Creating 3D GameDev models requires a high level of skill and experience. The model must be accurate and detailed, while also being efficient enough to work well with the game engine.
In addition, the model must be “rigged” with bones and joints so that it can be animated.
Creating 3D GameDev models is a complex process, but it is essential for creating believable and compelling characters in video games. without well-made 3D models, many of the most popular video games would not be possible.
What Software is Commonly Used?
Creating a 3D character can be a complex process, but it can also be very rewarding. The work will require a lot of programs. You can get by with less, but to achieve a high-quality result, you need more.
Here is a popular software:
- PureRef (Used to create a reference board).
- Zbrush (Sculpting).
- Marvelous Designer (Clothing creation and simulation).
- Maya (Hard surface modeling, retopology, and UV).
- Substance Painter (Texturing) and Substance Designer (Pattern creation and height detailing);
- xNormal (Map projection).
- Marmoset Toolbag 4 (Map baking and real-time rendering).
- Adobe Photoshop (Image composition and correction).
The Whole Workflow of Creating 3D Models for Games
When you’re starting a new project, it’s important to choose a subject that you’re passionate about. Working with 3D characters can be frustrating because of all the time it takes to create a character.
This is why choosing a theme is so important, if you don’t like it, your project will probably end up in your WIP folder.
References are essential to doing a great job. By spending time choosing references and guiding the initial and premature direction of the project, you can ensure that your project is on the right track from the start.
This can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run and can make the difference between a successful project and one that falls short.
Modeling & Sculpting
The right decision is always to start from the blocking stage. This includes determining character proportions from references.
It is usually more convenient to start with the whole body before adding the head, so as not to spend a lot of time detailing the face.
It’s important to get the basic shapes right first so you can capture the essence of the character. Once the proportions are adequate, the general shapes of the muscles can be determined and the skin around them can be established.
Anatomy is complex, but there is no secret to learning to sculpt the human body other than observation and practice.
The next step is retopology and UV. You can go to the stage when all the UVs are located correctly and do not overlap.
It is important to check for UV distortion and correct the UV scale if necessary. The last step of the phase is adding any minor shapes (such as wrinkles and creases) to complete the sculpture.
First, you need to choose a suitable piece of fabric. It must be fully modeled and have a full high-quality 2D template.
Further, it is a matter of technique – to create pieces of suitable sizes and give them the correct shape. There are several generally accepted techniques in creating clothes.
It will be helpful to study Travis Davis’ and Olivier Couston’s methodologies.
Textures & Materials
The Ambient Occlusion set (from xNormal and Knald), curvature maps, cavity maps, bulge maps, and translucency maps should be used.
In some projects, it is appropriate to use height maps to add geometry, as well as mirror, emission, and others for additional settings.
Some models, such as stylized ones, benefit from color gradients when you need a brighter focus; and for these cases, I use a gradient map. Overall, I think the extra effort is worth it when you see the final results.
Substance Painter is an immensely powerful tool that can save hours of work for 3D modelers and texture artists.
It comes with a huge database of materials, brushes, and other resources that can be used to get the results you want.
The key to getting the most out of Substance Painter is to prepare your textures properly. Make sure all the maps are baked correctly, and you won’t have to rebake them very often.
You can also bake ID maps by using polypaint, which will allow you to assign each material to different parts of the mesh.
Using polypaint or vertex paint is essential if you need to change the UVs frequently. Otherwise, you would have to repaint the ID map every time, which would be tedious and time-consuming.
When lighting, it’s best to use a three-point lighting system for most parts of your scenes: one key light (usually the sun or another strong light source) as a fill light to bring out more detail in the scene, and finally a backlight.
Don’t overcomplicate things if you don’t need to, but sometimes you have to apply multiple lights for each of the 3 lights to have more control.
You should try to create a good mix of cold and warm light to add more color to the scene, as well as other colored lights to blur the color when the GI is not enough.
By using a three-point lighting system, a more realistic and balanced image can be created that still has a lot of visual interest.
The right goal is always to create a visually appealing and technically correct image, and I find that using a three-point lighting system is one of the best ways to achieve this.
There are many more intermediate stages of creating game models, each of which requires deep consideration. For example, creating believable eyes is a separate art.
A lot of time will have to be spent on the skin, facial features, and additional elements of the hero’s image. But to achieve a good result, you just need a lot of practice and observation. Then everything will work out, although not the first time.
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