Doing a short is definitely different to doing a still. Besides from being much more work, its the various aspects for animation influencing the modeling which kept me busy since the last update. And its a wealth of information about oneself.
I also learned to better economize my energy. I tend to immerse myself completely into the project, blending away hours far into the night. This is not advisable for a project like this, as the end point is too far away and I end up exhausted both emotionally and physically. This in turn affects motivation and I already had to experience my first low during this project.
Anyway, I think the dragon as a model is more or less finished. The storyboard guides me here as I know which parts of the dragon will be seen in high detail. The head will have some very near closeups and received the most attention.
As I started with the first rigging steps, I recognized that weight painting (especially with the bone heat method) is not functional once you have a mirror modifier on your model. That makes me a little nervous. In order to do the weight painting I have to apply the mirror modifier, so I have to be sure there won’t be any major modeling tasks coming along. I do not have the experience if the animation workflow will demand any changes on the model (like changing topology for better deformation etc) . If there are, well then it will be more work.
As for the rigging progress, I only have added the deformation bones with some weight painting to see if the poses work as I want them to be. As it turns out, tweaking the deformation will be quite some task …
I also stumbled upon a problem with bone heat weighting. At first blender always told me ‘failed to find solution for one or more bones’. I checked all the naming and setup of the bones but could not find an error. For weight painting I had the subsurf modifier deactivated, as this slows down the process drastically. Only reactivating the subsurf modifier ( and only using level 2 ?) let me use the heat weighting feature. I just fail to see how the subsurf modifier should influence the heat weighting solution …
I want the dragons rig finished before starting to model Ara. And this includes creating a nice controller set and maybe even a fly-cycle for the dragon. To get nice deformations especially on the head area and on the wings I will most certainly use action constraints, maybe mixed with ipo driven shape keys, but here I have to gather more experience.
Texturing and lighting is the area which I like most, so its very tempting to work immediately on the dragon, but I stay firm. The sculpting, texturing, uv-unwrapping and materials will all come after all the animation is done. This again should avoid unnecessary work.
Here are some wires of the current dragon model.
And here are some poses done very crudely with the current deformation-only rig. The poses are taken from actual shots from the storyboard. I wanted to see how they work out on the 3d model.
42:02 Concept Art
--12:00 Ara Design
--18:35 Color Tests
--11:27 Dragon Design