Category Archives: 3D Models

Studio 2 Showreel

Below is my showreel for Studio 2:

Outputting Files that Work in the Unreal Engine

Through the course of my game character project I have kept the following technical specifications in mind so that my assets work efficiently in the Unreal game engine.

Polycount

Throughout my entire game character project I have been mindful of how my assets will import and run in a game engine. For this reason I have kept everything to a relatively low poly. My character is around 3000 polys which I should have reduced more, especially in the eyes and horns.

erikaMy environment (a quickly created labyrinth) was originally over 8000 polys which I managed to reduce to around 300 polys.

maze02While the poly count is not going to be so critical in my mini demo/test it was good practice for the future as larger projects will require stricter poly counts.

The Importance of Resetting X-Forms

I had a couple of issues with importing my labyrinth file into the Unreal engine as I had forgotten to reset my X-forms. Once I had worked this out and fixed it everything went smoothly but it is something I will need to remember for the future.

Exporting and Importing FBX Files

Once my character was finished and had a basic run and idle animation I exported it into the Unreal engine. I did this by exporting the two animations as separate FBX files where the animation was baked in. This worked well when I imported the animations: when importing FBX files Unreal asks you if it is a skeletal mesh and, if so, does share a skeleton with one already in the project.

SkeletalMeshFBXOptionsThis allowed me to use the same skeleton for the run and idle animations which enabled me to create a blend space between the two.

blendExporting and importing the labyrinth was even simpler as I exported as a FBX (with no animation) and imported it as a static mesh.

Iterative Files

The Unreal engine has the ability to update assets currently in the scene with a newly imported asset. All that is required is for it to have the same file name (you can also do it manually if you have differently named files). For this reason I kept a standard naming convention for my files allowing me to quickly and easily update my textures and animations.

Game Character: Skinning

So, after finishing the rig, I began the horrible next step: skinning. I hate skinning because it is fiddly, tedious and never seems to work for me.

03However, Steve told me about the Geodesic Voxel Binding and Heatmap tools in 3DsMax 2016. These tools are not included in the main download of Max but you can get them if you install the Service Package 1 and then Extension 1.

The Geodesic voxel binding is magic and literally saved me an hour or so of correcting vertex weights. It is included inside the Skin modifier. That is, you simply add a Skin modifier and add the bones (as you normally would). With no settings adjusted, the modifier will attempt to mold the mesh to the bones but is usually very inaccurate.

01To use the Geodesic voxel binding you scroll down to Weight Properties, select Voxel and click the little “…” box on the right. Another dialogue box should appear. With this you can control the falloff of the binding and the maximum number of bones that can have an influence on any given vertex (if you leave it as 0 the program will work out if out for you). You can also just the “accuracy” of the binding, 64 being the lowest.

CaptureI tested this on my model with the default settings at the lowest resolution.

02As you can see it has already fixed one of the biggest issues. Of course, it still needs much adjusting. I fiddled around with the voxel binding settings until I found something that worked and applied that to my model at a high resolution. From there I adjusted the individual vertex weights in the problem areas until I had fixed all the issues.

Below is a short video of my skinned model:

After uploading this, I noticed an issue with the belt and the hip moving inwards and clipping through the body. I have since fixed these problems.

Game Character: Animation Friendly Rig

I am continuing to work through the production pipeline of creating a game character. Having finished the modelling stage, I moved onto the next step: rigging.

Initially I had hoped to create a skeleton in Maya and then create a rig. However, as I have not used Maya before, this proved extremely difficult, frustrating and I was running out of time. So, in order to be able to finish this pipeline this Trimester, I have instead created a custom CAT in 3DsMax. This was much more efficient as I have worked with CAT rigs before.

I began by adding a CAT parent.01Then I added a hub bone (the pelvis) and some legs. The CAT system is really effective because if you create one leg in full you can simply copy and “paste mirror” for the other leg.

02I then continued to add bones for the rest of the body. Including all the finger bones and an additional bone for her bag. I made sure to colour the bones in a way that makes it easy to see what is what: the left side is pink, right side is green, central bones are blue and the bag is yellow.

13From here, I added up-nodes, gizmos and IK targets to allow for easy animation. Again, I made sure to keep the same colour system. 08I like to make sure that the controllers are larger than the model, so that there will be no issues when animating (such as being unable to find a finger gizmo).

07I created extra gizmos around the knee and elbow up-nodes, so they are easy to see and grab. Additionally, I used squares for the knees and circles for the elbows, as I have had issues in the past when they get mixed up.

I added text to the hand IK targets and made them slightly brighter shades of green and pink so that they are easy to find and use.

11Finally, I added a rectangle gizmo to the shoulders. These will help to see what position the shoulders are current in (as horizontal is the neutral or starting position).

12Finally, my custom, animation-friendly rig is finished and ready for me to use.

06

Game Character: New Hair

I had previously created the hair for my character out of splines and a hair modifier. However, this was not working so well and it would not export to Maya (or Unreal). So I redid her hair in polygons.

Capture

This was done very quickly and is quite basic. I would love to have time to fix this but I really don’t think I will be able to. However, it is working at the moment.

Game Character: Initial Textures

I have created a set of initial textures for my character. This is basically a draft that will help me to place the lines / paint later on. Hopefully, if I have enough time this trimester, I will  iterate on it to get a painterly style.

TahliaTextureHow it looks on the model:

TEST06

Game Character: Final Design for Texturing

Below is the final character design with details and colour palette:

character-texture-design

I will be using this as a reference when I begin to texture my model properly. I chose a earthy, forest colour palette and gave her some tattoos to add a bit of detail to the model.

Game Character Unwrap and Base Texture

Having finished my model, I began the unwrapping process. I choose to unwrap symmetrically as this will save time during texturing and I am running out of time…

I didn’t really have any issues doing this, except for the hands. The hands were extremely fiddly and I think this was because of my shitty hand modelling. Otherwise, it was all pretty easy to unwrap. Below is the unwrapped character with the checkerboard texture applied:

unwrapThe maps are not packed perfectly, but, as I said, I am trying not to spend too much time on this stage:

mapFrom here, I created an earthy / forest colour palette and filled in the base colours for my texture.

baseI will be treating the textures as an iterative process and will be returning to them after the rigging and blocking out is complete.

Game Character: Final details for model

Today I added the last details and finalised my model. Firstly, I had to do something about her face – it just looked wrong and a little scary. The tutorial I followed to create her face was for a realistic male model; I think this is why she looks so odd here.

01 (3)From here I made several adjustments to the existing model: I made the nose thinner, moved the corners of the mouth up, moved the eyes in a bit and adjusted their shape and adjusted her jaw line. Finally, and most crucially, I added eyelashes and eyebrows.

01 (2)I think this is already much better and should (hopefully) only improve with texturing.

Next, I created her horns. This took me quite a long time and a lot of messing around. Luckily, Steve showed me how to use the “Extend along Spline” tool in class. This worked out quite well and was easy to use.

66Lastly, I worked on her hair. For this I tried several different methods: extending along a spline, box modelling the strands and rendering splines as polys. None of this worked well. Finally, I found a tutorial on using splines and the Hair and Fur modifier. To begin with I created some splines:

44 Then added the Hair and Fur modifier and played around with it. The modifier is a bit fiddly, but the dynamics are really cool.

33It still needs some work: the hair still seems to clip through the head a little, I needs a couple more splines and I need to adjust the settings so it is not so stringy. However, I like how it is working at the moment and think that I will definitely use this method. Additionally, I want to use some nice hair shaders and materials.

hair-test[Sorry for the shitty GIF, don’t have Premiere on my home computer]

From here I can finally start the unwrapping, texturing and rigging stages.

Game Character: Modelling

Using my model sheet (below), I began to model my character.

model-sheet2

Before I began, I looked at several different tutorials on how to model a character. Because of these tutorials, I started by using cylinders for the torso, arms and legs. This was new for me as I am used to box modelling and I found that it worked out much better. I will definitely be using this technique in the future.

01

At this stage I had finished the torso (with smoothing groups) and was at the point of connecting the arms to the shoulders. I was using symmetry mode at this point (and through most of the process).

02

From there I continued, adding a waist and legs.

03

This was the final body mesh minus the hands, feet and head. At this stage I went back to the joints and fixed up the topography of the knee, wrist and elbow joints.

07

After this, I began modelling the hands. In the tutorials, they started by modelling the hands separately and attaching them after.

05

In my opinion, the hands worked out OK considering I have never modeled hands before. Again, I adjusted the topography to give the knuckles the proper joints.

06From here I blocked in the feet. I took less care with these, as the feet will be viewed the least.

feetFinally, I began to work on the face and head of the character. I have never modeled a character’s face in such detail before so it took me a much, much longer time that expected. Unfortunately, my model sheet was lacking detail in the face which definitely hindered my workflow. However, I followed an excellent tutorial which helped me a whole lot. The tutorial began the face with several cylinder caps which I adjusted to suit.

faceAfter literally hours, I had finished the head. She still looks scary / horrifying. I am not sure if this is the lack of hair (which I will be completing later), lack of eyebrows or simply my inexperienced and fumbled attempt at modeling a face.

head4I added a coloured multi/sub-object texture in Max to help see how the final product would look.

head3Finally, I added the clothing edges and her bag and belt.

bagAt this point I am happy with her model and design. Now I can start the process of giving her a skeleton and rig. I will add her hair and horns later on, as these are not essential for the rig.

Tutorials used for reference:

Taylor, J. (2013). Maya Character modeling tutorial, part 2 – Hands and Feet [Video]. Retrieved from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxx6QCbL7dQ

Taylor, J. (2014). Maya HEAD MODELING for ANIMATION tutorial [Video]. Retrieved from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhtI-vKx8YY

Taylor, J. (2015). MAYA 2016 FEMALE BODY character modeling tutorial [Video]. Retrieved from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZekghp78x8

Ward, A. (2013). Game Character Creation Series. Retrieved 2nd October, 2015, from
http://cgi.tutsplus.com/series/game-character-creation-series-kila–cg-31010

First Day Horrors: Models

For my cross-discipline project I have created a bunch of models. Due to the time limit, the models are very basic and low poly. Also, I will be using the sub-object colouring inside 3DsMax as opposed to unwrapping and texturing each model.

Gate

GATE

HOUSE

SCHOOL

SPOOKY TREES

SPOOKY TREES

TEDDY BEAR: to be held by girl.

MONSTER: to be rigged and animated.

MONSTER: to be rigged and animated.

TEACHER: to be rigged and animated for end scene.

TEACHER: to be rigged and animated for end scene.

f_

GIRL: to be rigged and animated.

f_

Comparison of models