First you make it simple, then you make it complex, then you make it ridiculously complex, then you make it super simple and tape a picture of the ridiculously complex version of it and hope nobody notices. Getting light sources to highlight and shade portions of the model as if it were still in high poly and let the computer create the textures for you are the whole point of why the sculpting took place. I’ve done a few passes of baking those features from the high poly to the low and wound up with a result that is good enough for me.
Next time I make a character, I will definitely try to do it with way fewer poly count than this. Was expecting to pull off making this guy closer to N64 or Nintendo DS game poly levels, but it’s probably closer to the poly count of PS2/xbox phat assets. I think he’s even creepier with features…
Being that this is just for fun and learning (AKA while doing this I learned that I should have done things a LOT differently in order to get more controlled and clean results), I just mixed the UV Maps for different pieces that baked at varying levels of accuracy and cloned them together in Photoshop until things applied to the model without any trouble. In places that weren’t baking properly, instead of wonking around with redoing parts of the low poly mesh, I just painted the details or squished around with the UV wrapping until it worked some way or another. For example, the teeth just refused to pick up hardly at all in the ambient occlusion texture pass, so the whole wrap was squished to only show a 1 pixel high section of the map.
The mapping shown here changed a lot after I went to start rigging this because I eliminated a lot of geometry and actually mirrored some of the UVs, like the pants, since I had forgotten to eliminate a lot of the edge loops on only one side. All the buttons are mapped to just one of the baked button textures, despite all 6 or 7 of them showing on the texture map, suspenders only use one of them too, etc. So it’s a mess, but all I’m concerned with at the moment is getting something that looks fine and seemless and that I understand why it didn’t work this time so future models can benefit.
The UV space worked with is 1024×1024. Yes, WAY more space than is justified considering how grainy of an ambient occlusion bake (the render pass that just picks up the light and dark spots in grayscale so you can layer colors and patterns with it when texturing) that I ended up creating to save processing time on this computer. But since I was not acclimated to how this process would work in the slightest sense, and because this model isn’t actually going to be used on a handheld dorito-chipset past-generation game system, being careful about UV size is for the next 3D project. Really though, how inefficiently this was mapped out is probably painful looking to somebody that knows their way around a 3D workflow.
Learned a lot about what works and what causes headaches when you go to texture the UV map due to overly complex or congested geometry clusters. I know I run into issues with trying to do things more complex than needed – this is the first really serious 3D endeavor, I’m more than happy with the C I graded myself with in that regard. So I wave this along to the rigging stage and promise to make more models of different kinds, sizes, and complexities to texturally challenge myself later. With that, I’m moving past all its shortcomings and settling for a simplistic texture overlay that works so I can get to the part that I’m really looking forward to – rigging and animation!
Blender has this fantastic addon called Riggify that’s built right into the release version that generates a powerful FK/IK slider rig based on your bone positions. Without doing any vertices weight painting after generating the rig, I was already able to move him around really well. A small amount of work (relative to making a rig like this from scratch) will have things really working nicely without stretching and exploding suspenders or buttons.