I wanted a character with the ability to capture and summon monsters. I knew that the design should be somewhat exotic and tribal, I wanted her to look like someone who’s been living in the wild among monsters for some time.
A while ago I convinced and old friend of mine to help out with models and animation. I met Luis in Prague in 2005, and we’ve stayed in touch since. I always enjoyed his art, especially his ink pieces. When last year he joined a mod team I’ve been involved with for a while, I also learned that the talented bastard also does modeling and animation! So naturally I had to ask him to work for me! Thankfully he agreed! You can see some of his art here:
Back to the summoner! Like I said, I had a general idea of what I wanted. I did a few small thumbnails and showed them to Luis.
He immediately saw where I wanted to go with it, and we decided on continuing with number 3. Since I have great confidence in Luis’ artistic abilities, I just let him have at it and start sculpting at this point.
What followed was a few rounds back and forth with feedback, and eventually Luis had finished a basic sculpt of her, with proportions we both were happy with. At this point I did a quick overpaint of his sculpt, to give a bit more direction.
We were also having a dialogue about styles, talking about different games that we like, and various artistic styles. I had a vague idea about the style i wanted down the line, but talking with Luis helped nail down a direction. I’m working on a model on my own, which i haven’t shown publicly yet, and we’ve been trying to have the two models match stylistically.
Luis kept sculpting in Zbrush, and sending me regular updates. I had minor issues here and there that needed to be fixed, but most of the time was spent looking at amazing progress! I know what I want, and I can sometimes be very direct and demanding when working with other artists. But while working with Luis I don’t think I had to give any major critique, he usually know what I mean right away, and takes care of business!
This is the finished high poly sculpt:
After he finished sculpting, Luis did a poly paint as a base for her texture. The color scheme was based on some tests he did earlier in the process, that I was very happy with. Here’s the polypainted version, with a closeup.
Luis then moved on to the low poly. We had a bit of back and forth about the number of tris on the ingame model, and we settled at around 2000 polies. He then baked the normal maps and texture, and here she is in UDK! This was the first test in-engine, i just threw her in there straight off the bat, and everything worked nicely after i inverted the green channel in the normal map. (That’s the kind of habits you pick up by working on idtech4, Luis! :P) . It’s still a bit of a work in progress, but i already think she looks awesome in game!
Looks bloody great for a 2k tri model, right?
After that point Luis started testing her deformation, trying to find a balance between performance and fidelity, which i think he's handled pretty well here. We've not decided on how much facial animation she'll have, we might need to omit that completely. But hopefully there will be room in the budget for at least a wink and a smile!