Short of the time required to do it, adjusting the weight of vertex influences for each bone went down rather painlessly. I was expecting to need to readjust some of the mesh to play more nicely with the bones to make the deformation around, say, elbows and joints operate with less distortion. But it all just kind of worked, and the suspenders even rest/stretch as they ought to!
I could have spent a few more hours creating another rig just for the face, but I opted to just control it with shape keys. Shape keys let you move vertices around all you like for things like eyelids blinking, mouth shape stretching and squashing to form lipsynching cues, etc, then transition between the keys you created and the default pose that was in place. For example, my face had shape keys to open and close the eyes, open and close the mouth, raise and lower the teeth/cheeks for smiling and such, and lift or lower each eyebrow separately. Was a fun process to learn and use!
(the joke: Epic Sax Guy)
In the four animations that oozed out, we have the standard running, idling, sneaking, and saxophone solo actions. Basic idea of the idle is that he is shifting weight from right leg to left leg intermittently, then I made him make a whole bunch of faces that are obviously the result of discovering many kittens playing right by his feet. Obviously.
Short of posting how the import of the character into Unity3D went for testing in an actual game environment, I’ve reached the end of my DVD training series and this is kind of the end of the journey for this model. I went into this with little 3D knowledge at all, and came out with a moving piece of meat that I’m really proud of, despite his misgivings and excessive polycount/texture size.
I was going to post about how it worked out bringing into the game engine, but it was so easy and unnecessary to do anything other than export the object package and load it in and add a character controller script to him (automated menu option) to be able to play around with it that there’s hardly much to document about the process. Makes it far less intimidating for me knowing how compatible the things are and how little extra work is needed to go from creation process to converting it into workable assets.
Having learned what I did just on this one project piece, I recognize where there was a lot of work done on things that didn’t need it and where I should have thought ahead/planned better as far as the mesh/baking/texturing is concerned. This character being as simple as it is could probably have been accomplished without sculpting or bothering with a normal map and created with much simpler and cleaner geometry. Mapping out the UV space could have been miles more efficient and creating the textures manually would not have been a terribly hard task. BUT I had no idea at the start of this how it would pan out so I’m glad I came away from this being able to identify problems at all!
I’m thinking that for the next 3D endeavor, I will try to bypass sculpting altogether, fixing to just model something and texture it manually. So it will be much more truly low poly than this, and promoting a need to be more focused on portraying forms with the least amount of complexity and efficient use of low resolution texturing.
To any of you who have followed along, thank you for your readership! Coming up on the article roulette will be a tutorial that shows my workflow for creating character animation pixel art sprites from sketch to final product using Adobe Photoshop and Cosmigo ProMotion.