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Strike Twice

Strike Twice

Matthew Skylar Jetton
by skylarjetton on 17 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

This is my intermediate Character and Creatures for Games final project at Think Tank Training Centre. My goal was to achieve a high level of realism using real-time tools and advanced workflows.

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For my Intermediate Term final, I decided to go with this male version of Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns in the Equilibrium armor by the artist Sakimichan. My main focus with this final was to achieve a cinematic quality LOD0 at the highest level of detail possible, while staying within the parameters of our assignment (to create a game-ready character bust). Secondarily, I wanted to play with texture in order to give variation and visual breakup in a design that has a very homogenous color palette, and find suitable solutions to the refractive/translucent rubber breastplate in the concept and the iridescence of the capelet material.

Render passes of rigged A-Pose, Wireframe, Roughness, and Normals.

Some things I tried to achieve in the texturing were the interesting color variations in alligator leather, especially between the scales, chromatic metal for the spaulders, iridescent latex for the capelet, and color and roughness variation for the latex of the sleeves and gloves. The concept is relatively "clean," so I wanted to find a balance where the materials still looked realtively unworn but not pristine.

Varying polygon and texel density over different parts of the mesh was something that was new to me, but I tried to achieve a good balance that would allow for appropriate deformation as well as hold the amount of detail necessary in those specific areas of the mesh. The fabric was particularly challenging to find the lowest possible polycount while properly holding folds without faceting.

I alloted  a lot of my attention to the face and body, since the facial sculpt would be the main focus and so much of the skin is exposed in the character's design. I was able to lay down a base of microdetail using a multichannel displacement and classic displacements from Texturing.XYZ that I applied to the mesh using Wrap4D. In class, we assembled and projection painted these by hand, but I found it more efficient to wrap the displacements since I would be painting the textures manually. I also extracted various alphas from the displacements in Photoshop to use for filling in the large open areas, including the whole of the back.

For the texturing, I repurposed a set of photogrammetry pictures from 3D Scan Store, since they're cross-polarized, to project a patchwork base for the skin in Mudbox. I then extracted and created skin tileables in Substance Designer, which I used in conjunction with hand painting in Substance Painter to blend these together. The eyes are a combination of iris displacements, hand painting, and a high quality iris and retinal scans. Since I needed to use ray tracing in the final renders to get suitable refraction, I built two sets of eyes - one that would use standard in-game displacement and one that was suitable for ray traced cinematics.

They aren't particularly glamorous, but I really like my process screenshots, especially to share on our school forum. This was showing the base displacement for the face and torso in Zbrush, the wrapping process in Wrap4D, and my first pass of projection painting in Mudbox. I like Mudbox for this application because it allows you to warp your photos to better fit the surface of the mesh.

Even though this was only a bust assignment, it was important to me that it was a fully functional mesh. I was used to our earlier sculpting assignments where we posed the model in Zbrush and I could resulpt the musculature and skin folds in the final pose. Instead, I decided to use a QuickRig in Maya that I appended fingers and kinematics to in order to pose the mesh. I know there are deformers and other tools that we'll likely learn in later terms to modify the volumes for more accuracy, but I was pleased that the mesh deformed nicely and I learned a lot from the process (like skinning, weight painting, and working with rigid geometry that needs to be parented to the rig). The creepy little floating spider legs are my favorite, also. I decided to keep them in case I extend the character later, but, at this point, I might just have him skitter around on them.

Lastly, here is a turntable of the completed A-posed character bust.

Thanks for viewing my project! I feel like I completed quite a bit of work in our foundation term, but this was definitely a challenge to complete a more realistic character bust in 5 weeks - especially using an entirely new suite of software and new workflows. I am pretty happy with what I accomplished and all the new skills I gained, so I'm excited to push for even more realistic work next term!

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