Maya Challenge: Mulan Weapons – Sword of the Blossom

In an attempt to try and get back into the idea of working to a deadline, several of my friends and I decided to start a weekly Maya challenge.   The idea was inspired through a conversation between Yong and Andrew where Andrew was comparing the colour scheme of one of Yong’s recent gun models to that off Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story series.  The conversation developed and the idea of creating weapons for the Disney Princesses came up, which then turned into a challenge.  Every week in our spare time we would all create a weapon based around a single Disney Princess.  It was decided that Mulan would be selected for the first week.  While the idea of creating weapons for princesses was initially suggested as an almost comedic juxtaposition, this is obviously lost with Mulan who is already a warrior. 

When initially brainstorming concepts I considered the idea of reimagining one of the weapons already featured in Mulan, however, I quickly decided against this after some poor rough sketches.   While I’ve seen and enjoyed the film, my knowledge of Mulan is rather limited so I went to Youtube to research some of the key scenes and themes.  One of the most popular clips I came across was the scene where Mulan’s father is sitting on a bench under a Magnolia liliiflora discussing the blooming of the tree’s flowers.  The scene demonstrates the relationship between Mulan and her father which is ultimately what influences her decision to go to war.  Due to the significance of this tree I felt like it would be a suitable subject for Mulan’s weapon.  I don’t plan to have as thorough reasoning behind these designs in the future, it’s just that this one came quite naturally.  It's been a hectic week so I haven't had the chance to spend as much time working on it as I would of liked, regardless, I'm happy to be back making things again.

 Final Render

Final Render


Once  I knew I was basing my weapon of a Magnolia liliiflora tree I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I didn’t bother concepting and instead quickly scribble down this rubbish doodle so I wouldn’t forget my design.

I then went to Maya and started to block out the tree with a basic cylinder.   It was at this point I realized that I hadn’t modelled anything organic in Maya for years. As this also my first time using Maya 2016 I started off a bit slower than I would of liked.

After refining the tree and sorting out some of the topology of the roots, I quickly added a blade. 

Once I was happy with the basic shape of the tree I moved on to the flowers and created them using a series of flat cylinders, the nonlinear bend tool and the duplicate special function.  

I then placed the flowers around the branches of the tree so I could get a rough idea of what the final object was going to look like.

Now came the part I was least looking forward too, the sculpting.  While I have decent experience with Zbrush, I often get frustrated with the controls and make dumb mistakes.  However, thanks to simplicity of the model this sculpt went surprisingly.  It’s far from perfect but I only had couple hours left until the deadline so had to make do.   

After importing the new tree handle from Zbrush into Maya, I created a basic plain brown material for it and textured the flowers with a simple petal image I found online.  

Now that it was all put together it was ready to render!

Overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out considering how little time I spent on it. I probably went a bit too ambitious with the model and should have focused more on texturing, materials and rendering but these are all lessons I can take forth with the next challenge.  I didn’t have time to work on the blade as much I wanted too but I think it works for the most part.  

If you’re curious as to how my friends did you can see their weapons here –