CRE­ATE THIS DARK ELF

Dis­cover Creative As­sem­bly’s triple-a tech­niques for re­al­is­ing a Games Work­shop char­ac­ter in 3D with char­ac­ter artist Danny Sweeney

3D Artist - - FRONT PAGE -

This tu­to­rial con­cen­trates on the devel­op­ment of the Dark Elf fac­tion from To­tal War: Warham­mer II – in par­tic­u­lar, the Fe­male Dread­lord unit. When es­tab­lish­ing a new race for To­tal War: Warham­mer, we need to build a strong vis­ual foun­da­tion from which the artists can ref­er­ence be­fore full devel­op­ment can be­gin.

The in­tro­duc­tion to this guide will look at the prepa­ra­tion that is re­quired be­fore we can start de­vel­op­ing the bulk of our char­ac­ter art, as well as the tech­niques we use to help en­sure that each char­ac­ter within a fac­tion looks con­sis­tent and of a high qual­ity.

Fol­low­ing this, we will talk in depth about the meth­ods we used to cre­ate func­tional hard-sur­face ar­mour while re-cre­at­ing the Dark Elf vis­ual style in 3D, tak­ing weight, pro­por­tion and ges­tures into con­sid­er­a­tion as we build our as­sets. We will also talk about get­ting the most out of your nor­mal maps, how we cre­ate dif­fer­ent ar­mour vari­ants for each char­ac­ter, us­ing the rules of com­po­si­tion to add life and story to your char­ac­ter, and easy meth­ods to cre­ate real-time hair and fur.

01

De­velop your base mesh When you start cre­at­ing a char­ac­ter, you’re go­ing to want to build a strong base mesh that other artists can use to de­velop their sculpts from. In this case, all fe­male elves use the same fe­male elf base mesh. Us­ing Zbrush, start with Zspheres and block out the char­ac­ter. At this point, we are fo­cused only on pro­por­tion. Hav­ing a pro­por­tion­ally cor­rect base mesh to work from will speed up the fi­nal sculpt­ing process and it also gives our rig­gers enough in­for­ma­tion to start look­ing at build­ing an an­i­ma­tion skele­ton. Once you have a solid start­ing point, con­vert your Zsphere rig into ge­om­e­try and be­gin your sculpt­ing, again fo­cus­ing on the scale, pro­por­tion and sil­hou­ette of your char­ac­ter. 02 Even flow – why topol­ogy matters To con­trol how much fi­delity we can have when it comes to sculpt­ing, we cre­ate our fi­nal base mesh us­ing a method called re­topol­ogy. To make sculpt­ing eas­ier, keep your poly­gons evenly sized, four-sided and use edge loops ex­ten­sively. If you don’t, you will prob­a­bly end up with pinch­ing in parts of your sculpt, which can be cum­ber­some to deal with. Once you’re happy with your mesh, bring it back into Zbrush. Cre­at­ing poly­groups for each body part will help to break up your char­ac­ter dur­ing the sculpt­ing process and this is the point where you want to start look­ing at anatom­i­cal struc­ture. Don’t worry about skin pores or blem­ishes just yet – fo­cus on bony land­marks, fat pads, mus­cu­la­ture and stri­a­tions.

03

Cre­at­ing your ‘bits box’ When you start de­vel­op­ing art for a new group of char­ac­ters, like we do for Warham­mer, it’s im­por­tant to re­search what type of cloth­ing and ar­mour the group wears, what trin­kets they carry, and other vis­ual el­e­ments that they share across units and roles. Cre­at­ing a bits box – a file pop­u­lated with as­sets that can be reused across mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters – not only saves time, but it also aids in es­tab­lish­ing a sense of vis­ual uni­son across a group of char­ac­ters. Use these to store trin­kets, buck­les, belts, chain­mail and scale­mail links, and other as­sets that can be re-used wher­ever pos­si­ble.

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