Friday, 27 November 2015

Shotgun 3d model

Shotgun Pump Action

Here is my new Pump Action Shotgun model available from Turbosquid now. You can get it for Maya, Max, in fbx, or obj format. It's a polygonal model coming in at  faces 7519  verts 7485 for the shotgun with three cartridge models included. If you go over to turbosquid you can see a little animation of the shotgun pump action firing and ejecting shells.

I'm going to talk here a little about how I built the model and converting it from Maya to Max.
Shotgun base mesh in Maya
Maya Low poly shotgun
 I started out with a low poly base mesh which I built in Maya I then UV mapped the low poly model. I decided to have a look around to see if I could find a better UV mapping solution for this model. I normally make organic models and have been using Zbrushes UV master but it's no good for mechanical stuff like the shotgun. I ended up using Roadkill, it's a good program for low polygon. I also tried Maya's unfold but found it to be so loaded with bugs that it was unworkable.

Roadkill shotgun UV mapped showing UV islands
Shotgun in Roadkill for UV mapping

Once this was done I exported the model as an obj and brought it into Zbrush for detailing. I separated the model into a number of subtools so that I could get a higher level of detail into the model.

Base model in Zbrush
Below are my high poly Zbrush sculpts with a shiny material on them so they look pretty. I found it quite hard to sculpt a mechanical object like this, but the idea was to push myself specifically into a hard surface object and I learnt a lot from it.

The next step for me was to get normal maps from the high poly sculpt onto a lower poly version of the shotgun. For this step I used xNormal which I have been using for a while and for me it seems the most reliable tool for this. As I had a number of subtools and because some areas of the shotgun overlap I used my subtools to normal map the shotgun in sections that fit into one texture page when assembled (if you look at the Roadkill screen shot you can see my texture page). Overlapping objects in normal mapping will cause errors if not dealt with separately.

This is where things went wrong..................
I had some ugly texture stretching going on which you can see above. The strange saw tooth effect showing on the piece above is pixelation on a normal map. What I did to fix this was re-map the shotgun at a higher poly division and also I altered my UV islands. I also rebuilt the barrel and used edge creasing in Zbrush to keep my edges sharp. The rifle butt needed re sculpting as I didn't have enough geometry in my low poly to make my original version work. All useful things to learn, edge creasing in Zbrush is an easy way to keep your crisp edges. For mechanical objects it's better to be generous with your low poly when it comes to curved areas like the rifle barrel. I discovered that Roadkill does not cope with higher poly models and ended up mapping the shotgun in sections, it wasn't too bad, I used the subtool division from Zbrush.

Next step texturng. Above is an early base colour version. You can see the barrel has changed from the Zbrush version. Below is the altered mapping from the higher poly division shotgun.

One more thing I wanted to share, as it drove me up the wall. This is the first model that I have converted to Max. It's pretty simple for a model like this which is just geometry with some separate parts. I exported the model as an obj. I learnt that to keep my pivot points accurate I needed to export all elements from the origin. I learnt how to rebuild my materials in Max, all pretty straight forward........until normal map seams!

The horror!

I'm going to run through what happened and how I solved it starting with setting up the normal map slot in the material. The first step is to go to the maps section of the material. Set the bump map amount to 100, default is 30. Next click the map button marked none, select "Normal Bump" from the Material/Map Browser. Now select the normal texture node.
Normal Map set up in Max help images for setting up your normal map texture file
Select the Normal slot marked none and pick bitmap from the Material/Map Browser. Lastly and here is the fix. Once you have navigated to your normal map texture file go to the gamma option, select override and set it to 1 as shown in the image below. The problem is due to Max's default gamma option being set to 2 which gives you your seams.
Max gamma fix for normal map seams which options to use
I had to do lots of googeling to get to the bottom of that one, so I hope this will help others with there normal map woes. Typical Max that the default value doesn't work.
I could also tell you a thing or three about shotgun calibre, imperial to metric but I think it might be too exciting for you (sarcasm).

Shotgun pump actionShotgun Wireframe

Thursday, 18 December 2014

My Illustrated Children's Book about Autism 'Why does Sammy do that?'

Why Does Sammy Do That? cover illustration
Cover illustration
This is my first self published illustrated children's book. It explains the problems a child with autism can face.  My partner Melanie Janz wrote it and I have been working on the illustrations. The story is about our son Sammy to help his class mates and other children better understand autism and Sammy's behaviour. The book is called 'Why Does Sammy Do That?'.

Why Does Sammy Do That? Interior illustrations proprioceptio
A couple of pages from the interior dealing with proprioception:  the perception of movement and spatial orientation

Sammy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was four years old. ASD made sense of much of why Sammy was different from other children, and in some ways it was a relief. Once we had been given some insight into why Sammy behaved the way he did, we found ourselves explaining what autism was to others. We did find that it was difficult to explain to other children of Sammy's age (also older and younger), but that they were often the most direct about asking "Why does Sammy do that?".

Melanie had the idea for a story, which would simply explain some of Sammy's behaviour to his class mates, particularly issues with sensory perception. She came up with it, while she was stuck in bad traffic. Her plan was to put it together with photos and print a couple of copies for Sammy's school and maybe our daughter Becky's pre-school. I suggested I could illustrate it and was also thinking about self publishing. I have published my cg models through online shops before so I thought a book would be more straight forward. Illustrating a children's book is something I've daydreamed about for years. I did a style test, a simple illustration of Sammy looking lost, and Mel was keen for me to do the project.

Why Does Sammy Do That? style test
Style test for Why Does Sammy Do That?
We were influenced by Ellen Notbohm's book Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew which we both found very useful and inspiring. I started working on the book in mid July, and we published it on the 12 of December 2014. The illustrations were finished by the end of October. November was taken up with bug fixing, proofing and tidying up loose ends. My father proof read the book for us with his years of experience marking students working as an English teacher.

Why Does Sammy Do That? trampoline girls

 It has been a very different project to what I'm used to. It's very close to my heart and was extremely hard to work on at times. With many illustrations of my son and some of my daughter it was personal. The book often deals with scenes I find very difficult and upsetting. It's hard for me to see people judge Sammy without understanding him, but at the same time understandable. If I didn't know Sammy, as an outsider I might see Sammy the same way.

For the illustration I worked in Photoshop. I worked up the lines quite roughly and tightened them over time. The color is quite simply blocked in with a shadow and highlights pass. The color is layered under the line work similar to cell paint in traditional animation. You can see in the style test that I was thinking of a more loose finish, but when it came to the book I tightened it up. The format for the book is 8.5"x 8.5" at 300 DPI I created the originals at 10x10 and shrank them down for the final version. I had a palette layer that I passed from file to file to keep my colors consistent.

Why Does Sammy Do That? WIP group Hug
Work in progress on one of the illustrations for Why Does Sammy Do That?

Why Does Sammy Do That? group Hug

 We used Createspace for this project. It was relatively straight forward to work with, there was a hiccup with the resolution being too low. I unfortunately didn't spot the problem until we had a printed proof.  This went round in circles for a bit until I asked on the site forum and was told by other users to re- upload the file, which magically solved the problem. I used photoshop and uploaded the final print files in PDF format. I would probably use createspace again, but it seems if you get stuck, the forums where you can talk to the other users are the best way to go.

The pictures in the book are mostly children we know. The most obvious is our son Sammy, but my daughter Becky also pops up in a number of the illustrations as do our neighbors, a cousin, various children from Sammy's school and our cat Ember.
Why Does Sammy Do That? Becky & cousin
Becky & cousin, interior illustration

We have had wonderful feedback about this book from friends and family, the other parents from Sammy's school and also the teachers and support workers who work with Sammy.

"I love this book. A perfect book to explain autism to children. It made me cry."

"This is a must-have for anyone who wants to help their children understand the world and mind of an autistic child. Beautifully written and illustrated, and very moving."

Why Does Sammy Do That? Sammy smiling
It's now available on Amazon in the UK Why Does Sammy Do That?
Also in the US Why Does Sammy Do That?

Please can you share plus and like to help us increase the awareness of autism!

Thanks to everyone who has supported us with this project!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Z-Brush Horned Green Dragon

Horned Green Dragon main
Screen grab of Zbrush sculpt with polypaint.
I've been thinking about making a dragon model for a very long time and actually started doing something about it. I decided to just open up Zbrush and go at it. I think sketching in 3d is sometimes easier than on paper. You need to put more effort in to get a decent looking 3d model. However a drawing  can give the illusion of a nice form with out true substance. You find the flaws of the drawing only when you try to build it.
Horned Green Dragon Side View

Horned Green Dragon Low angle

 Inspiration For The Dragon's Head

I've painted dragons here before and read up on descriptions of what dragons look like. They are described as having elements of the horse, camel and dog. A very broad mix to play with and part of why I enjoy making fantasy creatures so much. I have some pictures that live in my head when I think of dragons, I can remember seeing Smaug by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt on the cover of the Hobbit when I was probably 8 or so. Strange to see two brothers credited for the same picture, I had no idea it was by two artists. That picture echoes round the web as well as the inside of my head so I expect many of you will recognize it.

Another big influence for me was lead figures for fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons. I actually went looking for some of the miniatures I used to have and found The Great Fire Dragon, there's clearly an influence there. I couldn't find the artists name but it's fair to say that the artists who made those figures had a big influence on me and I learned a good deal of what I know about painting from painting miniatures. More recently I saw the cover art of John Jude Palencar for the novel Eragon and that stuck too.

Horned Green Dragon montage

 Making The Dragon's Head

I screen grabbed the dragons head at intervals as I was working so you can see how the dragon developed. The dragon started as a poly sphere and I remeshed round about every time I did a screen grab. Remeshing prevents the polygons from being overstretched when you are putting detail into an area which  lacks the required number of polygons.

This model was intended to develop ideas and have fun. I would normally build a base mesh in Maya with a low polycount with the intention of having a fully poseable skinned model. I may still do this but I enjoyed just focusing on sculpting for a change. Low poly modeling is a very different process and not as good for developing ideas. Zbrush has a much more organic feel which very much suits pulling around fantasy creatures.

Horned Green Dragon WIP #1
 I start with basic shapes which I pull around using the move tool.

Horned Green Dragon WIP #2

Horned Green Dragon WIP #3

Horned Green Dragon WIP #4
 Once I had the head shape looking the way I wanted I put the details in.

Scales are quite easy and fun to do using Zbrush.

If you have a nice form to start with the scales almost draw themselves.

That was where I stopped on the sculpt.

Early polypaint, I experimented with some materials too.

Almost there, this is an outliner material that helped the texturing.

Painting The Dragon's Head

I painted the model using polypaint in Zbrush. It's probably the first time I've used it so much and it worked out quite well. Because I  painted directly onto the model in the same way I sculpt, it's much easier than painting an unfolded map in photoshop. I did use photoshop to tweak a little but for the most part it's polypaint. The best part is not having to guess how it's going to look. When you're painting the flat map what you're looking at is a peculiar pancake version of your dragon that looks like it has been skinned ready for stuffing. This is not a rendered model, all the images are just screen grabs so this model could look even nicer with the right lighting.

If I develop this model further (which depends on how much attention it gets) I think I would start thinking about more of a crest of horns and a larger mouth with more prominent teeth. I would also texture the eyes as they are currently just placeholder spheres with a material applied.

If you would like me to develop the dragon further please like, +1 and/or share this post and I will get the message. Thanks to all the plussers on my last post I very much appreciate active readers, this blog welcomes and needs your support.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...