Course: Short Film Character Production in Blender

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Who is Piero?

Piero is a retired carrier robin who’s great achievement in life was delivering messages to and from the feathered allies during the Great Pigeon War of ’98. He’s since retired to a quaint Ash tree in the hills of Yorkshire. Though very little happens during Piero’s care-free days in the British countryside, trauma from his service in the war has left him skittish of anything out of the ordinary.

Learn the entire process

I think many digital artists, like myself, see animated films from PixarDreamworks, Disney or Blue Sky and they begin to invision their own worlds, characters, and stories. Computer Graphics make it possible for artists to bring these visions to life inside a tangible medium that’s accessible to anyone with a computer.

However, the accessibility and capability of a computer doesn’t mean the creation-process is a one-click operation. Taking a character from vision to animated reality requires many devoted hours in each discipline of computer graphics.

Piero Concept Art by Tim Von Rueden

See how Tim illustrated the Piero’s concept art here!

Modeling

The first step is modeling where the character is built with 3D geometry. No object exists in the computer intrinsically; it must be built by hand. Every subsequent step is dependent on modeled objects.

Blender’s all-in-one nature allows the artist to use its sculpting and modeling tools in conjunction. Piero will be form-sculpted first, then retopologized into an animation-friendly mesh.

Piero - Modeling

Texturing

After being built a model must be “painted”. This texturing, or “surfacing”, process is where we introduce proper colors and material qualities that make our model more believable and tangible.

Being a bird Piero is a unique texturing task because he needs to be covered in feathers. We’ll take advantage of Blender’s paint tools and Photoshop to paint our texture maps. A particle hair system will allow us to procedurally grow and groom our feathers.

Piero - Texturing

Rigging

While modeling and animation are perhaps the most coveted CG skill sets, rigging is the narrow bridge-less-traveled that connects them. Just like our human body needs a complex system of bones and joints to make movement possible, our digital model needs a complex system of bones and joints to make animation possible. This is a highly technical and polarizing process requires much more research and practice than artistic instinct.

Piero will be rigged in Blender as an general-purpose armature with full control over wing and tail feathers.

Piero - Rigging

Animation

The art of movement is arguably the most difficult skill set in computer graphics. But don’t tell an animator that – they think highly enough of themselves already!

Jokes aside, good animation requires a hefty combination of practice and talent. With Piero we’ll apply the principles of “The Nine Old Men” to realize his personality in motion.

Piero - Animation

Post Processing

With the animation finished, our “ingredients” are finally ready to go into the oven! Post Processing begins by rendering our scene into individual frames that make up our entire animation. Once the hours of rendering are finished, we can edit the final shot together in Blender’s compositor.

Credits

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Discussion

213 Responses to “Short Film Character Production in Blender”
  1. Posts: 15
    Peter Robie says:

    Hi Kent,

    I was wondering if there’s a specific way to export a rigged character (like Piero for example) into Maya or vice versa? Something where all the controls, weights, etc. remain the same.

    Thanks

      • Posts: 1
        daniel.havoc says:

        Hi Kent! I’m just starting your Pierro series but I can’t seem to find the source files that you provide, could you help me out? :)

      • Posts: 1224

        Certainly – They’re under the above video and course title to the right. Click “Download Files > Source Files”. Sorry for the confusion. I hope you enjoy and learn a lot!

    • Posts: 26
      Aaron Forde says:

      hey ya as your man said, bit use blender 2.68 for exporting fbx models . belnder 2.69 and 2.7 the fbx exporter doesnt work correctly with normals

      also note the exporter in blender exports as FBX ASCII not the fbx binary, dont think it will be a problem

  2. Posts: 4
    heri15 says:

    Hello Kent

    I was looking your video (Lighting and Clean Up) when you have to fix the problem of the feathers and the eyes,so the feathers of the face are disappear but what can i do when i have to do the same process with the body feathers? because i have that kind of problem, my face feathers are good but the problem is the body because i cant render it im not sure if you understand what im saying, how can i fix the body feathers at the time to do the Render,please help me

    • Posts: 1224

      I think I understand, whereas my problem was the facial hair particles, you’re having problem with the body feathers instead? Did you try the vertex transfer method from that same video?

      • Posts: 4
        heri15 says:

        Yes that is what i mean, the only thing that i have alright are the facial hair particles but the feathers around the neck, head and body there’s not exists, and yes im trying to do the vertex transfer but i dont know why is impossible, do you know another way to fix it? , and also i dont know where did you get the second body of Piero at the time of the vertex transfer

  3. Posts: 4
    heri15 says:

    Yes that is what i mean, the only thing that i have alright are the facial hair particles but the feathers around the neck, head and body there’s not exists, and yes im trying to do the vertex transfer but i dont know why is impossible, do you know another way to fix it? , and also i dont know where did you get the second body of Piero at the time of the vertex transfer

    • Posts: 1224

      I grabbed the second Piero body (with correct vertex groups) from a previous .blend file where the V Groups are correct. Perhaps you should submit a Help Desk Ticket so we can better troubleshoot the issue.

  4. Posts: 59

    Wow, this is an amazingly huge and professional course! I’m mostly interested in modelling and rendering so I mostly skipped through the rest at fast speed but maaan, what amazing work. It’s intimidating how much stuff you know in so many different fields. Great insights into many subjects! oh, and loved your comparison of animation being the vocals… no wonder i’m again feeling the love towards the guitars and instrumentals :D Fantastic work, amazing project. I just hope i’ll be able to make a living out of just concepting & modelling without animation parts as it all together feels almost too much for one to master in a single lifetime… very impressed that you did!

    • Posts: 1224

      Trust me I’m FAR from being a master in each field. I’d say you’re right that it’s impossible to master them all in a single lifetime. But you can absolutely make a living just from concepting and modeling. I know this guy makes some hefty cash simply by concept sculpting: http://michaeldefeo.com/index.html

      Thanks so much for watching and for the positive feedback! :)

  5. Posts: 30
    leon Deit says:

    Hi Kent,
    Several months ago i start these series and i was stuck at 28 because of some problems in my rig. I did’nt find the problem at that time. Now, I start again fron the begining because there is so much things to learn in the series. The texture paint mode is different in 2.70 but we need to play around for the good result. Anyway, i greatly appreciate your tutorials.

    • Posts: 1224

      Hi Leon – Thanks for following the course! Indeed 2.70 inaugurated significant changes to texture paint mode. I think the core instruction is applicable, only the tool buttons/functionality has evolved.

      Best of luck in finishing the course! Thanks for the positive feedback :)

  6. Posts: 1
    zelfor says:

    Hello and good evening everyone …
    My name is Jonas, I’m Brazilian and student Blender and I wonder if I can watch more than one video that is in the category “course”.
    has two videos / courses that I like to do.

    http://cgcookie.com/blender/cgc-courses/piero/
    &
    http://cgcookie.com/blender/cgc-courses/hard-surface-weapon-retopology-in-blender/

    I thank you and congratulations for the work of Andrew Price, Jonathan Williamson and Kent Trammell.

    PS. Excuse any mistake in writing, I used Google Translate on some parts of the text (kkkkkk).

    • Posts: 3842

      Hi zelfor,

      If you join as a Citizen member then you’ll be able to watch every single video in the Courses category. This includes the entirety of the Piero course and the entirety of the Weapon Retopology.

      You can join Citizen via http://cgcookie.com/registration

  7. Posts: 1
    jamesfsky says:

    Is this ever going to be for individual purchase as the ‘Intro to Character Creation’ is?? I’m still in college and am trying to be careful about my purchases, which is why I love the fact that I can get the character series separately (at least, I will have it shortly, right after I finish with all the intro vids)! Anyway, I was just curious, thanks!

    • Posts: 3842

      Quite possibly! The single-purchase option is an experiment we’re running right now. If you like it then please speak up! If enough people seem to like it then we will work to allow all courses to be available for single purchase.

    • Posts: 1224

      Rigging is certainly a difficult discipline. Is this your first experience rigging a character?

  8. Posts: 1

    Not only is this course incredibly informative and comprehensive, it has been a crucial resource for me as a 3D modeling noob to learn basically everything Blender (and 3D modeling-related) from scratch. It really streamlined the learning process for me and has provided the building blocks from which I have been developing and improving all my 3D capabilities. I have always been passionate about graphic design and this course has helped make my dreams of being able to design in 3D a reality. Thank you Kent for this amazing and intuitive course!

    • Posts: 1224

      I couldn’t ask for better feedback. I’m very glad you learned from it. Thanks for watching!

  9. Posts: 2
    mattion says:

    Hello my name is Matthias and i would love to buy this course. I have one problem though If i buy the course will it just be on my cg cookie acount? or will it be delivered to my house? i would prefer the first option but i dont know if that is what you guys are doing.

  10. Posts: 4
    Hud says:

    I need some help getting the topolagy started, I have a newer version of blender and every time i try to start what Kent does it doesn’t work.
    I could use some tips for getting started! I have version 2.71, thanks.

  11. Posts: 4
    Hud says:

    I just need some help starting the topology because every time i enable dynamic topology it doesn’t work. I have version 2.71 thanks.

    • Posts: 1224

      Some settings have been changed/reorganized with dyntopo in newer version of Blender, but enabling and starting with it is still the same. What do you mean it doesn’t work?

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