Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Mosquito Redesign: Working Legs

  I didn't have much success implementing an IK nor getting it to compress, but they say the simplest solution is often the most effective. In the case of my piston the simple solution was to parent each of the pistons with each other, tie them to 'aim' themselves at the opposing hinge and create a few driven keys to mimic the pistons extending and compressing.

  After that it was a simple matter of constraining each of the hinges. and the pistons so they stop at a fixed instance into and out of their sockets. By adding a fifth segment to the leg I am able to extend its reach to a motion window of between 92 and 168 degrees (any more open and the piston will collide with the knee hinge). Which might be one of them ore complicated elements of the model out of the way.

From what has been assembled so far, I think I can easily fit six of the legs into the main body with plenty of room to spare.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Mosquito Redesign: Leg Hydraulics and Industrial Fun

  Much of this afternoon has been spent reworking the leg to make it something more industrial. I've looked into completely redesigning the limb using the hydraulic system idea to give the legs weight and balance. What I've got so far appears to work to a decent degree, even if the geometry might be a little heavy. I'll look into fixing the UVs before the leg is repeated.

  The piston that would appear to keep the leg unbent will use some manner of spline to adjust itself. I'll need to perform some experiments to get a system that can extend the segments - what is on display is the furthest the leg can bend with this but with some clever re-positioning I might be able to extend the leg further. I can also use the freedoms presented by the digital medium to make it easier for the base to compress into the pivot it's connected to, allowing the sections to fold in and extend automatically and the pivots to rotate appropriately. This further tweaking might also allow the lower leg to more easily fold in.

  That still leaves how to fit six of these inside the body. The folding in isn't the most efficient use of space, it could be the legs are arranged diagonally and drop through hatches in the mosquito's underside (which will be fun to build and set up). Only one leg will be worked on until the UVs, bones and controls are set up, which will be reproduced five times.

  Overall, it appears to be quite a flexible setup. The leg bends in the right place, the lower joint provides most of the positional mobility and the foot has full free rotation so it can plant itself flat in a large variety of poses. An IK/FK system could be used for deployment, positioning and resting as one thing that could be implemented are shock-absorbers at the ankle - a simple tube that compresses into the body to give the feeling the machine is bearing weight when its turns its engines off.

It's about ready for the UVs

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Mosquito Redesign: Early Stages and Legs

  I'be been thinking for a couple of days now about going back and redesigning one of my old projects. Namely the mosquito craft from one of my first year university projects. This design was ambitious, even back then and the video it came with was somewhat popular so I thought why not go back and rebuild the thing with better creative knowledge, problem solving skills etc.?

   One thing I really wanted to try out in the old design was some form of foot. In the original model I believe they were just spikes due to time pressures. With a better grasp of Maya's rigging and component system I feel confident I can do a proper foot as well as better joints. For fun I could design all kinds of bells and whistles: Brake flaps, redesigned landing gear bays, ailerons, a probe bay, maybe even rotary blades in the wings and a segmented design to allow for full-wing tilting and proper VTOL.

   I've mostly been inspired by the ship designs made by Cloud Imperium for Star Citizen. I tried the game out once during a free weekend and was amazed at all the little animated components the one-man ships had whether it was for doors, maintenance hatches, thrusters, airlocks, you'd think they brought in mechanical engineers to work out all the components. I might not go that far, the mosquito in the sequence primarily concerns landing and takeoff but no lie, it would be fun to try and build some sort of open folding mechanism for the front probe or the landing gear.

   I might keep the hydraulic system. It was quite useful for compacting the legs into the body (all six of them) and this time around I could go an extra step, maybe include the tubes for the hydraulic fluid that could be linked to the model via a spline curve.

  I am definitely going to need some kind of control rig to sort out all the moving parts I already have. It would definitely make accessing the components for animation a lot easier, too.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Dwarf Fort - Geometry Cleanup

  Things have been quiet on the front of the fortress as I have mostly been polishing model UVs ready for textures. Although I have made significant progress, I must have done something I probably shouldn't as Maya has gotten into the habit of crashing. This was fixed with a driver update for my graphics card and so far it all looks good, more progress can be made now things are more stable.

  Although the plan is for a uniform arrangement, the inclusion of the ramp means that in order for the rest of the decoration to fit, the structure needs to flow, so the skirting will likely follow the ramp. Redoing the wall als ogave me a chance to even up the geometry of the walls and floor.

   For the ceiling of this room, I'm thinking of building it so the ramp is ceilingless, the ceiling will connect to the rest of the structure by the columns which support the ramp..

Friday, 5 January 2018

Crest Design Experiments

  Taking a minor break from writing I was sorely tempted to go back into logo design. What I had in mind was a bit more elaborate than a typical brand logo and more of a crest or insignia for a nation. You have to start with the basics, which in this case was the core element. For this insignia the core would be the arms of a galaxy, representing the nation's dominance or an assertion of supremacy.

  I went though a few revisions, settling on something less angular and blocky. The other core were the four great vassals of the nation, which would be represented by how they are bound to the galaxy in the centre - the core and the home realm. The gem at the top felt less cliche than two heads looking in opposite directions, and helped to congeal some of the other elements.

  This was all based on a drawing I had worked on ages ago that was supposed to be a coat of arms. I never really went back to it. This insignia could perhaps be depicted everywhere - against starships, on offical forms and declarations, letters, tanks, aircraft, pretty much something that could be stenciled or easily applied.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Last of the Old Year

A new year has dawned, 2018 has come so at a slight delay I introduce some of my last bit of work for the year. The main area for the Dwarven fortress was the start, so with time today I looked into refining the elements which could apply to the rest of the structure. Which have given me a chance to look into how the UV editor has changed since 2016 extension 2 (turns out a fair bit, not least of which the arrangement of the UI).

  The stairwell was an interesting concept to work with - it needed to fit the hall, but also be shallow enough to plausibly allow carts to travel up and down it. Holding the whole structure up will likely be large columns that extend the whole way up and down.

  Some geometry cleanup, a ceiling and a tweak to the length of the tunnel and the model is taking shape. The next likely stage is to block out the rest of it with simple geometry - clutter might not come until most of the structure has been blocked out but one of the really fun elements I'm looking forward to is that the site within the Dwarf Fortress playthrough sits inside a huge deposit of marble but also shale, feldspar and some microcline.

While the structure is predominantly white, this means that there could be plenty of opportunity for other colours that add variety like warm greys, teals and either rose or terracotta.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Today's Post is Rated D for Dwarf

  Over the summer I had taken the interest in Dwarf Fortress, an indie game that despite the use of ASCII-based graphics is incredibly deep. With experimenting in fortress designs (the game encourages players to design everything from water systems to complex traps and even optimise architectural layout for maximum production of goods) I got inspired to bring my designs to life in Maya.

  I thought it would be a good chance to try out Maya Light 2018 after concluding that if I want to go commercial with anything, I need a proper license to make a commercially viable model. There might be some omitted components such as the water channels that bring water into and out of the fort and the road entering the construct itself.

  Important areas like the workshops or the temples and taverns could also be designed. Because this involves Dwarves it's all a primarily-underground structure; so it will all be cavity spaces. Today alone, I've only laid out the outline and some basic elements for the main concourse. From this chamber can be found ramped passages to the different levels and thoroughfares into the various annex chambers like the workshop main floor or the dormitories.

  Dwarf Fortress's grids are vague in how much space they occupy (a rat and a bronze titan both occupy one square, but can't occupy the same square, which means that a hydra which is presumably the size of a small house can fit though a Dwarf-made door) but there is a guideline that each square can be extrapolated as a 2x3x2 metres in the XYZ orientations used in Maya. So for ease of design each square in Maya's grid will be imagined as two metres in length and height.

 The game is also interacted with in a top-down view so there is absolutely no information when it comes to ceilings. For this, I have full freedom to create anything form flat slab rooves, beams and vaulted ceilings which can also add depth and scale to the structure.

    Alongside this I got back into more building work, another palace layout that will be inspired by the style introduced by the French Second Empire such as angled rooves

  I might tone down this structure compared to the last attempt. Working on Four I've developed a new appreciation for spatial awareness and designing structures proportioned to fit the inhabitant from the start rather than halfway though.