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Haven't posted in a while, so here's some stuff I've been working on. Back in February I participated in a Cloth Simulation competition, using Houdini for the cloth sim and animation with the core animation provided by Mixamo. This was my attempt at it, a woman dancing the samba: Started with a base mesh, that I built with Houdini:
From 3D 2013
Did some initial sculpting in ZBrush and brought the higher res mesh back into Houdini:
From 3D 2013
In modo I took this mesh and did some retopology work on it, mainly in the shoulders, and hips
From 3D 2013
and added some nice shoes
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
And then back into ZBrush for some more tweaks:
From 3D 2013
For the face, I tried to use Vanessa Williams as a reference, didn't come very close, but it was fun to try anyways:
From 3D 2013
I wanted to have some glowing tatoos, so I tried some experiments in different layers in ZBrush, with the idea that I would export a greyscale tatoo map, that would drive how much of the glow color would come through in the shader.
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
Once the body was done, I separated the shoes into their own ztool/mesh and made a couple of variations:
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
and ultimately went with the crossover straps:
From 3D 2013
Then it was a matter of uploading the hi res mesh to Mixamo and getting back an FBX file with a basic rig. Another rig, with a much lower resolution was also uploaded to mixamo, and this was had the animation attached to the resulting FBX - the idea being that this lo res mesh would driver the hi res one. After some tweaks to the FBX rig to do some adjustments to the bone weights, I brought it back into Houdini: The red mesh is the original, the green is the mesh with "fixes" applied. Ultimately I also did some corrective fixes in Houdini as well to get the deformations to work better.
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
I wanted to try and have long hair, so I use a couple of hair assets for the different sections of her hair, the main head, the "bun" in the back, and the hair that would extend out of the bun:
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
This would also have to go through the simulation to calculate the wire deformers that drive the hair guides. So, with all this, and some experiments with clothing I got this out of the cloth simulation:
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
The clothing was made of several different pieces and the "sequins" were added by instancing geometry on the surfaces of some of the cloth, after it was deformed. After seeing some of the other costumes I thought it needed to be more dramatic so I redesigned it (with lots of feedback from the wife on how it should look):
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
From 3D 2013
THen took it all into zbrush and added some color, brought it back into Houdini, added a floor and some dance lights (the color tiles):
From 3D 2013
better materials on the shoes
From 3D 2013
sequins (I think around 30,000 sequins were instanced)
From 3D 2013
Tatoos:
From 3D 2013
And finally some more dramatic lighting (and hair!):
From 3D 2013
The final entry was somewhat of a disapointment, it was rendered too small (720P was taking too long with the settings I had), and the compression on vimeo makes it look worse. I've since learned some techniques that would have sped things up significantly, but live and learn.

Houdini Mixamo Costume Competition Final Entry - Girl with the Glowing Tattoo from Jim Crafton on Vimeo.

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More Stories By Jim Crafton

Jim Crafton is software developer currently doing a variety of work in C++, C#, and Java. He is the author of the Visual Component Framework (more at http://vcf-online.org/), an advanced C++ application framework. He's also interested in graphics, particularly 3D graphics using tools like Houdini and ZBrush.

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