Apr 28, 2010

Into the Deep

You know for a very unemployed teacher, I still get up to a lot!

In good news I had a job interview this weekend! Its for a summer day camp gig, and I'm optimistic (I have worked 8 years worth of summer camps!). Immediately after that interview I attended Leonard Nimoy's "last" public appearance (so they claim anyways). Instead of waiting in the Olympic sized line ups to see Mr. Spock, I instead met the very very VERY nice William Stout (more on this encounter on ART Evolved soon!).

In bad news still no leads on teaching, that alone any interviews... It doesn't help that the local skool board requires a million references (those I have) AND a million reference letters! New Zealanders typically aren't into or wanting reference letters, so producing (and acquiring) these has proven a real barrier. Working on a solution today.

Anyways with that out of the way (this is supposed to be an art post... but since I haven't updated the blog in over a week, thought you might like a snap shot into where I'm at) now for the topic at hand!

Now I'll be the first to admit, this particular round of live blogging has been pretty sad. My life (and Lady R's) just hasn't been stable enough for me to sit down and dedicate the time to properly documenting the construction of my Ichthyosaur. Hopefully by the next gallery I'll be able to make a better go of it.

Anyways I've managed to not only rig my Shonisaurus, but pose a small pod of them. I'm onto the crucial step of lighting, which when you're underwater can be 80% of the piece's success.

I am aiming for something a little different than my usual pieces. Since most Ichthyosaurs are thought to have eaten cephelopods (aka squid, octopus, and several extinct tentacled relatives of theirs) I wanted a scene that matched the most likely time or place you'd see a fish lizard hunt.

As most modern cephelopods tend to operate in environments with little or no light, I envision my Shonisaurs having to either dive really deep or at night time to catch their calamari. As of such I wanted a very dark water background.

Here are the current variants I have (squid not included). I have combined them in thumbnail versions as sometimes this small format can be quite enlightening. When rendering I often can't zoom out. Rather I'm right up close. So shrinking these all to their web browswer thumbnail size helps me see what a stranger googling might see them as.

The differences are:

  • A. Has a minimalist lighting suit, aka 1 light source and thus very true to life)
  • B. Having an additional creature light. This light only illuminates the Ichthyosaurs (and squid when they are present). Thus keeping the nice dark watery abyss of the background.

  • C. Has a maximized lighting suit. In this case I've turned on the "light cone" (aka rays) of the second creature light which now brightens up the water background colour.

In thumbnail version I think C is the most effective. However it also looks exactly the same as my usual water scenes. Personally C is my least favourite (for this project), and I'd very much like to avoid it if I can.

Take a look at the bigger versions to see my thinking...

A. Here my Ichthyosaurs are mere silhouettes for the most part, against a ever slightly lighter background.

It is not the easiest piece to discern, but I like the mysterious quality it lends my subject matter. Shonisaurs have long baffled people through its sheer size (it was as big as a medium sized balleen whale!), its lack of teeth (how did it eat?), and being from so long ago.

At the same time I did put enough effort into the model, especially the anatomical proportions, I'd like people to be able to see that work.

So A is not my favourite configuration, but as you'll see not my least favourite either.

B. Here my Shonisaurs are caustically lite by water ripple highlights.

Frankly I feel this version is the best. I captures most of the mystery from above, while giving you a fleeting idea of what the big silhouettes vaguely look like. It also keeps my deep sea scene looking deep. Probably best of all the light shafts give this a slightly painted quality.

Its only flaw is that reduced in size it gets hard to tell what the piece is.

C. Differs from the other two, in that the lighter background makes the Shonisaurs stick out in crystal clarity.

While this might on face value be a good thing I didn't want yet another identical water piece to all the others I've done.

Though Shonisaurs C is set on a darker background then my Anomalocaris here, they aren't that drastically different either. Compare especially piece B to this, and you'll see what I mean.

So what are your thoughts, as I setup the squid for the final render.

Which of the three lighting suits should I use?

Apr 19, 2010

Leader of the Pack

Moving right along on the my revamp efforts...

This lovely lady got her Mark 5 upgrade, and some new feathers (there is a HUGE Traum event coming right after the Dinosaur Olympics... where those with feathers will be calling the shots)

As for the Dinosaur Olympics I promise to get cranking on those this week. Blame the terrible job economy for the delays though. Reworking textures is lovely brainless work after a day banging my head on the table. Writing fun and happy Traum posts is not really on the menu when I'm in a half dazed semi-depressed state all the time.

Apr 18, 2010

Reworking all over the place...

One person was wondering why I was suddenly reworking all my old models.

Well there is one main reason. All my old models are now rubbish!

However as a secondary motivation I'm getting ready to push Traumador again (like he was in the old days!)... I pseudo neglected him last year due to ART Evolved, and this year I want to reverse the priority scheme on the two.

As of such I'm putting some major revamp into his site. Many have noticed the new (and improved I hope) sidebar layout... I need to finish this. However Blogger's newly introduced Pages give me and excellent location for some new features I was going to do anyway. Many of the reworked models are for use here (keep in mind this is a special sneak preview I'm giving you, and this area of Traum is still heavily under construction!). If you keep your eyes open there is a few bits of new Traumador content!

Now any of the Dinosaurs I've been putting revamp work into will be making more appearances in Traum (most of them right after I wrap up the Olympics... okay start the damn things! I'd planned on doing them by now... stupid job hunting!).

So today we see an upgrade for...

Dip the Serendipiceratops. This is what her old Mark 2 model looked like.

Say hello to the Mark 5!

As Serendipiceratops is known from only a single Leptoceratops like femur, I modelled her around this with a pinch of Protoceratops to spice things up. The reason for the mix is simply because I like Protos more.

I appear to have misloaded this pic. I assure you, apart from the tail, the model matches the skeleton pretty good.

The lower jaw needed some major work (forgot to upload the pre picture... anyone really fused let me know in the comments, and I'll add it).

Despite Lady R not liking the change (she is rather fond of Dip), I think it brings this model up to among my best (accuracy wise anyways).
So with Dip newly upgraded onto the next in the near future.

Ichthyosaur Live Blogging 2

My live blogging sort of continues, but yet doesn't...

Due to a chaotic evening schedule I wasn't able to get posts up the way I'd planned.
First thing I did was plop my now "complete" Shonisaurus into his water environment.

Though the ocean setting he is in is among my best, I don't claim to have created it tonight. This is all lighting and settings from my previous ocean projects. I simply stuck him into them.

Next came shading him.

This is where his current shader is sitting at. I decided to go with something different from modern whales and sharks. Though light on the bottom and dark on top I went with a middle layer.
Not sure I entirely like it. Let me know your thoughts.

However due to the power of my previous ocean work he can be made to look awesome.

If I just wanted to phone it in, I could call it quits tonight. However I'm not sure I want to, as I've always wanted to do a proper tribute to Betsey Nicholls (the passed away discoverer of the giant Canadian Shonisaurus in BC).
So tune in tomorrow when I resume on this guy, and get into some attempts at serious detail modelling.

Ichthyosaur Live Blogging Begins... After a fashion

Man things have been way too busy!

Time to get to another project I need to finish before the end of the month...
So I claim this is live blogging, but in reality this is a bringing you up to speed post.

So last year I began on a Shonisaurus. This is where it got too. I thought it wasn't so great, but figured I might as well check to see if anything was salvageable (it is always easier to work with an existing model than having to start from scratch... you save a little bit of time).

Man was I floored to find out, despite getting lots wrong on the vertical proportions, overall my Shoni was spot on horizontally! The length of the tail, body, and head were nearly correct!!!

I just had to modify the heights of all of them...

First the head needed fixing.


Then the body proportions.

Finally he needed some flippers.
So there is where he stands now.
Let the real work begin...

Apr 15, 2010

Bird or Dinosaur?

Okay once you see my Deinonychus, the answer to that last question will be obvious. However I can dare to dream I might confuse someone right?

So seriously, do these feathers look good or not?

I spent a good deal of time REDOing the whole bloody lot!

Turns out I have to custom replicate both sides of a single object for the objects to look good on both sides (rather then on nice and one bad!).

I've also started to add the ornamental feathers around the trims. There is still some work to be done here. I need to add some way smaller base fluff. However these are the large plums as I see them (unless anyone has reasonable suggestions).

Oh and you might have notice I posed her... leading to the natural question how does it look with all its "gear" on?!?

I had the same wonder too. This is the answer.
Not looking to bad. Not quite what I was aiming for... however I'm starting to like the Wolf-like look. Besides this was a rough and tumble predator in my head.
I may very soon tackle a more proper prehistoric bird. For this I have a totally different game plan for the shading... First thing is first though. Finish this guy (and then my Ichthyosaur, and than the Dinosaur Olympics... what is a guy to do!).

Apr 10, 2010

Deinonychus has left the building...

The quest for feathers continues! (Well okay, the quest to improve feathers! I've had 3D feathers for a long time now...)

So I thought I'd proceed to the head, as I've never put feathers on there before.

Like always with 3D surface replicators (the tool I make 3D feathers, fur, and forests with) the first render was hilarious. That would be the Elvis Raptor above. If the model had been my Therizinosaur I'd say Logan from the X-Men, but Peter beat me to that already.

Comparing to the feathers I already had added to the body, here is what the sideburns looked like. Just that sideburns! Though if I ever wanted to make Dinosaur caricatures of people I now know how.

By altering the size of the face feathers a bit, and make them replicate thinner across the surface (as in fewer of them being copied) I got something a little more functional.

The face feathers still stick out a bit when compared to the whole, but at least they don't look like a hair do anymore.

A problem I'm encountering with feathers, just like shading, is that due to the much larger size and surface area of the body, things look different on it than on the small body parts...
After several years of this problem (through shading) I still have no clue how to solve this problem.

Of course having bad feather orientation doesn't help. As you can see on the arm and leg feathers when I first added them...
This is one thing about Carrara that drives me nuts. The surface replicator is ALMOST the perfect tool... Except it doesn't do anything the way it should!!!
Despite their orientation pointing towards the sky on my Dinosaur, the original feather object from which they were "replicated" is pointing diagonally towards the front of the scene and twisted 35 degrees differently?!? The correlation between your replicates and their master just doesn't make any sense at all. I could possibly work out the math on it, but that gets complicated when dealing with round angled objects...
I want to know why? (Granted I'm 2 editions behind on Carrara, and this was a prototype feature in my version... Hopefully the new edition [3 away from current program] coming out this year has better control on the replicators!)
I was able to correct the problem a bit after playing... Still the result isn't as good as I'd like.

However flipping the model to the other side I discovered that there is now also an issue with orientation on the other side. Meaning I'm going to have to feather this thing one side at a time!
What choice do I have though, in face of feathered theropods...
An electric shaver I say!

Tar and Feather the Damn Thing!

The Deinonychus got some major work in the early evening of last night, after I found out my whole teaching future will be determined next week! No stress or anything.

So immediately I worked on upgrading her texture to Mark 5 levels.

Though effective, I feel this is the first shader set that has been dulled by the Mark 5avication... My Deinonychus shader was my best of the Mark 2 era. I remember completing it in 2008 and being quite proud of it.

At the same time the Mark 5 version looks pretty awesome. Just duller. The Mark 2 had such vivid colours. Oh well, progress and all that...
Since I have pretty much mastered my current shading technique, I've decided to move on and re tackle feathers... Can't improve if I don't try new things (and having ADD I get bored with repetitive tasks easily).

I wanted to add a light hairy undercoat of feathers. My first attempt (as usually with surface replicators) was this quite amusing version. She stuck a fork in an electric socket.

Also note the hideous red display feathers. Even at this stage I hated the colouration of these. They will be fixed later on. At the time I was enraged at the hair not working.

I got the angle on the feathers correct, it was now just a matter of rescaling and positioning them right. An interesting aspect of Carrara (one I forget 50% of the time... like this time) is that when you resize a replicator object (aka the hair) it changes the object's "anchoring" point. In this case that anchor was about an additional half length off the feather. Meaning in this pic all the feathers a floating above the body...

One correction of those anchoring points and presto chango! The feathers are exactly where they should be (darn straight! errr angled). Next problem they looked terrible due to my shading. They were too close to the skin colour.

So a touch more brown in the texture map and we had an excellent undercoat of hair like down. Now if only we could do something about those terrible display feathers...

A there we go!
I'm quite happy with this start. She is already getting the reptilian wolf look I was aiming for. Next comes down to her arms, legs, and FACE! Also some major display feathers for the tail and arms...

Apr 9, 2010

You posed Raptors?!?

I returned to the Raptor today for a little bit.

Here is where I left it. Looking depressed, or caught in an extreme gravity well. I'm not sure?

I had my suspicions she was slightly off anatomically, but couldn't exactly compare her easily to any of the skeletals kicking around.
So I decided to correct this skeletal by Gregory Paul. It is a relatively easy procedure within photoshop. My only complaint about it is that this particular copy of the skeleton (I scanned from a book) seems to blur whenever I rotate piece of it. Oh well. I didn't need it to be too fancy.

My suspicions were correct, but not where I thought they'd be!
I was worried the arms weren't the right proportions, but it turns out apart from the first finger I was dead on! Pretty good considering I had just measured it from eye balling a book...

However last night I'd actually mucked up the proportions of the torso and neck. They were probably correct, but I'd thought they looked to short so I stretched them. Oops.

Readjusting them, and enlarging the skull we had a perfect match!

I might do a quick tutorial on ART Evolved about this technique, if people are interested. Not that it is that hard.

Apr 8, 2010

Unless they've learned how to be upgraded...

A riveting day of calling the Department of Education, and getting an answering machine. Calling again, and again the answering machine. Department, machine... The pattern continues. Yet the news keeps telling me they need teachers around here?!?

So after completing a couple odd jobs for my parents around the house, I decided to attack my Raptor model and bring it up to Mark 5. Which will probably be a reoccurring theme for a while...

Since the Deinonychus will be coming up for the first after Olympics Traumador post I decided to work on it. (My apologies to Traum's readership... this work related crap has me not in the mood to do more than one post every couple of days... I do really want to finish the Olympics sometime soon and get back on track).

This is what the old model looked like. Pretty good in its day, but that is long over.

Here is the beginning of the revamp. The model is finished, but not looking overly raptory due to the rod through body syndrome. I'm attempting this approach so that the model is poseable once rigged. Rigging caused a lot of bad distortion when they were pre-posed.

Simply because all the JP raptor cliches are running through my head a clip of JP fun!

Apr 7, 2010

Rex is back Alright!

Just taking a quick break from pouring over a treasure trove worth of jobs with the City of Calgary... I've kind of given up on teaching this skool year. So I'm regrouping for applying for next year, and trying to peg down a summer job.

The whole process of job hunting has been sapping my will to blog... At least the writing end of it.

My art on the other hand has been benefiting. At least in easy tasks.

One fellow I'd left hanging for a little while has been the Mark 5 Tyrannosaur. I'd left him nearly complete at the end of February here.

He now has all the bells and whistles that Mark 5 construction will allow. Though T-Rex may very well be a likely test subject for Mark 6, when I finally have time to sit down and play with vertex modelling.

To wrap up this incarnation of the T-Rex model (as he'll always be updated as my techniques get better and better) he is the evolution of the current model. I doubt I'll be building another from scratch anytime soon.