Environment: Meadow

The First area you see in the film is a simple meadow, though it had went through several stages.

firstscene

You can see a fairly close to finished version here, with an early version lighting set up.

meadowscene_exmple

This version of the scene had a fairly basic lighting set-up, with the skysphere providing most of the lighting and a  set of directional lights casting tonal shadows.

I also added an area light to cast a yellow tint across the ground, and a disc light to emulate the bright sun beams.

Meadow01_RenderTest

This particular version didn’t have quite the light intensity we needed and rendered out too dark, so I bumped up some of the directional exposure.

Meadow01_RenderTestFxDLight

This worked much better, though as you can see the light didn’t cast as strong a shadow set as I wanted, so like can be seen in the Gif at the top, the characters had highlight put just behind them  to cast a soft rim light onto them.

 

 

 

Updated 3D Animatic

This was the 3D Animatic we put together for our last presentation, with some rendered shots – the rest would begin rendering the day after.

At this point in the film, my contributions are less visually obvious –  modelling,  rigging and environment design all tend to be hidden behind fantastic animation from Anna, so the trick at this point is to make the Lighting make the environments and characters pop in a much more meaningful way.

Modelling : Trees and Shrubs

For the environment, we wanted our trees in the background to still cast a shadow and have a semblance of physicality in the environment.

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> Far  Hill Cherry Blossom Tree.

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> This uprooted Tree is the only fully 3D one, as it has a sequence of animation in which it is spinning.

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This is the first of a handful of trees that we used to populate the rest of the space in the environment background.

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We then applied textures and image planes of the leaves Anna had drawn to these models and referenced them into the scene.

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Next up, some smaller pieces of shrubbery that would fill the underbrush around the trees.

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Modelling : A Fat Rabbit

The Main Character isn’t the only rabbit in our film, and he is surrounded at the beginning by his much larger and fatter siblings, fortunately, they were still rabbits and so most of the modelling work was done for me, and I had learnt most of the mistakes from my earlier model of the main character.

The faces however needed to be modeled from scratch and then matched to an enlarged version of the rabbit body I had modeled and rigged.

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The body consisted mostly of restitching and retopologising to match up with the changed topology of the head, and then inflating  the chest and proportions to give it a different frame to the main character. Most of it’s mass would come from fur however later on, and I wanted to avoid making it’s physical mesh too large to be animated effectively.

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Modelling : The Hawk

The Hawk was an incredibly simple Model, as it was a silhouette and never actually got upclose for any shots.

The texture plan for it and the lighting of the scene meant it would only ever be seen as either a cast shadow, or in an oily black sheen covering all it’s discernible features.

Initially the model was a bit too simple, and we discovered it didn’t really have room for rigging or animation, which despite the nature of it’s scenes, we did still need.

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This model had too many feathers and too much topology for it’s purpose, and was simply too time-consuming to rig for what we needed it to do.

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This model functioned much more effectively for portraying the silhouette and had the simplicity we needed for weighting it properly and animating.

We could always add more to it’s shadow using image planes and editing if need be.

Modelling : The Snake

The Snake itself was very much the formation of an idea for a cool shot I had, in which the brambles around the Rabbit during a chase scene would writhe and form into the shape of a snake. As such, initially, the snakes body was basically just a long thorny vine.

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Because the snake was pretty much coiling into complex shapes and very long spiralling motions, I made his body very long, adding some slight tapers to make it less of a pipe cleaner. However, the focus was always going to be it’s head, as several of the shots were of it hissing or leaping forward, jaw agape.

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The Snake model itself didn’t encounter many problems – it didn’t have much motion and so there were fewer points of deformation, so we didn’t have to spend as much time fixing things as we did on other models – which was helpful, as we frequently encountered a lot of problems once we got to the rigging stage.

 

Modelling : The Rabbit

The first task was to try and get a 3D version of our main character, so that we could begin animating, as well as solidifying what our 3D style would be. Something that didn’t occur til we reached modelling the Snake, and the later versions of the Rabbit.

All in all, I ended up with maybe a dozen or so different versions, with 3 completely different models started from scratch. Most of this was down to aspects of the Rig not working with certain geometry parts of the Rabbit, others simply due to the aesthetic not fitting correctly with what we wanted.

Easily a Month of our time was spent trying to get the Rabbit right. And still requires some work, but will server for the 3D Animation while we work on completing it.

The first focus was to create a head for the rabbit and work out what his face would appear as.

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There were a number of topology issues with this initial model, however I’d never get round to actually correcting them – as innumerable other issues later on meant I’d simply restart the rabbit from scratch.

Rabbit_smooth001Rabbit_wire001Rabbit_wire002

The initial Rabbit started as this, but instantly we felt it wasn’t as ‘cute’ as we wanted it to be. This led to this particular model being scrapped as we moved on to recreating the 2nd model, the one which would under go many iterations.

To give a sense of this, here is what the actual file page looks like, prior to cleanup and removal of defunct versions.

Through this chaos, there are a small selection of finished models that we had played with for a while.

Initially after finishing the first rabbit model, we had intended for the Rabbit to spend most of the film on it’s Hind legs, however this raised a number of complications when it came to modelling and rigging.

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Realizing some of these problems, we quickly rethought the film itself and looked at the shots we intended. Finding that the most important shots had it running on all fours, and many of the upright moments being superfluous and unneeded, as well as adding additional work to an already packed load.

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The next rabbit was somewhat more reasonable, albeit I had sculpted most of it, so it’s topology was somewhat absurd and would require fixing.

We noticed some flaws with this model that would need to be fixed between the re topology and the rigging. Mostly the hing legs narrowed too much, and needed to be swollen out and that it should be raised higher, as it’s current legs were too stumpy to portray the animation we wanted.

The Eyes in this model were easily formed and were intended to serve as a temporary guide for the animation and 3D Animatic.

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Some of the most notable changes toward our final rabbit model and it’s retopology was a rescaling of the head around the ears, as well as lengthening the legs, deepening the stomach and making the shoulders smoother and the chin less angular.

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The face shown here isn’t the final one, and as of the moment of typing – is still in the process of being reworked to allow for easy blend-shape expressions.

We tried to retopologise it to as minimal as possible, making sure to add additional edgeloops in the areas with the most deformation around joints.

Happy with the results of the Rabbit Model for now, I moved on to rigging it. Which can be found in a blog post on the Rigging part of this project later on.

 

Snarling Wolves

Initially our colourboard would have used real wolves, but real wolves lacked the nightmarish colourscheme we wanted, and so we switched to concept art and abstract-ism.

Fortunately, we not had lots of wolf images to draw from, a handful of which included nice clear images of snarling wolves. As this would be the primary expression for the wolf in our animation, I figured it would serve well to post them.

The first thing that is apparent is that the nose and the teeth become the most prominent parts, with a large mane of rough and the eyes becoming more like small beacons against the furrowed brow. A good thing to keep in mind when it comes to designing and modelling the creature.

Colourboard : Wolf

WolfColourboard

Finding images of wolves comprised of either intense shadow, ash or light was pretty difficult – not due to the lack of content, but the wading through excessive amounts of poor renderings and depictions in the form of DeviantArt ‘OCs’. Fortunately, the excess of those meant that the good references were indeed very good.

I assembled the images into a spread of varying colours, and then created my colourboard from that, trying to create a fragmented set of tones that would reflect the fragmentation of the antagonist.

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We ended up with a nice range of colours, mostly deep greys and reds, with some blue and green tints to act as highlights against the skyline. Hopefully, this palette works well for us. Time will tell.

Colourboard : Forest

ColourboardForest

The Colourboard for the forest is one of the least important parts immediately, but will have a huge bearing on the tone and shadows throughout the scenes backdrop.

I liked the intense colours that come through European forest’s in the Late Summer and Autumn and so focused on images from those seasons.

ColourboardForest2

The mixes of browns, oranges and greens will be used initially and then faded out to a similar colour palette as the storm once the later sequences of the Short Film begin.