Starting the new academic year, the style matrix briefs were uploaded to blackboard. The goal is to chose 3 briefs according to your specialism. I chose concept art briefs; Overwatch character concepts, Native American character concept and finally Combination weapon concepts (in the style of dead rising).
The first brief i decided to start was the overwatch characters. I am to create 5 character concepts- One main hero, one main enemy and three supporting characters. My goal is to create the two main characters separately with different characteristics, and the three supporting characters to be made by recycling assets created from my 3d bases.
The start of each character shall be first modeled in zbrush, Using this software i will get the base anatomy and design for my character. It will also give me a base of materials i'm able to use and quickly get down colours by poly painting.
Mid week i had received some critique from my tutors who were patrolling the studio labs. The critique i received was that i should carry on with the "chiselled" appearance of my characters, but to show more muscle definition and stay away from symmetry. Advice on anatomy, especially obliques were useful because i was able to make my character more believable.
This character is my main hero, and his background will be a martial artist.
Second week in, hero character started and finished. Based on inspiration from mad max and star wars. For this character i tried to focus more on cloth rather than armor or tech. This character will be a supporting character and has a sub-machine gun, grenades and xray vision goggles. I will spend the last week (week 3) painting over the renders in photoshop for presentation purposes.
This character was based on the norse god Odin. I tried mixing a medieval styled character with the style of overwatch. I gave him typical old armor, but upgraded it with tech similar to many overwatch characters. For this model i experimented with posing, using the transpose lines in Zbrush. This will be the technique used to create my promotional material.
This will be the main enemy character. The reason for this is because i wanted to focus on something more mech, but sticking to a humanoid. I tried keeping it as relateable as possible to the overwatch theme. I took inspirations from Reinhardt's armor, Lucios skates, Bastions head and Soldier 76's power muscles on his cyborg skin. His role in the overwatch universe will be a police officer.
This is my last supporting character. His role would be the main heroes teacher. They both will wield dual blades, however this character will wield plasma katanas, and have his hands emit plasma light, as he's reached a stage of "zen" where plasma cannot hurt him. I took inspiration from monks for this character, and made him look older than the others, adding grey hair and wrinkles, and a generally thinner appearance.
HAND IN WEEK
This week is the final week to get my characters concepts finished. I used the zbrush render pass tools to get a mask silhouette, depth, shaded, shadow and AO. I changed the lighting and shaders to get different materials and a different feel to match my concepts. I then took all the renders from zbrush into photoshop, where i would then paint over them to give them more of an overwatch feel; by adding bright colours and glow effects. I presented them with bad and front orthos of my models, with a polished shot of the concept. Each character includes a UI created separately for them.
The omnic police officer(enemy) Uses a police baton as his weapon. His skills are that he can Heat up his engine to allow for a speed boost; similar to lucios skill. His other skill is that he can put other heroes in handcuffs, Ingame this would be similar to mei's freeze mechanic, as it stops players in their tracks.
The main hero uses dual twin blades as his weapon. I gained inspiration from Illidan from world of warcraft for this. His skills include a vicious spin; a 360 attack that damages anyone within a radius, and an evade, where he becomes untouchable for 3 seconds; This is to fit his background as a martial artist, and his evade is more like a "zen" skill, where he becomes at peace and can read his opponents attacks well enough to dodge them.
The support character with twin blades, is the main heroes teacher. He taught him the ways of peace and how to wield dual plasma blades. The difference is that the teacher wields katanas and is more based on a peaceful monk. His skills include plasma flames, his weapons are granted a damage boost for a short period of time, and his other skill is "zen" where he can ascend and descend anywhere within a certain radius on the map.
The support character with a trident and shield, is based of the norse god odin. His weapon is based of Odins trident, and his skills include impaling that trident into the ground, hacking enemies in a straight line infront of him. His second skill is a shield which reflects projectiles back to the user.
The last supporting character is a desert hunter, He plays an All-rounder role of support, with a machine gun that can launch grenades, his kills include a grenade throw, and a vision hack which allows him to lock onto a target and always see where they are; even through walls- This is made to counter the other support heroes in the game such as mercy, for easy kills.
NATIVE AMERICAN CONCEPTS
The start of a new project! The second brief i chose was to create 5 native american concepts. I thought this would be a good opportunity to experiment sculpting different ethnic backgrounds. During this week, i tried getting the facial features down properly; Broad cheeks, strong noses but quite small features. I noticed these were the main aspects when looking at the references provided to us on blackboard. After getting a quick rough character created, i decided to go in and sculpt a prop. When looking online, i saw a fascinating hammer that was created by wood, leather and stone for my reference. It reminded me of something from a survival game like rust. I created the base shape of it and positioned it accordingly onto the character. After this, i went back to change some facial features and flesh out the character a little more overall. I also detailed out the prop hammer.
NATIVE AMERICAN Character
Week 2! After attending a lecture on concept art, it was even more clear to me that it's a niche that doesn't have that high a demand- especially character concepts. Although i was already in my second week of creating the native american concepts, i spoke to michael, craig, shane and heather and got the go-ahead to create an actual asset. This would be my first character asset in two years; with pretty much nill experience making them. This means i would have to go back and learn how to re-topologize, which is why i strayed away from character assets in the first place.
I decided to finish off creating a concept that i would work from myself, and build the character around that as i already had the sculpted mesh,
After spending a few nights learning how to re-topo on zbrush, i got back into the hang of it but chose to re-topo using topogun instead. It's faster and your chances of getting a better bake are way higher. I spent this week re-touching my model to make it ready for a low-poly; adding in details to my sculpt such as toes (which i've never included in my sculpts before) and textures to skin, to show muscle strands, poures and scars.
After the details were added, i re-topologized the high poly in topogun, which surprisingly only took me around 2 hours. After this, i unwrapped my low poly in 3dsmax and threw it into substance painter for a quick test on materials and baking.
NATIVE AMERICAN Character
The third week consisted of making sure everything on the model is low poly; the headdress, the necklace, hammer, dagger and loincloth, along with the body. Re-topologizing took place in topogun, and after everything was low poly i then unwrapped in 3dsmax and arranged my UVS to try and utilise as much space as possible. The full character was just under the limit; 24.4k. I'm happy about this because it gives me a few extra tris to add fur alphas when it comes to polish week.
I baked the low poly in substance painter, by name rather than object; it seems to give a more accurate, detail bake. This week i also created a plinth of canyon rock to match the character. The plinth was created in zbrush and re-topo in topogun. textured in substance painter at 1,033 tris. I wasn't sure of the limit of the plinth, so i tried giving myself a 1000 tri limit, which i just went over.
The final brief for the style matrix was narrowed down between two options; the helmeted character, or creating the game-ready character from my overwatch concepts. I decided to go ahead and finalize the overwatch concept. This is because i feel it would be the most beneficial for stepping into the industry; With my high poly made, i can try and get everything finished a week earlier to spend a week learning to rig and pose. Seeing as i already have my high poly from my concept brief, this week i spent polishing it up (adding feet, fixing geometry that's distorted, and sharpening features. I went straight into topogun after polishing it up to create the low poly. I created a test bake from the weapon and tested how i'd have the base emissive to create glow in substance painter. This came out perfect - so i will plan to have the low poly finished for the start of week 2.
During the second week, this was spent in topogun retopologizing. I had a lot of errors that kept happening; whenever i'd spend too long in the program my computer would shut off and i'd lose work. It turns out i was importing too high a poly as my reference and i should use a decimated reference instead. Rather than doing that, i seperately re-topologized each individual asset on the character according to poly-groups. The errors caused me to take a little longer than i had hoped to retopo. But i managed to have everything finished and finish a base texture in substance painter by the end of the week.
The last week was spent exporting the final unwrapped version into zbrush and posing the character. I tried many poses and action shots, but found a more static "cool" pose was more beffitting the character. I tried posing him to show the most detail as possible, his mech, weapon and face. It was also the first time using marmoset, which was quite confusing where i should place each texture, and how to set up the scene, but i managed to get an outcome i was pretty happy with.
Things i could have done better however was probably in the re-topologizing stage. The budget was 25k but the final model was 26k. Though it was only 1k over budget, and after speaking with michael from sumo digital during a portfolio surgery, he seemed to approve the decision that having him with dual weapons and going over budget by only 1k was a good choice. The final model with only 1 weapon was within budget- I hadn't took into consideration that i still had to duplicate it afterwards! Lesson learned!