Tag Archives: Nemu

Focus on the Face Part 2

I’ve had the New Post window open for the past few days waiting for an opportunity. I’m moving very quickly though with this short, and whenever I sat down it was a choice between either writing a blog post or making progress on the movie. But I’m taking a a bit of a break today to catch up on some Blender tutorials.

So last week I was working on the concept design for the main character, Nemu. As I said in my first post, getting her character working, and more specifically, the face is the biggest hurdle for the movie. Without her there’s no movie.nemu studies 5 instaed

I settled on a design I liked and on Monday I jumped into Blender. I hadn’t used it in a few months so I was a little rusty. The first day didn’t go so well, but I’m quickly getting back up to speed. I posted a work in progress photo up on Twitter, and on the Facebook Pagewhich you’ll have seen if you follow me on either one. Here are the results from the full week:Nemu Head 1 Perspective

I spent most of my time this week pushing vertices around the old fashioned way, trying to get the anatomy and topology right. The corners of the mouth and eyes gave me the most trouble. In future it probably makes more sense to focus on one or the other at a time (anatomy or topology) and then retopologize or reshape the mesh afterwards.

Nemu Head 1 RendersNemu Head 1 Wires

Still to-do are: checking the eye articulation (make sure they can open/ close properly) and the inside of the mouth.

At this point, unless there’s any showstoppers, I need to move on to the rest of the character and start working on expressions for the face rig. From there I can start blocking the first scene and the rest of the movie.

I could definitely continue improving and refining, but this is a quick and dirty production. I’ve already spent more time than I wanted to on just this one element. Besides when you stare at one thing for too long I think you start picking out all the imperfections and little details that probably don’t really matter that much in the bigger picture. I’ve been in a constant flux of “This looks terrible” and “That doesn’t look bad” all week… So it’s time to stop and show the world to figure out the real verdict.

I’ll start posting my WIP on Nemu on a few forums, to get a good gauge. I might take on one or two changes to the head, based on the direction of feedback I get. If you do see anything that really looks off or out of place, please let me know in the comments. And I’d love to hear what you think of her in general so far too.

The most important thing is to make sure her character reads. Stylistically I wasn’t sure how realistic to go with the look. I went slightly more towards the realistic side in order to get a good level of detail to the facial animation, but depending how things go once I get into it I may scale it back (or add if necessary) to get the animation looking good.

Lighting, textures (if any -I don’t really care for an overly textured look), and the animation itself will also play a part in how she looks on screen so the sooner I introduce those elements the better.

The make-up around the eyes is something I’m trying to work out. That’s an area that’s obviously crucial to nail down. How much eye-liner, eye shadow will she have on etc. because that can drastically change the look of the face. Getting the eyes right is probably the biggest priority.

Aside from that, I’m still trying to push the character and play around where I can, but the schedule looms large and I need to get something working. The benefit of spending most of the first half of the year learning anatomy is paid off now when I need to move fast and make quick decisions, because it’s important that this time is spent trying to capture and push her character, and as little time wasted fumbling around with the anatomy, or the software.

This is meant to be a quick and dirty production. I’m just trying to put as much character into the design as I can before it’s pencils down.

An aside to those who know me well: Can’t stress enough the importance of meeting deadlines.

If you want more frequent updates on the movie go like the Facebook page or Follow me on Twitter. I also added a mailing list signup on the right if you like to follow along that way. And please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.

Focus on the Face

So I’m finally starting a blog for this production.

Briefly, to sum up what I’ve mentioned on Twitter or in passing, Nemusidian will be an under 9 minute short animated movie made with the open source 3d software, Blender (or hashtag #b3d ), that I’m producing on my own.

This weekend I did some concept studies of the main character, Nemu. I feel like she’s close, but I haven’t quite totally hit the mark yet.

Getting her character correct at the quality I’m aiming for is the biggest challenge of the production. If she doesn’t work on screen the whole thing falls apart. Once I’ve got her character working the greatest hurdle will be behind me.

Nemu 0Nemu 1Nemu roughNemu Heads

The face is the most important part of the character. If I can get the face to work, I know the rest will follow. So this is my top priority. You’ll notice I’ve mainly been drawing heads.

I view these as studies or schematic diagrams for the 3d character. As it’s the 3d character that will be the end result, not a drawing so I’m not spending much time rendering them. The important thing is to get an understanding of the 3d form.

I need to understand the 3d form in order to model the character in 3d. So I’m trying to visualize her from at least 3 different angles (Front, Profile, and 3/4’s view, and any other angle I can think of).

Nemu 4

A majority of my time has been spent studying anatomy. I still have a lot to learn as you can see obviously from my sketches (Also my sketchbook thread on CGSociety); but I feel like I know enough now where I can suss out the errors that I make and the concepts are beginning to get to the point where they’re worth showing you to get some feedback.

And I’d love to hear your feelings in the comments below. Whether just stopping in to say hello (since this is my first post), or get into the nitty gritty and start a discussion. I’m all for it and I intend to spare you none of the details on this blog. Just keep it clean and civil. I’ll respond if I can, and try to keep out the riff raff.

So what was I saying?

My focus is on the face. And the important thing is to understand the form in 3d.

I’m noting the profile, and the shape(s) that creates. The importance of a strong silhouette is not to be ignored. Determining the shape of the silhouette from as many angles as possible is paramount to understand the form for 3d modelling. It’s also vital to creating what animators call “appeal”.

Nemu 3

Appeal isn’t a term used to judge how pretty a character looks, but how clear the outline and overall appearance of the character is in so much as it makes it easy for the eye to see what’s happening.

A strong silhouette from every angle will make her character instantly readable on screen so the audience will be focused on what she’s doing (the animation) and not where she is, or trying to discern which parts of her body are actually moving and where they’re going.

The goal of most animation isn’t to try to create a puzzle for the audience to solve. The goal is most often to convey some kind of emotion or character motivation to progress the story. So everything possible within reason to aid in that clarity should be done. That’s the basic idea of “Appeal” in animation terms.

Of course it’s easy to get carried away with appeal, especially for an animator for instance who might be focused on just one individual shot at a time and not looking at the broader picture (that the goal is to make a whole movie).

It’s important to remember that Story Context is the main driver of clarity for the audience and appeal is always a secondary tool to story.

But that’s getting a bit off topic. I might go into that more in a future post…

So in these studies I’m trying to find a strong silhouette from all angles that captures her character.

Getting the eyes right is crucial. I’m liking the look a lot of a fairly wide brow, especially together with what I think will  be a very small, rounded jaw. The eyebrows will probably peak high on the brow and it’ll accentuate the forehead which is covered by the bandanna/ headdress.

Nemu 2

The design of the bandanna is also a crucial aspect of her character. Not the texture printed on it; that’s a somewhat lower priority, but the silhouette and shapes it creates around the top of the head and interaction with the hair. I’ve always envisioned her with a bandanna pretty much as I’ve drawn but I’m interested in possibly experimenting with some other ideas… maybe not even a bandanna. I don’t know, how do you feel about it?

The cheeks are defined by the silhouette of the whole head and the skull shape underneath (The Zygomatic bone). I feel like the pronounced cheekbones are a good fit but maybe a bit softer and not such a sharp angle like I’ve drawn in the sketches.

For the hair I’m pretty set on a straight black just sort of hanging out from the bandanna. I’m not sure on the length, but for technical reasons it’ll probably be easier to keep it short (Hair is notoriously difficult to work with in 3d animation so the less of it getting in the way the better. And beyond that Blender has a lot of issues animating hair -though it’s been making strides in rendering hair lately -but movement and rendering are two entirely separate problems. So it’s already going to be a challenge. No need to make it harder unnecessarily.)

Other than all of that I’m just trying to vary things wherever I can to experiment. Adding little dangly things, accessories, changing the bandanna or the features around a bit with each drawing. If I know the cheek works in one drawing I might change it up in the next one just to experiment to see what works.

But I’m also trying to duplicate features. It’s not okay to just get lucky and get a face that looks good because the whole point is to be able to understand how the forms are laid out. I need to be able to draw it again. Luck is not good.

Not only for this design, but I’ll be doing storyboards and also full poses for her outfit design as well so I’ll need to be able to draw this face many times and have a total and complete understanding to model and animate it for the movie.

Whew thanks for reading if you stuck around! Please leave comments below if you did. I’d love to hear from you. Your thoughts/ feelings on my workflow, or on my designs, or any questions or comments you might have, I’ll really appreciate it.

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Links to things mentioned in this post:
Blender
My Sketchbook
Gray’s Anatomy Online
Facebook Page