Rocket Treatment & Breakdown

This is an update to my previous post, Rocket Sims with Maya Fluids – work has been pretty busy lately and I needed a distraction from my current workload. What better way than taking an initial idea and pushing it a bit further. Since I had created a stylistic solution that was starting to feel natural for the fire I thought I would try to carry the style into a playful animation, color, and an over-arching theme. I used a lot of reference from Wallace and Gromit’s “A Grand Day Out” for the general color and style of the rocket. I also looked at “Mac ‘N’ Cheese” for exaggerated animation, “Team Fortress”, and one of my favorite illustrators, Erwin Madrid.

The breakdown is very minimal in terms of layers, I only had 28 layers and 3 pre-comps in AFX. In production I usually never find the time to set this up but I’m really trying to put a stop to it and start new habits.

My new team is similar to my previous team in regards to layering and that comps consisted of a beauty and an occlusion and not much else, whereas I find that capturing everything in two passes leaves a lot to be desired. Another interesting thing I find lately is the amount of people compositing in Photoshop with no regard to the pre-multiplied, anti-aliased edges that stand out like a sore thumb, or the lack of compositing control in Potatoeshop.


The moon allowed me to test some of the features in Mudbox that I’ve wanted to play with for some time. I started the moon with a basic mudbox sphere and started to sculpt in some little details. I didn’t need to take this far as I didn’t want to overload the model with too much detail. I also wasn’t dealing with much coverage of the moon based off the original camera angle. I wanted it to have a painterly feel, so I moved into painting the moon with the painting system in Mudbox. I’d also never used Ptex, but now that it’s integrated into Maya’s Mental Ray I thought I should give it a spin. I was hoping to use Ptex to eliminate uv’ing for the games at work but with in-game characters we have to bake our textures down, and as they still rely on UV coordinates this isn’t a possibility. Moving the model to and from Maya was super easy with the ‘Send to Maya’ feature, and one of the great features of the paint system are it’s ability to paint with layers and masks.


Since Maya 2013 I’ve started to dive deeper and deeper into the node editor as it’s far simpler to connect nodes and see a time line of connections. I recently went back to the connection editor and sat staring at it for several minutes trying to figure out how I used it, then quickly remembered that it’s natively got almost all the useful attributes hidden by default… clever. I find its power comes from the ability to view the connections from an object’s transform or deformer(s), into shape layers, followed by shader engines and traversing back into shaders, file, and utility nodes.

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