Modeling Mis-adventures

Sigh, seems like the only time I actually sit down and model anymore is when I plan to give the image to someone as a present. The biggest problem with only modeling once in a while, is that my modeling skills have grown rusty and leave quite a bit to be desired. Yep, totally my own fault. Any how, I managed to muddle through and ended up with a fairly decent model of a puppy. But no way am I going to share or show a wire frame (parts of it are really ugly). Luckily subsurf fixes the greater majority of my modeling boo-boos. 😛

With the modeling finished (or as finished as I had time for), I turned to texturing. Now fur would have been really cool looking, but it takes too long to render and of course I was running out of time. So I decided to go with a soft semi toon look. I was envisioning soft velvety colors. I didn’t quite achieve what I was going for, but it still looked cute, so I went with it.

Now we all know that I still have problems using Nodes, but I really like how you can blend two or more materials using black and white UV mapped texture images. I have used this method before and I seemed to recall it was fairly simple. So I tracked down the tutorial and started creating my black and white UV images. Since I wasn’t going to be blending materials to achieve great detail (just color changes), I just created a very simple UV map to texture paint on. I used Texture paint to create separate images for each color (material) I wanted to blend in with the main color of the dog.

I created Texture painted UV maps for the following areas:

nose
light colored areas (ears, feet)
dark colored areas (around eyes, ear edges)
cheeks

Now I just need to set up my nodes. That’s when the problems started. Come on, you knew problems were going to happen, this is me after all. Should have been easy, all you need is two material nodes, a texture, a geometry and a mix node. I followed the tutorial, but it just wouldn’t work. After messing with it for a few hours, I closed the file and opened a new one. I added a suzanne (monkey head) and made a quick UV image.

Still wouldn’t work, so it obviously wasn’t my puppy file that was the problem. I finally got it to work by connecting my UV texture image to the color socket of the mix node (tutorial said it was supposed to be connected to the fac socket) Oh well, at least now it was working.

Here is the node setup I ended up with.

Once I finally got my materials all set up, it was time to rig my little puppy. I have no plans to animate him, so all I needed was a very simple rig. Just enough bones to pose him in a somewhat realistic position. I ended up with a grand total of 24 bones, literally just enough bones to move his limbs. Very simple indeed! 😛

One of the things I love the most about simple rigs is that using “Bone Heat” works almost perfectly with no tweaking. In my opinion, “Bone Heat” is one of the best time savers the coders could have given us.

If you haven’t used Bone Heat yet, it is very simple to use.

1- You need a model and your armature rig built.
2 – select your model
3 – select your rig
4 – control + P (to parent model to rig)
5 – Choose from Bone Heat

Enter my second “show stopper” problem. When I applied Bone Heat, the right side of the rig controlled and moved not only the right side but the left side as well. The left side moved nothing at all, 😦 It took me a good 10-15 minutes to realize that my model was not in the state I thought it was. I always use the mirror modifier when modeling and I had forgotten to apply it before I parented the rig to it 😛

Note to self : make sure mirror modifier has been applied before you start rigging!

Now puppy posed just fine. All that was left was to pop him into a scene and light him up. And since the scene I envisioned matched up with the room example From BSoD “Intro to Lighting”, I got to do both at the same time. I just deleted all the objects from the room scene (leaving the floor, walls and lights) and appended my puppy, a dog dish and some dog food into the already lit scene. Instant masterpiece! Okay not really but I liked the way it looked.

A quick render and a trip to Walmart and a nice frame later and I had a nice present for grandpa’s birthday.

Now if improving my modeling skills was just that easy. 😛

Oh here is the final image. There are of course things I definitely could have improved and worked on, but I will have to keep them in mind for my next project.

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