What with Kernel and a 10,000 word dissertation to write I thought I wouldn't have enough on my plate (sarcasm), so I took up Adam Warne's offer to produce a small amount of animation for a documentary he's making on the subject of the brain's capacity for creativity. Most of the documentary will consist of interviews, but for the bit where new neural pathways are forged during the conception of an idea is described a visual explanation was required to augment the crazy science.
I believe the shot will play out with a slow shot roving over the undulations of the brain's exterior before diving between the folds to a shot of the camera squeezing its flash-lit way deeper into the brain. Much like the stomach cam effect seen down a patient's throat, often used for surgery. Then the camera will dive further in, at this point down to a very high level of magnification, and here will be the neural pathways being forged.
This is the visual reference I need to aim for. I'm not entirely sure how to depict this yet, if all I have to show is the currents pulsing up and down a modelled set of neural pathways that shouldn't be a problem, but if the pathways have to be shown connecting I'll have to try something new. This is all subject to collaboration and revision at this point but its definitely an exciting challenge.
|Mmm, Drained Brain.|
I made an exceedingly basic model in Maya comprising of about 6 polygons. I jest, of course it wasn't a cube but very simple none-the-less. Then I took this into Mudbox after UV unwrapping it and subdivided it about 7 times.
Here it is at about 75% completion, I often forgot to mirror the brush strokes in order to save sculpting both hemispheres separately which meant there is a certain amount of organic asymmetry in the sculpt but also some dodgy bits where the brush was mirrored even though the geometry wasn't symmetrical. I then went through the usual ordeal of exporting the thing to a displacement map and setting up the correct nodes (why does this never work quite the same way every time?).
Then I decided to start tweaking the shader with the texture applied only as a bump map in order to generate quicker test renders.
Too much sub surface scattering so I turned that down, a lot.
Better but still too soft, don't you just love these work in progress comparisons? Yeah, me too.
Then I turned the displacement on, and realised it looked nothing like the final sculpt in Mudbox, and I can't quite remember what I did to solve this but I think its because I hadn't exported the base level mesh from Mudbox to displace in Maya, and was instead using the original model. Therefore the alterations the high level sculpt had made to the low level mesh weren't there.
Here are better specular qualities to the shader more accurately representing the spotlight flesh aesthetic I was going for.
Here is the correct base mesh for the displacement and all the bulges are now in the correct place.
|Slimy and Inflamed|
The detail of the folds of the brain in this render was starting to get closer to the look that I wanted but due to the fact that its only really the sub surface scattering powering the shader at this point its quite dark and the redness makes the brain look kind of sore and inflamed.
|Squidgy and Creamy|
So with a pastelly flesh tone and some indirect lighting its starting to look much healthier but until I have a proper diffuse texture I won't be able to quite replicate the look I want which is something closer to this:
So veins will be a key feature which I think I can just bump map on, gloriously revolting aren't they?
and I need to figure out a way to create that gooey caramel type stuff between folds in the shader or texture. So there you have it, a nice visually stimulating post for those of us who are as sick of the words as I am from dissertationing. Pretties abound!
Some of you may have noticed how sneaky this project is as I can just reuse this sculpt in Kernel for the bulb brains, yeah, cunning. All it'll need is a simple texture replacement.
No propaganda this time but for Loz's astute response
to my gamification piece
Also, happy one hundred posts to The Pixel Crush, I think I planned to make a big deal out of it but
then forgot :/