Author Archives: minhtranweb

Hand Rigging Process Diary

Problem Analysis:

–          A good rig is the rig that will work the way you expect so the most important thing you have to know before you start your rig is what the character’s animation requirements are. If you know them, it will save you a lot of your time and efforts. It’s very important for a rigger to do the rig. If you create a rig with a lot of functionalities but they will never be used by the animator, you are wasting your time (and money). The requirements will be analysed and break them down into smaller tasks so they will be easier to manage. Such as this rigging assessment, I’m required to create a hand rig with the locators to facilitate both bend and side movements of the hand. I’m also required to create a control object that enables the animator to manipulate set-driven keys for the whole hand and its individual fingers. So I have to break it down in to small tasks and find the solution for them by one at a time.

–          In order to find the best solution for each task, you’ll need the accurate reference material otherwise you’ll never find it.


Test of the solution:

–          Once you have all the problems analysed and the accurate reference material, you can create a simple rig first in order to validate it. You’ll have to make sure that all the problems (small break-down tasks) have to be solved before you decide to combine them together because you’ll never want to build a finale rig based on the unsolved problems. It’s easier for you to check and control the solutions at this stage.


Solution Analysis:

–          After all of your solutions had been tested and they all worked right, you have to analyse them again to make sure that you don’t miss any requirements and do a simple test to see if the individual solutions work well when they’re integrated in a same rigging system.

–          Make sure that you have all the attributes and controls that you need for the rig.

–          Remember to check if you have any redundant attribute. Delete all the redundancies if you have any because you’ll not want to waste more time on them on the next stages and the attributes and controls also have to be clean and simple for the animators to be easier to do their jobs.

–          It is strongly recommended that you should request the feedbacks from the animators to make sure that the solutions are all right.


Recreating of the clean solution:

–          As I mentioned above, the attributes and controls need to be clean and simple. Because you’ve already refined them in Solution Analysis stage, now it’s time for you to re-create the rig with the clean and simple solutions.

–          You should simplify the channels (attributes) in the control by locking and hiding the unused ones.

–          Also check if you named all the components correctly because a good naming convention will help you a lot to create a clean, simple, easy-to-understand controls for the rig.


Final recreating:

–          After all the steps above, now you’re able to recreate the rig with the right and clean solutions without worrying too much about if they work well because they’ve already tested and proved that they are all good for the jobs.

–          At this stage you should be more confident on your rig and it is easier for you to discuss it with the animator so you and he/she make sure that all the attributes and controls are functioning as expected before it’s officially ready for animation.



Schleifer, J 2006, Animator friendly rigging, SIGGRAPH.

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The Torch – Using 3D Container in Autodesk Maya 2013


Effect overview:

–          For the visual effect assessment, I will use fluid effect in  Maya to create the torch flame as the images below:




–          The main objective in this project is to create the flame that burnt on the material like cloth and it is wrapped on one tip of a mace. Fire is one of very common things that we can see in everyday life. In order to create something like this, we have to make sure that we have good reference and we will stick with it. This is not something that we can do by just sitting still and imagine. This is something that we have to search for its information and observe it in real life if we want to make it look real.

–          Firstly, we all know that the colour and other characteristics of a flame depend on several factors such as fuel, heat, density. We can also create different flame types by changing the oxygen supply. They vary from yellow sooty diffusion flame to blue flame and of course that their heat levels are different too.

–          Working with projects like this, the colour and its movement are very important because they will define your flame and show us how it is different from the others. Even though the flame is transparent

–          As the references, this type of flame would be made up of the 2 main elements are the bright yellow-orange fire at the hottest points and the black smokes which will come up when the fires come to the cool-down point. This flame is caused as a result of a combustion oil-dipping cloth. That’s why it has the bright yellow-orange colour at the beginning and black smoke at the end.

–          With this type of flame, we also need to examine the movement of the fire because it is affected by some factors such as the fuel of the combustion the scale of the combustion, the wind in the environment, the scale of the flame to the environment and the density of the air.

–          As in the real world, the colour of the fire is also affected by the other light settings in the environment. Hence, we have to notice all the light sources in the scene and render setting to make sure that the look of the flame is exactly what we want when we render it out.


Development Process:

–          Using Autodesk Maya 2013

–          Create a camera, point light and directional light. Set up the scene as we want.

–          Create a 3D container.

–          Select the fire source object and make it an emitter.

–          Rename it as fireDensityEmitter:

  • Density Method: add.
  • Density/voxel/Sec: 20.
  • Heat Method: No Emission.
  • Fuel Method: No Emission.
  • Fluid DropOff: 0.110.

–          Container:

  • Base Resolution: 150.
  • Contents Method:
    • Density, velocity, temperature, Fuel: Dynamic Grid.
  • Turn on auto to resize.
  • Dynamic Simulation:
    • Gravity: 9.8
    • Damp 0.025
  • Density:
    • Density scale: 2.000
    • Buoyancy: 2.000
    • Dissipation: 2.000
  • Velocity:
    • Swirl: 25.000
  • Temperature.
  • Fuel.

–          Shading (this is the most important part for achieving the right look of the flame):


  • Textures:
    • Texture Color
    • Texture Incandescence
  • Texture Time: =time*0.5

–          Select the container and create a new emitter, rename it as fuelHeatEmitter.

–          fuelHeatEmitter:

  • Emitter Type: Volume
  • Rate: 100
  • Heat Method: add
  • Heat/Voxel/Sec: 20
  • Fuel Method: add
  • Fuel/Voxel/Sec: 15
  • Volume Shape: Cylinder.

–          Scale and snap the emitter to the fire source object.

–          Test the renders.

–          Batch render.


Reflection of script development:

–          Visual Effects is one of the most important reasons that make me get into this 3D world. It makes movies much more interesting and believable for the viewers. It is used in the film and entertainment industry to create effects that are impossible to achieve by normal means, such as travel to other star systems. It is involves the integration of live-action footage in order to create the environments which are not real but we, the viewers, would believe that they are real and that’s why I love it.

–          I was taught about a number of different systems in Autodesk Maya such as Particles/nParticles, 2D/3D Fluids, nCloth and nHair for the Dynamics & Visual Effects Subject. For the assessment, I was asked to create a dynamic effect project by using at least one of the following dynamic effects: fluids, nParticles or nHair and I decided create a torch by using 3D fluids in Autodesk Maya 2013.

–          According to Keller (2010, p. 877):

A good practice for working with 3D containers is to start at a low resolution, such as 20 x 20 x 20, and increase the resolution gradually as you develop the effect.

–          This really helped me with this project. I started with a low resolution 3D container and worked with it as if it were a miniature chemistry lab. The render time was very quick so it’s easier for me to see the effect and manipulate it.

–          To create the flame for the torch, I had to use 2 emitters in 1 3D Container.

–          According to Keller (2010, p. 879):

The contents that you can inject into a container by a fluid emitter are density, fuel, and temperature. You can use an emitter to inject any combination of the three. The settings on the fluid container’s shape node determine how these contents behave within the container. You can use more than one emitter within a container and can create reactions by the interaction of anything within the container. For instance, you can use one emitter to add fuel and another to add temperature.

–          The main problems I had with this project were how to get the right colors and shape of the flame. I took me a while to play around with the settings to achieve the right shape and the most trick thing is how to create the tails of black smoke when the flame cools off.

–          The lesson that I learned from this project was that the more common things you see in real life are the more complicated visually effect to do and you need to have good references to make sure that you are going on the right track.



Keller, E, Palamar, T, Honn, A 2010, Mastering Autodesk Maya 2011, Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana.


Kirillov, K, stock Photo – Closeup of flaming torch with fire and black smoke on blue background, 123RF Stock photo,  viewed 25 November 2012, <;


Sanda, E, 2010, Throwing the Torches on The Old Wooden Boat, Making a Bonfire, Celebrating the New Year 2010, Flickr, viewed 25 November 2012, <;

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Overview of troubleshooting

Emitting Particles:

–          Issue:

  • How to emit particles when and where the object interacts with the water surface.

–          Troubleshooting:

  • Using toon outline to create the cheap particle emitter.

Creating the intersection curve:

–          Issue:

  • Unable to create the intersection curve between the water surface and the object.

–          Troubleshooting:

  • Create a new polygon plane and apply the ocean displacement to it. Then convert the displacement to polygon with history.


–          Issue:

  • Mental Ray render doesn’t understand the colour system when you add it to the particles.

–          Troubleshooting:

  • Use Maya Hardware render instead of mental ray to render the particles then we will composite them with water sequences in nuke. This is the best way because we can have a full control to work on the colour of the particles in Nuke.
  • Another way is that you can apply a shader to the particles so they can be rendered out. But this way will take longer rendering time.

Displacement Nodes:





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Description of process to create effect

Adherence to reference material:

–          Based on the reference material, we need to create the splash when the objects interacts the water surface.

–          We need it to be dynamic so it will be easier for the animators to control the effect.

–          It has to be cheap for rendering and it shouldn’t slow down the scene when we’re working on it.

–          It shouldn’t be too realistic. It should be stylized and make the audiences believe in it.

Dynamic systems utilised:

–          Ocean and Wake in Fluid Effects will be used to create the water effect.

–          Toon Outliner to create a cheap interaction line between the object and the water surface from where the particles emit.

–          Gravity field and Volume Axis will be used to control the behaviours of the particles (splash).

General Overview of process:

–          Create an Ocean.

–          Create a polygon plane and apply a new Blinn to it.

–          Create a new displacement shader, connect it to Displacement of the shading group of the Blinn.

–          Connect Displacement of OceanShader1 to the new displacement Shader.

–          Delete the history of the poly plane.

–          Convert displacement of the poly plane to polygons with history.

–          Create a new object (will be interacted with the water) and a wake.

–          Apply the toon outline to get the intersection line between the object and the water surface.

–          Convert it to curve.

–          Emit particles from the curve.

–          Apply the gravity field to the particles.

–          Set the values so we can have the effect as we like.

–          Apply the volume axis to make the particles look more interesting when they’re floating on the water surface.

–          Apply a shader to the particles to render it out as you like.

Overview of asset attributes published:


–          Lifespan Mode.

–          Lifespan.

–          Lifespan Random.

–          Particle Rate: Control the number of particles per second.

–          Spread: Control how far do the particles spread around.

–          Speed: speed of the particles.

–          Speed Random: of the particles.

Gravity Field:

–          Magnitude.

–          Attenuation.

Volume Axis:

–          Magnitude.

–          Attenuation.

–          Turbulence.

–          Turbulence Speed.

Collision Attributes:

–          Resilience.

–          Friction.

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Overview of Reference

When the Bluey’s jumping out of the water, he will create a splash of water and it would look like in the photo below (photo 01). This kind of the splash should be extended higher from the water surface but not spread too wide around.

Photo 01:

We also search for the references of the splash when an object floating on the chilling water and below (video 01) is the look that we think it should be. It should be white and gentle.

Video 01:

<p><a href=”″>HOT for Maya – rock splash</a> from <a href=””>Igor Zanic</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

With the drowning scene, we will make the splash more powerful and it will create a great impact on the surface when the object interacts with water. Below are 2 references (Video 01 & Video 02) that we found that they are very helpful in this particular scene.

Video 02:

Video 03:


Das, S 2011, Water Splash, TrekEarth, viewed 6 August 2012,<>

Zanic, I 2010, Hot for Maya – rock splash, video, Vimeo, viewed 6 August 2012, <>

Maxc2358 2011, fish leap splash, video, YouTube, 9 May, viewed 6 August 2012, <>

Viki164 2009, Water splash from Maya particles & then to foam, video, YouTube, 10 May, viewed 6 August 2012,<>

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Critical reflection


Modelling was not my priority I when I started this course. I used to think modelling was easy then I wanted to be an animator. I still like animation but modelling now takes most of my learning and practicing time, primarily with ZBrush and Mudbox, and I’m so happy with them.

I know I still have a long way go to with modelling because I’m still struggling to get used to its brushes and find the most effective way to use them but modelling, especially with ZBrush, more interesting to me now. Hours experimenting with sculpting tools no longer make me bored.

I’ve also learned about anatomy this year and it is really helpful for me in human sculpting.

According to Flor and Mongeon (2010, p.5):

To be a successful figurative sculptor, a fundamental knowledge of anatomy is required. In this case, anatomy refers to the skeleton, muscles, and skin and fat – also collectively known as surface anatomy.

With this subject, I’ve learned how to use different sculpting applications, import/exporting files with different formats and other applications in the pipeline. And below are some of my experiences I gained in this subject:

Planning the project:

Have a good plan to make sure you have adequate time for every task in the pipeline.

Gesture, Form and Proportion:

These three elements should be considered all time of sculpting.

According to Spencer (2010, p.3):

If each element is addressed in the sculpture, they combine to create a solid, effective sculpture. If any of these is omitted or addressed inadequately, the work as a whole suffers.

Time management:

Time is fleeting so you should stick with you plan to keep it on track. You should have started the project right after receiving the brief so you wouldn’t have to rush to the last minute to finish it. And I learn the rushing is never good for anything.

File management:

Keep all the files of the project organised in 1 root folder so you don’t have to waste your time on losing or locating files.


Flor, MDL & Mongeon, B 2010, Digital sculpting with mudbox, Elsevie Inc., Burlington, MA 01803, USA.

Spencer, S 2010, Zbrush digital sculpting human anatomy, Wiley Publishing Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana.

Note: According to the Harvard referencing system, the exact quotations above are supposed to be indented at the left and the font is one size smaller but it’s impossible do it in this blog.

Hence I chose “Block quote” for these quotations, at least they’re indented at the left.

Click here==> CRITICAL REFLECTION to see the the right reference format.

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Pipeline and trouble shooting


–          The Caveman has been originally creating by using Zbrush (with details).

–          I’m still not happy with his hands and legs so I just use his head and torso to demonstrate this pipeline and trouble shooting section.

–          TOPOGUN:

  • Re-topology.
  • Save scene: OBJ as lowMesh.
  • Subdivision\Preferences:
    • Levels 5.
    • Compatibility: ZTL.
  • Click SubD.
  • Subdivision\Save: OBJ as highMesh.
  • Make sure that you save the scene and the obj in one folder so it will be easier for you to work on them.

–          UVlayout:

  • UV mapping the lowMesh of the model.
  • Remember to set the Map Rez: 2k
  • Bleed: 4 for packing.

–          ZBRUSH:

  • Import lowMesh into ZBrush.
  • Subdivide it 5 times (level 6).
  • Import highMesh into level 6.
  • If the mode doesn’t have UVmap, you can quickly create one here:
    • At level 1 (lowest level): Zplugin\UV Master\Unwrap.
  • We have the UV map with the model at this stage.
  • UV Map: check the UV map.
  • Add more details to the model.
  • Go back to the lowest level.
  • Normal Map:
    • Turn on Tangent, Adaptive, SmoothUV, SNormals.
    • Create normalMap.
    • Clone NM.
  • Texture\Flip V\Export Normal map as JPG.

–          MAYA:

  • Import lowMesh.
  • Press 3 to view in smooth mode.
  • Apply Lambert to it
  • Lambert\Common Material Attributes\Bump Mapping: file (to the normal map).
  • Make sure bump2d1\2d Bump Attributes\Use As: Tangent Space Normals.

–          Turn viewport 2.0 to see the result or render it out with mental ray.


– If your Zbrush model has to many polygons and you computer can not handle it, TopoGun will crash all the time. It’s better for you to decimate it before doing re-topology.

– in UVlayout, sometimes you have to move the individual points manually to help the program get rid of overlaps.

– Seam problems sometimes happen when you render it out with mental ray then you can play around with the normal Map options to find the most suitable option for your own character. If you can not fix it, then use PTEX. Hopefully I will learn it in next semester so I can show you how fix this issue.

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Anatomy Study

Anatomy study:

Anatomy study is a very important study in modelling. Thanks to it we can reproduce more accurate human characters then we can stylize them in the way we still keep them reasonable and believable.

Here are 8 muscles that I believe that they are important and affect human character modelling the most.

* The skeleton used in this task was originally created by Ryan Kingslien.

*Zbrush was used to sculpture the muscles for demonstration of the positions and shapes of them.

– Deltoid: is a thick and powerful muscle that forms the rounded contour of the shoulder. Its main function is responsible for the abduction of the arm (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.360).

– Triceps brachii: is the large muscle on the back of the upper arm. It is primarily responsible for the extension of forearm. The long head of triceps is also responsible to extends and adducts the arm (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.365).

– Biceps brachii: is a two-headed muscle that lies on the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow. Its function is primarily to flex the forearm and powerfully supinate the forearm when the elbow is flexed (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.367).

– Gastrocnemius: is often referred to as the “calf”. it is a very powerful muscle located at the back of the lower leg. It is involved in many movement of the body such as standing, running and jumping. It flexes the leg and plantar flexes the foot. It spans both the knee and the ankle joints (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.386).

– Sternocleidomastoid: It is a paired thick muscle in the superficial layers of the anterior portion of the neck. It extends from the sternum and clavicle to the mastoid process posterior to the ear. Its function is to flex and rotate the head (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.337).

– Pectoralis major: is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, located at the chest. It covers the superior part of the thorax. It is the prime mover of the arm flexion. It also adducts and medially rotates the arm (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.360).

– Rectus abdominus: is also known as the “six pack”. It is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen. It is an important postural muscle. Is main responsibility is to flex vertebral column and compresses abdominal wall (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.347). It also helps in keeping the internal organs intact and creating intra-abdominal pressure as when doing exercising or lifting heavy weights.

– Rectus femoris: is one of the four quadriceps muscles of the human body. All of the muscles attach to the patella (knee cap) via the quadriceps tendon. It is situated in the middle of the front of the thigh. It is responsible to extend the leg and flexes thigh (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.385).

Differences between male and female in anatomy:

Based on what we mentioned briefly above, we can easily recognize the difference between male and female in terms of muscles is in pectoralis major muscle. It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female.

Additionally, we can see the differences between male and female in general shape and size of their skulls. Typical female features are delicate and small, while mal features tend to be larger, sturdier and bulkier (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.201).

Although we can determine the sex of a skeleton by examining the skull, the most reliable indicator is the pelvis, mainly the ossa coxae. They are the most sexually dimorphic bones of the body due to the requirements of pregnancy and childbirth in female. That’s why the female pelvis is shallower and wider than the male pelvis and the males have narrower hips then the females do (McKinley & O’Loughlin 2012, p.233).


McKinley, M & O’Loughlin, VD 2012, Human anatomy, 3rd edn, McGraw-Hill, New York.


Imaginary character

The original character:

The character with exaggerated muscles:

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Caveman – Character model process (part2)

The proportion of his head and body doesn’t look right with my concept drawing:


– Fix his head and body proportion.

– Adjust his face to make him match my concept drawing:

– Image


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Caveman – Character model process (part1)



Character model process:


– Using Zphere to create the basic shape of the character.


– Using Adaptive skin to create the geometry from Zphere.



– Using masks,layer brush, normal brush,  and to create the clothing Shape.

– Using Dam-standard brush for creating the details his clothing.

– Using inflat brush to make the details around the clothing edges (the borders).


– Using move, noraml, smooth brush to model the face.

– Using layer, dam-standard and smooth brush to make his bushy eyebrows.

– Using the brushes above to add more details to the character.


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