Friday, February 22, 2013

The Crest of Silvermoon - Part 1

My aim is to practice the "World of Warcraft style" as much as possible. My aim is to get into that kind of sector once I graduate. It is quite a distinct, unique way of producing art. Almost every form, asset, building and detail is an irony of its original self. Details are very chunky and elements like roof tops or foundation blocks are much bigger and curvy than in real life.

Colors and textures are of a cartoony nature, but not too much. The game does not look like a proper cartoon, but it incorporates several details from that style/genre.

Here are some of the WoW artwork I've looked at. I did not want to create a scene as that would have required my concentration to spread out on several elements. Instead, a single asset seemed like a good choice, as I can focus only on it and not be distracted.

Concept art:

I've decided to choose an artwork that requires me to touch as many aspects of 3D as possible and at the same time look really really good :) .
The Crest of Silvermoon was the chosen asset:

Crest of Silvermoon
I've decided not to use any photo source for texturing, rather hand paint everything. The style is all about hand painting and I really need to practice it.
Hand painted textures mean that you build up every detail, colour and shading information through sheer colour painting. In CG, you have the opportunity to take real life photos and overlay them on your models. That suits different styles than the one I am aiming for here. With hand painted textures, you have full control over the color values, the shading information and all the small details.

After I've decided on the technical roadmap, I've started blocking out the main form:

Main blockout

Sculpted + base colors
After the main blockout was finished, I've went ahead and imported the asset into the sculpting program called ZBrush. ZBrush is an essential tool as it takes the modeling from a very accurate and technical stage to one that is way more artistic and loose. When I am blocking out the main form, I'm using my mouse to match the concept as close as possible. Accuracy and layout is key here, but you need to add that unique, self touch to the asset that can separate it from the rest.
In ZBrush I use my Wacom tablet and it feels like I'm drawing. It follows the movement of my arm and it feels as if I`m cutting into the surface myself. Makes modeling more fun, which it should be.

After I've added some scratches, bevels, tear and wear etc. through the sculpting phase, I've went ahead and applied some base colors as well. ZBrush provides painting features as well, so before I go ahead and start painting the final texture in Photoshop, it's good to have an already present guide on how you asset should look.

The model I have created so far is the "High Polygon" version, which is NOT suitable for gameplay. It has way too many polygons and would consume too much computer resource for a game to run at an acceptable frame-rate.
I need to create the, so called, "Low Polygon" version and then bake the details onto that from the High Poly. The details will come from the Normal Map, the Color Map and the Specular Map. Specular Map controls where and how the surfaces reflect light. It's crucial, because there are several types of materials on this model that have different characteristics on how they behave in real life.

To be continued in the NEXT post.

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