UV Mapping 3D Coat

UV Mapping 3D Coat from destruct007 on Vimeo.

I wanted to do a quick tutorial on why 3D Coat has one of the best UV Mapping tools out there. Far and away better than anything in Maya or any scripts that help Maya be OK at UV mapping. My favorite is the live updating unwrap previews. I think it gets you to the best UV mapped layout the fastest b/c you can see where its at and how things are going. Maya explodes in the unwrapping or crumples down to nothing, so its often I'm trying to trick maya into working with UV's. Not anymore.

First Contact: Hero WIP6

I went back and retouched the model to fine tune some things. I'm getting close to happy with the face, next step is to switch from voxel to surface mode in 3DC to paint in that last level of detail. But I'll probably just show the backed down hi and low rez game versions next, as I need to start making all the actual game assets and stop messing around finessing the main character...

Preview Eterium Indie game

This is the indie game my friend Andrew and I have been working on for the past year in our spare time.

Background:. Andrew's a programmer who was working on his game for 3 years and I was working on my game in UDK. I got to the point of programming and realized that its too slow to do both art and programming. Writing code wasn't the hard part, polish and bug fixing was. So I looked at Andrews game... God awful visuals b/c he had the opposite problem. I decided to support his project and get things up to a point in quality. My goal was 60-70% of my standards for visual quality on everything. Reason is time, and I can't make all these things w/o an engine. Oh thats right he's written the code from scratch in XNA so there is no GUI for me to work in. Next games are in Unity, and so that will be quite different. He had already bought  DAZ3D models for the main characters and I didn't redo them. I designed and built all the ships, planets and star maps. That doesn't seem like a lot of work, 20+/- ships, 3 cockpits, but it was. I learned a lot. There are 1001 things I'd like to add and change in this game but I am insisting that all major changes from here on out go into planning phase for Eterium 2 in Unity (after the next game "First Contact" working title for mobile). We'd never finish a game if we kept adding wishlist ideas and improvements. The game is pretty fun, and big goals for the next. Anyway take a look, we're going to try to get the demo ready in the next few weeks.

DOTA2: Baby Disruptor Mount

Those Disruptor Mounts are horrible! ...but they sure are cute when they're little! I had some time to test some things and got the idea of a baby Disruptor Mount. I know I should be making items/kits for DOTA2 but I keep having fun with other ideas.

For those who don't know this is what the original Disruptor & Mount looks like.

First Contact: Hero Face WIP 5

Ok I've been tweaking for ages. I saw other people make characters with separate eyeballs so I did the same, and its much harder but I think it makes it look much more defined and better formed. Just took a while to get there. There's still has something wrong something alien... maybe one more round of critiques will help... Its not as bad if you look at the image full size.
Edit smaller eyeballs (per C86G's critique on polycount)

3D Coat Speed Sculpts

A few years ago I saw this concept art, or image I can't remember exactly but it looked something like this and I modeled it in Maya just for fun. I wanted to up-rez and sculpt something so I went back and played with this fun character again. If anyone remembers that original image I'd love to know who made it.

Another test. All again testing workflow and the new Live Clay tools.

3D Coat Live Clay testing

Did a "speed sculpt" sketch testing out the live clay features on the 3D Coat. Really fun to work with, and I feel like I'm getting better at sculpting. I want to be much better and I know that takes practice...
I didn't spend enough time on the hair.

First Contact: Hero Face WIP 4

Ok back to basics I just posted that update, and sort of took time to reflect on what's wrong. To get there I used reference then tweaked fixes off it b/c just using reference it didn't look good. Well I went back to reference and saw a few huge areas I've drifted far from. Forehead was much too small and the front of the face got wider as I kept sculpting. Here's the update from reference fixes. Better.

First Contact: Hero Face WIP 2 & 3

2) Ok so I've gotten more feedback and think I'm just about ready to move on to the rest of the body. The face is close. The upper eyelid shape needs some tweaking and the area around the mouth might need a little more fullness but now I need to move on to the rest of the character.
I thought I was far off until I checked by mapping a model's face on the character to see how my proportions were doing, some minor tweaking and its there.

3) Saw a bunch of things I already knew I wanted to fix so I didn't post just that 2 days ago. Went on to more tweaking. Fixed the not bridge height, and soften the cheek bones. Also obviously worked on the outfit body.
The body proportions are off from what I want, but I think I will tweak those on the game model... or not I guess we'll see. Its annoying to make big tweaks to the body b/c I'll lose details I painted in. 

First Contact: Hero WIP2

Got some great notes on polycount, "The nose bridge is to wide between the eyes, maybe that's what gives you an off spacing feeling. And the eyes-to-ears distance is a bit too big imo" -Texelion. A friend at work pointed out the jaw was forward by comparison to the forehead. 
So here is the result of that and some more tweaking on my own of course. Also stepped up a level in face detail. 

The jacket is just me sketching and messing around with ideas. I'll basically completely re-do it.
Right now I feel like she looks good front view but there is definitely something going on not quite right yet on the 3/4 view on the left.

First Contact: Hero WIP1

This is the hi poly version of a game character I'm working on. Star trek like world. I want her to be beautiful while not cliche game character sexy/sex symbol. I know that means a lot of fine tuning on the face(and lots of undoing hah) esp on the eyes.
Hi rez for promotion and for other images of her in game not obviously so much for the super low rez in game version she will eventually mostly be. Still learning a ton and tons more to learn. Everything still needs work as this is still early, but face and hair are getting there.

DOTA2: Chen update

I've being going back and forth on a lot of elements. Reading through the art guide again helped a lot. I actually removed some of the details, b/c the design was getting too noisy, the silhouette too messy, things were not working.
The lion/beast ears turned into horns. I took out the spikes I had in the gauntlets even tho those for a long time were the only thing I liked. They didn't work with the horns. The helmet face guard is now cleaner.
This is the first look at the staff. Its not there yet, but the idea is close to fleshed out. Trying to figure out how to end or connect the bottom of the horns.
 added a pad under the mount armor, otherwise pretty close to good to go.

DOTA2: Simple rigging/importing tutorial

A lot of people are having issues exporting clean models to the source engine. There are many got-cha's that can happen that I know from Unreal and can guess and prevent before we go into Source and hopefully save many hours of headaches.

First and easiest check that your model does not exceed the Triangle Limit

1) Freeze Transforms
2) Delete History
3) Select the joints that you want to influence the object. *I would suggest to err on the side of less joints.
4) Skin>bind skin> smooth bind option box,
here are my smooth bind settings

5) Bind Skin
6) Paint Weights (caution a lot of model rigs get messed up b/c of this. Its both maya's fault and the engines. I'll do another tutorial for painting weights game safe later)

Select Object export selection, FBX.
here are my FBX settings
click image to enlarge

Each object needs all 4 texture passes (masks link to mask guide)
I like to put them all in a folder w/ nothing else in there
         e.g. maya/textures/hero_name/arm/

The upload should be self explanatory
The only got-cha I found here is to change the name of the OUTPUT FILENAME everytime you make a change. I'm sure this will get fixed but for now, do it. 
A little more info, every time you run the IMPORT it builds a new folder here:

~.\Steam\steamapps\common\dota 2 beta\content\dota

every time you change the name it makes a new folder. Other people like to delete these folders every time you have to do a rebuild and you can keep the name. Either works I think. 

Lastly I want to say after all that, there are many got-cha's left hidden. And that's why there's a job called, some variation of, a Technical Artist (or sometimes just a Rigger) who's spends all their time learning and figuring out all the problems that can go wrong.

DOTA2: Phantom Lancer Spear Updated

Most of the criticism I got on my set was overwhelmingly on the spear. I agreed with a lot of the comments and wished I had heard some before. Well I've been sketching some ideas and finally honed in on this. I've updated the set with it and now consider it finished.

DOTA2: Chen Helmet Hi

Well its been going slowly, but every step I continue to refine my understanding of the process. I've been sloppy by comparison to the ideal way to work. I'm continuing to learn how and why to work the way you read about. I was bouncing between LOD0(in game hi) and LOD1(in game lo) THEN trying to make a baking high rez mesh. Thats a slow way to work, with a lot of tweaking that gets redone over and over. Here's the high rez mesh for the helmet, now I'll make the other levels of detail from this (duh) hah.
Edit Some Alt versions to break up or change the cross b/c its too symbolic and the symbolism doesn't really match.

DOTA2: Nyx Assassin Desk Jockey

Just b/c it made me laugh I made this, not for in game.
Unlike most grubs of his colony, Nyx Assassin was the chosen one, anointed with an extract of the queen goddess herself! ...but all Nyx Assassin wanted to do was fit in!

Sometimes Nyx Assassin needs to go under cover. "Nothing unusual here..."

Nyx Assassin is looking forward to having that picture perfect scarab smile.

DOTA2 Chen update

So I've been hiding in a cave as I re-re-re-work the designs. I'm close to where I want to be to show something. I want to add in the Misc slot something on his chest, maybe attaching the shoulder armor. Not 100% sure yet. Also the weapon is coming along nicely but not ready to show. The theme is "Holy Persuasion", Chens spell take control of any neutral creep or beasts. So its mixing the clean lines of his built in armor with beast motifs. I was thinking of those Gothic lion head knockers (hah I said knockers) But how they mix these ideas well. The mount armor was insane to come up with something "better" than the default which if you look at mounted armor it almost always does what the default does so it was hard to make it new and interesting... I hope I got that. Anyway, this has been/continues to be a trial. Working hard to make me happy with the design :D 
the gauntlets seems a tad simple right now, after I texture them if they still feel that way I'll need to re-address them.

My favorite part of the mount armor is the blade like spike on the front. Seems neat like you don't want to get in his way, ahah.

DOTA2 Chen Re-Re-Re-Work

I did 2 days of research and sketching... Lord, 2 FULL days pretty much (I did go to work friday hah). Watching videos of people playing Chen watching videos of learning DOTA2 (b/c I realised I need to learn more about the game and get semi decent at it before I can make really great designs). Anyway looking at tons of conecpt art on anything armor related, history of armor, armor of the ages and areas like japan, etc.  Anyway I had this awesome idea. spent hours today painting it up...

...then realized Fock! There's no belt or body slot!!!! AAARGH! Only shoulders, arms and head! You'd think I'd get that, or that its obvious, but that's not even all. The texture size for characters on a mount (meaning they are slightly smaller in game) is REALLY small. I developed this cool technique for making details in armor in 3D Coat but with shoulders at 128x256 how much of that is going to be readable? crap! so back to the drawing board earlier today but luckily I've got a day+ of solid researching and other tricks came about. I saw that Chens armor is mostly about silhouette  Its like I'm learning how to concept characters the way they tell you too but out of pain of doing it "my way" until I get why there's a process people/pro's suggest. Argh why do I have to learn the hard way? Aaanyway So I skip back to 3d and mess around with silhouette and came up with this.

Its rough-ish. I like the armor, and there's not a whole lot of poly's left to do stuff with. Infact I'll have to reduce this if I want to keep the tassels (which I'm not THAT attached to)  I think the most work at this point is on the mount armor. That's probably the most prominent item in game. Anyway, Its been rough, I was hoping a vision of somehting would hit me but no, its been sketching and re-re-reworking back to sketching... thinking anyway here's where its at as of now.

DOTA2 more?

I had a lot of fun making the first Character kit, and I think I can't edit the set until after the competition. I think I did well, it was a great learning experience. But now I want to do something more. I want to push myself to do something bigger, more challenging. I didn't stray far from the original despite having a new take on things. Also I didn't know it at the time that the Phantom Lancer is kinda popular for people to work on, not a bad thing but there are people smart and going for crazier designs. So now its about pushing myself to see if I can go further. The character I'm picking to work on next is Chen.
Here's what he looks like before:
And here's my initial concept blocked in:
I think first thing is to do some rigging tests to see if this idea (big heavy armor) is even doable with the character animation in game.

PolyCount DOTA2: Submitted but not finished

So the criticism I'm getting on the steam workshop right off the bat, is the lance is too similar to the original. I agree and felt that yes the whole kit is conservative but I feel that the idea I had for the character was conservative. I don't really want to edit this set so much to make it "differenter", however I agree the guys saying the lance specifically might need tweaking. What if I didn't even re-UV too much but just stretched it like this? I think its kinda cool.

PolyCount DOTA2 Challenge Submitted!

Just published my first set of gear to the Steam Workshop. Here are some images. I don't yet know how to put all my items on the character at once to see them all in game... so here are each solo'ed
and what it will look like (for just he shoulder group) in game camera

PolyCount DOTA2: Tweaked

Now its down to finessing and tweaking. I added a lot of details in texture like wear and leather cracks, but more noticeably was adjusting the color and contrast of the textures to match the stock armor. On the left is the Default character armor on the right mine
Obviously left and right swapped for the back side. I will say getting the colors right was a bear. Partly b/c I started out w/o a reference and was just editing the colors to match from texture to texture THEN I used the reference character. I assume that they original armor has been tweaked contrast wise to get it to show up in game, I'll do my own in game tests next. 

PolyCount DOTA2 Contest: Textured

Finally got everything textured. Now some tweaking, make the mask layers, I actually only made LOD1, so I'll go back and uprez a few places... probably just on the armor here and there.

Spear Designed/Blocked

Its important to me that the kit feels stock. That it really meshes with the character design and world. I love the DOTA2 art style so much I want to stay as true to it as I can. Anyway, I have a sketch pad next to my desk and doodle spear head for days. Finally settled on this one.

Arms Textured

His arms are close to done sans final tweaking pass. Moving onto the "belt" or pants waist area. xNormal saved my butt on this one. I spent about 2 days, tons of hours, trying to get clean good looking normal, and AmbOc out of maya, 3D Coat... trying everything I could think of. Finally found xNormal! Lord that made this project significantly more fun. That roadblock was frustrating. Now onto bigger better!