Zimiri – Rebake Attempt

You may recall I had a bit of trouble with seams on Zimiri because he was segmented into multiple pieces.  Well I discovered that I can use a plugin in Zbrush to lower the poly counts of my high resolution meshes so that I can import than into 3D studio max.  From what I gather from all the sources I’ve managed to find that you will get the best results if you bake your textures in the program that will be displaying them.  Each application has its own algorithm for calculating normals so if you create a map in one program it may not necessarily display correctly in another.  So with this new knowledge I imported my newly reduced high res meshes into 3DS Max and the result was quite nice.  Its great to see Zimiri’s high rez meshes come together however you’ll notice one glaring problem…

As you can see its quite apparent why I’m having such a hard time getting my seam to go away at the knee.  The two high poly meshes don’t line up at all, not even close.  The reason they’re so completely misaligned is because of the smoothing that Zbrush performs when subdividing.  If I had creased the edges at the top this wouldn’t be a problem.  At this point the only way I know how to fix it is to try to alter the high poly meshes to line up with each other.  That would be very difficult because I’d have to work on them one at a time.  Ultimately it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to fix this unfortunately.

If I’m going to break up a mesh like this I need to either hide that seam with another mesh, crease the edges of the mesh in Zbrush, or simple make them one mesh to edit in Zbrush.  Lesson learned.

Handgun – Finished

So I was able to get this thing into Topogun and bake my textures required for painting.  I had some minor distortion from miss placing some smoothing groups but all and all they both came out well.  I only had to do minor touch ups in photoshop prior to painting my diffuse map.  We have so much to do yet that I can’t afford to spend any more time on something that will be less than one inch big on the screen.  There is so much more I could do with this but as of now this is the finished product that we’ll use in the game.

With the weaponry portion of my schedule complete now I get to move on to help populating our level with interest, aka props.  Let the fun begin over again!

Zimiri comes to life!

After i passed in my finished textured mesh to my art lead he started skinning him to the default skeleton in UDK.  Unfortunately Zimiri’s shoulders weren’t exactly a perfect match with the skeleton so he had to adjust it so it would fit and bend properly.  All and all he turned out very well.  I still don’t have videos working on this site yet otherwise I’d post a short of a canned animation out of Unreal.  Here is a screen of what he looks like in the engine.

I’m hoping I can have him back and possibly better fit him or alter the mesh to better resemble the concept.  That aside our art lead has all 5 custom characters we created all implemented into our game.  Next phase is compiling all our design teams’ work into one continuous level.

Handgun – Zbrush

Talk about a pain in the butt.  When I first attempted this I was trying to smooth all the hard surfaces manually.  This was the only method I could think of because if you subdivide with smoothing on it will completely round out your model.  Alternatively if you turn smoothing off of your subdivide you’re left with the hard angles of the individual polygons themselves.  After spending an hour and a half  smoothing each hard surface manually, I started thinking “There has to be an easier way to do this!”  So with a quick query to the google box I discovered a plugin that allowed me to import my OBJ into Zbrush and it automatically creased the edges of the mesh.   Apparently all this plug in does is replace every “(s)” tag in the OBJ file, which is my smoothing groups I assigned in 3DS Max, with a “(g)” tag that turns it into a poly group in Zbrush.  Then based on the polygroup it creases the outside edges, allowing my surfaces to retain their chiseled hard edges.  This dramatically improved my work flow and saved me roughly a few hours of extra work.  So here is what I ended up with…

I think I’m going to do more with this when I have more time to mess around.  It holds true to my original concept and for the time being this works well for our game we’re making.  Now its time to check the two meshes in Topogun and then start the dreaded unwrapping!  Stick around, the finished product is right around the corner!

Handgun – Base Mesh

This was pretty tough to maintain the silhouette of my concept while keeping the poly count low enough to be usable in the game.  It came in at 582 polys as the finished product,  I think I may want to add a few more to my scope to give the eye piece some curvature.  Other than that I’m pleased with the way it turned out.

Now the next part should be a good learning experience for me.  I’ve only ever done organic sculpting in Zbrush but obviously this is all hard surfaces.  It will be a real challenge to scuplt in the level of detail I want while maintaining the hard surfaces.  Stay tuned to see how I made out!

Handgun – Concept

With Zimiri complete and passed over to my art lead for rigging and adding to the game pack, my next task was to design a handgun.  Well I’d say this is more like a hand cannon than a handgun but what do I know.  After talking with the art lead about what he wanted it to  be, I got a pretty good picture in my head and began drawing.  Scouring the internet for references to get inspiration from things came together pretty well in the end.  I essentially mashed 3 different types of guns together to form this…

This was the 4th iteration of adding details and slightly altering the silhouette here and there and I’m pleased with the way it came out.  I presented it to my art lead who said “I’m in love.” and gave me the go ahead to start modeling.  Stay tuned for the base mesh!

Zimiri – Finished Product

This is where you finally get to see the fruits of your labor.  With applying the texture materials to the mesh it transforms the low poly mesh from a solid gray to this…

Low and behold the finished product!  Well I can’t really say he’s done yet because the next challenge comes with the rigging.  Sure his geometry and “skin” are finished but now we get to move on to giving him a skeleton and animating him.  Although from what I understand our game isn’t going to feature custom animations as of yet.  That doesn’t mean I can’t animate him on my own time. 😉  You may not see an update on Zimiri for awhile because my next assignment given to my by my Art lead is a futuristic one handed pistol.  Stay tuned to start the whole process all over again!  I LOVE IT!

Zimiri – Texturing

Time to fire up the oven to bake some textures!  With everything unwrapped in 3DS Max we can now reimport the meshes and bake a normal map and occlusion map for texturing.  I had to import each piece individually bake my maps, then take them into photoshop and create one master file which ended up looking like this.  I kept the map for the head separate in order to capture more of the fine details of the wrinkling of the skin.

Then with my occlusion map I could then begin creating my diffuse texture using it as a template for the details I’ve sculpted in.  I didn’t have quite as much time here as I would have liked but we did have to keep the schedule buzzing along.  After a few nights of tweaking with colors and intensities this was the result.

So now with my texturing done there’s only one thing left to do!  Slap it on the model!  Stay tuned for screens of the finished product!

Zimiri – Retopologize

Now with my newly created high poly meshes from Zbrush I need to resync my low poly geometry up to it.  So I’m going to import both meshes into Topogun and manually fit my low poly mesh over my high poly mesh.

So I imported all of the pieces of Zimiri separately and saved out the modified low poly mesh to then unwrap for texturing.  Now I need to head back over to 3Ds Max and unwrap my newly topologized model so I can move on to baking my normals and light maps.

Zimiri – High Poly Mesh

Time for a little Zbrush action!  This is the best part of the work flow because you get to add all kinds of detail you can’t achieve with geometry alone.  I have the most fun at this stage because this  is where I get to flex my digital sculpting skills and really start to bring this guy to life.  I imported each piece individually so I could cram as many polygons as possible into each piece.  This allowed me to get an extra fine detail that would carry over to the low poly mesh.  The key thing to remember from here on is the more time you put in here the easier you can create your diffuse texture later.

The face is a very delicate part to sculpt, especially for a person of age.  I tried my best with being under the gun to create as many fine details with the wrinkles of the face and neck.  I would do more with the hair if I had more time however I needed to press on.  For the intent of the game this works fine.  This part alone has roughly 3.1 million polygons.

The torso was fun part to sculpt because I was looking forward to my cybernetic spine I had in my mind. I’m pretty pleased with the way it came out.  Hopefully the low poly mesh does it justice.  I wish I could have added more detail to the cloth material but again I had to press on.  This piece was roughly 8 million polys.

This was the easiest piece to sculpt because the subdivisions did most of the work for me.  A few swipes with my brush and we’re off and running.  This was roughly 2 million polys.

This was another piece I was looking forward to because of the cybernetic leg.  This was rather challenging for me because my original design wasn’t translating well into the sculpt.  I had to make some minor adjustments to accommodate the complications of the mesh.  This was 5 million polys.

I got to finish up with the feet and finalize my cybernetic leg.  At this point I was just about out of time and really had to start generating my texture maps to start texturing otherwise I was going to fall behind.  This was also 3 million polys.

I didn’t get to spend quite as much time at this phase as I would have liked because the development team is on a really tight schedule and I need to do my best to stay on track.  Now the next step I take is to import these models individually into Topogun and retopologize  my low poly mesh to fit the ones I just created.  When I sculpted this I subdivided the mesh several times which (if you choose to) has a smoothing effect that subtlely decreases the over all mass of an object with each iteration.  So this next step is critical in ensuring that my low poly mesh lines up where I want it to on the high poly mesh.  Otherwise all my fine detail would be misaligned and really degrade the model instead of enhancing it.  With any luck I’ll get some really crisp and clean normal and occlusion maps to texture my model with.  Stay tuned for an update with a textured model!

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