Saturday, October 31, 2009

Second Bake pass:

Well, I don't have a lot to say at this point, just trying to get to bed before 4 AM. I think I'm going to manage, provided that I don't end up talking too much in this post. In addition to finishing up the baking, I've also been optimizing the poly count considerably since my last attempt. Currently, I'm sitting comfortably under my 15,000 limit with the lich at ~12,000, the staff, scabbard and dagger at 2,536 with a total of 14,529 triangles. I also threw in a couple of renders of the textures:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baking Party!

Bring your high and low res meshes to the oven, we're having a baking party over here! It's really a shame that you can't eat normal maps because they actually take longer to cook than cookies. It's probably for the best though because all that tangent bluish-purple doesn't really look that appetizing. Anyway, enough C list comedy for one night, it's time for bed. I still didn't even manage to finish the bakes, but I think I have a rhythm going now. One more session should be all it takes to propel me to victory. Farewell and goodnight, all my beloved, non-existent readers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

UV Fest:

Well, I really don't want to talk about it. UV's, I think that says enough. At least the worst is over, hopefully.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holy SH1T it Didn't Explode!

Alright, I'm about 67.26% done unwrapping so I thought I'd do a quick bake test to make sure all my work wasn't for naught. Thank the gods, it actually worked. Here is a snapshot of the ~10,000 triangle low-res cage with the high-res details baked on in the form of a normal map. I was nervous it wasn't going to work because I had a few scares before with xNormal not working even though the models were in the same 3d space. Fortunately, I was not plagued by these problems for this occurrence. Looks like relatively smooth sailing from here out (aside from all the work that still needs to be done). Anyway, time for bed...

Low-res in the works:

Well, nothing ground-breaking here, just a little update to show what I've been up to lately. Basically, I've been trying to cram the lich into a 10,000 triangle budget and it's been a pain to say the least. Currently, I'm sitting around 10,600 tris, but I'm thinking I'll be able to trim a good thousand off once I get the baking finished. In other words, I'm forced to preserve some extra detail to make sure the xNormal bake doesn't freak out. I've managed to get most of the retopologizing done, so I've been working on getting the UV's done. Next update will some fantastic UV shots. Oh yeah.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More baking experiments:

I'm starting to like this whole baking thing. I'm able to generate normals and ambient occlusion that gets ~70 % of my desired look. There's definitely going to be some serious tweaking with color maps, but it's a good start. I tried some experiments with baking my textures onto a slightly higher res model in hopes that it would generate slightly higher quality maps. While this was generally true, it was a bitch to line up the silhouettes of the UV's since there was much less detail on the low-res cage. Nontheless, it may be a good technique to keep in mind for some of those shapes that lose a lot of detail in the bake (the metal rings that hang the heads). Speaking of which, I found that putting a normal map on the rings was actually counter productive and made the model look worse. I'm thinking that I'll probably just make the rings separate objects and create a separate shader as well. This shader will have the usual maps but not the normals.

Anyway, here's a little update on a couple of heads. The colored one is just a quick and dirty ambient map placed on the color channel and the ambient channel, a normal map and a spec map. The one on the far right is just the normals.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Staff of Evil:

Alright, here's an in-progress shot of the staff model. This image is the normal map + ambient + spec in maya 2008. I'll be tweaking the spec and normals to get rid of some of the darkness around the sharp edges and adding a color map later on. I'm starting to get a little worried about poly-counts now because the staff is currently sitting comfortably at no less than 1,580 triangles. I tried to encourage it to loose some of it's girth, but the bastard was persistent. If I chop off any more, I end up with a model that doesn't accurately represent the concept. With that in mind, I'm now shooting for a 15,000 poly budget for all assets. I'm still going to shoot for ~10,000 for the actual lich model, but I'm sitting around 3,000 tris for the accessories alone. That and the collection of 7 shrunken heads are looking to hog about 2,500 tris. I think I'll be able to do it, but it's going to be tight.

Major Status Update:

Alright, no assets to post at this point, just a general update on progress and a projection for the future. Although I have successfully avoided the blog this week, I haven't been idle in progress. After finishing 4 shrunken heads in Zbrush, I have been worknig on finishing the accessories for the Lich (Book bag, Dagger, Scabbard, Staff). As of now, I am 90% done with all zbrushing and will be retopologizing my assets for the rest of the week. I have finished retopologizing the dagger, the scabbard and the staff (these have also been unwrapped). I have decided to create a separate 1024 X 1024 texture space for the dagger, scabbard and the staff. Therefore, the end model will have a set of 4096 X 4096 for the lich and a set of 1024 X 1024 for the accessories. Renders and other thoughts coming soon!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shrunken Servings Parts 2 and 3:

Not a whole lot to say at this point, just posting a couple more shrunken head variations. I'm hoping these are different enough from the first one to pass as original. Let me know if you think they're too similar though:

Head 2:

Head 3:

This is What Happens When you Piss Off a Lich:

Need I say more? This is the first shrunken head. My plan is to use this head as a template for the other heads, simply creating variations as I go. My only concern is that all the heads may start looking the same. If that happens, I'll have to whip out some original art. Anyway, I'm about to go test out this theory...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shrunken heads on the menu:

Well, the title is a bit of a misnomer since shrunken heads are my next meal. For this entree, I just threw together today's progress in the form of another turn-around. Fortunately, I finally discovered how to shade a plane as double-sided in Zbrush so no more f**ked up silhouettes! It was ridiculously easy to do, but for some reason I never noticed the setting before (under display properties - who'd a thunk it?). So, that led to redoing some renders I already had, but it was worth it (I think...) In slightly worse news, I just realized that I forgot to divide the belts before rendering, but I haven't really changed them since yesterday and I don't feel like redoing the renders for a third time tonight so enjoy the choppy belts. In other news, it's time for bed...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

72 Files and Still Not Done:

Either I save way too much or my hard drive is too small. Seriously, Zbrush's patented 'crash while saving' feature has driven me to near paranoia and obsessive saving. While there surely could be much worse methods of dealing with the circumstances, 72 * 200 MB = I need a new hard drive. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but it is 3:30. Anyway, to the actual meat of this post: I've been slowly working my way down the model, nearly to the feet at this point! Hopefully I'll be able to finish-ish the Zbrush portions of this project this week and get on to the retopolo-party before last call!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Head Shot:

Well, it's way too late for someone who has to get up at 8:00 in the AM. Nevertheless, here I am, still awake for some reason. As if that weren't bad enough, I just spend 20 minutes tweaking a zbrush render to post on this damn blog. Anyway, enough explanation, I'm tired and I want to go to bed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This is a Test:

Well, aside from my two exams tomorrow that I probably should still be studying for, I decided to make some test normal-renders of a quick-and-dirty unwrap job in 3dsmax. The three models on the left are the low-res cage ~1,500 triangles, the one on the right is the high-poly zbrush at ~3,000,000 triangles. The mesh isn't final, I just wanted to sum up how well xNormal works for my lich character. Considering this is a pretty rough pass, I'd say it's going to work out. By the way, Maya's perspective render gives this guy some wacked out perportions. I'm 95% sure these aren't true-to-life proportions, but I'll be double-checking just to make sure. Comments and criticism are always welcome...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Zbrush in Progress:

Alright, high time for an update on here. I don't have any breaking new stuff at the moment, just some WIP shots of the Zbrush detailing. Once I finish detailing in Zbrush, I will export a ~500,000 triangle mesh of the detailed version into Max and create a retopologized ~10,000 triangle game-ready mesh. Once I'm done with the optimized mesh I will export the full high-res model from Zbrush (~30,000,000 triangles) and bake that mesh's detail onto the low-res cage using xMapper. Comments/Criticism welcome as always:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Something little says a lot:

Well, this isn't much to show for a post, but the significance is too great to not mention. Basically, with these little crappy attached images, I have managed to confirm that my new pipeline is going to work! I will now be rapidly detailing my model in Zbrush and rather than re-topologizing the Zbrush model, unwrapping the model, then going back into Zbrush and detailing the new topology, I will simply detail the base mesh in Zbrush, retopologize in 3D studio max and bake the high-res detail onto the low-res mesh using xNormal. The following images are examples of this process and my quick little experiment:

This image is the 'low-res, high-res' model consisting of two zbrushed spheres at about 150,000 tris used for retopologizing in max. The actual 'high-res' model used for the baking was ~700,000 tris (I didn't bother to take a picture of that).

This is the low-res 'game-ready' model. As you can see, I didn't spend much time on it. The goal was to make sure I could bake a multi-mesh onto a unified mesh. The test succeeded.

All engines are go!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ben is Happy:

Oh man, just like the title says, I am a happy person. After previously griping about the inconveniences of upgrading to 3d max 2010, I stand an absolute convert. Why? 2010 has a little something called Graphite Polytools, which basically transforms max from a decent program into an amazing program. To be slightly more specific, these new polytools let users select and anchor mesh and all polygons drawn upon that mesh will conform to that mesh's shape. In other words, retopology tools that don't suck (see you later Zbrush). That means I'm revising my pipeline a little, but with great satisfaction.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Alright, as promised, here are some shots of the in-progress re-topologization! Exciting stuff. Anyway, still got a ways to go, but making head-way. Hopefully will be done with all this by the end of the weekend.

Roughing in the 3Dees:

Hey all, this was actually done a coulple of days ago, but I was too lazy to put it up. Anyway, this is the pre-topologized mesh, before sculpting and after. Ad you can see, zbrush is not without it's charms. Currently, I'm working on retopologizing the model. I did a good portion in Zbrush, but I'm now moving on to the max side.