Character FX & Grooming Demo Reel 2020
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Character FX & Grooming Demo Reel 2020

Christian Rodriguez
by crodimation on 13 May 2020

All of these projects were completed from December 2019 - March 2020. I had a lot of fun exploring character fx and grooming more. I look forward to exploring grooming more and problem solving more complex character fx. The Elena character was fully modeled, rigged and look developed by myself.

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I wanted to create Elena at first as just a base female mesh that I was going to use as a starting point for other sculpts but then I ended up taking the character a bit farther. I also wanted to try and take some of the qualities of my first ever 3D character and optimize them with my new knowledge of 3D. One of the main themes I carried over was the ethnicity and gender of the model. She is a Hispanic female that I wanted to create a 3D model that would do justice to the concept. I was inspired to do this character by the powerful Hispanic women I have grown up with, my mom and my sister.

Rigging Elena:

To rig my character I used Advanced Skeleton 5 auto rigger. I set up the joints in places so that the mesh would deform properly and I went step by step so that the rig would build correctly. Once I got to the face I was able to use their facial set up to create controls and blend shapes for the character and after the automated blend shapes were made, I went in and edited any blend shape that had bad deformations. I also set up the eyebrow and eyelash cards and wrap deformed them to the areas where they were close to, so that they would follow the eyebrows and eyelids properly. At the end I wrap deformed the clothes to the characters and added an attribute on the main control so that the animators could turn the clothes on or off when animating.

Grooming Elena:

For Elena's groom I had to go through many iterations of using xgen and Houdini because I was struggling to find a workflow that worked for me. I ended up going with Houdini because I had experience of grooming a stuffed animal in the software and there for was more comfortable with the tools. I still plan to experiment more with xgen in the future so that I can be knowledgeable with both workflows. I ended up using guide advect nodes with curves plugged in, in order to get the shape of the guides around the head the way I wanted. I also painted a density map on the skull so that I could get smooth hairline transitions. Below are 4 separate renders of each guide groom I used to make the hair. One for the hair pulled back, one for the bun, one for the loose hairs and one for the baby hairs on the forehead.

Simulating Elena's Clothes & Hair:

I created Elena's dress in Marvelous Designer and then re-topologized the mesh in maya. I then used nCloth to simulate the under shirt and then simulated the dress second. After getting the simulations to look the way I wanted I exported the alembics and brought them into Houdini for the hair simulation and rendering. I simulated only the loose curled hair on Elena since the rest of her hair was in a tight bun.

In this exercise I create a simple cloth set up for a base male character. The clothes were made simple so that I could focus on the nCloth set up and simulation. I described my process in the corresponding blog post. The model and animation was provided from Mixamo. 

With this simulation I tried to achieve the look of a can crushing while using the least amount of work in order to get better at making quick simulations. I had some initial tests with using a collider to crush the can but it only caused issues because of collisions issues and friction. I realized that I could just use transform constraints at the top and bottom of the can since in my reference those were the most stable parts throughout the crushing. I was able to get my simulation out and then use delta mush to fix intersecting points. I used painting weights to paint out the areas that did not need the delta mush versus the ones that did.

In this ncloth simulation I created multiple strips of polygons that only had subdivisions going the height and not the width of the strips. I did this so that the ncloth sim would only been the simcage strips in one direction. After trial and error of getting the settings right I achieved the timing and weight I needed so I exported the simulation as an alembic. I then created a new scene where I wrap deformed the noodles render meshes onto the simcages. This allowed the render meshes to follow the animation of the sim.


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