Character Modeling Pipeline

published Wednesday, 3 June 2009, 16:50 by Bokaja

Welcome to a basic insight into creating characters for Interstellar Marines.

..and games in general.

There are many ways to approach this subject - this is the current workflow at Zero Point Software.

Concept

Concept

An initial and final concept drawing or painting is created to establish the look and feel of the character.

The initial concept is the rough layout and ideas are tested at this stage. The final concept is ready to be handed over to the next step in the process.

Blockout

Blockout

The 3d artist starts to block out the 3d model. This step is about keeping the geometry simple and getting the proportions and shapes right.

This simple object shows a fast technique to block out advanced shapes. In 3dsMax simply create a box - delete the upper face - use Border Selection to select the open gap - now simply SHIFT and DRAG the open edge.

Highpoly

Highpoly

When the 3d blockouts are approved the various models are improved with finer details. This is a very time consuming task and is done in Maya or 3ds Max for hardsurface objects and Zbrush or Mudbox for organic objects.

On the simple object close the gap using Cap (in 3dsMax) and start adding extra lines along the edges. Also add extra lines in general on the object surfaces - this helps the Turbosmooth modifier make a nice and crisp subdivision. Avoid selecting the edge-corners and add Chamfer - this can create odd results. Apply your Turbosmooth modifier and subdivide the mesh.

Keep the edges soft and round so they still capture the light when later baking the normalmap - dont make them too sharp.

Lowpoly

Lowpoly

During or after the process of creating the highpoly the 3d artist now create a lowpoly edition of the character - covering the highpoly like a shell.

This is the model represented IN-GAME that the player controls.

It is not necessary for the lowpoly to cover the highpoly 100%. What matters is that you capture a good profile and shape from the polygon budget you got - think smart.

Use few and larger polys around big flat areas and save the extra for faces or more complex objects.

Unwrap

Unwrap

After or during the making of the lowpoly model the UVW map coordinates are laid out.

This is done using 3dsMax unwrap modifier and other 3rd party applications such as RoadKill etc. Parts are unwrapped separately and then assembled into one unique map.

These UV map coordinates will serve as basics for later baking out color, specular, normal, ambient occlusion map etc.

Texture

Texture

In Maya prerendered material shaders (PRM) is assigned to the various highpoly objects of the character - to give them unique  reflection, glossines, color etc.

This can result in 30-40 shaders for a highpoly character if needed. Texture is then applied on top of those shaders.

The highpoly model surface is baked onto the lowpoly model using the Unwrap coordinates. The maps are imported into the game engine along with the lowpoly model and applied to a premade shader. This shader is then applied to the lowpoly model.

The Valuemap holds the info on all the specular, reflective and glossiness from the highpoly surface.

When applied to the premade shader-setup in the engine the same values are transfered to the lowpoly ingame model.


Comments

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5 years, 5 months ago

Interesting stuff boyz, thanks.

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5 years, 5 months ago

It would be also nice to see some of your final concept art for the marine..

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5 years, 5 months ago

I would like to see weapon designs and enemy designs, and what the enemy´s actually are meant to do... :) Anyways nice once again ! (damn, not the first comment!)

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5 years, 5 months ago

I like how you guys release articles like these when you aren't quite ready to reveal more on the game. It is very interesting reading.

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5 years, 5 months ago

Looks great Bokaja. You're a real man and artist.
I yet have to learn to do High poly modelling correct. I always end up chamfering everything and then turbosmooth it to death, haha. I got a nice video tutorial about sub-d modelling by a friend though.

But really good show-off here Bokaja.
I got to see more of you work, it really inspire me a lot, even though I'm not good at character modelling. I'm more into hard surface things like weapons and such. :P

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5 years, 5 months ago

I also think this is very interesting to learn about, especially since we now have a stake in the final project! It also helps to explain why the game development process is so lengthy, in the case of IM even more so because the funding isn't fully secured YET. Thanks guys for sharing this information with us, its greatly appreciated!

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5 years, 4 months ago

Yes, I'm glad to see that AAA Indie project allow to explain the mechanisms behind the development of a game!

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5 years, 4 months ago

Nice to see some more inside info.

Thanks guys.

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5 years, 4 months ago

Looks very nice.

Keep up the good work!

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5 years, 4 months ago

Nice! I hate unwrapping, it's so boring, I'd rather model 5000 characters than unwrap 1

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5 years, 4 months ago

That's cool, great insight in the work.

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5 years, 4 months ago

I think Strata has better modelling tools than 3Dmax and Maya, but nice work though..thumbs up!

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5 years, 4 months ago

@ cheeriokilla: That's so true.

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5 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the comments.
I apologize for any images with smudged quality - they were victims of some rough scaling :D

Amir: you're right - I'll add some more final concept images also.



More to come - stay tuned...




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5 years, 4 months ago

The PROs at work! =)

Keep it up´n´runnin!

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5 years, 4 months ago

That is one intensive process. It's incredible the amount of work you guys must put into this game considering the amount of work that just goes into creating the marine character. We're all behind you guys.

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5 years, 4 months ago

are they showing anything at E3 this year?

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5 years, 4 months ago

Interesting read. I'm hoping for an animation article next though! ;)

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5 years, 4 months ago

Cool . it's wild to you guys have move so much since the trailers back in 2006 . i'm really looking forward to see more news on your website x)

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5 years, 4 months ago

Interesting as always. I love the way the company not only just shows us pictures of a game, but how that piece of art actually arrived at that stage.

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5 years, 4 months ago

Hey, that is actually quite interesting Bokaja!

Thanks for enlightning all of us who can only speak in ones and zeros ;)

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5 years, 4 months ago

How about adding another concept art about another type weapon that will be available in the game? ;D

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5 years, 4 months ago

Good stuff! Looking forward to some "moving" pictures! : )

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5 years, 4 months ago

This stuff is pretty awesome. As an aspiring 3d Modeler and Texture (and a recent graduate from a 3D Game Animation and Modeling program) I'm always very fascinated about the stages that a company goes through from concept to finished 3d model and find things like this to be flat out sweet. It's especially awesome when you get to see the finished bits and pieces of a game that is still a Work In Progress.

Thanks for showing us and me for that matter.

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5 years, 4 months ago

Oh yeah, also forgot to say. Program I was trained with was Softimage XSI 7.0. I never saw XSI listed among 3DS and Maya. Oh wells.

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5 years, 4 months ago

I am prepared!

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5 years, 4 months ago

Nice.... And i Also learned something, I never heard of ValueMapping only Bump, Normal, Difuse, specular, and so on..... But never value Mapping..... Nice:)-(:

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5 years, 4 months ago

@ AndreasDinesen:

Yeah, I've never heard of the Value Map either. I will definitely look into it. ;)

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5 years, 4 months ago

thanks a lot people... very nice work... i think we all gona support you.. all the way we can... we are so exided..:) (sorry for my bad english hehe)

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5 years, 4 months ago

This post is really inspiring for me. I go to school for game design and I'm working on my first character model in 3DS MAX, hours and hours spent working with it. Its really cool to see the process you guys use for your game. Well back to edge modeling this head....

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5 years, 4 months ago

Very nice my brother. I look forward to the release of INTERSTELLAR MARINES. Are you dropping by for dinner soon?

/falken aka ÉlDiego

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5 years, 4 months ago

Bokaja, I've been wondering on something actually.
Why don't you use a little colour on that specular? It makes it look less 'boring' in-game.

Just a proposal. ;)

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5 years, 3 months ago

looking kwl keep up the hard work this game looks better then cod :D its something diffrent and thats y i lyk it, also is it possible to show anything about level design because i would like to know more because i am studying to become a games designer myself :D

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5 years, 3 months ago

detail is good but how about the marine will they get more as well?

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5 years, 1 month ago

Awsome. I am looking forward to this. Hope there will be many people supporting great projects like these. ;) Good luck guys, I'll be watching.

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5 years, 1 month ago

Really cool stuff. I never knew all those steps had to be taken.

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4 years, 5 months ago

cool stuff keep up the good work

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4 years, 3 months ago

keep it up guys . can't get enough out of the bullseye subgame. can't wait to see what the full game has to offer and if you'll make it a retail then it's definitely a buy .

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3 years, 11 months ago

what's the point of covering the high poly, why don't you just create a blockout then a low poly?

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3 years, 9 months ago

Thanks man

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3 years, 9 months ago

This is exactly the sort of thing I want to do in the games industry: character design and environment design. I love it all so much.

And to tominator: you make the high poly model so you can bake the different maps from it to the low poly model. Thus, the model in game won't be as taxing as, say, a 30k plus triangle high poly model, but the texture will look really nice to make up for the loss in quality when using the low poly model.

At least that's how I understand it. I've only done it a couple times myself, so I don't completely understand it all 100% yet :P

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3 years, 7 months ago

After reading this, I STILL don't understand how the blocking technique works. huh? I'm making a game using the same engine that they're using, and I would like to find out.

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3 years, 6 months ago

wow nice work i understand how you did hard work and the tough times remebering the suit because it is highly detailed like halo or something you know? anyways GREAT JOB BOKAJA

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3 years, 6 months ago

great job guys.

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