Monday, September 27, 2010

Second "full time" month on my projects

So there it is, the second "full time" month working on my projects has passed.
So what's new?

Well, it's fall and my daughter had colds back to back. She also has a new mole that grows and makes her very irritable (this is the second in a short time) and, for some reason I couldn't explain, she always has a cold (or at least symptoms of colds) at the same time...

So I often had to stay home with her. As I told my boyfriend, even if on occasion I wish he could replace me here and there to care for her (missing work, staying home with her), so I could work on my projects... well, I'm still working from home, so this wouldn't solve the problem: she would make a crisis to play on my computer or to make me get off the computer, even if her dad was with her!

In brief, the last passed weeks, I worked about 1½ to 2 days per week, which is really little! But as mentioned in my last post, I found time to make my novel project progress forward. To put to the test, I took the Word file of my science-fantasy novel and I removed all the "summarized-plan" parts and I kept only what is "actually written" (the "summarized-plan" part are like: "He meet the redhead again. He is nervous because of what happened last time. When she sees him, she only wants to strangle him. They fight on the topic of the dog (focusing on the fact that his dog has peed on her new floor). They are interrupted by the ringing phone. It's her mother, all excited, which tells her what just happened (on previous chapter).") ;o)

So basically, all summarize of the story removed, the project than began only six weeks ago has already 70 pages written! Sure, I'll have to revise the text, add here, remove that, rephrase passages, etc.. But I think it's still impressive as ardor! In general, when I start writing a scene that I have in mind, I'll hit around ten pages a day. I'd be happier if I could make fifteen or twenty... but hey! Ten, it's still very good (I can't get any faster... either by distraction, or because I have to do a little research in the middle... like, I didn't though about the breed of the dog when I wrote the plan of the story...), or because the scene is not yet clear enough in my mind, so I have to "compose" the story, while I should just write it...

After a "long period" of writing (long on the calender, but strongly cut with "sick days-off") where I've written everything I had in mind, I switch back to 3D . I had no desire to complete the interior design tutorial (I understood where I was going to...). So I chose to check out the character "next-gen" video (modeling a character for video game). My goal this time is not to reproduce the character exactly like the one presented on this tutorial, I think I'm advanced enough to watch the video and directly try to apply the technique on a personal project.

Right at the beginning of the lesson, Digital-Tutors mentions the importance of the sketch in order to model the character, including all the technical details that these sketches should include. I've chosen pictures as references for my first character, but I did not have any sketches (I want to do 3D, so I have not really taken the time to make a 2D drawing...). Here are pictures of items that I chose: Ref 1 and Ref 2. Theses are "stock images", so they are meant to help artists as references, as soon as they are not used to make profits at the expense of the photographer, and the photographer is also aware that they were used (give them a copy of the final artwork).

So, from these images (and others), I started last week to draw a 2D sketch. Since my new computer setup (with two screens), I have not really made any 2D work... I've installed my tablet and that's about it... I noticed recently, using my tablet in 3D, that I have a lot of trouble working with it and I thought it was the aging... It's an old tablet... I'm also rusty, I haven't drawn (with a pencil) in so long! But in front of photoshop last week, I quickly realized there was something more... I had so much trouble drawing curves (what was happening on screen was not what I wanted to do)... Without going into technical details, I went into the settings of my tablet, I made adjustments and then: tada! It was perfect! = D And suddenly, I was working so much better, so more quickly and efficiently!

So, I'll show you where I'm at with this sketch (see below). Of course, I must do the sketch to then be able to model it in 3D. One of the most widely used technique is the T pose (the reason is very simple: it is easier in stages after modeling, to prepare the model for animation)... Regarding the position of the hands, palms are usually facing Earth. I decided to make them with the thumbs facing up. When I'm taking the T pose myself, it seems to me that the hand position like on the drawing is more natural (with fewer "rotation" of the bones in the arms and wrists).

Like all the photos I had for references have artistic poses (never fully face, with swaying hips, etc..), I had to improvise a little, by using other references. For example, the part of arms / shoulders, there was simply nothing close I could used, so I took pictures of myself to complete; as for the face, the model in the photos is wearing a helmet, but I want to do the full face (I'm not sure I'm going to do the helmet on my 3D version), so I looked for other references for the full face...

My goal is not -- really not -- to ensure that viewing the 3D model, we could recognize the model of the pictures, no! I haven't yet reached that level! The goal I'm aiming for now is simply to make a character that looks good. Period.

Now, I have to make the profile of this character, in full conformity with the proportions (the eyes should arrive at exactly the same height, etc..) before they can start modeling in 3D.

When I realized I had to do 2D drawings to reach my goal, I first thought "Oh no!"... I must admit I was a bit scared... of failure! I'm having trouble drawing since a while now (it's not a complex!!). Well, you know, I'm impressed! Not only have I enjoyed doing all the anatomical research, proportions and reference photos to make my sketch, but I also really enjoyed drawing! (Especially once I solved my tablet problem!)

And I must say I like working this way, meaning: to write when I have a clear scene in mind, then draw when I have nothing more to write. Right now, I would not know what to write and I would lose a lot of time to compose my text. Instead, I draw and I think about what's next (in details) in my story... when I have enough elements of my story in mind, I'll write for few days, clear my head, then go back to drawing. For now, I think it's the ideal schedule!

See you soon! ^_^

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The "Lost Pages" have arrived!

More than once, I mentioned the idea to do a file of "Lost Pages" where I would present short stories or other anecdotal stories connected to a book or a series project I'm working on.

Well, I've started to post the first "Lost Pages"!
For now, they are on my DeviantArt page, in a new section ingeniously called "Lost Pages".

In the French one ("Pages Perdues"), there are three texts already, but only one has been translated... by myself. As you know or might have noticed, English is a second tongue for me, so it's possible that the translation is not perfect... but surely better than what the internet automatic translator would give away.

As for the 2 other texts "La Fontaine d'Onyx, Part I and Part II", which is way longer texts, will be translated... but just not yet. I'll come back and announced them here when they'll be translated.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "Paper Pensieve"

It's been a while since I did an update on my projects, so I'll take a moment to write few words here.

Last month was marked by colds and other minor discomfort. I often had to stay home with my sick daughter, so I really feel like my projects haven't progressed fast during that time.

Regarding 3D, I've tried ZBrush and the part I always had trouble understanding is still present ... This is the part where it's not a real 3D software; the interface is not in 3D ... So it's a bit like trying to do 3D with Photoshop ... what ZBrush calls 2.5D. I find this approach uncomfortable, although the software itself is powerful in its possibilities.

My spouse who works at Autodesk told me about another lesser known similar software, which is Mudbox. Like ZBrush, in Mudbox, we are working the 3D model as if it were a lump of clay that we model with the fingers, here replaced by a mouse or a tablet. With Digital Tutors pane Mudbox, I watched several videos to compare with ZBrush. The two software are actually very similar in tools, except that Mudbox has a 3D interface, which to me seems more comfortable on the navigation level. The choice, of course, is still very personal, though I haven't had time to try Mudbox... but I installed a version of it... this is a matter of time.

On the other hand, I started a new project of tutorials, an interior design with Softimage: Since I'm modeling the scene as it is shown in the tutorial given at the same time I listen to the videos, it is relatively long to do and the project is not finished yet (I did probably about the half of the project).

Meanwhile, I had a lot of time to think about my new Science-Fantasy writing project  I mentioned in my previous post. This project really fills my head. I had moments where I could not sleep because my mind was busy telling me parts of this story. It reminds me of the time where my mother was putting me to bed too early, so early that I wasn't falling asleep until 1-2 hours later, but I was so afraid to stand up or turn the light on to read or play in my bed ... I was doing the only thing I could do in the dark at 8 or 9 years ... I was telling myself stories! That's how I started writing: my head became so filled by many scenarios, I had to empty it on paper. I started at 9 years writing "seriously", meaning in a goal of making a movie or a published book out of it.

So I had moments of great fatigue, taking an hour to fall asleep because I was telling myself this story in my head, then my daughter would wake up 2-3 times during the night because she had a cold or a mole that was growing, which asked me 5 to 45 minutes to put her back to sleep and then I could not get back to sleep myself because I kept the script of my book in my head going... Then one day that my daughter was at the daycare, I sat at the computer and I wrote that scene that became an obsession. Oh, I've finally felt free and I was able to sleep well again ... Write, I already said it, is a NEED for me ... is for me, like Dumbledore's Pensieve!

Last week, I spent much time with my daughter who was stock with a cold, so I worked very little and had a lot of time to think. Yesterday, I had another emergency to write, not a scene this time, but the full plan of the story. In one day (approximately 10 hours), I managed to really put all the summarized ideas I had in mind on paper, in chronological order. The plan is not complete yet, it still missing about one third of the story I think (hard to say for the moment), but this part is not yet very clear in my mind. The doors are open for upcoming events of the story, the elements are in place, but the sequence of events are not clear to me yet, so tempting to write it would take me an eternity, so I prefer wait to feel an urgency to write it before I throw myself on the writing of the end of the story.

In short, I'm happy nonetheless to see the projects progressing anyway.
I also spent many happy moments with my daughter; even sick, she doesn't lose her smile. She's a real love!