Thursday, 20 March 2014

RUST -Final Major Project- Props, Rigging and Animating Sprocket

Before I began the rigging process, I started creating the additional props I had designed after the final turnaround illustration for sprocket, which are essentially his makeshift pipe, his accessory satchel he wears across his shoulders to keep all his little trinkets in and something for him to hold: In this case I thought it could be his in game weapon that isn't actually a weapon, more a modified version of a welding tool his model of robot would have been equipped to use in their heavy duty tasks. 
I made each thing with his rigging and animation process in mind: His bag I didn't want overly large to interfere with his walk cycle, and his weapon I wanted to be large enough to act like a staff more than a projectile weapon, and him swinging it about to bash enemies is how I envision him using it more than how it was originally created for.

Decided on utilizing the CAT Rig method for rigging my character; I find the process to be a lot more straightforward and adaptable to your needs, in a less confusing way, being able to add parts when you need to. Also the walkthrough's on this method I found online were very simple and allowed me to tackle this process with a more clearer intention that didn't confuse me as much as it has done in the past. Being a robot, the process was simplified anyway as I don't have to worry about skin deformation and meshes stretching; Because of my forward planning for limb move-ability in the modelling stage, its meant that i was able to rig each movable part with ease. 

The process wasn't without its hurdles though. I spent awhile tweaking the feet, as once I began to experiment with moving the limbs about, I found that some areas didn't look right attached to certain anchors on the rig (the areas that act as the 'balls' of the heel basically stayed stuck to the rest of the leg as opposed to following the rest of each foot).
Working at this stage allowed me to see how my design actually worked practically and to see if me working to my original sketches paid off.... turns out it did, and the believable aspect of Sprockets design also works in motion which was a relief.

Making a basic standing pose for Sprocket was something I also spent a lot of time getting just right as well. I wanted his pose to show his age and character, with a sort of old man style slump with his knees slightly bent and his arms hanging down at his side with his neck arched slightly forward. As opposed to how robots usually are, all stiff and supported by their sturdy frame I wanted Sprocket to look more human in his form, his age meaning that he cant stand as straight as he used to and him having a more of a relaxed and worn out demeanor than the sorts of robots your used to seeing. 

For the walk cycle I utilized one of  the basic default ones, then adapted it so that it fit in with more of the style I was going with in Sprocket's standing pose. With the default walk there was far too much emphasis on the swinging of his hips and his head, so i toned that down so that his head barely moved that much apart from a slight pan left to right (as if the joints in his neck are stiff with age) and made it so his leg movement seems more relaxed. I didn't work too far from the base walk or start my own from scratch, just because I was happy with the edited version and I think it fits rather well to Sprocket's character. Also, following the tutorials, I added walk motions for sidestepping both left and right and also walking backwards  in the same motion. This is so once I export him into UDK, I can export the frames for each type of walk and loop it to be used as that particular walk animation. 

The final image of Sprocket: Overall very pleased with how my first character has turned out, took a bit longer than planned but as its my first one out of three, there was several teething things I had to get used to and work around that I know about when I tackle my next two fellahs. There are areas on this guy I need to tweak and polish such as his texture maps and importing him into engine, but for now this guy is essentially finished! On to the next one.

RUST -Final Major Project- Texturing Sprocket

From the beginning I had already made the decision to hand paint all of my textures from scratch, to make the surface quality as accurate to my original artwork and stylised look I was going for. The texture budget was split into: one 1024x1024 size for the head, 2048x2048 for the body and an extra 1024x1024 for any additional props. Originally I was planning to work within each budget to break up certain areas to specific map sizes so I could develop textures for specific areas individually, however once unwrapping was under way I found it much more straightforward to work in the method I was used to and make as much use of efficient space on the UV Map for everything. 

(Above: Diffuse map for body textures) This is what the model looks like once I had applied the first layer of base colours to it. I worked in very much the same way you would in any painting, first applying a base for then to add details onto and then final add all the little touches and damage/rust to it to show Sprockets character as an abandoned old robot. 
The next step was to add all of the surface detail, the main thing being all the linework to depict the overlapping plates that made up a lot of sprockets main body work, both on his head and his body. Instead of just drawing flat lines I also added a lighter line alongside it to help contribute to making the plates seem more 3D even at just the diffuse stage. I think this will contribute towards the normal and specular maps later on. 

This is the final look to sprocket before I begin to apply all the wear and tear to him. I wanted to keep the main bodywork to him a consistent and basic colour, as the thought process behind him is that he would have been a mass produced unit available to most people and businesses in maintaining their properties, so I wanted to keep things simple. However areas such as the paint markings on him I wanted to match his asymmetrical body parts in that it would have been damaged and re painted over, over the years so that it no longer resembled its original patterns or meanings. 

As the title of the project suggests, things like rust and damaged metal will play a big part in the surface detail in all of my characters to show how long they have been left to their own devices, away from the maintenance of man. Using a faux media effect brush in Photoshop I painted in the rust and grime in the areas that I wanted to be most affected. At the start I pretty much just plastered it all over, but then went around deleting it out of areas I didn't want it to be prevalent in, as well as fading some colour down. Areas such as Sprocket's jaw I wanted to be really obviously affected by rust so that it appeared to resemble facial hair on his, which I think combined with his bleary eyed expression adds to his character. 

The overall body once I finished applying wear and damage to it. One thing I have gotten back in terms of feedback in regards to the rust is that its too consistent throughout. I need to work on breaking it up a bit, making it appear more sporadically and naturally along the plates, and to also appear in different shades in areas to break up the overall colour scheme. This is something I will consistently look at adjusting until I finalise this character as its something I want to get spot on. 

To finalise the diffuse (for now) I added surface decals to it to make give him the manufactured look. Things such as serial numbers, and warning striped on his power pack to give him that authentic feel. With the specular map, I spent a long time focusing on highlighting the areas in between the rust and alongside the edge of his Armour plates to really catch the light, while a lot of areas damaged and scuffed to appear a lot duller. I also took this into account with the normal map, making it only really bump off the outlines of the plates and the areas of rust that were really prevalent on his bodywork, so that it gave the rust a peeling look that is seen on really derelict machinery. 

Final textured version of Sprocket: Though I am largely happy with how Sprocket looks, from a lot of feedback I received there are several areas I need to revisit at a later stage, such as the rust detail and how it appears on the individual plates (needs to be more targeted instead of all over), what areas the specular effects and also refine the normal map down somewhat. Once I have fully rigged this guy and have him all ready for exporting into engine, I will go back to tweak these areas and polish them until I am satisfied with the final look.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

RUST -Final Major Project- Modelling Sprocket

As with all character modelling I began with the head, The majority of the character was made up of basic shapes to depict his cobbled together appearance so was very straightforward, I just kept referring to my rough turnaround I did of this characters head and adapted it to look better where necessary. 
Making the head look functional, weather or not I would decide to animate it at a later stage was important to emphasize his personality, so areas like around his jaw, the rubber covering on his neck and his eyebrows I modeled with this in mind. 
I was keen to emphasize the lack of symmetry in Sprockets design, as he is a bipedal character to start with, to make him more interesting to look at. This however meant relying on the symmetry modifier to do most of the work wasn't an option, and so each separate element of the model had to be constructed individually (with the exception of the occasional cylinder here and there). 

I Made the effort to keep in mind how the model would work when rigged, and so I paid attention to joints and how they would move and interact with the rest of the body. As I tend to sketch things out how they look good and functional in one position I had to adapt things slightly so they would not look odd when for example, the forearm bends at the elbow. Moving the arms at the shoulder down to the waist also gave me a good inclination of scale and made me aware if i was making the arms too long or short. 
There is a lot of exposed cables and tubing on this character's design from his head to his feet. As opposed to making a couple of different types then just copying them all over, I modeled them all from scratch for the authentic look for the snaking cables. Seeing them snake between body parts and hanging out of various bits gives the silhouette a much more interesting look I feel.

This is just a fun pose I did during the modelling phase; To make sure both the limbs work with the body when put in situation more than anything, and to make sure there is not weird meshes overlapping in obvious ways. Sprocket's left arm isn't symmetrical with his right, so again I had to construct a lot of its elements from scratch. The hand is mostly copied over as it was largely the same design. I just tweaked the scale of the palm to suit the large forearm it was attached to.

The legs are probably the trickiest part: They're the most openly damaged and cobbled together part of sprocket, with lots of exposed mechanisms and wiring around his broken Armour plating. Once the tricky shaped plating was created, it was just a case of positioning all of the components within in the most efficient way. I mostly used cylinders and other basic shapes apart from areas that were more obvious such as the knee joints, to be the pistons and other parts.
Though I could utilize a lot of the same elements within each leg. the main thigh plating was unique on each side so had to spend a lot of time making this area truthful to my original sketches and artwork. Some areas though, like the shine plate, I was able to use in both legs but adjust slightly so they both bore the same shape but were still distinguishable and separate from one another. 

The final base mesh: Very pleased with how sprocket has turned out! due to the time I spent on even the smallest details he remains true to the original artwork in every way, the only changes I made were so he adapted better to his 3D form. The most important thing though is with his face he maintains his sort of baffled but curious expression that was really important in carrying over to his model.