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 stage modelling

   I've never liked a lot modelling things only to make static pics, I've always worked in order to animate things. I'm quite impacient about that, I need to see things moving soon, so I spend just a little time for the initial modelling. When I have the character finished and ready to be animated, I create a very simple stage built with boxes and basic 3D shapes. the ones that represent the significant volumes of the scene (because they hide objects or because the character inteacts with them). After that, while I go ahead with the animation, I slowly change all those boxes with the fianl objects (buildings, trees, walls, etc.).


    Here you can see the evolution of the stage, how did it started and how it was at the end.

Aproximación inicial - Starting stage

Escenario final - Final stage

 seting up the main character

    Superlópez modelling is made with standard poligons, there're no patches or nurbs. He has an only texture, the "S" painted on his chest. The rest of the body has just solid colors, excepting the nose, which has a gradient ramp to tint the tip.


    The character is animated with the next bones structure:

    The number of bones is the minimal for the character structure that, although it has a cartoon look, it's completely antropomorphic.


   You can see that the nose has its own bone to be moved. This is because in lots of camera shots it hid all the face due to its enormous size, so I had to move it down in order to discover the eyes. Anyway I tryed to save the situation of front shots to the character face. This technique is also used in the original comic, where you can excepcionally see Superlópez drawn looking to camera.


    For the spine I don't usually use more than 3 bones, just because you can get a very soft curve with no need of adding more of them in human-like characters.


    The hands are composed by five fingers with three bones for each one. This is probably the most difficult part of the body to be animated, there are lots of bones for a quite small part, and you can't forget animate everyone of them if you don't want to appreciate stiffness in the hands acting.


     About the face, I created 16 gestures as morph targets, the ones that I used for all the short. It's a basic number of them, but very efficient to get all the facial acting of the character. I prefer geting complex gestures from the basic ones instead of creating those complex gestures and adding them as a new morph target.


    Here you can see all the targets created for Superlópez:

    As you can see, the targets does not contain the eyes, the eyelids neither the upper teeth. All these pieces are single objects that go linked to the main bone of the head.


   About the eyes, they're animated with a "look at" controller, so they're all the time aiming to an object, the one that is in fact animated. So the eyes have really no key generated in all the short.


    If I count all the bitmaps used for texturing all the elements of the short it would probably be under 20 maps, and most of them are used in the room secuence. There're almost no bitmaps in the rest of the short, most of the textures are generated using procedural color maps (like noise or smoke maps, specially the first ones).


   I use a technique where I just tint the objects with this procedural maps, composed by the color I want for the object and a little variation of it, so I create a non-uniform base color. Then, some times, if the object has corners, I add a second procedural map (this time a greyscale gradient ramp), that I multiply with the base color. I make this gradient map match the black areas with the corners of the object, so that they are emphasize and I can get a better approximation to the comic style.


   I will explain this process with an object from the short, a building. In this case we have an aditional texture that I mix with the base color and the emphasize map. This new texture is a bitmap that I use as rugosity map.


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SuperLópez making of - november 2003