Reflecting first year

Reflecting first year

This past year attending university through my computer screen wasn’t the way I thought I would be attending, but it was definitely something new and interesting to do. I really did enjoy learning animation this year. I have learnt lots from the basics of drawing, to producing 2D animation, and from learning new software, to 3D modelling and animating.

 The people in this class have been so lovely and friendly to me and I hope I appear nice to them too. Although we haven’t all met in person yet, I still appreciate the time I have spent with them so far. 

I will admit this year has been tough for us all to carefully focus on work from home, to be isolated for a long time, not getting the full university experience and to try to connect with others. Apart from all that, I still really enjoyed the year! We had many class calls that turned out fun. The modules were very interesting and I have made projects I never thought I’d be able to make!

Thank you to the staff for working hard especially this year to teach us animation. I am excited for next year and what is to come next 🙂

Cute Character – Reflection

Here is my finished Cute character model uploaded onto sketchfab.


Model on its own:

Model with scene:



This was a fun assignment to work on, and one of the many assignments that taught me a lot about 3D. I had only started 3D (for the first time) in January, and I am surprised at how much I have learnt and improved since then. etc. modelling/sculpting, Maya/blender tools and settings, texturing, and more.

I am happy with the outcome of this project. I feel I did great in providing a context/purpose for the character I created, and added accessories, posing and expression to enhance the purpose and presentation. I also feel I did great during the modelling process. I made sure I went through each task and did them the best I could. Lastly, I appreciate the time I took to add a nice scene as it looks a lot more interesting and unique. However, there are also parts I could have done better in. I should have checked through the scene UV maps once more as they gave me a small problem. I could have experimented more with texture design and shading if I had more time to learn about it. Lastly, a part of me thinks I could have been more original in my character design.

Other than this, I had a great experience with this project and I now know how to model a character, texture a character, and present it in a nice way.


Cute Character – Presentation

After modelling and texturing my organic model, I decided I wanted to make a nice scene to present my model in on Sketchfab. Before I go into attempting this, I wanted to gather inspiration and research on how other 3D artists have done this. First I looked through sketchfab of peoples cute characters’ look, and how they presented them in the website.

Here is a few that stood out to me:


I could go for a simple solid colour style like these two set ups for characters by ‘Demidog’ and ‘Tsayuriw’ I also like their simple scenes – the sofa, the bath – it connects to the style and also gives the characters a purpose /an activity to do.

I could also go for the toon shader look that these scenes have made by ‘Kyuta’ and ‘jdinutella’. I like the shade style and the outline style as it could go well with my penguin. Along with the penguin, like these scenes, I could add tiny designs around the model to make it stand out more.

I wanted to try out a scene much like Tsayuriw’s modelling of the ‘Ofuro Cat’. I liked the square room scene and how the objects are rounded and stylistic. It would be fun to see how I can achieve a look for a little office room with a desk.

Here I made a few sketches with the ideas I had in mind. I knew I wanted some sort of office/desk furniture in. I also thought the pinboard was a cute idea but it also contains a lot more detail to make it seem interesting. I also wanted the scene to have a little carpet to fill up the room more. In addition I could possibly add a chair, a window or posters on the wall, If I have time.

I am mostly using life reference from my own flat room. This is where I got the idea of the yellow walls, the carpet, the desk and the big pinboard from.

I got back onto Maya and started to mess around with these ideas and see what could work. At this point I had the square room shape placed down. I made a desk, the pinboard and a carpet shape.

I made sure going through this that all my meshes had correct UVs by going into the UV editor and unfolding each object. I also made sure they fit in this UV map, and that they were straightened any laid down properly. This made my process a lot quicker and easier to go through.

I also imported my penguin model to compare the sizing of the scene to the model. This was helpful in keeping a consistent size of each object in the scene with the size of the penguin.

Here I had added a few more bits of decor/furniture such as a bin, a seat and a mouse for the computer. After I modelled everything I UV mapped the rest of the mesh to clean up and make sure they work for texturing.

Here I assigned each part a Lambert material so they can be separated from each other on Substance Painter for texturing. I named each one what they were and kept each object with multiple meshes together, such as the table and the monitor.

I brought my scene into Substance painter by exporting it as an FBX file, and as soon as I go on, I baked the textures so they could be painted on and have textures placed on them.

Here I had experimented with the colour assorting and design. First I painted the walls and floor a yellow colour and a cream colour. I then experimented with a wood smart material and placed it underneath the colour layers, so that the colours would show on top and the wood line texture shows through. I also used a secondary colour to clash with the yellow, a teal blue. I painted it on the seat, the bin, the pinboard, monitor and mouse. For metal parts like the seat stand, monitor stand and the desk legs, I painted on Metalness and low roughness to get a shiny metal look. In addition, I experimented with the pinboard and the monitor screen with the use of images and alpha shapes. I used square and triangle alpha shapes with a colour to create sticky notes. I dragged in a desktop background image onto Substance and used it like the alpha shapes, to place down on the monitor screen. Lastly, I painted on stripes on the carpet to give it a pattern.

Similarly to how I painted the penguin, I added lighter and darker tones of the teal blue colour around the seat, bin etc. to give it more vibrance instead of just a single colour on it.

I liked how this was going however I did want to add and change a few things for this scene. I moved on to test out the textures and presentation anyway just to see if it works, then I would make my changes after.

First of all, it worked well when brought back into Maya. All the textures were working and the penguin fit well in the scene. I made a new FBX export Including both the penguin and the scene so its an easier process in Sketchfab.

Working on Sketchfab was a straightforward process where I would slot in each texture to their PBR maps etc. Base colour, Metalness, Normals. I also added in a lighting environment (Studio Soft) and made sure the intensity was correct before publishing.

This is how the scene looked after publishing. It was a little tricky to get a good angle of lighting as the walls block it, but the scene lights up okay anyway. The textures are all on and work well, and the models look clean. After publishing this test I would like to go back to the Substance Painter stage and add a few changes and details to make this scene a little better.

At first I wanted to try out a different colour to replace the teal blue to see how that would look. I painted on a purple/pink colour but soon realised it blends in too much with the colour of the penguin, so I switched back to a teal blue colour.

I also wanted to add detail to the pinboard tomake it seem more like a pinboard. I worked with a height fill layer and a black mask (with the fill layer in different colours) to create dots around the board which makes it look like pins holding up the sticky notes. This was tricky to find a way to recreate but I think this works well in the background.

And here are screenshots of an updated version of my Cute character scene. I followed the same process of adding textures onto Sketchfab and adjusting the lighting of the scene to present the model well.

Overall I think this looks really nice and although I could have experimented more with texturing and materials, I think this looks appealing and cute as it is. The Sketchfab link is below.


Cute Character – Texturing

When I had finished my model, I brought my work into Substance Painter. Substance Painter will allow me to add textures in many versions and styles.

Firstly, I baked the textures of my whole model so Substance has an idea of the UVs and where / how each part of the penguin is placed. I went on to apply some solid colours to each part with only the colour switch on, each on a paint layer.

On the body, I made multiple layers to separate the white tummy colour, the beak colour and the pink/purple skin colour.

I used this reference from my previous drawings to pick out the right colours that I was looking for.

Alternatively, I placed down the Chrome Pure material onto the computer, and a darker colour chrome material for the computer logo. I still plan to add a custom texture onto the computer to give it a screen, and more noticeable keyboard and touchpad. (Later on I notice this I did not like this when exported back onto Maya, so I made my own texture for the computer.)

I continued with Substance Painter and added some highlights and darker tones to the layers of the penguin to add a more lively and cartoon style. After this was done I exported the textures, and brought them back into Maya.

I opened my previous Maya file and placed in my textures and arranged them to the parts they belong to. I feel they look nice here already. I wasn’t a fan of the ‘chrome’ texture I placed on the computer so I thought it would be nicer and easier to make my own texture.

I exported the UV map of the computer that will give me the guide to place down the colour of the computer, the squares of where the keyboard, the touch pad, and the screen is.

I went onto photoshop and added in some colour to the places listed above. I also made an image of a blackboard class call that I painted over with penguins on it. I think it was a cute and unique touch to the model and it connects to the theme and purpose of the computer being in the scene with the penguin.

I added the texture to the Maya file and it fit well! It looks really well with the penguin.

Here is my Maya model with the full Substance Painter textures applied. I think it works very well and the little details Put in etc. the blush, the darker tones, the light in the eyes, makes a big difference in its appearance.

I exported this model to an FBX and uploaded it to sketchfab to test out how the character will be presented. This is just to test it out before I made a little scene for the penguin first.

Again through Sketchfab I went through the process of adding each texture to their PBR map etc. base colour, Metalness, roughness. I also placed down the studio light environment and added a coloured background to give it a bit of life.

Here is what it looks like uploaded. I think it looks really nice here. It looks vibrant and clear with the lighting settings I placed on. Below is the link to the model.


Next I would like to create a quick scene for the penguin to enhance the environment, purpose and intensions of this character.

Cute Character – Modelling

I started a practice attempt in blender during week 9 to get a good idea of what I will be working with on Blender and how to get the overall shape of the penguin.

As you can see, it is not the best modelled penguin out there. This was a quick attempt and I was mostly experimenting with the tools and doing what our tutor was teaching us that week. I see that the head is quite squished, the feet are not positioned together, the arms are too thin, etc. I have learned a lot more from this stage with the use of the tutorials provided on the subject of sculpting characters.

For example, I completed this task recorded by my tutor Henry to create a cute crocodile character basemesh using metaballs. I followed the video that showcased the use of metaballs, scaling and moving them, mirroring them, sculpting them etc. This was a nice process of creating a basemesh that I liked trying out.

I also followed my tutors tutorial on creating a basemesh for a dog using metaballs. It followed the same kind of process with mirroring the metaballs on each side to create the body, head, legs all symmetrical. Then sculpting the mesh with grab tool, sharp edge tool, elastic deform tool, simplify and smooth tool. I feel I only did okay using this process so I moved on to see what else I could work on.

I followed a 2-part youtube tutorial that taught how to create the basemesh of a bear. The first part showed how to block out the main parts of the bear, and sculpt them roughly to get an overall shape to work on. Using rounded cubes, with arc division of 16 that made it a sphere, was also a good way to block out the character as it is much neater and provided more control of the shapes in sculpt mode. In the second part we dove into detail sculpting which was really informative and I know a lot more after it.

The second part I got to group all the body parts together. During sculpting, I would change the voxel size and press remesh to provide me more divisions to get smoother, sharper details on the mesh. I used ctrl + r to reset my mesh

so it would be in a good position. I also used the sculpt tools draw, clay, sharp edge, grab, simple deform and more to follow the steps to make the shape of the bears head, body, claws etc. I used the smooth tool to smooth parts out, and made use of the mask tool to block bits out, then ctrl + I to invert, and work on it with the mesh filter tool (smoothing it, inflating it etc.) Then I also got to work on the render and lighting options, and lastly I added colours to the bear, and even a node to set a gradient on the bear. This was a great tutorial to go through and it taught me a lot about how to go about sculpting and polishing a model.

Source: Week 8 – Blocking out characters, recorded demonstrations – Installing model with speed plugin.mp4, Sculpting a basemesh of a dog using metaballs.mp4, Sculpting a basemesh of a cute crocodile using metaballs.mp4, Using standard geometry to create a basemesh.mp4.

Source: Week 9 – Sculpting characters – video content – Sculpting an Owl, Sculpting a stylised bear, Sculpting a wizard gnome, Masking tools in Blender, Applying textures to maps on brushes.mp4.

After these practices I was ready to start blocking out my Penguin model. I made a quick guide of the penguin below.

I started planning my references for my cute character on this page, and decided I should model the whole body all in blender, and model the glasses, and the computer separate in Maya. This makes for a more simple process and will hopefully be easy enough to bring all together in the end. I picked my colour palette, made a turnaround and sketched what the top and bottom of the character may look like.

I started my Blender scene off by placing down my reference images, cut up into the sides of the penguin drawings, around the area in X, Y and Z axis. This helped me start off the blocking In the shapes with the reference right beside/behind my workspace.

I blocked in some simple shapes using the rounded cube mesh to do so. With this mesh part I could change its presets to either a rounded cube or a sphere, by changing the radius settings and the arc division settings. I made one of the legs on one side at first, then I gave the parts the mirror modifier that allows it to mirror to another side. I let it mirror to the Y axis. At first only one part mirrored from my selection, so I used CTRL + L settings and selected ‘Modifiers’ which applied the modifier to the rest of the parts. I made these parts all separate first then I joined up the body part first, then the legs then the beak.

As the parts I am using are already set as meshes, I could go straight into the sculpt mode to alter the body. I remeshed the body by setting the voxel size to around 0.06, which joint up the head and the body together roughly, so I could go over it with a smooth tool to smooth it out. I also used CTRL + R to reset the mesh positioning, and turned the dyntopo tool on to clean it up and add more divisions.

Next I worked on the feet. I wanted them parts to be joint together so they could create a smooth foot so I used the sculpt tools to smooth them out, flatten the bottom, and inflate the toe parts so it looks more cartoon-like. I used mostly the smooth tool, the scrape tool, the inflate tool and the grab tool (to place the foot in a better position).

From this point, I traced back to what I also may need for this model and figured I should start making the accessories of the penguin on Maya – the glasses and the little computer.

I made my pair of glasses starting with a torus shape. I copied and pasted the glasses part to the other side then combined the two together, and froze their transformations.

I then made a cube for the middle nose part of the glasses and slotted it right in-between the glasses, and deleted the side faces of the cube. I then used the multi-cut tool to add two rows of edge loops around both the torus parts, so that they provide vertices for the middle part to slot into with the use of the target weld tool.

First I combine the middle part with the torus shapes, then I use the target weld tool to drag each vertices together. Because there’s another row of edges cutting through the middle of the torus parts, that meant I had to recreate the same loop around the middle for the cube part. This then helped finish off the target weld action then I could go inside the torus shapes, and delete the faces where the middle part meets the torus part, so they can be one whole shape.

I went through the same process when adding the legs of the glasses to the torus parts of the glasses. Making the shape, adding the edge loops, deleting the necessary faces, using the target weld tool and combining the parts together. I set an assigned material for the glasses and made the colour blue, similar to what my colour palette has.

I also made a little computer on Maya, using bevelled cubes as the base and a cylinder symbol at the back of the computer.

I combined the two rectangles together by their vertices with the use of the multi-cut tool and the target weld tool. I then used the extrude tool to extrude a place for the computer screen, the keyboard and the mouse pad, so they are seen clearly. For both the computer and the glasses, I may make a texture for them soon after I work on the penguin more.

Back to my penguin, I had started on placing down the arms, the eyes and sculpting the beak a little better.

I placed down two separate rounded cube meshes, with radius of 1 and arc division of 16, onto the sides of the penguin body, and worked on one then the other. I mainly used the snake hook tool on the rounded cube to drag out a snake/tail-like shape, to give me the position of the arms that I was looking for. When using this tool, the mesh would break in some parts so I would make sure I remeshed to bring it to a suitable position/shape.

I turned on dyntopo on the arms and smoothed them out when I finished sculpting them to the shape I wanted. The left arm is where the computer will be held, and the right arm is placed on the beak as if they were thinking about something.

I also worked on the beak by using the elastic deform tool to drag it outwards, then used the draw tool and holding CTRL for an inwards effect, to dig out a mouth. For the eyes I placed down a rounded cube, same form as the arms, and made it small and stretched upwards, and placed it where suitable. Then I set it a mirror modifier so it can mirror on the Y axis of the penguin.

Lastly, I added the little detail of the tummy line around the body with the inverted draw tool and stabalized pen turned on, so it was a neat line around. I used the smooth tool to smooth it out after.

As I finished my model on blender and smoothed everything out, I exported it into an fbx file and uploaded the file to Maya so I can repotologise the mesh.

As I placed it on Maya, I also dropped in the glasses and computer and resize each object so that they fit together and suit well.

To do retopology, I should set the high poly mesh into a live object so I can project the low polys onto it. I then turn on Quad draw and place down squares that connect to each other, while I have symmetry on so it would repeat the squares on the other side of the model. I followed some references and a video tutorial my tutor made on Retopology, to help me plan out where I can place these squares and how they will connect together. I started with the face and the mouth and spread outwards to the eyes and head. Eventually when I got the head done, I was able to finish off the body shape with more simple and bigger shapes. During this process, I used SHIFT to relax the polys so that it will fall into place with the model behind better than before.

I separated the arms and feet on my main model because I was cautious of how I was going to make retopology on everything at once. I made the feet together in a pair, and since the arms are in different positions, I did pair them up, but turned off symmetry on the two sides so they wouldn’t appear wrong on one side. To the left is what the retopology process looked like so far.

During a class, I realised I had to redo the arms again as they weren’t all connected correctly in terms of the round edges going around the arms. I quickly redid them and I was then able to move onto UV wrapping this model.

I was given advice on how and where to cut each piece of the model so they could be unfolded on the UV workspace. As soon as I unfolded everything, pressed layout, and straightened what part needed it, I was finished the UV process.

From here the Retopology and UV steps were finished, and I was able to continue to texturing this model and making it presentable.

Cute Character – Planning

In this Assignment I am required to model/sculpt, texture, and present via Sketchfab, a Cute Character of my choice, without exceeding 40000 Polygons in my scene.

I have the choice to think of any cute character I would like to design. I also should think about about their context, their accessories, their pose, and expression.

Before looking into this assignment, I have been following tutorials and videos from my tutors who have shown me techniques and skills of using Maya and Blender to create a character. So going into this, I have general knowledge of the process of creating a 3D character.

To start off, I made a little brainstorming board on miro board to help me plot down some of my first ideas and hopefully develop other ideas in the process.

I was really inspired by teddy bears both from Pinterest and the teddy’s I own. I feel like they could tell a story and therefore I could create a good purpose for them. I looked at what kind of animals or teddy’s I like for ideas on pinterest, and also picked out an image of my dog as I thought making my dog in 3D would be very cute.


After this, I made a couple sketches of my first general ideas of cute characters. I thought about what thing/animal that I like most and put it down on my screen. I mostly focused on animals such as a bear, hedgehog, penguin, dog, and more.

I got help from my sister back at my home that kindly took pictures of teddy’s I had in my room. This gave me alot more to work from and is great real-life reference. I chose these two teddy’s to find their overall shape and think about what texture they would have.

I designed my final four designs: The penguin, my dog Lexi, my childhood bear, and my colourful dinosaur.

I decided to go with the Penguin design as I think It is a strong idea. It includes both a purpose and a cute design that I think I can pull off in creating a 3D model of it.

I also chose the penguin because I actually have a penguin teddy in my Uni flat. Its the one teddy I brought with me here, and it has been with me through all of my online classes. I think of the penguin as a little student buddy. I want to make a cute penguin character that has big glasses on, and may be working on a little computer – this will make the Student penguin!

After I chose the penguin design, I found a few references of different kinds of penguins, and penguins in a teddy form to provide me with few ideas. I drew three different styles in front and side view and blocked out their silhouette to see which one was more appealing. In the end I chose to go with the first design, with details from the other designs.

Next, I picked out some colour palettes from the website and tested them out on each drawing of the penguin. On the right, I sketched out some pose ideas that the penguin could be in. I think I like the top one, or the bottom one the most.


Now, I can move onto the modelling of my penguin character, starting on blender.

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