This week was our first class to 3D Graphics. I was initially intimidated by this subject as I have never touched 3D graphics / modelling / animation before. It is such a vast industry, it seems as though I could study forever and still only be competent in a small area. However, I have managed to grasp the basics of 3DsMax. Well, I can make boxes and navigate the viewport and make a robot out of primitives, but at least it is a start. After getting over my initial trepidation I am much more confident with the program. I have found that the concepts and actions are quite easy to grasp, but it all relies on my ability (or lack thereof) to execute them in a complex and new program. It can be quite frustrating but I will be trying to practice daily.
In addition to 3DsMax, the basics of 3D graphics and a quick overview of the industry, we were taught about the steps in the 3D production pipeline. This will be explored in the next post.
This week I learnt a lot about modelling in 3DsMax, both in and out of class. I am much more confident with navigating the viewpoint and selecting specific parts of the model by vertex, edge, poly and also using rings and loops. In addition to this I have learnt about insetting, extruding, chamfering and adding additional polys through the connect tool. I am quite confident that I understand each of these but sometimes it is quite fiddly and takes me longer than it should.
I am, however, working much faster than I was at the beginning of the week. This is largely due to losing the 3DsMax files I created in class, resulting in me having to begin the treasure chest over again. Upon reflection, this was a very good thing as it gave me much more practice with the program and my first chest was also not quite right. This following GIF is the development of my treasure chest (the second one) from start to finish:
Shown below is the completed chest from different angles and as a wire frame:
This week I learnt (slowly, with lots of swearing) what UV mapping and unwrapping is and used the techniques on my treasure chest model. The planar mapping on different axis was very easy: it was just maths all over again. However, simple things like forgetting to unselect “Normalise Map” would confuse me and I would not be able to figure out why my map looked wrong. I learnt to break edges (especially if the joint is close to or over 90 degrees) and was able to foresee what I would need to do before it was explained in the video. Although it was very complicated to begin with, I actually think that I got a good grasp on the process. It is similar to paper craft and involves the same type of forward thinking. Overall, UV mapping is not as bad as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very tedious, and I am especially slow at it, but it is extremely satisfying watching the model slowly gain a consistent checkerboard pattern. I just hope that I will be able to transfer what I have learnt onto my hard-surface 3D model.
This entire process probably took me a total of 3 hours as it was my first time ever doing this and I had a couple of issues along the way. I have also learnt that one of the most important things is to increment save like crazy: this helped me so many times and I only ever lost 10 minutes of work, or so, at a time. The following GIF showcases the development of my UV maps:
Shown below is the complete UV map:
I finally feel as though my Tetris skills were put into use…
Texturing the Treasure Chest
I had previously assumed that I would enjoy texturing a lot and I was not not wrong. I like drawing and painting in Photoshop and this was no different. So, obviously, this week I learnt how to texture a 3D model. It was pretty straight forward although it did take quite a long time to do. I really loved the way the treasure chest became more real and vibrant each time I added shadows, colours, gradients or highlights. It was quite enjoyable and I am now very interesting in trying the Quixel Suite.
It seems as though we may be just using a diffuse map for the models. I am actually thankful for this as I never done this before and I still slower than most (although I do have a better understanding of the other types of texture maps from the research blogs). I have learnt how to apply texture maps to the model using the material editor. In terms of Photoshop I have learnt efficiency when texturing and also have a better understanding of the pen tool. This week was quite interesting and I look forward to texturing in the future.
The following GIFs show the development of the texture maps and how it looks on the 3D model:
As the GIF is not high-quality, here is the final texture applied to the model:
I obviously have not finished the detailing but I unfortunately need to do other assignments. Over the next couple of weeks, I shall continue the texturing.
Due to changes in class this week, I was able to use the allocated class time to complete and finalise my texturing. I did not really learn much this week. However, I do have a better understanding of how to texture purely from having a bit more practice.
I tried to incorporate detail into both the outside and inside of the treasure chest (because the inside will be seen during the animation). In addition to that, I have also added a keyhole because I thought that the front latch looked a little empty. Below is my final texture for the treasure chest.
And here it is applied to the model:
Rigging and Learning to Animate
So this week I learnt how to rig a model and the basics of animating in 3dsMax. I found the concepts of rigging quite understandable but, in saying that, it was a very simple model to rig. The basic idea is creating a hierarchical system which allows you to manipulate sections through the parent (e.g. a whole arm) or a subsection through the child (e.g. a finger). This makes sense, it just needs some consideration; it is just like creating a skeleton for the model.
In addition to this, I learnt how to use the key frame and auto keys in 3dsMax. I found the system very fluid and, although I did mess quite a bit, I find it easier than 2D animating. However, I initially found it annoying that each object had its only timeline. I soon saw the reason for this as a single objects timeline can get quite hectic!
Below is a couple of screenshots of the chest lid opening:
Animating and Scene Assembly
Over the last week or so, I have been animating and assembling my scene for the Pirate’s Gold advertisement. The first stage was importing all of the assets and managed to have some hiccups with this. The treasure chest was the wrong size and I (somehow) didn’t download the coin particle system, which lead to crazy panic later on.
I may have freaked out at this but then quickly realized that I have the ability to scale.
Using the design brief, I blocked out the overall scene in terms of placement, moving and timing, such as when and where the chest falls and how the other assets are placed and when they appear. I also spent way too long placing the grass… I just wanted it to be perfect…
Almost finished placing all the assets in the scene.
I found that I would do some initial animation while the object (e.g. the crab) was isolated but would also adjust, change and add a lot of it while it was incorporated in the this. This was mostly due to timing. With the crabs, for example, I extended their arm motions and also added a bobbing motion to sort the timing of the treasure chest. I found the curve editor extremely helpful. I spent a long time fiddling around with it to ensure the most cartoony stretch and squash! In addition to this, I modified the coin particle system a little to change the size and flow of the coins. Also, after a long time of messing around, I worked out how to stop them from falling through the world (move the displacement up).
I really enjoyed this entire process. It is incredibly rewarding to watch my work (well one of the assets) come to life in a larger picture! I look forward to do this again and will definitely be messing around with 3dsMax on the holidays.
PLEASE NOTE: For whatever reason (stupidity) I gave the final texture on my treasure chest a different name. I have fixed this now but it is not in some of the pictures.