Well, I have not posted anything on this site for a while. Other projects and life have had my attention, but I found time to do a little artwork again, and I'm happy with the result.
I have been wanting to experiment with anime and dynamic hair in Carrara again. This time, I wanted to produce crazy long flowing hair floating, twisting, and curving all over the place, as I often see in anime artwork. I think it is a really beautiful effect, so I tried to achieve it with dynamic hair. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Click the image to view it full size in my gallery.
This was made in Carrara 8.1.1 Pro. There are two hair groups: one for the front and one for the back. This is often important for allowing control of the front hair apart from the back. Its also important to ensure that the hair falling in front of the body is totally separate from the hair falling behind the body. If it was all one group, then the system might fill the space between the guide hairs in front and the guide hairs in back with interpolated hair. This would result in hair going right through her body. Also, you often want to adjust settings just for the front, because that hair is just different and you need more control over it than the back, which is usually just one big mess of hair.
I am using auto-grouping on both the front and back groups to further subdivide them into groups based on the relative position and paths of the guide hairs. Auto-grouping is both mysterious and wonderful. I say mysterious, because there is no good documentation on what the settings mean, nor is it obvious. I say wonderful, because it allows you to create these beautiful ribbons of hair without too much work. I don't know how desirable this would be for a more realistic image, but for anime-style, this is perfect, since anime hair is always clumped into thick groups and ribbons like this.
My Auto Grouping settings are:
Angle: 9.2 Degrees
Distance Along: disabled
My process was to get the guide hairs in the general shape I wanted through a combination of partial draping and brushing. Then I used the Move tool to almost randomly drag and position the back guide hairs into a nice inter-weaving pattern. You have to do this with the Point midway part of the time and at the end part of the time. For the front, I took more care to position the guide hairs exactly where I wanted them. Maybe you can do better than I did, but this was my best with the time I had available.
I started out wanting to make a cel-shaded image, but I changed my mind when I saw how beautiful everything looked with the Sky Light (Global Illumination) turned on. I had to reduce the density of the hair to keep it from being too dark and shadowy under the hair, but then it produced a fantastic effect. Also, the hair shader is almost the same color from start to finish. The finish is a little more saturated yellow, but not by much. Its important that the beginning color not be too dark, since the lighting is so dim under the hair. In addition to this there is one distant light to replicate sunlight. The intensity of the Sky Light is 200%, but the Distant Light is only 50%. Any more intensity on that Distant Light washes out the image too much.
I still may do a cel-shaded version too. If you want to see that, send me a tweet (@digitani) or contact me however is convenient for you.
I finally got around to doing some more animation. This time, I was concentrating on the actual character animation, rather than materials, lights, or rendering techniques. In this animation, Aiko 3 sidekicks Hiro 3, and he goes flying in an exaggerated way, like you might see in anime or cartoons. I keyframed Aiko's sidekick and Hiro's flight through the air, but I used Poser Physics to create the animation for him hitting the ground. My main goal was to combine keyframing and Poser Physics to produce a nice result, and I think I succeeded.
My first instinct was to use Poser Physics to simulate everything from the point Hiro got kicked, but it turns out that this does not work very well. To simulate the impact and result in Poser Physics, you must put a primitive in the scene and keyframe it to hit Hiro. This works, but if you make the primitive hit Hiro hard enough to send him flying, then the figure explodes (a common problem in Poser Physics simulations). I decided that I just needed to simulate the part of Hiro's fall where he actually hits the ground. The fly through the air does not need to be complicated, but when he hits the ground, he needs to bounce and collapse, ragdoll style. I tried just letting him fall from just above the ground, but that did not cause him to hit with sufficient impact, so then I tried letting him fall from the maximum height of his flight path, but just straight down on his back. This was the correct approach, because this produced a simulation of him hitting the ground in the right position with the right velocity. All I had to do was trim off the last piece of animation and use it at the point where Hiro hits the ground in my sidekick animation. It worked wonderfully.
Also, I exported that bit of animation where Hiro hits the ground as an animated pose in Poser, so now I can reuse it over and over. At first, I did not know if that would work, because he is oriented in a certain position for all of those keyframes that were created by Poser Physics. It turns out that this is OK, because the body transformation does not have any keyframes, so I can just rotate and translate the entire body as a whole and the rest of the animation follows. Excellent!