Hi all,

I haven’t posted since the initial post for this blog because I have been busy helping with the latest edition of some friends’ sourcebook on the Roman Republic and writing some encyclopedia entries for an upcoming Greek Warfare Encyclopedia but I thought I might write a brief update on my own work into some new course development.

I am planning on creating some Udemy courses but want to make them stand out somewhat, I note that there isn’t a lot of humanities style courses available and Udemy seems to be focused on IT and job skills style courses but I am interested in developing some courses in the ancient history area and seeing if there is any interest out there.

But I don’t want to deliver only talking head video or voice over powerpoint, which will both have there place in the course but I want to take the opportunity to try something a bit different so I have been looking into 3D modelling software and game engines. After some research I have installed and started teaching myself Blender and Unity 3D. Although it is still very early days I am really enjoying experimenting with these tools, and with the help of MakeHuman I was able to create a fully rigged male avatar for use Blender in less than an hour.

Blender Screenshot showing male avatar and the underlying 'rig' that controls movement
Blender Screenshot showing male avatar and the underlying ‘rig’ that controls movement

At this point I am able to pose the avatar any way I like, including some very unnatural positions, and can use him as a virtual mannequin to display anything I might need a male model for. In my courses that will mostly be clothes, armour and weapons, I am considering my first (very simplistic) approach might be to photograph material I possess and superimpose it onto the model, but in time I will build 3D versions of the objects within Blender.

This is the same model but fully rendered showing skin, eyes and hair
This is the same model but fully rendered showing skin, eyes and hair

My ultimate goal is to have a 3D environment and characters that I can animate and utilise in my teaching creating a high level of engagement with distance students, by allowing them to explore the environment and characters to reinforce learning goals.

I will start posting more often and show how the course and modelling is developing.

Maxx

Free Tools:

http://www.makehuman.org/

http://www.blender.org/

http://unity3d.com/get-unity/download

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