Making Of 'The NS5'
Before we start, I presume the reader (you that is) has some knowledge of Polygonal modeling. But even if you don't, this tutorial will still be useful for anyone that is starting off, or at an intermediate level. I have tried to explain everything in detail as much as I could.
My inspiration obviously came from the film 'I, Robot', which originated from the book by Isaak Asimov. I claim to be one of his biggest fans to my friends and anyone I meet, to the point of obsession, so in turn it was inevitable that I had to do one of the robots from his works. Starting off, I gathered many pieces of reference images, maybe up to 20 pictures in total. Yet I had no good ones to store into the max scene to use as reference. But it didn't matter. This is why this project was so interesting. It is always important to study the thing which you wish to model in 3D so that you can do it even if (as me) you have to use different methods.
This stage was pretty simple. It involved in making a humanoid head with simple features and a easy following geometrically sound shape. Wow, long sentence :). For this part I did a quick model of a human head using reference pictures from the internet, google is always the best thing to use for this. There are many found on http://www.onnovanbraam.com. After the head was finished I then had to look at the close up pictures of the NS5 robot and adjust the head to match the look of the robot in the film. This took little time and effort.
A quick way to model the NS5 chest was to create a sphere with a low poly count. My count for the sphere had about 16 segments, which is half from the standard 32. This was easy to configure later on. Then extending the front view I converted the sphere into a poly model and deleted half of the sphere including the top part and the bottom part as to make a space for the neck and the torso area at the bottom. Then looking at the reference pictures of the NS5 I adjusted the shape of the torso by moving the vertices to match the shape. This pretty much felt like a art session, where you have to look at the subject, pencil to paper, look at the subject, pencil to paper.....to get it right. To make the inside of the robots chest, I copied this part, then made small segments out of it. Simply done by deleting polygons until I had different parts.
If you look at the NS5, the black wires that he has on his neck, arms, legs are all the same but are different sizes depending on which limb it is. This means that you only have to model one, then copy it (textured of course so that you don't have to texture each and every single one when the modeling is done), as there are quite a few. Creating the neck area was done with box modeling this time, for it is a much faster way Looking back and forth at the reference pictures, I slowly built up the detail in the neck area, part by part just like putting together a kinder egg toy. From then on modeling the rest of the body was done in the same way. Looking at the detail and making sure that it looks right. On this model and like most of my models, I usually work my way from top to bottom. Modeling the head first then the chest, shoulders, arms, hands and so on. Modeling the hand, I used no reference images for this but just looked at my own hand. Once you do something enough times you get used to doing it automatically.Yet when I had to make the hands look like the same as the NS5 reference images were needed. If you look at his hands, they are made in the form of segments. This involved a big part of cutting and deleting vertices. Then detaching some parts to make it easier to edit and texture.
Using the shell modifier before turning on the mesh smooth gives the object density, then when turning on the mesh smooth it looks how I want it to. So to carry on, the making of the legs, I used a FFD 4x4x4 modifier on it as well as a twist modifier to get the shape that I wanted.
Texturing. The main thing that I did straight away was the head. I applied a UVW modifier to it and turned on the cylindrical mapping. Making sure that the green line (which will determine where the map will be unwrapped, unfolded) was at the back of the head. Then I applied UVW Unwrap modifier, made sure everything was set and hit Edit Map. Its that simple, but you must as I did , correct any stray vertices. You always have to look at the unwrapped map and correct it if any problems occur. Save the image, placed it in Photoshop and paint on my texture. I only used UVW Unwrap for the head since the other objects did not need this. They were simple objects which were textured with UVW Map. Texturing is not a difficult process or one to be feared, the main thing to do its to learn how to texture properly and you will not have as many problems as I did a few months ago.
Setting up the scene. I created a simple scene with a reflective floor. The floor was made up of simple boxes and copied over and over again with the copy tool to create a tiled surface. Since I used V-Ray for this scene, I needed the floor to catch the shadows, hence why I created a floor in detail instead of placing a texture that tiles unto a flat plane. For the light, I created two V-Ray lights and a standard light as a fill light. http://www.chaosgroup.com and http://vray.info/. I placed the model and everything else was good to go. The render only took about an hour or so, which was not too long but a big strain on my computer as it is. Robots alway have a high poly count, especially if it is this one, well known and famous from the film. So I had to add as much detail in as I could. Have fun!!!