Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mini Ninjas' Sokara: An Adventure in Autodesk Maya

After about 2 weeks of work, filled with frustration, toil, and anguish, I have finally finished the first of hopefully many Mini Ninjas characters. I'm planning on starting out with a simple animation involving Pagi and Sokara, and then hopefully progressing to making all the rest of the characters, the Attitudinous Squirrels included.

I know that Sokara is kind of rough and blocky, but that was my intention. I wanted to have a character that would be easy to model for my reintroduction to Maya. I also wanted to keep in the theme of my simple character design in the comics.

There were a few problems that I ran into with Maya. The biggest of which was modelling. Apparently, there is no easy way to vertex model in Maya, like in Blender. Let me explain: in Blender, you can start with two vertices, then extrude off on one vertex to get a new vertex. You can continue to do that until you have a series of points that make up a line. You can then use 3 or more vertices to create a face. From there, your just continue to create faces until all of your vertices are stitched together. In Maya, trying to extrude vertices will give you a mess of random spikes.

I tried using the CV curve tool to make a series of lines that would later be lofted together into a solid object. That wasn't working, mostly because I'm still working on getting a grasp on 3D space and wire meshes. After trying that for a about a day, I gave up and used Sculptris to model Sokara's head. It worked very well, except that her head was all weird and lumpy when I imported it into Maya. After spelunking around the internet, I eventually found a nice tutorial on how to simplify my geometry in a way very similar to the reduce brush in Sculptris and the Decimation Master in ZBrush.

Sokara's pants were another huge issue. Again, I tried creating curves, then lofting them together. That failed miserably. More spelunking found me this video, which taught me some of the basics of box modelling, a subject I was once familiar with, but had forgotten.

After all the challenges I faces with the rest of Sokara and the tidbits that I had learned, making her hands were a snap. The only thing that was easier to make was Sokara's hair. I cut a polygon sphere in half, then grabbed every other vertex, then drug them down. I duplicated that mesh, then shuffled around the vertices, then repeated the process a third time. The hair is the part that I'm the most pleased with, since it's a pretty perfect 3D representation of her hair in the comics.

It was a long and difficult journey, but I'm glad that I chose a simple character to start with. Pagi will be much easier to model. My next big challenge will be rigging and animating Sokara and Pagi.

No comments:

Post a Comment