Mar 222012

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…

For the record, I really don’t like what this guy looks like compared to the concept image. He doesn’t deserve those Dr. Teeth teeth. But, I shall press on!

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.

Like a primordial ooze stage of Tommy Pickles.

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!

So majestic. And gay… In the classical sense of the word.

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.

Hahaha, okay, might have to make this the final structure to work with.


Quicklinks: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5

About the Author

Carl Douglas is a graphic artist and animator of all things drawn, tweened, puppeted, and exploded. You can learn more About Him or enjoy a glimpse at how his brain chooses which 160 character combinations are worth sharing by following him on Twitter.
 March 22, 2012  Posted by at 3:09 pm 3D, Articles, Artwork, Personal Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Low Poly Game Character Creation Pt. 4”

Comments (2)
  1. That seems to have a fairly high amount of polygons. Have I missed something ?

    • It’s certainly far higher of a polycount than I had entered into this project expecting it to be. The main focus of this project was learning 3D, and I sort of went the method of bellyflopping into the deepend before learning how to swim as far as how I chose to do that, haha.

      The training series I made my model alongside went the way of making a more realistic character with many high detail sculpted features on their piece, and the resulting lessons that series sought to achieve were in creating something with billions of polygons and then translating that into a new model of, perhaps, hundreds or low-end thousands.

      I learn best when I take a lesson and apply it to something of my own, though, and thought it an easier approach to start with something with cartoony proportions and features. I did not anticipate that all the sculpting and high poly work that the training material went over first would be far less necessary for a character of my design, so most of the extra geometry that my model possesses is a result of trying to stick close to the source material so that I can still employ the methods they used while I was still in the dark about 3D workflows and practices.

      So I’m sure this does have well over double the amount of tris that a more skilled modeller would have created this with, but the thing to walk away from with this is that a more game-friendly (lower poly) model can be worked up from a much much higher polycount piece. Also that even beginners can wind up creating a model that can function with a puppet rig that that features powerful and easy control over the character, and that it’s not all that hard if you’re willing to learn from others.

      I tried my hand at a truly lowpoly model armed without anything but what I learned in the project that these blog posts follow; a simple car with manually created textures. I had thought I posted that up here as a follow-up, but I guess not! You can find it here though: Way of the Pixel forum, in my Low Poly thread

      Low Poly Car

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