Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let's talk turkey...

Okay, so I had to model and texture a Tom turkey for a game demo. So, not knowing a tremendous amount about turkeys (other than they're tasty), I downloaded approximately 20 pictures, watched several YouTube videos, and, heck even learned some anatomy. Hey, did you know that floppy thing drooping over their beaks is called a "snood?" ...and that big flap o' skin under their chin is called a "dewlap?" ...and, and that big honkin', um, ball-sacky thing at the base of their neck is called "major caruncles?" Geez, if I had a big, ball-sacky thing attached to my neck, I'd say that was major caruncles! Anyhoo, gobblers are also capable of some serious shape-changing, too. In their normal form, they vaguely resemble a pheasant (i.e., elongated neck, tapering body and trailing tail feathers). However, when they get upset or court hens, they ruffle their body feathers (appearing to double in size!), extend their wings down, tuck their heads back and fan out their lovely tail feathers like a peacock. It's like some kind of Gundam-esque Hyper Mode or something (insert Transformers sound effect here). I really wanted to create a mechanism for my model to be able to easily change shape like this. So, I create the body in two pieces and all the feathers as individual planes. I then created two new attributes for the body called "ruffle" and wings," and used Set Driven Key to allow the user to easily animate the turkey between each of these forms by simply dragging a slider bar. I actually completed the model in about two days (i.e., building the model, unwrapping the UVs and creating the textures)--that's pretty fast for me! No fancy Normal or Specular maps here, just Diffuse texture maps and Alpha/Transparency maps for the feathers. The final model came out to be 1,280 polys, which may be a bit high for a simple turkey. However, if I removed the shape changing stuff, I could easily reduce that number quite a bit. Here's the mesh...



...and here's the model with textures in the first form. That wierd tuft of hair coming out of his chest is called a "beard" (i.e., yeah, um, kinda gross).

I know, I know... he has a double fan. The thing is, the feathers are paper thin (i.e., being simply textured planes), so I needed to do something to make them a bit "fuller" and look better from a variety of angles. I don't know, I may end up deleting one of them in the end.


Here's the second form. I actually had to manually adjust the mesh to pose the neck and head, but after the model is rigged for animation, the same effect could easily be achieved. Looks like a big ball on stilts!


The back is probably the least accurate part of the model, but it kinda works.


"Hi there!" I tried to make the textures hold up to closeups.


Man, all this talk of turkeys makes me want to run over to the Renaissance Fair, grab one o' those giant turkey legs and start gnawing away. Hey, speaking of "legs," er, well "limbs," I had to model an arm for a group project that I'm working on. The final model will be imported into Unreal Tournament 3 for the First Person perspective (e.g., holding, firing and reloaded the weapons in the game). In our level, the player's character is part of a science experiment. His name, Adam, is tattooed on his arm as well as a bar code and number. As an easter egg, I used the numbers from Lost (4 8 15 16 23 42). I actually completed modeling the arm, unwrapping the UVs, digitally sculpting the arm (to create the Normal map) and creating the Diffuse and Specular maps in only a couple of days. Again, this is super fast for me! The more I do this, the faster I'll get! The final model was a respectable 806 polys. I feel like I've come full circle--the first model I created using ZBrush way back in January 2008 was a female arm... and, looking back on it, it seems far more crude and disproportionate. I just might be getting better at this modeling stuff!



5 comments:

andrewQuintiliani said...

Dude, making me look bad. I ended up spending too much time on the face of Lewis and Jefferson to even get to textures. Looks pretty nice!

Joe Karg said...

Your work is looking amazing Aaron. Sorry I've been out to lunch for a while, but it's cool to come back and see everyone's taken huge steps.

Peace man.
Joe

HOGATO10 said...

Nice Turkey, but was the huge doctorate thesis needed?

Aaron Ault said...

Yes, I know, words can be a troubling thing. However, since a "blog" is, by definition, a running commentary... then, yes, it was kinda needed? I tell you what, though, you have my permission to just look at the pictures.

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