After finishing Mite! last year, most of the suggestions I got for improvement were all about texturing and lighting, so I’ve been putting the emphasis on those two areas while making my latest film. It’s untitled right now, but it’s a 3-4 minute long slightly-dark comedy about a little girl who gets to taste and test out experimental soft drinks in a chemical lab:
That stool on the right is where she sits reading comics while waiting for more drinks. I should probably add some mist up at the top swirling around, to add to that “deep undergound” look. Unlike my last stuff, I’m forcing myself to do without raytracing to keep my render times low, so lots of buffer shadows are at work! The geometry of the lab is done, though I’m still working on the props - the two tables will be covered with lots of lab equipment and drinks ready to test:
It took a lot of testing to get that “perspex/glass” look without raytracing - I mainly use blended sphere textures mapped to the geometry’s normals.
Here’s a test shot of the girl, Suzie, in the lab.
Because she’s got such a round face I had to go for a combination of shapekeys and lattices to make animating expressions well-defined but also smooth. You can watch a quick and dirty animation on Youtube here. Here she is again with Gruber, one of the scientists who invents drinks. He’s a bit mad.
I wanted to keep animating as simple as possible, so I avoided any kind of cloth simulation on Gruber’s lab coat. I came up with a few dirty tricks to help, like using separate bones to control the bottom of the coat and Gruber’s thighs. The coat bones have a Copy Rotation constraint to follow the corresponding thigh bones, except they don’t inherit the local Y rotation, meaning they don’t twist as his feet turn. The left sleeve hanging down in the picture is done with a bone attached to it that just slides along the arm. The coat is deformed with a mesh deform, but the wrists and legs are deformed by the armature directly, to keep the clothes looking smoother.
Both characters aren’t finished (I haven’t even started texturing Gruber’s face), but thanks to the great group linking feature in Blender I can carry on tweaking up till Render Day. It’s all in 2.5, and I found that porting a character from 2.49 to the new Blender is a great way to bring yourself up to speed with the new UI.
There’s another scientist I have to make, and finish the props, but after that I’ll hopefully be in a position to animate! There’s going to be a lot of fluid and smoke systems in this, which I’m not looking forward to, but I think it’s probably better to tackle them once the character animation’s out of the way - better to have the physics working around the story than the other way around!
I’ll post some more things when I’ve done them, but I hope the work I’ve done so far isn’t too bad for a solo project. I’m looking forward to animating Gruber - he’ll be a very wild character and should be fun to move about.
I’m really hoping to do a good job on this one, so any pointers I can get, I’d really appreciate. Thanks!