Archive for July 12th, 2010

Shadsly 3D

I have been doing 3D as a hobby more or less since shortly after I got on the internet, which was around 1993-94, before the web went mainstream.  In that time, I’ve learned a great many things, gained some expertise, poked and prodded and experimented and cursed and cheered.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve forgotten much more about my software (NewTek’s Lightwave 3D) than I actually remember.

Still, there has always been one big stumbling block for me: character animation.  More accurately, character modeling.  I never really grasped things like UV mapping and edge loops and box modeling using the information available back when I started (many of the tools and techniques weren’t even available then), and human anatomy is complex enough that it made the difficulty of learning it through trial-and-error exponential.

I think I’ve finally broken that block.  At the very least I’ve put a huge crater and some serious cracks in the thing.  It took acquiring a degree in art complete with many life drawing sessions, plus a LOT of reading and rereading and rererereading of my sundry anatomy and “figure drawing” art books, various bad models, and essentially flailing about and failing a lot, before the pieces started to fall into place.

In the end, a pair of video tutorials were the key to making it all go “click”. The first is a human head tutorial, and the second is a human body tutorial (NSFW due to artistic nudity). (I’m not following the tutorials blindly; I don’t even use the same app.)

In the space of a week or so, I went from “hmm, maybe there’s a model I can download or something” to bashing out seven or eight different characters with decent edge loops and proper curves.  I’m still not all that good at it, but I’m a lot better than I was. This epiphany even inspired me (or forced me) to take a poke at other features I rarely use. Best part is that I have this suspicion that it’s going to wind up feeding into my drawing skills (basically due to the amount of attention you have to direct toward proper anatomy when you tweak things).