Terrain Work

I've been brushing up on some techniques for terrain work, including high-res rock wall sculpts, SpeedTree modeling, and terrain modeling in World Machine. Here are some of the results:

Aesimoch Armor Sculpt

Finished sculpting almost all of the armor. I need to add some sort of torc/choker to enable the separation of the head from the body in the final low-res. I've included the skull he'll be holding in his right hand.

Aesimoch Body Sculpt

I've finished the basic body sculpt.

Dominance War Entry - Aesimoch: Final Design

Here is my final design for my Dominance War V entry. I'm going with an organic Egyptian/Aztec/Mayan motif. I've also decided to actually make him skinless. I'd used the muscle anatomy overlay as a guide during the design process, but the more I played with it, the more I liked it. I'll find a way to make it look more mystical and powerful than grotesque skinlessness. The point is that he's just a manifested form of the god of balance, so he is made of whatever is appropriate for the needs of balance. He's large enough to hold a galaxy in his hand, so perhaps the glowing aspects are all stars packed together. =)

Dominance War Entry - Aesimoch: Figure Roughs

Here are some of the conceptual roughs I finished today for Dominance War V. I don't think any of them are the ONE, but there are parts that I like from each of them to fuse together and make a pretty sweet final concept from. We shall see what the team has to say...

Link to official thread on GameArtisans.org: Aesimoch: God of Balance

Gloom Textured

She's fully textured and ready to rig. These are just some basic scanline rendered shots from Max. I'll be doing the final display shots in Marmoset or UDK. I'm leaning toward Marmoset for its easy setup, but I'm new to it, so we shall see.

That being said, it may be a bit before I do that and post it, since Dominance War V finally started this week and I'm working on my concept. Once that's done, I'll probably need some breathing room and will finish Gloom up. Here's a link to my DWV W.I.P. thread: Aesimoch: God of Balance. I welcome any and all to join me in the competition. =)

Gloom Normal Mapped

Wow, so it has come to my attention that a few people actually do read my blog. You dirty lurkers! Feel free to comment on any post, guys!

So, I'm still working on Gloom. Christmas vacation knocked a couple weeks out of my schedule, but I'm back in the swing of things. For everyone who has been wanting to see her textured... "Soon, my pets... sooooooon..."

Gloom Axe Sculpt Finished

After playing with sizes and looking at reference, I decided to go with a 2-handed long battle axe. It allows for some more dynamic posing, since I decided not to go with a shield. Looking at some image searches, most battle axes don't seem to have anything more ornate than leather strap wrapping for the grips, so I went with some criss-cross leather on the handles. The center beveled section of the pole is designed for blocking and catching enemy weapons. The bolted on plates of the blade have a wrought iron texture to them. I'm still figuring out how I want to arrange the metal shading on the various parts. The three jagged blocks on the left side are for catching/breaking blades. Below is the design I started with. I'm happy with the changes. :)

Time to do some tests with the cape and see if the arm extension is going to work. After that, I'll do a little fine tuning on the sculpts, and then it's low-res modeling and baking time. Yay!

Gloom Sculpting Complete

Hurray! She's done being "defined." I considered adding scratches and other fine detail for the normal baking, but I think it would get lost and muddy in the end. I've had more success with such details being added in the specular map, so that is where it will be realized. Without further ado, here are the shots of the finished sculpting.

I'm pretty happy with the result. I got a little worried about the poly count. All totaled, at highest resolution, she's around 60m triangles. I ended up dropping it all down a level, though, so it's a comfy 14m triangles (pictured). That should be suitable for baking normals and AO inside Max. If not, I can always resort to xNormal.

I'm debating whether or not I should move on to the low-poly version, but immediately upon writing that, I know I need to sculpt her axe first. It's a small concession, since I love working on weapons. =) Once that is done, though, I will do all my baking and then proceed to paint the diffuse and specular maps onto the low poly mesh. Technically, I could paint the high poly version and bake everything all at once, but I feel things go faster on the low poly mesh, since it is easier to manipulate the lower triangle count and I'll know what detail the normal map is picking up.

Anyway, I've learned a lot about character sculpting. My Mudbox work-flow has been refined and made more efficient. It's really a powerful program. It just requires a different approach than Max (and probably Zbrush). I will say I'm more interested in checking out Zbrush. Though, I think I may wait until after Dominance War V before really digging into it. It's a very alien interface, and I think it will require a different approach than either Max or Mudbox.

Note: I'm still getting used to Mudbox's materials and rendering, so forgive the dark skin tone. She will look slightly more alive in the end.


I said I'm done sculpting, but that was a lie. I'm going to do a pass of dents/scratches on the metal parts with some stencils. I'm also considering adding some slight warping to the enamel the same way.

An Overcast Sculpt

After many breaks to work on other projects, I've finished the mid-res construction of Gloom (coincidentally on the same day the pre-comp starts for Dominance War V). I was feeling a bit blah about it once I got most of the armor in place, but after adding straps, buckles, and a bit of spinal protection (inspired by my wife's diligent studies of Chiropractic), I think she's lookin A-okay. I'm pumped to see what some ornamental detailing and battle marks will do for her. Plus, I'm a sucker for glow shaders, so it will be fun to see those black stones rimmed with magical goodness. Okay, okay. Thanks for reading. Here's the shot!

Things I'm thinking about as I move forward:

-Low-Res Modeling- Which parts will be all one mesh? Which parts will be segmented? Which parts will be mirrored, and how will I be sculpting/painting those details?

-Low-Res Poly Counts- There's quite a bit of profile geometry on the mid-res meshes. It may take a bit of extra time and luck to fit her comfortably into 8k. I think I'll need 1k for the cape to deform well. 1k is still reserved for her axe, too. I've round-filed the shield idea in favor of some bulky left arm plating.

Mission Medical Mitigated

I just finished uploading all of the images for my application to 3D4Medical.com and fired off the application.

Head Model

This is Gloom's head model (done in Mudbox), so far. Deciding to start on this was a 2-fer, because I get to work on Gloom, AND I get to use it for my application to the medical modeling job I mentioned in the previous post.

I'm cutting it off at this point to start on the eyeball model. That model will be focusing on where the eye is positioned in the head and how the exterior eye muscles attach. I was thinking of doing a dissection of the eyeball, but they already have that on their website, so I decided to make something sort of unique, as far as their current products go.

Oh, by the way, Milla Jovovich (of Resident Evil, Fifth Element, and Dazed and Confused fame) was the reference for this head. It was her face I originally referred to on the Gloom concept, so it seemed a natural choice for the model reference. It's kind of hard to tell with the model being bald, but I think I did a fairly accurate job of it. It is very hard to find a picture of her where she's not smiling or her lips are not slightly parted (it seems to be her signature look for modeling jobs).

Gloom Concept Revised

So this is my Gloom concept after all of the revisions. It seems like a drastic improvement over what I started with. The armor design is more put together and thought out, the lighting is much more accurate, and I feel like her face reflects the character better.

As with all concepts, I'll have to see how it works out in 3D. As mentioned in the previous post, movement is a concern. The main puzzles will be the Cuisses (thighs) and the Spaulders (shoulders). I don't have any current plans to do any actual animation, so it will just be a matter of being able to pose her. I'm not entirely sure how the cape would be handled by an animator (probably a few bones or simply controlled by an engine cloth system against the player collision), so I'll most likely use the Max cloth system to drape it over any poses I might do and bake it down to a low-poly mesh.

By the way, if any of my animator friends out there are inspired to bring her to life, I MIGHT be convinced to work with you on making the end result animation-friendly. I feel like I could do her justice, but animation is not my goal these days. It should be fairly easy to rig her in the end, since she will only total 10k triangles or less, and much of it will be rigid armor pieces (although that might require some creative rigging to make the armor move properly).

The next step in this project is going to be creating the high resolution model in Mudbox. I'm fairly comfortable in the software, but I haven't really used it for characters much, and especially not with an armor set. I'm filled with both excitement and trepidation at this prospect. The first target will be to familiarize myself with the best way to create the high-res version for optimal normal map exporting. It may be a week or so before I have anything to show in 3D. My main obstacles are dealing with so many individual armor bits and figuring out which ones should be separated in the low-res version.. Wish me luck!

Dominance War

Dominance War V (Dominance War site) is going to start in January (mini challenge starts in November), and I want to take a solid crack at it this time. Last time I tried, I was in the process of getting laid-off and then finding work. In preparation, I am going back to the DWIII submission I started. This will warm me up and get me back in the groove of character art. Characters are pretty much all I did in high school and Digipen, and it's always exciting to make them. Environments are what I fell into in the gaming industry, so I've just been playing to my experiential strength there. Beefing up my portfolio with characters will broaden my application possibilities.

Without further ado, here are my plans for "Gloom" :

This is the original concept I did (it's in the 2D section of my portfolio). I was never very happy with the boots and breastplate. The calves feel "okay," but the knee area feels very simplistic. I'd like that part to be fancier. The same goes for the foot covers. I might work some thigh-high black leather into the design for a little sex appeal. The breasts, themselves, suffer from some poor lighting. I think I'll change the spiral engraving to the red enamel, in addition to revisiting the shape of it. I'm fairly pleased with how the shoulders  and gauntlets went. The thigh armor is still satisfying, although the lighting isn't great on it, and I need to redesign the hip area for her mobility in combat. That was pointed out to me in some crit during the competition. I reworked it then, but I think it needs even more work. The cape needs some detail. I had this idea for a pure black cape that doesn't reflect light, but as cool as that sounds, it's just not very cool LOOKING. This is for a game, and game characters need to LOOK awesome. It's cool in writing, but vision is the platform here. I'm thinking some fold highlights on the fabric and perhaps some red glowing runes along the bottom hem, stretching up to the gauntlet clasp. That would help balance out the glowing stone at her collar bone, too.

Here are Gloom's revisions so far:

I reworked her face, neck, and hair a little to make her more sinister-looking and give her more accurate lighting.. The background is now darker and a complementary color to her red accents. I think it suits her better. My changes are only to the right side of her body, as they will be mirrored to the other side to save time (I need to jump into 3D work on this ASAP). The thigh plates have been better lit (the bottom-most one hasn't been fixed yet). I adjusted the knee a little, but I'm still not happy with it. The thick band of enamel under the knee might just need to be removed or made much thinner. I need to do some research on how plate armor fits together and moves. I think I saw some articles specifically on this for artists a while back (I knew I should have bookmarked that!). I need to just pick apart some samurai armor, too. If anyone has some good armor reference, I'd be happy to hear from you!

Omega-093 grayscale full shot

Here is a full shot of the base, thus far. The port is slightly elevated to the left of the station. The radar is on a highly elevated plateau to the right of the station. The pock marks in the mountain are laser craters from initial orbital terraform landscaping of the mountain top. The flat regions and elevation routes were created by landed construction machinery.