Thursday, 19 March 2009

The beginnings of animation

I tried out some movements with rough pencil animation:

also I prepared the fish to be animated with help of REFERENCE OBJECTS:

I would advise that to everyone who has a massive scene, but in this case the file in which we work always has to be accompanied by the file we are referencing from.



Firstly I tried out different rendering options in Maya, to see what happens to the lights, sharpeness of the edges, glows and reflections. As Can be seen on the picture references, Mental Ray behaved a bit strange with the see through objects, although it gave some interesting scattered look.

Maya Hardware left edges pixelated.

Maya Software Rendering seemed to behave the best of them as it left surfaces smooth, object's edges crisp and kept the transparency. I gave other members of the group to try out other options of rendering which could help us to achieve profuse look of paper (like subsurface scattering and ambient occlusion for instance), but it all turned out bad so I decided to simply go for Maya Software.

Mental ray

Maya software seems to leave the surfaces soft and crisp definition still:

Maya hardware made surface pixialted:

We made the decision to render out all in separately editable layers in order to have more control over them in compositing phase. For that I needed to sort out all the proper naming of the objects, assign them to the layers and then create rendering layers.



At first we decided to texture all the objects with one same white paper texture, so the objects would be subtly defined solely with different light qualities. After trying so, I found out that this wouldnt't work and would also make a discrepancy with the colorful character animation composited on the top. So I decided to include a bit of ink drawing on all the objects (to shade them), which was an enormous amount of work, which didn't really pay off. It simply didn't look good, it was blunt and dull and so I finally decided to texture them with different materials. Different qualities of texturing represent the dihotomy of two different worlds: the world of her imagination and the real world of hospital. First one is expressed through softness and lightness of paper, the second through roughness of cardboard and bump.

Color range also contrasts from one world to another, while being more bright and divinely innocent in the first, more dark and earthly in the second.


After modeling I needed to sort out the UVs of every object in a scenes that I made (There was just Louis who actually sorted out UV's for the scene I assigned him, and Moe for the fish I gave him to be rigged, all the rest were done by me). They are mainly all polygons, except few NURBS and subdivs. Texturing NURBS is much easier as the texture automatically wraps around the object. If UV's needed on a NURB object it is the best to convert (modify- convert- from NURBS to subdivisions).

Texturing POLYGONS:

Texturing NURBS:

NURBS are very smooth surfaces where the texture nicely wraps around, so they don't need some special treatment when UV mapped.But this can be also a problem when we want some more defined texturing of different parts of the same object. To do so e need to convert them to Subdivisions, which have the same texturing options as Polygon and at the same time kept NURB's characteristics (the way light hits them is very smooth).


As one might notice the fish is already rigged (by Mohammed Warsame), which usually wouldn't allow us any incisions into the mesh, especially not uv mapping, but if this is done already, then it does not matter when the texture is attached.

It was a really hard job to find the best way of texturing these 3D models without loosing subtle grading quality of ramps and just the right amount of glow that I assgned to the objects right after they were being made. They looked so nicely, that I really wanted to keep them, so I had to find the solution which would include these plus assgning the brand new paper textures to the objects.

This is the bomb city that is just simply ramped:

I tried out how it looks if I attach one single paper texture as we wanted to do in the first place.

Final (after finding the right solution):

But the outcome wasn't satisfiable, so I decided to include some drawing also into the texture of paper origami backgrounds, so I preserve continuity. This is a really long procedure as I have to print out each uv snapshot in a very high resolution (1024 by 1024 dpi- so bigger than A3) and finally- DRAW on every each one of them! When these were assigned to objects...they again didn't really satisfied my expectations as the resolution was still low, although I draw them enormous. They were also keep crushing Maya, no matter how small I made them.

It seemed that assigning hand drawn textures will be easy, but everytime I tried to assign new texture it collapsed Maya, so I tried out some new approaches to texturing:

(Take into the account that we would like to keep ramps, glows and lighting effects from Maya on our objects + give them papery look).

For generating origami paper textures I sometimes this cool Photoshop plug-in (called IMAGE SYNTH) which makes pattern out of a chosen part:



There is a possibility of LAYERED SHADER, when you can actually layer different textures one on top of another (for instance ramp on top of drawing and paper bump map).

THE PROBLEM: I would like to keep those beautiful ramps and glows at 100% and also the new under-layer paper texture at 100% strength, but with layered texturing this isn't possible. Each one takes a percentage of the whole.

2. EXPORTING FROM MAYA AS .OBJ FILE(object file, which is recognised by most of 3D software), IMPORTING INTO PHOTOSHOP CS4 AS A 3D OBJECT.

It is also possible to import the object directly into After Effects, but this extremely slow down 3D camera.

PROBLEM: This tool is amazing an it is a miracle to actually have an option of dealing with 3D object in 2D software. You can actually paint on the texture straight away. But the problem is that this option i still in the process of development and it does not allow importing NURBS. When imported, they re badly deformed. ALSO another problem is that any texturing done in Maya with it's default textures (ramps for instance) is here lost and needs to be redone.


This is a great option offering direct response from Photoshop. The object is connected in a network and all the texturing aspects (like bumpmap, transparency, colour,... depends what you choose to be accessible from a list) can be quickly altered in Photoshop and simply updated in Maya with clicking on "update PSD network" . This option is great for someone who would like to have more control over the texture.

Before (just ramps):



The PARER CRANE was quite hard to model although id doesn't look hard at the first sight. I modeled it from one single plane the same way as if I was folding it.
This was my reference:

Texturing the CRANE:

UV mapping in this case was very hard as it is very organic. I managed to sort out the UVs this way:

After printing out the UV snapshot as PNG 1024 by 1024 dpi file (this means huge file but it is the only way to have drawing nicely seen in the 3D space) I am in a search of a texture that would resemble the fact that Sadako used any aper she found o do the paper cranes- either some nice wrapping paper or some printed texture with fonts and signs resembling medication box (se used any material she fond in a hospital).

On the end I decided to paint myself more traditional pattern, which would reflect the traditional gift packaging, but also be very subtle, so the whiteness of the crane wouldn't be too disturbed on a look:

Crane Renders:


MODELING- general

Once we made a decision that the backgrounds will be done in 3D (I didn't want to loose the opportunity to learn more about maya and improve skills), I started to experiment with different modelling techniques in order to achieve the look of paper, with all its quality of fragile thinness, profusion, organic folds and lightness.


I have been trying different ways in how to model flat objects with holes in Maya and then one day after loads of experimenting, came up with an idea:

To CREATE a selection in Photoshop- make a path, add the path to a new layer and export it as an * ai file (illustrator), because this way the drawing becomes accessible as a curve when imported into Maya. Then we choose the outern curve, then inside ones and go to the surfaces- planar (option menu gives us chance to decide the poly count for example). I advise to use QUADS, not triangles as they deform surface.

Reference object:

3D Model: