Saturday, February 28, 2009

Man’s Best Fiend

Concept sketch
This is what I call a dog. It is my task to create a 3D model based on this concept sketch. When I offered to make a whole set of new models after proving to Dirtywick that I was capable of constructing them, I estimated that I could produce one per week. I was wrong. So far, I’ve been working on this critter for nearly three weeks.

Actually, I encountered some unexpected problems while building this model. Firstly, I had to learn how to create a low-poly model using the Retopology feature of ZBrush. Rather than explain the workflow here, I’d like to direct curious readers to the following links, which have helped me immensely:

Something wicked this way comes
Even with the above information at hand, I made lots of mistakes constructing the low poly model. Most of these mistakes had to do with not connecting vertices properly. I must have used up an entire week just fixing my errors. The learning experience was worth it, though. My new model has only 2,612 polygons, which is close to the average number for a non-boss creature.

My second unexpected problem was with UV mapping. My only other experience with this task was with the monster head that I featured in my tutorial. This time, I had to map an entire creature, not just its head. Trying to figure out what seams to cut and where to place them is a challenge in itself. I found that fingers and toes were especially vexing to map. I eventually created more seams than I had intended, but since the additional seams were mostly in the creature’s digits, it is unlikely that players will notice them.

To make matters worse, once I had completed my UV mapping, I found that it would not be stored in the model when I exported it as an MDB file. I could not figure out why that happened. After experimenting with the problem for a few days, I eventually found that if I exported the model as an OBJ file then imported it anew, the UV map would be stored properly. To this day, I do not know why I had this problem in the first place, but at least I have a workaround to fall back on if need be.

In-game action
Once I had these two problems licked, everything else fell into place. I’m not yet finished with the model, but it should take me only a couple of days to create lower LOD versions. (That’s “Level of Detail” for those who aren’t into 3D modeling.) All told, if these problems had not occurred, I estimate that I could have finished this creature model in one week. Hopefully, having more experience under my belt means that I will be able to work faster on my next creature models, of which there are several.

Too much butt-scooting
Man's best fiend


E.C.Patterson said...

Wow. Awesome. And inspiring. Did you animate it yet? Are you using existing animations or creating your own? I hope you tell of this process eventually. I've been wondering (out of curiosity only!) how that is done.

Frank Perez said...

Actually, I wrapped this model around OEI's wolf skeleton. The wolf's loping gait looks nicely creepy on this humanoid-like model I made. I haven't learned how to create my own skeletons and animations yet, but it seems like I'll have to eventually.

Josh said...

I think someone needs to wipe.

BTW... great job, Frank! I'm sure he'll turn out awesome.

Jclef said...

Yeah buddy, that thing looks creepy as hell... damn good job with this!

Frank Perez said...

Thanks, guys. :)

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

I am impressed at your commitment and determination to add these elements to the game.

Your mod building is in a completely different ball park to my own.


Wyrin said...

wow, you're churning these out..! looks great, and they do say pets grow to look like their masters..

does using the wolf skeleton mean you're tiedto the bite attack animation for this? Can see in the butt shot that the lolling gait will look pretty cool tho

Frank Perez said...

Yeah, this creature will attempt to bite legs and ankles when attacking. The creature is toothless, but physical damage will be the least of player characters' worries when dealing with its bite.