Friday, 18 February 2011

3D Modelling: Mudbox sculpted head

After some practice with Mudbox, it was time to create the sculpted head for the project. This time however, from reference of another classmates head. I felt a bit apprehensive at first, for the fact that I would have to replicate the facial structures and features more accurately than my previous 'test' head. I have a goal to achieve here within manipulating Mudbox and it's tools to make the sculpted head look like the person I've chosen. I began by taking a series of photograph's of the model's head and face, so I could have a good overview of each side of the face, which will benefit in accuracy when it comes to sculpting proportions and features etc.

I uploaded the basic pre-set head on Mudbox and inserted the reference images. From there I began grabbing the surface of the head and pulling it around the features in relation to the pictures, whilst paying specific attention to both front on and profile views. Once that base was set, I used various tools such as 'Sculpt', 'Grab', 'Flatten' and 'Wax' to help me build both skeletal and muscular features. To build up muscle I usually had the brush with a low strength but a large diameter, this gradually built up the surface which create smooth and even shapes. I then reworked into the muscles by make the brush smaller with slightly more strength and inverting the sculpt tool with the 'ctrl' button. This gradually took some of the surface away, which helped in defining both muscle and bone shapes. For small parts such as the eyelids, nose and lips: I used the 'Wax' tool to layer up the areas in which need smaller definitions. I repeated the previous technique of using 'ctrl' to take away some of the surface in order to give the shapes of the face more predominance. However, this time I paid attention to the 'Grab' tool to move and place the proportions of the facial elements more in line to the reference pictures. To add harsher details, I inverted the brushes with a stronger strength to rework over skin creases and where more muscular features were held, such as the 'Levator' around the nose. These stronger brush strokes gave the muscles and details more depth to the sculpt, from there I just need to smoothen it out on the occasion by using the 'shift' button.

For the finishing touches, I decided to add some extra detailing to the lips and hair for the eyebrows/head. This was achieved by using a very small and fairly strengthened brush on the 'wax' tool. I also added a small amount of pen pressure, so I could get the right sort of hair 'strand' shape. I then gradually layered up the hairs on the eyebrows with quick strokes and I did this for this lips but inverted for the 'creases'. For the hair, I used a larger brush first to add depth to the hair so it set itself off the head/face. From there I reworked with two different sized brushes and layered up more strands. This gave the hair more shape when defining elements such as the fringe etc.  I also added small details to the torso, like collarbones and shoulders, just to give the overall model some shape and definition. I had to do this as my model had specific shoulder heights that affected how the neck looked in comparison to the face/head.

Overall I really enjoyed working in Mudbox. Although I am still very new to the software, it seems it won't take me long to full understand more about sculpting. I just need to practice more with the anatomy of both people and objects. In doing so will be proven VERY useful when making my own sculpts in Mudbox as I would already have that knowledge. I especially liked adding muscle and defining the shapes use various brushes. I can see from my previous 'test' head, that I have learned so much more at how the eyelids and mouths is formed, I think this is very clearly evident.

Here are some screen shots and an animated turntable of my final sculpted head:

3D Modelling: Playing around with Mudbox

Mudbox is a modelling programme that is famously known for bringing concept art into the the 3D world. It is widely used within both the video game and movie industry to produce all sorts of 3D models, such as figurative/character or objects and environmental sculpts. As aware of it as I am, I have never used this software before and with our project to make a 3D sculpted head, I was a bit apprehensive. In the past, I have sculpted a head from a life model using clay and that was a a fairly strenuous task for all sorts of aspects, like muscle and bone structure alongside detailing on the skin. However, the benefit of using Mudbox here is for the fact I can undo mistakes at the touch of a button.

Because Mudbox is so new to me, I thought it would be a good idea to practice with the software so I could gain a better understanding of the tools and materials. I decided to have a go at making a random sculpted head without using a reference photo. The reason for this is so I can use my recent life drawing skills and put them to the test. As I began modelling the head, I began planning the definitive features like bone and muscle. With my progress I began imaging the facial structures and started adding specific features to give my character personality. I decided to go for a Male's head as i wanted to focus on strong bones and muscles that shape the face, such as jowls, cheekbones and he structure around the throat/neck.

I really enjoyed using and adjusting the tools to create different surfaces and textures around the face. I liked sculpting the muscle around the chest and neck, alongside adding bones like the cheeks, eyebrows and jaw. My favourite part was the nose construction, as I really felt I had the freedom to produce any shapes that I wanted, which I believe resulted in an accurate looking nose. Being able to add and remove the surface really gave me that freedom to express  detail and add character the face of the model. However, I did have some underlying issues, which I believe would've been resolved with a reference photograph. I still believe that within NOT using a picture to help me, I did a pretty good job considering I had no references. But with this risk came a couple of issues, that still in the finished product look very wrong.

I found it complicated to get the mouth structure looking realistic. I had to really practice layering up the surfaces and removing sections to try and get that muscle around the lips more defined. However, even with a lot of persistence, I just couldn't get the mouth to look right. Another issue I found when finalizing what I could with the head, was that the eyes were far to large in comparison to the rest of the face. With a lot of reshaping and sculpting, I managed to retain the majority of the size, but even now it still looks a bit peculiar. The benefit now after uploading them onto this blog, I was able to re-evaluate the sculpted head and found where I went wrong. The upper lip on the mouth is way to predominant to the rest of the oral features because it is coming out further around the sides, which gives the illusion that the figure is pouting or has swelling of some sort. I need to gradually add the muscle here and more so around the bottom lip in order to get the shape just right. As for the eyelids, I simply need to layer on less surface and pay more attention to the lower lid just as much as the top. Hopefully  when I construct my head for the unit, I can take on board these faults and make sure I fix them if I should come across them.

In during this small practice, I learned a lot about the Mudbox software and how to use the various tools in order to make shapes and textures. I really enjoyed playing with this and because of it, I am feeling ambitious to make my new 3D model head. I think I did well considering I had no reference imagery, but I should use references in the future to help me understand the topology of the face, wherever i find complications and also to strengthen my artistic skills within this software.

Here are two images showing my practice head I constructed:

3D Modelling: Topology, Facial anatomy (skeletal and muscle structures)

Within making 3D models, Topology plays a vital role within understanding the geometry and mathematics on a surface. It also appears as the 'mesh' when making models within computer based software. It wraps around the surface and changes its shape depending on the structure of the object. For example, in the image above, a face's typology is in relation to how the muscles and bone are formed on the surface. The mesh covers the surface and shows where those structures are formed. In facial anatomy, you can see how the topology is found through the skull shapes and how the muscle is formed around the face. Again, in the image above you can see where the facial anatomy is with how the topology appears in the surface. Especially around the eyes, nose and lips as they're more definitive muscles on the face itself as they're the main forms in which show expressions etc. A good topology stretches and forms around those contours, but it should never tear or rip (the mesh). If this happens, the topology is wrong, or the model in which you're constructing has poor definitions. For better practice, it seems relevant to do a small drawing exercise where I can understand how the muscle and bone come together to make shapes on the face, in which affects topology. This will be very beneficial when it comes to making my Mudbox sculpted head, as not only will I understand anatomy better, I can also map out the topologies.

Here are 3 drawings representing both bone and muscle of the human face. I paid specially attention with this and mapped the muscle to my actual skull drawing, So I could practice understanding it.  

From these drawings, I can already start to see how the topology would wrap around the contours of the bone and muscle. It's fairly straight forward when you know this sort of anatomy, it's just based around understanding the different roles of the muscles on the face. Such as lips come out further then a lot of the face and have more definition. You can see it here with the muscle anatomy. I think alongside this practice and using reference imaging, I will be able to understand the topology of a surface much better than if I had gone straight into sculpting. I have understood the muscles and bone of the face, so it will stay in memory when I face sculpting. 

. Google Images

3D Modelling: Polygon Research

After the initial concept art stage, the 'modeling' process comes into play to bring your drawings to life within the three dimensional world. There are various types of software used to create 3D models, such as zbrush, Mudbox and Maya: All in which use different elements in order to make the most beautifully rendered models within our movie and gaming industries.

However, making 3D models isn't always an easy process. It requires plenty of drawing skill and knowledge in order to make realistic creations. Such as facial and human anatomies, structured landscapes and objects. Without this understanding, making 3D models would be near enough impossible to master. For example making a face within a 3D structure requires knowledge of the human skull, muscle and tissue structure, skin layouts (creases, stretching, folds etc) weight, gravity and hair! When it is evident that you can compose these elements successfully within drawings, You are ready to build it up in the 3D world. Drawing first is crucial, not only to understand those elements of correct proportion, but also to use as a reference when bringing those drawings to life.

So once all your drawings are underway and ready to go, it's time to make it into a 3D sculpture. When making models, there is structure known as a 'polygon mesh' which covers the surface of the object in square like shapes. A polygon mesh determines the visual quality and structure of your model, depending on how many 'squares' are present. You can change the amount of polygons on your mesh on the basis of how you want your 3D model to look (low to high quality, simple to extravagant) These days, many video game models reach into the millions upon millions of polygons on a mesh, For example games like 'Gears of War 2', 'Halo Reach', 'Final Fantasy 13' and 'Castlevania: LOS'. However, not so long ago, it was very different. It was rare for video games to breach past the thousands of polygons to a mesh, simply on the basis with lack of technology etc.

Here are some image examples representing and comparing different qualities of polygon meshes:

1.) 007 Goldeneye (1997) from the N64. Polygon count: 300-400, However! differs in FPS view. When selecting to go to the options menu, your 'hand' appears with a watch in which enables you to pan through your weapons, mission objectives and maps etc. These polygons could potentially breach into 1000.

2.) Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) and (Halo 3) 2007 from Microsoft's Xbox. For the first Halo, the polygon count breached around the 2000's mark, which at it's time was pretty impressive in terms of visually appealing graphics etc. However, it's successor Halo 3 benefited from the latest 3D modeling technology at the time, and produced polygon meshes that reached into the millions.

3.) Tomb Raider (1996), Tomb Raider Legend (2007), Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008) for Sony's Playstation, Microsoft's Xbox and PC. Tomb Raider is probably the most recognizable in terms of development with polygon meshes. It is hard to forget the 90's heroine first appearing with those triangular shaped 'Madonna' breasts. Who can blame it? with a maximum of 300 polygons to the model's mesh. In the future, as better 3D modeling systems were being produced, Tomb raider benefited from a nice re-model of our classy maiden. With Tomb Raider Legend, Lara Croft and the game itself evolved and gained a whole new level of respect, within seeing that glorious transformation of better graphics and proportions. It reached up to a nice 5000 polygons in the mesh structure. With that success of Tomb Raider Legend, the series has managed to set and produced another three games from then to now. The most recent and definitive for stunning visuals is Tomb Raider: Underworld. Beautifully rendered landscaping and character models made this addition to the franchise one not to miss! All thanks to a massive increase of up to 30,000 polygons.


. Google Images