If you ever wanted to try Zbrush but couldn’t afford it or were just put off by the interface, don’t despair! Blender comes to the rescue again!
Here are two really cool videos where you will be able to witness how awesome Blender, a FREE software is! This time you won’t have to listen to my silly comments or watch me looking for tools as a master modeler/sculptor will take you on a tour.
The first video is a sped up version of the second video, a teaser if you like. The second video is a 1h30 mins long sculpting walkthrough were you will be able to follow Roberto Roch and watch him work in realtime. Check this out, they are both in 720p!!!
Even if you are a regular Maya, 3dsmax or XSI user, I think you should check out the following videos as I am sure you will be able to find a use for Blender pretty fancy tools.
The first one I want to demonstrate today is the Grease Pencil, a nice feature that allows you to draw on the 3d viewport and write notes but also make quick thumbnails animation! Sorry for the low framerate, I realised it too late but will record an other animation example very soon.
As you will quickly realise, I don’t have much experience with Blender but I keep wanting to discover more, remember Blender is a free software and the developers keep updating it to make it more user friendly. Version 2.5 has integrated a lot of improvements and the software will get better and better from that point.
Towards the end of the first video I am getting a bit lost trying to find how to enable the Audio Scrubbing so feel free to jump to the second add-on video so I can avoid embarrassment ;-)
To Blender experts reading this, how would you go about exporting the grease pencil notes/sketches to a video or even just an image sequence automatically?
So far I have two techniques that are not very user friendly but at least they work and will generate an image sequence which you can import into any 3d or editing software:
1. use a software like IrfanView to take a screenshot automatically every second and manually jump from frame to frame
Quickscreenshots might be an other simple alternative with an incremental saving hotkey CTRL + ALT + w http://code.google.com/p/quickscreenshots/
2. use the Blender Screendump function. Press CTRL + F3, press the + key to increment the file name and press Enter to Save.
[update thanks to Ljoel] Forget about all that exporting nonsense above, the solution is to use the OpenGLviewport capture ;-) Here is where you will find it
Ever wondered how dense those Pixar meshes are? I have!
You are in luck, Pixar just released some video footage where we can see the wireframe mesh of both Queen Elinor and King Fergus!
Except the helmet, hair and moustache the mesh is pretty dense. I wonder whether they add one more pass of smoothing at render time though.
Those are probably not the low poly meshes anyway but we can already notice an E pole on the cheeks. This could possibly means Pixar doesn’t use Nurbs surfaces anymore.
Click to zoom in.
And here is the Behind the Scenes video with, 2 minutes into it, Animation Collaborative‘s Michal Makarewicz. (a great school to attend if you are in the San Francisco area or crazy enough to relocate for three month ;-) )
via Keith Ribbons
Low polygon modelling, opposed to “high frequency modeling” (the stuff done in Zbrush or Mudbox), is the basics of modelling. Any software can handle that type of work nowadays, from the free Blender to the extremely expensive Maya, 3dsmax or XSI packages.
There are two approaches to low polygon modeling:
1. A top-down approach where you start directly with a square plane whose edges you extrude following the final edge loops.
2. A bottom-up approach where you start modeling from a cube that you gradually subdivide by adding edges or extruding faces.
Both techniques are so simple that they only require a subdivide toggling hotkey (3 in Maya) and a handful of tools which I featured in my ‘Low Polygon modeling tools’ post.
The Edge extrusion method was extensively demonstrated by Kolby Jukes back in the days he used XSI as his primary modeling software. All his videos are offline as he only does Mudbox “High frequency sculpting” nowadays but the Edge extrusion technique is the technique I featured in my latest modeling timelaps video based on Brave’s Lord Macintosh character so have a look at this:
If you are not familiar with modeling, what I did here was to put the original concept art on a plane in the background then create a second smaller plane whose edges I extruded following an edge flow mental picture I had. The edge flow being the minimum amount of flowing edges necessary to describe the muscles, skeletal structure or deformation of the surface. Whaooo that was complicated! Well instead of just projecting a grid of edges on the surface of the head, I am creating a minimal amount of edge loops and rings that follow the creases facial expressions will produce. Makes sense?
Bay Raitt was probably the first one to fully demonstrate the Cube approach in that ground breaking 1999 “One afternoon with Bay Raitt” Mirai timelapse video.
This is the one I used in my Rickshaw modeling timelapse video:
I think the video is self explanatory, if not, post a comment and I will add more explanation in my post
Here is the blocking for my “This is what you need” shot. I also shot some new video reference footage for Anakin as the previous video wasn’t very strong or interesting.
I am incorporating Blender more and more to my workflow as it has some amazing tools really suited to the Animation pipeline. Here I am able to write some notes on the video reference to single out some elements of interest. Other people like Jeff Gabor would edit their video reference in Premiere but I find it simpler and cheaper to use the Grease Pencil keys in Blender’s Dope Sheet editor.
The box at the beginning is a placeholder for the boxed Darth Vader outfit. I might add 12 frames at the very beginning it just so the first cut doesn’t come so early. I ran out of time and didn’t manage to fully flesh out Anakin or even the facial poses but with the help of the video reference, I think we know exactly what I am aiming for.
The short film finally surfaced. Really, really nice. I think the pacing is a bit off in places but it is still very appealing visually.
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