Sunday, September 26, 2010

Polygon modeling in Maya

It may not be NURBS modeling, but it is still noob modeling lol! We started polygon modeling techniques last Monday and our assignment was to model our hand. I think I enjoy polygon modeling a little bit more - it's more similar to how I worked in Cinema4D. However, I was still excruciatingly slow at making this model!

I modeled this using photo references of my hand. The thumb is supposed to be outstretched but it looks rather long. I wonder if it's a reference photo distortion thing I ended up modeling (or perhaps camera distortion from me taking a screenshot too close to the object in Maya)! To sum up my process, I used polygon primitives + lots of point pushing + extrude for nails + the polygon cut tool excessively + the sculpt tool.

Oh and here's the teapot exercise of the week - this time using a combination of revolve + bridge + extrude on polygons...

Sorry for the bad geometry everywhere. I hope one day I can look back at these and laugh! Oh Maya, when will I be able to tame you? D:

Friday, September 24, 2010

The forest of nephrons

...or "forest of pee" as some like to call it. For pathology class, we were asked to draw a tissue landscape. I chose to draw kidney tissue and quickly realized I'd be tackling an environment packed with squiggly tubes. After my (genius) classmate made a comment about how the nephron and collecting duct system looks like a tree, I started imagining what it'd be like to look up in a forest of nephrons.

nephron forest
graphite on paper, 11x14"

Process: I am a ridiculously messy artist when I first start. The scribbles in the bottom left were actually my first conceptions of this "forest":

Even when I'm trying to be clean, it still turns out horribly messy. After completing the sketch with blue Col-erase pencil and graphite, I had to scan it and take out the blue channel. I then printed it and traced over it. I need to learn to work more cleanly the first time around (and thus, more efficiently)!

Truthfully, I'm not very happy with the overall result. It seemed like a good idea at the time?! In hindsight, I think it would have been more effective if I showed more depth or used fish-eye/wide-angle distortion to make you feel like you're standing in the middle of the forest, not looking from the outside. I also had some paper issues during rendering and just couldn't get enough contrast in it (I used super smooth paper for graphite rendering, yes I should know better. :P). The lighting was also a challenge - I think I'll make some simple cylinders in Maya or C4D to test out more dramatic lighting. I did scan the lines before shading so perhaps I will try a Photoshop version if I ever have time!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NOOB/ NURBS modeling...

We started our Autodesk Maya 3D modeling class last Monday. Now, I was mentally prepared for a steep learning curve. But I've done a bit of modeling in Cinema4D before, so I figured, how bad could I be? Well...I was bad. In fact, I was terrible. We were modeling a simple tea pot using NURBS and I just couldn't get things to work. I thought I was doing exactly what the prof was doing, but my Maya just didn't feel like producing the same results... (I later learned this was partially due to reversed normals and partially due to the fact that Maya likes to mess with you)

It was honestly one of the roughest days I've had in a long while. The kind where you feel absolutely useless and pathetic. But hey, you pick yourself up after that, right? (And downing a chocolate bar and a can of Pringles seemed to help lol!). I was secretly hoping for some hidden 3D modeling talent that would come through for me. But looks like I'll just have to work my ass off to get through this course! >:

But anyway, I present to you my very first Maya models. Yes, I know they are incredibly noobish with awkward areas of geometry and horrible materials - but we all have to start somewhere right...?!

In class assignment: The %#$@-ing tea pot:

Homework: Kidneys (modeled on top of an image provided in class) that took way longer than it should've for a normal human being 8D:

Here are a couple of screenshots of working in Maya 2011:

These were mostly done with a combination of pushing/pulling NURBS primitives with a lot of CV curve + extrude + loft + isoparm-ing.

Tomorrow morning: Maya round two. Polygon modeling.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Making babies!

School has begun - which means there will be more biomedical communications work on the way (good-bye personal/anime drawing time)!

There was much talk about making fetuses (or feti as some like to call them) and babies this past week... As a warm-up for our medical-legal course, we were asked to choose an image of a full-term fetus from Williams Obstetrics textbook and rotate it by 90 degrees. This "mental gymnastics" exercise proved to be quite challenging and headache-inducing! Our professor wanted us to practice looking at reference images and drawing them from different perspectives - an important skill in medical-legal illustration.

Here are both the original image (left) and my transposition (right):

graphite on paper, 8.5x11"

Process: I began blocking in the major shapes on a photocopy of the original image. I then pulled lines across the page to mark important landmarks. Once all the major landmarks were in place, I eyeballed it from there. The foreshortened legs gave me a ton of trouble (note evidence of excessive erasing at the fetus' left foot...) so I decided to make a crude plasticine model. I also referenced another image from William's Obstetrics for the fetus' back. After I was reasonably happy with the sketch, I traced over it and scanned the lineart into Photoshop to fix more errors (pointed out by a friend I hassled)! My digital rendering looked terrible so I printed it out and shaded it with graphite instead.

There was some debate during critique about how I portrayed the legs. The legs in the original look rather bendy (our perhaps my distorted perception was influenced by my love for Hyung Tae-Kim's illustrations lol) so although incorrect, I decided to keep them bendy in my interpretation as well lol! There are some other issues with my fetus but I think it's time to move on from this assignment and tackle the next ones!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Sometimes, I just want to sit at home, veg, and grow mushrooms out of my head. The week before the start of school is always such a time for me. In an effort to not be completely unproductive and useless during the week capture my sentiments, I did a few silly doodles:

PaintTool SAI 1.01 + texture from

Despite the roughness and perspective/anatomical errors, I had a lot of fun drawing these - a sensation I haven't experienced in a while. I realized that I had been so focused on creating one-off, refined illustrations that I've forgotten how to draw for fun! D:

My recent rampant manga reading research into storytelling also influenced my perspective on illustration. In particular, Saharu Mizu's works made a great impression on me (watashitachi no shiawase na jikan and My Girl are my favourites). She is such an incredible artist with a talent for capturing subtle expressions and gestures. Allured by her storytelling ability and delicate - seemingly effortless - artwork, I reconsidered my direction. I'm not entirely sure where I'll be going with this, but as always, there will be much experimentation and "art poopage". :)