Archive for the ‘Computers/Technology’ Category

I recently downloaded 3D studio max as part of the Autodesk Student community.  I decided that the human figure made most sense for a first major project, since it covers most basic organic contours that I would need to be able to create, while allowing me to focus on the models rather than the texture mapping, rendering, and lighting aspects (at the basic level).  Three days in, this is what I have so far:


I am just using a simple four-point lighting scheme for now.  I ultimately plan to finish up the body and then work on posing and expression.  The dress design is a modified version of a handkerchief dress that I drew in vector format as part of the “Only One Camillia” dress-up doll Flash that I’ve never released to the public, which in turn was based on a brown paisley handkerchief dress on Kaboodle that I saw a few years back.  The pattern here is the calming “sea-scope” from DinPattern.  Pale blue and brown is one of my latest color-pairing obsessions, although I’m still trying to tweak the brown to the right shade.

Here is a wireframe (with opaque faces to reduce clutter; rest assured that she does have a back of the head).  You can see a few oddities, especially near the lip (which is why the lips look weird).  Ideally, the lip orifice should have been modeled radially just like the eye sockets and breasts.  I’ll probably go back and refine the polygons near the lips later on.

Wire 1h

Continuing with the ‘colors’ series, here’s BLACK.  This time, I wanted to practice using perspective.



It’s really interesting to me how differently this turned out compared to ORANGE.  The original nucleus of each image is simply a pair of jeans dyed a certain color.  From that nucleus comes a style, a color palette, and ultimately the personality of the model.  I find it interesting how much of an identity can be packed into a simple portrait like this.  There’s something subversive about her childish expression over the backdrop of adolescent intellectual rebellion – a conscious self-parody of conformity to nonconformism stemming from precocious maturity.  The ignorance and mastery of emotional lability reside on either side of the ‘emo’ subculture, and she embraces both.

Now, which color shall I explore next?

First in an anticipated series of color-themed character drawings with the goal of melding together CG line art with a light watercolor approach to coloring.  Specifically, I’m trying to use much fewer base colors (palette of only about a half dozen colors), similar to the watercolor cake set that I use.  Here, the base colors are: orange, beige, gray, grass green, skin-tone+rose, and light brown.



Color palette

Good old platforming games like Super Mario or Banjo-Kazooie focus much more on traps, puzzles, and secrets than on character development. Nevertheless, I’ve come to realize that when you play such a game, you are forced to assume a certain personality – headstrong, risk-taking, meddling, for better or for worse. Without pressing forward, nothing changes. In real-time strategy games, you can play defensively (“turtle”); in RPGs you can endlessly train to become stronger and thus minimize the risk of defeat. But in the platformer, you are left naked, with minimal verbal/written instruction and a usually comparatively small amount of “health.”

When I was younger, it was very easy to play these sorts of games. I would just keep going, and frequently, I would die in the process of figuring out what to do. But having recently picked up Banjo-Tooie (the sequel to Banjo-Kazooie), I’ve realized that I’m a lot more unwilling to just blindly charge forward as I was before. I am more drawn to the “hometown.” It takes a conscious effort to force myself into the crushing machine or to enter a new tunnel while still transformed into a “detonator” (which can only attack by self-destruction which is eventually fatal).</p>

<p>I think the more enmeshed I become in society, the more my aspirations become public, the less I am willing to invest myself in risky propositions.  I turn more to the people I know best, rather than counting on strangers; I reveal personal secrets and thoughts to a smaller circle of people rather than using online forums.  But in an age where progress in incremental, only people who hop on the risky limbs have a chance of making any sort of splash.  Hopefully by continuing through this game, I can regain some of that adventurous spirit I used to have, rather than deferring to someone else to test the waters.</p>

No wasted weekend is complete without a bit of city-building simulation.  I’ve been working on a new city (subsection of a city) called South Spyristais.  I’ve become a lot less interested in metropolises with towering skyscrapers, although having a downtown is nice.  But the focus of this suburb-y city is color and space.  I uncovered the PEG PPond & Stream kit (plugin – you build the scenes tile-by-tile) and constructed this “artificial” lake surrounded by seasonal trees (the game’s default trees are green year-round).  Even though natural spaces waste valuable land (and hence potential tax revenue), there’s no character to a place that lacks them.

Continue reading ‘[726] Labor Day Weekend, IV’ »

After struggling with lighting 3D models, I finally came across a nice and simple tutorial that explained how to set up a basic three-point lighting scheme.  What a difference it makes … .  Eyes are still creepy though.
Better lighting

Swift 3D v6.  Temporary eye texture from renderosity tutorials (by nezbitten)
render 1

render 3

The main exercise was the head, so here are side and front views in wire and flat shading:

The back of the head is deformed because once I drew in the hair, it was no longer a priority.  Swift 3D is somewhat more difficult to use for this purpose because it is difficult to “grow” a mesh bit by bit, and the polygons are strictly triangle-based, as opposed to quadrilaterals as seen in other programs.  Large arrays of triangles are just conceptually much harder to visualize in 3D.

I fashioned this head out of a box which was 4h x 2w, duplicated across the midline.

… hug everyone who helped to make something this spectacular … for a free product.  Ten years ago, I would never have believed that a map could look like this.  This is a view of Beacon Hill and the Commons, which I walk over whenever I get off the T at Park Street to get to lab in the morning.
View of Beacon Hill and East Boston

Released just over a week ago, Luka MEGURINE already has quite a few songs to her name (I can’t imagine such a quick turnaround unless users already had synth tracks prepared long before Megurine’s release).  Despite the fact that Vocaloid2 “raw” technology has not improved dramatically since the release of Miku HATSUNE in 2007, composers and arrangers have been able to apply more and more realistic editing techniques while also identifying unique niches for Vocaloid which capitalize on effects that cannot be achieved through the human voice (such as the blending of Vocaloid with synthetic background and extended range or stamina).  Below are a few links to Megurine songs that I liked:

Lost My Music

A cover of the Suzumiya Haruhi insert song, remixed in a really nice bossa nova style.  This song, while not an original, exemplifies what you can achieve through careful sound editing.  Just typing in some notes and words does not yield anything near this quality of voice emulation.


One of the more unique aspects of this third iteration of Vocaloid2 is the shift towards a more mature voice, and correspondingly a company-suggested shift in repertoire.  Noticeably, while Miku Hatsune controls the bubblegum pop / techno niche, Megurine’s voice suits the character of jazz and rock more comfortably.  I think this song is well-done.

Ave Maria

This is a bizarre and haunting “remix” of Schubert’s Ave Maria, capitalizing on the main “new feature” with Megurine Luka, namely English support.  Realistically, what this means is that she’s able to terminate on consonants, which was not previously available.  This arranger, who also did a curious arrangement of Debussy’s Reverie (, focuses on the grand effect rather than the shooting for the lofty goal of convincing the listener that the singer is human (which is near impossible at this stage).

Neighbor Lawn

The ‘video’ to this song is really beautiful, which is my main reason for including this song here.  I like the chord progressions, although the voice touch-up quality is rather poor.

Transient Future

Pretty standard Vocaloid pop fare, but like “Lost My Music,” I think this is among the best examples of sound editing to come out.

One of the greatest challenges in Spore is to make something that resembles a human.  I think this is the best I can do without using the Creepy and Cute expansion.  While it’s a somewhat silly to be trying to make humans in the one game that lets you play as anything BUT a human, there’s a marvel associated with creating the human likeness, especially when you’re starting with a little vertebrate blob as a starting point.  My Spore models are nowhere near as complex or fine-tuned as many I’ve seen, but I have to say, this doesn’t look too bad.  Now, if only Spore actually had *female* voices in the Tribal/Civ/Space stages @_@ it’s so messed up hearing that same old MALE voice.