Izzy’s Evolution

Once upon a rather long time ago, I modeled Izzy, (my little green avatar). At the time, I was rather pleased with her and myself.

A few months ago I decided that she deserved a make-over. The biggest change planned, was to take her from quadruped to biped.

Modeling came to an abrupt halt when I realized that I couldn’t just lop off her head and attach it to a biped body. Due to the fact that her head attached to her quadruped body more from the back of her head than the bottom. If I continued on as she was, she was going to look like either a hunchback or like a turtle sticking it’s head out of it’s shell. (Izzy informed that neither was an acceptable option).

Round two, after lopping off her head, I filled in the neck opening, then rotated her head a little and created a new neck opening at the bottom.

After a couple of tries, I got her upright…and managed to get a basic body attached. A bit of tweaking and remodeling gave her back her tail and back fins. At that point she looked like my Izzy on two legs instead of four.

Then I got the bright idea that she might like a bit of sculpting. Something I fully blame on all the BlenderCookie videos by David Ward, that I have watched in recent months.

As I was busily sculpting in fun details, it dawned on me that she was going to be way too high res to do anything with later. I pondered that annoying fact while I continued to sculpt. Then I remembered that you could bake a hi res model to a lower res model. Hooray, problem solved, and I happily continued sculpting.

Sometime later I remembered something else. The lower res model needs to be UV mapped. Well snap. That might be an issue, because of course I hadn’t done that.

At that point I stopped to assess my sculpting. Eew, yuk! What had started out as some fun decorative details had evolved into an ugly warty thing that now resembled a horny toad more than an iguana. (I don’t think Izzy is going to like looking like a horny toad)

Sigh, well I needed to address that UV mapping issue anyhow.

I deleted all the multi res levels and got back to my base mesh. Once upon a time, I was pretty good at UV mapping. Sadly I discovered that I am seriously out of practice. But stubbornness prevailed and several hours later I had an ugly but usable UV mapped iguana.

Time to re-scuplt her, and no getting crazy with all the bumps this time. A short time later, Izzy had a nice simple sculpt job.

Now it was time to do this Bake thing. I have watched several tutorials on normal baking, but I have never actually tried it myself. This should be fun..

I went to the Blender wiki to look up instructions, did what it said and OMG it worked. Well that wasn’t so hard.

Then I noticed that some areas of the normal map weren’t very smooth (it looked like there were artifacts and lo res areas) and it was making its Izzy look a little odd.

Sigh, I just knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.

What followed next was just NOT pretty. I spent hours trying to create a nice clean normal map with no funky artifacts. The process was painful to say the least. No matter what I did, they all turned out the same. That is if a normal map was created at all. Over half of them just came up a flat gray.

After hours of frustration, I finally decide, enough, I’ll just go with the first one I made, so there. I’ll do some research and figure out what happened later.

So I set up some basic lights and materials and start to render out some images, when I got this nagging feeling that I missed something.

I went back to my UV map and took a good long look at where the stretching was.

Crap!

Yep, you guessed it. My funky artifacts are everywhere there is stretching on my UV map… well that just sucks.

Okay, so here is the upside (yes, I take my victories where I can);

1- Izzy is officially a biped
2- I have got a lot of sculpting practice
3- I can now not only bake a normal map, I can bake it from a Hi res model onto a lower res model. (very handy knowledge)

Downside;

I really need to work on my UV mapping. Which I will do first thing tomorrow. Until then here is Izzy is all her artifact-ed glory.

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