Archive for January, 2010

Redeemer – Quillons

The next section that I re-worked was the quillons. While the version 28 quillons had some interesting detail (some of which were unintentional), they weren’t really like the original. And since my goal was to make a derivative of the Redeemer sword, I decided to re-work them from scratch.

This time I made a cube that was 1 cm square by 2 cm tall. I cut off the top and bottom faces and split the other 4 faces vertically. Then I added an extra pair of edges around each corner and moved the center edge on each face inward just slightly.

Then I copied the straight segment and twisted the top of the clone 40 degrees. This gave me the twisted look I wanted. I made 2 more copies of the twisted piece, stacking them right on top of each other and rotating them until the vertices lined up. And I finished with another copy of the straight piece.

After welding the pieces together and welding the vertices so that the faces were continuous, I capped the top of the twisted column and raised the central vertex slightly to dome the end of the quillon.

Finally, I used the bender tool to bend the whole quillon 16 degrees forward and 8 degrees left to right. I cloned that for the other side and rotated the lower quillon around and placed it in the right spot on the guard. This also has the effect that if you look down the sword from the tip, the quillons form a slight ‘S’ shape.

Not only is the new version much closer to the original, I think it also looks much nicer and refined than what I had done in v28.

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Redeemer – The Hilt

I got some good tips from my favorite modeler (thanks, As Shanim!) on how to add some detail onto the hilt to make improve it. The main thing was to work on the low-poly model, but with an eye toward what it does to the final model once two levels of smoothing are applied.

Doing that pointed out that just by pulling the center vertex on the pommel out a bit, it domes the end of the hilt instead of giving it that funky edge that it had.

The main area he focused on was the grip. As he pointed out, there wasn’t a lot of definition between the grip and the rest of the hilt. By adding a couple lines of edges at those boundaries, and then overlapping them on purpose, it provides a much better seperation and definition of the grip and the hilt

Screenshots of the new hilt are attached below. Both the low-poly and smoothed versions. As before, click on one of the images to see it in more detail and see specific comments about that screenshot.

Redeemer – First draft

Ok, so calling my 28th revision of the file a “first draft” probably isn’t exactly right. 😉 But you get the idea.

I’m going to post some of the screenshots of the model as it exists so far. This is just the mesh without any smoothing applied; so some roughness is expected. Once I’m happy with the shape, I’ll go through and smooth the pieces then tweak anything that smoothing adds to the model.

If you click on one of the images above, you’ll be taken to a gallery where you can browse through each one and see my comments on each piece as it stands today.

Project 1 – Getting started

I spent a lot of time at a great website called My Armoury browsing their large collection of details photos of swords. In the end, I chose a pretty simple longsword as my first project.

ATrim/Christian Fletcher Redeemer Sword

I started working last night on the blade. My workflow went something like this:

I loaded the reference image onto the Z plane in Hexagon. Then I covered the blade with a single polygon plane.

I knew I’d need some polys for the fuller and ridge details on the blade; so I gave myself 4 rows of polys.

I needed a couple more columns of polys at the tip because the taper gets so extreme right at the end.

To fit the grid to the blade, I would select a column of vertices and scale the column up and down to get them right on the edges. By using scaling instead of translating, I was keeping the centerline down the middle of the blade, and just changing the spacing between vertices on the plane.

I worked from tip to hilt. If it seemed like I couldn’t match the taper of the blade with the polys that I had, I would slice again on the y-axis to add another column of vertices where I needed them.

I think I have the overall outline of the blade pretty good, but I was starting to fall asleep at the end and decided to just save and come back to it tonight.

Next up I want to make sure I have some polys to taper the edge of the blade, then I’ll add thickness to the plane. By turning on symmetry, I can then make the fuller and ridge on both sides of the blade the same. And finish by welding vertices along the edges to make the blade sharp.

Then it’s on to the hlit and crossguard.

Is it real or is it fantasy?

I’ve been going back and forth about whether I want my creations to look real or just look “cool”. At first it was going to be really important to me that whatever I created, a potential customer would look at it and think that it could have been on a battlefield somewhere at sometime.

But, then I started thinking that this type of product may be self-limiting since it doesn’t seem that the average Poser / DAZ Studio user is all that interested in historical accuracy.

So, I started leaning back toward a fantasy / video game style for the weapons I’m thinking about creating. I think that really well done with lots of detail and such it could be an interesting style.

But then the purist in me wonders if I’m just feeding that whole lack of realism that people like me complain about.

So, I’m torn. And don’t have any good answers right now.

Gathering materials

I spent part of the weekend searching the internet for images of medeival weapons. After talking with my friends at Aery Soul, it really solidified my feeling that I should at least start this adventure with some props instead of clothing. That way I don’t have to worry about rigging them for movement, creating morphs for different body shapes, etc. Basically I can avoid some of the most tedious and boring parts of 3D content creation. 🙂

So, my thought is to try to do a few lines of fantasy weapons. I want to base them off of real medeival weaponry, but nobody is going to say that my creations are “realistic”. And I think that’s ok. From what I’ve seen of the average Poser / DAZ Studio artist, most aren’t interested in realism, they’re interested in things that look cool.

Right now I have idea for 4 different collections of weapons. I figured that, to add some value to the props, I could include a small set of poses for DAZ’s Victoria and Michael figures.

The best part about this plan is that I think that right now I already have all the knowledge and tools I need to execute on it. I’ll be gaining experience along the way (especially in terms of packaging the products), but the learning curve to get into it won’t be too bad.

A week gone already?

January 8 … why does time fly by so quickly? How does “I’m tired, I’ll do it tomorrow.” turn into “I haven’t done much this week?”

Well, looking backward isn’t going to get us where we want to go now is it?

I was wondering today whether I should try my hand at creating Poser / DAZ Studio clothing or if I should work on props / scenery. While I do have some good ideas about clothes, I also see all the work that my friends Aery Soul do in order to provide quality products. I know my nature. I wouldn’t want to do simple / lower quality work. It can take the two of them a couple of months to get a project out, though. I’m not sure I would be happy with only 3 products a year either.

So, I’m thinking about changing my focus and working on props and scenery. I have multiple ideas in that area as well. And the work required is quite a bit less than doing a full outfit of clothing / armor / etc.

Enough navel gazing

Ok, now it’s time to get to the heart of the goal. Enough of this introspection stuff, right?

Last night I made sure that all of my software was installed on my new computer. Maybe not a major milestone, but it does take quite a bit to get all the tools installed, patched, etc.

In case you’re wondering, the tools include:

  • Hexagon 2.5 – modelling
  • Gimp 2.6.8 – 2D painting (textures)
  • UV Mapper Classic – cleaning up the UV Maps prior to texture creation
  • DAZ Studio 3.0 Pro (including all figure setup tools) – for creating and testing the rigging and packaging of files for Poser / DS use

I also unzipped and organized several libraries of “helper objects” that I’ve collected over the years. these are pre-built objects that can help save me some time.

The Big Why

This morning on the radio, a couple of nutrionists were talking about how people can keep motivated on their New Year goals for weight loss. The interesting thing was that they said in their experience there is no magic diet or exercise regimine or pill. They said the common denominator among all of their clients who succeed is a mental attitude that says “I will do this!”

What I found most interesting was that they said they push their clients in the first planning sessions to discover why they want to do what they’re trying to achieve. They said that in their experience, it’s not about making a meal plan or having an exercise routine that really determines success. It’s about remembering WHY you’re trying to accomplish your goal and deriving your motivation from there.

I found that concept to be really interesting; so I thought I would apply it to my goals here. Please excuse the following “stream of conciousness” writing, I’m actually having this internal dialog as I type.

Why do I want to be a CG artist?
– Because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

But why have you always wanted to do it?
– Because I thought it was pretty cool to be able to use computers to create these kinds of things.

So you just want to be cool?
– No. I guess that would be silly.

If it’s not about being cool, then why pursue it?
– Because I get excited when I’m pursuing creative projects.

And?
– And I’m tired of doing jobs that, while I may be good at them, they don’t excite me anymore.

Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere. But then why not have a goal to work for Pixar or something?
– Because then I would just be creating something that someone else wanted, not setting my own vision.

So, why not start your own studio and find your own projects?
– Because I’m not very good at driving sales, managing a bottom line budget, etc. Owning a graphics studio isn’t creative, it’s running a business.

You could freelance?
– Yeah, but then it’s the same thing as the Pixar story, but without the security of a full-time job with a studio.

I think we’re finally getting to the core.
– I think so too. Basically I want to do something that excites the creative side of my personality and frees me from having to do jobs that may pay well, but I get bored doing.

So this goal is really about freeing yourself to live life the way you want to without sacrificing your family’s well being?
– Exactly!

Ok, enough of that silliness. It all boils down to the fact that I don’t like working 8 to 5 at a job where I’m not creatively challenged. But I can’t just quit and sacrifice the income that my family needs while I pursue my dreams.

Or…

I want to free my creativity from my self-imposed cage.