Saturday, September 29, 2012

Continuing with anatomy

Whilst I am working on the skeleton, university has also re-commenced. My next posts will focus mainly of the current assignment we've received, but at the moment I am going to concentrate on finishing my studies and modeling on the human skeleton.

I`ve made significant progress inside ZBrush. I`ve decided not to upload work-in-progress stuff as I will be finishing very soon, so there is no point for spoilers :) .
One thing is for sure: going ahead and sculpting the shapes and forms in 3D perspective has skyrocketed my understanding of all the different elements of the body. There were a lot of things which I could not read from my drawings. For example I could draw the basic shape of the scapula, but there were a couple of things missing from my understanding as how it fits on the body, how the head of the humerus connects to it etc.

Sculpting the skull was one of the biggest challenges. I`ve decided to re-model it several times, because I made mistakes and wanted to learn from them by recreating the model with that new knowledge. Laying down the fundamental features of the skull first, defining the main landmarks as the first step and then starting to slowly build out the whole thing from there ended up being the most rewarding approach.

I`ve took this new understanding and tried redrawing the skull in a much more detailed way. Previously I could only draw a very simple skull, but since I have a better understanding of the general planes, the little nips and tucks of it allowed me to draw something like this.

I hope you will check back soon to take a look at my final skeleton.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Drawing anatomy

Tackling an issue which you had for ages makes you so eager to see what the h*ll you were so "afraid" of before... why didn`t you try it before. These kind of thoughts were swirling inside my head just before digging myself into drawing lessons.

The lessons I`ve chosen to watch have a very good system when it comes to explaining the absolute basics of human anatomy. It is also very technical at the beginning, meaning that I`ve used formulas for everything the skeletal system is composed off. I`ve heard people saying over and over again that you need to have a loose, free approach to drawing and draw what you feel and see, but when you start at, I`ve found that technical approaches for me are better. As you progress along, these formulas will become second nature and you will realize that you didn`t even have to measure and what not, because it all comes naturally now. I`ve started understanding the fundamental rules of the proportions. I started understanding the certain areas I can experiment with, but at the same time always obey 1-2 rules so that everything looks believable.

The lessons started out with teaching me the 8-head standard formula for the human body. It went on explaining the main areas of the body and how to determine key areas like top of the skull, bottom of chin, bottom of peck muscles, naval area, crotch, knee etc. even before you actually start drawing the figure. These helpful guidelines helped me always to maintain the correct proportions of the figure. At this stage I have only used simple shapes illustrating where the rib cage will be, the pelvis, skull, legs etc.

After this I`ve moved on to investigate different parts of the body. The first element was the skull. I didn`t care how hard it was going to be, I was sure with practice and commitment I will be able to learn to draw a correct skull, but it turned out easier than expected... at least a very basic version of a skull.
The help that these formulas provide when you are at the start is amazing.. at least for me. I spent quite a lot of time before looking at people's faces, human skulls on the internet etc. but I had no system whatsoever to help me always achieve the correct proportions, planes etc.

Drawing out the skull from the front, side, back and then going ahead attempting a perspective version was quite a challenge, but it did not take a lot of time until I`ve started getting decent drawings. Thing is when you understand these basics, even if you can`t produce amazing things on a sheet of paper, inside a 3D application there is so much room for experimenting. You understand the proportions so everything will be in place and then you can mess around with the small details here and there and continue learning in your 3D package. At least this has worked out pretty good for me (stay tuned for that :) ) .

Learning the important basics of each part of the skeletal system in the end payed off, because everything started to fit together. I knew where the spine would attach to the skull, how it curved down and finally ended in the sacrum. I understood where the pelvis takes up its roll and how the legs attach to it, so the figure can stand on its legs. Examining the scapula allowed be to get a better understanding of how the back deforms because of it and also how the shoulder is built up. I had some major proportional problems around the shoulder areas before in 3D, but that is starting to go away.
Right now I have finished exploring the skeletal system.

My current goal is to go ahead and model the whole thing inside ZBrush. Now, this is going to be one heck of a challenge as it's one thing to draw something and then another to sculpt it in full perspective. This is the next stage of furthering my understanding of the skeleton and the human body in general.

Finding good reference is going to be key, because I need to see each and every bone from pretty much all the angles possible. A lot of times even those small bumps and surface details make you understand how everything works and attaches to each other.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The next step

Hey there,

Third and final year is coming up at university which presents me with a situation where I feel this is my one chance to really enrich my skills and my portfolio before
starting the job hunt. During the last two years I`ve tried to enchance my skills in several key areas of CG, so I can become efficient throughout the whole work pipeline. By this
I mean that I`ve focused to become a CG/3D Generalist, because my ambition does not allow to me to settle down and focus on just one or two areas of this industry.
I want to be able to create a final piece of work (may it be a still image or a video) from scratch. There are a couple of reasons behind this:

1: the more areas you can perform in, the more valuable you are. Also the job becomes more interesting as (given the opportunity) it becomes more varied.
2: when I will start working for a company, there is a high probability they will set me a specific role (modeling, texturing etc.) so that might be pretty much what I
will do for several months or even more. Focusing only on one area of CG for an extended period of time can become dull. I would like to produce my own, freelance work to keep
things all the more interesting. Freelance surely asks more of me then just modeling or texturing. Freelance most of the times requires you to create something from scratch and
produce a final piece of work which covers several areas of CG.
3: as I`ve mentioned, my ambition does not let me to only just model for instance. After a while I get this itch to start unwraping, shading, lighting, rendering, postwork etc. I really
NEED to stasfy my CG thirst.. that's it :) .

So, with that said, what I need to do this final year is to push my abilities as far as possible. My aim is to create a piece of work which represents all the knowledge I
have gathered so far. Not only that, but my plans for this final work asks to further look into areas which I need and want to improve in. One of these areas is organic modeling. Without believable, lovable, hugable characters in your work, you leave a huge whole in areas like story telling etc. Organic modeling demands several things.
One of these things and I think the most important one is anatomy knowledge. I don't have an artistic background as I have attented mathematics/informatics class in high
school, although I did have an interest towards art. With that said earlier this year I've decided to tackle this problem and started learning anatomy from books, video tutorials.. from wherever I could. I grabed a pencil and began drawing the anatomical structure of the human being. Drawing helps to understand and see/feel the shapes better.
The start is tough, but after a few weeks of practice I`ve found that I`m more confortable modeling humanoid, organic things because I am starting the understand the underlying structure and the fundamentals.

My final work will be an animation and the storyboard is currently being developed, but one thing is sure: I will have characters in my animation. My aim is to create stylized, realistic CG work. In order to create realistic characters I first started learning the skeletal structure of the human being. It is a step by step, frustrating process at the beginning... but I've always felt that hard work has the upper hand over talent. I never considered myself talented when it comes to drawing, but in all fairness I have never given hand drawing a chance, so who knows. One thing is for sure: after a couple of weeks of studying the bones of the human body, I began drawing the entire skeleton
from my mind which was something impossible for me in the past. Someone could have offered the queen's jewels and I still couldn't have had drawn a skeleton. That has changed and apart from the fact that there is SO much work ahead of me still... I feel I've made progress and a whole new world is opening up before me.

In my next post I will write a bit more about my journey of learning anatomy and applying that knowledge to CG.