Monday, August 24, 2009

The horrors of "Nightmare Tower"

Alright, so I'm creating a surreal horror-themed UT3 level with my good friends Yusuke Sato and Andrew Quintiliani, as well as Henry Nayson and Laura Clark. To populate our scary level, I brainstormed some creepy critters. I dubbed my first creation the "Wailers" (though my teammates insisted on calling them "Squidwards" due to their uncanny resemblance to Squidward Tentacles from Spongebob Squarepants). Initially, I imagined their "feet" being more like roots (as they cannot move from the spot from which they're standing), but they evolved into tentacles. Initially, they will appear to the player doubled over in a tight ball. However, when the player gets close enough, they will unfold themselves to stand erect, thrashing about while making a loud, irritating "wailing" noise. As soon as the player steps out of their awareness radius, however, they will return to their tightly-wrapped quieter form. Here is my initial concept art/rotoscope image I created in Photoshop.

Another critter was created from combining the fear of spiders (i.e., arachnaphobia) with the fear of dolls (i.e., pediophobia). Basically, it's a series of four spider legs (Why not 8?! Because it'd be too hard to rig and animate!!!) coming out of a baby doll's mouth. Then, based on Laura's suggestion, I added a spider head coming out of the doll's neck hole. Oh yeah, nice and creepy...

Here's another concept art/rotoscope image that I created using Photoshop.

Next, I modeled the "Wailers" in Maya at a very respectable 2,100 quads.

Of course, digitally sculpting the model in Z Brush to create the Normal map and creating the Diffuse map in Photoshop helped to "flesh out" the model. I have a few seam problems, but, hopefully, not too bad. He's a keeper!

Here's a view of his back. Check out that carbuncle-esque spine! Nasty!

This is a nice close up of the face. I really tried to put in the detail through digitally sculpted Normal maps reinforced by Specular maps that I created using CrazyBump.

Here's my Maya model of the Baby Doll Spider creature. Once again, 1,982 quads is a nice low poly number.

Once again, I digitally sculpted the model using Z Brush to create the all important Normal map, as well as Photoshop to create the Diffuse map. Specular map was created using CrazyBump.

As soon as I began sculpting the doll's head, I couldn't resist making it appear more lifelike. So, in the end, the head itself appears more like a real baby head, but terminates with a doll's neck ridge.

After completing the "Wailers" model, it was time to rig it for animation. Since rigging is definitely not my specialty, I created a very simple rig using the Digital Tutors rigging tutorial as a guide. I used Inverse Kinematics for the elbows and single knee (with associated pole vectors) as well as a Spline with Clusters for the spine. I also added a Set Driven Key attribute for the hand controls to make a fist and a forearm bone with an Expression to calculate forearm twist. It's pretty straightforward... nothing fancy... but it gets the job done.

I then created the standing animation, whereby the "Wailers" stand up from their initial "balled up" pose.

Next, I created the wailing animation, which seamlessly continues from the standing animation... yet is capable of looping until the player leaves the "Wailers" awareness radius.

My rig for the Baby Doll Spiders is quite a bit different from the "Wailers," since their anatomy is so different. I used Forward Kinematics (FK) for the top "knee" joint of each leg and IK for the second "knee." The last joint of each leg has a foot controller, which utilizes the IK handle and can be rotated to change the angle of the spider's "foot." I also rigged the tiny legs on either side of the spider's head. Finally, a basic controller was added to move and rotate the Baby Doll Head (i.e., the spider's "body").

I then created a basic walk cycle which can be looped.



Jeff said...

Hey man, headed over here to see what you've been up to. The Wailers are lookin' pretty cool.

My one critique for their animation would be that they need a bit of an anticipation when coming up, and right now everything is coming up at once. Maybe delay one of the shoulders until the last possible moment. Really sell that creepy vibe :)

Keep rockin' man.

Aaron said...

ha, i only found this website because we have the same name(first and last), I searched my name in google images and your stuff popped up, its pretty cool, in my school im working with some 3D animation, but I just started 2 days ago and so far im clueless