The Retopology

It is a shame that I couldn’t get more of the head retopology finished in time-I had a lot of problems with Maya crashing on my laptop, and with the room in uni closed for shows over the weekend, it was impossible to work anywhere else. Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 17.28.31Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 17.28.54

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I really enjoyed completing this section of my retopology. It’s actually great fun to work out all the angles, making sure the edges look smooth etc. Sadly I had to leave the project here…For some reason my computer started taking almost 2 minutes to load each polygon once it was selected, and the quad tool became almost unusable. I am happy with how much I have learnt with the quad draw tool, and think if I had had access to a mac in uni with mudbox that I would have been able to continue with my work and get it finished.



Imaging and Data Visualisation-Reflection

This module has been a massive learning curve, and has been extremely enjoyable. The Floating City project was a daunting task at first (and throughout) but I would happily say that if given the same task again now, I would feel quite comfortable with it. Mostly this is through learning by doing, and making many, many mistakes. But it’s better to make these mistakes now and learn!

Starting the project, I was new to modelling, didn’t have the foggiest how to render and only knew a little about editing. Now, following the tutorials given by Alec, I would feel comfortable to tackle all of these areas myself. I think the New Narratives module works really well with this one in creating a solid knowledge of workflow, which to me is one of the most important things to master. I particularly appreciated the class on how to keep a tidy Maya workspace and how to send the files in the best way to team members-if not for this class, I am sure the floating city project would have ended up even further from finished!

In reflection, I wish I had had more time to play about with the various rigs that are provided each week by Alec. With all the other projects on such a tight time schedule, I only got to use them for the short class each week before getting on with the rest of the work. In saying that, each class provided me with so much knowledge that I was able to use in our 15 Second Animation (creating lattice rigs, blend shapes, the 12 Principles). I would love to go back and look over my notes on how to create and animate arm rigs using the method of overlapping motion and work on that over summer. My teams animation didn’t require arms, so it would be fun to work with something completely new and expand my knowledge further for next year!

The head topology task is definitely a tough one, and one I honestly felt very unprepared for. Apart from being show some sculpting tools in Maya, I had never seen any of the techniques, tools or menus being used before. I am still struggling to get my head around the retopology part of the task, but hopefully with time, I’ll get there!

Even if I don’t manage to complete the retopology in time, I hope to figure it all out over summer so I can come back knowing what to do!

Starting to Sculpt

So, possibly naively, I thought that Mudbox might have the same menus and set up as Maya. Of course not.

The process began by just getting used to the navigation, learning how to add image planes as a reference, and how to use your tablet or mouse in the best ways possible. Thankfully, Mudbox does come with some handy videos to help you get started.

I began with the default head model and worked from there…soon finding that the androgynous shape of the face actually make things quite difficult to sculpt. Given more time I would love to play with the settings in Mudbox more, and create a far more realistic representation of Yazz (my model is far from looking like her). If you block out the eyes and forehead though, I don’t think it’s that far wrong!

The part I found most tricky (and due to time ended up slightly giving up on), was the eyes. Creating a rounded surface to add the eyelids to was harder than expected, and getting the angles right between the brow bone and eyelid was an even harder task. In particular, I kept finding my mesh ‘creasing’, which causes a lot of problems.

An Early Attempt- I found that by the end, the head had been too overworked…the general structure here is a lot better.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 00.29.09Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 17.15.14

Having fun^ Dent head…oops.

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The ‘final’ (but accepted as ‘not the best I could have done’) head.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 22.23.53Note-No time to finish the ear!

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^This bit actually looks almost real! Whaaaaat.


The Head Model

Some research into what this should look like. Not expecting mine to look anything like these ones!

For this task I will be attempting to sculpt Yazz’s lovely face in Mudbox, before transferring it to Maya in order to ‘retopologise’. We have to alter our model until it has under 10,000 polygons.

So what is Retopology?

Retopology is the act of recreating an existing surface with more optimal geometry. A common use-case is creating a clean, quad-based mesh for animation, but it’s also used for most any final object that needs textured, animated, or otherwise manipulated in a way that sculpted meshes are not conducive to.’ – DR.Google.

What does ‘Autodesk Knowledge Network’ say?

‘Retopology lets you create new topology based on the features of a reference surface. Maya’s retopology toolset offers a streamlined, one tool workflow that lets modelers focus on the creative process instead of edge flow and polygon count.

The Quad Draw tool gives you complete control over the retopology process, providing you with tools to quickly create new topology and refine it on-the-fly.’

To retopologize a mesh using the Quad Draw Tool

  1. Set a reference mesh: snap the Quad Draw tool to the mesh you want to retopologize.
  2. Open the Quad Draw Tool by doing one of the following:
    • From the Tools section of the Modeling Toolkit window, click .
    • From the main menu bar, select Mesh Tools > Quad Draw.
    • From the marking menu, select Quad Draw Tool. (To open the marking menu, Shift + right-click in the scene.)
  3. Drop dots: define vertices.
  4. Create polygons: make quads and fill triangular shaped holes.
  5. Refine polygons: clean up your new topology.
  6. When finished, click  again to exit the tool.
    Tip: You can press Y to reactivate the Quad Draw Tool after switching to another tool.

The 12 Principles of Animation

The following 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the ‘old men’ of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, during the 1930s. 

YouTube. (2017). 1. Squash & Stretch – 12 Principles of Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

In the link above, you can see the videos that Alec showed us in class over the last few weeks. They are brilliant. Each step is thoughtfully explained with great examples, and have really made me think in a different way about how I animate.

The 12 Principles

  1. Squash and Stretch-Giving weight and volume to an object
  2. Anticipation-Perpares the audience for the action, adds realism
  3. Staging-Gets across attitude, mood, tone and can add a comic effect. Camera angles, lighting and organisation of actions.
  4. Straight Ahead and Pose to Pose Animation-Pose to pose plans out the animation, and then fills in the blanks. Straight ahead is better for natural animation like fire and dust clouds, as it doesn’t have solid beginning and end poses.
  5. Follow through and Overlapping Motion-When the main body of the character stops all other parts continue to catch up to the main mass of the character, such as arms, long hair, clothing, coat tails or a dress, floppy ears or a long tail (these follow the path of action). Nothing stops all at once. This is follow through. Overlapping action is when the character changes direction while his clothes or hair continues forward. The character is going in a new direction, to be followed, a number of frames later, by his clothes in the new direction. “DRAG,” in animation, for example, would be when Goofy starts to run, but his head, ears, upper body, and clothes do not keep up with his legs. In features, this type of action is done more subtly.
  6. Slow-In and Slow-Out- More drawings at the beginning and end of an action than in the middle.
  7. Arcs-Most actions follow a circular or arc like path.
  8. Secondary Action-Actions that add to and enrich the main action; often adding character and meaning to a scene.
  9. Timing
  10. Exaggeration
  11. Solid Drawing
  12. Appeal



Digital Artists

For our first lesson in image and data visualisation, Alec went over everything we would be covering in the module. I am so excited to get stuck in and get learning! The floating city project sounds especially interesting, and I think that this weeks homework will really help in getting inspired. Our first task-To Research 3D Digital Artists that inspire us.


Everett GuntherHis main ‘focus is modeling and texturing realistic environments and props for games’ though he also has ‘experience with characters, effects and lighting’ allowing him to act as more of a 3D generalist if that’s what a team requires.

His showreel is stunning. I love the atmosphere that is created in his work…you can almost smell the air and you know what temperature it is in each scene. The textures give his scenes an almost photorealistic effect; while the lighting used creates a magical, fantasy atmosphere. Although I would normally sway towards more of an illustrative, stylised way of working, I am find myself loving his realistic approach.

YouTube. (2017). Everett Gunther – Winter 2014 Environment Art Video Reel. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].


While searching for character work, it really got to me that almost every artist was male…and almost every female model or character is a ridiculous, overly sexualised caricature of real life. Finding a character who was empowering for women was practically impossible. I mean, when was the last time you wore 6″ heels to battle? Do you use a vacuum packing device to get into that leather jumpsuit or what? Time and a place guys. Time and a place.

Im looking for an ‘Ellen Ripley’ in what has become a very delusional world.


I wanted to do a little research into the character of Ripley, and how the actress, Sigourney Weaver, felt about playing her. I loved what I found. This is an excerpt from an interview on

Weaver continued to express her gratitude “to have a role where I could get the job done without being in a skimpy little costume.” She later explained that Cameron “loves women, he loves women as they are. the whole gorgeous natural woman, and he has such a great record of creating these amazing parts. For me I would’ve never wanted to go there. I don’t want to horrify the audience. I’m sure I wore little makeup. It has to be real and you wouldn’t be thinking about any of those things.” She added, “None of [the directors she’s worked with] would ever say, ‘That would be more attractive if you did it this way,’ or something. No one has ever said that to me, and I don’t think I’d take it well.”

This in itself is a push to succeed in what I do, and to try to provide what cannot be found at the minute.

1.6th-Rant over, I went on to find these awesome dolls made by 1-6th (I can’t find his real name anywhere!) Although they are not digital art, I think the detail involved is very similar to what I aim to one day be able to do in Maya. The costumes have texture and age, and every little detail is meticulously thought out. And the plus, they look like REAL PEOPLE…most of the time…Put simply, I want one!

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

Julien KasparI’m not sure yet if I really like all of Kaspar’s work, it’s a little colourful at times. However I love, love, love this model in particular. The weight and form of the model is great. I think the the heaviness of the models hair contrasted with how detailed and fine her eyebrows, lashes and glasses are is really effective.


ArtStation. (2017). SculptJanuary 17 – Day 03: Woman Portrait, Julien Kaspar. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]


ArtStation. (2017). SculptJanuary 17 – Day 03: Woman Portrait, Julien Kaspar. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]

The piece above has also shown me something new that I wasn’t fully aware of. I was surprised to find that this image is actually a 3D model(you can rotate it on Kaspar’s site). This is a style I am very interested to look into more, as it looks more like a moving illustration than 3D Animation, and I think it would suit my style quite well.


Moving to something a little bit more serious and realistic, I came across the fabulous work of Waldemar Bartkowiak, who is highly skilled in character design work. I love the level of detail in each of his models, adding so much depth of character and interest.

^pinterest-Waldemar Bartkowiak