Thursday, 12 August 2010

Personal projects

Ok, so September is rapidly approaching and thought I'd better start blogging to prove I haven't been sitting around in my pants, watching Jeremy Kyle and waiting for freshers week.... weeeeey!
I have started my Summer project, the 101 concept challenge, which I will come back to later, but first I wanted to show some of my other work and tell you a bit about myself.....

Right, so I'm returning to higher education after a reasonably successful career in sales and recruitment (yawn), but ultimately found it unfullfilling. I love films and my Education is all Art and design based so I wanted a career where I could fuse the two!

I studied with Escape Studios' online Maya tutorials from home so I could continue working part time to have some sort of social life. So I have "some" experience with Maya and set myself some projects and began to make my "showreel". I've been looking for runners positions and junior animator / modelling roles but the feedback has been pretty dismal. I got cheesed off with all the HR teams saying they get applicants with degrees in their chosen fields. So I decided to take the plunge and join you guy's and girls and further my knowledge and skills with the UCA! I'm sure you're bored of reading this now so here's some info on my work....


I wanted my first project to be something I would be passionate and committed about, therefore I created an Avro Lancaster bomber World War 2 plane. This is in honour of Grandad Lavey who was a rear gunner throughout the whole of World War 2 and lived to tell the tale!

Above are some reference photo's. I had loads of other material from books courtesy of my old man which helped SOOO much!

These pictures, (found on the net) were like the holy grail for my project. I used photoshop to chop and change them and produce front, side and top views. I then projected them as image planes in the front, side and top views in maya to reference when I modelled.

Here is a low res render of my finished model. I modelled it with polygons, starting with a standard sphere, deleted faces and extruded edges along the fuselage and messed around with CV's etc etc until I was happy with it.

I unwrapped the model with the UV texture editor and took snap shots of the UV map so I could work on the textures in photoshop. It involved going back and fourth in maya projecting the image planes onto the model to reference panel locations so I could create a decent map texture. They say the devil is in the detail so I did bump maps for the rivets and panels. I also created the plane "decals" with my grandad's actual squadron number!

I modelled the propellers seperately so I could animate them spinning and add a touch of motion blur. I rendered it all together with an alpha channel so I could add a background and created a basic three point lighting setup. All together I was quite pleased with it, although gun turrets are missing and there are some stretch marks due to dodgy UV mapping! There were other probs I encountered on the way and were many late nights to boot but that's a different story!

SECOND PROJECT ( & Works in progress)

Next I wanted to create and rig a simple character so I could animate and do a basic story! I started (as always) with research and started a sketch book to house my ideas and thoughts! I will upload images of this when I have a scanner.

Back in my school days I used a wooden mannequin to help me draw the human form in numerous positions and keep proportion etc, I'm sure you've seen them! I thought he would be ideal to model and rig as he was a simple character.

I kept the story basic and short and roughed out a storyboard. I did sketches first, a picture storyboard with the actual mannequin to get an idea of it's limitations and to see if it could achieve the poses I wanted. I then filmed myself and a mate with the kind of camera angles and motions I wanted. I gathered other reference images and took photos....

I modelled again in polygons and smoothed them out. I messed around with the CV's and faces / edged to get the carved look. I imported the ball from a previous Escape Studios' project as it already had squash deformers to add to the animation. I created a basic skeleton, making sure the joints were snapped to the centre of each respecting shoulder, elbow, knee joints etc. I then parented the joints to avoid skinning it, although I'm not sure if this is the best way to do it, Phil or Alan? I then created simple nurbs curves as controls, parenting them to each corresponding joint. Again Phil or Alan, not sure if this is best way to do it but it seemed to work!?

As this character was not complex..... and silent, I wanted to do a talking animation with blendshapes and a funny exert from Anchorman with Ron..... Burg-u-n-d-y...? Again, I borrowed a model from an Escape Studios' project with the blendshapes already created. I added the blendshape channels and began animating.... still needs work!!

So here is the start of my showreel with a summary of everything I've talked about.... hope you enjoy....


So whilst I was half way through my second project and looking for VFX work experience, I was working part time for a family run business selling thermal stores (central heating and water systems, yawn, but stick with me!). My M.D was working on a project designing a heating system for a customer and wanted to film the install for the company website. I mentioned I could, maybe, produce a short animation to go with it. We had a brief talk about what he wanted, I met the house owners and produced this short, which I'm proud to say is still on the website and can be viewed on my youtube channel....

Excuse the dodgy narration but you get the idea! Again modelled in polygons with squash deformers to jazz it up a bit. I didn't have much reference to go on except the first photo you see as the house is in Norfolk! I got the basic layout of the house from talking with the owner. Anyway, here's the finished result, hope you like!


After meeting Alan and securing my place at Rochester, he recommended I start drawing and painting again as the course is heavily focussed around 2D pre-production and visualisation, which is great!!

So to get the creative juices flowing again, I decided to do my gorgeous 8 month old niece a painting for her room. I wanted big, bright and bold colours with a friendly theme. What better than Winnie the Pooh!? I meant to take photo's step-by-step..... but forgot! Remembered half way through!! D'oh!!!!!

I was really chuffed with the end result as it had been soooo long since I picked up paint brushes and used acrylics. Throughly enjoyed it tho and my niece really appreciates it as you can see........

As I enjoyed doing it so much, I decided to treat myself to one too. As mentioned, I love movies especially superhero based comic adaps... so I found a cool image to copy and using pens and pencils, created myself an A4 poster. (Remembered to take photo's in different stages this time.)

I've done some doodles whilst bored at work too, but with limited resources, I had to rely on the good ol' post it notes and iPhone for the images!! Recognize any of them?

Ok it's 4:40am so I'm calling it a day! This blogging malarki can get addictive!! I'll do another post tomorrow with the missing sketches and add a new post with the start of my 101 concept drawings. I may need advice to make sure I'm heading in the right direction with the concept project :-/ !



  1. Hey Paul - an epic first post - lovely! First things first - when it comes to all things Maya etc. 'tutorphil' is NOT your man; Alan is the big fromage when it comes to all things CG; my role on the course is to be the guy who doesn't give a f**k about the technical side of things; I'm the 'content/culture/theory/aesthetics guy (though that is not to say that Alan isn't clued-up on this stuff too - he is!), and I'm the one who ensures that projects are conceptually fabulous and rich in meaning and cultural cross-reference... (ask around - you'll soon see how the course team slots together). That said, I've been around this Maya lark for a few years now, so I'm not a complete numpty... :-) Even I can tell that you've got some experience in modelling etc. so I think you're going to be in a strong position to get the most from CGAA. But Alan was absolutely right to emphasize the importance of 2D and the ability to communicate your ideas visually - hence the summer '101' project, which is all about 'designing through drawing' and speeding up the relationship between thinking and visualisation...

    Soooo, for some additional pointers re. the way to approach the summer project, please visit the following posts...

    (and read the comments thread too)

    Remember - you are to use the objects on the sheets provided exclusively as the 'primordial soup' for your designs; they are the seeds from which your own flights of fancy develop - I'm particularly interested in seeing the evolution from the ordinary to the fantastic...

    Any questions/confusion - blog about it and I, and probably others, will soon stick their oar in...

  2. ... oh yeah, be sure to start following all the 2nd, 3rd and Alumni blogs as attached to your first email from me - the quicker you're following, the more connected you'll feel; the 2nd years are currently working on their summer project, so there's some nice conceptual stuff beginning to percolate through...

  3. Hey Paul. Enjoyed the read, and some decent work here. Congrats on taking the plunge into a degree. I hope you enjoy it.

  4. Hi Phil and Jon,

    Thanks for the feedback. Especially the links. To be honest I had looked at them prior to writing my blog for inspiration for the 101 concepts.

    I'm about to post what I've done so far but I think I got off to a wobbly start like some of the others. May have misinterpreted the brief for the first 15 sketches or so. I guess you'll see what I mean...

    Thanks Jon, I'm an admirer of your work. I Found Kirro blade on youtube and I think your blog was amongst the ones initially sent to me by Alan to sell me the course! How did you find first year? Did you stay in halls?

  5. Hey Paul,
    All your work looks brilliant, I think you'll do very well in the first year, it's a lot of fun too.

    Looks like your a comic-book fan as well, which is definitely good, especially as Phil decorated one of our rooms with some Vintage comic canvases.

    Also: there is nothing wrong with sitting in your pants watching Jeremy Kyle, it's one of the most satifying things to do with a morning.

  6. @ Sam - Jeremy Kyle is the anti-christ and should be killed.

    @ Paul - wobbly starts are okay :-) I look forward to seeing those sketches; remember, it's about making your brain supple and non-risk averse - enjoy it; there are no right answers, just dynamic ones!

  7. LOL and then the party really starts with Bargain Hunt. Yep, my life rocks!

  8. Hey Paul. Cheers for that man.

    I lived at home actually, as I was about an hour away. Was just easier and cheaper for me.
    I found the first year great, though I wasn't as focused as I should have been. Too much video games and too little work. As long as you're driven and you enjoy CG, you'll have an amazing time.