Sintel, the Durian Open Movie Project » Blog Archive » Guardians – Community Help


Guardians – Community Help

on February 7th, 2010, by ben

Hello awesome Blender Community!

Thanks for the comments on the Guardians in the previous post, I agree with most of them.

For those who mentioned the time frame and scale of the project – that is the main reason the characters look the way they do. There are plenty of other factors I can point the finger at like:

  • getting familiar with using 100% Open Source and Creative Commons tools and resources
  • uncertainty about things working in 4k
  • not being used to the visual style we are trying to work in (not quite Pixar stylised but much further in that direction than realism)
  • not using things like raytracing, higher polycounts for base meshes and most other tricks I have been trying to previously construct a workflow from…

…but the main issue is still good old fashioned time.

The Guardians were scheduled as all four characters to be worked on at the same time. Modelling, hair, texturing, facial expressions and so on. Other than getting a head start on Jack’s face, the bulk of the modelling was done in a week. Facial shapes (so far) were done for all four in a bit over a day. Granted they use a lot of the same pieces and materials but working on four characters at the same time isn’t particularly efficient. As you can imagine if something was updated, then it often needed to be updated in the other four files for consistency. The four rig files are separate too, so everything needed copying in there as well. I tried merging all four characters into the one blend file for a while but had to split them back out eventually anyway.

The result of the such a time frame is four characters that at least work to a certain level, but to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t include them in a reel or portfolio. Talking with Ton about the current level of the characters, I explained that I can’t think of one quick area that we could schedule to bring them up to a higher level. (We at the Blender Institute also agree that Proog and Emo have more character and polish by the way.) Given more time there is plenty of things I would tweak or simply redo outright, which would be fine for a personal project, but on a really tight schedule that we are having issues sticking to as it is, their budgeted time is already more than over. Originally I should be well into the modelling and texturing work of the snowy mountain range by now.

So – where to from here? Excuses don’t get a film done. 🙂

There has been much support from the Blender Community – financial support, donations of textures, development work and generally cheering us on. As always this is very much appreciated! There has also been talk but nothing really put into practice yet about community contribution to the art assets themselves. This is our first go at changing that: – 317.8mb (All four characters + Textures)

Apologies for the relatively large file, but if I sampled the textures down too much then there wasn’t a huge point in including them. (Most now 2k instead of 4k.) This file includes all the Guardian meshes and textures with the current rigging progress. Just a basic camera and spotlight with some environment lighting. You should be able to see pretty obviously once you start playing around where the current issues are. I’m not a fan of the hands either for the record.

For the film, we probably won’t use raytracing but it hasn’t been ruled out completely. The lighting in the previous image was kept quite simple because the textures and materials need to hold up before compositing and so on. More of an in-house review image than a promotional image. (One of the corrected ones looked quite dark on my monitor – good Eizo – here so we may have to get them calibrated.) Before I keep rambling –

Feel free to play with basically everything except the face topology as that helps to transfer face shapes and speed maintenance things like that up. Play with textures, additional modelled details, scars, dirt, hair (please!) character traits and whatever you would like to try to make them more fun and unique. Please stick to the style and details of the concept art below where you can, but at this point we are unleashing them a bit to see how far the community can help us bring them visually.

Thanks in advance for your time if you lend a hand- I hope you enjoy playing with them and I look forward to seeing how this turns out. Community involvement is something we probably should have tried to start sooner.


There is an open ftp space on It works like this:

  • ftp to:
  • user: anonymous
  • password: your email address

When logged in, go to the directory ‘incoming’. What you put there is visible here:

This upload space deletes all old files after a couple of weeks, so don’t use it for permanent storage, link to your file in the comments and we can look into it.


NOTE: Forgot to mention we all use latest SVN builds, so anything above revision 26680 to 90 or so should work fine.

***** NOTE 2: Apologies for the poor communication on our part regarding your help this week, Colin will be posting shortly about how we are planning to organise outside help in the near future. *****

161 Responses to “Guardians – Community Help”

  1. Deevad Says:

    @Juan Romero : Good job on Jack face for the modeling part. It look more dynamic.

  2. nathan Says:

    If you don’t want to help out, that’s fine. We’re not forcing people here. We’re not asking them to commit to anything. We’re not bribing them with false promises of “experience” or “good for your reel”. We’re just asking if people want to help out in their free time.

    Already it seems we’re getting some good work from people, so your “volunteer work = crap” assertion appears to be demonstrably false.

  3. JG Says:

    Hi !

    I’m a big fan of project Durian, and for what it’s worth, I really like the way it’s going, and I’m very glad to have an opportunity to contribute (even to a tiny amount).

    Sorry, catchin’ up a bit late, a lot of great work’s already been done by the community.

    I just figured from the concept art that Lao’s supposed to be an archer and didn’t find his bow in Ben’s archive, so I made him one (a bit extrapolated from David’s concept 😉 and based on the staff mesh).

    You can see it here :

    If you like it it’s yours .. I’ll be working on the materials and shapekeys and also make arrows .. (’cause playing around with 2.5 is a lot of fun too).



  4. Deevad Says:

    @JG : Brillant Bow and good idea. This is defintely how Lao-tseu bow could look. Thanks !

  5. JG Says:

    Glad you like it !

    I kept the blades at the end of the bow because, appart from looking good 😛 , it would allow Lao to fight both long and short range at the same time, and maybe result in original and cool fight choregraphy ?

    I’ll make a rig for the bow (if Lao plans to ever draw it), a quiver, arrows .. and try to add some “realness” to the whole thing .. and upload to the blendswap thing if you wanna use it ..

    See you on saturday maybe ?



  6. Juan Romero (Onnevan) Says:

    @David: Collin said that we, the community, should only focus on Lao-Tseu for the moment, so I´m planning to finish it with all the details, I was wandering if you have more concepts of him, because I want to add all kind of details like bags, chains, short range weapons, etc.

    @JG: Maybe I could use your bow in my Lao-Tseu 🙂

    And a reflexion: coudn’t we use a better system for communicating and sending models, shaders, wathever than comments on the blog? I mean officialy, to have an organised platform where the team could approve or reject the material?

  7. munhu Says:

    Try Google Buzz, seems convenient

  8. Manu Järvinen Says:

    Or the – what Tuomas suggested a couple of dozen messages ago

    Tuomas Says:
    “It’s an on-line collaborate movie-making site by creators of Star Wreck, one of the most downloaded internet movies ever.

    I’d say it would be the perfect tool for community input in Durian and future blender open movies.”

  9. Michael Says:

    I’m not 100% up to date with the capabilities of Blender, but I noticed some important things missing from a lot of these renders.

    1) Eyelashes
    2) shadows within the hair/beards
    3) shadows from the hair onto the skin, and vice versa.

    Ideally you should have a base lighting setup for each type of lighting the character will appear in, and then always do your test renders from that setup (ideally with a set number of cameras that point to the important details). That way you can compare apples to apples when people do surfacing and texture changes.

    The lighting setup should include your base key light, fill lights, kickers/rims, environment map, shadow settings, etc. You should also be doing some test renders at the intended resolution, since a closeup/head-shot at 1k will need different texture love than a 2k or 4k shot.

    I might also add that rendering Durian at 4k is just plain stupid. Render at HD 1080p (1920×1080, or whatever your aspect ratio is for the vertical resolution) and call it a day. 4k is a colossal waste of render time, memory, and disk space.


  10. Luks Says:

    Why dont we use an irc channel like #Blenderdurian or #blenderchat to talk?

  11. AMendes Says:

    @Michael: Cinegrid Amsterdam is a project partner on Durian, and one of it’s the objectives is to encourage the creation of more 4K content. Durian will could probably be used to benchmark results of projects involving digital distribution and projection of audiovisual media at 4k. Check it on the sponsors section.