plan on really pushing myself this time). Here he is compared to one of my anatomical references.

Yes, that IS a Gregory Paul I am using. My reasoning, unlike how Mr. Paul played it in his insane rants, is I have in fact paid the man for the use of his skeletals, and use them in any way I deem fit. I purchased 5 of his books solely to acquire his material as references, and last time I checked buying something is indeed a form of "compensation". If the idiot didn't want me looking at or using his skeletals than he shouldn't have bloody well been SELLING them to me in the first place!!!

So yes Mr. Paul I am referencing your skeletals, and if you don't like go F%$* yourself! I bought it from you for the price you put it out there for fair and square! Had I broken into your house and stolen them, or even gotten the books out of the library that would be one thing (assuming you can copyright a reference in the first place, you crazy @$$), but I owe these books. So I can do whatever I damn well please with them (so long as I'm not DIRECTLY profiting off your work, which anyone sane person can see I am not. My stuff other than being a Dinosaur isn't the same as your own).

Ah there that feels much better. Sorry about that aside. I needed to stick on to the man. No disrespect to my fellow ART Evolved member Zach for his "No Gregory Paul skeletals were referenced for the production this illustration" meme, but I just can't accept giving into the bullying of a man who I paid for the reference material he was selling to me...

So you'll notice right away I customized Mr. Paul's skeletals as per my usual procedure. I feel it meets the general proportions and parameters of a Corythosaur quite nicely. Especially given how much variation and diversity has been found within the genius.
Here he is from all the key angles. Feedback on general proportions and anatomy would be appreciated.

Areas I know need work are the face around the eye, the shoulder to arm attachment, and the tips of the beak.

Here he is from a few more angled points of view.

As per some of Matt van Rooijen's suggestions I've revisited the eyeball itself. I'm not sure if I like it this emphasised or not, but believe it or not that colour is directly inspired by an elephant's.
There has been a number of criticisms about my scaling approach. I will probably try to test a more realistic version of scales tomorrow (which really just require the scales to be smaller), but one of my interested palaeontologists was specifically after my "non-realistic style". So I'm going to leave this particular shader in the running, till I get feedback from the intended recipient.

I have one quick question for those out there in the know.

While many artists in modern times (and Charles Knight) seem to restore Hadrosaurs with dorsal ornamentation such as a fin of soft tissue or knob like projections is there actual evidence for this? Looking through available photographs of Edmontosaur mummies and Dinosaur Park Duckbills with skin impressions, I have not found a single reliable example of anything coming off the back. Am I missing something in the Brachylophosaur mummies (which I haven't found any useful references for) or is there a difference between Lambeosaurines and Hadrosaurines? As far as I can tell Corythosaurus would have had nothing coming off its back.

Apr 16, 2011

The Beginning of Mark 7 Modelling!

After years of threatening to take up Vertex modelling in Carrara, I've finally summed up the courage to attack this whole new frontier of of the program. Why am I afraid? The modelling type I'm very familiar with, Spline editing, occupies a mere 35 pages of the Carrara manual, Vertex takes nearly 100 pages! I've spent many years practising with splines, to the point I think I can safely say I'm an expert. So the idea of tackling something I basically suck at, is not thrilling. However it is necessary at this stage of my artistic development.

While I'm far off mastering overall Vertexing, after a day of tinkering I've got a solid grasp on Displacement Modelling (a subset of overall Vertex modelling in Carrara). It is basically a means of painting on or off model surface. While it won't solve all my fine detail needs, it is a perfect way to add veins and flaps.

This is not a final version of of my Corythosaur. However expect something very similar in the final version.

Apr 13, 2011

Hadrosaur Revamp

So a quick question to other artists (especially 3Ders). How long is it before you view any piece or model you've created as obsolete and embarrassing? For me it seems to be at max 1 year before my stuff look ridiculous. I guess that is complementary in that I'm constantly improving, but kind of sad in that I'll never be my best. My latest case study... My Mark 3 Corythosaur. I can barely bring myself to post this. Now granted even when I constructed it in 2009 I wasn't fond of it. Now it is just pathetic... It was way overdue for a make over.
Here is the new Mark 5 version. I'm so far quite proud of this one actual.

The moral of the story is one should take the time and sit down to apply their best effort every year or so.

Any feedback?

Apr 11, 2011

What I do with my weekends

So I took a "me day" here this Friday-Saturday to get away from it all. It has been an intense week of events (some good, many bad), and I just needed to escape it all. ` Now what I consider a relaxing day is probably bizarre and weird to many out there. I went on a trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum to go and do research on the many things I have been reading about lately. This was neither relaxing nor calming really, but one can not do either of those things if they want to be productive in the brief window of 7 hours I had to engage in this task (especially when trying to catch up on 75 million years worth of information :P). I am extremely grateful to all the scientists and staff at the museum who not only tolerated my visit, but indulged me for a good chunk of their day in some cases. ` The huge bit of news is that I was able to pitch my art, and a few of the curators were willing to have me try and come up with some illustrations for some of their upcoming projects. While this is just way too cool, this was all tentative interest on their part. I can't really blame them either. ` Taking the curators through what amounts to my portfolio, it became embarrassingly clear I have not sat down in the past couple years (2010-2011) to produce any definitive pieces showcasing my current 3D abilities! I have many great pieces of my best as of 2 years ago, but I've come a long way since even then! ` Fortunately I have be cataloguing my progress on modern projects, which shows I can quickly adapt and improve anything that they might wish me to fix. So I need to sit down and really focus on my art and cranking out some top notch pieces in the next few months. So I figure the upcoming Hadrosaur gallery for ART Evolved would be a good place to start my current efforts. So expect something special from me with this Corythosaurus at the end of the month! Sadly with this new initiative there has to be some restructuring of my creative efforts. So I'm making Traumador's effective hiatus officially, and warning Traum fans it could be a while before I return to his adventures. Though this is less than ideal (trust me, I feel very sad at having to make this move), it has been a little while in coming. It feels like I've hit a brick wall on making it any further with Traum (in terms of readership that alone anything else). I am not saying this is the end of him. Just acknowledging it could be while until I can get back to his storyline. Now on with 2011, the year I will make my palaeo-art go legit!

Portfolio Help

As I discovered this week when trying to show many of the palaeontologists at the Tyrrell Museum my portfolio, I should look into cleaning this up to best show my capabilities while not showing off less professional pieces. I'm looking for your help. Can you tell which of the follow should or more to the point not be in my portfolio. Just use the criteria if you were making a prehistoric critters book or press release, which of these would you use or consider good enough to be published. To encourage you to be as honest (and brutal as you want) I'm giving you my own break down of these pieces. 1. I think I should include. While the water environment is sparse, otherwise this piece does everything I wanted in communicating the size of the Mosasaur compared to a human. 2. I'm not sure. I love the composition, lighting the models are not by best. What would your take on this be

3. No. The Dinosaur models are not high enough quality, especially in the leg area.

4. Yes. My water scenes are my best, though in this case I'm not fond of the head to neck connection in this piece.

5. Yes. Again water good. Though the Penguins aren't the best thing ever.

6. No.

The colours are just a bit too much here.

7. No, but I feel this is my weakest water piece. I could be persuaded otherwise.

8. Yes, as this is one of my better photo composites, plus these guys are some of my strongest current Dinosaur models.

9. Yes as this is the best virtual environment I've ever built. However I'm not fond of the models leg to body connection.

10. No.

These models are not my best, and the photo composite is nothing to write home about.

11. Yes.

This is in my opinion of my two best pieces ever.

12. Yes, another very very strong water piece.
13. Yes.

This would be the other of the two I consider my best. Sadly the Mosasaur is no longer current. However I still think this piece is incredibly strong (minus the Pleisosaurs head to neck connection).

14. Yes. This is a very strong photo composite. Though the arm is not fantastic.

15. Yes. This is my strongest current Dinosaur piece.

Though if you could please let me know your thoughts, especially of those that you think don't help show my actual capabilities as an artist. I will not take personal hurt from critiques and tear downs of these pieces.

Apr 6, 2011

Palaeo-Environment Part 3

Progress and regression. Been working away on my Prehistoric flood plain. I'd say we're starting to look pretty good...

My only problem is that this many more elements in my scene is overwhelming my machine. Go figure, trying to render a hundred thousand things would be too much for a civilian computer.

So I might be looking to upgrade my RAM this weekend when I take my puter into be serviced.

Apr 4, 2011

Bald Cypress (Palaeo-Environment Project)

Okay today's product is new plant component. So after doing some background homework, I've compiled a pretty good list of generic Cretaceous Alberta plants (as in genus and type). The trick now is to track down references of their extent relatives to create rough proxies to represent their prehistoric ancestors. ` Next week I'm hoping to hit the Tyrrell, and while there try to track down or take photos of the fossil remains of any of them I can (especially the leaves). In the meantime creating some of these proxies is more than enough to currently keep me occupied. Today I decided to tackle a bigger tree, to make my floodplain a little more impressive. So I took on the Bald Cypress today, a giant swamp tree. Here is my reference of a modern Cypress on the left (Photo by unnamed photographer from here on Wikipedia) next to two of my CG versions on the right. ` While mine are not 100% the same as the real one, the rough likeness is good enough for me. There is no reason why (or way of knowing that) these trees have not undergone changes through millions of years. Besides if any of the experts I'm planning on showing this too/talk to about prehistoric Alberta have a qualms I can always revisit these and tweak them later.

Apr 3, 2011

Palaeo-Environment Project Part 2

So got some more work done on my palaeo-environment. The latest conquest has been logs and sandbars. I think I've nails these suckers to a tee!

I'm thinking my forests trees need to be bigger however. Also time for leaves on the ground.