Weekly Update 10

So it’ been awhile. Almost a month.

My last post had a treat enclosed, this one however has a more of a sour note for those who follow this blog. Although that isn’t many, everyone counts. I have decided to cut down on the amount of posts I make as you can already tell. It was a good experiment to do weekly updates (3 months was a good run) but I either became a slave to them and I was going to be reaching that point of quantity over quality. So from here on in, no more weekly updates. Just updates when it feels right with the right amount of content. At the very least Iwill try to keep it at one post a month but even I feel that might be a bit low so we will see how it goes from here on in, no more set deadlines for sure.

Final (Low Rez) Renders


The difference with this beard from the old one is it is control via custom sculpted guide curves (around 500). Not only is it easier to sculpt but also when it dealing with to penetrations. The curves were sculpted in Blender.

Render times kept to a minimum with the shadow volume technique that i described in my tutorial. The body hair, is pure PBR with no volume based shadows.


These pics are low rez but i am currently rendering HD turntables and camera moves, posing. Also i have been uploading all work-in-progress pictures of this character to my Google account so if you would like to view those images in the future you can do so from one place soon. It includes all images featured in the blog along with some others that have not been published.


Tutorials Response with Q/A

After the tutorial i posted i was very surprised at the response. I hope everyone who watched it gained something from it. I have decided to respond to the questions in this post, continue if you would like to see the questions and answers.

Continue reading “Weekly Update 10”

Weekly Update 10


Hey oh,

Apologies as always for not being prompt. I have been…… urghhh busy? 🙂

I noticed a weird thing last night when i was looking over my model. I haven’t been in Windows in 3 days. Im not a linux lover or anything but it just prefer the way it works, and how it work with other applications.

Im not gonna go into a big breakdown of why linux is good or bad but its just something i would mention here, considering im not technical.

The only thing i would say is more packages need to be made available for it. I hear Silo 2.1 will be available on Linux. But Mudbox, Zbrush and PS and the big ones i would love to see on a distro of Ubuntu, but i get the feeling it isnt going to happen.

So here is a model i have been working on, on and off. Counting the hours up it up it really is a speed model, just polished and bit. I wanted to make something that i could do a lighting study in the future. there are areas on the model that aren’t perfect. The hair obviously isnt finished, but I dont think im going to put myself through the pain of trying to re-create it. I worked on it for about half an hour last night and was going to post the final image, but i don’t like it :). I prefer the version that i have here.

I must give a very honorable mention to Mark Newman the original sculptor who created the piece based of Edgar Allan Poe.

So there it is. See ya soon with more crap 🙂

oh and SHOUTOUT to Jason, hey mate. Jason is the second person to post here, the first one was way back when i started this model, but he feels like the first because that was a while ago. So hey ho Jase. Speak to ya soon.



Starting from the Source!

Me again,

Got a long read for y’all.

Hope you guys haven’t been waiting for me to surface again with another post. If so, speak up. Under a little pressure it will more than likely provoke me to update this thing more than once a month. (in case you didn’t realize that was another, probably failed attempt to generate some interaction).

Anyway, if you think this will be the last time you see me for another 30 days, don’t fret, there will be another post tomorrow.

But this is the here and now so lets get on with it.

So since the start of this blog I’ve tried to cover one main topic, Modelling. I don’t think that i haven’t done a terrible job in documenting and provide a little insight to how i am creating models, however i do admit that i need to provide a few more tip and tricks in some posts and…. a few more models (don’t worry one is coming tomorrow).

Not that I need anything more to keep you reading, but i want to document another process that i have been getting into, Houdini (not really a big surprise).

To be more specific, VEX, and to be even more specific, Shader development.

yeah i know, stupid right because I’m a modeller i.e. Artist.

But for a while now, I’ve been trying to find another avenue of Cg to walk down so i am a more well rounded artist. Year’s ago a made a half hearted attempt to get into MEL, and Delphi etc, but it never seemed like a good idea, in terms of what i wanted to do.

But in the past year ½ i have found myself learning more and more about Houdini.

Now everyone knows that Houdini is tough for “dumb” artists to learn. Its like kryptonite.

However if the enthusiasm is there then it a lot easier i believe, there is a lot of documentation out there and two communities that are always there to help.

You might think, “yeah, OK, learn Houdini, but why learn VEX and not only Vex but shader development. Why, out of all the other applications of Houdini do you want to try the one thing that is probably the hardest thing of all.”

Well there are a number of reasons:

  • I need to gain some programming skills. I have felt programming is a gateway to another way of thinking, working, achieving.
  • Learning VEX, i feel will help me understand Houdini with a higher level of clarity and probably faster.
  • More control (who doesn’t want that).
  • I want to be smarter.

Now I would expect some people to laugh at that last point, but you know what, its true. To be a good programmer especially dealing with graphics you need to have a very solid maths background. So a while ago i purchased a set of Maths training that would not only provide a refresher but in many cases a total reveal to a lot of topics that crop up in the world of graphics programming, like Trigonometry, Vector Algebra, E, i and a shit load more.

I always enjoyed maths at school but never spent enough time with it to develop a passion for it, i was too busy painting and sculpting.

So I’m not going into this thing lightly.

Plus I’ve been looking into how i am actually going to learn this thing. What steps i am going to take, how am i going to progress? Well i noticed that there aren’t a lot of tutorials on VEX, except for the documentation which provides all the functions, syntax, variables.

Wanna know why….

VEX is very similar to Renderman. And there is a bunch of material on Renderman, free and commercial. So i don’t think there will be a problem there.

Infact here is my very first VEX shader, basic yes i know, but it feels good to create a shader from complete scratch.

Some of you may be thinking well, what is sparking this epiphany.

As i said earlier the main reason for this was finding a road to learn Houdini but that road for some seems to be very easy to walk down. The reason is these guys have a technical background that almost prepares them for Houdini.

Have a look at this thread:

“Lack of Tutorials!” Thread @ SideFX

But you know what, to be in Computer graphics, the decision to learn a scripting language, or try to be a little more technical, shouldn’t be such a big deal. I think more artists should be more technical. If not to be smarter and more commercially viable but just to know more about the technology your using.

The timing of this decision is somewhat weird.

I just received the latest issue of 3D World and guess what, Craig Zerouni is talking about the exact same thing in his Letter from Hollywood column. Check it out, issue 104.

So artists out there, do yourself a favour. Try something technical, if you do your research it wont be as painful as you might think.

hope you enjoyed that read.

Stay tuned for the next few days for a model update. Or subscribe, it’s easier.


Starting from the Source!

1000+ Hits and Fur Virgin, no more!

This post is lengthly so grab a cup of something.

Yes thats right, this silly little blog that still has a wordpress affix has had over 1000 hits. I guess its a bit of an achievement (but who give a crap, most sites gets that in a day). Even though less than 1% has commented, should i take that as a hint that the rest of the web hits are just people who stumble here by accident and leaving swiftly? Let me know 🙂
But what the the point of this entry, well i have had no reason to update except ive been working on a particular project…
You may remember the post a while ago about me getting frustrated with Houdini Fur. Well since then SideFX has released a multitude of written tutorials on the mechanics of the Fur Sop and Fur Procedural (although if SideFX is listening i think the people would love to see a workflow walkthrough).
So here are my pathetic results after nearly 30 day of tinkering.

The model was made in Wings 3d, and took a night to make (2 hours tops). Someone please let me know where to find good mouse reference. I spent nearly 2 hours alone looking for decent images, and i got a handful and the rest were of the mechanical variety. So this is what i have to so for my efforts, not much but i think ive made some ground especially with the last image (below).

So to help any Houdini wannabe’s outthere, like myself. Let me explain how i got from the model to the last image. ughhhhh… here is the network (much easier).

So for those who use houdini you shouldnt be too scared, the nulls are referenced by an object merge in another object, but to be totally honest you should check out the written tutorials that come in the help files. go through them, dont just look at the files go through them (it really helps).
I guess the only difference from the example files and my setup is the Fur Procedural has varying root width. I have painted the model with a Paint SOP and that is fed into a Attribute Create SOP which uses the painted points to control the density, (although im thinking of using a texture map to have greater control, but this method is much faster). Im going to try and use this method to control the length but the model obviously isnt that high rez so it might be a bit hard. BTW the parameters needed to control these options are in the fur sop help files. When the skin geoemtry is reference its carried over to the Fur procedural (to check MMB over the Skin GEO to see if it has eg FURDENSITY, FURLENGTH). You need to also reference them in the Fur SOP for preview purposes.
The normals have been combed with a Comb SOP to govern the direction of the fur. If you have a symmetrical model be sure to use the mirror tab (also used it in the Paint SOP).In a few tests i did edit the copied lines, just before the Fur sop, but its was way too labor intensive. There needs to be some changes made to the Edit SOP by the developers which allows the Brush option to have a move/tweak option, kinda like Zbrush’s Move brush. Its more like sculpting at the moment.

In a nut shell, thats it, and im still working on the lighting, dynamics and rigging, so its an expansive project but one that is really getting me around Houdini.
So there should be enough in there for users who have gone through the tutorials but need some sort of insight. One piece of ….. Two pieces of advice i would give when making Fur is, Dont give up and dont be afraid to start all over again (you learn something new each time).

After all that i have to say, making an almost completel Fur covered model has to be one of the most difficult things to do in CG. Even big studios have trouble with it. I know this isnt a news blog in particular but one fella who knows Fur is Andy Boyd (who was recently interviewed by odForce). Here is a few pics he did for Framstore in the rexona commercial.


Andy has since moved to LA where he now works at Method Studios. And here is one of the first things he has worked on there.

Method Studios

Interestingly, here is Framestore again, without Andy on the Super Squirrels commercial.


Now im not trying to stir some shit up here. You can see what im saying without me having to say it. But the factors in what might seem a simple observation are pretty influential. You have to consider the people on the team, the software/pipeline, the client and of course the biggest factor of all TIME. Now im sure Andy wont take all the credit, not alot of people would (If you accept credit when something good happens, then you gotta accept the blame when something bad happens,) but I think we know Andy had a big part to play.
One thing i will say is the Fur dynamics in the Super Squirrels spot was amazing, and really made the sequence hold up. Maybe thts why as a still it might not look overly impressive.
Framestore has created some of the best work in Europe, i just hope that Andy taught his techniques to few people before he left (and that they were tied up on some other project so they couldnt work on Super Squirrels spot).

Again I dont know the full story, its just my take on it.

So thats it for what must be the longest post on the site. I will no doubt see you within another 30 days.

Just joking, see ya soon


1000+ Hits and Fur Virgin, no more!

Lets get back into the swing of things

Hey guys,

Well i have some more developments on a few pieces. This is a continuation of a piece i worked on one night (posted below) and now i am in the process of finishing it off.

The original was done by Mark Newman (great sculptor).

Edgar Allan Poe

I tell ya what, right now im going through a weird period. With all this practicing and trying to become a better modeller its getting harder to chose what pieces to work on. I love production art but i also love the anatomical stuff. Guess i have to find a way to do both.

Plus im trying to grow my skills and right now im almost exclusive to Houdini. It has everything now, Hair/Fur, SSS, good rendering tools, Animation, Rigging, Cloth dynamics. Everything a character artist needs. Also this weekend Robert Magee (Production Specialist) Release a new beta of Houdini which included Fur documentation.

So ive been playing with that. (i will make a post later with a bunch of tests.)

So finding time to model more challenging yet appealing subjects and learning Houdini is hard. But not as hard as some have.

so hope you enjoy this latest post. February was a pretty slow month so im gonna try and pick it up a bit. You should be glad i have log stats to tell me how many people visit this place, if i went by the comments on the site (total of 0 :)) i would probably give up hehe.


Lets get back into the swing of things