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vmulligan
03-20-2008, 07:09 PM
Vikram Mulligan is entered in the "Uplift Universe Challenge" update: View Challenge Page (http://features.cgsociety.org/challenge/uplift_universe/view_entries.php?challenger=14462)

Latest Update: Final Image: Uplift
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210609431_medium.jpg (http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?p=5145732#post5145732)

vmulligan
03-21-2008, 07:11 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206079858_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206079858_large.jpg)

This is a quick concept sketch done as I taught myself to use the free version of XSI that Softimage is providing for the contest. I was pretty impressed with the software: it's quite a bit easier to use than I thought it would be, and very responsive, too.

The background was an old image made with Apophysis some time ago. I blurred it and stuck it behind the whatever-it-is in the foreground.

GaeasHerald
03-21-2008, 08:01 AM
The whatever-it-is actually looks kinda cool... Could it be some sort of mushroomy-alien? A "neomushroom"? :rolleyes:

NathanielWest
03-21-2008, 08:06 AM
I looks like a whale tail in a way. Nice start!

jpiette
03-21-2008, 08:09 PM
Ah, good ol' Apophysis. I swear I've spent way to many hours dinking around in that program...

vmulligan
03-22-2008, 04:38 AM
Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, even though it was just a random doodle to teach myself Softimage XSI, I do kind of like the look of the whatever-it-is. I might use a similar texture in the finished piece.

As for Apophysis, I just picked it up a month or two ago, but I've come to like it quite a bit. For those who don't know, it's a freeware fractal flame generator that's quite nifty. Defnitely worth checking out.

vmulligan
03-25-2008, 03:45 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206413108_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206413108_large.jpg)

Just considering my options, here, and teaching myself a few XSI techniques in the process... I'm wondering whether I want to do a furry alien or a fleshy alien...

sasquatch70
03-25-2008, 03:56 AM
What ever you decide to do you have great lighting skills. Bravo!

vmulligan
03-25-2008, 03:59 AM
What ever you decide to do you have great lighting skills. Bravo!

Thanks, but I wasn't really trying for much with the lighting in the last two posts. In both cases, I'm using just a single distant light. Still, I'll take compliments where I can get 'em :D . So -- thanks!

GaeasHerald
03-25-2008, 04:01 AM
Furry! Furry! Furry! Well seriously, why don't you do both?

vmulligan
03-25-2008, 05:01 AM
Well seriously, why don't you do both?

There's a thought. I was considering that, but the trouble is that it would be hard to make that look natural. Imagine a salamander with tufts of hair -- it just doesn't seem right. Still, the object is to make something alien-looking, so maybe the strangeness of it would work in my favour.

vmulligan
03-26-2008, 01:41 AM
A few ideas for my piece:

--An alien creature with a strange body but expressive, mournful eyes in a human zoo. Rowdy kids are pressed against the glass of its enclosure, gawking and making noise. I'd go for the sad, noble expression of gorillas in zoos. If we can't recognize sentience on our own planet, it's hard to imagine how we'll treat sentient extraterrestrials... The downside of this would be the complexity of the scene -- especially the kids. I'm not sure I could pull it off.

--A simple scene showing a human hand clasping an alien appendage in friendship. If at least one of our species had the technology to bridge the stars, the consequences of not meeting in friendship would be too devastating to contemplate... I like the simplicity of this idea; I could focus on modelling, texturing, and lighting two objects (the hand and the alien appendage).

--An alien creature kneeling or bowing in chains, submitting to a human conquerer. Considering our species' long history of enslaving its own members, I don't trust us to treat aliens as equals.

I'll do some sketches soon and post whatever I produce.

vmulligan
03-26-2008, 01:43 AM
Whoops -- duplicate post.

nethken
03-26-2008, 10:20 AM
I really like all three of your ideas, the zoo, the hands and the slave ideas. The slavery one sounds like a good unique twist - usually the aliens enslave the humans! The zoo one does sound complex, especially if in 3d but would be a strong image. The hand one would probably be my favourite - I can imagine a close up of just the hands, I think that would be a really simple and effective way of showing interaction, and could be a very powerful image!

Your experiments are looking great, looking forward to seeing what you come up with :D

Best of luck to you

vmulligan
03-27-2008, 12:28 AM
I really like all three of your ideas, the zoo, the hands and the slave ideas. The slavery one sounds like a good unique twist - usually the aliens enslave the humans! The zoo one does sound complex, especially if in 3d but would be a strong image. The hand one would probably be my favourite - I can imagine a close up of just the hands, I think that would be a really simple and effective way of showing interaction, and could be a very powerful image!

Your experiments are looking great, looking forward to seeing what you come up with :D

Best of luck to you


Thanks a lot, Kenneth. I'm thinking I like the hand idea the best, too. It's also the most achievable in the time I have, and I've found with these contests that it's important not to be too ambitious. I'll post some sketches soon.

vmulligan
03-27-2008, 01:00 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206575997_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206575997_large.jpg)

I tend to doodle in lectures, and this is what I had at the end of the grad student seminar today...

vmulligan
03-29-2008, 03:52 AM
Hmm... I just had another idea... Has anyone considered doing a Fremen astride a sandworm from Dune? If I'd thought of it earlier, I might have attempted it, but as it is, I think I'll stick with my "hands" idea. It's a little closer to the species-helping-species "uplift" idea in David Brin's novel, in any case.

Incidentally, I've checked a copy of the novel out of U of T's Robarts library, and I'm about halfway through it. It's worth the read -- and not just because one should always do one's homework for illustration work. It's quite an enjoyable story set in an interesting universe.

GaeasHerald
03-29-2008, 04:17 AM
I tend to doodle in lectures
I did that throughout my whole carreer and it really works. As for the sketches, they remind me of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. Great source of inspiration.

vmulligan
03-29-2008, 06:02 AM
Hey, thanks. Yes, though I wasn't consciously thinking of Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel ceiling probably was an image that was influencing my thoughts for this piece. It's similar to the feel of the piece I want to produce, though I want to give it a feel that suggests that the two species are closer to being on equal footing (i.e. one isn't like a god to the other).

Vem
03-29-2008, 09:06 PM
hi,
i did like the furry alien, but the "helping hand" idea is very interesting, iŽd like to see more of that!

vmulligan
03-29-2008, 09:47 PM
Thanks -- it's probably what I'm going to go with. I'm still deciding whether to make the alien hand furry. I've done some tests in XSI, but I can't figure out a good way of making curly hair. I had hoped to do this contest with the free XSI copy that Softimage is giving out, but I might revert back to Maya's paint and hair effects.

vmulligan
03-29-2008, 11:37 PM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206830251_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206830251_large.jpg)

I'm still playing with possible looks for alien fur. Does anyone know a good way to make curly hair in XSI?

vmulligan
03-30-2008, 12:17 AM
I certainly hope everyone will take a break from rendering to shut off their computers for Earth Hour :) .

vmulligan
03-30-2008, 07:24 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206858245_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206858245_large.jpg)

Here's the base mesh for the alien hand, modelled in Wings 3D 0.99.01. The mesh is totally symmetrical right now, and I'll keep it that way just until I do the UV mapping. I'll then add a bit of asymmetry in ZBrush, as well as sculpted details.

vmulligan
03-30-2008, 08:09 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206860960_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1206860960_large.jpg)

I've done the UVs now for the alien hand, using the Roadkill UV Mapper 1.1.

vmulligan
04-02-2008, 07:32 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1207117919_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1207117919_large.jpg)

I've started the detail work on the alien hand, now, using ZBrush 3.1. I'm going for a fleshier look than a human hand (or at least, than my bony hand, which I'll be using for reference when I create the human hand in my image). I still want some hint of underlying bone and tendon structure in the alien hand, though; it's not supposed to be a tentacle.

The colours aren't final, and the alien hand might still turn out furry in the end :) .

OZ
04-02-2008, 10:42 AM
I like your last model. Very nice design!

vmulligan
04-02-2008, 08:10 PM
I like your last model. Very nice design!

Thank you very much!

vmulligan
04-03-2008, 06:54 PM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1207245279_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1207245279_large.jpg)

I'm still sculpting the alien hand. I've added detail to some of the suction cup fingers, now.

vmulligan
04-05-2008, 04:13 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1207365185_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1207365185_large.jpg)

Well, I could keep sculpting indefinitely. In the interest of moving on, I've started texturing the alien hand now.

vmulligan
04-15-2008, 05:21 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1208233265_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1208233265_large.jpg)

I've finished sculpting and texturing the alien hand, now. The original texture and displacement maps are 4096x4096. The displacement map is a 32-bit TIFF. I'll post a rendering of the finished hand soon, once I set up the subsurface scattering material in Softimage XSI.

vmulligan
04-17-2008, 05:27 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1208406454_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1208406454_large.jpg)

Here's the finished alien hand, rendered with the contest version of XSI. I might still add some fur...

scala
04-17-2008, 09:41 AM
Hey Vikram really interesting to follow your thread I really like your alien Hand and the study you did .

vmulligan
04-17-2008, 10:50 PM
Thanks, Eric. I've taken some photos of my hand now for modelling and texturing reference -- I'll post some new work today or tomorrow.

vmulligan
04-18-2008, 06:53 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1208497996_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1208497996_large.jpg)

I've taken some reference photos of my hand. I'll base my hand model on these, and I might lift some textures from them as well -- though I'll have to paint out the hairs, since I plan to do those with Maya paint effect geometry.

(Thanks to my good friend Patrick Goodale for helping with the photography. It would have taken me a lot longer if I had to be both in front of and behind the camera.)

sasquatch70
04-18-2008, 07:53 AM
Hello Vikram,

If you select the hair than press enter, you'll get the hair property page. In the property page you should see a set of hair presets. They have a curly hair preset that you should be able to tweek until you get what you want. If you boost your render hairs on the hair panel to about 75%, it will show how it will look before you render. Hope that helps. Looks great by the way!
Brad

vmulligan
04-18-2008, 05:26 PM
If you select the hair than press enter, you'll get the hair property page. In the property page you should see a set of hair presets. They have a curly hair preset that you should be able to tweek until you get what you want. If you boost your render hairs on the hair panel to about 75%, it will show how it will look before you render. Hope that helps. Looks great by the way!

Thanks, Brad. I did play around with the frizz and kink settings, but I couldn't really get a curly hair look (i.e. something in which each hair is a nice arc or spiral). I did get something that looks like sheep's wool, though. Maybe I need to play around some more, but Maya's paint effects give me more control, so I think I'll use them for the curly hair on the human hand. I've used them before for this purpose (see this link (http://features-temp.cgsociety.org/gallerycrits/254255/254255_1176496883_large.jpg)). I'll export those as geometry and import them into Softimage XSI. I think I'll have longer, straighter hairs on the alien hand, which I will do with XSI's hair controls (which will also allow me to groom the hair).

vmulligan
05-03-2008, 07:50 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1209797429_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1209797429_large.jpg)

I'm playing with the alien fur, now. It's still not quite the way I want it, but it's getting there.

nwiz25
05-03-2008, 10:59 AM
thats some really cool detailing dude! :eek: very curious about your next update!
good luck to you! :thumbsup:

vmulligan
05-03-2008, 05:52 PM
thats some really cool detailing dude! :eek: very curious about your next update!
good luck to you! :thumbsup:

Thanks a lot, Neville. All the best! (And nice CGPortfolio gallery, by the way).

vmulligan
05-09-2008, 04:33 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210303997_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210303997_large.jpg)

I've not posted in a while, but I'm certainly not out of the contest! Here's the finished human hand model, with the textures partway done. I'm lifting textures from the photos I took of my hand.

vmulligan
05-10-2008, 11:42 PM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210459346_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210459346_large.jpg)

I've finished the textures on the hand, now.

vmulligan
05-12-2008, 04:53 AM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210564434_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210564434_large.jpg)

I've finished all the modelling and posing, now. I tried to get the human hand into the right pose in ZBrush, but ended up tweaking it a bit with Softimage XSI. The alien hand was posed in Softimage, but only with bend modifiers and lattice deforms (I couldn't be bothered to rig it with a full skeleton). The hair isn't right, right now. It's too mossy.

vmulligan
05-12-2008, 05:23 PM
http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210609431_medium.jpg (http://assets.cgsociety.org/challenge/entries/20/14462/14462_1210609431_large.jpg)

Here's my final entry for the Uplift Universe CGSociety contest. While not necessarily depicting any specific event from David Brin's novel, I think the image is consistent with the spirit of the book. With the placement of the two hands, I tried to create a sense that the human being was helping to raise up the alien. I also wanted to depict an optimistic vision of human-alien interactions. While the alien hand is, well, alien, it is not hideous or monstrous, and there is no implication of malevolence.

Technical information: I used Apophysis 2.07 for the background, Wings3D for initial modelling, ZBrush 3.1 for sculpting and texturing, Maya 7.0 for the hairs on the human hand, Softimage XSI 6.5 for final image composition, mental ray for rendering, and Adobe Photoshop CS for compositing and retouching. As it turned out, the combination of hair, subsurface scattering shaders, ray-traced area lights, and 32-bit displacement maps was too much for the renderer. I ended up having to use shadow mapping for the lights and bump maps instead of displacement maps. Next time, I'll go back to trusty old Aqsis :) .

vmulligan
05-16-2008, 01:01 AM
I've uploaded a somewhat higher-resolution version to my deviantART page (http://vmulligan.deviantart.com/), now.

GaeasHerald
05-16-2008, 02:14 AM
Good colour choices Vikram. The "pose" of the human hand is excellent, showing compassion and good will. Congratulations on making such a powerful image with so few elements! Very impressive.

nwiz25
05-16-2008, 04:33 AM
i'm with Gerardo! :eek: your texture work is so very real! what 3d software and renderer have you used? totally amazing! plus, add to it all .... the composition! pretty dramatic!
congratulations dude! :thumbsup: i wish you good luck!

vmulligan
05-16-2008, 07:23 PM
Thanks, Gerardo. Given the limited time available and my other commitments, there was a limit to the number of elements I could include, so I decided to try and keep it simple. I'm glad you like the colours. I fiddled with them for quite a while in Photoshop, but couldn't get them exactly the way I wanted them. Oh, well. I guess no one ever puts down on paper exactly what's in his or her mind's eye.

Hey, Neville. Thanks for the kind words. This was my first time using extensive photographic reference for the textures. For the most part, the texturing was done with ZBrush 3.1 and Photoshop CS. I colour-corrected photos of my hand (after first painting out hairs), tried to position the 3D hand model similarly, and used Zapplink to paint the photographic textures onto the hand. Then I'd rotate the hand a little bit and go on to the next little patch of skin. It took me a couple of evenings to do the hand texture.

Most of the rest was done in Softimage XSI (the free version provided for the contest). I also did a little bit in Wings 3D (initial modelling), Apophysis (the fractal flame background), and Maya (the hairs on the human hand). I like to use a wide range of programs, relying on the strengths of each one to make up for the weaknesses.

Ferx
05-16-2008, 09:34 PM
Hey Vikram, great image! Like a lot your approach to the concept!! :thumbsup: The image is powerful, cool! Great textures on your models and cool lighting!! Congratulations for this cool artwork! Good luck !! Cheers mate!! :beer:

vmulligan
05-17-2008, 04:11 AM
Thanks, Fernando! All the best.

vmulligan
05-25-2008, 07:51 AM
I might as well ask this question here, as well. Once we've submitted an entry that (presumably) qualifies for judging, how do we go about getting the permanent licence for Softimage XSI? I think this question was already answered somewhere, but I can't find the answer anywhere.

vmulligan
05-26-2008, 02:22 AM
I might as well ask this question here, as well. Once we've submitted an entry that (presumably) qualifies for judging, how do we go about getting the permanent licence for Softimage XSI? I think this question was already answered somewhere, but I can't find the answer anywhere.

Ah, my question was answered here (http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=59&t=610144&page=7&pp=15).

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