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The Eyes Have It
Modeling the human eye in Amorphium Pro

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

This will be our first foray into an aspect of character modeling in Amorphium Pro from Electric Image. We're going to take it in small pieces. I want to give you a thorough understanding of how the tools in Amorphium work so that, when it comes time for doing something like the face, it will be more a matter of technique than remedial work.

We'll start off with the eye (the eyeball, lens and iris, as seen on the right). The method I use here is by no means the only one (or even the best), but it is a good way to familiarize yourself with the workings of the program. (Incidentally, if you have alternative solutions or would like to submit your own Amorphium tutorials, let me know.)

You can find tutorials on modeling eyes all over the Internet. However, I have yet to see one for Amorphium Pro, which is, after all, the only 3D suite really targeted toward designers. So let's take a look at the method I used to create the eye you see here. I should mention that many of these techniques came to me by way of my colleague, Stephen Schleicher, who heads up Video Systems online.

What this tutorial entails
This tutorial will cover the eye itself (not the eyelids or lashes of other junk surrounding the eye). In it, I'm going to do a little bit of work in Photoshop, though by all means you can accomplish everything from within Amorphium Pro, if you so choose.

Our eye is going to have five elements, along with one texture map created in Photoshop. The order in which I present this seemed to work well for me; you might have a more efficient method.

For this tutorial, we'll be using a broad range of tools in Amorphium. These will include functions in the Composer, such as Scale, Move, Link to Parent and others, as well as many in the Material, Mapper, Tools and FX workspaces. With several of these steps, you can click on an image to view a short QuickTime demonstration.

The texture map in Photoshop
We're going to create one texture map and one map derived from the texture map that will serve as a bump map and specularity map for the iris. If you're not familiar with maps, they're used to create textures in your model—basically the visible surface (and surface properties) of the individual objects that make up your model. The texture map is the actual color of the texture, and the bump map is a grayscale version of our texture that will tell Amorphium which parts of the texture should have depth. Our bump map will also serve as a specularity map, which determines, logically enough, the specularity of our object. (Specularity is related to reflectivity; our specularity map will determine which areas of our object will take on more or less reflection.)

For our iris, we'll be creating the texture in Photoshop. (You can use any image editor you prefer, or you can avoid texture maps entirely by painting directly within Amorphium Pro's Paint workspace.) You can also download any number of textures from the Internet that will satisfy your needs here. You could even use a photograph. I like to do everything myself. If I didn't, I guess I could just skip 3D modeling altogether and go out and get a video camera. Besides, who wants to take credit for other people's work?

Now, my texture is going to be 512 x 512 pixels. This will give me all the room I need to create a detailed image. (Actually, you don't need it to be anywhere near this large, unless you're planning to do some serious closeups of the eye you create.) I'm going to make my iris brown, with a few lighter and darker variations. Here's how I did it in the example you see above.

1. Begin by drawing a circle with the Elliptical Marquee tool in Photoshop.

2. Fill in the circular marquee area with brown (or whatever color you want to be dominant).

3. Add in some rings of varying color, from gold to black and maybe even a hint of green.

4. Run a filter to add in some texture. You can use really anything, from Craquelure to Mosaic to Texturizer. I used one of the plugins from Panopticum's Plugin Galaxy. It doesn't really matter. You won't see much of it in the end.

5. Fill in a black circle in the center and a black or dark brown ring at the edge of the circular marquee.

6. Run a Radial Blur, using Zoom (not Spin) at 100 percent. You should also use the "Best Quality" setting.

7. Clean up anything that got too distorted, such as the ring on the edge.

8. Add noise using the Noise filter (or even Dust & Scratches). Don't add a lot, just enough to bring in some specks and break up the evenness somewhat.

9. Again, do a little cleanup in the black areas.

10. Save this file as a TIFF as "iris1.tif" in the Textures directory of Amorphium Pro. Don't close the file yet.

10. While we have iris1.tif open, we're going to go ahead and make a nice specular and bump map as well. So select Image > Adjust > Desaturate. Then choose Image > Adjust > Auto Levels.

11. Save this second file as a TIFF as "irisbump1.tif" in your Textures directory. This will serve as both our bump map and our specular map.

The iris specularity/bump map created in Photoshop

All done with that. Time to move into Amorphium Pro.

The eyeball
The first thing I want to build is the eyeball. This will actually comprise three sphere meshes. Why three? Well, the eye is kind of funny in that it has the white part and also a clearish layer of goo on top of that. In addition, I like to add a little bit of blue to the whites of my eyes because, well, the whites of many eyes are actually a bit blue (significantly blue in babies). So let's get started.

1. Create a sphere in the center of your Composer window using the Sphere Mesh tool. Make it big but manageable, and leave enough room in your Composer window for some scaling. (You can shrink it down to match your face later).

The Mesh Sphere creation tool in the Composer
workspace. You can drag out palettes from the
main toolbar in the Composer.

2. Duplicate your sphere twice. (It will help you to name each sphere in your timeline. I call my spheres "Outer," "Inner" and "Innerinner" for reasons that will become apparent momentarily.) You can duplicate an object by Control clicking on it and then selecting "Duplicate" from the contextual menu that pops up. (You can also just right click, if you have a multi-button mouse in either Macintosh or Windows.) Don't use the command for copying (Command-C), as it will close your project.

Click Image To Watch!

The Duplicate command appears in an object's
contextual window, which can be accessed
by right clicking the object). Click to see
this in action (1.1 MB QuickTime).

3. In the timeline, deselect anything that's selected, and then select the object called "Inner." Using the Scale tool, drag on your Composer window until "Inner" becomes slightly larger than the other two spheres.

Use the timeline to select and deselect objects that are
hidden from your view in the Composer window.

4. Now, in the timeline, deselect "Inner," and select "Outer." Using the Scale tool, drag in your window until this becomes the largest sphere. Not too tough, right? Now your largest sphere is "Outer;" your middle sphere is "Inner;" and your smallest sphere is "Innerinner."

The Scale tool in the Composer workspace

Now we're going to do a few tweaks to each one of these spheres to get them to produce the desired effect. Namely, we're going to add just a little bit of shape to them, and then we're going to go in and change their material properties.

The 'Innerinner' object
1. First we're going to work on the "Innerinner" object. This is the object that will add the blue to the whites of our eye. If you don't want any blue there, you can skip ahead to Step 8.

1a. Go into the FX mode by clicking the FX item in your menu bar. To make things easy, you probably ought to by in quad-view (four windows). You can activate this by selecting "Quad View" from your Windows item down in the bottom left menu bar. Make sure you are working in the "Front" view window for the following steps and that you have selected the proper object ("Innerinner") to work with. You can select the proper object using the Choose menu at the bottom of your screen.

1b. Now select the Flatten effect from the palette of options.

Click Image To Watch!

The Flatten effect can be used to create the flat area of the eyeball.
Click image to watch (156 KB QuickTime).

1c. Drag your cursor across your Front view until you have a flattened area roughly 1/3 the diameter of the object itself.

2. Switch over to the Paint mode by clicking the Paint item in your top menu bar. Select a very light blue, and then apply it to "Innerinner" with the bucket tool.

The Paint Bucket tool in the Paint workspace

3. Now switch to the Material mode by clicking the Material item in your top menu bar. I used the following settings: Diffuse Color, Paint (100 percent); Specular Color, White (100 percent); and Bump, Clouds (50 percent). Everything else should be zeroed out.

That's it for the "Innerinner" object. Now we'll move on to the "Inner" object.

The 'Inner' object
The "Inner" object is the white of your eye and the one to which we will be applying the veins texture map.

1 . As with the "Innerinner" object, we're first going to do a little shape changing. So switch over to FX mode, select the Flatten effect and create a depression whose diameter is about 1/3 the total diameter of the visible area of the "Inner" object, just as you did with the "Innerinner" object..

2. Switch to the Material mode.

2a. For Diffuse color and Specular Color, choose White, and leave the setting at 100 percent. (If you'd like to add veins to your eyeball, this would be the place to do it, choosing a veins texture map for the Diffuse Color, and a veins bump map for Specular and Bump.)

2b. Set your Specular Roughness to something like 10.

2c. Set your Transparency to 10 percent. A higher number creates more transparency; a lower number will make the object more opaque. This setting will determine how much of the blue "Innerinner" object you'll be able to see in the final render.

2d. Keep your refraction low, not exceeding 1.090. I have mine set at 1.090, which might even be a bit too high, since the actual white of the eye doesn't do much refracting.

2e. Set your Reflectivity below 30. (I have mine at 10.)

All done with the "Inner" object. Time to move on to the "Outer."

The 'Outer' object
The "Outer" object is the clear goo on the outside of your eye, including the lens of the eye. Unlike the previous two objects, this one will not be tweaked in the FX workspace. Rather, we're going to use our Tools mode to pull out a rounded bulge on the front of our eye to represent the lens.

1. Go into Tool mode and choose "Outer" from the Choose menu at the bottom of your screen. You're going to use the Brush tool, but we're going to have to set both the radius and the direction of the brush. In the Brush palette, make sure the direction arrow is pointing left. Set the Radius to something like a third the diameter of the object.

With the Direction arrow pointing
left, the Brush tool pulls out
on your geometry rather
than pushing in.

2. Slowly apply the tool until you have a small protrusion. It would be best to use a pressure tablet, but you can also just turn down the default pressure in the Brush palette.

3. Change your direction arrow back to right-facing and use the Smooth tool (the one that looks like a sponge) to get rid of any rough edges.

Click Image To Watch!

Using the brush and smooth tools to shape the lens of the eye.
Click image to watch (596 KB QuickTime).

3. Now we'll go into Material mode.

3a. Set the Diffuse and Specular colors to White (100 percent).

3b. Set the Specular Roughness to a fairly low number, such as 10. This will determine the size of the light reflection, which, at 10, gives you a pretty decent representation of the window reflection effect.

3c. Set the Ambient Color to something like 30. This will give you a little self-illumination.

3d. The Transparency should be high, but not 100 percent. I set mine at 90.

3e. Refraction should also be high, but not so much that your iris will become unduly distorted. I've used 1.510.

3f. Finally, give this object a lot of reflection. I've used 83. You can go higher, but you might not like the effect once you place your eye into a face.

Return to the Composer workspace. Note that your "Outer" object is not invisible. You'll have to do a test render to see how it looks. However, owing to refraction, you will likely be unable to see any distinction between the Outer eye and the Inner eye. If you'd like to see how it looks without the "Outer" object, just ghost the "Outer" object in your timeline and render it out. (Remember to unghost it when you're done.) If you don't know how to ghost an object, look in your timeline. On the left of each object you'll see three dots. The gray dot on the right is the button for ghosting and unghosting objects. (The middle one is for hiding objects in order to make working in the Composer more convenient. Objects that are hidden but not ghosted will still appear in your renders.)

There's one final step before we move on. We're going to attach (parent) the "Inner" and "Innerinner" objects to the "Outer" object in a hierarchy. This will help us to keep them together when we want to rotate, move or scale the eye. To do this, go to your Composer mode and select "Innerinner" in the timeline. Click on the little Link to Parent button, and then click on the "Outer" object. Now do the same with the "Inner" object, making sure you attach it to the "Outer" object and not the other way around. The reason for this is that in the Composer window, the only visible object will be "Outer." So it will just be easier to use that as the parent than anything else.

Click Image To Watch!

The hierarchy of your objects is shown in the timeline
window. Here, "Outer" is the parent of "Inner" and
"Innerinner," as indicated by the triangular icon.
Click image to watch (144 KB QuickTime).

Iris and pupil
We're doing the iris and pupil as separate objects. Actually, we'll have a hole in the iris that will be the actual pupil. The object that we'll be referring to as a pupil will actually just be a black disk to cover up the whiteness of the eye underneath. The object that we'll be calling "Pupil" is incredibly simple to create. But we'll do the iris first.

The iris
To create the iris, we're going to use a mesh torus (the donut shape). Just make it any size you want. We can scale it later. In the timeline, name it "Iris," then follow these steps.

1. First we're going to increase the resolution of our mesh torus. If you don't do this, you're going to have some flat edges that will show up in your final render. So just click on the tool that's called MeshMan Quad. Then click on your mesh torus. This will double your polygon count for that object only. (Incidentally, you can also do this to portions of an object by using the mask tool, as discussed in a previous tutorial.) Important: After you've used this tool, select another tool so that you don't accidentally use it again. Increasing polygons can cause a significant slowdown in performance.

2. Go into the FX mode by selecting FX from your menu bar. Select the effect called Normal Displace. Apply it to your "Iris" until it's big and fat, and there's just a little hole in the middle.

Click Image To Watch!

Our mesh torus with normals displaced.
Click image to watch (244 KB QuickTime).

3. Now, if your Top view shows a circle, then apply the next step to the Top view window. Otherwise, just apply it to whichever view shows the circle.

3a. Select the Flatten effect and apply it to the Top view, moving your cursor all the way to the right as you click on it.

3b. Now do the same to the bottom view. You should now have a fairly flat disk with a hole in the middle.

Click Image To Watch!

Our mesh torus flattened. Click image to watch (280 KB QuickTime).

4. Now head over into the Material mode. For Diffuse Color use the texture you created in Photoshop (the one we called "iris1.tif"). Leave it at 100 percent.

5. For Specular Color, Specular Roughness and Bump, select the desaturated texture you created called "irisbump1.tif. Leave all of these at 100 percent as well. Leave everything else at default values.

6. Now, you might have noticed that the texture doesn't look exactly right. So go into the mode called Mapper by clicking the Mapper button in the top menu bar. Then select the tool called "Apply Planar," and click on your object. You might also need to use the Scale and Drag tools to fit it just right.

The pupil
The pupil will be a very simple process. Create a mesh sphere about half the diameter of the "Iris." Then follow these instructions:

1. Go into FX mode and flatten the sphere, just as we did above.

2. Go into the Material mode and set the Diffuse Color to Black. Leave everything else at default values. That's it.

Putting it all together
So now we have an eyeball that's pretty much together.

All we have to do is attach the "Iris" and "Pupil." Using tools in the composer, rotate the "Iris" and "Pupil" so that they'll be flat against the indentation we made in the "Inner" object. (To make this process easier, you should temporarily hide the "Outer" object by clicking its Hide button in the timeline.) You'll also want to scale the "Iris" to fit flush against the edges of the indentation of the "Inner" object. Make sure that no part of the "Iris" intersects the "Inner" object, as it will be quite obvious in the final render.

But before you move the "Iris" onto the "Inner" object, you should align the "Pupil" right behind the "Iris" so that it blocks the hole in the "Iris." Then parent the two together using the same hierarchy tool we used to put together the three pieces of the eyeball. (Make sure the "Iris" is the parent, not the "Pupil.")

Now move the "Iris" into position. Since it is now the parent of the "Pupil," the "Pupil" will move along with it. Once the "Iris" is in place, you should link it to the "Outer" object. So unhide the "Outer" object in the timeline and make sure that "Iris" is the only object selected. Use the hierarchy tool called Link to Parent (as above) to link the "Iris" to the "Outer" object.

The hierarchy of all the objects
in the timeline window.

Now we'll do a little three-point lighting on our eye so we can get a decent render out of it. Unless you're doing medial illustrations, you're never going to use three-point lighting on an eye, but, what the heck. We're going to use three spotlights: two in the front, one in the back. Our main light will be offset about 45 degrees to the right and 45 degrees up (as in the image a little further down). Give it a slight rose color, and leave its intensity at 100 percent. (You can access brightness and color controls by right clicking the light in the timeline and selecting Properties.)

Click Image To Watch!

The Fill Light's color and intensity properties.
Click image to watch it in action (534 KB QuickTime).

Our fill light will be on the left side, with angles that mirror our main light. Put a slight blue tint on the light, and set the intensity to 50.

Our back light will stay white at a 100 intensity. Angle it so that you just get a slight crescent at the top of your eye when looking at the front view.

Do a test render. If you don't like the results, you might need to do a little tweaking. I found the biggest challenge to be in the indentation of the "Inner" object and how it lines up with the iris. You might have a similar problem.

The final appearance within the Composer window.

Once you've worked out any flaws, you're good to go. You can now rotate and move the object (using the "Outer" object, which is the ultimate parent) to create animations. Or, if you just want a still, you can render that too.

Click to see a quick animation

Well, that wasn't too tricky. In future installments, we'll get into eyelids and eyelashes. In the meantime, let me know of any ideas you come up with for creating eyes in Amorphium. If you have any further questions, visit me in the Digital Media Designer or Creative Mac forums.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications.