Embattled with Ears No Longer (Day 8)

I thought I’d start with this to relieve any anxiety anyone might be feeling as a result of the previous post, which ended with uncertainty regarding what I was going to do about the rabbit’s ears. It wasn’t long after publishing that post when I discovered a solution through child manipulation. For the benefit of anyone who may be reading this without having read that post, I’m referring to the children of the hairs, not human children. Anyway, there are six basic options for manipulating children: Clump, Length, Minimum, Maximum, Parting, and Roughness. Four of these are self-explanatory.  Minimum and Maximum refer to the minimum and maximum angles of hairs from root to tip, respectively. Each of these has at least one option that determines the extent to which the manipulation occurs. For example, Clump has an option called Shape that determines, well, the shape of any clumping added, while Roughness can have degrees of uniformity or randomness. Any or all of these only need to be manipulated slightly to have a significant impact on the appearance of fur. Whether that impact is beneficial or not is best determined by experimenting with each as I did.

touched_up_render
I manipulated children on the body, head, and ears, leaving the mouth area alone aside from adding whiskers, which I had forgotten to do earlier.
BDO_wide_shot
I added another camera to the scene and gave it a focal length of 18mm to create the “wide” shot seen here. The result of manipulating the ear fur was more accidental than intentional, but I have no qualms with it now.

The Eyes Have It (Days 9, 10, 11, and 12)

Replacement and Iris Creation

It eventually occurred to me that creating the eyes as I had would make it more difficult to do the work needed to give them a semblance of realism, so I deleted them both after making a note of one’s location and scale in order to save myself time positioning and resizing them. I only made a note of one because I technically only needed one, thanks to the Mirror modifier. This modifier mirrors an object along a specified axis or axes and uses the object’s origin as a reference point by default. Any modifications done to the object are also done on the mirrored object automatically, which is convenient for making something like a pair of eyes. This is true only as long as the modifier isn’t actually applied. Once it is, then the original object and the mirrored version can be edited independently from one another, which could be desirable in some cases, but it wasn’t in this case for me.

iris_alt
The completed “iris”

 

 

To create an iris, I opened a new Blender file and added a Circle mesh to the scene. I then filled it with a triangle fan (in Edit Mode, it resembled a pie or pizza), subdivided it, then increased the number of fractals. According to the Blender Manual, this “displaces the number of vertices in random directions.” Here, it created the jagged/folded pattern seen in the image on the left. I then extruded a couple of faces downward, creating the ring-like impressions in the center. I made its alpha (essentially the background) transparent, changed its color, rendered the circle in Blender Render, then saved the final result as a PNG image. The idea was to use it as a texture rather than create it on the eye itself because the latter option would have added too much geometry.

Combining Shaders with the Node Editor

NodeEditor1

Returning to the eyes themselves, the next step was to assign materials to them. I created three: one called Eye, one called Iris, and one called Pupil. The Eye material was composed of a white Diffuse BSDF shader and a white Glossy BSDF shader. I added these into the Node Editor the same way I would a mesh into Blender’s default scene. As nodes, they could be manipulated to create complex materials with effects that would otherwise have to be reproduced by making and assigning separate materials to the eyes. In this case, by combining the two shaders with a Mix shader, I created a material that was both diffuse and glossy, which I then duplicated and altered to create the Iris and Pupil materials. These two were assigned to groups of faces I selected manually, overwriting the existing material on those parts of the eyes:

NewEyesAlt
I found it unnerving to look at the whole rabbit at this point, so this is an “eye cam” with a focal length of 85mm. Pictured is the placeholder iris material created in the Node Editor.

Iris Replacement

The eyes were coming along, but it was time to give them each the iris I created earlier. Unlike with the placeholder, this was a three-step process. The first step involved adding a texture to the Node Editor and then opening the image to represent that texture. Textures act and can be manipulated like any other node. I connected it to both the diffuse and glossy shaders, which overwrote their color properties. The second step involved opening the image again in the Image Editor. The third and final step involved selecting the parts of the eye mesh to which the iris was assigned and then unwrapping them. Basically, this mapped the mesh to the texture, which then made it visible (the selected parts of the mesh otherwise look black). In the Image Editor, the parts I selected overlaid the iris texture. By scaling inward and outward, I could decide how much or how little of the texture made up the iris material proper:

NewEyesAlt2
As with child manipulation, this result was more due to experimentation than anything else. 

Adding a Lens

If the rabbit were less realistic, I probably would have left the eyes alone at this point, but since I was aiming for accuracy, they each needed a lens. This ended up simply being the parts of the eye mesh that comprised the iris and pupil duplicated and separated into its own object. The three materials assigned to this new object were deleted and replaced with a single Glass BSDF shader. When rendered, as I discovered, this shader is not only reflective, but it also magnifies whatever is behind it. The exception to this is when it is directly on top of something else. Then, it looks like this:

cloudy_eyes

The solution was, I thought, relatively simple. First, I created a loop cut on the editable eye and moved it onto the edge bordering the iris. This allowed me to move the entire section, once selected, backward without stretching or compressing the parts of the eye nearby until it was just behind the lens. This magnified the pupil, making the entire visible half of the eye appear black. To solve this, I selected the center-most portion of the front of the lens and then enabled proportional editing* to move part of the lens away from the eye. This took me two days to do correctly because I had to figure out how far to move the eye backward as well as how much of the lens I had to move forward so that the iris and pupil were both visible. I then had to render the eye as an image every time I made an adjustment because it was the only way I could see how reflective it was. Eventually, my inner perfectionist was satisfied, and I rendered the result seen in the featured image. The lighting isn’t the best, but that will be remedied at the project’s end.

*Unselected parts of the mesh are affected by the movement of the selected part(s). The effect is greater on parts closer to the selection than it is on those farther away. 

 

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