The Reel

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1. Ahote

This was a character model I did as a personal project. The character is a youth gang member from the cult classic, The Warriors (1979). Everything in the piece was done by myself; modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering. I started the project off as an anatomy study, using myself as photographic reference. I wanted to push the project further so I began to develop a character based off those from The Warriors. There seemed to be a lot of Native American influenced clothing accessories on the characters in The Warriors gang, so I decided I would play off that theme. I gave my character the traditional Warriors outfit but with a bone necklace and a Mohawk-esque hair style. In order to add a little more personality to the character, I gave him a large scar across his left brow and cheek, and a damaged eye to signify the inevitable dangers associated with the character’s lifestyle.

I sculpted the character and all his clothing in Zbrush, sometimes using base meshes created in Maya. I used Zspheres to create the basic human form and then began adding muscle and other important detail. After I was satisfied with the human model, I created the clothing, using screen shots from the movie and various other images for reference. I unwrapped the models using Headus UVlayout, which allowed me to distribute the human model’s UV’s into eight UV spaces to preserve detail. I textured the character using Polypaint and Spotlight in Zbrush so I could use a mixture of photographs and digital painting. The hair was styled using Fibermesh in Zbrush. I then exported everything and brought it into Maya. Utilizing Mental Ray as my rendering engine, I set up the scene’s lighting to give it a nighttime subway feel. I used Mental Ray’s native materials for all of the objects because they offered a good amount of control and render quality. I was limited in this project by only having access to my laptop, which was not desirable when it came to rendering because of a lack of computing power, but I was able to manage the quality and features so that I could get the best results without sacrificing too much time.

2. Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis was my senior project at Drexel University. It was conceptualized and executed over a period of 6 months. In this project we wanted to expand upon our technical knowledge of CG techniques. It was decided that we would make a mock trailer for a movie about a man who is abducted and then, through medical experimentation, transforms into a gargoyle-esque creature. We storyboarded a set of fast paced shots to tell our story and focus on our CG elements.

I was directly responsible for all conceptualization, modeling, rigging, and animation involved with the gargoyle creature. My first task was conceptualizing the anatomy of our creature. I went through a number of different anatomical sketches before I settled on moving the shoulder down and more central, to accommodate for the larger wing structures and allow more room for the amount of musculature that would be needed to flap wings large enough to bear the weight of a human body. The wings are styled in a fashion that resembles a bat’s. I also added a set of bone-like horns to the top of the head. The bone-like nature was to drive home the fact that these horns are unnatural growths. The gargoyle was sculpted in Zbrush, retoplogized in Topogun, and then brought back into Zbrush for additional stone detailing. The retoplogized model was used for rigging, where I set up a custom FK/IK rig with our creature’s unusual anatomy in mind, nCloth wing membranes between the wing phalanges, and blend shapes for facial expression. The gargoyle was then animated with only smooth skin weights for deformations. After I was satisfied with the animation, I used Joe Alter’s Lbrush to create corrective sculpts in the animation to imitate muscle flex.

Additional elements of the project I was involved in were the filming process, alginate casting, the silhouette shot and final color correction. We teamed up with the Drexel Film Department in order to gain access to their RED One camera. A crack team of film students agreed to help us with the filming, lighting, and sound recording of our project. On set, we helped direct the film crew to maintain control over the artistic styling of the shots. Alginate casting was also a major portion of our project. We used a process of creating alginate molds of our actors body parts, then filling the mold with plaster to create a cast which was 3D scanned. Leveraging this process allowed us to have highly detailed 3D replicas of our actor’s body parts, which were then used to augment our actor with CGI/Special FX (which can be seen in the full piece at the link below). The silhouette shot was done utilizing nCloth and Nuke tracking. I used a sharp bone-like model to protrude through the skin which was simulated using nCloth and the tearable cloth constraint. The horns growing from the top of the skull were tracked and animated in Nuke. During the tail end of the project, I was also involved in the final color correction. This allowed me to have a hand in the fine tuning of matching colors and color palette/mood.

You can see the full piece here: https://vimeo.com/43764299

3. Fenris

This was final project for an organic modeling class. The course was focused on using mesh flow to give detail to the model where it was needed, instead of relying on heavy poly count. I decided to create a creature with two sets of wolf front legs, a larger/exaggerated wolf head with bat ears, and more sinewy bison back legs. The creature has an elongated rib cage, to allow for the double set of front legs and scapula’s, and the hips are a bit wider to accommodate the bulky bison legs. The original low poly model was done in modo, and then brought into Zbrush to do more sculpting and muscle detailing. The Zbrush model could then be exported as a displacement map for the low poly model.