Building the Foundation

2This week I started working on the basic pieces for the model.  Right now I’m working on building the core joints that will be used throughout the figure.  I just finished the basic hinge joints that will be used in the hips and shoulders, and possibly main body.  I will be using some variation on them for the ankles and wrists, too.  I took a lot of inspiration from Gundam kits, as well as the joints used in the Kaiyodo Revoltech line.  Much like those examples, I’d like to avoid using too much hardware for this project, like screws or fasteners, so I’m trying to build as much of it as possible to be snap-together like a model kit.

Joint_print_1

The joints work pretty well in this regard.  I made a test print for the basic joint, and right out of the printer, they snapped together and worked well (aside from the fact that one end of the joint snapped off immediately, but that was from the low fill density I used for this print).  I built in a ratcheting function so they can hold their position better, which also seemed to work nicely.  For the final model I will probably need to do a little cleanup, but as a proof of concept, I’m quite pleased.

1By the end of the month, I’m aiming to have all the joints and a basic skeleton modeled. Moving into April I’d like to start prototyping of physical model of the skeleton to make sure all the joints move as intended.  Last thing I want is to finish it and realize something doesn’t move as intended.

-Nick

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Begin Sculpting Phase

Base_Mesh

I spent a little time in ZBrush this weekend to get a simple base mesh fleshed out.  From here, I’ll be importing the base into Maya to work on bit by bit.  This base is really only to serve as a guide, since the final version will be made of several little pieces.  Not concerned about the details (like fingers or muscles), I just want to get the basic proportions down to have something to work with.

In the past, I would’ve probably done an isometric drawing to work from directly in Maya, but I’ve found that takes a lot more time and probably isn’t quite as accurate.  This way feels much quicker and intuitive.  While I have had some experience working in ZBrush, I’m far more familiar with Maya.  I haven’t had much opportunity to use the two together on a single project, but I’m definitely seeing the benefit in being fluent with both.  The next step will be to get the first pass at a skeleton set up with all the joints in place.  From there I can build out to the bigger pieces.

-Nick

End Concept Phase

The concept work is done (for now)!  I’ll be getting these printed and hung on my wall later this week to start a mood board.  Sometimes just little things like that can help keep me on track with a project or get me in the mood to work.  I might have spent a little too much time working on the layouts for these boards, but considering these will be hanging on my wall for the rest of the year, I think it was worth it.

On the final model, I’m hoping to make all the moving parts shown here actually work.  I really want to incorporate the helmet-opening feature, the weapon holsters and arm blades.  I’ve also got a few sketches for how all the joints will fit together that I haven’t published yet.  I’m going to try to do something a little better than the standard ball-and-socket or hinge joints on most figures.  Concept sketches for that stuff will probably show up from time to time.

Moving forward, I plan to get started modeling this week.  I’d like to try to stay on a regular schedule with the updates.  I think I’ll be setting up a calendar this week as well to keep my progress on track.  We’re just getting to the heart of this thing!

-Nick

Finalizing a concept

mantis_model_concept

I’ve been spending the last month doing the concept work for this project, and it’s almost finished.  I’m just finalizing the rest of it, but in the mean time, I wanted to post the main concept.  The rest should be coming later this week.

Looking back at my earlier concepts, I do feel this is the one I’m most satisfied with (as one would hope).  I incorporated several aspects from earlier designs that I felt were working while trying to refine everything else.  In the beginning, I was trying to start from scratch too much.  I quickly realized I had already done a lot of the footwork for this design with my previous concepts, and it didn’t make sense to throw everything out.

This design has actually been about 90% finished for a few weeks, but there were a few parts that weren’t working, like the arms and legs.  I usually find that taking a break for a little while and coming back later to play with different ideas is the best way to get some fresh perspective on it.  In the past, a lot of my designs would turn out just ‘good enough.’  There would usually be aspects about them that bothered me, but I’d be too lazy to fix.  Instead, I decided that if there was any part of a design I wasn’t excited about or felt like it didn’t fit, it deserved special attention until I got it right.  For the longest time, the arms and legs weren’t working for me, so I kept trying things until I came to something I liked.  I had started getting a bit burned out on this for a while, which was expected, but I’m excited to push forward again.

-Nick