My first assignment for the longhouse project were the arrows. These were the reference images I had at first. They were a good reference on how an atlatl worked so I got started.
I soon realized that although they were a good reference on how an atlatl worked but they didn’t have much details on how the arrow itself was designed so I based it on this image below.
I found online from this website – https://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ceremonial/images/hafted-about.html
As the name suggests, this website documented a bit about weapons used during in prehistoric Texas. It was interesting to learn from there that the Atlatls and their darts, were mainly used in prehistoric Texas almost 10,000 years before the bow and arrow replaced them!
Both reference images here and casual browsing online seemed to suggest that arrows were made of bamboo or reed, because of the segmented ridges on the arrows. Ties were made with animal parts like sinews and fish glue was added on top. I blocked everything out in Maya, making everything separate at first, such as the arrow, the fore shaft and the dart shaft. The binding was done similar to what Kris showed in his video, except I did not ‘wrap’ the cylinders around the arrow. It kept getting distorted. I found better luck simply scaling each to fit as closely as possible, using the ‘grab’ sculpting tool in Maya to again wrap it as closely as possible. After duplicating each cylinder multiple times, they were merged into a single multi wrap bind and taken into Zbrush. Once in Zbrush they were adjusted around the arrow with the ‘move’ brush and ‘inflated’ to tighten it.
I found a free sample of a wood brush on art station by Fredo Gutierrez from here -(https://www.artstation.com/artwork/xrmBY) which I used to give the grain of the bamboo and multiple other wood objects I later made. Cheers for sharing!
As for the arrowhead or ‘chert’, using the tri- dynamic or flat brush and alternating with a circular and
textured alpha created the texture of stone chipping. An excellent source of stone heads with real size reference was provided by the research team which allowed me to make a few arrowhead variations. These were used for the Bow arrow. This arrowhead image reference was taken from the publication by Christian Gates St-Pierre, “Iroquoians in the St. Lawrence River Valley before European Contact”. (Layout 1 (ontarioarchaeology.org))
Most of the arrow was assembled, now came the most difficult part of modelling the feather. Apparently eagle feathers were used for arrows but that would be relevant during texturing. At first I thought I could use Xgen to model the feathers to make it look realistic. After much ado I realized my mistake – how would I export the object? So I proceeded to look for a video to change the Xgen hair to polygons. I found this video online which changed Xgen hair to polygons for games. It was a good modelling reference and the link is here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAnErRkvaKQ3
Although it works well for hair it didn’t really work for the feather. There were just too many polygons. Later on Kris Showed us how to make a feather in photoshop using simple alpha textures on a plane. I made one version which didn’t look that great and when exported as an object the transparency of the alpha showed up as black instead.
I tried modelling the feather in Maya which looked fine till I exported it into Zbrush, and then it wouldn’t display all of it. I’m assuming it had something to do with the normals and having polygons with more than 5 sides, created when I extruded the surface in Maya.
Finally I decided to just model a simple extruded plane in Zbrush to give it the feathery texture using a Dam standard brush. I then trimmed the edges using a Trim curve brush. These would probably better take to the intended textures. Below are the atlatl and bow arrow. Variations were made by bending the shafts and altering the cuts in the feather.