Yolyn Am - The Cultists Clan
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Yolyn Am - The Cultists Clan

Lazare Colleville
by lazarecolleville on 30 Mar 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

I am very proud to share with you my latest work on my graduation project after 5 hard years of studies at New3dge art school : YOLYN AM. //EDIT// The link to our website has changed, it's no longer the one I wrote at the end of this post. If you want to check it, it's over here : https://www.new3dge.com/projetyolyn-am

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I worked on this project during a year with a team of 5 teamates. Please, note that in this entry I am only presenting my work on this project. I was (mainly) in charge of the enemy characters from concept, sculpting and modeling to texturing and animation.
Characters' rig, environmental assets, shaders, FXs (...) have been made by my wonderful teamates. Please, check out the Game's entry to fully appreciate the whole project : https://www.therookies.co/entries/9442

 The game takes place in a post apocalyptic world, more precisely in the Mongolian Gobi Desert where various nomad tribes went back to a traditionnal way of life but mixed with high technologies from the old era they can find on their way. All footages and images from the project has been captured in realtime in Unreal Engine 4 with ray-tracing.

Here is a short clip that showcases my characters. All captured in real time in Unreal Engine 4 with ray-tracing. Music was made exclusively for our project by composer Anthony D'Amario hired by the school :

During production, we referred to these guys as "The Cultists", because the main goal for us was to convey the fact that they devote a cult to the remains of technology from before the apocalypse. They are scavangers who live as traditional mongolian nomad tribes and they consider the end of the world is the result of an abusive use of technology. They want to prevent others from using that technology again by keeping it to themselves and ended up worshiping it.

The Boss, the Khan, he is the one leading this clan. We wanted him to convey power. I had to find the right balance between traditional mongonlian clothes/armor and technology. He uses an old wind turbine to ensure a constant electricity source on him. This way, he can power the gear he scavanged such as lights and oxygen mask. The air is not that good to breath in this world... 

It was pretty difficult to be sure what he should look like. At first, I looked at outfits worn by traditional mongolian wrestlers to emphasize his strength. But we figured that taking inspiration from mongolian shamans' outfits was way more interesting. It gave him a more mystical look while giving him an impressive silhouet. In fiction, my main inspirations were characters design from "Horizon : Zero Dawn" and from the "Adam" serie made in Unity. 
His mask was inspired by a mongolian warior's mask.

In the Gobi Desert, before the world went down, richiest countries settled several research labs here, far from their population. Their goal was to study the evil that was devastating humanity. The purple colour was the mark of one of these science compagny. The clan scanvanged several ruins of these labs. 
Thus every tech parts had to wear that purple mark somehow as well as brighter colors or emissive materials in order to contrast with the more traditional elements they wear.

We referred to these smaller ones as "followers". They are not allowed to have gas masks as they are reserved for the leader of the clan. I tried to really get the shapes of mongolian armors and add modern parts on it. The traditionals mongolian helmets had hairs on top, here I replaced it with electric cables and welded pieces of metal pipes. 

Of course, you never go out in the desert without your sand glasses ! :)

Sculpting these characters was, on its own, very challenging. I used Marvellous Designer to get the first blocking of the clothes. I had to think about retopo, baking, texturing and animation all the time during the sculpting process. I used 3D coat and Blender to make the low poly versions and unwrap the UVs. I learned a lot about texel density and game topology with this project. 

Here are some in game screenshots.

I made every textures in Substance Painter. It was very fun to work each of the materials we had to put on them. I added some golden paint on their stuff as we imagined they would melt copper pieces to make this kind of paint. 

Here are some sculpting steps with low poly wireframes of the characters. We agreed on ~90k/100k triangles for the followers and ~100k/120k triangles for the boss.

Here are some of the early concepts I made before going 3D, next to the final high poly versions :

I didn't use any basemesh as I wanted to feel that I was able to go from a sphere to a body that I would use as an avatar for Marvellous simulations. The cables on top of the followers' helmet were made using a custom curve brush and then baked on simple cylinders/potatoes on the low poly version.
For the boss, I created feathers using fiber mesh and then baked them on these plane feathers. 

Followers have 6 UV sets : 4 are shared with the boss and 1 is shared with the main character. The boss have 5 sets. I was driven by our texel density to know how many sets would be needed and what size they should be. As I said I learned A LOT about topology, texel density and UV unwrapping along with baking during this project.
We used several materials with different packing methods, but for each character we had only 3 maps per set : 

- one for base color that could also use the alpha channel for opacity if needed
- a normal map
- and a packed map that would contains Metallic on the R chanel, Roughness on the G channel  and Emissive or Scattering (according to the needs) on the B channel 

Once every characters were done, we had another challenge ahead of us : animation ! All animations were made in Blender using the rig our wonderful tech art teamate made :) We had a lot of challenging shot to animate and we did not realised how hard it would be. But we did our best and here are some of the animations I worked on : 

It was such a intense journey, full of doubts and fears, especially considering that we had to finish these projects during the first COVID lockdown ! But at the end, we had one year to create a game project and make a trailer for it,  I am very proud of the result and I hope you enjoyed this entry :) 
If you did please check out the Game's entry to see the final trailer : https://www.therookies.co/entries/9442

You can also check our website in order to have a full overview of team and the work we have done : https://www.new3dge.com/yolynam

Thank you for watching ! :)


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