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Tuckertown and other Stories

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Sorry I've been off of the radar of late. A few weeks ago I decided to light myself aflame with gasoline. Note: I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS. The burns are not nearly as painful as the process of treating the burns. I have a new found respect for those burn center doctors/nurses/assistants and my sympathy for burn victims is tremendous. I am now well on the way to recovery... and the good news (for me)... I've found time to sketch with splines again and have been really enjoying that. I need to find my mouse because splining with a finger on a laptop is a royal pain.


Tuckertown is a project (of sorts) meant to be a drawn comic strip set in the late 1800s. The characters seemed to translate fairly well into CG so I may press further with modeling them. If nothing else it'd be good to build sets, props and characters for reference.



The (partial) models here are proof of concepts to see how difficult it will be to actually model them with the goal of proper articulation. Not all of the characters are fully designed yet so I've been splining and experimenting all along the way. Characters attempted thus far:



-Daisy Lou

-Betty Lou

-Cindy Lou


Main Characters to go:

-P.T. Boombottom


-the animals


And of course, the complete set/stage for Tuckertown!


Will I continue to explore Tuckertown... I dunno. Probably.

But I've been sidetracked modeling robots and Kirby-krackle lately.


One of the real challenges is to deal with tall and short characters within the same shot/camera viewing area.

I may have to rethink that aspect. Having all characters look like they belong to the same universe is an important consideration as well.


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Thanks for the well-wishes.


To answer the question of what/how? (Not for the squeamish or those with vivid imagination)


For the past three months I've been cutting down trees and burning brush to clean up my sisters place in Illinois. It's the place that I lived in before I joined the military and it's been a great little place to return. With one week left before heading back to Japan to collect my family and move them back to Illinois my sister and I dug into final work around the house; throwing away shingles left over from a replaced roof and cutting limbs back from nearby trees so they wouldn't fall on the new roof. With a fire set to the brush I was off to get rid of the last couple of loads of shingles and that's when I got stupid. I thought a little gasoline added to the back of the brush would (eventually) get the fire really going. It did. The fire had burned through further underneath the brush than I thought. At this point I can only guess what happened but... somehow the majority of fuel in the little bottle ended up on my shirt. (Interesting Note: To look at the shirt is one of life's ponderables because with the exception of one tiny dot, there is no evidence that it was ever burned. So my conjecture is that most of my injuries are from the fuel itself burning and not from me burning.)


Fastforward to today and I'm well into my third week of recovery and my face now looks severely sunburned. I'll spare you further details and just say I'm thankful it wasn't worse. The Doc said no skin grafts required and the prognosis is for a full recovery.


Notes to self: Learn not to burn. Stop/Drop/Roll works (Don't stay in the Stop faze too long though... in my case I really needed to get to the drop and roll stuff. Do not do stupid things with gasoline and fire especially near the very end of a days work. Do not ruin the evening wiener roast. Do not needlessly worry a lot of family and such. Etc.


So, onward!


Daisy Lou is blushing.

She'll pass on the compliments to her younger sisters at the earliest opportunity.

She assumes you weren't talking about Eda.


Daisy Lou is the short grey haired um... lady.

Her sisters: Cindy Lou is the brunette and Betty Lou is the blonde (I think).


I was reworking Betty's body yesterday and frankenstein'd some quickly modeled hands onto her. I guess that'll do for now.

In order to get the style I'm going for in Cindy and Betty's faces I'm playing with the idea of having several default faces that get swapped out.


Here's a shot of Betty's reworked body (I expect the face to change a lot):


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Emptying a vacuum cleaner full of sawdust onto a fire produces much the same effect. Luckily, we were having a Minnesota cold snap and I was wearing a jacket, so only the hands got burned. I feel your pain. Literally.


Tuckerville...no Sophie? :-)

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Here's a sketching update of sorts...


This isn't quite a Tuckertown update but rather than start a new WIP I figure I'll just post this here. I have been making progress with Tuckertown but mostly in the refinement of look of the characters. Translating from drawings to 3D is always a challenge because in drawing there are so many cheats you can perform that don't directly transfer into three dimensions.


This 'cat' was created when I started to throw down some random splines and it looked a little like an animal's head. I kept pushing it in that direction and came up with something that vaguely reminds me of a hyena from Disney's Lion King (the face... not the body). The rough body was added because I thought I would donate the model to the community and the water was added mostly because I figured he should be doing something. Figured he might be suddenly distracted by his reflection in the water while looking for his next meal. He's not too bright but that sometimes works to his advantage. For instance, he's not afraid of the water. He does have some basic paws underneath there.


If I was to pursue this character he might be considerably more skinny, perhaps having his ribs showing prominently. This to suggest he is not particularly good at capturing his own meals but is still highly motivated by his hunger. I really need to start rigging characters because I know that seeing them fully rigged and articulated would further motivate me to refine and finish these.


I suppose this guy could be further modified and hang around Tuckertown with the forest critters as there is to be an occasional Aesop's Fables element to it. So that is a consideration.


Edit: This is the first Chor I've rendered with A:M's new default Ground Plane. Thus far I much prefer it to the old default. I may not have to delete/replace it as often.


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  • 1 month later...
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More unrelated stuff but I did move forward in a couple areas.

This image is a very loose attempt to bring the principles of squash and stretch and straights vs curves a little closer into how I animate in Animation:Master. The real trick for me is in how to maintain the sense that I am 'drawing' while animating computer characters. It's not an easy thing to do but little by little I'm getting closer.


Sorry for the lame graphics. This is largely just a note to myself so I don't forget the gains of today... tomorrow. :lol:





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I suppose the irony is that this was worse than any injury you got in the military?


The jury is still out on whether the broken leg was more painful than the burns. Both flukes... both could have/should have been avoided. What's funny (in a tragic kind of way) is that in both instances I had gone out of my way to help someone and shouldn't have been there to have the accident in the first place. Now THAT is irony. A good friend of mine might call it a 'moronic sense of responsibility'. ;)


As far as the explanation on igniting myself on fire. I had spent the better part of three months cutting down trees and burning brush at the place I lived at before entering the USAF and just before I made the move to go back to Japan to retrieve my family I agreed to help with some last minute cleanup. In the process I made a series of errors (shortcuts!) that in my haste caused a bottle's worth of gasoline to get exploded back into my chest and face. For a moment it got kidda hot. I did the ol' panick, drop and roll and (apparently) managed to get the fire out before it did extensive damage. The burns were bad enough that I got a trip to the Iowa Burn Center where they did more painful things to me than either the broken leg or the burn. By my estimation, my saving grace (besides God himself) was that while the fuel itself was burning...I wasn't directly burning and I (mostly) managed to get the flames out before the fire ran out of fuel and started using me as it's fuel. The heat damage was then what I spent the majority of the last three months recovering from. People I meet that don't know the tale are surprised because they say they would have never guessed that I'd ever been burned.



I've got a pretty graphic photo that was taken by my sister about an hour after the accident if'n you ever want to see the full effects.

I looked like a poorly splined model with bad displacement maps fer sure. If I hadn't been so miserable I might have taken daily pics so that I could put together an animation of the healing process. Hint: It is really really slow process and just when you think your 'healed', new wounds appear out of nowhere and the healing process seems to start over. The doctor knew her stuff though. She said I would fully recover and shouldn't have any scars to show for the adventure. I have a few as of this moment and my chest looks seriously sunburned but I can easily live with that.


I have a lot to be thankful for.


I like your style Rodney


Thanks Gene!

I'm working on it.


I'm hoping to get that style translating into the computer one of these days and almost feel like I am on approach to getting that going.

I've long said that 2020 was going to be my year and way back then I thought that'd give me a good cushion of time to ramp up to it.

2020 is going to be here soon so I need to get movin'! :)


I should say though that while I do have a style I try to morph my style to fit the particular project I'm working on.

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Here's a character I came up while recovering from my burns (I had a lot of time to sit and draw).


As I doodled more and more characters formed and slowly a story came together about an outlaw cowboy who awakens in the middle of a misty desert with no memory of how he arrived save one, that he must track down a man and kill him; the unsuspecting Sheriff of a peaceful town. On the trail to his prey the Mystr'y Rider discovers a companion; a horse that when the mists decend upon the high desert planes into the valleys can speak into the rider's mind. As he follows the trail even stranger things begin to happen as skeletons arise from their graves to follow after him (some secretly plotting to end his life). Two skeletons break away from their posse and befriend the rider; an unhappy preacher and a orphaned child (you'd be unhappy too if you were suppose to be in heaven and got stuck taking care of a skeleton child. The tale chronicles how these unlikely companions finally track down the Sheriff and learn the real secret of the Mystr'y Rider.


Below is one of the initial drawings of the Mystr'y Rider (drawn in Coreldraw).

After my last post I thought I'd try to recreate the rider in 3D tonight and this is what came out.

Hopefully I'm heading in the right direction.


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Yeah! I am enjoying seeing how you are going about staying true to your drawing style(awesome) into 3D. On your mystery rider... I like the skin tone on your original art better than the orangy 3D... he looks... burned- dare I say. Glad to hear you are going to be okay. I do a lot of burning too, to get rid of yard debris. I take it slow and let the flame do the work. A nieghbor does it the other way... he'll douse the gasoline and motor oil on it AND THEN use a leaf blower to stoke it up... I call him 'born to be wild'- because in the old Steppenwolf song there is a line... "Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space..."

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At this point I don't think I've got any characters that are animation-ready. I am still very much at the earliest stages of research and development.

I may make myself a subject for the purpose of testing The Gauntlet, but I'd actually have to start producing stuff to get there. :rolleyes:


This guy... The Mystr'y Rider... would be really fun to animate.

I'm looking forward to animating a classic western shoot out with serious yet cartoony charters. :)


Added: One of the pluses of his design is that I wouldn't have to worry a lot about lipsync!

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On your mystery rider... I like the skin tone on your original art better than the orangy 3D... he looks... burned- dare I say.


I've been toying with the idea of giving him a slight burned look or scar protruding out from his mask but I'm trying to resist the urge to do that. There is a reason he hides his face and to put any kind of blemish on his face will work against the contrast of the big reveal at the end of the story. To all appearances, he's (suppose to look like) just a cute cartoony outlaw riding the mystic trails.


I just slapped a skin-like color on this model to indicate what the eventual color may be. No lighting or texturing that would approach the final look is intended. As far as color goes this is all coloring-book stage. I'm debating working in grayscale alone at these early stages but I've got to admit that I enjoy seeing some color.


Regarding your neighbor... look out buddy!

I've done similar fire starting many times but a series of events make this one cross the threshold of safety.

I'd gladly go into that sequence of events but I'd want to make sure I took the time to note all safety precautions as well so that others don't follow my lead.


It's interesting to note that there are some parallels to my burning within 'The Mystr'y Rider' but none of them were consciously created.

There is a reason that he's wearing that mask (besides just being an outlaw) and for now on that subject, that's all I've got to say. :)

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  • 7 months later...
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The second is a generic body type with minimal detail.

I was thinking of using a basic character like this as a stand in for background characters... (superhero types) but that's as far as my thinker got in moving that direction.


Note: No bones with this guy.


Quick exercises in spline modeling like this are highly recommended to loosen up and get the head back into the modeling game.

If nothing else they keep the splines flowing and who knows if someday they might not turn into something. :D



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  • 2 months later...
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This is more related to theory and technique than practice but I want to share it with the A:M Community before posting anything related elsewhere.

The OODA loop was initially a military concept (formulated by Colonel John Boyd to win... dominate... aerial firefights) but its application applies to almost everything... including... and in some ways especially... animation.


I occasionally kid myself and think that if I were ever to work on a masters thesis for animation the underlying focus would be in this arena.

I post this here primarily because I haven't moved forward with it but the concept itself is well worth exploration and application.


In combat (and competition) the objective is to shrink your own OODA loop while expanding that of your enemy.

Such time critical processing of information is vital in the martial arts but that application only scratches the surface in how Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action actually work. It's the ol' "Act, Plan, Do" but with an allowance for implied internal or/or external motivation.

As such it may provide a useful framework in establishing motivated characterization.


It's interesting to note that in the Disney sequence of four images shown the last is the gag or unexpected outcome.

This is the payoff point... where life's minor and major conflicts are lost and won and where opportunity for new experiences (learning, engagement and entertainment) reside. It is also the anticipatory stage for the next iteration in the never ending OODA cycle.


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Nice to see more on this, Rodney! Re-reading this thread I see it's just about a year since your burns. Healed by now? Many scars? Hopefully not.

Also interesting that you're finding applications in animation for your military training! I guess we all have the opportunity (obligation?) to put our life experiences into our creative pursuits.

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Healed by now? Many scars? Hopefully not.


No scars at all. Well, if you don't count the hospital bills I'm still paying...


As for bringing our experience forward into our creative endeavors I'm not sure we can avoid it.

Although... at times we should try. :P

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  • 3 months later...
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After more problems than I could stand with my laptop I finally broke down and purchased a new computer. (It's nice to be back on a desktop)

This 3D doodle of our favorite Tinkering Gnome (with friend) is the first thing that came out of the renderer.

Well, actually, this is a screen capture of what is currently running through the multipass renderer.

I was going to cover the ground with tons of leaves instead of snow but... I think I'll save that for another day.


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I am much older looking Rodney ...need to add some gray hairs...


These are the adventures of a much younger tinkering gnome.

Sooner or later those tales will need to be told.




To get the full look of the tinkering gnome decals will be necessary but I'm trying to refrain from using decals at present.

Surface properties via Patch Groups is the limit of coloring at this stage.


Unrelated to the gnome... but still using patch coloring...

I thought I'd attempt to recreate a character I designed awhile back for a friend's hand drawn animation project.

He's the villain of the piece.



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Now you need to start animating it!


Agreed! An obstacle... most of my 3D doodles aren't even worth rendering still frames much less full blown animation.

Still, if I ever run across a story worth being told I might be tempted to go for it.

In the meantime I'm pretty happy with minor fits of exploration.


Animating short takes of the Tinkering Gnome hard at work for forum banners and such... hmmm... that might be worth a go.



Edit: To provide a bit of insight into my general/present approach, I tend to explore an idea only as far as I need to see that I know that given approach will work. At that point I quickly lose interest in the experiment because I then know how much time and effort that approach will take to duplicate. This works for me because I have a lot of recipes that aren't likely to be fully cooked or served. ;)

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Please pardon the test...


This is a test of a workspace on Sony's new media cloud service.


5 Gigabytes free while in Beta but there should be some $ required once released*.

The cloud is sure to be a multiplier where it comes to collaborative projects and Sony is a major player so I figure it is worth the test.


Added: Here's a test of Sony's new media cloud sharing service (currently in Beta):


Tinkering Gnome in the spotlight (This is a simple JPG rendering)

Access to file is set to expire in 7 days. (page says 6)


And here is Thom:

Thom (available for 1 month)

(I see no way to assign a preview image to unknown file types... Beta feedback!)



For those curious here's the link to Sony's site: https://www.sonymcs.com/

The apps within the workspace (I see three entry points at present) are designed to review Audio, Video and Rought Cut.


The service is obviously designed for video so will be testing that out as well.



*Prices appear to be:

Standard: 5GB / $0 mo

Pro: 100GB / $25 mo Unlimited File Sharing

Pro+: 200GB / $50 mo Unlimited File Sharing

Teams: Contact for customization

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