I am in the process of migrating posts from my past blogging. Progress has been slower than i had wished. In the meantime i've also been updating my website with newer pieces and working on a few personal projects for myself and friends. I am really liking the workflow of quickly blocking out ideas in Z-Brush / Dynamesh, using Z-remesh to create a decent topology flow and exporting a low poly result to Maya use as the basis of a Sub D surface. The Sub D surface has proven to be quite effective with a low poly game art model that lends itself to high resolution 3d art for use in cinematic pieces or still renders for use with marketing /splash screen etc... Further it can be used in conjunction with Normal maps and or displacement maps for a high level of detail. Utilizing Z-Brush and it's highly organic workflow is ideal for sculpting out ideas quickly. However and especially in terms of animation there is limited to no support there. Utilizing Maya's powerful rigging and animation tools after importing the these z re-meshed models through Sub division surfaces puts a high level of quality and detail back under the artists control while keeping taxing polygon count and processing needs to a minimum.
Basic workflow. Starting with the mighty ZBrush Dyna mesh tool.
Start Dynamesh sphere!
Moving onto blocking out for instance the planes of a humanoid head.
Make with the art and stuff using Dynamesh or your preferred ZBrush workflows that i won't go into here. There are plenty of tutorials on ZBrush already.
Setup your Zremesher guides to set topology (the last tool in your ztool palette). I sometimes also use P;ypaint to set the density level of the low poly output that ZRemesher creates.
Here is the low poly output, 6052 polys down from 950k. I would really want to reduce the poly count even more for importing into Maya and delete the polygroup eyes and make a proper version of theses native in maya.
Here is the reduced .OBJ exported to Maya. I settled on 1840 polys. I will add a few hundred more in here with the eye balls and the addition of a mouth interior, teeth and tongue.
Here we can see that the left half of the head mesh (the characters left) is displayed using Maya's Sub Divisional mesh rendering (this is simply a f3 keyboard shortcut to display any poly mesh as a sub d surface). As you can see Sub D averages the information between vertex and adds a curved edge vs. a straight edge. This is incredibly powerful when working with low poly game models for instance where we need a beauty render. It is also a very efficient way to work with character meshes bound to a animation rig. The scene overhead is greatly reduced compared to running what would take millions of polygons to replicate in terms of smoothness. This is what ZBrush does and eventually ZBrush scenes suffer from the overhead.
I did not mention UV layout but you can use the standard low poly UV tools in Maya or ZBrush for instance.
a few Words on all these words
I do live and breathe game art, well at least a good 3rd of my day. More importantly when i am not concentrating on my full time job i am pondering all that is art. How does this relate to what we do as commercial artists at work? Process, creativity, advancement, techniques, direction, well being, how can we improve on all of these pieces? The continuing quest for knowledge and merging of art and technology drives me to delve further and improve my skills. Ultimately, reaching out and communicating through art and the art of video games is what drives me to continue on in what can be a highly competitive and stressful field. Art creates an emotional response. Entertainment art and technology. it's a great mixture and i can't think of another place i'd rather be.