Once we began designing all of the islands, we decided that each member of the group should model something each. So 4 of us modelled islands and Sophie modelled the Owl and rigged it. Personally I didn’t have much experience modelling in Maya before this project but I did have some experience modelling in Blender. So because I was able to offer technical assistance and teach the rest of the group the basics of blender, we decided to model all of the scenery in Blender then animate everything in Maya.
I started by modelling a proof of concept style frame for the first island based on a drawing I did. I created a basic icosphere then carved it out with the sculpt tool. I found my Huion graphics tablet incredibly useful for this as I could literally draw and carve out the island, and control my pen pressure. I played around with the settings of the brush in different areas to achieve different effects. It was important to make the island look low poly because that was the style we were going for. Luckily when you carve with the sculpt tool you can control how many subdivisions you are creating, so I kept that number low for most of it.
I found a really useful tutorial by CG Geek which was very relevant to our concept. In the video he goes through all the basics of modelling in low poly and touches on making a simple node network to create transparent water.
I went through a very similar workflow to create my actual scenes that ended up in the final animation. When each model was finished, I exported it as an Obj then imported it into Maya. Surprisingly, we didn’t have many issues moving the project back a forth between Blender and Maya. One of the main things was that textures didn’t transfer over easily. So I didn’t do any texturing in Blender, I just added basic lambert textures to the models in Maya. Some of the models required me to separate sections in blender and export the island in pieces and reassemble them in Maya to add the textures. For the wide shot with the large forest, I used MASH with a randomizer to spread all of the trees around a plane. This was a big reason why it was important to split the island into pieces, so that I could control where the trees would generate.