Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Finishing the asset

I`ve continued using the same technique on all of the different elements. Clay Tubes + Blob + Flatten and a bit of hPolish here and there. The aim was to create detail in a logical manner. I`ve tried to imagine the story of this piece of architecture.. how it might have started aging, what might have been the causes etc. For example: if a brick has a huge chipped off part on its lower side then you should continue or add some destruction in the upper area, as a continuation to the brick below it. Anything that caused the upper bricks destruction surely did not stop where the brick ends and continues on the one below it.

I had to be aware of the maximum polygon limit which still provides decent frame-rates. That threshold for my computer is around 20 million. To really get all those cracks in there, I`ve calculated that one asset should not go over 1 million as I have 20 elements. Exception can be those surfaces which are bigger, thus more important for the final image.

After the high poly model was done, I created a low-poly version with the Decimation Master plugin, found within ZBrush. It's a very powerful tool as you can convert your high poly mesh to a low poly one on the fly. It also allows you to set a specific triangle count, so you don't have to tweak it a lot after the fact.

Next step was to unwrap the low poly model.
I`ve loaded the low poly version into Headus UV Layout. Whenever I have a bit more complex model to unwrap, I use Headus for it, because the workflow of it is very fast. The relaxing algorithms it uses are just way ahead of that of 3DSMax or Maya. Unwrapping actually took no more than 10 minutes, whereas it easily would have taken up to an hour in Max.

I`ve took the low-poly mesh into 3DSMax to fix the topology up a bit.
I removed several edges that had no effect on the silhouette of the object whatsoever. The surface details will be dealt with by the normal and the color maps, so there is really no need for geometry there, except for some bigger cracks.
I`ve ajusted the smoothign groups again, because the unwrapping process for some reason smooths out the entire mesh as a whole, which gives very bad results. I`m sure it is the settings in Headus which is doing this, I will have to look into it.

Texturing was done with the help of XNormal, Photoshop and nDO2. I`ve baked the information from the high poly onto the low one in XNormal and then took those maps inside Photoshop. In Photoshop I`ve loaded up nDO 2 and generated several maps (e.g. cavity map) to further bring the small color details to life.

For the final render I`ve used a somewhat low angle camera shot to try and give the impression that this is a big object. Looking up on something gives that feeling of it's quite big... or at least not small :) .

Here is the final image:

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