So, I finally got around to finishing my dragon commercial, and what a great experience. It was a 20 second TV commercial for a local supermarket, and my first real start-to-finish character animation created in Blender (2.49) It was an intense couple of months, a proper crash course in learning Blender, bringing together all the things I’d learned over the past couple of years, and learning more advanced things along the way.
The modeling seemed to take the longest, and I’m putting that down to the fact that I was trying to model the character based on the client’s design. The rigging also took a fair bit of time, mainly down to the fact I hadn’t really done any intense rigging in Blender before. The other sticky point for the whole modeling and rigging process was the fact that the character was a dragon, with six limbs to deal with. Two of those limbs were also wings, which had to be fully rigged, although in hindsight I probably had more controls on the them than I needed. However, if he needs another outing in the future, at least all the controls are there.
The texturing process was relatively easy, unwrapping the UV’s was a simple process in Blender once you know what buttons to push. Organising the mesh on the UV was another learning experience, but again, once you get play around with it for a while it’s very intuitive.
Here’s some more wip screen shots:
This is the final mesh and rig –
The mesh UV, unwrapped and layed out:
The final UV texture, can ya tell what it is yet!
And the rendered texture on the eye, with environment map:
I learned so much about Blender on this project. Up to this point I knew the basics, so this gave me a chance to get to grips with more intermediate aspects of Blender. I definitely feel a lot more confident with it now, the mystery and fear of the the interface has disappeared.
One of the great things I discovered was that it’s very flexible if you start jumping around with your workflow. There were certain points where I had already rigged and unwrapped the UV’s, only to discover I needed to change the mesh slightly, (since it was such a complicated rig, there was a lot of bending and joint problems) I had no problem adding faces then unwrapping and adding to the UV mesh. Another strength with Blender, once you get used to it, is the weight painting, particularly the Painting Mask. It’s a bit tricky to get used to the way it works, but once you do it’s a very powerful feature. I might get around to doing a little tutorial at some stage.
Just for reference, compositing was done in After Effects, and textures and sky were painted in Photoshop.
I’d also like to thank David Allen Ward (Youtube: ward 7299) and Paul Caggegi at The Process Diary. for their great online character tutorials. If you’re interested in doing any character work in Blender, I’d highly recommend you check both these links out.
So to finish off, here are a few screenshots, the rig setup and the finished commercial (now that I’ve figured out how to embed YouTube videos on here), hope you enjoy:
– The setup and rig in demo.
– The finished commercial on the clients YouTube channel (Don’t forget to hit the like button 🙂 )