Pondering my Major Project

Call me crazy, but I have been thinking about it for some time. Through Kiiro Blade, it has become evident to myself and Pol what we should focus on for our Major projects. Pol can cover what he wants to do himself of course, so I want to explain where I'm going with mine. Alan mentioned before when I spoke to him that it might be an idea to start posting about it, so here we go.

My major project needs to be about character design. Establishing a professional pipeline and executing it. But also, finding an interesting way to demonstrate the aforementioned pipeline for potential employees as it were.

What's most important to me is to build on the technical knowledge of character production since the first year. I am still far from where I want to be.

What I want from the Project

- To produce an original, and pleasing character.
- To start using a sculpting program in my pipeline (zbrush probably)
- To model the character and texture it professionally.
- To set up an adequate character rig for animation and skin the character, with blendshapes. Whilst I prefer the modelling and texturing aspects of character production. It is my firm belief that any character modeller should be able to at least rig and skin to a basic level, in order to best understand what the riggers down the line need from you, and also, to pose and present your models as best as possible.
- To produce some form of animation for the character.
- To find an interesting way to present this character in a video format.

I have spoken to Phil and Alan briefly about my ambitions for this project, and we discussed character back stories, and the importance of them. It is clear that I will also need to produce some form of compelling 'world' in which this character lives in order to lend its self to the design.

The reason Star wars characters, for example, work so well is because of the living, believable world they are born from. Which is also a fantasy.

Technical aspects

I've been reading a lot on the correct pipeline, if you will, for producing a 3D high resolution character. My aim is to produce a character for film, or game cinematic perhaps. Something not so low res. I always believed that I prefered producing game models, but during Kiiro Blade I have realised other wise. High res is so cool!

The way I see it is the pipeline needs to go like this.

- Extensive character / world / back story designs. Broadly done.
- Refined character designs, untill I get to the final one.
- Low poly character mesh made in Maya. Edge flow and topology needs to be clean.
- Import to Zbrush for sculpting. Sculpt it to a medium sub division setting, and save that for my new base mesh.
- Increase the subdivision even more, for sculpting for the purposes of normal map production.
- Clean up the new base mesh in Maya, and apply normal maps from the high subD versions.
- Texture the character.
- Rig, skin, etc.

Please, correct me if I'm wrong in this. I havn't much idea with regard to sculpting in a character pipeline. I never wanted to touch these programs untill I had the knowledge I needed of Maya modelling.


My ideas are very basic right now. I only have 'cool things' I'd like to make. Things like cyber punk, and Tank Girl and such are very much in the front of my mind at the moment. I want to produce an attractive, yet 'bad ass' character of some sort. I know, this is very broad stuff, but it's some where to start from. Although it might be foolhardy of me, seeing as Pol and I had ideas like this at the start of Kiiro and we had to try and make a story around that. The complete wrong way of doing it!

Technical Research

I've been reading a book called Stop Staring. This book is great for facial modelling, rigging and animation. Well worth picking up! Go read it guys ;)

Also I've been reading a lot of pipeline stuff online. Though it is very hard to find definitive answers, it seems everyone has their own methods of doing things. Whilst I'm writing this, I may as well post a few screen grabs of an awesome character from a game 'Bayonetta'. They really are quite something, and are the 'sexy bad ass' type character I want to produce.

The base mesh in the modelling package.
And the model..

Here is part of the model sculpted in zbrush.
and, the character with textures and the normals etc applied.

(This model is all work of ChenYiChang, not my own.)

And finally..

People might think "Oh, he wants to make another woman". A few things on that-

- By my reckoning I have made 4 characters, 2 male, 2 female. Seela Nixx, Claire Kiiro, Henry Courtney and Shreuder. So it's up for grabs what I make next ;)
- There was a lot of anatomy issues that I simply was not happy with in ClaireK. I have an agenda here, that I could not fulfill due to Kirro Blade and what was needed from it. I was already pushing it with the amount of time I was spending working on studying anatomy.
- And lastly, I am male..

So I hope that best sums up what I am thinking about with regard to the Major. Any input would be cool. I'm going to sleep now :)


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I am a video game artist at Dovetail games, working on Train Simulator 2014, 2015 and an unannounced title. I also graduated from the CG Arts course at UCA in 2010 with a First Class. www.jonstewart.co.uk