Finally, an update on the tale of Licorice Merlin!  Most of the modeling was complete on Merlin last weekend but I was delayed in posting this due to some concerns about his robe.  More on that later - let's start with the creation of the model.

Merlin's humble beginning - the source curves and extrude settings used to create the base licorice stick


Since this model was so geometric and I wanted to keep my edge flow very specific for animating I started this model in Maya.  At his core Merlin is a 6 sided star shape extruded (with a twist) to form a licorice stick - then that same licorice stick duplicated and connected back to the body as arms and legs.

Body blocked in - face geometry was a separate piece just like the arms and legs
Once the basic form was done, I pushed him into ZBrush with GoZ and created all the other geometry and did some polygon painting.

Merlin in Zbrush looking very unenthused about his concept sketch?
For all those who can't get enough of the 360 image slider plugin, here is the obligatory view of Merlin in his t-pose rendered from ZBrush:


Now on to the robe.   As I mentioned earlier, I was concerned about the robe, more specifically about the robe deforming properly using Maya's nCloth system.   This is because I modeled the robe as a two-sided piece of geometry in ZBrush and wasn't quite sure if the cloth simulation would work.   To allay my concerns I did a few tests.

 The outcome of my last test can be seen below - the nCloth reacts really well to a few extreme poses!


Alright, the animation on my test wasn't great, but it wasn't intended as a show piece - just an nCloth test.  In fact, I hokily rigged the model by quickly smooth binding Merlin's body to a stock Maya skeleton.   Meh.

For those interested, the nCloth setup wound up being fairly straight forward: the robe nCloth was simulated using a very low resolution single-sided polygon shell, then I used that shell to drive a wrap deformer on the higher resolution, two-sided robe. To prevent the robe from running off Merlin's scrawy, licorice frame I used a point-to-surface constraint around the neck verticies.

The real rigging process will start in earnest now.   Look for a fully rigged and ready for animation Merlin in my next update...