Sep 152014

Spent the weekend updating my new laptop and putting on all the programs I use back on it and also working on Wooden Doll. I came to the conclusion (reluctantly) that my hawk rig isn’t going to be quite what I want for this project and it needs some adjusting. Mainly, the model. My old model was heavily done in my own personal style, which tends to be a blend of real and cartoon. For Wooden Doll, I need something more realistically accurate and not what I -think- a hawk should look like. Wooden Doll will allow artists to pose “dolls” so having it be as close to realistic proportions is the goal. problem is that my old model, if seen from head on, the eyes face sideways (like a pigeon), instead of forward like a hawks. So I went back to my model. I’m working on re-shaping the base mesh to that of a Ferruginous hawk*. I’m going to use mudbox to give it some fine detail (scales in the feet, “feathers” in the body, etc) and add a texture. I’d like to check out Ptex and see how it works anyhow! (Seriously been itching to play with Ptex)

Got the base mesh almost done tonight. It needs a touch more re-shaping to the back of the head and around the brow (and to tilt the whole head up a bit) and he’s done. The last touches and cleaning it up a bit tomorrow before I go play with the fine details in mudbox! He looks a little bit goofy but he’s more accurate now. Without texture and color or detail on him, he ends up with that slightly goofy, slightly manic, look. One big problem I had is that hawks have flatish disk like eyes that don’t rotate in the socket (like someone took a UFO and turned it on its side so that the dome was facing outward), unlike humans which have spherical eyes. The iris is set far back in the skull and there’s a huge cornea and this magnifies the iris and gives the optical illusion that the eye is spherical, looks directly forward and the iris is close up when in reality it’s the not the same. It makes it -really- hard to model both accurately and look good. I think I’ve got it close enough to accurate and functional in this model now.



Old hawk: (This shows the main problem here- nothing but beak in the front view!)

New hawk:

Old hawk:

New hawk:

*I really just want to paint a ferruginous hawk. I got a bit tired of staring at redtails so I went with a Ferru instead this time since I had to reshape the head entirely anyhow.

New project

 Posted by at 8:20 am
Sep 082014

I have a new project I’d like to mention! I’m going to be working on a small program that allows artists to use some of my rigs as essentially 3d “dolls.” Many traditional artists are familiar with the wooden dolls used to mock up poses for reference such as this:
29 - April - 2011 -- Model

Well, what about dolls for other creatures, like a dog, cat, horse or hawk? It’s hard to have a model for everything, and for some creatures (such as a hawk) are impossible or impractical. With rigs, artists can use them certainly, but that requires knowledge of a program such as Maya, which has a high learning curve that many traditional artists either don’t have the time to learn or the interest. There are other good references out there that are similar, such as Pose Maniacs, however, the artist lacks the ability to alter the base pose. My idea is to make a simple program similar to pose maniacs that can be used by artists to take these types of rigs and pose them like a wooden doll in order to use it as a reference. It will also have the ability to change the lighting scenarios so that it can put the character into a negative space setting so that you can only see the outline of the posed character and many other similar useful features.

I will be using Unreal Engine 4 since it can make a standalone game (not a “game” as such in this particular case, but similar function) that will run easily on anyone’s system and can facilitate making the control system for posing the character and the scene. I’ll be able to offer many different rigs, starting with a base human rig (male and female) and the hawk rig (since I already have him and I know a couple artists who would really love to have access to him). Future plans include making personal characters for artists (such as if you have your own character you draw a lot and want a 3d version to pose for reference or just plain fun) and animation loops for reference!

If anyone has any interest in this program, any ideas, or any desired characters or rigs please let me know at! I’ll keep updates posted here. (Really, I WILL try and remember I have a blog and to be more social online, I promise!)

WIP- Iguanadon re-sculpt

 Posted by at 7:36 am
Sep 082014

So, one of my current side projects is a re-sculpt of one of my old old sculptures from about 15 years ago. I really liked it then and am still fond of it but it’s taken a beating. The original was sculpted out of oil based clay (never dries) and had a lot of layers of paint and clear nail laquer put on it to make it “solid”. It needed to be re-done.

Old sculpture:

His tail and thumb are broken off and the photo is rather blown out (I don’t have a camera, only my phone.) Anyhow you get the picture. He was pretty good for when I made him and I was very proud of him. Still am. But I wanted to see how much my work has changed, so re-sculpt time!

I ran across Smellybugs maquette tutorial several years ago and it helped me make my naga sculpture, and I’m still finding it useful today. Link for any who want it, it’s very good (starts on page 15, middle way down- the photos on the first pages got removed and re-posted over time):

The base wire frame, made with aluminum wire and quick set clay epoxy:

Forgot to take a picture of when I was bulking it out, but here’s the step after when I was working on the form:

Gave his spine a bit more curve for interest. The previous sculpture was mostly straight.

Still got skinny legs and arms and some rather weak musculature. Hmm. Here we go:

Working some more on the muscles, bulking them out, raising his back since there’s some high bones in that spine, switched the type of clay in the head and feet out from Sculpey to a more firm Fimo details clay so I can do some details work without the clay going mushy.

Getting in muscles for that chest:

I’ll post more pictures as I go along.

Next, the feet and head! I’ve been looking forward to this part!

Finished Hawk

 Posted by at 7:04 am
Sep 082014

I always seem to fall behind on posting here. I’m not huge on social media and tend to interact with people more in person than via social media so I always forget there are actually people who read this blog. I’m trying to make that up now and post some of my work, both finished and new!

I finished my hawk rig some time ago and it includes a more polished version of the wings. He’s been shown in my demo reel, but I forgot to post pictures here. Here he is (in all his smirking glory):

I think maybe I’ll get him textured by a fellow artist of mine to really “finish” him. He was only a rigging project and modeling practice, but I’d like to see him -fully- rendered!

Bug Fixes on Wing Creator

 Posted by at 8:11 am
Jul 022014

I fixed a couple bugs on wing creator and more importantly, changed the user locators to define the wing. It now doesn’t use user defined locators, it takes the bounding box of key feathers and uses that to judge the shape instead. This way it requires no input for the user other than that of the feathers and clicking the buttons! You can still change the shape/scale of the feathers once they’re generated and before generating the motion system and it will work. Enjoy!

Jun 192014

Finally got it stable and ready for use! Check the “Download Program & Paper” link under the “Thesis” tab for the download and more info. There are still a couple bugs but they’re harder to pin down and as far as I can tell aren’t affecting the stability of the script or the rig. Please email me with questions, comments, compliments, and especially any bugs at! (Or, both emails work!)

May 272014

EDIT: Please disregard the portion about the locators in this post, this has been changed and is now outdated.

I’ve been working a bit on updating Wing Creator (I know, I’m slow to the point of stupidity because I tend to stop working on this project for six months at a time) and I’m almost ready to release this version entirely. I’d like to try a couple more things to see if I can break the program to make sure I worked out all the bugs in the new features before releasing it and replacing Version 01 entirely.

Here’s the current file: Wing Creator version 2.0.1

A note about this new version: IT HAS DIFFERENT WINGS! You can generate a hawk wing or a falcon wing. The different wing options are under the second tab. You can make different types at any time; so if you want to make the left side hawk and the right side falcon, go for it. You can also scale the feathers after they’ve been generated if you don’t like the look of the default wings- the program will still be able to generate a rig with any changes on the feathers you do. However, with the different shape wings, I had to add another step to this process for generating the rig.

You HAVE to place the red and blue locators before you can generate the rig. These locators tell Wing Creator where the controls are supposed to be placed, because with the wing changing shape (hawk, falcon, user edited, or whatever) this means that I needed a dynamic way of sizing the controls to fit the different wings. These locators do that. The locators are named appropriately and they need to be placed at the TIPS of the feathers- so “R_Tip” goes at the distal tip of the right wing, “R_Middle” goes at the tips of the feathers in between where the primaries and secondaries meet, and “R_Inside” goes at the very inside of the wing (close to the body), at the tip of the last secondary. If you want longer controls, move these locators out further from the feathertips.

Pictures as example:

Here’s an example of what I mean for different shapes. The falcon wing is quite different in shape, and on the left side, I’ve scaled the feathers on the inside up, so it’s not uniform. I place the locators appropriately and the program can place the rig around the wing correctly.

Have fun and please email me know any comments, suggestions and especially bugs you run into at falconsong [at]

Useful Rigging Post

 Posted by at 9:05 pm
Nov 022013

While working on my rigs, I found numerous useful tools and I just wanted to share these excellent tools/posts/books:

Art of Rigging 1,2 and 3 from CG Toolkit – Haven’t read 3 yet and halfway through 2, these books are excellent and a must> Their website seems to be iffy right now, but if you can get them, these are worth every cent.

How to setup Wacom Tablet for use Painting Weights in Maya– It was late so I was tired and being a doofus and couldn’t figure it out, this post was handy!
Create compound curve icons in maya– Helps when you have numerous curves for a control, and want to be able to select all at once.

Comet Scripts – A bunch of scripts by Michael Comet that are very handy. I found the attibute re-ordering script very useful on my hawk project
Unlock Override Color
Script for Mirroring and Copyring skin weights– The default maya mirror weights is… “imperfect” to say the least (as in it blew up random verts on half my hawk). This script does what the dafault mirror doesn’t and more. Works excellently!

Nov 012013

More progress on the hawk! Almost done with the first pass on skinning. I think I need to unbind and shift around a couple joints for better deformations. I’m not quite so happy with the placement on a couple of them. He still can strike a decent pose however! Even more so now that the skinning is not doing weird deformations like on the last quick bind.