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Weekly Update #16: Trouble on the Rocks

Today I found out we had lost one of our environment artists. It was a sad thing to hear, especially since we were already running low on environment props and artists. But it had been something I was preparing for too. I had created a short guide (23 pages) for our entire production pipeline after experiencing the rendering issues of last week. This was my attempt to try and halt some of the issues I knew may come up if the other artists were less experienced in programs like Zbrush, and was also an attempt to try and encourage some work out of people. Just in case the idea of not knowing what steps to take seemed like a bit of a daunting task to some of the second year students. Sadly we still lost one of our two artists after this, but I also decided to try and take some time to produce some of the props we may need too. I've been far too focused on making high end characters and creatures etc, I hadn't thought about how long it might take me to actually produce a simple prop for our production. Turns out getting something from Maya, into Zbrush, and back really isn't too hard. An hour and a halfs work resulted in this:
this is exactly the style of rock that I was hoping for. And now I know if I have time spare I can at least sculpt them. Detailing might be another issue however... I have recently purchased a student copy of Mari, hoping that this texturing program might give my work a bit of an edge when it comes to both this production and my portfolio. However after several days I've experienced nothing but problems. I'm now much closer than I was a few days ago, but every day I spend learning is another day I could've spent doing texturing using practices I already know work. But I want to develop as an artist, and I feel pushing myself like this will help. Now I've got more to grips with it, perhaps more texturing will be on the way. Speaking of Textures, new issues have arrived around my displacement maps. After talking to several tutors, I found that our original export of our character Keeva had some issues with the OBJ's. We had also decided to try a new texturing method when it comes to the eyes and eyelids considering the toon style of the animation. We'll be using custom textures for each expression. This however, meant new sculpting had to be done to remove some of the grooves within the characters head to better display them. This however is what we've resulted in ever since then: BEFORE:
AFTER:
No one seems to have any idea as to why this distorting of the hands and fingers is happening. It appears to be an Arnold issue, as a tutors experiements in Mental Ray seem to resolve the issue. However, our entire pipeline is based upon Arnold, and so we have to figure out how this is can be fixed. I've sent messages to several people, and forums. Hopefully by this time next week there'll be a solution available. As for the icon that is visible upon the rocks. I also managed to spend a day whilst I was waiting for replies to knock out more work required for the animation. Namely a logo to put on our production work and in our short.
The logo is essentially like one from an online game called 'Dofus', but it fits our needs quite well. And after several attempts to contact capable graphic designers, I've decided to take it into my own hands instead. Anyway, that's enough for this week. Wish me luck in resolving our displacement map problems!

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