Traveling the Multiverse

Aka Ironyca Stood in the Fire – gaming blog

Making a 3D Game Character Myself

This is what I’ve been doing in the past month of inactivity here on the blog:

If this guy seems familiar to you, it’s because I tried to recreate Carl Fredricksen from “Up”.

I know this is not stunning work, it’s my first time working with 3ds Max, so I am an amateur. I decided to take a course this semester called “3D Game Art”, it’s a beginner’s course so I figured I should be able to pass it even while being a total noob.

At first I hated it so much. Some classes I would sit with crashing programs and a computer that didn’t want to cooperate. If that wasn’t the problem, then I was – clueless and trying to figure out the modeling program 3ds Max.

To pass the course, we had to make a low poly 3D character. Low poly means in layman’s terms “simple”, all the characters we control in WoW are fx. low poly. We had to texture it and rig it. Rigging it means giving the character a skeleton which enables you to pose and even animate it. We didn’t have to use animation and I haven’t even looked into it yet, so I wouldn’t know how complicated it would be, but I am tempted to give it a go, just for fun.

I hated working on my character at first, but the further in my progress I was, the more I started to enjoy it. I’ve been used to doing writing heavy assignments in the past and now I was doing a production course, it was actually liberating!

At the end, I felt as if I had unlocked a secret code. I had made my own 3D character, and now I knew a little more about what’s behind our mobile virtual world repositories.

I can’t code, but I’ve been forced to learn some as part of my education. In one way it’s fascinating and as if you get a glimpse behind the curtain of the graphics and UI’s. At the same time, it was as if the magic of computer games was also endangered by me learning more and more about the inner workings of them.

The world suddenly seemed more artificial. In the past I used to be fascinated with the edges of Azeroth. They appeared to me as critical borderlines that could reveal something about the true nature of the virtual world, like trying to figure out what a house looks like by only investigating it from the inside. But now falling through into the nether is no longer a mysterious event, that used to leave me puzzled and curious, it’s just a glitch.

Making a 3D game character from the bottom reveals these “secrets” the same way. It becomes a reversed deconstruction. Carl is human enough that he has a skeleton, that he could be told to walk, but when removing his “skin”, his robotic truth is revealed.

Carl is the intellectual property of Pixar, so I don’t think I am allowed to port him into Second Life and buy him an animation and bring him to life, which would have been an awesome finale. Regardless of how imprisoned in 3ds Max my dear Carl is, I can now be the creator of my own shape and form in a virtual world if I’m willing to go through the process again.

That is after all a strange feeling of power.

14 comments on “Making a 3D Game Character Myself

  1. Cymre
    May 21, 2012

    That looks fantastic… well done! It would be interesting to try and recreate my own toon -Cymre in the same way just to see how close I could get her, maybe even change her a little bit to personalise it :)

    • ironyca
      May 22, 2012

      Thanks! Yeah, it’s an intriguing thought to make a character the way we envision it, unlike the generic models we have to pick from.

  2. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    May 21, 2012

    Oh wowwwww! So this is where you’ve been hiding! I’m SO jealous. Yes, it sounds like you’ve suffered a lot, but I’d really like to learn 3DS Max (or Maya)

    It’d be so cool to upload him to SL! Yes, technically since you, uh, “appropriated” a Pixar character it’s against the SL TOS. Maybe you could change him just a little?

    You’re already way past my league, but I think if you imported a rigged mesh avatar you could “wear” it… ? … and use any existing animation or create what you like in Poser or in free QAvimator…

    So far all I’ve uploaded is a box! :P But it’s pretty exciting…

    • ironyca
      May 22, 2012

      I should have thought further into the future when choosing a reference, so I had more ownership of my model. You really need schematics to model after though, pictures from the front and the side minimum. Maybe I could change the hair, make him more bald. His clothing is actually not precisely Carl’s. Carl wears a jacket of a different material than my Carl, so I may not be far off from making him unique enough that he can be all mine.

      I’ve never worked with any animation programs, I’m completely blank on this, but yeah, it would be the next step. Otherwise I bought a walk with Ironyca Rae in SL, so I assume that could work if I wear my old man costume there.

      • Vaneeesa Blaylock
        May 22, 2012

        Yes, yes, if you want to upload him to SL or to the less authoritarian OS Grid, I’d be happy to help with animation. Especially in SL, there’s tons available. Poser / QAvimator are pretty easy to do simple things with… I haven’t gotten very complex. Mostly I make 1-frame animations, aka “Poses” for photo projects.

        Anyway, you’re very modest, it’s a nice looking piece!

  3. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    May 21, 2012

    BTW, Moni’s also been playing with mesh… I think she exported her SL avatar and then imported it and now she’s got miniature Moni’s running around!

  4. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    May 21, 2012

    Reblogged this on I Rez Therefore I Am and commented:
    SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE OF EMERYVILLE, CA, 21 May — Legendary game designer Ironyca Lee, wait, scratch that, Legendary metaverse traveler and noob game designer Ironyca Lee is busy ripping off, wait, scratch that, is finding inspiration for modeling studies, in classic contemporary work from Pixar. With so many excited about 3D architecture and animation today, Lee dives into modeling standard 3D Studio Max and does an impressive job rendering her first character.

  5. tomeoftheancient
    May 21, 2012

    I’m impressed, I think you did a wonderful job on him. 3ds max is not beginner friendly. I use Strata 3d on the Mac as it’s much easier to learn.

    Hope you decide to have a go at getting Carl moving!

    • ironyca
      May 22, 2012

      Thanks! I’m actually happy you say Max is not beginner friendly, I was so confused and clueless most of the time, now I know maybe the program wasn’t helping as much as it could. I don’t know of Strata, right now, I’m sticking to Max as I have gained at least some competence with it.

  6. mataokashaman
    May 23, 2012

    The polygons… much discussion of polygons at my abode,too. Great piece!

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