Another Day Another Sculptris Model

Progressing, some might say evolving, from slugs today I’ve tried creating something with limbs.

Meet Teddy…

"Teddy" by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

“Teddy” by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Though I think I’m getting better with the software there are still some things that confuse me – like how to move a second sphere, the best way to make eyes, or how to reselect said sphere/s once they are anywhere near the original mesh. Confusing! I guess I’m just going to have to sit down and watch a few more tutorials. Still, finding a lot to love about Sculptris, perhaps tomorrow I’ll try adding some texture to this less than cuddly teddy bear!

Sculpting and painting in Sculptris

Yesterday, I tried out the basic modelling tools in Pixologic’s free 3D modelling software, Sculptris, and I loved it. It has been awhile since I tried my hand at anything in the 3D modelling arena and it felt nice to be back in the digital saddle. So, having watched some tutorials on the Pixologic website I decided to try something slighty more advanced today.

Sluggy

"Sluggy" by AR Vincent, copyright 2012

“Sluggy” by AR Vincent, copyright 2012

Sluggy was my first attempt at modelling an entire being in Sculptris. Granted this being, being a slug, isn’t the greatest stretch but it was a good way to test some tools I didn’t use yesterday and get on to the bit I was really interested in exploring…. painting.

Unlike other 3D software, like Maya or Cinema 4D, both Sculptris and Zbrush have a function which allows you to paint on to your digital sculpture. Though the functions are slightly different, in Sculptris you ‘paint’ on to the model where as in ZBrush you paint on to the texture map on the model, the end result is an experience more like painting. The best part of this is that unlike Cinema 4D where you can assign block textures/colours to a model or Maya where you need to create a texture map (essentially flaying your characters and laying out its skin in Photoshop to paint before sticking it back on him!) you can use different tools to create block colours and textures and fine details and see what they look like in situ. Nice!

Of course this was my first and attempt and it didn’t go entirely to plan. I didn’t really get the hang of masks until I had already made a mess of Sluggy’s eye area and once the damage is done Sculptris is not forgiving. So in order to make the finished image look, well, finished I cheated and moved him in to Photoshop for some ocular repair and a little TLC. They are still not perfect, far from it infact, but this was only supposed to be a quick exercise and I had already committed waaaay more time to it this morning then I intended and work is calling. Perhaps I’ll have time to have another go tomorrow 🙂

Illustration Friday – ‘Faded’

I’ve always had a soft spot for chameleons, with their multi-directional eyes and their awesome colour changing ability they have always seemed one of the world’s stranger inhabitants. So, when I saw this week’s Illustration Friday topic, Faded, my mind drifted towards the chameleon and the type of situation where blending in to the background might not help things!!!

So, may I present, Crispin, your friendly neighbourhood chameleon… okay, so there’s a chance he’s also a small time crook but if that’s the case then his colour changing stills aren’t going to help in a police identity parade!!!

'Unusual Suspect' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

‘Unusual Suspect’ by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

This unusual suspect was created in Photoshop, though unlike last week he was based on several sketches of chameleons as I wanted to capture his chameleon-ness.

'Ugly Joe' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Getting My Head Around Adobe After Effects

Whilst lamenting the problems I was having recently animating in Flash someone suggested a better program to try would be After Effects. So yesterday I decided to give it a go!

After Effects has been languishing on my PC for quite a while now as, like Adobe Bridge and Soundbooth, it was part of the Adobe Creative Suite. Despite the fact that I had heard great things about the program, I have never been sure quite what to do with After Effects. Part of this dilemma came from being slightly unsure what it did! I had originally been introduced to it as a motion graphics package but quickly discovered that it was equally, if not better, known as a VFX tool. However, since neither VFX or motion graphics were my immediate concern when I got the Suite my attentions strayed to Photoshop and Flash and After Effects was put to one side.

A much more significant part of the problem I had with After Effects was, since I had never had need of it, I had never learnt it and thus hadn’t the foggiest how to use it! But yesterday, with an intimidatingly hefty tome on the subject beside me and a screen full of free video tutorial, I started to find out what dark magic I had to master to master After Effects and today I tried to implement what I had learnt on a completely new project.

Here’s the result…

Ugly Joe himself was created in Photoshop and the sequences were put together and titles added in Premiere Pro, but all the animating was done in After Effects… possibly proving that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing ;P

Why Woodland Animation

Britains native broadleaf woodland is disappearing fast. Broadleaf trees, such as oak, ash and birch, have been part of the British landscape for hundreds of years and support a diverse and complex eco-system not found elsewhere. If we let our broadleaf woodland disappear through dereliction, mismanagement or convertion to fast growing non-native conifers then we will also be saying goodbye to the sight of bluebell woods, autumn colours and the home of countless lichens, birds and insects.

I created this 2D animation for Why Woodland, to help raise awareness of the threats to the British broadleaf woods. To find out more and show your support visit them on Facebook.com/whywoodland or on Twitter @whywoodland

This was animated using a combo of Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro CS5 and, after loosing the battle with the CS5 version, Flash CS4. The process has sustained my love for Photoshop, made me begin to appreciate Premiere (despite the complete debacle that was rendering) and, after hours fighting with animation in Flash CS4 and CS5, made me desperate to master animating in After Effects!!

As with all projects I loved and hated this project by turns and in equal measure. There are always little moments that punctuate a project and the fustration  and anxiety that I felt when faced with constantly crashing software, unfathomable formatting errors and render troubles was set in stark contrast against the fun of designing the tree-gobbling-money-machine (every home should have one!), the satisfaction of making the squirrel talk and the thrill of discovering the chromakey function in Premiere.

Enjoy!

Make Your Animations A Little Xtranormal.

If you have’t yet encountered xtranormal then let me enlighten you, xtranormal is a “free” online animation application that lets you create 1 or 2 character animations, complete with a script, using their special text-to-movie software. All you need to do is select your characters, set and sound scape and then start typing what you want your characters to say. You can also add in your choice of expressions, gestures, sound effects and camera angles to your film. And don’t panic you don’t need to know anything more fancy then drag-and-drop.

http://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/jwplayer.swf

As you can see from my attempt, there are limits… not least to my scripting skills. Not everythings free and a lot of the characters and scenes etc cost a little extra to use. Additionally don’t expect Laurence Olivier style vocal performances from your actors, the voices will say what you’ve typed (most of the time) but not suprisingly with minimal inflection or emotion. Also your characters movements are minimal – you can select from a range of premade gestures but they’re not going to dancing around… not using the free online facilities anyway.

Which brings me to the topic of Xtranormals software, State. This, I’m guessing from the video posted on YouTube, gives you a lot more freedom of choice and movement but this time at the bargain price of $49.50. Personally I wasn’t willing, I’d prefer to go and download iClone if I just wanted to have some animated fun or learn Blender and produce real 3D, but thats just me. If you’ve tried it please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what I’m missing.

There’s a lot to be said for xtranormal. If you just want a bit of fun then its a fantastic tool, and if you want a simple way to test out a script, understand a scenes pacing or look at the effect of various camera angles then its excellent. However, if you think you are trying to create stuff for an animation showreel or think you might be the next James Cameron and are looking for the right too for making Avatar 2 then keep googling, xtranormal is not the tool you’re looking for.