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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.

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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.