Environment : Stream V.1

The Short film required two different stream settings established, one with a low meandering creek and another with a wide spread rising ocean.

For  the short meandering stream, we had to form it to create horizon lines along the camera shots  whilst also making sure that the backdrops appeared pseudo-two dimensional.


This early version of the Stream had a simple flat-water texture with modeled reeds with constructed lattice – however it didn’t offer  enough variety in the scene – and  as it’s one of the primary and most long-sitting shots it needed something more developed.


A couple of lighting tests eventually led to the right feel, creating a sense of a warm summer afternoon.


The other side of the stream had an exaggerated hill-top with a  lone tree, which  would be covered in dandelions and a lighter tinged grass layer.


Most scenes are rendered out on high contrast layers as tifs, because they tend to actually appear faded on screen, when in Maya itself or the arnold renderview they look like the above .png.

The Reeds and other small features around the room are paint effects converted to polygons.

This tutorial was useful for figuring out how to go about creating some interesting and simple.

Forcing the perspective on the left hand side to create the illusion of a larger environment is just part of the features we used to piece together the landscape we wanted.


Environment: Meadow

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


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


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.


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.


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.

Rigging Revised : Hawk

The Hawk Rig originally functioned well enough,  but it had some scaling issues that made some of the wing flex animation appear wonky, and the controls weren’t exactly clear in their purpose.

So I rerigged it to fix the scaling problem and then created a more clear layout for the controls, as well as adding some stretch capability to the wings so that they could enhance the silhouette.

The Rig is mostly fairly self-explanatory, with basic wing controls to allow the different parts to bend and twist, as the Hawk only appears briefly in the film and is mostly moving in dives or glides, he didn’t need excessively complex components.

This tutorial by Mike Hermes formed the basis for what I chose to do, though  I simplified it immensely.

Sketchfab Render of Hawk Model

Rigging Revised : Chimera Fusion

Constructing the Chimera, both as a model and rig was obviously simple, it merely requires dismantling the other characters and rigs, restitching and then repainting the weights together.

Painting the Weights took the longest, and the addition of whole new sets of required joints meant that rebuilding the rig hierarchy was fairly tedious.

The main purpose of the character and rig was to be able to strike dynamic and clear poses, with a well defined silhouette – therefore the tail and wings had to be enlarged dramatically.

The Rig itself still features fairly simple components – with a basic quadrupedal IK system for the legs that was established in the rabbits. Though, like the wolf, it’s locomotion is different due to leg shape.

Rigging Revised : Wolf Corrections

This will be the shortest of these Rigging Revised Posts, as the Wolf didn’t require much revision beyond the addition of more controls, and improved paintweights, as can be seen in the film.

Like the Rabbit, the Wolf suffered some stretching issues that were fixed with an additional two ‘anchor’ joints, which were driven by controls in the legs to help fix unsavory deformation.




Rigging Revised : Snek’s and Ladders

As you can see this early snake rig was fairly basic, lacking alot of features and smoothness it needed. It was generally difficult to animate with and had many skin weighting issues.

To clean this up, I produced a couple different set ups, some that automated coiling for one scene, another that allowed each piece to be moved independently, and eventually combining these into a single Rig.

This was the Rig we’d eventually use, with all features combined – which you can see in action both in the final film and in this clip below.

The Rig had some issues, it’s bending wasn’t as smooth as I’d like, and it didn’t have as tight a coil as I’d have hoped for, but it functioned well in the situation.

The Rig suffered some weighting problems due to the thorns, which threw off the initial weight spread and had to be manually painted to the rig.

This didn’t prove to be an enormous issue – though I would like to have redesigned the rig to not include the thorns, though at this point, the blendshapes had been made and for the amount of impact it would have had – redoing them was not worth the effort.

This tutorial form the basis for the above Rig, although  the exact interpretation of this lead to some issues, namely that it couldn’t form the shapes we needed it  to – hence the more complex adaptation in  the film.

This Rig was the replicated version of the one above – I had simplified the body which meant it needed reskinning – however during testing, it didn’t move quite the way it would need to, so we decided to simply fix minor issues and adjust the original instead.


 Sketchfab Render of Bramblesnake

Rigging Revised : The Rabbit

Having completed the project, I can now reflect on the Rabbits Rig, what I learned, achieved and would improve if I were to create it again today.

Initially the Rig had alot of problems, and some of them still persist at completion.

Primarily the Rabbit can’t stand up on it’s hind legs without some major deformation issues – however research showed that the only solution to this was to have two seperate rabbit models and rigs, one built for bipedal motion and another for quadrupedal.

Seeing as the rabbit had only two scenes where he needed to stand up, this felt like an excessive diversion at the time.

Paint Weights and IK issues also appeared prevalent, and fortunately Alec was able to help correct many of those, which I could then apply to the Fat Rabbit in turn.


One of the interesting parts and adjustments made to the rabbits Rig was the functionality for chest and joint swell, which was useful for shots like the one above, where his head had to crane back and lift, which would normally cause excessive deformation and texture drag.

This was fixed with a combination of a driven joint and a blendshape that would pull in parts of the lower belly and push out the neck and chest to make it look like his body was correctly shaped from odd angles.

Constructing the Fat Rabbit rig mostly involved the transferring of attributes between the Main Character Rabbit and the Additional Rabbits.

This was fairly simply done after uncovering a couple helpful tutorials.

Transferring UV’s made painting the skin weights much easier, and meant that we could also transfer the skin weights on the Rabbit itself to it’s chubby sibling, making cleanup more effiecent.

This video was less useful but clued me on to the actual transfer of the rig to a new model and came in useful when I would add a feature to one rabbit that I wanted to replicate on the other, saving a lot of set up time and leaving only the bug fixing to do.


Autodesks own tutorial on Corrective Blendshapes was more than sufficient for the small amount we needed to do. Mostly consisting of wrist and belly inflation to compensate for the stretch and allowing the rabbit to move with a bit more weight.


Referencing & Rendering : Testing

Having modeled and rigged most of what we needed at this point, I moved on to begin doing grass, fur and render tests and adding in the completed models to the camera scenes Anna had set up.

Grass would be created using Xgen, and this early stage was mostly learning how to use the program. I’ll go further into depth on the specifics of what I discovered in a later dedicated post.

Screenshot 2018-01-21 18.54.52Screenshot 2018-01-21 18.55.09

Setting the references up was easy enough, but playing around with the grass took a while to get the right settings, and even then, my laptop physically can’t actually render the entire scene.

However, the grass does look something like this. (I hope, I have no actual way of seeing if this translates well onto a larger scale.)


A couple other grass and fur tests involved playing around with density and noise and the colour of the grass. The dark grass worked well  for a deep saturated grass that would appear when it was raining, but not really for a bright sunny morning.


The slightly yellowing dead grass would work well for transitioning into the nightmarish scape of the later scenes.

Rigging : The Hawk

The Hawk Rig was incredibly simple, as it simply needed 3 sets of joints and basic controls for the wings. Weighting similarly didn’t need too much done, and the gaps in the model would be compensated for using image planes to block out the shadow and give it a more defined edge.

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