Last year I started making digital birthday cards for my niece. As she lives far away, these cards are a way I can share with her what I do for a living given that I only get to see her once a year at most.
I start the process by asking her mother what she is into this year, i.e. pop culture, animals, etc. Last year she was really into triceratops, so I took an old dinosaur model that I made years beforehand for an unrealized project and made an animation of it leaping out of an opening box. At the time, I was freelancing so I had time to make it more elaborate.
This year, her favorite thing is the pangolin, which is an armadillo like creature featured in a meme she likes.
I was limited by time this year and since this was something I wanted to animate and run via the older model phone my brother in law has, I knew I had to make an animation of my own as quickly and ergonomically as possible.
First, I started by saving a lot of various pangolin pictures off google images for reference. Then, I modeled a very basic low poly model pangolin in Silo.
From there I imported the model into Zbrush. I was quickly able to add scales and some minor details to the creature.
I then took the high poly model and the low poly model and brought it into Substance Painter 2018 to shoot the normal maps so I could work on the textures.
When I brought the pangolin into Maya I initially thought I could use Maya’s Quickrig function to give the creature bones, but that I realized that I would have to repose the model in a way for the application to detect the limbs, so I reposed the creature. However, Maya’s Quickrig ultimately didn’t work the way I wanted it to, so I ended up making my own skeleton for the creature.
Since I am using Vuforia for this AR project, I needed a marker for the camera to detect when to start playing the animation. I decided to make the marker a simple rock that my brother in law could print out and hang on the wall. I took an old rock that I made for another unrealized project and started animating the pangolin with that in mind.
The pangolin peeks out behind the rock and then musters up the courage to waddle it’s way around the rock, sheepishly waving at the viewer. It was a very quick and simple project for me to complete and my niece really liked it – so I won some awesome uncle points. 🙂