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Using a distortion box to create different characters


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I've always liked the squash and stretch look of the Veggie Tales character's eyes and wondered how to do it in A:M. There were several posts on this forum showing how it was done with distortion boxes so I gave it a try. Very cool... then it made me wonder if the same technique on a generic round character head would make it easy to generate a bunch of unique characters very quickly without having to do any rerigging or remodeling (other than a new distortion box).

 

After a little experimentation I came up with a design that works pretty well in most deformations - except for really extreme stretches. The example video shows one model instanced three times in the choreography, each one having a unique distortion box for the eyes and the head. They are all linked to the same action to show how the heads and eyes hold up to different deformations. I didn't animate the distortion boxes in this example, but that's easy to do too.

 

Maybe this is old news, but I think it's pretty slick. The example is simple and I didn't spend a lot of time on it, but see what you all think.

 

WetMouse6.mov (7.16mb)

 

And here's the model file for you to check out:

CartoonHead_Sphere_2_1_09.mdl

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Mark, seriously - I had dental surgery and my top lip is swollen up bigtime. If you're going to be posting things like this that make me smile, you should at least warn a guy first!

 

(Good to have you back, man.)

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I do this, I even animate colour in the group and material properties inposes to change the character's look even more, unfortunately the poses zero out to pure white rather than the original colour so you can animate Bruce Banner turning into the hulk but then when Hulk calms down he becomes an albino :)

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Mark, seriously - I had dental surgery and my top lip is swollen up bigtime. If you're going to be posting things like this that make me smile, you should at least warn a guy first!

 

(Good to have you back, man.)

Hey Martin, hope you heal up fast. Glad I could bring some fun to your day. Thanks again for an awesome program!

 

That's a neat trick!

Thanks. It's been fun to experiment with distortion boxes.

 

I think 3dartz used this technique to animate a face.

Yeah, you're right. I'm curious to know if he's done anything more with it lately.

 

I do this, I even animate colour in the group and material properties inposes to change the character's look even more, unfortunately the poses zero out to pure white rather than the original colour so you can animate Bruce Banner turning into the hulk but then when Hulk calms down he becomes an albino :)

Could you post some of your examples where you used distortion boxes?

 

That worked well!

 

Is the mouth rigged with smartskin poses or bones?

The idea was to use a perfectly spherical head so I could use bones to easily make the poses. Any rotation of a bone would leave its' CP on the sphere's surface, and supposedly look OK. This worked really well for all of the poses except the Open Mouth pose where I had to use some bone translation. The bone layout is very similar to the Squetch rig with each CP in the mouth area having its' own bone.

 

Right now the model is sort of duct taped together with lots of afterthought ideas put into action... lots of poor bone naming and disorganization of its' guts. When I clean it up more I plan on making it available to everyone to check out and use.

 

I wanted a generic model to use for lipsync practice and hopefully be able to follow through with some 11Second Club ideas in the future.

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This is a very cool and powerful aspect of the program, and needs to be exploited...

 

BELOW movie is a recent example of sort of what you are talking about... I have a character, I made a new pose and named it FAT and went about 'thickening-up' everything in the pose using distortion boxes, scaling (CPs and bones) and I even tried the 'sphereize.hxt' utility, but it didn't work (all the distortions made with sphereize in the pose also effected the main model---which defeats the purpose.)

 

I PLAN to eventually use a pose like this to generate 2nd-3rd-4th variations of the same character.

 

ALSO OF NOTE: This animation also demonstrates V15.0E's particle baking feature, and the benefit being that none of the hair passes thru the geometry of anything it touches... which has been a 'pet-peeve' of mine for some time!

fat.mov

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This is a very cool and powerful aspect of the program, and needs to be exploited...

ALSO OF NOTE: This animation also demonstrates V15.0E's particle baking feature, and the benefit being that none of the hair passes thru the geometry of anything it touches... which has been a 'pet-peeve' of mine for some time!

Thanks for posting your example. Nice demonstration of distortion box use.

 

Particle baking and hair are a couple of those features I've never looked into, but it looks like Martin's team has come through again with some great tools.

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Mark, thanks for the props! ;)

Hey its about time this popped up. Great little examples uve posted for us to see.

I had been using the dboxes to create lipsynch and other facial posed. I was nesting them

into 1 pose that would activate the dboxes around the face, then I would create a new pose

for say the letter "a". that "a" pose would now would contain the dbox pose and the new coordinates

for the control points of the dbox. It was so nice and neat.

However, it stopped working and I did pester the powers that be to fix it.

I think martin was about to fly out to nyc to kill me....

 

So, what I do now... I have one bone for lower jaw and one bone for upper mouth, with a nose and eye bones as children

of the upper. So when I distort the upper mouth, the distortion carries over to the nose area and eyes. everything stays connected during distortion. Is so EZ :) but I would prefer the dbox to be nestled into the pose window.

 

Mike Fitz

www.3dartz.com

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I think martin was about to fly out to nyc to kill me....
Martin would NEVER do anything like that...he has 'people' to do that.

Head's up, Mike. James will be there at the end of the week (NY Comicon). Heath will be there Friday. You can run but you can't hide.

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Here's the model file... cleaned up a bit for you all. Just open a new action and rotate the facial controls to see what they do. I used mtpeak's style facial controls because they were quick and easy to set up for testing. There are lots of fine-tuning controls to play with in the pose sliders too.

 

If you want to add a distortion box, open an action and do New>Distort. Then set the target of the distortion box to "Head" bone. Go into muscle mode in the action and pull the distortion box CP's around to change the shape of the head.

 

CartoonHead_Sphere_2_1_09.mdl

 

 

Thanks, Mr. Simmons for taking a look. You da man!

 

3DArtZ.... Thanks for the description. I forget now if you posted any examples of that? Did you? I'll have to check the archives. Watch your kneecaps, too. Sounds like they're coming for you.

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