Last year I started making digital birthday cards for my niece.  As she lives far away, these cards are a way I can share with her what I do for a living given that I only get to see her once a year at most.  

I start the process by asking her mother what she is into this year, i.e. pop culture, animals, etc.  Last year she was really into triceratops, so I took an old dinosaur model that I made years beforehand for an unrealized project and made an animation of it leaping out of an opening box.  At the time, I was freelancing so I had time to make it more elaborate.  

This year, her favorite thing is the pangolin, which is an armadillo like creature featured in a meme she likes.
pangolin meme
I was limited by time this year and since this was something I wanted to animate and run via the older model phone my brother in law has, I knew I had to make an animation of my own as quickly and ergonomically as possible.


First, I started by saving a lot of various pangolin pictures off google images for reference. Then, I modeled a very basic low poly model pangolin in Silo.   

media-20171211 (1)From there I imported the model into Zbrush.  I was quickly able to add scales and some minor details to the creature.   

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I then took the high poly model and the low poly model and brought it into Substance Painter 2018 to shoot the normal maps so I could work on the textures.   

When I brought the pangolin into Maya I initially thought I could use Maya’s Quickrig function to give the creature bones, but that I realized that I would have to repose the model in a way for the application  to detect the limbs, so I reposed the creature. However, Maya’s Quickrig ultimately didn’t work the way I wanted it to, so I ended up making my own skeleton for the creature.  

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Since I am using Vuforia for this AR project, I  needed a marker for the camera to detect when to start playing the animation.  I decided to make the marker a simple rock that my brother in law could print out and hang on the wall.  I took an old rock that I made for another unrealized project and started animating the pangolin with that in mind.  

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The pangolin peeks out behind the rock and then musters up the courage to waddle it’s way around the rock, sheepishly waving at the viewer.  It was a very quick and simple project for me to complete and my niece really liked it –  so I won some awesome uncle points.  🙂