I have chosen to create a game asset based on a concept art created by Blizzard Entertainment. It is a weapon with quite an interesting, fantasy shape. You have a bit of organic forms in it, but a lot of hard surface modeling needs to take place as well.
First step was to analyze the concept, I've began drawing through on it, examining the shape and forms. A side view was not provided to the community by Blizzard, hence I had to pay attention to the tones and shades to identify the depth and actual position of some elements in 3D space.
I went ahead and created a block out of the axe and setting it up with even and square topology so it properly subdivides in ZBrush.
Inside ZBrush, I decided to go with a layered approach. 3DMotive tutors highly recommend working with layers as this is a non-destructive workflow. You can test out various ideas on your model and if you don't like them, you just delete the layer. Or, if some details are exaggerated you can easily pull back the strength of that layer to minimize the effect.
The plan was to, form now on, post all of the work I create to Polycount's forum to receive proper feedback. Also, I mean to post updates very often so people can see that I am active and serious about my art. It's not about showing off, I really want to be as active as I can be to develop myself as much as possible.
However, I need to realize when I should post an update. To post an update, just for the sake of posting doesn't help me or anyone else. I need to have good progression between the different versions of my assets to get proper feedback and so people can see whether I am heading in the right direction or not.
I planned to only post a version when it has been textured.
Speaking of texturing: I've used ZBrush's Polypaint functions to block in the main colors and values of the axe. I have learnt quite a lot from 3DMotive's Hand Painted a Weapon Texturing tutorial and I've used the same approach with this axe. Block in the main values, paint some light and specular information into the color to better bring out the important details.
Meanwhile, I often turned to the Polycount community with difficulties I was having (mostly technical). The people over there are just amazing and share even the most valuable and helpful information very kindly.
Once I have my maps baked out, I can finalize my diffuse map by hand painting some extra details onto it in Photoshop. Also, I will bake out a Normal Map, along with an AO map. I will use nDo 2 to create new maps, like Cavity Map and blend that detail into my final Diffuse as well.
There are a lot of possibilities technically, I have to pay attention to the general appeal of the weapon and work towards improving that.
I've rebuilt the topology in 3DSMax to get the final, game mesh. I've then baked the high poly information onto the low-poly and tweaked the maps to get the following result:
This is a Realistic view from 3DSMax's viewport, hence the specular map has no effect. Once I learn how to properly import an asset into UDK, I will take this axe and test it out in there as well.
Final triangle count is 4,304 with 1024x1024 maps applied.