10/30/10

Cucurbita Maxima 2010: Harry Potter

Due to the overwhelming lobbying of friends on Facebook, this year's cucurbita maxima carvings were done in honor of the second to last Harry Potter film: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!



Total working time was somewhere around five hours. Until next year!

10/23/10

Thesis Proposal: The City and the Stars

Brad Reynolds

3D Modeling Emphasis

Diaspar: Concept Background

The golden age of science fiction from the mid-twentieth century offers a wealth of potential creativity for a thesis project. During this time period of rapidly increasing scientific discovery and advancement, authors and artists were able to dream up a myriad of imaginative stories and gadgetry, some of which exist today. It is from this era of science fiction that I am selecting the basis for my thesis concept, specifically from Arthur C. Clarke’s 1956 novel, “The City and The Stars.”

The City and the Stars takes place a billion years in the future in the city of Diaspar. Due to apocalyptic events, the last remnants of humanity are all housed within the technologically advanced city that cares for all of their wants and needs instantaneously through a complex central computer system. All inhabitants of Diaspar are actual reincarnations of former citizens, their minds being stored inside the computer system when they die. Because of this, citizens have millions of years of selective memories within themselves during their lifetime.

The main character of the story, Alvin, is a ‘Unique,’ or citizen that was created without any past lives to remember. Because of this fact, Alvin is driven by an insatiable appetite to explore the world outside of Diaspar. Through a series of events, he discovers and travels to Lys, another community of humans outside of Diaspar who have adopted an almost agrarian lifestyle.

Along with a companion gained in Lys, Alvin discovers and travels to Shalmirane, a fortress where the inhabitants of earth fought off the Invaders with unimaginable weapons. During this excursion, they encounter an extraterrestrial creature who is the last survivor of a religious cult dating back to the days before Diaspar. Accompanying the alien is a strange robot that came with the “Master” of the cult when they first arrived on earth millions of years ago. Through a series of events, Alvin is led to the spacecraft of the Master and travels to a distant galaxy where he is introduced to knowledge that will change the lives of both those in Diaspar and Lys forever.

Deliverables

I would like to produce a series of retro designed science fiction models that are centered around the characters and hardware of the 1956 Arthur C. Clarke novel, “The City and the Stars.” Drawing upon contemporary visual influences of the time during which the novel was written, the style of the models will reflect a nostalgic feel similar to the serial comic books of the 1930s. The models would be posed in a still scene with the final results being both turnarounds of the models and camera pans through the scene. The general description of the models I would like to produce is as follows:

  • Alvin: At only twenty years since he was ‘born,’ Alvin is at a point in his life where he is considered a fully-mature adult, ready to begin his individual lifespan of thousands of years. A ‘unique’ human citizen of Diaspar, he is driven by his insatiable appetite to explore the world beyond the city. Due to millions of years of genetically designed refinement, citizens of Diaspar have some differing characteristics from humankind today. For example, because all of their technology supports them, they have eliminated the need for external anatomical features such as hair, nails, teeth, and genitals. Their clothing is merely for ornamentation, not function, and does not protect against the elements. Clarke goes into more detail about the functions of the society of Diaspar and how that has affected their overall appearance.
  • The Master’s Robot: Accompanying the Master on his journey to Earth millions of years ago, the robot is a key factor in introducing Alvin to the mysteries of the galaxy. Further research is needed into Clarke’s description of the robot, but some artistic license may be taken to insure that it fits within the retro science fiction visual language.
  • The Master’s Spaceship: The key instrument in bringing the Master to earth during the last days of the Galactic Empire, the ship is another key element of Alvin’s journey beyond the earth. From another world and era, the ship has been buried outside of Diaspar for millennia, but is still functional. Like with the Robot, further research needs to be done in order to obtain Clarke’s description of the ship. Additional artistic license may also need to be taken in order to achieve the goals of the project.
  • Diaspar: A utopian city that has survived millions of years of regeneration and refinement, Diaspar is almost as a living organism, intricately run by a single central computer system. Circular in form, the city is designed with the comfort and well-being of its citizens, shielding them from the harmful effects of nature, but also increasing their paranoia of the outside world. The city is in a constant state of regeneration and sections of it are redesigned on occasion as desired by the artistry and engineers both for style and efficiency. Although somewhat vague on the exact stylings of the buildings within Diaspar, Clarke does mention that the city is circular in form with multiple high towers made of stone and glass. Air travel has been abandoned in the future in favor of anti-gravitational roadways that convey the citizens by means of a repulsor field to their desired destinations. Given that one of the contemporary forms of architecture during Clarke’s time was the Art Deco movement, it would be appropriate to explore designs that centered around that aesthetic.
  • High resolution textures for the hero models
  • Diaspar Extended (Collaborative Element): A matte-painting for the extended environment for the scene would require collaboration with another student, but would greatly add to the overall effect.
Goals

It is my goal to produce a set of models for my demo reel that will allow me to obtain a 3D modeling job in the film industry following graduation. I would like to gear my work towards the type of visual effects that would be done by companies such as ILM and Digital Domain: photorealistic effects that would be composited with live action.

Questions to address

  • What particular in the project should be emphasized on my end to gain the attention of industry recruiters?
  • Even though my interest is in hard-surface modeling, should the focus of the project be shifted to include a balance of organic and hard surface models to better market myself?
  • Because I will be moving to the bay area to work on this project, what collaborative opportunities will there be with other students to expand the scope and final product of the project?

Ecorchè: The Upper Limbs

This week marks the completion of our work on osteology, or the study of bones. I have to go and refine a few more details before I am able to accurately put in the muscles. This week, we focused on the bones of the arms. It is fascinating to me to see just how many tiny details we overlook when we are talking about the skeleton. There are little bumps called tubercles that simply serve the purpose of muscle attachment points. Each and every part of the skeleton is deliberate and serves a specific purpose in both housing and protection.








Organic Modeling: ZBrush Torso

I must admit that I find ZBrush to be a very fun tool. I still need to work out all of the little details and such of its interface, but it produces some nice results if you treat it right. This week we went into our models to refine the muscles of the torso. I am hoping that my work is close to reality, but I don't know anyone that muscular... or waxy... Anyway, here is the progress from this week:


video

10/19/10

Thesis Proposal: Refinement & Visual Inspiration II

After a nice discussion over the phone over with my professor, I realized that I couldn't really tie my last idea together, so instead I've decided to go a different route completely. I need to do something that brings me closer to the current industry and would attract the attention of industry recruiters. Here is what I have changed my direction to:

Brad Reynolds

3D Modeling Emphasis

Concept Refinement

The idea of doing a retro-science fiction designed set of models is intriguing to me. In order to strengthen the unity of the design aesthetic I am hoping to achieve, I would like to position my set of models around a science fiction story from the early part of the twentieth century. I need to do some more research into which particular story to choose, but that is the direction I am headed.

Another intriguing idea that might be interesting to pursue would be to take a successful modern science fiction story and retro-design it to the aesthetics of the 1930s-1960s. For example, if the story of Halo was visualized in the early half of the twentieth century, what would the final visuals be?


Deliverables

I would like to produce a series of models that are centered around an early twentieth century science fiction story, preferably one that hasn’t had too much visual development to accompany it. The models would be posed in a still scene with the final results being both turnarounds of the models and camera pans through the scene. The general description of the models I would like to produce is as follows:

  • A hero model of a human protagonist of the story, most likely dressed in either a retro-designed space suit or adventurer type costume, depending on the supporting story.
  • A non-human protagonist, either a creature or robot.
  • A retro designed spacecraft with detailed refinements in the design and texturing.
  • A supporting environment and props to to tie the scene together.
  • A matte-painting for the extended environment for the scene would require collaboration with another student, but would greatly add to the overall effect.
  • High resolution textures for the hero models

Goals

It is my goal to produce a set of models for my demo reel that will allow me to obtain a 3D modeling job in the film industry following graduation. I would like to gear my work towards the type of visual effects that would be done by companies such as ILM and Digital Domain: photorealistic effects that would be composited with live action.

Questions to address

  • What particular in the project should be emphasized on my end to gain the attention of industry recruiters?
  • Even though my interest is in hard-surface modeling, should the focus of the project be shifted to include a balance of organic and hard surface models to better market myself?
  • Because I will be moving to the bay area to work on this project, what collaborative opportunities will there be with other students to expand the scope and deliverables of the project?

Visual Influences:

Architecture/Environment
A great deal of influence stems from Art Deco architecture and design
BioShock (The City of Rapture)
Star Wars Episodes I, II, & III (Coruscant Architecture)
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Costume
The Rocketeer
Dune
Flash Gordon

Vehicle/Robotics
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Star Wars Episodes I, II, & III (Naboo Spacecraft & General Grevious Starfighter)
Dune
Flash Gordon
Buck Rogers
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
The Iron Giant

Mood/Atmosphere
BioShock (Neon accents to stylized architecture)
Sky Captain (Film noir feel)
Sin City (lighting)
A.I. (City Scenes)

Literary Influences
Amazing Stories 1930s Serial Comics
Buck Rogers
Andre Norton
Frank Herbert
H.P. Lovecraft

Here are a selection of images from the web of visual influences I am looking at:

Vehicle/Robot Design

Costume Design

Atmosphere/Mood

Architectural References

Ecorchè: The Lower Limbs

I still need to work out a number of details with the skull, ribcage, and pelvis, but time doesn't stop for me. This week we worked out the details of the legs. There is some interesting construction to the legs, especially the fact that none of your bones are straight. They are each in an S-shape, partially to relieve the stress of impact, much like a spring. Also, they aren't round in profile, but are in the shape of a triangular prism. There are also lots of other little fascinating things built into them, like muscle attachment points, tendon protectors, and other little bumps that all serve a very distinct purpose. But that is too much to explain in one blog post.








Organic Modeling: ZBrush Refinement

This week we spent our time refining the details of the model and importing it into ZBrush for some high resolution sculpting. Here is the final model in Maya:

This is the initial work done in ZBrush. Essentially, I took the blocked in model, subdivided the geometry a number of times, blocked in the crevices of the major muscle masses, went back down to a lower level of geometry, deleted the higher level of geometry, and subdivided the geometry again. It's a piece of cake!

video

What this allows is to block in the major muscle masses using a deep carving tool, then smooth it back out for further refinement. One of these days I'll try a time-lapse sculpting demo when I get the chance.

The Most Important Post on This Blog

I love this woman and will be marrying her in the Mount Timpanogos Temple on January 14th, 2011 at 2:00 PM.

10/11/10

Thesis Proposal: Refinement & Visual Inspiration

Thesis Concept Proposal: Alien Garage

3D Modeling - Hard Surface Emphasis

Scene Description

Located in the dense futuristic urban environment of Newark, New Jersey, sits Phil & Xithu’s Auto Repair. A cylindrical building, a third of it contains the office and waiting area for customers. The other portion consists of the main repair bay, a semi-circular area with five shallow platforms for repair. Each platform extends out radially from the center and has a bay door from which the vehicles are brought in. In addition to being the primary support of the shallow dome roof, the central axis is also a hub for an assortment of robotic repair arms, each of them serving a separate purpose. The interior of the shop is lit from long, rectangular light panels embedded into the ceiling. The shop is tidy, but partially unorganized with some supplies haphazardly stacked in a corner and a number of tools scattered about their storage compartments. A computer interface sits next to each bay, allowing for the system syncing with the speeder being repaired. A small storage cabinet with it’s tambour door partially open, exposing a collection of radioactive fuel rods, the main source of power for the speeders. Other tanks of various chemicals line the walls of the shop.

In one of the bays sits a red DCX-42 air speeder, perched solidly on it’s landing skids. Aggressively styled, this particular is the futuristic embodiment of a muscle car, looking as though it could come alive and devour any vehicle in its path. Designed to fit two passengers in tandem, the speeder is built with both function and style in mind. Four integrated repulsors, the system that allows for hovering, jut out from the underside of the craft. The front grille doubles as an air intake for the main propulsion turbine. A style-conscious braking system allows for the air flaps to blend seamlessly with the rest of the speeder body. A single latch-less panel on the front of the vehicle is raised for the repairs, exposing the primary engine compartment.

Standing in front of the speeder, wiping the grease from his hands with a rag is Phil, proprietor of the repair shop. He looks curiously at the speeder’s engine compartment, his mustache wrinkled in slight confusion. His beer gut protrudes slightly underneath his grease covered jumpsuit. A tiny holographic projector and communication device sits perched over his right ear, ready to retrieve any information for his reference.

On the other side of the repair bay, posed in front of a computer terminal stands the cybernetic alien Xithu. His pitch black eyes with dark grey irises peer expressionless into the screen. His small, wrinkled, physical body too weak for any type of large scale physical tasks, he is constantly connected to an industrial exoskeleton through connections to his spinal column. He sits perched in the torso of the exoskeleton while four multi-purpose robotic arms extend from the sides. The bipedal design of the exoskeleton fits seamlessly with the rest of his anatomy, allowing him to work side by side next to Phil in his repairs.

Deliverables

The primary focus of the project will be on the development of refined hard-surface models and at least one organic model. My main hope for the project is to deliver one human model (Phil), a cybernetic alien that will be mostly robotic (Xithu), the interior of their repair shop with their equipment, and at least one speeder that is a futuristic projection of the common automobile. Because this speeder would be under repair, part of the interior compartments would need to be modeled as well. If time and scope allow, I would like to create a second speeder of a slightly different design, much like how a Honda automobile would differ from a Dodge.

It would be ideal to create basic textures for all of the models, but that might not be completely possible for all of the elements. I would like to produce high-resolution texture maps for at least one of the characters as well as the speeder.

Inspiration

My professional background is in the field of industrial design, and as such, I have a fascination with objects that people interact with. I have spent a great deal of my career producing 3D CAD models for manufacturing that would then be imported into a rendering program to produce a photo-realistic rendering of the product. I have also been pursuing 3D animation as a hobby ever since I was a teenager, which is what initially led me to the field of industrial design. After spending a few years after my graduation from college working in the industry, I realized that I had a hunger for designing outside the current confinement of current manufacturing processes. At length, I determined that my true creative interests lay within the entertainment industry.

As I have studied the background of the various science fiction films that inspire me the most, I am always surprised to discover that the concept designers have a background in industrial design. I have been intrigued by the work of such designers as Syd Mead, Herald Belkar, and Doug Chiang, and have been anxious to work in the same context of visual development as them. For me, science fiction vehicle and prop design have a unique opportunity to ground their ideas in current science fact. The opportunity lies in science fiction to take an existing product design, place it two hundred plus years in the future, and ask the question, “What if...?”

One of my desires in taking on this type of thesis project is to reach back into my industrial design roots to give the visuals a believable grounding in reality. By focusing on the main development of hard-surface models, I will be pursuing an area of design that I already have a passion for and will be able to draw on my previous professional experience.




Images collected from various sources on the internet.

Ecorchè: The Pelvis

The human pelvis is probably one of the most complex parts of the body to sculpt. Essentially, it is like a huge bowl that your internal organs rest in. It's very interesting to see how it is shaped and how that accommodates for a few biological processes like an expanding stomach or pregnancy for women.

All in all, it is a very difficult piece to get right. I don't know if this is perfect, but hopefully it is close.







Organic Modeling: ZBrush

This week we finished up the modeling in Maya in preparation to bringing our models into ZBrush. ZBrush is a high-resolution modeling and painting program that has a unique interface. For example, there is the 2.5D painting mode that allows to to paint and sculpt at the same time. The program stores depth into your paint strokes and allows you to go back and 'carve out' places or add new material:


Once the model is finished in Maya, I will export it and bring it into ZBrush for sculpting. I'll then take it and subdivide the model until there are millions of polygons on the model. The reason you don't do this in Maya is that a model with millions of polygons takes up a lot of memory and can really bog down your computer's performance as you are working. By working in ZBrush and saving out a normal map, you can retain a low-resolution model in Maya, but are able to subdivide and displace the mesh upon rendering.

The model subdivided (incorrectly apparently) in ZBrush


The final model in Maya.

10/4/10

Thesis Proposal: Version 1

Thesis Concept Proposal: Alien Garage

3D Modeling - Hard Surface Emphasis

Scene Description

Located in the dense futuristic urban environment of Newark, New Jersey, sits Phil & Xithu’s Auto Repair. A cylindrical building, a third of it contains the office and waiting area for customers. The other portion consists of the main repair bay, a semi-circular area with five shallow platforms for repair. Each platform extends out radially from the center and has a bay door from which the vehicles are brought in. In addition to being the central support of the shallow dome roof, the central axis is also a hub for an assortment of robotic repair arms, each of them serving a separate purpose. The interior of the shop is lit from long, rectangular light panels embedded into the ceiling. The shop is tidy, but partially unorganized with some supplies haphazardly stacked in the corner and a number of tools scattered about their storage compartments.

In one of the bays sits a red Dodge Charger X42 air speeder, perched solidly on it’s landing skids. Aggressively styled, this particular is the futuristic embodiment of a muscle car, looking as though it could come alive and devour any vehicle in its path. Because it is a common vehicle that is designed for ease of maintenance, the latch-less front hood sits raised with its inner components exposed.

Standing in front of the speeder, wiping the grease from his hands with a rag is Phil, proprietor of the repair shop. He looks curiously at the speeder’s engine compartment, his mustache wrinkled in slight confusion. His beer gut protrudes slightly underneath his grease covered jumpsuit. A tiny holographic projector and com device sits perched over his right ear, ready to retrieve any information for his reference.

On the other side of the repair bay, posed in front of a computer terminal stands the cybernetic alien Xithu. His small, wrinkled, physical body too weak for any type of large scale physical tasks, he is constantly connected to an industrial exoskeleton through connections to his spinal column. He sits perched in the main chest cavity while a number of multi-purpose robotic arms extend from the sides. The bipedal design of the exoskeleton fits seamlessly with the rest of his anatomy, allowing him to work side by side next to Phil in his repairs.

Deliverables

The primary focus of the project will be on the development of refined hard-surface models and at least one organic model. My main hope for the project is to deliver one human model (Phil), a cybernetic alien that will be mostly robotic (Xithu), the interior of their repair shop with their equipment, and at least one speeder that is a futuristic projection of the common automobile. Because this speeder would be under repair, part of the interior compartments would need to be modeled as well. If time and scope allow, I would like to create a second speeder of a slightly different design, much like how a Honda automobile would differ from a Dodge.

It would be ideal to create basic textures for all of the models, but that might not be completely possible for all of the elements. I would like to produce high-resolution texture maps for at least one of the characters as well as the speeder.

Inspiration

My professional background is in the field of industrial design, and as such, I have a fascination with objects that people interact with. I spent a great deal of my career producing 3D CAD models that would then be imported into a rendering program to produce a photo-realistic rendering of the product. I have also been pursuing 3D animation as a hobby ever since I was a teenager, which is what initially led me to the field of industrial design. After spending a few years after my graduation from college working in the industry, I realized that I had a hunger for designing outside the current confinement of current manufacturing processes. At length, I determined that my true creative interests lay within the entertainment industry.

As I have studied the background of the various science fiction films that inspire me the most, I am always surprised to discover that the concept designer has a background in industrial design. I have been intrigued by the work of such designers as Syd Mead, Herald Belkar, and Doug Chiang, and have been anxious to work in the same context of visual development as them. For me, science fiction vehicle and prop design have a unique opportunity to ground their ideas in current science fact. The opportunity lies in science fiction design to take an existing product design, place it two hundred plus years in the future, and ask the question, “What if...?”

One of my desires in taking on this type of thesis project is to reach back into my industrial design roots to give the visuals a believable grounding in reality. By focusing on the main development of hard-surface models, I will be pursuing an area of design that I already have a passion for and will be able to draw on my skills of design.

Ecorchè: The Thorax

This week we worked on refining the details of the thorax (rib cage). The thorax has an interesting shape in that from the front, it has an egg shape to it, and from the sides it looks like a football with the ends sliced off. There are certain landmarks that help you determine how wide it is. For example, the widest part on the side of the thorax is the 8th rib. The furthest point forward is the cartilage of the 7th rib. There are some distinctive formulas that must be followed in order to get the body looking proportional.








By the time I got done modeling in all of those ribs, I was hungry for barbecue for some reason...

Organic Modeling: Finishing up blocking

This week was another time to make sure that all of our base blocking for our human models was refined. It is important to get the topology correct before diving into the details.


video