Eyes Mapped

I mapped the eyes. Single seam around the base, pelt mapping, relax and a little adjustment of the vertices around the edges. I made an eye texture and applied it. I think it’s good enough for what I’m planning to do.

Here are the bitmaps I made. They’re 4k and tileable. Feel free to use them ….

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Unwrapping the UVs #1

Just to keep the ball rolling …. I spent a little time this evening looking into UV unwrapping. I’ve never had to do anything this involved before. There’s no need for complex mapping when all you’re doing is planets and gaseous objects and the like.

There are different ways to go about colouring or texturing 3D meshes.

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Spline IK Antenna

First post in six weeks.

To ease myself back in, I applied this tutorial to the firefly antennae. It uses spline IK and spring controllers to create secondary motion. This means, for example, that if I animate the head rotating, the antennae will follow naturally and flex at the beginning and end of the motion. Spring controllers have regular PositionXYZ controllers as children, so you can still use the spline IK helpers to shape the antennae.

I had no idea that the spring controller was able to take forces into account. This opens up a lot of interesting possibilities.

Here’s what wind with some turbulence looks like ….

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Synchronous Flashing in Fireflies

The wings are on and it’s starting to look more like the real thing.

Some male fireflies flash in sync over large areas. This species is apparently the only in the United States that does it. They can light up whole forests or hillsides with waves of synchronous display.

I found a recent explanation of the phenomenon here, but I’m not sure I understand it fully. Males fly around flashing to attract the females’ attention. The experiment showed that the females’ response rate was 10% or less with asynchronous flashing but over 80% if in sync. And if I’m reading it correctly, this suggests that it’s easier for females to track the movement of specific males when in sync, since out of sync “the female would see a cluttered landscape of unrecognizable flashes”.

I got to see some synchronous flashing myself last month. Japan’s GenjiBotaru does it too, though it wasn’t over a large area. I saw gangs of five to ten fireflies flying in groups and flashing in perfect sync. Lucky, since I was planning to incorporate it into my story.

Firefly Head Model

No luck finding a dead firefly yet, so I’m having to rely on whatever resources I can scrape from the internet. Luckily I found this fantastic image of a head. There’s only the one angle, and it’s impossible to see what’s going on behind those tusk-like structures, but it’s enough for a decent model for close-ups. I’ll add more detail with displacement and other maps.

I didn’t know insect mouths were so complex. Click here for an excellent description and interactive guide.

Firefly Photography #1

I think I’m going to need some practice. I took the camera out this evening and made a first attempt at photographing fireflies.

You set the camera to manual focus at infinity and open the lens up. Then you shoot multiple exposures at a reasonable ISO for a good few seconds. I chose ISO400 for 15 seconds and took about 20 photos. Back home, you import the images into Photoshop and set all the layers to Screen. This allows the trails to be overlayed without the background becoming too bright. Here’s the best result of four attempts ….

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Luciola cruciata

The fireflies are out in force now.

I’ve been too busy to do anything these last two weeks, but this evening I took a walk out. This is “Luciola cruciata”, or ゲンジボタル (GenjiBotaru). I was illuminating it with a red light. That’s why the colours are off.

From tomorrow, I’ll be out most days trying to get a feel for how they move. I’ll also be trying to get some decent reference photos for modelling, although my camera is at its limits in the dark and up against tiny objects.

I’d like to get the firefly model finished by the end of the month.