Week 3 started with working on a model of the soldier bee which I had previously made; I simply smoothed the model out in Zbrush. This was a useful exercise in discovering how much the texture would deform when a UV mapped model is tweaked. (2/2/10)
It was good to find out that a skin can be detached from a posed skeleton, replaced and re-attached without any hassle. This is good news if I wish to pose a model *before* adding detail to the mesh. (2/2/10)
From this I have come up with an ideal production pipeline for these models:
Initial modelling in 3DS Max
UV mapping > send map to Abi for texturing
Build skeleton and rig model in 3DS Max
Add detail to the model in Zbrush
Pose high-detail model if this hasn't already been done
Set up lights and rendering
(3/2/10) I have now sent the UV map for the generic ant to Abi to texture, and have had the smooth soldier approved. I have also added details to the generic ant (he has a spiky blue and red counterpart) and UV mapped those. Here is what the spiky ant looks like:
(3/2/10) I have written some notes concerning the dissertation: structure, chapters etc.
(4/2/10) I found a better way to rig and bind models so that there will be much less need for skin weight painting; I used this method to skin the spiky ant. Also re-posed the generic ant to match a position in Abi's concept art and set up some lights for a nice render; this will be put in the game as a placeholder at some point.
This model is still rigged the 'old' way; imperfections in the skin will not be noticeable at iPhone size so for the moment this is not a problem. However, I will consider re-skinning this character when it's time to make posters.
(5/2/10) After a day developing together as a team, we have become indecisive as to whether the bees should indeed be flat renders; the placeholder assets looked so nice swarming around in Unity, even at a small size. A decision needs to be made soon, because I can't progress with any more bee models until I know what the limitations on polycount and bones are.
Unfortunately, if the full 3D method is chosen for the bees it means that my hard work on the soldier and worker bee (see below) will have been for nothing. I think the ants will remain high-detail renders whatever happens, so this isn't so bad.
This is the worker model - the skeleton has been fully built and the model has been UV mapped. All that was left to do was the smoothing, but this model may never be completed; it is probably too high detail at the moment to be used as an actual 3D asset in the game. I will have to reduce or re-do the model and start the skeleton from scratch as well if the model is to make it into the engine.
(7/2/10) I mostly spent the weekend going over my case studies for the dissertation, and taking notes concerning the show reel. Looking at other multimedia show reels and last year's Abertay show reel has given me some ideas as to how this year's show reel could proceed. Progress is still stalled concerning the character modelling.