Given that this project is largely character performance animation I knew that my main character was the most integral part to the whole project. Taking this into account I put all my efforts into making sure he is ready for animation.
Taking into account some feedback I did some small tests utilizing skinning in Maya to see whether I could figure out new looks for his comb. I decided that keeping it as it is would be my best bet and utilizing skinning to adjust the shape in post. I also felt this made more sense than trying to sculpt a curled over comb.
Refining his sculpt is a difficult process, like painting, there is always room for more detail so my plan was to deal with broader strokes first. I aimed to get my sculpt to a point where most of the details are roughed in and clean to a point of reading well. Getting the sculpt to this stage also gives me the chance to sculpt in more detail even after the animation phase as I can utilize methods to generate new displacement maps.
Retopology. Still yet to get to retopologize the beak.
Knowing I'll have to tackle both facial rigging and animation I decided to grab the book Stop Staring, a book dedicated to breaking down facial animation in 3D software and building effective blendshapes, control rig and animation techniques. I found this book to be very useful in regards to its approach to visemes and narrow/wide, closed/open cycles. I decided to look to how other films have done beaks, mainly for figuring out an effective OO shape. I looked at Rio however, the style of beaks and animation are much more naturalistic to that of the birds the characters are derived. I decided to look at Storks as this better resembles the type of motion I am aiming towards. Some notes I found, the top beak remains solid to the skull, similar to upper teeth. I also noticed they added a LOT more flexibility to the lower beak in its range of motion. An aspect however I will not be taking into consideration is Storks use of teeth. Although hilarious, I am uncertain that this will benefit my animation.
Storks (2016) -OO- shape
Now that I have a topology that is suitable for rigging I couldn't help but get stuck in and do a really rough skeleton and control set up to visualise some basic posing. With such scrawny legs his weight distribution is quite difficult to deal with.
Next stage is layout UV's for creating the various texture maps I'll be using. This was relatively easy with just unfold 3D and cutting seams where needed. I decided to use UDIM's as its something I've become familiar with as a normal texturing technique. Though getting my unwraps were quick, it took me a while to figure out an effective way to create symmetrical UDIMs.
With all the retopology and unwrap work done I am now excited to be able to start roughing in my textures and applying displacement. Knowing that my model is now riggable with its new topology without losing any of my sculpt detail is exciting, closing into a point where I'll soon see my creation come together.
It looks like hes decided to attack a beehive, so I think I'll have to get in and tweak his displacement map a little. Here we go, that's better. Still some odd artifacts but overall, working nicely. Simple colours are the ones roughly applied from polypaint. I intend to work over these. Hopefully using Mari if all goes smoothly.
As a little side test, I experimented with Zbrush's decimation plugin. giving some really nice faceted looking topology that both looks chaotic but also maticulously (procedurally) crafted to maintain as much detail as possible from the high resolution sculpt.
Finally I took my new character into the Pre-vis scene I created and play-blasted with some minor changes to camera angles and shots. This is still very primitive and I am still somewhat lost for ideas on the progression of shots. I wish to experiment with some shots depicting an oncoming 'storm' such as a heavily organised military force of foxes, almost in line with asian militaries and how well structured they are but at the current rate of production, leaving the barn might be difficult.