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Friday, 10 June 2016

Maya Modelling Tools and Workflow Video

In this latest video tutorial, I show a set of 2 very handy Maya tools, and the workflow context in which I often use them.

First I start off creating a complex shape that has edges running in various directions. This is achieved by using a combination of several deformers. Even though deformers are categorised as animation tools, I try to show here that they can be used in a modelling situation as well. This gives a hint at huge possibilities for even more complex objects to be constructed this way. The key is to understand what different deformers do on their own, before we can plan how to use them in combination.

Having an object that is bent by deformers gives it a very organic shape. The majority of the resulting faces are neither oriented along world axes nor object local axes. This is one of the situations where these tools will shine.

The one of the essential tools of my modelling workflow is the Slide Edge Tool. This allows the artist to position one or multiple selected edges along the existing neighbour edges by sliding along them, or perpendicular to them along the selected edge normals.

The next tool in the video is the relatively new Edit Edge Flow Tool. This tool takes selected edges and tries to relax, blend or flow them along the mesh according to the angle/relief/tangets of neighbouring edges/faces.

At first glance these tools seem to overlap each other in functionality. However as we proceed along in the video, we see certain situations where one tool was more ideal for a task instead of the other. Therefore it is a good thing to have access to both.

At the end I also show in an example involving a cylinder's edges, how my simple scaling tool can be used to push out edges and accomplish something similar to what the 2 tools can do. If we can really understand how our tools work, we will be able to use them creatively and continue to streamline our workflow, and achieve higher quality of work faster, and with less effort.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Introduction to Expressions in Maya

I've just posted a video introduction to what expressions are and how to achieve a few basic movements with expressions. In this very basic introduction to expressions in Maya, I talk about how with expressions, we can drive attributes of objects with the current frame, the current time, or with another attribute that is animated.

First I talk about what expressions are, where in the Maya interface we can input expressions, how to create them, and update them.

Then I show the simplest form of expression, where we learn to feed an attribute with a constant value.

Following that I make use of the frame variable to read the value of the current frame in the timeline to drive our object's attribute.

Then I get a bit more complex, showing how to use subtraction, division and multiplication to offset,, amplify or reduce the the resulting value to a fraction of what it would otherwise be.

I also briefly show how to use the connection editor to connect 2 attributes, so that the value of 1 attribute drives the attribute of the other.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Houdini (and TouchDesigner) Proceduralism

Recently I've been spending more time with Derivative's TouchDesigner. Unlike Houdini which is more towards pre-rendered and simulated content for TV, Broadcast and Film,

TouchDesigner is more for interactive applications, like reactive Video projections, installation content, where the visuals react in accordance to data collected in real-time (from sensors, game-pads, Kinect devices, or even information from websites). TouchDesigner, like most software geared towards real-time applications, has less processor intensive operators for geometry manipulation and shading (raytracing!) operations, Nevertheless, the amount of flexibility it can achieve with realtime signal processing data manipulation is still very amazing. This is especially easy on interatctive visual designers when it uses node based visual programming and the Python scripting language.

I was recently trying to explain the idea of proceduralism in CG / VFX / Interactive applications to a friend, and I kept thinking back to these couple of Houdini demo videos of how powerful a workflow it is.

These videos were posted by Kim Goossens on his/her YouTube channel. They still amaze me with the power of Houdini to this day.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Maya Quadrangulate Workflow

Here's another long video I created. I talk about converting polygonal meshes with triangular faces to quadrilateral (or quad) faces, using the Quadrangulate command in Maya.

First I talk about using the command with its default settings. Then I go into more tricky situations where the command does not work the first time, and how we can still achieve a quadrangulated geometry in the end.

In summary, the most important settings to take note of, from the command options, would be:

- 'Keep hard edges' checkbox (I always turn it on. many external applications export meshes with all edges hardened. In which case, the command will not perform any quadrangulation)

- Angle threshold. The lower this number is, the more choosy Maya will be when deciding when 2 triangular faces are to be turned into a single quadrilateral face. 0 will tell Maya to quadrangulate 2 triangular faces only if they form a perfectly flat planar surface (ie, only if they are co-planar). A maximum angle threshold of 180 means that Maya will take all possible pairs of adjoining triangles will be converted to quads.

I hope this helps you in your mesh clean-up.

Watch the same video on Vimeo.com

Maya Quadrangulate Workflow from Patrick Woo on Vimeo.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Search Algorithms for Game Play: Going from A to B

From a blog post on Packt.com, my favourite resource for software development related books, I came across an article that talks about Search Algorithms.

In the post,  Daan van Berkel talks about the processing, logic and steps involved in navigating a character from point A to point B in a game engine.


Having no previous knowledge of path-finding, I find this immensely intriguing and an enjoyable read. I am definitely interested to find out more!

Read the article here!