Friday, June 13, 2008

Thuggin' it up!

Okay, to apologize for not posting anything in a while would be both redundant as well as a massive understatement. However, as with Mark Twain, "...the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" I am still, in fact, very much alive. So, skirting pleasantries, I figured I would walk straightaway through my process of developing a "gang member" low-poly game character. You know, gettin' back to my GTA roots!

First, I found a few images online and did some quick "research sketches." These were intended to be quite loose, simply capturing gesture, clothing and style...

After doing a few sketches, I decided to give my gang member baggy "saggin' style" jeans with visible boxers, a "wife beater" style sleeveless t-shirt, a do-rag and tennis shoes. For a weapon, in lieu of a bladed weapon or gun, I opted for a good ol' fashioned baseball bat. I then drew a quick turnaround to assist in my modeling effort. Initially, I created a complete "nude" body and modeled the clothing and accesories separately. This initial mesh was a very respectable 1,187 polys (with clothing and accessories bringing the total up to 1,906 polys).
After UV unwrapping all of the pieces, I then composited all of the textures for them using Photoshop. As can be seen, I opted for numerous tattoos and a very stylish pair of plaid boxers.

Hey, this fellow color coordinates with a nice blue bandana ...accents his eyes, don't you think? Um, wait, does that make him a "Crip?"

I also decided to add a bloody texture to the baseball bat, so the viewing public wouldn't mistake this fellow for an MLB team member. Nonetheless, his RBI isn't bad...

Ooh, this guy's a real sourpuss!

Ouch, that tat looks fresh. Someone grab the aloe!

Hey, look everybody, it's Robert Van Winkle! ...and no, Vanilla Ice was not my original inspiration.

I then went back and tweaked the mesh out quite a bit, which caused the geometry to jump up to 3,821 polys. Being less than 5,000 polys, this is still considered to be a low-poly model and appropriate for gaming.

I then UV unwrapped my new mesh objects and imported them as .obj objects into Zbrush for some digital sculpture work. After sculpting all of the desired details, I exported a Normal Map from Zbrush and applied it to my low poly model within Maya. I also recreated all of my textures, matching them to my Normal Map. The resultant model appears to have quite a bit more geometric detail than the original model, but it's still only 3,821 polys.

I obviously decided to do two "sleeve style" tats, in lieu of the more sparse version previously.

Normal maps are great for providing a lot more detail to very simple areas of the mesh, like hands and fingers, for example. Ewww, this guy needs a manicure--just look at those cuticles!

"Puff, the magic dragon... lived by the sea... and frolicked in the Autumn mist... in a land called Honah Lee!"

Hey, you'd be surly, too, if you had gimpy cauliflower ears!

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