The Wired for Blood team thought it would be a great idea to publicly showcase the creative process of hero creation from the drafting stage where it begins as an idea to the ass-beating stage where it's fully implemented into the game with all of its bells and whistles. We hope these demonstrations will serve as inspiration and a learning platform for aspiring concept artists and 3D artists.
Every day or so we will be posting our progress on the model, listening to any suggestions you have and answering any questions you may have. Feel free to give feedback or ask questions!
About the Modeler
The modeler working on the concept art and models we'll be posting in this thread is currently our primary Concept Artist and 3D Artist, crazyfingers. He also helps with other creative and brainstorming processes.
Summoning the Sorceress
Currently we have planned four archetypes: Str Melee, Agi Melee, Ranged and Caster. We have chosen to complete the Caster first.
The first step of our process is to figure out what type of character we will be building. Is she male or female? What sorts of skills and weapons will she use? What is her backstory? What makes her unique?
Since we decided on a post-apocalyptic setting featuring biological cyborg heroes, we applied those factors to the Caster. We felt the silhouette of the caster should be frail but powerful, which made it an easy decision to make her female. We felt she would be most fun if she, and all of our heroes, were dark/twisted as their primary theme and cyborg as their secondary theme.
2. Concept Art
Now that we've decided what role we want the character to play, we need to visualize her and put her to paper. This is the concept art we are currently using to model our Caster class.
We were satisfied with most of these aspects, however we wanted to make her a bit more youthful and attractive. We also wanted to think up some cool weapons she could use to trash other heroes around with. We decided we would make these changes as we iterated through her 3D Modeling stages.
This is where we begin showing the modeling stages. Today is our first day working on the model and this is our current iteration.
You can see the shapes are very primitive at this point, the general silhouette of the model is being refined currently. On the right is the generic model she originated from, to illustrate the progress made across the day. The objects on her palms are basic prototypes of a unique weapon we're discussing for the Caster archetype.
Here's another shot, without the weapons or hip armor:
Every day or so we'll be making a new post here showing our next step of the creation process including texturing, modeling, animating and everything else involved in getting this concept into a working element of the game.
Feel free to post any feedback, suggestions or questions and we'll do our best to keep in contact!
If we are able to fit everything we want in a standard map and/or if they increase the file size limit I hope to not need to resort to going premium. At this point the only case I'd like to go premium is if it offers a larger map size that would allow us to add more content and higher resolution textures and models.
Here's where the sorceress stands right now. It can be hard to tell how a flat grey character model is progressing so I threw some flat color materials from MAX and i'm pretty happy with how well she's starting to resemble the original concept work without textures and in a flat T pose. Much of the modeling still has a ways to go, especially her armor bits above the waist, but many of these pieces will be changeable armor pieces and not part of the base model.
One of the main issues with female models is they can be flimsy and it's hard to create meaty canvases in their silhouette for interesting texture work. Because of this i've tried to expand her frame, hinting that mechanic facilities have overgrown her more slender frame. I'll probably go back in and add more "meat" to her midsection expand the base model allowing me to remove the hard polygon wires which eat up a lot of tri's. Emmisive effects and hair alphas will add further bulk once in-engine and give her some much needed "pop". No mater which angle you view her from she should be glowy and look "magical". The only alpha effects i was able to create for hair are "glowy" ones during some texture tests in SC2 using Nintoxicated's tools, but i think they could end up looking really cool if overlayed onto the existant hair, these alphas i think can also be animated to give her hair a realistic wispy bob and sway in the wind and as she moves. If we can figure out how to adjust just the color of emmisives and her hair alphas it will likely be one of the signature aspects of identifying which type of element the sorceress is. Shoulder pads and other modular armor pieces are being planned as well to create further distinctions between sub-classes.
Pretty nasty looking import but you gotta start somehwere ;). Just UV mapped and textured the flesh and hair areas figured i'd put them on 1 texture sheet, it's a 512. Gotta party the next few days but planning on having this actually looking good and more or less done with a first pass by the end of next week!
Late update, Halloween hit harder than i thought it would but i'm still going to aim for having a first iteration done by the weekend.
Right now it's simply my goal to finish the base sorceress skin textures. LOTS of bouncing between photoshop and MAX right now, tweaking hues, tweaking UV coordinates, tweaking every damned thing you can think of, doing this stuff gets you back in the art game f*cking fast which is good since I spent the past 4 months working on gameplay in cosmic eclipse.
What looks good on the texture sheet doesn't necessarily look good on the model so tons and tons of going back and forth between the 2 programs. Each step only makes the model look slightly better, but you just peck away at it making hundereds and hundreds of changes till somehow it looks a lot better. Polycount doesn't get bigger, nor does texture size, it's all in the polishing. In fact i'm realizing the texture size we're currently using, 512 is a heck of a lot bigger than we need which is good and bad. One of the main reasons for doing this art is portfolio pieces, so it's important that the character be large enough to look good up close, but at the same time we're restricted by a 10.5 meg file restriction, so cutting corners in textures in paramount in terms of finished product. I'm thinking future models i'll just rump right into the low poly version and save TONS of time. Only thing i'm not looking forward to is learning to rig in max, though i have a feeling it's going to be a lot easier than i fear so once this model is textured it may only be a week or so till she's running around in game shooting ice bolts and fireballs! Just gotta keep up the pace.
The armor should be fun and a lot easier to impliment than the skin was since robotic crap is super easy to make and create in photoshop. The armor should have plenty of glowy emmisive goodies hanging off it and i'll be using some fast Xnormal conversions in photoshop to churn out some normals that look very nice. A lot of people try to force normals onto hair and skin, but it's really kinda overkill, especially when you have a texture size limit.
Anyway, enough blathering, here's the progress for today:
Final pic gives you an idea of how much time i'm wasting making this look "good". The odds of there ever being a very close shot of the sorceress is very small, but i'm pushin' the other team members for some cool camera tricks that might be able to bring the camera in during gameplay somewhat similar to limit breaks if you've ever played final fantasy. The small sorceress on the right is likely the largest you'll ever see the model haha.
If there are any riggers, animators, modelers, heck even concept artists out there who'd like to jump on board just reply or shoot me a PM, we'd love to have you on the team as i'm pretty f*ckin' swamped trying to churn out all these characters and animations in a reasonable time-frame.
Edit: Been told the cyborg bits on her face look like goofy makeup, might try to fix up a spec make to solve it or just remove it, we'll see how things pan out.
Last Update for the night, got her in-engine and more or less fully textured:
One of the great things about working from concept for a game that isn't going for hyper realism is you don't always have to do a ton to it to get it started up... some cuts and pastes, some warps, lay out the UV's the right way and kabam, first texture pass (though you still gotta put in lots of time in the long run if you want it to be legit and polished).
Going to take a lot more polish all around, but I'm pretty happy where she is right now considering she's the prototype and it's only been about a week! Moving forward I might try to work in some Hair alphas and I'll definitely be throwing in some emmisives to give her some more pop. It's fun to think about these characters as modular. Shoulderpads are swappable, eyes can be made glowy, new weapons can be thrown on, textures can be swapped out, and doodads can be stuck all over the place for new variants.
I like thos heart defibrillator style weapons! What are they doing, shooting lightning bolts?
Over all a good job, but i would prefer darker hair for a nicer contrast with face and clothes. With grey hairs she looks to grey, i think.
Thanks for the suggestions guys! I gave the black hair a go and i'm much happier with it, also added in some cyborg bits and generally tuned up and saturated the skin tones, happy with where she's going.
Spent the past 3 hours trying to figure out emmisives with no luck, wanted to give her some simple glowey eyeballs. Maybe it has to do with the fact I'm using targas and not DDS's, i dunno (my photoshop doesn't accept DDS). When i use a simple material that uses the same texture for emmisive as diffuse it works, but that's the only way i've gotten these materials to work so far. If anyone knows what the issue may be it would be very appreciated. Enough beating my head against the wall today though, takin' a break.
The idea of a hood or cowl is definitely doable and i agree would probably look better overall, but with the sorceress I'm trying to get a bit of contrast with the other classes we have planned. Having long hair is going to set her apart from the other classese, even if it doesn't look quite as awesome. It's definitely something i will keep in mind moving forward since we are invisioning classes to have "sub classes" that look and play differently, and a cool cowl with a cape of some kind would certainly be doable using the rig i set up to take hair.
I switched to GIMP some weeks ago because there is a working DDS-Plugin. Don't know if the functions are enough for you, i am mostly using the pencil tools, stamp and smudge, which work the same way as in PS. Of cause you will need a day or two to get used to it, and i have no idea if the filters and other stuff are enough for you, but maybe you should risk a look, i am at the moment much happier with gimp, because it's not filled with so much useless stuff.
3DS Max shot. planning out where i might want to throw emmisives before i go too far with the texture work. Finally have emmisives working in-engine, not even sure what was wrong, i think it was that i was using the alpha channel in Nintoxicated's tools rather than using the emmisive 2 channel for the alpha. I'd post an in-game shot but they never look half as good as the max shots and it takes too much work :D
Edit: You may recognize the emmisives as the engine lights from Cosmic Eclipse, but probably not! No one played that map :P
really cool! when are u starting on animating it (if you do that). got another question, where did you learned this modelling? I really want to learn 3dmax. I already started with the basics but how do I become like you?
Wow! This is amazing. I would do modeling, but I greatly doubt my skills when it comes to texturing the models. Anyway, I like how you updated this sorceress to be more of a futuristic kinda sorceress. You may wanna patch up a few areas andmaybe give her eyes a bit more of a fire kind of glow. After that, all you'd need to do is the animations. Very immpressive. Can't wait till the map comes out! :D
Got a new in-game shot, and i figured out team emmisives, had to plug the texture with the correct alpha into emmisive 1 and 2 and also set them to team emmisive, also don't forget to set emmisive type to add team emmisive glow. So from here on out materials are pretty much good to go, just gonna duplicate what i have going for future characters (possibly props).
Lots of avenues to take, and lots of communities you can join if you want to be self motivated and teach yourself. I would suggest getting involved with Game Artisans or Polycount. Peek around there for a bit and see how this game art deal works and just pick up where you want to go from there. Also DVD's from Gnomon and Eat 3D are invaluable learning tools worth every penny if you're serious about this stuff. I personally went to art school for the past few years so this has been my focus for quite some time. Like any trade or art it really just takes self investment and skill.
As for animations, i'm really itching to get to work on 'em but at the same time I'm dreading all the little things i'm going have to learn through trial and error as i develop a pipeline. I only had one animation class, and totally half assed it since i never thought i'd use it... now here i am :D. Here's the animation i made as a final that kinda sucks to give you guys an idea of how much i'm going to have to learn as i do this:
And for shits and giggles here's another one:
But i'm stoked for this character so hopefully future animations will be of a higher quality... hopefully.
Again if there are animators out there, drop us a line! :D
Spent too long putting off the rigging and animation but i finally got to it a few hours ago! As expected, lots of things broke but i think i'm getting the hang of things and the Arthas rig from WOW that i used is far more compatible to starcraft 2 than I thought. Painting weights in max is a total headache with the model i created, especially with the hair getting in the way and the abnormal lower skirt.
Looong way to go though with rigging and animations, for now i'm just using the animations that came with the rig with some initial adjustments to put her in the correct main pose (which is going to take a lot of tweaking since she looks like a gimp right now).
Main thing I'm battling is it doesn't seem Starcraft 2 takes as subtle weight attributes as MAX does, if i put just a touch of weight on vertices it doesn't seem to affect them at all in starcraft 2, it's like all or nothing (i could be wrong though). Going to take a lot more experiments and trial and error to figure out exactly how things work unless someone knows of a good tutorial, but somehow i don't think the resources exist.
Edit: You may notice less emmisive glow and notice that her shoulder armor is gone. This is intentional as this armor is meant to be swapped out. Kinda forcing myself to learn how to make the armor swappable while still maintaining her animations.