|All Year, 2019|| |
I worked on a 4 minute short animated comedy film as part of my master’s degree with Animal Logic Academy. I was one of the head surfacing artists on the project, utilizing Substance Painter and Katana. I have also been modeling using Maya with ZBrush and doing some backend work on the project.
For a closer look some of the individual assets I worked on for this project, feel free to look at my ArtStation ‘Bounty Hunter’ Album.
For the majority of this project I was a surfacing artist, and due to the animation’s alien setting, had to texture a lot of props, including rocks, crystals, sci-fi equipment, fast food, environments and the main creature character. I did the majority of this work in Substance Painter and rendering it in Pixar’s Renderman using Katana, however I did also help with creating some materials in Substance Designer for assets like crystals.
For the main creature I did a lot of work with the Groom/CharFX artist, rigger and art director in order to try and create a creature who was alien, but adorable like a plush toy. This involved a lot of work coming up with multiple variants for the creature’s fur, eye and skin colour, until we decided on dark eyes with a blue sclera along a light skin with white fur. Due to difficulties with converting materials from Houdini to Katana, I also helped create the lookdev of the fur material, using ‘PxrMarschnerHair’ within Katana itself.
I also did some hard surface and organic modeling for this animation. I modeled the main planet ground (seen from afar) and some bags of chips in ZBrush, both of which were retopologized it in Maya and also modeled a rigged computer screen and stand in Maya. I also did the UV mapping for all of these models, as well as for most of the models I surfaced.
During the project we used a USD pipeline in order to control asset management and version control across different programs. However, as tools such as the Substance Suite at the time didn’t support USD files, they were off-pipe. As such when I first joined the academy, the texturing and surfacing workflows were very time-consuming and prone to user-error as you would need to update several texture maps when you versioned up and setting up multiple materials per UDIM had to be done manually. This became a bigger problem down the line, as a lot of our assets required multiple layered ‘PxrSurface’ materials, due to assets like crystals embedded in rocks being very common in our sets.
In between working on asset creation and surfacing, I spent some free time on improving this workflow, where I ended up creating some macros in Katana to handle automatic version control and layering using the ‘PxrLayer’ shaders. I also worked on updating the pipeline to handle these changes to storing multiple texture maps. With these changes the task from creating a material in Substance Painter to getting a rendered turntable in Katana went from 3+ days to just under 4-5 hours.