B is for Ben: 3D model retopology by Rok Andic

Retopology is one of those things that outside of rigging and modeling nobody wants to hear about. It is however essential to good puppet deformation. It is one of those things that I constantly try to evolve from character to character. I do not know whether this is from the ever evolving technology or simply because I like to constantly try new things. For Ben I decided to go with the simple idea of “better safe than sorry” and added extra edges wherever I had problems in the past. This also means that I’ll have to deal with those edges even if they are unnecessary.

In the past I would create only as much spans as I thought I would need. The reasons being simple. Capturing (or “binding”, depending on the software you use) is much easier with less topological data and animation playback is faster which is essential when the puppet is animated. This is great if you nail just the right amount of edge spans you need, but if you don’t and you need extra edges you are in trouble. Adding those extra details later is time consuming to say the least.

The face

The face is the most important because it carries so much deformation. I spend most of the time for retopology on the face. The areas I spend most time on are always those which deform most. In this case the eyes and the mouth.

I start by dividing the character into specific zones and layout each one separately. The zones being: eyes, lips, nose, cheeks, brows. I make sure each zone works well before merging and overlapping with the neighbouring zones.

For the eyes I divided it into 9 spans and for the mouth 13 spans. This should be enough to carry all the deformation I have in mind for this character. In the past I tried with less and blend shapes are faster to create but for some specific expressions I found it tricky to support extreme shapes with less spans. As I wrote “better safe than sorry”. Also if this character would perform a lot of close up acting shots I would probably add a few extra spans.

The body

The body can be tricky, especially in the shoulder and hip area. I don’t mind adding a few extra spans here. The shoulder always needs a lot of corrective deformations and it is just better to have some extra spans “just in case” to hold the shape. The same is with fingers. Especially the thumb area. Added extra spans this time.

Rigid elements

Helmet, jetpack and front button panel are mostly rigid objects which will not deform as much as the rest of the body. For this reason I kept the number of edges on the lower side.

Next steps

This model is now going back to Zbrush to create displacement maps and final details.

B is for Ben by Rok Andic

It’s new year and for me it’s time to start working on the next film in “The Mellifluous Peculiar” series. I have been thinking a lot about which film to start after “A is for Al….” and have decided for a comic, easy going sci-fi story I have written a few years ago. The title of the film is “B is for Ben” and the script is more or less finished. I’ll start preparing some concept art which I’ll post on this blog.

I should also note that with this film I’ll post as the film comes along. I started blogging at the end of “A is for Al….” and thus I could only present finished material of the finished film. With “B is for Ben” you can expect more “work-in-progress” material which means more raw material as it happens. Hopefully you will find this interesting and get a better look at making these short films.

Happy new year to everyone and hope you already work on some wonderful project. And if you don’t, why not make it happen by starting one of your own :)


A is for Al....: The final film by Rok Andic

Finally finished! It’s been fun working on this one and a lot has been going on during the production. I learned a lot by trying new things: choosing Houdini as the main 3d software which proved to be a great decision, new rigging techniques I’ve never tried before, experimenting with the way I approach animating shots… all really makes me feel even more happy about the whole film :)

I’ll write more about these topics in detail in the coming weeks on this blog but for now let me just share the film with you that I hope you’ll enjoy. And if you would like to learn more about the film you can check the project page where you can see additional production images and background information about the film.