Street Cop Workflow by Mashru Mishu

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Industry
  • Games
Subject
  • Character
  • General
  • Modeling
  • Rendering
Products
  • Maya
  • Mudbox
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
1. Creating the base mesh.

The first thing to consider is how the character looks and how the concept translates into a game character. Before I jump into modeling a game character I need to consider my polycount budget, mesh topology, any rigging issues and my texture limits.

Once I have a rough idea of the technical specification and limits I start creating the main body of the character. In the case of this particular model, I created the body and head to start with. I kept the head as a separate model so that I could easily work on it separately and later export it separately for baking.

Once the base mesh is made I make sure I have enough edge loops in the face area and the model and any other places where I plan to sculpt more details. Since this is for sculpting only I try to avoid any triangles and evenly space out all the quads.

When I am fairly happy with the shape of the body I export a medium subdivision level back to Maya as a reference on top of which I create rest of the base meshes for the shirt, jeans and gun holster.

Creating these base meshes are straight forward polygon modeling so there is not much to explain how every element of the base mesh was created. For example, here you can see the two steps for creating the base mesh of the shirt.

You will notice that the collar area of the shirt has double sided faces. I did a face extrude along the collar area to create those. This gives me a nice thickness along the border of the shirt. I will do that along all of the border areas for the rest of the clothing. Here are some of the other base meshes. I tend to create all the separate elements of the character separately instead of sculpting out all the details from one base mesh. From my experience if you have separate meshes for all of the parts, your final normal map will look really clean and almost like high poly. However, if you sculpt everything from one mesh then things tend to look like plastic or clay.

After the shirt is modeled, I create the gun holster. This way, the holster mesh conforms well to the shirt mesh. I can obviously adjust it later in Mudbox. The buckles, guns, ammos and all the hard surface parts are marked red below. These meshes are exported separately and not subdivided. They are exported only as a point of reference.

When creating these meshes, I usually put extra edge loops at the edge of surfaces and also around the seams. I do this mainly so that I have sufficient polygons to sculpt extra details in those areas. Otherwise I would have to do local subdivision or even divide the whole mesh just to get more detail in a small area of the mesh. This is why in my opinion, it is a smart thing to make your base mesh do most of the work for you.

When I am done creating all the base meshes I will check for certain errors in the mesh before exporting it to Mudbox. Things to check are un-welded vertices, overlapping vertices and whether surface normals are facing the right way. Also, I exported the shirt, jeans, shoes and most of the meshes separately so that I can work on them separately.

Here is a turn table of the base mesh:

2. Sculpting and detailing.

Now comes the fun part of the process. Once I’ve exported all the base meshes, I usually check them in Mudbox for any errors that might have slipped through. For example, I would subdivide all the meshes a couple of times to check for any holes, sculpt on them a little to check for proper surface normals, etc.

When I start sculpting something I usually don’t move up to a high level of detail too early. For an organic model the first thing I do is push out the basic forms at level 0 - 1. Things to consider at this stage are the skeletal features of the body, the level of skin fat and age of the character.

When it comes to detailing a character it is easy to get carried away, but it is important to stay on target of what you want your particular character to look like. I wanted this character to look very rugged and worn out but not look too old.

The most challenging part of creating this character was getting the cloth folds look decent. I went through several iterations for the cloth folds. There were several things I needed to consider when sculpting the cloth folds. Since this character is meant for a game I had to keep the folds fairly generic so that the folds work in most of the action poses.

When sculpting folds, keep in mind that folds should not exist all over your fabric surface. I usually put folds where the character will be deforming such as the knees, around the shoulders. Then there are folds in places due to gravity like the area at the bottom of the jeans. There are also folds on the shirt under the holster strap which makes the integration look better. For all these folds, I will sculpt in a different level and only switch to the highest level for small, sharp folds. Since this is primarily for creating the normal map it is ok if your sculpt is slightly lumpy, it actually helps your final cloth surface look more natural. If it starts to become too lumpy, you can use the flatten brush to smooth along the folds.

Here is a turntable of the entire high poly mesh at 7.3 million triangles.

3. Creating the low poly mesh.

To create the low poly mesh I export a semi-high level mesh from Mudbox as a reference point for resurfacing on top of it. If there are overlapping meshes I do this separately.

For this process I am using Topogun. When creating the retopo mesh I try to be a little liberal with the polycount so that the normal map baking works good. Once the normal map is baked I can optimize the mesh quite a bit to reach my actual polygon budget.

Topogun will give me a pretty good mesh but I will eventually take this to Maya, clean it up and modify it as needed.

Once the low poly mesh is created I will go ahead and unwrap the UV. For this character I decided to keep most of the character unique. The only parts of the mesh that’s mirrored in UV are the arms, eye balls, inside of the mouth and the shades.
Here is the UV layout:

When I unwrap a game character I usually give more pixel density to the upper part of the body. So I will give the head the maximum pixel density, then the torso and then the legs. This is done mostly because the upper part of a character will get the most screen time so that needs to look sharper than the rest of the body.

4. Baking map and texturing.

For baking normal maps and AO maps I am using xNormal. I export all my high poly meshes and my low poly meshes to xNormal and bake the maps one by one.

Baking a good normal map depends on several factors. One of them is that your low poly model needs to conform well to your high poly mesh. Another is you baking low poly mesh needs to be a little higher poly to catch all the normals properly. When I say little higher poly, I mean you can be a little liberal around curved surfaces and add a few more edges to catch the normals properly. Just keep in mind not do any changes along the UV borders since they need to be intact.

Here are samples of the final normal map and the ambient occlusion map:

With the normal map and the AO map created I will go ahead and start work on the color map. Both the normal map and the AO map will be used in creating the color map. First I will create the base colors to define different areas of the character. Here is a sample of the base color:

On top of this I add the AO map and on some areas I’ll also add the green channel of the normal map to add an extra layer of shading. This is because the green channel of the normal map is usually the same as a sky light bake given that all your UVs are upright.

Here is the same base colors with the AO and the normal maps shading:

Next I create the different surface textures, like the skin surface, the shirt surface and the jeans surface. A lot of people have already asked me how I hand painted the jeans texture. The jeans texture is a result of hand painted patterns, noises and some simple filters. So for this tutorial, I will only go through the creation on the jeans texture.

First thing I did was create two simple thread patters. I use the offset filter in Photoshop to make sure these patterns are tillable. Pattern A and B are for the threads. C is created using the noise filter and vertical motion blur. D is another layer of just noise and E is the scaled version of D. F is a layer with random black and white dots. A and B is passed through a distort-glass filter just to give it that random weaving effect. Then C, D and E is multiplied on top and F is overlaid and the base color is multiplied on top of all of that.

Once I have a base texture of the jeans fabric I use the transform-warp to conform the texture to the UV so that the fabric pattern does not look like a grid running through the whole mesh.

Here is a sample of what it looks like after all the surface textures are added.

On top of this I add a layer of my own shading and other details such as the hair, shirt patterns, dirt, color noise, etc. when the color map is done I will take a copy of that and use it for the base of the specular map. For the specular map the fabric areas of the texture are muted the most, the skin area usually gets a very de-saturated cyan-bluish hue and has a layer of noise over the entire specular map.

Here is a sample of the final texture:

Here is the final model with AO map and color map on it.

Model with AO map
Model with color map

This is the end of the tutorial, I hope it was informative enough and that you’ve enjoyed it.

Behind the ScreenZ with Mashru Mishu QT Turntable Videos HIRES (30MB)
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Tags
  • Maya
  • Mudbox
  • Character
  • General
  • Modeling
  • Rendering
45 Comments
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| 11 years ago
Wow, that is soo realistic. Awesome job.
| 11 years ago
awesome man
| 11 years ago
cool stuff! Thanx for sharing!
| 11 years ago
is that how its gonna render for the game?
| 11 years ago
really very realistic!!!!
| 11 years ago
What game is he going to be in? (?_?)
| 11 years ago
thanks guys :) @zanfankid - the render is default maya software and 3 point lights, no special shaders etc so it would be similar looking in any next gen engine. @Unlawfull Entry - He will be in the next GTA 5 game, jk :) this is my personal work no games.
| 11 years ago
Thank you for the great tutorial Mashru! :)Superb work!
| 11 years ago
A splendid work using maya & mudbox, can u give ur e-mail, so i van learn more from u.
| 11 years ago
Cool Dude
| 11 years ago
You just opened my eyes to new techniques in texturing and next gen modeling! thanks so much! my only question would be: how does it work with skinning for a game engine? Is there any pinching issues around the folds of the elbow, pelvis, knees and shoulders?
| 11 years ago
@Mark Gery - in game engine like unreal you can have 4 joint influence per vertex so as long as the rigger does a decent job at skinning there shouldn't be any problem at all.
| 11 years ago
Excellent! Thanks very much Mashru! I can't wait to get a piece started.
| 11 years ago
Excellent!!! Very good tutorial. Thank you very very much!
| 11 years ago
goood work man this is really nice
| 11 years ago
This is perfect but i am only a biginer from where showld i learn 3d max
| 11 years ago
I saw this one from one of 3D sites you in. I get to see your works whenever you post there. you are such a great artist! I really really love your works and I'm so happy to see how you did this one. Thank you very x1000000000000000000 much! more then I can say! excellent !!! *Thumbs up!!*
| 11 years ago
nize
| 11 years ago
great piece of work, i really impresed, but i wanted to ask - did u use any other software like Zbrush/Mudbox or anything to sculpt extra details ? thank you
| 11 years ago
as mentioned above i used Mudbox for all the sculpting.
| 11 years ago
is there any chance you can create a video tutorial of this character, please , i'm willing to pay like $250, for you to show me how its done, as good as the written tut is, i have to see how it's done in order to better understand it
| 11 years ago
great thank u
| 11 years ago
Great work Mashru! I love your street cop, this tutorial is very apreciated
This is really amazing. I love the detail on your Street Cop.
| 11 years ago
Hi Really nice tutorial. Thanks for your guidance.
| 11 years ago
That is incredible, way to go man, really impressive.
| 11 years ago
Thanks for taking the time to explain your work process, I enjoyed reading it and seeing the excellent examples. Cheerio Chris
| 11 years ago
I saw this character in cg society .........really wonderful character ....
| 10 years ago
This is just plain awesome. Thanks for the workflow tips. It's nice to see how the masters do it.
| 10 years ago
Absolutely awesome. People should be throwing money on you just for being so great. I mean it. Awesome...
| 10 years ago
Thanks for the workflow tips. Top notch character, my man!
| 10 years ago
realy great work, i only wish mudbox had a feature like topoGun so i dont have to buy so much seperate software but again very realistic and professional
| 10 years ago
Thanks man for u r workflow tips. u always inspired me a lot. thanks again
| 10 years ago
Badass.
| 9 years ago
thank you for making this tutorial. it has helped my workflow tenfold...
| 9 years ago
thanks 4 sharing!!!
| 9 years ago
amazing hats down 4 you ... but i have one question after you have build your low poly model based on the high one from mudbox did you unwrap the UVW map again to match the one from the high poly ??? i mean how did you apply the ambient occlusion and normal map if you didn't have the same UVW mapping ??? i hope you got my point .. and that i'm not missing something
| 9 years ago
kool
bastante pro Master ][ ramd -
| 8 years ago
Great tutorial. Nice to see a well laid workflow with such a fantastic end result.
| 8 years ago
Awesome .. ,, Fascinating ,, Thanks 4 share ,,
| 8 years ago
Yeah, just what I'm learning now. After reading this half my workflow looked kinda stupid to me :). Will definitely try it on my next character. Thanks for the tutorial. @montaser: I think you don't apply the normal/ao maps to the hires version, but only the low-poly one. There would be no point baking normals for a highres mesh, would there :)? And at least in my version of xNormal you don't need UVs on the highres model (I'm glad for it :D).
| 8 years ago
wow! this is very usefull! thanks so much for your time! i'm not an animator for games, but did you use triangles?
| 7 years ago
this is simply the BOMB......i av neva seen a character to DEF! please what is the secret, i couldnt download the video tutorial.
| 6 years ago
can u post a reply on how to make a clothes for a model in mudbox here, http://area.autodesk.com/forum/autodesk-mudbox/general-discussion/clothing-in-mudbox/
*Save $66 per month on Autodesk's Suggested Retail Price (SRP) when purchasing 1 year term 3ds Max or Maya subscription.