Friday, May 1, 2009

"Deadeye" - Unreal Tournament 3 character

Okay, so after modeling a few game characters, I decided it was time to actually model a character that can be imported into the Unreal Tournament 3 game engine. It turns out this is a bit more complicated than simply modeling a low poly character. First, as always, the process begins with concept art. Instead of the usual UT3/Gears of War character, which is covered in a thick layer of plate armor akin to football pads on steroids, I opted to design a lightly armored character that actually wears more cloth than armor. The idea was to create a reconnaissance/sniper character suitable for desert, jungle or forest environments wearing: a simple pauldron, cloth wrappings, a light backpack and utility kilt. His equipment includes: an advanced thermo/night vision/sonar combo goggles system, an electromagnetic gauntlet calibrated to steady his aim, and hydraulic boots that enhance his speed and leaping! Basically it's a cross between a Tuskan Raider and an elite Cobra unit. (insert "Coooobraaaa!!!" scream now) Oh, and the head is based on my favorite Lost character: John Locke (a seasoned tracker and survivor).

Here is my initial finalized concept sketch...

To model the character, I had to use an existing Male IronGuard UT3 skeleton as a template and model around the skeleton. To aid in this, I created orthographic sketches of the front and side views of the character, drawn over screenshots of the UT3 skeletons to ensure that my concept art utilized the exact proportions of the UT3 skeleton. In addition, I divided the parts of my character as the UT3 models were created: boots, thighs, torso, arms, head, helmet, facemask and goggles (i.e., so these parts could be interchanged within the UT3 Customize Character screen). After ensuring that all parts of my model were "capped off" and unwrapping the UVs according to the rigid zones that UT3 demands, I was able to begin the ZBrush work to create my Normal maps, Photoshop work to create my Diffuse maps and Crazybump work to create my Specular maps. Here is a screenshot of the basic low-poly model with wireframe displayed...

...and here's a shot of the same model with Diffuse maps, Normal maps and Specular maps! These really enhance the look of the model and make it look like it contains a much higher polycount!


Creating alpha maps for use in ZBrush, allow you to create some nice texture detail, like: scratches, stubble, pores and fabric patterns. This allows the model detail to hold up even under close inspection...

...even for extreme closeups! "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!"

After the model was completed, the model was bound to the UT3 skeleton. Painting of weights was used to fix any errors in mesh deformation during joint bends--well, I tried at any rate. The upper cloak and utility kilt continued to plague me by clipping through the arms and legs (respectively) during extreme bends. I eventually gave up when it was "close enough." The Actor X plug-in tool for Maya was utilized to export each of the parts of the model for UT3 (generating the associated .psk and .txt files). After some scripting and importing, the character was ready to play in UT3. Here's Deadeye at the UT3 Customize Character screen...

Here he is without his helmet, facemask and goggles...

Here's a UT3 screenshot in which I am playing as Deadeye in third person view...

Here I am fighting Deadeye in first person view...

...and again...

...and again!

2 comments:

Yusuke Sato said...

The guy came out really nice aaron. Now u gotta build the robot!

Ayumi Sophia said...

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