The Technicals II

Where do I start? Skin Textures?

1 I’ve re-unwrapped her UVs about 8 times now. Every time to fix some area where I discovered contiguous faces with dramatically differing scales. It’s getting better.

Her skindots are all in new places again. But hopefully I’ve pinned enough vertexes that largely they will be constant from now on, and we can start to get to know her from her skindots.

But also, I added a little bumpiness here and there.

Not everywhere, because the more textures I add to her, the more realistic she gets, and the point is an obviously non-human character. So I add bumpiness more for aesthetics than for realism.

Or Corrective Shape Keys?

1 I managed to get the keys pretty good for her shoulders and legs on one axis.

There’s a lot you can do with that.

But now I’m trying to figure out how to add an axis in, and that’s got me flummoxed.

For example, on her legs, I had already modeled a corrective shape key on the leg going forward. So then I put her into a full splits to the side, but with her toes pointed directly forward, and modeled a corrective shape key there.

But then when I tried it, it looked terrible. Why?

If you take the upper leg (thigh?) bone, and rotate it on its Y axis, so her toes aren’t pointed forward anymore, but pointed up, then you start going from a shape key for a “leg to the side” instead applying a shape key for a “leg to the front” even though the leg is still to the side. Basically, you go from “X axis 90 degrees” to “Z axis 90 degrees” as you rotate on the Y axis.

Unsure if my explanation is good, but that’s the general idea. Doing shape keys for a joint on one axis is doable, but when I add a second axis, I can’t figure out how to apply two totally different drivers to a single shape key. Like for example, “Xrot+Yrot” becomes the driver value to drive one shape key, and “Zrot+Yrot” the driver for another shape key.

Eyelashes Problems?

1 Here’s something. Look at my attempt to make her wink. Yuck. Eye still partly open, and eyelashes turned into a mess.

On the right, it looks alright, but as every render for the past couple months, her eyelashes are clumpy, and not in the good way.

So that was another detour into the wilds. I tried to follow the Nazar Noschenko method for eyebrows, but for eyelashes. What does that look like?

1

  1. Model eyelashes as boring straight rectangular setup.
  2. Put them inside a mesh deform modifier, and parent, too.
  3. Add a surface deform modifier to that mesh deform cage to a flat geometry.
  4. Add a shrink-wrap modifier to the flat geometry to the mesh of the girl.
  5. After all that, it will look horrible.
  6. So then try binding the flat geometry to the armature. Yeah, no.
  7. So delete the flat geometry thinger entirely, and just bind the mesh deform cage straight to the armature and do some manual weight painting. Yeah, that looks alright, until she closes her eyes.
  8. So start adding corrective shape keys to the mesh deform cage. Except you only modeled it for one set of eyelashes, and you realise you’re going to have to do everything twice.
  9. Delete the whole thing and start over with two cubes in one object for the mesh deform cage, and two sets of eyelashes inside those cubes, so you don’t have to do everything twice.
  10. Trust me, you don’t want to have to do everything twice.

I learned something. Suppose you build up a mesh deform cage around your geometry, then you bind the modifier. Then the cage does nothing. You can move it all you want, and nothing happens. If so, unbind, click the mesh deform cage, apply all transformations, then re-bind again. That worked for me.

Eyelashes Fixed - Looks like What?

1 1 Left: eyes closed. Eyelashes don’t go through the skin in weird ways. Hooray.

Right: Eyes open, in natural position.

Wink

1 One eye open, and the other eye closed. The reason it gets its own render is that I had to scrunch up her face and her open eye isn’t fully open, etc.

You know, like real winks are.

And it’s cute, so we put it here.

Face Rigging Tweaks

1 A lot of her facial expressions were alright, but needed a bit of attention.

Now that her eyelashes are looking good, I went through a bunch of them and turned on secondary face controls and started tweaking them proper-like.

Now they stand up to closer scrutiny.

Here’s a re-worked face pose I call “angery” because that spelling makes me laugh.

What may be less obvious: I also tweaked her torso belly bone so that her stomach is a little flatter in this pose.

I’m working on things like breathing or other natural movements. In this case, she’s standing straight enough I figured she’d be using her core muscles.

Body Rigging Tweaks

1 But also, I occasionally decide her breasts are an odd shape, so I tweak her rig there, too. Each breast gets exactly one bone, and sometimes I think it might need another bone each, but it seems like the one bone is enough?

Here are another couple tests. One where I made her breasts as small as I could make them…

Honestly, they look fine. No terrible distortion, no weird shapes. Can’t complain. I modeled her with some fairly large breasts (probably C cups?), so this is a pretty dramatic armature deform.

I can’t find the renders now, but I did some others where she’s got significantly larger breasts than modeled. Probably D cups. They also looked fine.

Large breasts are too much work for now, given their proclivity to deform dramatically with motion and gravity. I’ll save that for a few years from now when I have more skill.

Animation

Let’s see if an MP4 can be put into the page.

Balancing Verachantesse Animation

Nope! Too bad. You gotta click it. It’s her balancing on one foot, getting off-balance, and recovering.

For me, right-clicking the weird box and doing “view image” played the animation.

Hopefully you can figure it out.

What Next?

1 1 1 1 1 1 I keep avoiding it… hair.

Her hair here is alright for a placeholder, but needs work. I want long hair. And braids. And flowing curls.

Everyone else wants that, too.

But I’m one dude, and I’m not a fulltime artist. So the going will be slow.

After hair, clothing? But only because I’m avoiding my other major problems: shoulders and hips. Also known as the two-axis corrective shape key problem.

Maybe a graphic novel format story or two? Or a couple animated shorts? Probably the latter, since I want to add music. Just because of technical limitations, my format will probably be an animated short that is in the style of a graphic novel (that is, stills with minor animations, like blinking, breathing, etc).

The renders in this section are just a random selection.

Don’t try to figure out a theme.

The standing renders; these were the “small breast” armature deform test, and the sitting renders are her default breast size, which are still smaller than I’ve modeled them.

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