Screenshots of an alien!

I’ve been modelling this alien in Maya 2017, and after loads of time & work, here he is! I took some screenshots of him in various poses with different expressions while I’ve been animating with and getting used to the guy. Even though he’s my first full 3D character that I’ve ever made i think he came out really well, and even though i can see where i could make improvements, that’s part of the learning process and he’s still really expressive and capable of animating with, so i’m happy and gonna chalk this up as a success! 😛


Thanks for checking out my little green alien 😛

edit: Moar!! From bits I’ve been animating.


Edit again: EVEN MOAR!! AND NOW SHINY!!!!!



Finishing off rigging in Maya

So I’ve finally got a fully rigged character and he’s nearly ready to go! I’ve gotten a lot more familiar with working in 3D and am really looking forward to modelling more 3D characters in the future. I also want to model some different locations full of stuff! (interiors, exteriors with different environments and def want to tackle water as well) And generally hone my modelling skills as well. Before this project i guess i was still on the fence about 3D in a lot of ways, it took me a bit to get past how Maya works, and I’ve still got a lot to learn (and prove) but I’ve definitely developed a passion for 3D now! Lets just see if i can animate something now..


I think i forgot to connect/parent the knee and elbow controls properly – they still work, but they don’t follow the rig unless its the top control, or waist actually i’m not sure if i did that now i think about it. This doesn’t really affect anything as he’s not going to be moving around a lot really and its a very short animation so it shouldn’t be a problem.


He’s great at limbo..7

Seriously good actually! 😛


Testing the shoulder control again to see how its working before beginning the skin bind.


And now his neck..


Now that the character is completely rigged its time to bind the skin before animating. Everything you do on one side is done to the other mirrored side as well, which is super convenient!


You can see in the picture below that i was having some difficulty with the fingers here, which was a bit of a headache for a while but i was able to figure it out so that it looked less insane looking!




I’m actually thinking an animation with broken models would actually be really cool if the story was done right. The characters would not be restricted by the laws of known physics! Well they’d look and move all gnarly – the animation would have to be at a really good level to really make the most of the messed up models. Just a thought for now anyway, probs a side thing when I’ve done a few more models in Maya and have some stuff to mess around with.


I sorted it, eventually..


It took a while but i think i figured it out, mostly..

Screenshot (180).png



Now that the hands were all rigged up and the skin bind was

I double checked every joint and bone i could to make sure the body would not bend incorrectly when animating. After sorting the fingers out i was definitely feeling confident!





My alien character is finally finished! He’s not perfect but i can begin to animate using him now! You can probably tell from this picture (below) that I’ve managed to squeeze his arms at the shoulders a bit as I’ve been getting used to animating the rig -i think the arms are not binded correctly to the skin, after all my checking.. (Doh!) I think i should have added more mass to his shoulder area – although i’m sure i could fix this model and make it bend right, i did myself no favours with the way i modelled his upper arm/shoulder area. But a lot of him came out great, for some reason i’m overly pleased with his ear/antennas! So its not a total failure. Yet..


I’ve got very little time left to actually animate this guy for the project. I spent so much time coming up with different ideas and didn’t get ahead of the tutorials, then i changed my idea a few times, i’m not sure when i decided to make him an alien – pretty sure that was because he looked like one anyway as i was modelling him and i thought i could give him antenna things. I have an idea now but with only days left in the deadline i’m just going to try and do as much as i can. I have learnt so much by modelling and rigging my this character, i can’t wait to see him in action!


*If i have time it could be cool to do some thought bubbles in 2D that represent how he’s really feeling – something to help convey his feelings. At this point my animation has no plans for anything 2D and its supposed to be a hybrid animation of sorts really. If i’m going to have a white background, and i think i might, i could always add some simple drawn details to the background afterwards.


Alien character – Script

This project is to:

Create a conflicted character, where what they say and what they think and feel differs wildly. Using body language and facial expression to communicate one thing whilst language and speech says something else.

So i have chosen to do a story about an alien who isn’t very good at his job. He doesn’t have the best attitude about it either, he doesn’t really care about what people think. So he’s sarcastic. To fulfill the part about his body language and speech being different to what he is saying i thought sarcasm was a great fit. The audience and the person he’s speaking to both realise he does not mean it, the sarcasm is meant to be clear to everyone- maybe with some progression to the tone of the sarcasm – becoming more obvious he is not being serious with his response.

Here are some pages from my notebook that i made about this character and the story i am  trying to tell with him.


Outline – An alien (A) goes to see alien (B), to check he has done his job right, because last time he didn’t do his job right it was not good! (A) asks (B) if he has done his job this time and (B) responds annoyed that he did the job (ok get off my back man!) and when alien (B) pushes for a more definitive response he is sarcastic and lets all his feelings out in that moment. (B) treats  (A) like he is always showing up bothering him – and he only screwed up once so its not fair!! But as it turns out (B) did forget and ends up feeling silly and embarrassed for being so confident this time.

This will allow me to animate the character in a few different feelings (annoyed, impatient, angry, embarrassed, nervous) – which should show that he is a conflicted character who would like to tell the other alien to ‘swearword’ off!! It’s not that this character is flawlessly hiding his emotions or feelings, but trying not to let them out completely – which is hiding his true feelings.


What he says – I did the job ok!?! (or also sarcastically – noooo i didn’t do it because i’m stupid!).

What he means – I don’t care about your stupid job just stop bothering me! (he is very forgetful and also pretty grumpy and lazy so..)


*I actually really like the robot bit, but i don’t know that i will use it in the final animation.




A – ‘Hey my alien friend!! How is it today with you today? I am enjoying speaking as the humans do my good-friend!!’

B – *not enthused to see alien A. Rolls his eyes at him as he speaks human but smiles meekly at him.

A – ‘So my fellow alien chum-bob, did you make sure to do your job-employment today?’

B – *nods and maybe a small quiet gruff annoyed yes.

A – ‘Ok so EXCELLENTS! You did the job then?’

B – ‘Noooooooo’ (big and over the top sarcastic no).

A – ‘Hey! My friend i think maybe you are not so very serious about your job-role today? Perhaps you would like some oranges to feel more appropriate for living? Last time it was your job-reason to get the humans back to earth-ground after abducto-probe, and you-hoo forgooo-ot! (B = hands on hips and annoyed expression here) But of course, you did it today, Affirmative my fellow alien buddy-pal?’

B – *clearly annoyed. through gritted teeth – ‘Of course. How could i forget.’

A – ‘Remember how the humans got free into the glooby-dooby? woohoohoo! We were cleaning that mess up for.. ohhh.. a long time i think huh?’

B – ‘Yeah that was the best!’

A – ‘Hmm. Perhaps i am remembering it differently to you, but i am satisfied-happy that you have done the work-job so i will say goodbye to you today buddy-friend.’

B – *smiles really wide and eyes closed. ‘ok great thanks’

A – ‘Well, keep up all the good-great work you are uhhhhhhhhh…’

*Alarm goes off.

B – *reacts to the alarm by being embarrassed, shocked and at the same time he’s totally not surprised because he knows he didnt do the job..

A – *still going: ‘uhhhhhhhhh..’ in the background.

B – *Starts laughing.


(I have written the sideways writing from my sketchbook in the picture above here:)


As you can see i have not completely finalised my idea into a finished working story – or at least i keep changing little things with every draft and iteration, which is a problem i seriously need to get over – i keep taking it into different directions instead of just making it work and going with something! However I am going to basically move forward with what i have at this point because i wont have enough time to animate if i don’t – and some of the changes i want to make are cosmetic and not really important. I am already right up against it with this project, and really need to take this as a lesson in time management and planning. At this point if i can get some scenes in and finished on time i’ll be happy. am not convinced by my idea in terms of a full interesting story for an audience, we’ll see anyway.. but i do think that it will allow me to show a character who is conflicted and feeling things- saying one thing but thinking and feeling another. So at least it gives me the opportunity to create something useful and show that i can animate a character that I’ve rigged together.

Having run over the initial deadline i have had another look at my idea and simplified it a bit. Basically a character behind the camera sees our alien friend and goes to say hello. The alien is not happy to see this character -they are too happy! – but they say nice things even though they look and sound like death! The below images make some more sense of this idea and i drafted a script:


Very rough storyboard idea for this simple animation:



Rigging a character in Maya!

This post is in reverse order, which just makes it more interesting right? I guess i screwed up the order when i uploaded them, but its a post that shows my progression with rigging a character in Maya (not a tutorial!) and it still does that job alright so i’m leaving it like it is.

When you want to create a more uniquely shaped control you can do this by going to ‘create’-‘curve tools’-‘ep curve tool’

Pressing ‘x’ in a top view allows you to snap onto the grid and draw out shapes like arrows and whatever.


You can just use circles for knee and elbow controls by going to ‘create’-‘NURBS ‘primitives’-circle.


As shown in the next screenshot.


The complicated process of parenting stuff to stuff.


The next screenshot shows most of the controllers are in place now!!


Moving the pivot point into the centre of a joint.


From ‘uniform’ to ‘chord length’ in the ‘ep curve tool’ when creating a unique controller.


Putting in the bones (remember the images are all in the wrong order..)


Mirroring the joints across (make sure the right axis) and replacing left with right which is super convenient!


The next screenshot shows almost if not all the expressive shape abilities i made for the character in the shape editor, hopefully i will have enough options when animating, i tried to take that into account when creating all the different facial movement. The ears move around (up for shock and around for general movements) and the throat moves for when hes talking.


You may have noticed i have an error on a lot (almost all) of these screenshots,this error message i think:

// Error: file: C:/Program Files/Autodesk/Maya2017/scripts/others/drInit.mel line 1961: Object ” not found. 

And i did some research, as i was a bit worried about it, but it seems to be something that just happens and doesn’t really affect anything. Here’s a fix that i found though:

“Mesh Tools > Show Modeling Toolkit” select the multi-component option.
Then go back to object mode and the red spam in the log is Gone. [1]

From an internet forum.So this makes the error go away it seems, for now..


So here’s my alien character with most of his controllers! But they still need parenting and whatever so there’s still work to be done before i can animate with him.



Starting to make the finger controls in this screenshot. These controllers will have a roll attribute added which will make it easier to pose the fingers into a fist or whatever.


Also put some shoulder controls in as well!


There’s a lot of stuff around the model by the end of it, but it will all be worth it when i come to animating the character.


Parented the knee controls to the feet so they move together.



Modelling a character in Maya continued

*For anyone who ends up here looking for a tutorial, this probably isn’t what you want. Buuuut I’ve taken a bunch of screenshots of the process, so that’s something. 

Anyway Maya crashed and i lost the head and stuff that i had modelled last time, and i didn’t have an auto-save set-up remind me to always set up the auto-save! I found my most recent version, i still had the body modelled, so it wasn’t so bad really – just more practice using Maya!



To make the head you use a cube not a sphere, and then you turn that cube into a sphere.


So i made a little alien guy, and my idea for the animation has adapted somewhat. Instead of being a relatively vague ‘did you do the thing’ its going to be one alien asking the other (known to be lazy and negligent) alien if they put the humans back after abduction and probing, or if he forgot again. To which the alien will be really sarky and reply like ‘yeah, i forgot AGAIN because i’m an idiot who can’t remember anything!’ And the other alien will be like, ‘ok but last time you forgot and this hilarious thing i cant think of right now happened that made you look foolish, remember?’ and then the other replies ‘What time? i don’t remember any time? humph!’ (still all sarcastic and whatever). And then lights flash and an alarm sounds, and a look of ‘oh dang’ comes over the aliens face as he realises he actually did forgot. He looks at the other alien (off-screen so he will look at camera or wherever he’s already been addressing when talking) with a sheepish smile, ‘Sooo, I think i might have forgot something…’ or probably something funnier and/or cooler than that.


That’t the vague idea now anyway -and I’ve got an alien modelled and ready to be rigged for animating.


I had a little bit of trouble with the UV. As i had managed to overlap a couple vertex’s on the feet and hands. After going over the model a little bit i was able to fix everything (i think) and it all turned out ok.


See, it pretty much turned out ok. And now he’s a totally awesome little green alien man!


Now comes the expressions! This part of the process was actually pretty fun – just pulling his face around to make different expressions, keeping the face looking natural with the movements and experimenting a little with how far you could pull the face around.


I started with blinks – each eye is blinked separately, each eyebrow, etc – so they can be moved independently later when animating. I used the soft-selection to pull his face around as well because it meant that curves and stuff would follow a little bit and although its hard to describe what i mean it was really useful.


I did a number of passes over each expression from various angles to make sure it looked right as i was pulling it around.


Combining a few different expressions to see how they look together – its really cool seeing the character start to come alive!


Mouth open (above) – Mouth closed (below).


Mouth open (above) and closed (below) again from another angle.


Aww he looks so sad!! I have been thinking if it would be possible to animate this guy in 3D and then render out the shots – then batch them into Photoshop taking out all the backgrounds – then adding in a 2D background that I’ve drawn (possibly in TV paint – a few looped backgrounds or something) and having the 3D alien character appear to be in a 2D world or whatever. This is supposed to be a sort of hybrid animation according to the brief so it would be good if i adhered to that with my final animation.

What is still most important to me is that i am able to model, rig and animate a full 3D character in Maya. Also now the audio lip-syncing is going to be key to making the animation look good – and would be great practice anyway. Then adding the 2D background stuff is next on the list depending on time and stuff. I’m thinking of a simple spaceship interior with a window that has some stars going by very slowly. That’s pretty much it.


I am really pleased with how this little guy is shaping up – just need to rig the model and then begin animating!! I followed the tutorial for the most part – giving him different ears and adding a belly button, also making him a little bit chunkier in the arms and the feet and neck are done slightly differently but look pretty much the same, so I’ve added my own style to this guy a little bit. I’m definitely much more confident in Maya now, and I feel like i understand what I’ve done wrong when i go wrong (mostly) and how to fix things as well – which is great – and hopefully there will be more cool 3D stuff is to come!


Modelling a character in Maya

*For anyone who ends up here looking for a tutorial, this probably isn’t what you want. Buuuut I’ve taken a bunch of screenshots of the process, so that’s something. 

The first thing i did was take the three perspective drawings which were provided with the tutorial and set up my work-space. Top, side and front view drawings of the character I was going to be modelling. I lowered the opacity of the reference images and once they were all correctly in place i turned them into a reference layer.


Now the space was ready i could begin modelling, starting with the body. It began life as a simple cylinder, which i shaped using the reference layers in the differentperspectives.


I cut the cylinder in half and deleted one side, as i would be modelling one half and then mirroring it to create the full finished and symmetrical model.


The drawings are not drawn exactly perfectly lined up, but i just made some slight changes, which was fine, and really they were only there as references anyway – but i was able to be a bit more fluid and start sculpting away from the drawings a little bit to make the character/model look a bit different.


In the end it all came together really quickly following the tutorials. I’m not finished yet though, got to finish the model and then rig it up ready for animating. I feel much more confident modelling a character, just got to master rigging in Maya and then actually animating a full character.

Class notes -Genre

What is genre? It’s a French word meaning kind/type. Words related to genus – science classification. Making distinctions in science is easier / straightforward.The term was borrowed from literature.

The concept of genre relies on generic conventions –  a set of conventions that are employed and identifiable – relies on audience expectations. So we would expect a horror to shock and scare us, etc – to meet out expectations. The generic conventions are determined by a variety of factors – especially true for motion picture.

Plot elements might be conventional, for example investigations in mystery films – usually to a conclusion that is not expected or like revenge in westerns. Love triangles in romances.

Characters can also be conventional. The femme fatale. The comic sidekick. The nerdy scientist. The smart know-it-all.

Thematic conventions. Loyalty and obedience in a hong kong martial arts film – you killed my master, i will honor him! Space operas have the fight against tyranny and oppression.

Characteristic film techniques. Single source lighting in film noir, ramping in modern action films and musical cues in melodramas. Jump scares in horror – cow-prod cinema.

Ramping in action films is basically when switching between slow-motion and fast motion. Example of ramping in film:

In this example we see the character; sherlock holmes, is thinking quicker than his opponent and also it makes the scene a little cooler.

Iconography – usually achieved through the use of specific forms of symbolism (fantasy’s use of religious symbols (game of thrones for example – its because we already recognise them and therefore it places the people and place in some form of reality for us)- war films and nazi symbols (army symbols). Symbols we recognise to convey certain messages. Skulls are also used to portray the bad guy or a killer.

Object and settings. Westerns – the wild west, america, the desert. Science fiction – space. There are expectations to a particular actor being in a film – like Arnold schwarzenegger films – we expect action, fight scenes, etc. Jim Carrey comedies are not going to be high class and will have silly humour throughout. (although truman show, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind – which are not quite the same – although they do contain some moments of his humour.

Genre – Film  noir

Plot elements: crime

Character: detective, femme fatale

Setting – urban, city, often night, smoky, seedy clubs, dingy offices, mansions.

Technical elements: single sourced lighting

Genre – Western

Theme – civilisation vs lawlessness (peace vs chaos)

Character – cowboy, the bad guy with a good heart, the horse, lawless indigenous people, sheriff (brave or corrupt) damsel in distress.

Plot elements – revenge, robberies, cattle drive.

Iconography – wanted poster, guns, cowboy hat.


Consciously or not people expect things from a genre, and there’s an almost unspoken contract, that the audience expectations are met.

The mixed genre have different expectations, or at least audiences are prepared for more variety from the genre elements. Comedy thriller, western musical, action-buddy films (like ‘lethal weapon’ and ‘die hard’ a little bit as well).


The first assignment for this class will be asking if animation is a genre and then presenting evidence to argue against and/or support this.

I think animation cannot really be a genre because it transcends it – animation is as flexible as other film mediums if not more so. You can make anything possible with animation, literally any kind of content can be thought up and created with animation – and it is and has been- the only limit is the artists who are creating it. For it to be seen as its own genre is useful when browsing movies you want to watch, but not always so good for comparing contrasting animations. Animation can be a short music video, with no story what so ever, or it can be a complicated political thriller, or a childrens cartoon, or a romantic comedy, or any genre of film you can imagine.

“People think of animation only doing things where people are dancing around and doing a lot of histrionics, but animation is not a genre. And people keep saying, ‘The animation genre.’ It’s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. And, next time I hear, ‘What’s it like working in the animation genre?’ I’m going to punch that person!”

-Brad Bird [1]

Music is my favourite genre! Ooh or video games maybe, OR BOOKS – THE SMARTEST OF ALL THE GENRES!!   /s

Sci-fi is its own genre, but it can be a crime, thriller, action, comedy… We’ve reached a turning point now where genre’s can only begin to describe the thing, but not totally – or at least often enough this can be the case.