Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Sunday, 21 February 2010
After adding all the new added straps and extra detail i had well over stepped this budget and my character was now standing at a whopping 12,0019 ploys or 23.674 tris. I was not happy about this and i don't believe it is good practice to over shoot by so many. In what experience i have i do know that poly budgets are a big issue in the industry and these poly budgets must be obeyed.
So i looked long and hard at my model and started chipping into it using target weld and deleting any polys that i felt were of no use or did not have a purpose or did anything to the silhouette in any way. After a couple of hours of refinement i was alot happier with the model as now i came below my agreed poly budget. Also i believe that my actual geometry looks alot better now and a hell of alot cleaner as some of my model still looked messy.
Below is exactly how many polys i was able to save which I'm very pleased about:
- Old Mesh = 12,0019 polys or 23,674 tris
- New Mesh = 9,904 polys or 11,099 tris
I think i should point out that i could probably could look even deeper into getting the poly count down even further but with time ticking i am happy to move on from this stage. I also think with getting my poly count down it will also help my model run smoother in UT3.
If we look at the two images below there doesn't seem to be much loss of detail either between the two models can you tell which one is which?
And the answer is ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
the new lower poly model is on the left with the higher poly mesh on the right. So as we can see there isn't a great difference in to two meshes at all.
- To familiarise myself with Z-Brush once more as it has been a while since i had used it.
- To bake out a normal and Ambient Occlusion map.
- Experiment with XNormal.
So i began to do this and after having alittle play about with ZBrush i decided to take my High and Low Poly Mesh's into XNormal.
Following some tutorials on the site i found XNormal really easy to use and i thought everything was going great. I baked out the Normal map really easily no problem and i also baked out the Ambient Occlusion. (I have to say that the Ambient Occlusion that it produced was way better than the previous Ambient Occlusion i produced in 3DS MAx itself.)
However things did not run smoothly, when i applied the Normal map to my lower poly model the Normal map did not seem to work properly and i wasn't happy with the way things had turned out. (I'm sorry i haven't got any images to show the result as i accidentally deleted the Normal map that i produced by accident).
After thinking things over i believe that the error was occurring because when i produced the lower and high poly meshes i deleted all the straps and fine detail on the lower mesh and this is something i shouldn't of done. I could be wrong on this maybe i was doing something in 3DS Max I'm not entirely sure. So this got me thinking??
Sunday, 14 February 2010
- The first thing that we agreed on was, my model through the production stage had lost all its muscle definition definition.
- The human anatomy was wrong i.e. arms length to the leg proportions in particular.
- Looking at the model i decided that some more added detail was needed.
- A higher poly character would be created to add in straps and other fine detail. This high poly mesh would be taken into Z-Brush and this would create my Normal map, specular maps etc. Once the Normal maps were created the normal map would be applied to a lower poly mesh.
- Also added into the model to bring out the silhouette even more and to make the model more interesting some blades were added to the left arm and a rocket launcher on the right. I shall be adding a emissive map onto the blades in order for it not to look like a Predator rip off. I think this will look rather cool as well and add something extra to the model.
Here is a closer look at the extra detail i have added to the character:
Here is some videos of my character first pass successfully running round in UT3:
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Character on the Customize Player select screen.
However things changed dramatically once the character entered a match and the camera view was changed to a third person view (This was done by press the tap button and typing in behindview with no spaces) As this video below shows, for some reason the characters torso, arms and bottom of the boots were coming out completely black:
Torso, Arms and bottom of boots are coming out black in-game.
Although all textures were not present it was still pleasing to see that my character was running well within UT3 and worked well with the animations.
After a week of pulling my hair out what hair i have left may i add, i was able to get to the root of the problem. Basically the error was occurring because back in 3DS Max and my mesh was created certain parts of the mesh had different Material ID's assigned to it and the mesh also had different smoothing groups assigned to it. For example the torso would have about 3 material ID's and the same for the smoothing groups. So once imported in the Unreal Editor i had to apply the body texture several times in order for it to appear correctly. I found out via the Epic Games Forums that each material slot within the editor should only have 1 or 2 material slots available to it. So i had to select each part of the body (Helmet, Head, Torso, 2 Shoulder pads, Legs and Boots) individually back in 3DS Max and ensure that all Material ID's were set to 1 and smoothing groups set to 1 as well.
With all material ID's and smoothing groups all sorted now i went back into the Unreal Editor and began to bring all the assets in. When it came to apply the body texture to all the body parts that i had problems with previously instead of having several Material slots now all texture would only require one material slot, with this now corrected it was time to see if this problem had been sorted in-game.
I think the main thing that i must first point out is how important naming everything correctly is. The Unreal Engine is very particular about this and if not followed correctly the character will simply not work properly.
Unreal requires all texture maps to be saved out as .bmp files and up to 2048 x 2048 but i believe that a 1024 x 1024 is used most of the time so the character runs smoothly within the Unreal engine. Also these textures must all be named correctly in order to save any problems that may occur further down the line in the process.
Here is how i set out the naming conventions ready for the Unreal editor:
Here is how i should name the body textures:
CharacterNameHere_MBody01_D01_V01_SK1.bmp (Body Diffuse map)
CharacterNameHere_MBody01_D01_VBlue_SK1.bmp (Blue Body Diffuse map)
CharacterNameHere_MBody01_D01_VRed_SK1.bmp (Red Body Diffuse map)
CharacterNameHere_MBody01_N01_V01_SK1.bmp (Body Normal map)
CharacterNameHere_MBody01_S01_V01_SK1.bmp (Specular map )
CharacterNameHere_MHead01_D01_V01_SK1.bmp (Head Diffuse map)
CharacterNameHere_MHead01_N01_V01_SK1.bmp (Head Normal map)
CharacterNameHere_MHead01_S01_V01_SK1.bmp (Head Specular map)
CharacterNameHere_BioPic.bmp (This is the profile picture within UT3 on the character select screen)
The first thing that i would like to point out and which was probably the hardest part of the skinning process was understanding which bones should be added to each part of my mesh. It took a while to get to grips with this and it was a case of experimentation in order to get the mesh correctly interacting with the Unreal skeleton.
Below is a list of which bones i settled on and to which area of the mesh they were assigned to:
- Helmet (Top of Head) - Bones assigned to Helmet = b_Head
- Head - Bones assigned to Head = b_Head, b_Neck and b_Spine2
- Torso - Bones assigned to Torso = b_Hips, b_LeftClav, b_RightClav, b_Root, b_Spine, b_Spine1 and b_Spine2
- RightShoulderPad - Bones assigned to the Right Shoulderpad = b_RightShoulderPad
- LeftShoulderPad - Bones assigned to the Left Shoulderpad = b_LeftShoulderPad
- Legs - Bones assigned to the Legs = b_Hips, b_LeftLegUpper and b_RightLegUpper
- Boots - Bones assigned to the Boots = b_LeftAnkle, b_LeftLeg, b_LeftToe, b_RightAnkle, b_RightLeg and b_RightToe
Some experimentation had to be done in order for my mesh to correctly follow the Unreal skeleton. This part of the process was basically shifting the weights from one bone to the next after a bone had been weighted i would play the simple animation that had been added into the Unreal Tournament male skeleton to see if my whole mesh followed the bones correctly.
Below is some before and after videos of how the skinning process went:
Torso before Skinning
Hand before Skinning
Arm before Skinning
I found skinning very much as a trial and error type of process as to get the mesh to fit along side the skeleton was very experimental. I found that not all vertices would have the same weight assigned to them. To solve these issues i found it easier to solve the problem by rotating the skeleton to extreme body angles. Although in the real world a human body cannot move to such angles i found this the best route to go down.
With the whole mesh now attached to the skeleton i noticed that when i played the animation the shoulderpads did not follow the arms correctly. At first i panicked and thought that i had made an error somewhere down the line. The arms would go right through the shoulderpads but after some guidance from Dean he reassured me that this was perfectly OK as the shoulderpads would be moving independently with the Unreal Engine/Editor.stretch. I think this was to do with not skinning the character properly and assigning the waist area to the wrong set of bones.
Stretching of the polys in-game
X Normal can be found at the following URL:
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
I thought this was a great idea and so i went away and fleshed out some textures to see how it looked. I have even received a 5 star rating which im absolutely chuffed about as the Unreal Community take things very seriously :)
Below are the texture that i produced that was requested by some of the members of the Unreal Community:
Instead of posting up new threads all the time Ive decided to keep this thread open and update this thread on a regular basis.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Base texture Concept texture
Again for the head texture i quickly put together a texture just to get something down:
This texture is by no means complete i just wanted to get a general texture down and apply it to my model to get a feel for it. Below is the above textures applied to my model:
I have to say that Unwrapping isn't my favourite part of the process (I don't think many people do) but having said that i did learn some more things i never knew you could do within 3DS Max. As my character is to be built for Unreal Tournament 3 my UV Layouts had to be set out in a particular way. Below the images show how i should set out my UV's according to Unreal.
Looking at the layout of the head i immediately noticed how much wasted space area there was as i have always been told to use up as much space as possible as this unused spaces is loss of memory. So why unreal set out the UV's in this way i don't really know the answer to, John or Dean might be able to answer that one for me. Any ideas guys?
So following these rules i produced the following UV Layouts:
Head UV Layout
Body UV Layout
The Unwrapping took alot of hours to do and i had particular trouble around the jet pack area as is such the amount of detail around this area. During this time and experimenting with my Unwrapping i got to know a thing called Pelt Mapping i had now prior knowledge of this. I only found out about it whilst searching on youtube watching some tutorials on it the Pelt Mapping can be found under Map Parameters within 3DS Max. Although this was a handy little tool i never eventually used it as i was 100% confident that i could use it to its full potential, so i ended up unwrapping all the UV's manually. Another thing i never knew about was once a UVW Unwrap has been added to the stack and unwrapping had begun. It was possible to collapse the stack back down the an editable poly and make adjustments to the mesh. Once another UVW Unwrap was added to the stack the previous Unwrap was still present. This was extremely useful as i found whilst unwrapping that i encountered some 5 sided polys and this helped me eradicate any 5 sided polys from my model.
After a couple of weeks work i was finally happy here is how the Unwrap looked on my model with a checker applied from the Material Editor. I tried to keep all the checkers to equal size as much as possible in order to keep the resolution at equal length. Below is some screen grabs to illustrate this:
I'm very pleased how the unwrapping has gone and i have to say its the best unwrap that i have ever done. Having said this its only my second time of unwrapping a character here is the first character i created on the Foundation Degree 2 years ago:
As you can see from my previous attempt of building a character i feel i have greatly improved my skills in this area i understand the process alot more and how to go achieving good results when unwrapping. This will not just include unwrapping a character but also for any other object that i will build in the future.
Whilst i am here doing a crit of my previous work i might as well point out a few things i noticed when looking at my last attempt of a character. The first thing i would like to point out is the actual layout of the UV's if we look below there is alot of unused space in the layout this is also bad as this is wasted memory:
Also i would like to point out how many polys/tris that where used on my last character the following two screen grabs show just how many unnecessary tris was used and therefore this character just simply wouldn't work if attempted to be used in something like Unreal etc.