Final module reflection post

Graphics in videogames are changing very quickly and the production’s quality is reaching realism levels never imagined before. Thanks to software like Zbrush the modelling time process has been reduced astoundingly and the Zbrush’s modelling tools and methodologies have allowed character artists like Kris Kelly, Furio Tedeschi and Frank Tzen to create high realistic characters with incredible details, like wrinkles and pores and render them in real time in engines like Unreal.

A thorough understanding of anatomy is an important part of the realistic character creation we find some examples in Kris Kelly work where its faces maintain realistic proportions and are anatomically accurate. I have studied anatomy and always try to use this knowledge in all the characters I do, humans or not.

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It is also important to be creative when necessary creating other type of characters like aliens is or demons are needed to be created. Furio Tedeschi is a good example of imagination applied to the job. I tried to do similar concepts for our project but no so detailed. I will use their work as a reference to improve the detail of my models adding more wrinkles and textures to the surface.

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In the case of the hair creation for characters, there are three available options: to use block modelling hair that will work for cartoon characters but will have no realism or use polygonal cards and alpha maps creating and effect of volumetric hair like the Gears of war 4‘s models made by Shifally Rattani.

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There is a third option, combining both methods like in the case of Uncharted 4’s character Nadine made by FrankTzeng using Yibing Jiang’s shaders  that combines cards with tridimensional curls. Nevertheless, the quality of the textures will always depend on the GPU capabilities so, even being able to produce a realistic character in videogames, will be always necessary to render it in real time. Therefore, it is necessary to optimize the resources. Uncharted 4 is a very good example of optimization getting an incredible result. Yibing Jiang and its team implemented innovative techniques in order to achieve this, like adjusting the cards’ normals in order to get the hair look volumetric, using ID maps with ramps to control the depth of the strands instead Normal maps and use shadow maps to create volumetric shadows. I’ve never used these techniques before but I will research them in order to implement them in my own workflow. Also, is important the light scattering to make look realistic the hair and skin. One way of getting this effect is with the Fresnel effect to reduce the GPU cost. All these processes were achievable through experimentation getting a lot of issues in the process but reaching a better result at the end. Therefore, due to this necessity of research in order to get better results with the optimal amount of resources, experimentation will be always a big part of all game artist work.

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After creating the concept art for my characters I decided to centre my attention in the creation of realistic hair. Until that moment I had always used block meshes to do hair because my characters have always been cartoonish and there wasn’t need of doing cards. Nevertheless, As the group decided that the project would have a realistic aesthetic and one of the characters I will have to model had a ponytail, I decided to study the usage of polygon planes in order to do so. I started from the basic, trying to test the simplest methods and create my own cards with different shapes. I learned that normally wasn’t necessary to be very creative with the planes and square polygons are the usual. I learned also that all the hair strips should start on the head because of the transparency would make visible the UV cuts. In the case of the ponytail I think I chose one of the most difficult things to do because was a big ball of hair without anything inside that make it less transparent. Therefore, I used a mesh as ponytail’s core to fake the density. During this process I found several interesting scripts and plugins like spPaint3D, that allow the painting of objects over a surface, in this case the cards over the head and GMH2.6 that is a plugin that assist in the creation of hair by creating polygonal strips using a base polygonal shape as a pattern. It also has a hair system that helps in the creation of hair with polygonal tubes as strands that allow the baking of them on the used polygon strip. The learning process was slow and difficult; I had to make a lot of different testing in order to understand the use of the script. The capability of baking the maps allowed me to create easily all the textures necessary to make the hair to look realistic using alpha, specular and normal maps.

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As I also wanted to understand the use of Unreal engine material editor I also dedicated part of my research time to do so. In that way I learned how to do Metallic and reflective maps, transparent maps like glass and also some other effects like moving textures or Fresnel effect, all this thanks to several tutorials. After that I tried to do my own material for the alien leader visor by creating a gelatinous material from a texture. First I learned how to create tileable maps on Photoshop and then, with a bit of research I found a nice programme, named Pixplant, that allows the transformation of an image into the different maps necessary to create a material. Then I started my experimentation process to get the desired material. I had some issues like using the emmisive channel and having an undesired effect in darkness or getting a correct amount of transparency by tweaking with the refractions variables. I think I still have to do more test in order to get the desired material but I have learned a lot in the process.

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In the future I will keep studying and improving my knowledge in the creation of Unreal materials and the different existing nodes and how to combine them. I will also continue using GMH2.6 in order to achieve the same result as the developer examples but I will also try to emulate the methods used in games like Uncharted to get a very realistic hair that will be usable inside game engines.

All in all, I think I have learned a lot of both processes and set the bases to improve even further in both fields.

 

Bibliography:

ArtStation (n.d.) Yibing Jiang [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/yibingjiang > [Accessed 06 April 2017].

Yibing Jiang (n.d.) Yibing Jiang’s Demo Reel 2015 — Real-Time Shading / Shading / Matte Painting [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=umoWC6SGsLw > [Accessed 06 April 2017].

ArtStation (n.d.) Frank Tzeng [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/frank_tzeng > [Accessed 08 April 2017].

ArtStation (n.d.) Gears of War 4 Hair, Shifally . [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Zx8lx > [Accessed 10 April 2017].

ArtStation (n.d.) Kris Kelly [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/kriskelly3d> [Accessed 13 April 2017].

 KRISKELLY3D.COM – Character Artist, Texture Artist, 3D Modeler (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://www.kriskelly3d.com/ > [Accessed 13 April 2017].

ArtStation (n.d.) Furio Tedeschi [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/furio > [Accessed 17 April 2017].

NiZZULiVΞ (n.d.) Uncharted 4 Nathan Drake 3D Model Tech Demo 1080p [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8plj4d2MHM > [Accessed 08 April 2017].
Frank Tzeng on Gumroad (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://gumroad.com/frank_tzeng_art# > [Accessed 08 April 2017].

Artist’s Research #5: Furio Tedeschi

Furio Tedeschi is a CG artist that center his work on concept art and modelling. He has worked to companies like Mcfarlane Toys, Gameloft, Digital Extremes, Blur studios, WB Games Montreal, EA Bioware Montreal and Paramount Pictures. He has worked in games like Dungeon Hunter 4, WarFrame and Mass Effect Andromeda among others. He has also worked for films like Transformer 5.

He is an incredible concept artist that creates amazing creatures and robots. His designs are very original and tend to use organic shapes or be based on anatomy studies. He is able to do gorgeous 2d and 3d concepts and also work as game modeller creating some models like the ones used in Mass effect Andromeda. I am interested above all in its style and aesthetic of his concepts as well and in the detail, diferent textures and resources he has in the modelling of alien or demonic creatures.
I will try to emulate the textures he uses in his models and adapt some hos the shapes and ideas to my own concepts. Is very helpful because his style is very similar of what we want for our own project.

http://smokeflames.blogspot.co.uk/

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Bibliography:

ArtStation (n.d.) Furio Tedeschi [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/furio > [Accessed 17 April 2017].
Quick Noodles (n.d.) [Online blog]. Available from: <http://smokeflames.blogspot.com/ > [Accessed 17 April 2017].

Artist’s Research #4: Kris Kelly

Kris Kelly is a 3D modeller and visual effects’s artist that has worked in several companies that creates cinematics for videogames and FX for films and series. Among the game projects in which he has been involved are Call of duty Ghost, ScaleBound, Shadows of Mordor, Destiny, Gears of war 4, Star Wars the Old Republic, Rainbowsix Siege and Atlas reactor. While his models are not used in videogames, his skill with highpoly modelling is incredible. He also has worked doing the expresions of the characters in several projects like in the Call of Duty: Ghost or Gears of war 4 cinematic. He also has worked on films and TV series like Ant-man, flash or Supergirl which let me notice other possible paths my knowledge of 3D may open in my future career. It also let me see that there is more than one way of be a character modeller and work for videogames industry apart from creating playable characters. Above all, I am interested in his use and creation of highpoly models and the facial expressions that as able to use in their characters.

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Bibliography:

ArtStation (n.d.) Kris Kelly [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/kriskelly3d>[Accessed 13 April 2017].
KRISKELLY3D.COM – Character Artist, Texture Artist, 3D Modeler (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://www.kriskelly3d.com/ > [Accessed 13 April 2017].
Vimeo (n.d.) KrisKelly3D – Character Artist – Showreel 2015 [Online]. Vimeo. Available from: <https://vimeo.com/124494458 > [Accessed 13 April 2017].

Artist’s Research #3: Shifally Rattan

Shifally Rattan is a 3d character artist that works as an outsourcing character artist at The Coalition, Microsoft. She has worked in games like Gears of War 4 creating the hair of the characters using Joe Alter’s “Shave and Hair cut”, Photoshop, Maya and Unreal Engine. Her results, although are not as realistic as Yibing Jiang’s hair in Uncharted 4, are still incredibly and her images examples are great to know how hair cards work on characters to do all types of hair only with polygonal planes. I will be checking the programmes used in order to get a bigger understanding on the creation of hair for videogames and I will keep Shifally’s images of hair as an example of hair cards distribution and uses.

Bibliography:

ArtStation (n.d.) Gears of War 4 Hair, Shifally . [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Zx8lx > [Accessed 10 April 2017].

Artist’s Research #2: Frank Tzeng

Frank Tzeng is the Lead Character Artist at Naughty Dog. He worked on projects like Killzone: Shadow Fall, The last of us or Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End among other projects. In the case of this last project he take care of the modeling of the main characters like Drake, Nadine or Victor Sullivan. His results are flawless and the realism level is out of this world. He sculpt with an incredible level of detail, creating each wrinkle and pore of the skin’s surface.

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He is also capable of copying actors faces with a incredible likeness to a point that once rendered it can’t be said if is the real one or not, that is the case of Robert Downey Jr.’s model.

He also have a incredible skills to make expressions and make its models look alive. But he not only do human characters, their creatures are also incredible and share the same level of detail as the human ones. I find that he has mastered the facial sculpt to to the maximum level.

He has a series of tutorial in Gumroad that are worth to check, some of them are for free what is great. I will keep an eye on this artist  and try to learn as much as possible of the workflow he use to create his models.

https://gumroad.com/frank_tzeng_art#

Bibliography:

ArtStation (n.d.) Frank Tzeng [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/frank_tzeng > [Accessed 08 April 2017].
NiZZULiVΞ (n.d.) Uncharted 4 Nathan Drake 3D Model Tech Demo 1080p [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8plj4d2MHM > [Accessed 08 April 2017].
Frank Tzeng on Gumroad (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <https://gumroad.com/frank_tzeng_art# > [Accessed 08 April 2017].

Artist’s Research #1: Yibing Jiang

Yibing Jiang is a Shading artist that has worked in 3D animation films and videogames for companies like Ready at Dawn Studios, Disney or  Naughty Dog . She has worked in projects like Cars 2, The order 1886, Wreck it Ralph and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End among other projects. Her work in this last project centering its work on the shading of the hair, skin, and cloth surfaces.

Her results are gorgeous and incredibly realistic. In the case of the hair, It is even more astonishing when the rendered result is compared to the polygonal model where can be seen the topology of the hair. The black female model that was created by Frank Tzeng. Her hair was created combining polygonal plane cards with tridimensional curls in order to get a more realistic effect above all in its silhouette where the shapes of this meshes creates the effect of having a real curly hair instead of being using textured planes only.

For the skin she used the Disney Diffuse model, GGX Brdf model and Screen Space Subsurface combined with micro details maps in order to get a very realistic skin in real time rendering.

Looking her work I understand how far realism can go in shader terms inside actual videogame industry and encourage me to study further the processes and techniques used by her to try to improve my own results.

Bibliography:

ArtStation (n.d.) Yibing Jiang [Online]. ArtStation. Available from: <https://www.artstation.com/artist/yibingjiang > [Accessed 06 April 2017].
Yibing Jiang (n.d.) Yibing Jiang’s Demo Reel 2015 — Real-Time Shading / Shading / Matte Painting [Online video]. Available from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=umoWC6SGsLw > [Accessed 06 April 2017].