Producing “How the Cicada Sings”

Most of my time for this animation (shown in my previous post) was focused on creating and animating the cicada model.

My cicada model started out life very simple boxy. This model went through one refining pass in Maya and was then imported into Mudbox. Once in Mudbox, more anatomy was added by increasing the amount of subdivision layers. Because the final model in Mudbox needed had a lot of geometry in order to sculpt the details, it couldn’t directly be sent over to Maya for animation. Instead, I exported a lower level model with less subdivisions from to Maya for animation. I then used Mudbox to create a normal and a displacement map. It took a while to get the maps to export properly and then to hook up in Maya effectively, but I learned a lot about the workflow between these two programs in the process. Thus, in the end, I had a one model with a manageable amount of geometry to animate, but could still make it look like the more detail model I sculpted in Mudbox.

Progression of my cicada model.

Mudbox was also used to paint the texture maps and transparency maps. Because of the amount of detail I wanted in my texture maps, I decided to split my UVs into two sets maps, one for the wings and legs, another for the rest of the body. This presented some more challenges later on, especially when trying to hook up transparency maps. As you can see, I ended up with quite a shader network, or at least the biggest one I’ve made thus far.

The shader network used to texture my cicada

After modeling and texturing, I rigged the model. I found the rigging process to be particularly fun. It felt great when I finally had my little cicada puppet!

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll be doing a some posts about my research project soon.

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