Form and Space

creating CG 3D since 2001

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Lonan by Piper Thibodeau

Lonan by Piper Thibodeau is a character designed for a 3D animated short film called Sidhe. Piper and I met on the twitterverse. I noticed one day she was struggling to sculpt her cute character in Zbrush. After mentioning I would enjoy creating this character, Piper promptly offered me money to created Lonan. I was happy with her offer, but in exchange I asked to use her character in my up-and-coming Character Modeling training. She gladly gave me permission to use her character in exchange for creating it. In good form, I decided to make the character first, deliver a…

Sherman Tank Earns Checkmate Pro!

The Sherman Tank model is recognized and received Checkmate Pro from! Checkmate Pro isn’t easy to get, and this guarantees our models are well made and ready to go. This model took a year to develop, and is modeled and textured by Brian Jacome. Materials, lighting, and rendering are by me, Matthew. I’ve learned more and more about lighting and color management, and the next one should be even better. The next step is to deliver the rigged and animated version of this tank. Congratulations to Brian Jacome, Jordan Kohler (setting up the tread, teeth, and gears), and my…

How to Identify Problems with a Polygon Mesh Using Subdivision Surfaces

This video is from Chapter 4 of Introduction to 3D Modeling in Maya, 2nd Edition. This video training is in production, and is expected to release this August 2015. This video covers basic techniques for identifying errors with polygon meshes using subdivision surfaces. How to Identify Problems with a Polygon Mesh Using Subdivision Surfaces from Matthew L. Stoehr on Vimeo. How to Identify Problems with a Polygon Mesh Using Subdivision Surfaces

Coming Soon – An Alligator

This alligator will be sold on Turbosquid, and has taken Jonathan Camacho over a month to model and texture. I’ve spent all day rendering, and going back and forth communicating with Jon on rendering accurate displacement maps. It’s coming together. I’ve trying different lighting scenarios. This rendering took about 5 minutes. High resolution image – 1920 x 1080 – test render

Maya 2015 Preferences Updated

If you are currently in one of my courses at American River College, or you have bought “3D Character Modeling Volume 1”, then this message is very important. I’ve made a major update to my Maya 2015 preferences to reflect the various tweaks that have been made throughout this semester’s courses. Most of the changes are related to how custom scripts are called into Maya. Each script can now be used an a global script, and you are welcome to continue developing the scripts. You can find the scripts in the /2015-x64/scripts folder. I’ve also included the symmetry and live…

Screenshots this Summer

Screenshots of my work this summer. More to come. Cat model is modeled and textured by Jonathan Camacho.

HUGE Summer Sale 50%!

This is a HUGE summer sale! Beginning today, from July 11 – August 9, the next four weeks, you can get any training at Form and Space for 50% off! That’s crazy!! Half off?!? Introduction to 3D Modeling in Maya 3D Texturing Volume I 3D Texturing Volume II 3D Rigging and Rig Building Volume I

Unfinished Character

I started this character March 2013, and come back to it once and a while. I thought you’d enjoy seeing it. This work is from the 3D Character Modeling course at American River College called, Art New Media 421, and the designed are by Lauren Bennett. This course has a prerequisite of Art New Media 420, Introduction to 3D Modeling. Both courses are nearly 100% Autodesk Maya-based, yet this year, Fall 2014, 3D Character Modeling will be 50/50 Zbrush and Maya.

MEL: Replace Add Objects

This script compliments the path constraint very nicely. Use this tool to replace objects for another object in a single click. You can choose to instantiate or duplicate the new object. This is ideal for replacing instances with duplicates and the antithesis. You also have the option to delete, hide, or do nothing to the objects being “replaced”. If there is a parent to the object being replaced, the new duplicate will parent itself to it. This is ideal for maintaining existing hierarchies, while able to swap out proxy objects or placeholders. How to use: 1. Select all objects to…

Model a Day

I’m on a mission to strengthen my skills in CG 3D. I want to be faster and smarter with all aspects of 3D modeling, texturing, rigging, and rendering. “Speed is the key” has been my motto for years, and now I’m really applying it to myself. I’ll be publishing models everyday in Softimage or Zbrush or both. I also want to meet the demands of high end modeling standards set by websites like Turbosquid. I’ll post all my work for sale on Turbosquid for nominal prices. Some of the greater challenges of the day was finding a good workflow to…


Here are the certificates. They went live today! ARC students, go see a counselor and apply for one right now. The catalog page: The official catalog addendum: 3D Modeling and Texturing Certificate This certificate combines a foundation of traditional sculpture and painting with computer generated three dimensional digital modeling and painting. High polygon modeling techniques are used to create assets for any industry in need of 3D modeling and texturing. Texturing will focus primarily on the use of manipulated and painted imagery to create complex surfaces. Student Learning Outcomes Upon completion of this program, the student will be…

New Certificates Coming Soon

Three new certificates go live November 1st, 2012, and a fourth to go live June 1, 2013. ARTNM: 3D Modeling and Texturing – 18 units ARTNM: 3D Rigging Technical Director – 19 units ARTNM: 3D Technical Director – 30 units ARTNM: 3D Animation – 18 units (available June 1st, 2013) After four years of development, research, and red tape I’m proud to announce the release of these certificates. The smaller 18 units certificates can be achieved in three semesters, and the larger 30 units can be completed in 4 semesters (assuming 15 units per semester for the Associates in Arts…

Stigma Games

Check out Dawnshine Online a MMORPG started by creative owner Brian Linville. They are currently an unfunded project with the hopes to be picked up by a larger developer or find financial backing. The best part is they are Sacramento locals. All the artists are locals, and they could use a few more talented high poly to low poly modelers. It sounds like they have a lot of good ideas and a lot of people with ideas, but now they need builders (character modelers, environment artists, and asset artists). Check out Stigma Games!

Adobe Lightroom Course

Check out this course offering for $15!! The course is taught and designed by David Ottman (a former student of mine, and an incredible environment/landscape photographer). He’s got 9 spots left, so go get it while it’s available! Sun, Sep 30th, 2012 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm PDT

Pearls, Top of Google Image Search…

It’s my image, but it’s not my website.  Huh.  Looks like this website thinks my rendering of pearls are, in fact, real pearls. Should I tell them, or just be honored by their mistake?  

Particles Again

I’ve created several variations of the particle system, and here’s one of them. I’d like to expose a bunch of the variables to the user. Then you’d have interactive control over the creation of the particles. Maybe as an app for mobile devices… Here it is. Hover your mouse over the circle in the center to get the “feel” for the particles. Holding shift while clicking on the particles will spawn more, and click + dragging will allow you to move them around. Update April 18, 2012

Particle System

Inspired by the work I’m doing at Elara Systems Inc., learning and training ICE in Softimage, I’ve reopened some files from 2008. This is created in Flash AS3. It has three classes, a particle systems, emitter, and particle. Click once to start, then click any particle to spawn more.

Softimage Love

Some of you know I’m in love with Autodesk Softimage, previously known as Softimage XSI. I can’t help it. I’ll make statements about how wonderful it is to teach with Softimage… while in the middle of teaching Maya. Why did I switch to Maya? Survival. Economics. Being Realistic are my answers, and it has worked out very well for my classroom, student retention, and completion is higher than ever before. Maya’s name precedes itself. Do I love Maya like I love Softimage? Well… I’ve identified a problem. I want more, or all, of my students to know how easily they…

Added Drawings, Charcoals from 1995-96

These three drawings were commissioned by the musician Matthew Stratton during my freshmen or sophomore year in undergraduate school.  He paid 20$ per drawing.  I thought I would never see these drawings again, but there is some good to being a member of Facebook.   I can’t believe I said that.  I asked Matthew Stratton if he still had the drawings, and if he would document them, as I was too stupid back then to do it myself.  A few months later he replied, “They hang prominently in my studio. Notice signatures from Harvey and Walter. Both were complimentary of your…

Maya: Render Scene ver. 2

After some more time in the hypershade, I made an occlusion shader that has better results (for showcasing models in demo reels) and is about 200% faster in render time.

Maya: Teapot

A teapot I modeled for a class demonstration a couple weeks ago.

3D Model: Self Portrait

From 2008, this self portrait modeled as an in-class example for an experimental course called, 3d Human Head.  Sometime in the future this course will be redesigned and renamed 3D Facial Expression and Animation to accompany the course Facial Expression and Anatomy at ARC.

Galleries: 3D Models

There’s a new gallery page!  In there you can find tons of images of models in progress or that were in progress, but I no longer work on.  The work goes back the last ten years!  The galleries are roughly in chronological order; to the best of my memory.

SI: Decay From Camera

In this six minute video tutorial you’ll learn how to create a custom render tree that will control the value of parameter (decay) based on the distance from the camera. This is essential to controlling displacement maps for deep landscapes, or for special effects, like changing the color of the ground in front of the camera.  Your imagination should go wild with ideas on how to apply this technique once you have a functioning render tree.  In fact, with Autodesk Softimage 2011 you can create a compound of this render tree, and use it as a render tree node.  You…

Added 3D Illustrations

Here are a few illustrations from my early years of modeling, lighting, texturing, and rendering in 3D software, from 2001. The forest was generated from the technique of instancing using hair as the guide.  So, for each strand of hair in the scene, it was replaced with an instance, or copy, of a tree.  The tree was generated using an old Lightwave tool called Treecage.  The instancing software was called Shave and a Haircut.  Shave is now an integrated part of all major off-the-shelf software, such as Maya, SI, Max, and C4D.

Added More Drawings

I found a couple more scattered on my hard drive from my Lady and the Lion days, from 2004 – 05.   Maybe I’ll return to it someday.

Added Drawings

Added more drawings from my graduate school days, in 2001.

Medical Animation – Stent

Back in June 2010, while helping Dave Spamer with the Tron remake, he asked for some help creating a medical animation of a stent.  Now that all the secret parts have been removed from the animation, here’s the part that I worked on.  My contribution was rigging and shaders for the vessel animation. This is animated, modeled, and rendered in Softimage. Here’s a thread on cgtalk describing some of the curve constraint issues, and the solution I had for Dave’s stent animation. If you’re using Softimage, my advice still applies to all curve rigging or modeling with curves. I stated: For…


The CGTalk FX Wars are held about every two months, and this time they held a competition in honor of the new Tron 2.0. Dave Spamer invited me to help him participate in the challenge. We have created the Tron style light cycle battle (part of it). Dave has been interested in Tron for years, and saw the CGTalk FX Wars as an opportunity to finish what he started years ago. I was responsible for the light trails effect and the setup of multi-pass rendering. I designed a tool that would allow Dave to draw the curves that he needs,…

Fountains, Fireflies, and Bucket of Balls

More AS3 fun. Inpired by Actionscript 3.0 Making Things Move by Kieth Peters. Fireflies.  Ok.  Not fireflies, but it reminds me of them. Fountain. Notice the scale change from birth to death.  It adds a nice dimension. Dump Bucket.  I imagined a bucket of bouncing balls dumped onto the floor.  Classic bouncing ball from traditional animation ramped up.

Asteroids Ship

Lately, I’ve been doing A LOT of administrative work, and I’m tired of it.  Even though I have a shit ton of work to do for ARC, I decided to have some fun and chill out this Sunday.  I loaded up some old flash files of mine.  After having a conversation with an artist in town, it looks like I’ll be doing more AS3 work this summer, so I thought I’d warm up.  This one uses OOP!  The asteroids ship drawing, the asteroids ship animation, and the asteroids ship’s bullets are all independent.  This work is a rebuild of the…

Adaptive Rigging

After a conversation with my student, Jake, I was reminded of some old research and experiments I did between April and July 2007 with adaptive rigging.  I spent my summer off from teaching trying to recreate Bernard Haux’s excellent rigging work.  I don’t think my work was nearly as clean as Mr. Haux’s, but I was tapping into some good ideas for character freedom.  The traditional animators of Disney were free to draw and not be limited by the technology’s or the technical director’s limitations.  They could make marks on paper, over and over again.  Their two primary tools are…

Thera-P-Fin, by Maria Sclafani

Here’s work completed for my client, Maria Sclafani, in 2006.  Maria asked me to create a visualization of her invention.  She came to me with a homemade modified swimming fin.  It had cloth super clued to a cut rubber fin to demonstrate to me what it should look like.  In addition she had a few crude drawings I then interpreted to create the visual below.  It’s fun and challenging to create something from another person’s mind’s eye.  Maria is seeking a manufacturer to build her product, and uses this visual to promote her ideas.  She now owns the patent to…

Website Interfacing Prototype

I think this is pretty cool stuff, and I’m proud of my work on this project.  In October of 2008, I was invited to collaborate with Steve Mehallo, Jim Cassio, and Michael Scott to animate a prototype of a new website standard.  I was responsible for creating and programming the animation.  I was also responsible for following Steve Mehallo’s design of the interface to the pixel. I hadn’t used Flash since AS 1.0 days, so I had to learn Action Script 3.0 programming very fast.  I used research material published by Keith Peters to achieve my goal in one month…

Dragon on the Shore

This is exciting!  An old friend of mine, Brian, found me on recently.  He happens to be the person that built my first computer back in 1998.  But not for free.  I promised to complete this six foot by three foot charcoal drawing of a dragon in a landscape.  The drawing was so heavy I used grommets on the top and bottom border to ensure he could mount and remount the drawing without damaging the paper.  Then we did a swap.  Well, that was it.   I’ve been working with and playing games on computers ever since.  I hope to…

Our Baby Girl

My wife and I are very excited to announce we will have a girl!  She is due mid July, and she has all ten toes.  The ultrasound is very cool to watch live.  We could see her heart beat and could even see her face for a few seconds.

Pearls, Pearl Shader

These pearls are from an old project, but stands well on it’s own as an illustration.  Perhaps I could sell digital jewelry. Software:  Softimage XSI 5.0 (could have been 4.2) Date: 2005 I’ve included the render tree for those curious how it was made.  The secret to this render is not only in the render tree but is in the lighting.  I used photography of pearls for my reference.  I replicated the lighting and the format to the best of my ability.  The pearls are set against a white backdrop to flood your eyes with light.  A neat trick.

Galleries, Drawings

I added a gallery section and have started my drawing gallery.  These first two are from July 2007.  They are based on photographs of my father’s 50th birthday party.  I’ll add more drawings this weekend.  It’s near 4am, and I need to be at a 9am meeting. Date:  July 2007 Medium:  Graphite and Ink Dimensions:  11 x 14 in.

Troll and the Decaying Woods

I’m going to start this website with an old image. Lot’s of friends and students have asked me, “Where did your troll go? Did you produce anything with it?”  Well, no. It collected dusk in the hard drive. It was a pain to rig and animate. I didn’t know what was the best for character animation in those days, so I eventually left this piece behind and moved forward. However, seeing it does inspire me to make monsters again! This time, monsters that move! Date: 2002-03 Software:  Newtek Lightwave 6.5,  Bauhaus Software, Mirage 1.0 (formerly Newtek Aura) Process:  The Troll…