Creative Development Reflection

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.



Blocked Scene Progress

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.

 photo rough_camera_modeling_01_zpsm4pcu7cw.gif

Digital Tutors: Modeling Architectural Destruction in Maya

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:

My notes:

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.

Platform Model

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.


Vector Modeling Tests

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).

Concept Development Sketches for Modeling 01

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.