Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Material samples

I'm late!  But I did spend most of the night working on things.  No worries, i will have 2, TWO updates today (a-ha-haa).

So here is a new sample of textures I made.  Some of these are actually works in progress (as some of my previous posts actually were).  These show fresnel effect, different metals, and a car shader (all custom made).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rainy Days?

I know, it isn't exactly the first of spring or anything, and in all honesty what I'm going to post today was taken a week ago, but I felt that to contrast today's dreary cloudy weather, I should post some bright and happy ones.
So these are pictures taken either last weekend at the Dogwood festival in Atlanta, or the weekend before in the garden at my apartment complex.  There were LOTS more pictures that I took, but I figured I'd just post a handful.  Got to save something for those rainy days... the other rainy days.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Car Show

Hi again everyone!
Today, more photographs!  Something I have been doing lately with my wife, which I think I may try to do more of int he future, is try to find local events or places of interest and go for a few hours on the weekend.  Usually, I've been doing this for my photography class, but it can also be fun, and doesn't have to cost much, if anything.  Last week I went to the Dogwood Festival in Atlanta, and a smaller art show called Artsapalooza.  We also explored Stone Mountain a little, and a few other places.  Today, we went to the Taste of East Point Art, Food, and Car Show.  So I got to meet some cool and interesting people, and take lots of pictures of cool and interesting cars.
Here are some of the highlights, which showcase the style I like to go with, close-up and personal.

Oppa Film Noir Style

Heyyy.... Jeff Bailey....

*Ahem*  Sorry about that, Psy got in my head just now.
So you're back for another round of Pixel of the day?  What will you see this time?  More ants?  Another soda bottle?  More cats?  (Doesn't the internet have enough of them?  CAN the internet have enough of them?)
No... not this time.  Today I will present to you a simple picture of I made last quarter mimicking the Film Noir style of the 1940's and 50's.  In other words, black and white, hard light, lots of dark shadows, with dark and serious themes.  This used models all of which I modeled myself.  In fact, I modeled these for a previous scene for the character of Harry Dresden, which was a fun project, and I may update with better lighting for a future submission.
So for now, enjoy my Film Noir inspired image.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vita Magus

Yet again, another dose of your daily pixel.

Except this time, I don't have a picture to show you.  But I DO have a website to link you to.  It's not just any website, it's another blog.  Why another blog?  Because it is the official blog for a short animation:
Vita Magus (pronounce it however you want) is a short animation made in 2013 by 13 students at SCAD Atlanta, as a collaborative project.  This was an official class, but a voluntary one we were all interested in.  I can say I learned a lot about myself, and things I still need to work on.  It was a very challenging quarter for me, but I managed to get through with good grades and a completed film so everything turned out great!

With only 13 people on the project, we all had to wear many hats.  We had 2 directors, an art director, a technical director, a production manager, a lighting director, and several leads.  All of us worked in multiple roles, some of us in multiple leadership positions.  I would like to thank Karen and Andy who were our directors and did a great job, Leo who got us through a lot of sticky situations, Jeff who kept us all organized and on time, our professor, Becky, for helping us realize our potential and allowing us the chance to make this film on our own, and to everyone in the crew!  Without everyone's individual work, we never would have finished on time.  Great job everyone!

Vita Magus is a story about an aging street magician who looses sight of what's important in life.  It takes a little girl to remind her of the little things that matter.  We all loved working on this film, I just wish I could have dedicated more time to it, but 3 studio classes tend to eat up what little time I have.

So please make sure you visit the official blog and learn a little more about the film.  Right now the film is not available for public viewing, but I will be sure to announce when it is and link to it.

One more thing, I now have an official Facebook page for Pixel of the Day, which you can get to by visiting www.facebook.com/pixeldaily.

Till next time, Keep Animated!

Houdini -- It's magical!

So I'm a few minutes late, big deal.  I'm still awake, so it's still Wednesday to me. :P

Today I will briefly talk about Houdini, a program made by a company called SideFX.  "But David, what is Houdini" you ask?  To put it simply, it is a 3D package (program) that uses nodes and a nearly non-destructive workflow.  This means you can create a complicated scene with a variety of complex objects, and still go back to the very first shape you made and change it, without messing up anything else, and all the changes you make go down the line and affect the final outcome.  It is nearly non-destructive, because you can go back and mess with your work at any point in the history of making that object, except certain things you do WILL break your setup.  Regardless, it is a wonderful program, and it is mainly used in visual effects for things like particle effects and dynamics and the like.  It can be really complicated, and I haven't gone into all of that yet, although I have touched on particles and dynamics.
So this scene here is one I created last quarter.  It is a still life of an image I shot myself which uses a single light source.  I wanted to copy the image as closely as I could, but I feel it is still a work in progress.  Hopefully I will have an update to show everyone before too long.  So for now, enjoy my still life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Macro Lens

OK, so I got another photograph for you today!

Recently, I was assigned an assignment in my photography class focusing on Aperture.  For those who don't know what that is, it controls the Depth of Field, or how much is in or out of focus.  So I took a TON of pictures, because I really like to take shots with a relatively tight Depth of Field.  I'm pretty sure for my 10 image assignment I took about 450 pictures.  Because I was feeling adventurous, I decided to get out my Macro lens.  I got this for Christmas a little while ago, and I've been meaning to try it out.  So finally I got the chance!  In short, a Macro lens lets you take pictures of tiny objects really close up, and still be able to focus on them.  It also takes the Depth of Field and drops it down to an extremely finite amount.
So here is one of the pictures I took for class.  The images is of a teeny tiny ant hill between the bricks in my small patio.  It was so small, I almost didn't see it.  I took many more pictures, but this one had the strongest Depth of Field.  My next project is on composition, so wish my luck.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Story telling through light

So another close call, but Day 4 is here.

This time I will show you 6 images, 3 drawn and 3 rendered in Maya, which depict a story through lighting.  The drawn images are the initial concepts, while the 3D renders are the final results.  I did not model or texture this character (Morpheus, and Blake), nor did I model the church (but it needed HEAVY editing), but I did model and file texture the alleyway and gun.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Brenizer Method

Day 3 and I barely make it in time!  (4 minutes to spare :P)

So today I want to share a picture I took.  Yes, photography!  I do photography on the side in my spare time, as a hobby, but one which I am intimately familiar with.  Not only was my grandfather a, award-winning photographer, and my dad was a hobbyist, but I worked at National Geographic for several years as an imaging specialist editing and archiving and restoring images.  I have worked with many famous photographers (such as Jodi Cobb), and done work on many famous images, and for many clients (famous and yet-to-be-famous alike).  So I have "some" experience with photographs (mainly digital photo-editing), but not so much with making them myself.  I did get a nice DSLR (Nikon D3000) to play with and learn more, and have been actively learning photography, partly to learn more about light and composition, and partly because I think it is cool, and partly cause it can make money on the side.  I love taking pictures, and plan to continue to pursue this hobby in my spare time.

So for now, I have an image I would like to share of my neighbor's cat, Chester.  This image is actually a "photomerge" (a type of collage) of 28 images, designed to capture a specific look with the Depth of Field using a technique called the Brenizer Method.  So for now, enjoy this image of Chester giving me a weird look.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Day 2 already, can I keep up this pace?

Today I'd like to share an image I created a week or two ago called Fairy Circle. It is really just a ring of Fly Agaric mushrooms, but I put a lot of work into it.

I modified the background plate, modeled all the objects (all are NURBs), experimented with the Maya Fur grass tool, and created all the textures. These are all procedural textures meaning the computer is creating them based on math, and no photographs (except for the plate in the back) were used as textures.

I really like how the tree came out, but I would like to do more with the grass an the ground and the mushrooms. I'd also like to go back and adjust the lights to get a different feel and better contrast and form.

That's all for now, enjoy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Welcome to Pixel of the Day!

Hello world, and welcome to my blog!

Pixel of the Day is my newest blog, dedicated to showcasing my work and my exploration of the world of 3D animation and Technical Direction.  In short a pixel is a single block of colored light that is combined together to constitute an image, and on this blog a Pixel will be a piece of art, a thought or observation, or something I learned, which will constitute my body of work.  This blog will be used to share my work, my art, and my life as an animator and digital artist.  Sometimes the artwork will be new, sometimes it will be old.  Some posts will be long, other times it will be a sentence or two.  However it is my goal to upload at least something every day (with few exceptions).
So I welcome you to my journey in digital art.

Perhaps you'd like to know more about me.  My name is David Hixon, and I am currently a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where I am majoring with an MFA in Animation and a minor in Technical Direction.  I am also the owner of Weakly Animated, a blog that was dedicated to strengthening my skills in animation.  It has now served its purpose, and will either be closed down or re-purposed.

So for today I will start with a single element of a greater image I have been working on.  This is a coke bottle I modeled and textured.  To be precise, I used an image reference of a coke bottle and used a NURBs curve to model the bottle, created a label geometry to fit it, took an existing Coca-Cola logo and adjusted it to better match the classic coke label, added noise to the label highlight to create the "feel" of the texture of the label, created a glass texture using a Fresnel Effect, and fine tuned the transparency, reflection, refraction  diffuse, and color.  The grid in the back is just to help see the refraction and reflection.

So for those that don't understand everything I said, I took a lot of care in making the bottle look like real glass.  If anyone has any advice, feedback, or comments, I welcome your input.  Enjoy and Welcome!