When proposing a thesis at SCAD I had some concept temp. creatures included in my presentation. They were there to illustrate the intent and convey how they should feel like (hunters were gonna be mechanical and menacing while prey were rather organic and soft) rather than to show a final design.

Since the creatures are the foundation of the thesis, I decided to start my work by taking the old designs and revaming them starting witht the hunter.

The temporary designs presented at the proposal phase

Since this thesis will be completely developed within Houdini and it’s latest release (Houdini 18.5) included a new procedural rigging system, I decided to take advange of this and include the procedural rig from the beginning. That way any update either the rig or design would affect the other. Houdini F.T.W!

For this I started with a system of lines that became the legs and rigged it using Full Body IK and started testing it early on. I added a simple hexagon to represent the body.

The procedural KineFX rigging system is very robust. It doesn’t break regardless of limbs count, as you can see in the small demo in the following video.

With the KineFX rig up and running, I started to procedurally build the new hunter model by blocking its shapes and silhouettes with simple geometry. In the following video you can see a demo of the WIP model being driven driven by the rig. Let me emphasize that it’s really nice to be able to be able to update the model without breaking the rig. It’s a very fluid and comfortable way of working. It allows room for exploration and error.

Some more progress on the design and more stress testing in the following video.

It moves!!! With one line of code I can make it lift its limbs. Imagine what I could do with two lines tongue-out (Old design next to it for reference).

Since control and flexibility, as well as proceduralism are at the core of this thesis, I built in controllers in the hunter rig that allow me to change the lengths of their components, as demonstrated in the previous video.

I would say that the hunter design is at its 70 or 80 percent in its overall final look, but remember that all this is a living project and will be updated and anything can change or be improved along its execution. For example, I received a relevant comment by one of my thesis committee members (professor Stuart Robertson). He suggested that I should add fangs or claws to it to make their nature more evident. Something that will happen next.

Since the hunter was at a good place. I decided to take a break from it and get started on updating the prey design. Now, the prey design will have two variants, one with radial symmetry and another with bilateral. In this case I got started with the radial symmetry one. Turns out, there are no radially symmetric land animals (that I could find), so I had to go with ocean creatures. I found this very colorful type of crown jellyfish, and I used it as the main inspiration for my new design. Although I took artistic liberties with it, of course.

These types of creatures do freak me out a bit. But they do convey the vision I have for my fantastical prey creatures. Next, a video showcasing the modeling process of this creature. Once more, I can control the amount of limbs, shapes, etc. 

Lastly, here’s a quick comparison of the work in progress on both types of creatures with their old counterparts.

For the next post my goal is to have a more updated look for the prey. As well as a bilaterally symmetric variant, as well as updates and additions to the hunter creature. Updated controllers, and additional variations. Thank you for reading and until the next one!