I think from the beginning of this project I over estimated the amount of work that I could get done in the time given. As a result there are a lot of areas I didn’t get completed for the deadline even though I’ve been working a lot. I’m not sure if this is because I focused on the wrong areas – like maybe I should have taken time away from research and development and put it into final polish. At the same time though I keep coming across talks where the importance of strong design over a nice image is stressed. Maybe my problem is more to do with using time efficiently and getting ideas out quickly.
Even though this project was more self directed I think we could have benefited as teams to find a way to be more organised as a unit from the beginning. For example, perhaps we should have made a more defined list of tasks to work through together and set frequent mini-deadlines for feedback sessions. This is probably easier said than done though as we did agree to do certain tasks but didn’t set strict deadlines.
This is how we’ve blocked the scene together so far. It includes Abigail’s Skyguard, Christian’s mountains. Blayne’s bridge units (which we may be re-purposing as ship clamps) and my platform. We haven’t added Matthew’s vehicle into the composition yet. Blayne suggested that we could have the camera fly through the scene behind/from the viewpoint of a ship.
This is a rough camera I did also for a sense of scale and space so far.
A lot of the ideas we discussed for our sci-fi scene contained destroyed objects. This tutorial has a lot of helpful pointers for what you should be thinking of when modeling destruction. One of the most useful methods I took away from this was that an area should be extracted from its surroundings first if a lot of resolution is going to be added e.g. if you’re going to splinter the end of a piece of wood.
This is the tutorial:
Modeling Architectural Destruction in Maya
Look at reference to see how different materials respond to stress. Wood splinters, concrete breaks in a particular way, glass etc.
Select faces of section you want to modify and extract. Cut a jagged line with the edgeloop tool and extract the cut area. Fill the missing geometry around the areas that have been extracted.
Re-use pieces that are broken off as rubble for later. Focus on the type of material you are cutting up and think of what tools you can use to do this. What kind of damage do you want to do? From where/to what extent.
Use ‘fill hole’ or ‘bridge’ etc. to fill gaps that are made from cutting away jagged geometry. Insert multiple edgeloops where extra resolution is needed for detail. Where on the model has the stress been applied to? – only destroy these areas e.g. above or below. Is the stress damage on the front face or has the object been broken on the side?
By destroying the model you are exposing areas that would not normally be seen e.g. under floors and between walls.
Metal framework bends under stress. Metal will probably not have little chunks cut out of it the same way that concrete does. Wood will have sharp snaps that splinter and therefore require higher resolution. Electrics will be pulled out from their settings and will have trailing wires. Some wires will be connected and some disconnected. Use the cv curve tool. Displace and move the created curves out of the same plane. Resize the nurbs curve to adjust the radius of the extrusion. When modelling destruction, try to maintain the ratio of volume between missing sections and the amount of rubble. Buckle areas e.g. the floor. You can add more resolution to nurbs by using ‘rebuild surfaces’ (or by individually adding isoparms). Look for sharp versus rounded edges in your geometry.
After trying to model my drawing using vectors I instead drew over my drawing using the quad draw tool. I tried to make as few quads as possible required to make the curved shape and cut out areas. It was tricky trying to keep the resolution low, make no triangles and keep the edges flowing neatly.
Once the flat shape was made with quads I then extruded it to give thickness. I tried to figure out a quick way of adding edge loops to maintain the edges when smoothed but extruding and offsetting only worked for the top and front faces and not for loops that needed to run between holes in the shape. It also created some overlapping edges. I then figured that it was easier to go back and add edge loops before I added thickness as this way I only had to deal with the flow of topology on one side only. Once this was done I extruded again and made sure the new faces had enough edge loops. For the scale I originally thought it would be 50 meters but then I figured it would be better to duplicate it and make it smaller, around 15m to 20m each, the length of some helicopters.
I was watching the Digital Tutors tutorial: Modeling Architectural Destruction in Maya. I realised from this that maybe I should have modeled the broken ends on separate faces rather than adding so much resolution to the whole object?
Alec also gave me feedback saying that I should have considered more how this object would have been constructed in real life and model more parts separately according to this.
I was also trying to model a support structure for this platform. I started by blocking out a simple circular arrangement to see what it could look like. To do this, I made two different units, moved them out from the origin and them duplicated them as instances around their pivots at the origin.
Abigail suggested that arranging the circular design out in a line with differing sizes might suit our scene better than a triangular arrangement. With this in mind I blocked out how the platform and supports could be arranged all together and added the rough placement of walkways. I was playing with the thickness of some of the walk areas/supports, hence why some of the supports are not holding anything.
I then started to develop the details on the circular platform structure. When modeling the front panel detail for one of the units, the resolution of the whole unit was getting too high. I duplicated the faces that I wanted and then re-modeled the centre structure with lower resolution. Alec said that I could have taken this further and added things like flaps as separate pieces of geometry.
I similarly instanced my units around, the way I did in the rough version, but with four units instead of two.
I didn’t like the supports, so I got rid of them. I’m hoping to model something more suitable.
I really liked the idea of being able to directly translate my sketchbook drawings into illustrator curves and then into polygons in Maya. I first did a test with simple shapes in Photoshop and exported them as an Illustrator file (as I don’t have Illustrator). I wasn’t sure if this was going to work as I’d heard that the file needed to be saved as an Illustrator 7 or 8 file. When I created an “Adobe Illustrator Object” in Maya from these simple path shapes it made an object with a lot of topology problems. A lot of edge loops would need to be deleted in some areas and added in others in order to smooth.
I could have worked around this but when I imported my platform drawing it created shapes in the wrong places.
I think I was missing a step but instead of looking more into I thought I’d try drawing it out with the quad modeling tool instead and see if this would be faster (as I would have had to fix the topology anyway).
Christian told us about modeling using vectors imported from Illustrator. I found this tutorial to help me out:
Digital Tutors: Creating 3D Geometry from Illustrator Curves
This tutorial helped me figure out how to turn my platform drawing into a vector shape using Photoshop:
How to turn hand drawn icons into vector shapes in Photoshop
These are some of my sketches to develop what the different parts of our scene could look like for modelling. In particular I was trying to develop what the platform area could look like and how it would integrate into the rest of the scene.
I thought it would be a good idea to develop the top view of what the center platform could look like. I was thinking that it could look like the remains of a platform where only the support structures are left. I should have perhaps done more research into what this could have functionally/realistically looked like before I settled on this design and modeled it. It might look more like a graphic/symbol than scaffolding now.
Christian had told us about an approach he used to modeling complex shapes in Maya using vectors exported from Illustrator. It took me a while trying to make a clean line in Photoshop in order to make a path for exporting as an Illustrator file. The scanned line alone, even though it looked clean, created quite a jagged path.
I wanted to develop what the mid/fore-ground could look like in our scene and create a challenge for myself to learn more about modeling. We agreed that a platform of some sorts might suit this area.
I felt that clean drawings that describe the form well would be particularly useful for modeling from. With this in mind I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and put extra time into developing my drawing skills. I’ve been trying to make progress on Scott Robertson’s book How to Draw (2013) and the accompanying video series which are online here:
The book, which has so far focused on drawing shapes and volumes in perspective, also has a lot of sci-fi vehicles, mechs and environments for inspiration.
I came across Feng Zhu’s designs for Star Wars in my bookazine The Art of Film: Volume Two (2015). I like how clear his forms come across with his strong line drawings in perspective and the clear sense of space. I thought that his concept of a ship landing area built into a cave could be applicable to our scene also maybe…? It would give us the opportunity to model organic rock forms along with man-made hard surfaces.
I looked at this drawing from the Dear JJ Abrams website quite a bit also. I like the sense of wear and brokenness that the lines convey:
Ruan Jia also has a lot of appealing forms in his concepts that we could use for inspiration. I love how this guy paints and his application of light and colour too.
Images from: http://ruanjia.deviantart.com/
Abigail showed this image from Steve Burgh to me also. We liked the circular designs on the ground which made me think of trying a circular platform instead of Zhu’s more rectangular shapes.
Image from: http://www.iamag.co/features/the-art-of-steve-burg/
For the modeling project, Abigail, Matthew Skelly, Christian, Blayne and I are working together (also for the animation project). The first thing we agreed on was that we all like sci-fi themes. Daryl Randall’s, Katie Nobel’s Abyss and James Hugh Dalton’s concepts stood out to us because of this.
We eventually decided that we liked Daryl Randall’s Sci-fi scene the best for inspiration.
Daryll Randall (2014) Sci-fi scene
Abigail shared a pinterest board to help us develop the concept more, found here: link
We initially saw the structure on the left to be the ruins of a destroyed mechanical monster (like a leviathan mech maybe?) because it resembles vertebrae. We thought of how we could turn the scene into a scrapyard of ruined mech parts and have scavenger ships going through it. We then saw that the left structure is probably meant to be the ruins of a sci-fi bridge. We weren’t entirely sure what the structure on the right was meant to be.
I started on a sketch inspired by Amano Yoshitaka’s designs in the film Angel’s Egg but I didn’t like how cluttered it was starting to look.
Angel’s Egg (1985)
Christian took together Daryl’s concept, Abigail’s sketches and some of the images we liked from Abigail’s pinterest and photoshopped a new composition together. We liked the scale/epicness of this and thought it would be easier to divide into sections to tackles.
We tried to divide the work to begin with:
- Blayne – the bridge areas
- Abigail – the sky structure
- Matthew – a scavenger ship
- Christian – terrain areas and a ship
- Me – the fore/mid-ground area (and hopefully a ship too).