My latest project here at Lightmap involved learning how to create realistic knitted material in order to develop a teddy bear. Developing hair on a model is a technique I most recently learnt when working on my Christmas Project, however, the challenge of this particular project involved learning how to create a realistic wool that would wrap-around my model correctly.
How to Create the Wool
With a lot of my learning, tutorials are an invaluable source of information and for this task, I needed guidance to create a wool effect on a shaped object. I found the below tutorial, ‘3D Knitting Concept in Cinema 4D,’ the most helpful and utilised the techniques in my project.
From the tutorial, I learnt that creating a helix guide and then applying the hair gave the interwoven effect, similar to real-world knitted patterns where the hair followed the path from the helix, twisting and looping together. I was able to duplicate the helix with the hair settings, using the clone tool, and then created the wool and applied it to a simple plane to break the technique apart. By breaking the technique apart I was able to focus on making the wool correctly on a basic object before moving on to a more technical challenge. Finally, I applied materials and lights to the scene to visualise the final effect.
Creating the Teddy Bear
Creating the teddy bear mesh was very simple because the main detail goes into the wool, meaning the model didn’t need to be overly detailed, which left me more room to include extra character and focus on the model and wool. I used Sculptris and Maya to sculpt, model and reduce the mesh, using poly-modelling and sculpting tools to form the main shapes, whilst cleaning and reducing the polygon count in Maya by using a combination of tools for reduction, which I have worked on in previous projects.
Applying the Wool to the Teddy Bear
Applying the wool to the teddy bear was the hardest part of the project because I had to position the helix spline guide and the hair settings so that they wrapped around the shape of the teddy bear. Due to the teddy bear having polygons which faced in different directions, it was difficult to ensure the guides faced the correct angle for all areas of the bear because one setting worked for the ears but didn’t work for the head.
To solve this issue, I split the teddy bear into more layers and used the solo function to eliminate the other elements (body and hair) so I could focus on just the hair object for each body part of the bear. This change significantly sped up the process due to there being fewer parts to load in the scene and less tweaking required afterwards.
I also had to reduce the hair settings for rendering as it was incredibly high detail which caused slow loading times and render issues. To fix this problem, I lowered the settings of the hair, reducing the polygon count and clone aspects, whilst grouping elements into layers so I could toggle them on and off in the viewpoint and interactive render tests. I was then able to work much more efficiently and develop a refined and polished result.
HDR Light Studio
I found that using HDR Light Studio with the wool effect really brought the scene to life and added character to the teddy bear. After recently using the software with hair and fur effects in my Christmas Project, I felt HDR Light Studio really complimented the wool and provided great feedback, quick responses and lit the details with finesse.
This project was really exciting and fun to create as I was able to put a lot of character and design elements into the lighting and wool material. The most challenging aspect of this project was understanding how to apply the hair using spline guides, creating the hair to resemble wool and rendering a highly detailed scene.
The challenges involved in this project demonstrated to me how far I had come on as a 3D artist at Lightmap over the last year, especially as this is my first attempt at creating a wool teddy bear. I am really pleased with the final results and how the previous projects have guided and helped me to achieve the rendered outcome.