Apr 25, 2009

Bad Hair Day!!!

I predicted slight set backs earlier this morning. Which is all I wish I got, BUT no I of course have to get some HUGE ones instead!

So it turns out importing my haired Gorgon into my Permian Karoo rescales the fur. Resulting in, well this. Funny enough in a way this emulates my favourite Gorgon restoration from the old choose your own adventure Time Machine books (sadly my copy is back in Canada... so can't show your or look at it myself).

At the same time it looks ridiculous!

Going to have take a break and think about this.

Why couldn't things just going according to the goram plan!!!

The Gallery Looms

Well time is running out before the Synapsid gallery goes up on ART Evolved!

I don't think it matters when I try to schedule things, life has a tendency to get crazy around crunch time (in addition to the normal pressure of the crunch). My side job here NZ had a particularly stressful episode this week that nearly saw me quit it. Instead though I got promoted to supervisor out of the (nearly heated) debrief on said incident. Which is good news for me, all except for my creativity.

Meaning getting my Gorgonopsid ready for May. 1st has been like ACTUAL work!

This is the final version. I'm not totally pleased with him (but what's new). The combo of the Gorgon's natural face structure (I've found the ppl at Impossible Pictures made some creative tweaks to their CG models skulls for Walking with Monsters and Primeval to overcome Gorgon's built in adorablity) and my muppet like fuzz has made this guy more cute than apex predator.

The one silver lining of the fuzz is that if I ever have to make a "woolly" anything I know how to do it!

I don't have the time or inclination to rework him anymore (again I have no other application for this model afterwards), but I need to cover up his cute factor somehow.

My solution is atmosphere and setting. By obscuring everything in moody sunset lighting, the Gorgon should hopefully lose some of his cute.

For the moment behold the bedrock of Permian Karoo. This is just that though the baseline for the scene. I spent a good solid 5 hours fixing and making this landscape. At first a small lake in an otherwise desert like world seemed easy enough. Of course the road to hard work is paved with under-estimations.

I have added other details to this scene, but have purposely been hidden (more like a romulan cloaking device built into my 3D program) for this preview image.

The final piece should hopefully invoke the feeling of a shot from a nature documentary. It should be chalk full of nightfall behaviours of the Gorgons. Mind you, I did note the hope I'm pinning this on.

The set and the un-posed Gorgon are finished. Now I need to merge the two. Which might prove tricky... If past lessons are of any value!

Apr 20, 2009

Hairy Annoyance

My latest adventure in 3D isn't as new and exciting as it might sound... Hair the furry frontier...

Fur is simply a slight modification on feathers, and we all remember how much I "loved" those... but yet I can now do them for the most part (just with headaches everytime... which as luck would have it carries over to fur!)

So this is approaching the final version of my Gorgonopsid (he's getting a little more fur on the chin, and the back legs).

Anyone who knows a thing or two about them, could you let me know what you think? Is this passable or just an insult to our very fore forefathers?

I'm not totally happy with it. Which is tearing at me (fun fact about Craig, though he is in 90% of his life totally flexible and easy going, when it comes to his creative endeavours is a perfectionist and is NEVER happy with anything he does!). I don't want to present work of mine if its not up to the level as it were. Especially in my current effort to get some of my work published legitimately.

However as this is "just" for ART Evolved, and not a model I have a use for beyond that, I can't see a reason to pour hours and hours into pushing it beyond this point (especially since I'm also in the middle of trying to get the BIGGEST event in Traumador's history together right now... one that features my BEST work yet! Including a bleeding wounded Dinosaur!).

So any of the artists out there, what is your take on my current situation? Let this thing loose (of course posed and in an environment in a proper scene) or do I throw myself off my more legit artistic efforts to make sure this one is also a top notch product?

Apr 18, 2009


The thing I love about being done university (finally!) is I can enjoy reading again. Being a teacher has added an extra push to get me turning those pages once more. Afterall if I don't role model enjoying books to future readers, who will?

It's not like I wasn't reading before, mind you. I regularly read posts and articles off 40+ websites and blogs (making for at least 10 a day). At the same time they are very different mediums, books and the net, and it is nice to shake it up between the two.

However fiction just hasn't held much appeal for me lately. I think this has to do with the sting I suffered with Harry Potter (I liked the first 3 Potter books, but the 4th was utter rubbish and turned me right off the series, and it seems fiction books as a whole) and the constant jumping of the shark or cancellations of my favourite fictional TV shows, and now if I watch TV (not very often these days) it is mostly comedy or documentaries. So I've been reading nothing but non-fiction. Which has the bonus of me learning quite a bit.

This week's book was rather compelling, so I thought I'd plug it... as though it was non fiction mimiced the goodness of a fictional book:

That would be Peter Ward's Gorgon. I bought this book back when it first came out in 2004, but as it was in the middle of my uni days I put off reading it. In my recent book blitz I unburied it on my bookshelf and dug right in.

Man I was depriving myself, it was outstanding, and I could hardly put it down throughout the week! It was not what I expected at all!

I'd picked up Gorgon thinking it would discuss the Permian period and the Proto-mammal Synapsids that ruled that world. This is one of the areas my palaeo know-how that is not quite as strong, and I'd thought this book might help fix that. Sadly the book doesn't really get into the technical side of the topics Dr. Ward looks into.

Instead the book presents a personal narrative of his delving into the mystery of the Permian extinction not so much as a scientist but as a person (though these is still plenty of science along the way!). Which is what was so compelling, the story behind the science.

In this book you get the first hand account of what it is like doing field work, research in the lab, the squabbles and obstacles of the internal politics of museums and universities, and the challenges scientists contend with when dealing with the "real" world, all the stuff that doesn't make the newspapers or TV documentaries!
I loved the way Dr. Ward never presents himself as the hero, but simply a player in the story. He gives due credit to others, and often humbly downplays his own involvement (which towards the end of the book pays off in an exciting moment when he 'finally' has his 'moment').

The book is also as much about South Africa's transformation throughout the 1990's as it is about the fossils buried in its soil. Which having studied this eras politics and history in uni, was interesting to see how the massive social changes in the country had effects on its the museums and scientists.


Though the book was based on a true story, it still followed the structure of a first person narrative, and has given me cause to think about some fiction titles in my reading pile. We follow Dr. Ward and the South African Museum's field team on a journey to track down the elusive killer of 95% of all life 250 million years ago. The best part is they (along with dozens of researchers elsewhere in the world, which Dr. Ward gives the proper head nod to when it comes up in the book) in a classic mystery novel are able to track down through the clues it left behind, the most likely cause of the extinction. Giving the book a very satisfying conclusion.

Finishing off the book in the morning on my last day off during "Autumn" break (remember our seasons are opposite down here) I had inspiration and an afternoon off to build this. The start of my ART Evolved piece for May's upcoming Synapsid gallery.

It is not finished of course, but considering my the lack of good references and lack of experience making these sorts of animals, I feel it is a promising start.

My only problem with finishing it is what texture would a Proto-mammal reptile have? Scales, skin, fur, or something else entirely?

Apr 2, 2009

Feathers, sorted, but I STILL hate them!

Well after yet another evening (3 in a row now) of fighting with these stupid 3D feathers, I have finally emerged on top. At least more so then when I started. This is yet more proof against the short victorious war model in any case.

Not that I didn't have some major malfunctions along the way!!!

The price of increased model quality and accuracy is the loss of 3Ding simplicity. This what I look at when dealing with the Oviraptor model in my program. I'm hoping you catch the unwieldiness of the thing.

In addition to the (spline form) model parts that make up the Dinosaur there are now skeletal rig "bones" (in blue) and surface replicated feathers (in white) jamming up the works. Probably not obvious to a none Carrara user is the multitude of aspects of these (the replicator in particular) not plainly visible here, but that I still have to keep track of while using the model.

Oh well, after some reverse engineering of my highly successful Dromaeosaurid feather setup (that I somehow fluky stumbled upon without meaning to), I was able to get this guy to finally feather agreeably.

One down (pun intended!) and many more to go... Hopefully transplanting my Velociraptor's feathers will work as well for all upcoming feather recipients as this guy!

Apr 1, 2009

I HATE Feathers!!!

Well the 3D Dinosaur revolution goes on...

I hit my first big brickwall of the skeletal era. "Feather"ing a fully rigged model.

The technique I am using to "Feather" my Dinos is not called feathering. It is a process in Carrara called surface replication. What I am doing is taking one or more object (in this case feathers) and telling the computer to make up to 10 000 copies along the surface of another object (the body in the Dinosaur's case).

In theory it sounds great, and should make feathering doable (as opposed to manually placing all those feathers by myself). However it doesn't behave the way one would logically expect. For some reason the math or programming at its heart causes replicated object's pitch, yaw, and roll (known in 3Ding as X,Y, and Z) to all swap with each other, and in none intuitive manners. Coupled with a none existent means of manipulating replicators makes for a lot of hit and miss adjustments by me.

Putting feathers on my old style manual adjustment models was F@#&ing hard before going rig-atomic. The 3D skeletal rigs have simply amplified the problem!

This sample of my current efforts to feather my Oviraptor give you an idea of the problems I face. Apart from the legs (which are doing exactly what I want) this guy looks like he's stuck a claw in the toaster.

Leading to a new catch phrase for my creative anger. It may not be very imaginative nor difficult to figure out, but it applies none the same. "I HATE feathers!!!"