Retopologizing done (finally)

•January 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I finally got the retopologizing done! Hurray!

This was a HUGE pain! Probably because some of the characteristics of the model are strange. I went through multiple attempts using the ZBrush edit topology tools, both in 3.1 and 3.5, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what cornball algorithms it uses! Solid polygons become open, and the projection sometimes stops doing anything on half the model, even if it was working before and hasn’t been touched. I found some other techniques online for retopologizing, which led me to my own technique which I’m proud to say seems to be near bullet proof.  It helped that building the original rough in Maya resulted in a pretty good initial topology.  I added geometry later (a mouthbag), and my technique breaks down right at the border of the new geo, but it’s easily cleaned up.

It’s nice to move back to creating things like surfacing and coloring. I put more work into the retopologizing than I would have liked.

some work – Frog Zombie

•November 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I worked on the head and corrected the nostrils, and worked on the feet as well, too. I started the coloring, as well, in ZBrush, but I am going to take it over to Bodypaint to finalize the painting. Without painting layers and blend modes, ZBrush is pretty limiting. I’m not as comfortable with Bodypaint, though, so I really wish I could stick to only one package.
One of his eyes will be hanging out of his head, and he will have some exposed ribs, but I’m trying to hold off on that until when I’m adding the high-frequency details, since it will be asymmetrical. Unfortunately, deciding to move on to asymmetrical detail is a little of a one way process, so I’m having to repress the “It’s not perfect!” impulse.

frog zombie – rough sculpt

•November 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This is a rough sculpt I’ve been working on.  The character is known as Frog Zombie, and is © Michelle Hall.  I have to clean up the anatomy, do the high-frequency detail, and then I am done with the ZBrush portion.  I will be taking this to a fully rigged character.  I plan to hit one stage of the development per week.  I have been lapsing in my duties to develope this character, mostly because of my own feeling that everything needs to be perfect to progress.  Unfortunately, my own perception of “perfect” tends to be impossibly high.  As a wise man once said “If I define ‘good enough’ as 90% of perfect, I can get 10 times as much stuff done.”  Here’s hoping “good enough” works out.



•November 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

we went to Italy on our honeymoon.  I took nearly 2200 pictures.  There’s a bunch of panoramas to stitch together, but that’s still a lot to sort through.  Here are some of the highlights.  My favorite is the picture of the river Arno in Florence.  That is exactly how it came out of the camera, no Photoshop.  It was my favorite the instant I took it.  I was trying to take a picture of the rowers, quite unsuccessfully, but when I tried taking a picture of the lights and the sunset, the rower just fell into place.

a wedding ring for that geeky artist

•November 10, 2009 • 8 Comments

We ended up having about 18 months to plan the wedding, and during most of that time, I felt the selection of men’s wedding bands was surprisingly uninspired. Erin was having her ring custom designed, and it was looking great! I was really happy to see my “basket and diamond as the crown of the Claddagh” idea working out better than I could have imagined. But for my ring, the only thing so far that fit for me was a traditional ring with a hammered surface, nothing special. During a last skim through the ring websites to see if there was anything else, I saw one particularly atrocious ring that fortunately triggered a thought: Binary!


So I started searching, and came up with a lot of interesting stuff. I rediscovered an old product that I originally remember on Make:, which I always liked, but looked like it would get dirty quickly. The more practical version of that ring is here, but that would have been WAY too many diamonds for me. I found this image, and liked the way the binary was etched into the surface, but didn’t like how overt writing out “1, 0, 1, etc.” was. Last, I saw this ring, and I liked how adjacent 1’s would merge together.

Now I had a vague plan: I decided I wanted squares that merged together, and I had quickly decided to encode the words of the Claddagh to match Erin’s ring: Love, Friendship, Loyalty. I just needed to make it a specific plan. So I fired up Maya and Photoshop and got to building. I made a ring in Maya, and worked out a square pattern in Photoshop that I liked. In Maya I brought in the square pattern as a displacement map which allowed me to try many permutations quickly.

palladiumv2 gold palladiumv1

Once I had the plan, I took it to Greg Stopka at The Jewelsmiths to have the fabrication done. Greg also did the design on Erin’s ring.  In the end, I couldn’t be happier with the results.


The binary section was media-blasted with sapphire aggregate. There are actually 3 values: raised is a 1 (white below), middle is a 0 (grey below), and the lowest (black) parts surround words so that I can see where a word begins and ends, since there was a lot of 0’s amongs words and empty space blending together. I also added a fourth word because I had the room. In the pattern below, the top left word is “Love”, the top right word is “Trust”, the middle word is “Loyalty”, and the bottom word is “Friendship”


to begin with

•November 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’ll be posting all manner of thing that interests the artist in me.  I also plan to post a series of tutorials that show how to do common Maya tasks in Houdini.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time, kind of a mathmatical proof that Houdini is more powerful.  And speaking of the left-brain, also check out