Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Computer woes

For those keeping track, this last week I was abruptly silent.  A big part of that silence was due to the fact that I've been struggling all week to save my computer hard drive.  For some unknown reason, my main C drive has decided to go belly up, but it appears I can still save my data.  On top of that, the external drive on my iMac that stores my music and video library is also on the fritz.  So that's what I've been doing most the week.  Backing up drives, swapping data around, buying and adding new drives, cloning disks... And not working on my scene.  I need to have a computer that works and won't lose all my data before I can continue working on anything.  Right now, I am almost done with the process (after some set backs) and will be waiting for a new drive in the mail to use as backup.  Hopefully this will work, and the problems will be gone... (Prays to the technology gods).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WIP, Tuesday Sept 16th

I had a bit of a delay this weekend, but I have just about finished the modeling.  I have a few minor details to add (like the little feet and screws on the middle holder, better edges and details on the larger holder, and grout along the edge of the wall, a small object toward the foreground I missed before, and the powder in the containers).  I should have all this done tonight, and will start looking at UV mapping and MARI next.  So here is the latest WIP.

Friday, September 12, 2014

WIP, Friday Sept 12th

Almost done with the modeling.  I have the top of the machine int he back to finish modeling, and there are some smaller details like screws, grout, and feet to put in, not to mention the powder in the containers, but I think I'm almost there!  I am pretty satisfied with how the blender containers and handles came out.  Still waiting for Renderman, but I might have to bypass waiting for it, and either texture and light at SCAD on campus (if I can get in), or use 3Delight or Mental Ray.  Well, we'll see what happens next week.
Tell me what you think so far.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

WIP. Thursday Sept 11th

So I have been busy trying to figure out some modeling, and looking for work.  That and fixing technical bugs with my computer (please play my music iTunes, I promise to behave.).  Of course it took longer than I hoped, but I have an update, and I hope to have far more for tomorrow.  I am almost done with this phase of modeling.  Afterwards I will do a once over on everything, and look for feedback before focusing on textures and shading.
Original picture for reference
Full render so far with smooth models

Close-up of tongs (notice the chipped container in the back)

Close-up of container with feet (one broken)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WIP, Tuesday, Sept 9th

Well after taking a short break for the weekend (while working on other projects), I've come back to the Starbucks picture.  Right now, I am (finally) done with matching and placing the objects.  At last I've started making the refined models.  I am using a combination of subdiv and polygons (with a few NURBS).  After experimenting with the Maya 2014 feature of creases sets, which I have worked with before, I've found that while they are are useful, not everything supports it properly.  Case in point, I am planning to render this using PR Renderman (whenever Pixar releases it... they said they'd release it at SIGGRAPH but that was a month ago), so while I wait, I am using a copy of another Renderman renderer, 3Delight.  Apparently, it doesn't like crease sets that much, and there have been other issues.  But I can say this, it is a lot better and faster than Mental Ray.  I haven't gotten to texturing or lighting yet, but with a simple test at full resolution, it took Mental Ray about 1 and a half minutes to render the scene, while 3Delight actually added shadows (turning them on on the default lights) and took only 16 seconds to render the same shot.  Much faster.  So right now, I am using 3Delight, but I am hoping PR Renderman comes out soon.

Until then, here are the visual updates:
No wirefreame

With wireframe
As you can see, I have refined the models of the nozzles in the foreground, as well as the lid in the foreground to the left (also added the indents), refined the cups in the tower, remodeled the containers in the center with better lids and more details, as well as the pumps on them, and the handles sticking out of the containers behind them.  I am hoping tomorrow to finish modeling the containers in the stand, the pitchers on top of the larger case, and get cracking on the machine int he background.  One large challenging piece for that will be the odd-shaped structure on the top of it, which I have mainly avoided for the rough placement, but will need to be figured out and addressed soon.  Once that is done, I will do a once over on the models and their placement, and finally get started on shading and texturing.

I also have plans to start modeling a minor character, from Dexter's Laboratory, as a practice on modeling a character and texturing it.  It should be easy, but will let me explore Mari some more.  More on that later.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

WIP, Friday Sept 5th

Here I am in my project.  I had to redo a lot of work from the previous day or two because I discovered that by trying to place the foot of the large machine int he back cause me to realize how off everything is.  How does it go?  It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing.  Well thanks to that tiny little cylindrical foot, I had to realign most of the object all because I didn't have the actual dimensions of any of the objects, so I have been forced to eye-ball them.  I think I'm pretty close now, but that did put me a little behind where I wanted to be.  Today I will begin actually refining the models so I can move onto texturing.  I think this is a lesson learned, get measurements.

Friday, September 5, 2014

WIP, Thursday, Sept 04th, 2014

Almost done with aligning objects.  I hope to spend more time tomorrow on this than I could today, so I can catch up.  I hope to have the placement finished and the modeling well under way by tomorrow.  Just have a few nozzles and "stuff" to add for placement, but I think it is coming along nicely.  I'm going to try using subdivs for a lot of this.  I'll start polygon then go into subd.  I also plan on trying out Mari for texturing after that.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WIP Wed, Sept 3rd, 2014

I'll keep this post short.  I have been working on taking one of the existing images and recreating it into CG, rather than taking more pictures.  With the weather misbehaving this week, I rather start working than waiting for it to clear up.  So for now, I am working on one of the Starbucks images I took.  This will be the first of many projects.
The biggest problem I ran into was trying to align the camera to get it just right.  It is still something I'm struggling with perfecting, but I had to do some research to figure out why it was always a little off.  I had already adjusted the focal length of the image, but what I was missing was the size of the digital back.  This is the sensor of the camera, and I had no idea what it was.  I knew it wasn't a full-sized one, so I couldn't use a preset in Maya (which is based on film, like 35mm), so I looked up the size of the sensor for my specific camera online, adjusted the image plane to view the entire image, and voila!  The image now matched a lot closer than it did before.  It is still hard to get it just right, but that is part of the nature of this without having exact measurements and the like.
So for today, I will post an image of the first round of blocked in objects, trying to align them to the positions and sizes as those in the photograph.  I also drew another picture on my iPad, but I am not satisfied with it, and won't be sharing this one right now.  I rather do more work on it or move onto something else.  It was an experiment in technique and I haven't quite figured it out yet.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WIP Tuesday, September 2nd 2014

I said I was going to do it, so here I go.  Due to some unfortunate weather conditions, I was unable to take photographs outdoors, so I took some indoor ones.  I kind of got stuck in a Starbucks, so I decided to use my time there to work on things.  Here are 4 photographs I took (of many), one of which I might start working on turning into a 3D image.  I will try to take some more tomorrow, but after that, I will have to pick one of these (at a time) and dive in to the 3D.  I hope to have some stuff blocked in for tomorrow, maybe more.
Any comments on which (if any) you like?

But I decided not to leave it there and just take some photos, I also wanted to work on brushing up my drawing skills.  I need to keep working on it, and I am hoping to find a modeling session somewhere locally I can go to weekly.  If anyone knows of one, I would be eternally grateful.  So right now the image isn't finished.  I am getting used to my new Wacom iPad pressure sensitive pen, as well as the way Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for iPad works.  So a lot of this was learning and experimenting, but I would like to keep working on this.  I hope to keep doing these daily as well to improve my drawing and visual story telling and lighting.  Still haven't finished the actual line art.  I want to work on the girl more, a lot more, add more detail, and fix a few things.  I only have base color and roughed in shadows, so I have a long way to go yet.

If anyone knows of a tutorial or suggestions for techniques for using Sketchbook Pro, I am all ears.  I'm just starting to learn this stuff, so I hope I can pick it up and start making these faster and better as I go.
So that's if for WIP 1.  Stay tuned for tomorrow!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Returned from SIGGRAPH 2014

In order to keep everyone up-to-date, SIGGRAPH 2014 was a BLAST!  Vancouver is an amazing and beautiful city, and I must say dealing with Canadian airline security and customs was easier than dealing with USA security and customs.  (Also Canadian money is so pretty and colorful.)

Behold my fellow SVs!
While I was at SIGGRAPH, I helped out a lot with Studio, which is where cutting-edge applicable technology is showed off.  This is stuff like 3D printers, auto-stereoscopic (3D without glasses) displays, and various other technologies.  They had some really cool stuff this year, including a printer than could essentially print a relief on a 3D object.  Imagine printing a texture, like a snake skin or pattern, on the back of your phone cover, with a full color image.  That was the station I worked at, where the Roland printers could print on just about anything.  I ended up staying with them for several days helping them print on phone covers and more, and I even managed to get my own business card holder printed on with a texture.  It looks (and feels) great!

Definitely a technology I can see hitting it big in the near future.
When I wasn't helping out at SIGGRAPH, I managed to do a little site-seeing, and I've got to say Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities around.  I loved the view with the shore line, the water with the planes and cruise ships, the ocean liners in the distance, the beach and city beyond that, and the cloud-covered mountains in the back.  Not to mention the local sights, like the Steam Clock and Chinatown.  It was a blast.

Steam clock in the middle of Steamtown.
The one draw back to the week was an old foot injury started to act up, so if anyone saw a Student Volunteer walking around with a crutch, that was me.  Luckily it cleared up and I was able to walk, crutch-free, for the last 2 days.  I even managed to go on a studio crawl where I got to check out the actual studios for Sony Imageworks, Motion Picture Company (MPC), United Front Games, and East Side Games.  It was a great experience, and I got to talk to a lot of talented people.  I just wish it could have gone on longer.

Inside the convention center, the world was waiting.
Because of my injury, I didn't have the time to post more on this site, and I also noticed some of the posts I did make accidentally were posted on a different blog I run.  So I will re-post those, and apologize that I wasn't able to keep up with more posts during the week.

Every day was like this!
Luckily for me, the powers that be at SIGGRAPH have been working on ways people like me who have graduated and no longer able to be student volunteers will be able to continue to volunteer in the future.  I have to look into this and see what how it works, and I'll post anything I find out, but it is one of those things that only a select few will even be eligible for.  We'll see how it turns out.  Next year in L.A.!

Sweet Dream roomie...
I was also fortunate enough to be able to have several portfolio reviews with amazingly talented people from Dreamworks, Disney, and Blue Sky.  These guys were great, and I got some top-notch feedback for my portfolio.  I want to thank Josh Staub, Eldar Cholich, and Frankie Liu again for all the work they did to help us volunteers, and all of those who dedicated time, money, and talent (and anything else).

And on that note, I am currently working on a new series of projects.  These are going to be photographs (and possibly paintings) brought to life in 3D.  I am going to try to create everything from scratch, with a focus on the texturing and lighting.  I really want to push myself and learn some new stuff, and if I can, I hope to add some camera animation and possibly some particles and/or fluids for fun.  I will be starting this tomorrow, and I will be attempting to keep a DAILY BLOG on here (at least 4 times a week if not more) posting all my Work in Progress (WIP).  I will be starting this ASAP, and I want to push myself to see how fast and how detailed I can make these things.  I will really need to build an audience here as well to force myself to keep up with the work, as a way to help me with motivation.  I am eager to get started, and can't wait!  In the meantime, I have also been working on a new short film, called "H2O No!", but production is still early and slow, so I need these shorter faster projects to help me out now while we get the ball rolling on H2O No!.  I will also be posting work on my portfolio site, HixonArt, as well as other sites like CGSociety.

So stay tuned and tell your friends!  Let's get dangerous!