Allthough the title image is taken at dusk, I chose it to symbolize the mountain of work still ahead of me. It also fits well the current sculpting of the main set of Ara’s Tale. And besides that this is the view from my bedroom and this type of light is only at this time of the year for only a couple of weeks and then only in a 10 minute window, so I got lucky this year.
The start into this year is a bit slow. Real life is hugely interfering with this project and then there is the blank page effect. All shots from the entry set are done and now its back again at the basics – environment modelling and sculpting.
But I managed to get started. The task ahead now is/was the sculpting of the main set. I decided to use a different approach than the one I used for the other set. There I divided the canyon into several objects and sculpted/textured each individually. That gave quite some headaches in the texturing phase where I struggled to reduce the seams to a minimum.
This time I use one object for the main set canyon and ledge. I manually subdivided the regions which will be seen in closeup shots and thus did a very cheap ( and fixed) dynamic sculpting approach.
Instead of dividing the set into several objects and uv unwrap each individually, I created the division using seams and uv unwrapped these individual patches separately. Each patch will receive it own texture when texture painting. Then I will create a separate material for each of the patches and use the corresponding textures. The basic material settings are the same for all these materials.
I already did some feasibility tests and based on these I decided to try this approach. And now with my hardware upgraded, I will also try to test drive Mari on this setup and do a comparison to blender’s texture painting. With a 15 day trial license there should be plenty of time to do this.
Sculpting of the main part is now done. The sculpted mesh has ~850000 vertices and will be used directly as is. No displacement maps and the high frequency details will be done during texturing with bump maps. This amount of vertices is a bit high to work with fluidly in blender 2.49 (due to the infamous performance issue on fermi based consumer cards) but this is not an issue for the actual rendering. Tweaking of the animation will be done with a 50000 vertex mesh as proxy for the real one.
I wanted to have the sculpt of the set fully support the shots I had already done and for this I imported the camera rig and all camera actions of the various shots together with the Ara rig and her actions to the sculpting file. Sculpting is done in 2.5x whereas the animation is done in blender 2.49b. A minor annoyance is that you cannot directly append/link an action from a 2.49 file. You first have to open it in 2.5x save it and then you can append/link it.
With this all done I fine tuned the sculpting by having one viewport with the camera’s view and the an other for sculpting and sometimes sculpting in the camera view as well. This worked out quite well, especially where I had to ensure the correct topology of the terrain where Ara is interacting with it ( she should not be floating or wading through rocks 🙂 )
See here for some images directly taken from inside blenders viewport to get an idea of the current progress.