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The Hedgerow Pixie - The Good And The Bad Faeries

The Hedgerow Pixie - The Good And The Bad Faeries

Michael Gaffey
by MichaelG on 26 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

This is the final project I completed at Belfast Metropolitan College for a HND in VFX, I created a CG character based on Brian Froud's Designs and composited the character into a live-action shot.

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As part of my final year at college I worked on a project based on The Good And The Bad Faeries, we were given the task of choosing between multiple faeries from the Good And The Bad Faeries book which Brian Froud was the author of, and we chose out of his illustrations and we then proceeded to complete two VFX shots from start to finish using industry-standard software and techniques.

The character I went with was the Hedgerow Pixie, I like the overall look of this character and since it likely lives in hedgerows as the name suggests I felt I could relate it to Ireland which is where I'm from because of the landscape consisting of a lot of fields and hedgerows.

These are the two shots I composited my character into, I took a fully CG character that I modelled, textured and animated myself and I used NukeX alongside multipass renders I created to integrate my character into the footage I had chosen for each shot,

I tracked the footage in Nuke and created a poisson mesh for Maya and then used that alongside the tracked camera to create my animation, I also used Meshroom to photo scan the footage and get a textured environment for Maya later down the line

Above is a turntable to show my character and some of the render passes I used for my shots. The rock used was obtained from Turbosquid.

Above is the original design by Brian Froud alongside some of the reference images I gathered using PureRef when creating my character.

Here is the sculpting process of my character, I started out very simple keeping the poly count low and simply manipulating the shapes to get a rough shape for my character which I used as a base mesh to then further sculpt details such as the face, muscles, joints, body fat etc. I also made sure to keep the typology of the character in check and created a high poly version to use alphas to add finer detail to the skin, then I exported to low poly character and used displacement maps to get the higher quality detail from the high poly character during rendering in Maya and for the facial animations I used blendshapes that I created in Zbrush.

The unwrapped UVs for my character.

This is the rig I created for my character using Mgear, I created the bipedal guide which I positioned in my character and also added some extra bones too for the ears, then I built my rig from the guide and binded it to my character, I then weight painted the character and animated using the synoptic menu that comes with the Mgear plugin.

I textured my character in Substance 3D Painter, I used fill layers alongside masks to create layers to the characters skin and then using a range of different brushes I could add blemishes to the skin as well, I also create a more human-looking eye for my character when testing iterations but ultimately I preferred the black eyes.

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