Pressing ahead with the modeling process. I spent some time this week getting most of the body blocked in. Instead of trying to focus on one piece at a time to completion, I’m finding it easier to block in everything first, then come back and polish everything up piece by piece. The block in process has gone surprisingly fast, but I’m sure I’ll get caught up with adding in all the little details and spending more time there than anticipated.
This is also the point where I’m trying to tighten up a lot of the articulating parts. I’ve modeled the pieces to look correct (roughly) at this point, but haven’t tested the angles of articulation yet. Playing around and rotating things in Maya is the quickest and easiest way to test a lot of these things before going to print. The hip joints, for example, had only been roughly placed in. I placed a sphere where they would go to find the center point of rotation, and moved the joint there. Then I was able to move the hip piece and reshape it so it would still look right no matter how it is posed.
I’m finding hips are a little more difficult to get right compared to the rest of the body, because you’re trying to mimic a very fleshy part of the body (i.e., the butt) with hard plastic. Most figures I’ve seen handle it in a few ways: either the classic G.I. Joe T-crotch (terrible), a plate-like design for the butt to cover the joint from behind (awkward in most poses), or make the ball joint that combines most of the mass with the rest of the leg (best option). I’ll be going with option number three.
Another piece that’s been taking a while to figure out is the back and shoulder area. Many of the figures I like incorporate a rolling shoulder for better articulation, and when posing, makes a huge difference between more natural poses and that infamous stiff action figure pose. However, I want to try something new (at least I’ve never seen it before, that is). I want to add in a shoulder blade on the back, connecting the inner shoulder joint to the outer body. If done right, I think that piece could add some cool detail, and have one more moving part to make poses even more realistic.
This is taking a little bit of planning to get right, because it’s essentially a floating piece with two connection points, and needs to be able to handle a weird range of motion. The piece attached to the shoulder needs to be a ball joint, while the part attached to the back should be a ball joint that can slide, hinge and rotate.
Again, I’m still in the blocking phase, but it’s never too early to start thinking about this stuff. The sooner I get it figured out, the easier everything else will be in the future.