Saturday, April 19, 2008

Turn, step, kick, step, step, step, POSE

Oh, it's been an Obsessive Compulsive Geeky week, yes it has. Of course, Zbrush would have built in functions for posing models....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mama's got a Zbrush....

And she was up all night long :)

It's not the MOST user friendly program out there (at least for we Luddites)--I remember reading their online help which started with something akin to "The principles of Zbrush are inherently simple due to being based upon simple polygonic uvmap circularities in 2.5 dimensions (alterable to 3 if you need). Furthermore, beeplebapple snork snork!"

Or words to the effect. But there is no denying that it is an incredibly powerful program. And thankfully, Mssrs Vlad Bjornson and 2K Susei were more than understanding on the forums (The Shiny Life tutorials are a definite first stop for future Zbrushers)

But after the dust settles, I am still astonished at what I can do, and I've only used a few brushes so far. It allows one to sculpt RIGHT onto the object, and paint as well (two different methods for that- which is still perplexing me, but I will get on, I'm sure)

Here's my practice head I've been working on (please ignore the texturing issues)--

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shire Horse Jumping Demonstration

Well, yet another tedious commercial :) Here I am, back in New Toulouse, demonstrating the jumping animation on the new Shire Horse. Hmmm...perhaps a stirring soundtrack might be in order next time?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shire Horse is Done!

For those looking for a stouter (erm, big boned) steed, here's the mount for you! Shire horses are the direct descendants of the English Great Horse, and they have all their ancestor's size and stolidity (although they have a more pleasant disposition than the original war horses probably did).

Here's the two "model horses" I was basing mine on. I so loved the pink noses!

A special thank you to Her Grace CoyoteAngel Dimsum who made the sculpt map for the new saddle :)

I've been continuing to update the horse scripts, and added a few new features whilst I was working on the Shire:

- a three stage jump animation (I put an altimeter in the horses, so they sense when they are about to touch down and do a "prelanding" animation)
- a "fatigue" feature where the horses get tired after about five minutes of galloping, slows to a trot and pants, whereupon it needs to be cooled down via walking (you can toggle this off if you like)
-gallop boost, which makes the horse gallop faster (this can be turned off, making the gallop only as fast as the trot)
-pose mode now can be used with the horse rezzed on the ground (before you had to wear it). Rearing won't animate unless you are wearing the horse, but the legs will pose and you can edit it into position.
-prance mode (which I used for the leg demonstration video) which runs the selected leg animation regardless of whether the avatar is moving (so you can prance in place, should you like)
-A few more sounds and ear twitches. The ears now cock back sometimes, as if the horse was actually paying attention to the rider :)
-For those with older graphics cards, the leg animations can be turned to half speed.
-Script reset now does a reset of all scripts on the horse, not just main animation script.
-I fixed all reported bugs, such as the strange one where the horse would get stuck in a rear if it started flying whilst rearing. As always, if you find ANYTHING strange with the horse, please write to me.
-in general, more reliable and smoother animations (I use mostly key capture now, rather than relying on LL's occasionally erratic animations to activate).

All these updates should be coming out for the older horses as well in the next few days, do call if you don't get the 2.5 update (to receive it, simply rez your old horse, and my update server should send you a new one)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Tablet

I finally got round to buying a tablet. Everyone I know who has one swears by it, and even my Photoshop tutorial book made snide comments about we mousers. And even after over four years of owning a mouse (I used a trackball before, actually), I still found it clunky for the fine work.

I was truly hoping to get a reconditioned tablet, but they seem to get snapped up faster than freebie dresses in Victoria City. So, I went ahead and swallowed seriously and repeatedly, then considered the idea of actually buying it at retail.

Well, it must still be spring, because a certain gentleman shopped, found and ordered it for me :)) Perhaps he was simply tired of hearing me agonize over it.

A verrrrryy long week after, this came in the mail, with an amazingly terse instruction manual (helpfully bilingual in Portuguese):

I wish I could say it was all sunshine and long walks through rose gardens from there, but in fact, it was a pain in a blessed half to use at first. Those of you who read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy might recall a section where the two headed man is trying to use a radio that changes stations with the merest twitch of the arm--thereby requiring one to hold Stock Still whilst listening to the show one is listening to! Well, that was the first two days on the Wacom. That, and I wasn't clear on what part of the ergonomic button to click to achieve right clickedness. PLEASE tech manual writers, do take a class on writing. I am all for the modern Hemingwayish "get to the point" style of writing (at least for other people :P) but, one must include all necessary information.

But I forced myself to learn, and yes, it is amazingly precise for painting on textures. I find myself doing less of the "clip/paste/distort" method of texture creation and more simply brushing on colours left and right. Eyedropper, grab a pixel, then I proceed to imagine myself a later day Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. The before ignored airbrush has become a staple of my repertoire.

In short, after a tumultuous first week, we have achieved a certain level of love :)

Oh, final tidbit--there are a surprising lack of practical tutorials out there on tablet usage. Perhaps it is simply because they are so prevalent that graphic artists think of explaining it as akin to explaining how to use a charcoal pencil. Or perhaps it's because one can't really explain much beyond how to turn it on and customize the buttons. Instead, one must simply dive in and work with it. As a wise Muppet once said, "Try not. Do or do not, there is no try."

But...I found a lovely little videogame for practise :D

One simply has to draw a circle about floats of the same colour, then they merge and become a bigger float, and so on until only one big float of each colour remains. One's circle must have only floats of one colour to work, so precision and speed are rewarded (that, and there is a timer!).

Simply put, it is a game MADE for a tablet pen. 15 (*cough* or so) minutes twice a day for a week, and now it feels as natural as a mouse to me.

Thank you Ferry Halim, creator of wonderfully fun, non-violent flashgames!