So yes, hello. I'm not dead. Don't worry--jobsearching has taken up much of my time since my last post, but I need to also make time for my volunteer work at UCA Rochester as well as my portfolio.
To kickstart the engine back up again that's been sitting there rusting, I've been working on something for the students at the campus for the purposes of learning materials--something for them to practice their dynamic posing on.
I am currently in the process of creating a character rig that is easy to work with--one whose design makes it easy to see the sections of the body in a way that makes sense for the character itself.
All of this I discussed with one of my previous tutors, Alan Postings, who was invaluable to me during my time spent on the CG Arts & Animation course at UCA Rochester.
The character that I am working on is a thespian android--an 'acto-tron' appropriately named "THES-P-4n" (Theatre, Historical and Entertainment Services, Product model 4n)
Firstly, I wanted it to look tall, thin, prideful and dignified, much like the stereotypical depiction of an actor. Additionally, since it's an android, the technology needed to reflect that. The droid needed to look sleek and polished--built with the finest that technology and modern science could offer.
I started with the head.
I accentuated the jaw to give him that 'handsome' look that you'd typically see with many caricature depictions of hollywood actors. I wanted to make sure that every part of the face was incredibly expressive, so instead of fixing the eyebrows to the forehead, I itentionally put them on piston stalks so that they can move independantly of the face. Expressivness is also the reason why I chose to keep his mouth humanoid. I felt like a fully angular and robotic mouth wouldn't be able to make such recognizable shapes as the human lips. Canonically, it's likely they would be made of some type of rubber or silicone.
Broad shoulders, thin waist and thin hips--a slim V I thought would be the best choice of body type to represent the upper-class thespian actor. I feel as thought the shape turned out very well.
The torso I divided up into sections: the upper chest, upper ribcage, abdomin, lower stomach and the pelvis. The three midsections would serve as a visual cue for how the spine itself bends.
A few shots of the limbs. Again, very slim and delicate. I decided to use ball joints as they seemed to create less visual noise. An additional bonus is that they were easy to work with when using skeleton joins.
Placeholder white blinn placed over the model and additional eye colors, This was just to get an idea of what he might look like as a finished product.
On to the rigging process!
Skeleton in place.
Ribbon spine in check.
IK/FK switching in the arms using the tab on the shoulder.
While rigging the face, I made sure to give him the most expressive facial movements possible without breaking the rig itself.
At this point, I returned to Alan in order to get some feedback about my progress who spotted several major, obvious flaws that I had managed to somehow overlook. One of the main problems was that there was no clavical joint. Well, there was, but it was tiny and wasn't enough to convincingly let him lift his arm without it looking like it was broken. Here is where I went back to the drawing board to come up with something different.
It tried to make the joint longer, but that would mean carving out an enormous hole in the side of the chest cvity for the clavical, which didn't look right at all.
Eventually, I settled on something that seemed to move comfortably and convincingly while giving him that shoulder movement I needed. I vaguely based the design on similar gyroscopic mechanisms.
Additionally, the back of the skull and the buttocks needed filling out as they looked much too flat in the profile view, so I added a plate on the back of the scalp and extended the geometry of the backside.
One final thing that needed changing was the lipsync controls. Alan felt that the small directional control inside the box control at the bottom of the jaw was much too small for users of the rig to see, and he was right. Plus, it wasn't very intuituve, so I scrapped that and started again. I ended up creating a plain, easy to identify control panel with sliders for each movement and blend shape.
I also included a slider on the opposite site of the head to turn off the control panel so that the user has less visual noise to deal with.
There is my current progress up until now.
My future plans include building a set/backdrop for THES-P-4n to utilize and to create his textures.
The next step, his textures, will involve plenty of research into the asthetics of many types of pristine-looking robots and androids in fiction.
I currently have my eyes set on a style similar to 343 Guilty Spark from the Halo video game saga.
Keep and eye out! (Pun not intended)