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Ash Wolf Viking | Ironclad Workshop
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Ash Wolf Viking | Ironclad Workshop

Lim Jun Liang
by sspayce on 8 Apr 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

The 2 projects that I have worked on during my 1 year diploma study at 3dsense Media School.

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The following is a showcase of the projects that I have worked on during my 1 year study at 3dsense Media School

Game-ready Character

This character modelling project was done as my term 2 assignment during my time at 3dsense Media School’s game art diploma course. The character that I modelled is based on the concept art “Ash Wolf Viking” by concept artist Kim Min Jun: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Ea4wlq

Being my first time creating a 3d character for games, I experienced many challenges across the project. But nonetheless, it was still fun and rewarding.

Character Process Breakdown:

Reference gathering

I started by gathering references from both 3D and real life, I gathered mostly 3D references as I am able to learn from previously established models and apply it to my own models. Other than that, they also allow me to predict how my model will look in the final result. 

As the concept reference that I chose did not include a back view, I had to draw and design it briefly so that it would help out with my modelling. As creating a complex design means I had to think a lot about how things are attached and how the fur will interact with the design, I settled with this simple design:

High-res sculpt

This was the part of the process that I enjoyed the most because I enjoy organic sculpting. Firstly, I used a base mesh and modified the proportions to fit my reference. After that, I worked more on the face, trying to nail the look of my reference as much as possible. Then, I started blocking in the garments and armour.

For the details of the face, I made use of the zwrap plugin by R3DS to project displacement maps of the skin poes. The displacement maps that I used are from textureXYZ’s multi-channel faces.

For the fabric, I used mostly Marvelous designer to get the large shapes of the fabric before bringing it into Zbrush to sculpt the secondary and tertiary folds. Most of the armour and weapons were first blocked out in Maya and then detailed in zbrush.

Final high-res sculpt:

Hi-res Progress:

Haircards

Doing the hair cards were the most time consuming and challenging parts of creating my character due to the sheer amount of fur covering her. I also had to figure out how the fur of the wolf head flows which gathering tons of references really helped. As I had no frame of reference of how the character’s hair works, I had to draw how the hair flows and gather references that looked similar to the one that my character had.

Hair Closeup:

Hair Wireframe:

Retopo & UV

After the high res sculpt was more or less completed, I retopologized the model in Maya using the quad draw tool. The hardest part to retopo were the fabrics as it was tough to achieve the silhouette while keeping the poly count low. After that I unwrapped the model into 4 maps: head, top, bottom and accessories.

Character Stats:

Wireframe:

UV:

Baking

Baking was done in Marmoset Toolbag 4 where there were various tools to ensure a clean bake such as the paint skew and paint offset tool. Baking went relatively smoothly, but was quite tedious as I had to decimate every single subtool in zbrush, rename them in Maya and import it into Marmoset Toolbag to bake.

Texturing

Texturing is the part of the process that the character starts to come to life. I textured my character using Substance Painter. I built some of my own textures and also used some smart materials. I modified the materials using generators and smart masks to add texture variations especially to the albedo and roughness maps. I also hand painted parts to make sure these modifications don't look procedurally generated. During this stage, I also constantly export my textures to check if they look correct in Marmoset Toolbag. 

Texture Maps:

Render Passes:

Posing

I rigged my character in Maya using the advanced skeleton plugin and posed the character according to the concept art.

Lighting & Rendering

Lighting was done in Marmoset Toolbag 4. I experimented with different lighting setups during this stage to achieve the effect that I wanted. Initially, my lighting was simple, but I felt like it didn't do my character justice so, I went for a cooler vibe as I felt like it suited where my character originated from: a cold and snowy climate.

Real-time Environment

This environment modelling project was done as my term 3 assignment during my time at 3dsense Media School’s game art diploma course. The environment concept “ Workshop Interior Design” that I based my model on was from the concept artist C_Liang: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Ev9KY8

As this was my first time creating a real-time environment in unreal engine 5, I ran into many challenges as creating environments proved to have many technical aspects such as creating trimsheets, tileables and setting up materials in UE5. Lighting was also difficult as I had to match it as close as possible to the reference. But thanks to these challenges, I learnt more about the process of creating a real-time environment, and had fun while doing so!

Final renders:

Environment Process Breakdown:

Planning Stage

The planning stage for creating an environment is crucial as it would be easy to get lost in the creation of a large amount of assets. I first broke down the reference into 7 parts while noting which assets are unique and modular. After that, I categorised them into whether I needed to texture them using trimsheets or uniquely. 

Gathering references

Firstly, I found 3D references for every asset that I needed to model, to inform me about the structure of the object which helped me in modeling. I also searched for lookdev references which serves as a guide for how my model should look like in my final render.

Blocking

To match the view of my reference, I used fspy to help me achieve an accurate camera position and angle relatively fast. Afterwards, I blocked out the larger shapes in Maya while focusing on their silhouette to get a feel of how the environment would look in 3d space.

At this stage, I also made the assets the right size as it would affect the lighting if not done right.

Blocking Progress:

Detailing

I then detailed my assets by beveling edges, adding more tertiary details such as nuts and bolts and utilising soft and hard edges to affect how my models look

Importing into Unreal

I imported my environment into unreal early during the blocking stage to establish some general lighting and to test out how different lighting and fog would affect my environment in 3d.

Tileables and trimsheets

As tileables and trimsheets are almost 80% of most environments, I had to make sure that they look good and aren’t too repetitive. I created trimsheets using a combination of quixel mixer and substance painter, as there aren’t always textures that I am looking for in the quixel database. I planned my trimsheets by first unwrapping the larger assets in maya and arranging them in the UV editor to inform me of how much space that asset would use on the trimsheet. I then used the multi-cut tool in maya to mark out the spaces on a plane. I then brought the plane into substance painter to texture it.

5 Assets

I chose 5 assets that were the most interesting as they were going to be showcased. I had to keep in mind the polycount while making the assets look aesthetically pleasing. Most of them have their unique textures except the robot, which requires a combination of trimsheets and unique textures as it is quite a huge asset in my scene.

Creating Materials in Unreal Engine 5

I made different master materials while creating parameters to modify them when I create their respective material instances. During this stage, I learned how to implement the LERP node to materials. This would allow me to have texture variations on my tileables and trimsheets, resulting in a more interesting look.

Master Material with LERP node:

Decals

I added decals to parts that needed different textures, such as the paint on the stairs in the middle of my environment, which was textured using trimsheets.

Lighting

I first started out with the directional light as it is the main light source of my scene. As my scene was in a room, it was quite dark after adding the directional light. So, I lit up the room with many different lights, accentuating certain highlights while lighting up the scene overall. I also used exponential height fog to add overall fog into my scene. Some parts of the fog were tough to achieve, so I used fog cards. 

Lighting Progress:

Softening god rays

The god ray in my reference was rather soft and there was no way to achieve the results using the parameters in exponential height fog. So, I added a fog card along the god ray and softened the fog using a modified alpha mask.

Before and After fog card:

Assets Callout:

Overall Progress:

Render passes:

Thank you for looking at my works!


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