Oct 282013

I really should be in bed since I have work in.. 4 hours… but I’ve been working on the hawk all weekend and wanted to post pictures. I finished the rig, updated the model. Now I just need to mirror the model and I can start skinning it. However I wanted to get a quick (and I mean quick) look at how it was coming out and to see if my changes to the mesh were working so I bound the geometry and threw it into a quick pose- folded the wings and the tail, pulled his head down and foot up and voila, pose! This is the DEFAULT bind, no editing of the bind at all so the skin looks funky in places (really, don’t look under the wings- yeeeesh!) I’m extraordinarily pleased with it so far. Can’t wait to really skin it and work on the deformations!!*

Here’s the rig:

I Know the rig looks like a mess of controls, but it isn’t. I took a page out of the Norman Rig’s book and have the whole lot controlled by that little control over on the left that says “CTRL Viz”. It controls the visibility of different sections of controls, so that you can turn on and off controls that you need. This way they’re not cluttering up the screen all at once and you still have access to all the controls you need. So far they work well, but there are a few I need to change around. The wings are also Version 2.0 of Wing Creator that I mentioned and linked to in my last post, with better finalized feather geometry on it. When I give this hawk some animation I’ll put the 2.0 rig through it’s paces and see what bugs I find so I can fix it and publish 2.0. You can also see where I did the extra modeling finessing. The right hand side shows the more detailed foot, the left side shows the old foot. I think I’m looking forward to the deformations on those feet the most, and the head and neck second most. I have some good ideas for them I can’t wait to try.

Anyhow, had to post this and get it out of my system before I went to bed. I’ll post more details tomorrow or tuesday night, and hopefully an actual bound skin with a first pass on it. I also need to scan in the sketches I made last weekend. Natalie and I went to the Houston Zoo and had a sketch fest. I discovered I really like drawing ungulate animals when they’re in odd poses (like sitting/lounging on the ground giraffes) and animals with wrinkles. Sketchdump and more hawk updates soon!

*3 am in the morning dictates that I use excessive amounts of exclamation marks to show how giddy I am (probably from sleep deprivation). Here have some more!!!!!!!!!!

Wing Creator Version 2.0

 Posted by at 8:11 am
Oct 102013

Hey all! I “finished” working on Wing Creator Version 2.0. It can be downloaded at this link- click me!

It is still in it’s alpha stage and working out the bugs. I fixed the problems with the old rig and added new features to it, as well as cleaner, easier to maintain code. There are quite a few bugs that I ran into while creating the new video for it, so I’m currently running this rig and generation program through it’s paces to find all the bugs and breaks in it. Once I get it to a solid, less buggy state, I’ll upload it to Creative Crash and the program uploads page. I’ve been doing overtime at my day job and have only had a few hours to work on this per day (and admittedly some of those hours were not so lucid given some insomnia combined with how exhausting stained glass making can be) so please bear with the bugs and my slowness at times. I’m doing my best! (I just wish I had a little more sleep sometimes!)


 Posted by at 6:50 am
Sep 022013

I’m finally making headway! I’m pleased! (Mostly). My daytime job at the stained glass studio had a project come in two weeks ago and we’ve been doing massive overtime to try and get it done (I’m usually there at 7am and leave at 7pm and have been known to work weekends or till 10 pm some nights…) So the past two weeks, the time in which I wanted to finish updates for Version 2 of the wing rig, have been spent in sleeping and working instead of rigging. I managed to get some time this weekend and work on it though!

The program is now more efficient, thank goodness. I had so much code that was just inefficient and spaghetti-like that it was kinda crazy. I’m still not the most elegant programmer, but this is much better now, using classes (thank you Python) for the feather groups and the wing types. Now it’s easier (read: possible) to add different wing types with this class setup. I did kinda wanna cry when I discovered that while MEL script has vectors and can natively do vector math, that doesn’t carry over to Python so I had to brush-up on my old vector math. Not hard, just… saddening. I was so looking forward to playing with MELs vectors and then finding out I couldn’t and had to do it the long way- yeah, I was a momentarily sad bird.

Anyhow, Falcon Wing! :

I worked on getting new wingshapes made, and discovered a couple problem I made with the original wing shape that have made it troublesome to add more shapes:
-The hawk wing, while it -looked- spread midway between it’s range of motion, was actually more extended than midway, making it hard to add other wings, like the falcon I’m doing now, because other birds don’t have that much splay in the feathers. I need to go back and reshape the hawk and make it a more neutral position, like the falcon is.
– Somehow, the scale for the feathers in the hawk wing all had the same values, whereas the falcon wing they… don’t. So when I apply the function for scaling the wings to the falcon, the size of the feathers looks odd.
This is how it should look, with thinner feathers on the outside, pointy edge of the wing (Feathers are still flat, so they’re interpenetrating, ignore that):

This is how it’s currently generating, with the thicker feathers on the outside and the thinner ones toward the center (program auto-rotates the feathers to avoid most interpenetrations, unlike above):

At least the shape on it (rotation and scaling and positioning of the feathers) is correct. Once I had the falcon shaped correctly before taking the values into Excel to generate the functions for the wing shape, the wing rigged up beautifully with the existing rig generation program (Or rather the updated one, since I added a few things), so all I need to tweak and poke at feather generation class and add scaling in the other directions to work properly…

Now if only I can wrangle a little time away from the stained glass studio to be able to work on this and finish!! And work on my poor hawk rig!! I think I’ll go faceplant into bed now.

A side note: If I repeat the phrase “I will not rig a pennant winged nightjar” enough times, I might actually listen to myself and do the other things on my to do list that need to get done. Oh, but I really wanna make a wingshape for them… they’re so freaking cool

Hiatus Updates

 Posted by at 5:41 am
Aug 012013

Hey all. I know I’ve suddenly disappeared when I’ve been insisting I’m going to post the new bird rig. Apologies for that. I’ve been spending time with my family. My brother recently lost his battle with skin cancer so I’ve disappeared from work and online stuff lately and am only now catching up. Thanks for your patience. I’ll be updating my thesis project with the fixes and cleaner rig soon as well as adding more glasswork for sale in the shop.

For my brother, we are not having any services, it’s just family. Please consider donating to your local animal rescue in his honor. He loved dogs, so any donations to local shelters would have made him happy.

Thank you and all the best.

Dec 092012

I am feeling particularly down in the dumps so to make me feel better I’m posting something that’s inspiring and needs to be shared with all artists.

Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech – Full transcript found here

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the bad days. Make it on the good days too.”

Hawk Progress – 12/3/12

 Posted by at 6:04 am
Dec 042012

Been working on the hawk rig and I got it together. This is the first pass of the base rig. All the main controls to see how they work, what needs adjusting, and what needs to be added. There’s a lot of finessing I need to do on it (like making the controls less cluttered, adding a switch control for the head so it can lock to the body or to the world since birds have that stationary head thing going on*, adding a tail and eye rig, adding feathers, blendshapes, etc., etc.)
For a first pass I’m rather pleased.


*For kicks: Chicken Head tracking steady cam! Ok… I’ll get some sleep now and stop goofing around. I think the doc took more than bits of tooth out with that root canal earlier; I seem to be missing a bits of my sanity.

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Hawk Progress – 12/2/12

 Posted by at 6:50 pm
Dec 022012

I’ve been remiss in posting this! In addition to the gryphon, I’ve been working on a hawk. I needed something to instead of the sausage-err I mean temporary bird body for my wing rig so I went whole hog and decided to finish it by making a full bird rig to compliment the wing rig. This also allows me to play around with a simpler rig (hawk) before making it more complex for the gryphon.

I updated my reel with the break apart rough of my hawk model in order to get sausa- temporary bird body out of it and make it look nicer. I’ll update it again when the hawk rig is done to have animation on the bird and to show off my hawk!

I finished the model for the bird.

I also have been trying out different ways to generate feathers on this hawk and I finally found one I think will work well. It’s using a really snazzy script from creative crash called Dodo Master. This is the first -really- rough test done on the break apart rig to see how it generates feathers and how to groom them. The only problem I’ve had so far is that it requires a NURBS model to work, and my Hawk is a Poly model. It’s going to be interesting to convert it to NURBS for this. I think I will create another mesh underneath the base mesh that is only in the areas with feathers (so no legs, beak, etc.) and use that for the feathers layer.

I’ll post more images later of the breakapart rig.

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Aug 092012

Been wroking on Wing Creator program some and trying to get it into good enough shape to upload to Creative Crash! I moved the thesis web page from ~/Thesis to this page, under the tab Thesis. That move should unify the page better and make it easier to find things now!

Also, new artwork has been posted. I mentioned before that I was working a second, freelance job. I’ve been working on stained glass sculptures with local artist Larry Schuekler. We finished the first sculpture sometime back and I finally got pictures. Almost set to finish the second one and start work on the third! Here’s the lovely lady!

Bronze and Stained Glass Sculpture <br>
Collaboration between sculptor Larry Schuekler and Heather Falconsong Howard. <br>

I’m incredibly proud and so is Larry. More images to come. These don’t show off the glass or detail of the sculpture well enough.

Jul 182012

It’s DONE! I finally got the CSS to behave the way I want it to (mosly- Chrome is still being iffy at me). Finally my page is completely updated. *Happy dance!!!*

Next up- Completely updating my thesis page.