Monday, October 06, 2008

Character Modeling

My goal was to create a model with 1000-1500 polygons. These are the steps I followed:

1. First, I drew and scanned a finished character front and side view in standard pose. Take the time to get it as close as possible to the real thing here in pencil.

2. I took the image and billboarded it in my editor for reference and started building geometry with the same general shape.

3. Modeling: I started with a box and scaled it the size of the chest. I then worked down the torso and did the legs. Next, I worked up the neck and did the head. I then extruded out the arms on both sides, placing geometry in the proper joints to allow for animation. Doing the hands takes some time. Basically, extrude out the fingers and play with the vertices.

The head took quite some time. After adding detail to the face and moving things around I kept shrinking the head and had to readjust things at the vertex level. In your tool you probably have a way of using a select box and scaling the selections. I'm missing that tool. Doing the ears were not so bad but I had to make it look the same on both sides of the head.

4. Grouping the polygons. I went through and grouped the polygons. I'm basically associating polygons within region together for the texture mapping stage.

5. Texture mapped all the groups (faces in my editor), and sized them to a 2048 bitmap. Note, this should be done after step 6 next time. because I'll have to do it again if I change any geometry.

6. (Stopped here) Bone support: Start adding the skeleton and working on animations. Most likely in this process there will need to be some tweaking of the geometry to improve joint areas. (This version of my editor has not implement multiple weighted influences on vertices from multiple bones yet. Coming soon.)

7. Once animation is good and a few of the animation sequences are finished, the geometry is stable and the texture can be generated to the model.

8. Add additional animation sequences.

What I learned or ran into during the process:
1. I'm really needing a mirror tool, and a few other essential modeling tools.
2. I don't know how I'm going to do the gun yet. That involved attaching and detaching a bone to the animation. I'm guessing this will be handled in the engine.
3. It was way more work than I thought it would be but I can use this model as a base for later models if it works out.
4. Been playing spore and would like to add additional features to my editor that allow me to modify geometry by using the bones themselves. (Cool!)
5. I'm not sure yet if the movement (up and down, and jump height) should be coded in the animation or when rendering the animation in the engine. I'm guessing that should be handled in the engine.

Would love to hear how this process differed from your experience developing a fully animated model.

Happy 3Ding!