Eggy is the first more complex character, I have finished (although he isn't finished yet). Egbert was designed with a children's picture book in mind (now I just have to write the book!) He was supposed to be the 'narrator' of a sort of 'how much do you know about Owls' sort of book, but he's ended up being a character in his own right.
Egbert is supposed to have the cuteness and appeal of a cartoon character but with a distinct tinge of realism. His house will be in a hollow tree, his markings are realistically similar to the reference owl, although he has human expressions his overall behaviour from his slight short-sightedness to his extreme long-sightedness will be quite real.
Most of the techniques I used to create Egbert came from my stumbling through Kent Trammel's Pierro course (although my computer packed in before I could finish it). My aim was to have him 'human' or 'anthropomorphic' enough to be appealing to humans while not necessarily mimicking all our moves. For instance his wings are not rigged, he doesn't use them like arms - his mood/attitude will depend on his expression and body language, if I do it right he won't need 'arms'.
Egbert's facial expressions come from shape keys while his pose/body language comes from the rig. His eyes are rigged to follow a single point but can still be moved independantly. He still needs a smile expression and a sad expression - the problem I found was that I did all the shape keys without the feathers in place - and the feathers tend to tone down or even obsure the expressions, so I'll have to pay special attention to these shape keys.
Although Egbert(technically) has no neck his head section can turn a bit and look up and down slightly. I tried many ways of making his feathers, in the end I found it easier to use the hair particle system with some extreme clumping to suggest his feathers. By fiddling with a colour ramp in the material nodes I was able to approximate the look of owl feathers. It took a LOT of experimentation in fact I had to put Egbert aside several times as I ran into blockages. The grooming took several goes (and some muttered expletives) before it started to come together.
One problem (among many!) I had with the feathers is that they need tweak grooming depending on the expression...fortunately Egbert is not meant for video animation,only still shots, so this is not really a problem but I wondered if anyone had a solution for hair particles not falling in the right place while animating?
*Note: please ignore the tree/background of the first image - they are just thrown together to give him a little set, he will of course have a proper little house and area soon.
*Note 2: although there are several image showing Egbert's grumpier side, he is in fact a very happy, sunny little owl! He just looks so cute when he's cross!
- Status: Work in Progress