ANM230 – Wk08

In this blog I will be researching part of my self directed learning which is modeling hard surface in Zbrush. Along with the team, I decided to use Zbrush to refine the base model of our character’s armor. Below is the base mesh of the armor created in 3DS Max;

Screenshot (54).png


My task was to model in the details of the armor such as around the breastplate and abdominal area.

I researched hard surface modeling in Zbrush to achieve the sharp detail which I desired. The procedure to create sharp edged details is not very complicated with the steps consisting of using the Mask Curve or lasso to create a clean mask, then in the Tool palette in Deformation rolldown there is an option to resize the selection which extrudes the masked part(“Tutorial: ZBrush -Hard surface modelling techniques.”, 2017).

Below is the refined high subdivision model:

Screenshot (55).png

In order to take it back to 3DS Max, however it has to be at its lowest subdivision which unfortunately means that the sharp detail is lost. The solution to this is to bake a normal map which will bring out the missing detail.

Following an online video tutorial (“Zbrush 4 R6 zremesher – Awesome way of doing retopology”, 2017), I learned the correct way to use ZRemesher which not only creates a new clean topology for the model but it is also possible to ‘tell’ the software which areas should be denser.

After remeshing the model, the high poly detail is projected onto the low poly model which I learned to do from another video tutorial  (“zBrush: High poly sculpt to Low poly mesh and normal map workflow”, 2017). After this, the normal map is baked from the Normal map rollout.



 Tutorial: ZBrush -Hard surface modelling techniques.. (2017). Michael Arbuthnot. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from

Zbrush 4 R6 zremesher – Awesome way of doing retopology. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from

zBrush: High poly sculpt to Low poly mesh and normal map workflow. (2017). Vimeo. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from

ANM230 – Wk07


This week our lecturer taught us the rigging method in 3DS Max known as the CAT rig and it was an amazing revelation. The simplicity of the CAT rig as compared to the manual method of rigging which I was familiar with before is such a relief. I am still happy that I have initially learned the harder way of rigging since it is the more technical way which may be useful in the future.

CAT rig, which stands for Character Animation Toolkit, is a skeletal animation system built into 3DS Max. It allows you to create flexible and practical character rigs in a fast and simple method without the use of code  (“Getting Started: Rigging with CATRigs, 2017).

The workflow is pretty simple and follows the following pattern. A CAT parent is created  and placed at the center below the character. Then in the modifier of the parent helper, you create a Pelvis helper and from there it keeps going to leg, spine etc. Through this process, one gradually builds the skeletal structure using helpers and once that is complete, you simply add a skin modifier to the model itself and make suitable adjustments to the skinning. CAT also has pre-made animation cycles such as the walk cycles which really simplifies and accelerates the animation process.

Here is a screenshot of the CAT bone structure I created in class on the provided model:

Screenshot (35).png



Getting Started: Rigging with CATRigs | 3ds Max | Autodesk Knowledge Network. (2017). Retrieved 10 July 2017, from

Tutorial – Setting up a CAT Rig for CRYENGINE in 3ds Max – CRYENGINE V Manual – Documentation. (2017). Retrieved 10 July 2017, from

ANM230 – Wk04

This week there was a screening of a 2D animated film called Grave for The Fireflies. As it was produced by Studio Ghibli, I was immediately excited about the film. However, what I saw left me with mixed feelings of awe and devastation. The story presented by the beautiful animation is a heart breaking one about the fates of two children during World War II who lose both their parents. The two central characters are Seita and Setsuko; rather, Seita is the main protagonist of the story who is the older brother taking care of his younger sibling Setsuko. From the beginning of the film, the grim mood is set as Seita is shown dying of hunger at a train station from which point the story goes back in time to show how he was brought to that point.

The style of the animation and the amount of detail put into it really corresponds to the theme and gives the story so much impact. Some scenes were drawn so vividly that it gave almost the amount of graphic and tragic content as an actual movie. The war environment was very well established through the background art and animation of the characters.



Anderson, Kyle. “Takahata Textbook: GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES | Nerdist”. Nerdist. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 July 2017.

Ebert, Roger. “Grave Of The Fireflies Movie Review (1988) | Roger Ebert”. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 July 2017.

ANM230 – Wk01

New trimester, new project; the break provided a breath of relief and relaxation from the workload bestowed upon us by the previous project but it is time to get back on track and excited for the new trimester!

During the first week, we were divided into new teams and briefed on the requirements for the studio 3 project. While we brainstormed the theme of our environment (which will be the main component of the project), as well as ideas for the character and story, we had a few variations. The first idea involved a clocktower and a steampunk kind of environment while the story centered around a character trying to restore the balance of time in his world. This idea also pushed forward our final idea to which I will arrive shortly. The second idea was set in Al Hamra; a city in Spain and revolved around an ancient Andalusian fountain, however story was not fully developed.  Finally, our main idea is set in a cyberpunk futuristic setting and inspired by the trailer of Cyberpunk 2077.

Screenshot (22).png
To give it a unique look we decided to set it in the futuristic Dubai and incorporate some traditional Arabic elements such as Mashribiya patterns. Our character, who was initially derived from the Emirati tale of Umm Al Duwais will also feature clothing and artifacts reminiscent of the Arabic style. Here are a few conepts which I made for the Mashribiya designs.

mashribiya test.png

ANM220.1 Wk12

We have finally put together our animation for submission and submitted it and yesterday was our showcase. We got mainly positive reactions from the public which was a great feeling, especially seeing that we made people laugh at the funny parts of the story. We also received a lot of useful feedback from fellow students as well as showcase guests. I would like to mention that everyone’s projects were amazing and I’m very happy that we were all able to showcase our projects. I would also like to to thank my team and lecturers for making this project happen. This trimester I acquired a lot of new skills during a relatively short period of time and am proud of being part of the team and project.

ANM220.1 Wk11

We are running against time to complete our renders and compile our project and the team is working very hard to make it happen. Although we are not able to use the render farm due to it being fully used, our scenes have been divided among many computers to maximise our speed. Some of the scenes are taking a very long time to fully render due to the lighting that we used in our scene. One scene in particular is Sc4 with the mascot setting the cutlery which is very taxing on render time so I tried to optimize it by reducing some Final Gather points and Noise reduction. The render speed has been somewhat increased.

Simultaneously to rendering, we are working on the post production. Each team member is assigned scenes to work on and in the end we will be compiling them into our final animation. For post production, in addition to extracting and editing the rendered passes, we are also doing color correction and edits such as exposure and shadows. I try to reduce the red hue in my scenes through the Color Balance effect as they are quite reddish due to the lighting of our scene. I find that I quite enjoy the post production process.

ANM220.1 Wk10

Since in our project we are using fire visual effects, I will be talking about how fire effects are created in movies. While for our animation we used a simple plug-in to achieve the desired effect,  VFX artists in the industry also have different methods for creating fire effects which I will be talking about briefly.

Below are several ways of creating fire.

1-Motion Graphics.
3-2D Animation.

There are several options to creating fire effects for other programs, the recommended and best option is to use a dedicated software but these are usually quite expensive so one of the alternatives is to use pre-rendered fire footage which sometimes works but is not always helpful as it may not give the desired effects or give a realistic result.


Often, fire is created in After Effects- a program everyone in the industry is familiar with. To create the fire, we start off by setting a tracker where the fire will emanate from, after setting the tracker on the area you want the fire to be, after your tracker has been set you end up by setting the tracker as a null object.
Now for the actual fire, there are two types of fire you would use which are the Torch and an effect fire. After the fire is inserted, it is turned into a null object, after that you puppet pin the fire to the position of the tracker, and then you start copying your layers to increase the fire’s density to the level you want it to become.
Next the timings are set and the fire layer is merged with the original tracker and footage you want the fire on. Finally, the fire layer is switched to screen mode to be used as an alpha.

After Effects Tutorial: Realistic Fire effects. (2016, March 07). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from

Realistic Fire – Free AE Template. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from