Over the last few weeks I have been working on the Abigail model. She is now ready to pass on to Ben to work on the texturing. After a few tests, errors and re exports, I now know Abigail will import to Mudbox, or photoshop without any issue, should Ben decide to use either in his pipeline.
(Abigail uv map body)
(Abigail uv map skirt) (separate unwrap for material id’s and double sided material)
Stats wise the completed Abigail Model sits at 2854 Tri’s, well within budget for a player character with no face(Totten, C. 2012, P, 14). I also checked this off with Lukas’ who suggested if time permits that we could have a higher poly count for this character. I am keeping this option open, depending on both time constraints and how the current topology deforms.
I began creating Abigails model by blocking out her form then working to refine the model. After receiving feedback I decided I needed to accentuate her silhouette, since some parts of the design that worked in 2d, like the width of the dress, and the height of the Breasts, didn’t work in 3d. These features, instead of giving her more physically imposing look made her look soft and weak. I had intentionally not given her much muscle definition since I wanted to emphasize her femininity, this turned out to be the wrong way to create her form. I worked through the mesh adjusting her silhouette making her leaner, and increasing the size of her head, so she looked more cartoony. We are going for a somewhat stylised look for the overall game so accentuating her proportions helped her fit in with the enemy character Ben had made.
(older iteration of Abigail)
I am now happier with Abigail’s silhouette. When reworking the mesh I wanted to ensure I didn’t go too far in the other direction, making her too skinny or busty. Something I definitely wanted to avoid was sexualising her. This was important to me because currently we are trying to balance the cultural message of the game. I feel her costume design has affected this in two ways. On one hand she is in a full length, coverall dress, on the other she is dressed in a medieval maid outfit. We are on a precipice, if Abigail were to be too thin or, busty it would be much more likely that a player would interpret the idea we are trying not to convey.
Now Abigail’s mesh is complete I can see the overall flow of topology. I was concerned that creating the shoulder puff of her dress would damage the edge flow I had created. I am currently happy with the result, but I won’t know that I have mitigated my deformation worries until I reach the skinning stage, scheduled for the end of this week. One of my goals when creating the character was to make sure this character has the best topology possible, to achieve the best looking animations. This was because when I created a game character last trimester I had difficulty animating due to collapsing shoulders. That limited the range of motion I could get out of the character. This project in particular will need good deformations in the shoulder area, being in 3rd person means the player will easily see the shoulder area of my character.
Initially last trimester I blamed the rig I was using for the poor deformations but upon more research I realised that the way I had built the character was probably the cause. In my previous post “shoulder and elbow topology” I go into more detail on how I believe I can create better deformations.
My next task, this week, is to research and finalise a rig, or automatic rigging solution for Abigail. I would prefer to use an automated rigging solution, I have created custom rigs in the past with mixed results. Rigging is very much out of my comfort zone, and I don’t want to introduce any errors in to our pipeline that could arise due to a badly built custom rig. As I am going to be taking on the task of animating Abigail I want certain features in her rig. Mainly features like Ik Fk switching and position matching, and if we are to use a higher poly version of the mesh, bone twist limbs would be a desirable. Features like these are fairly complex to build into a custom rig, and would take much more time. For example a tutorial to create a custom rig will all the features I would want is timed at 9 hours 48 mins, compared to a stripped down tutorial with simple FK is 5 hours 2 mins.
Considering working from a tutorial video takes much more time than the videos length to produce the work, building a rig myself is not going to be viable. Especially since I want to focus my portfolio piece on modeling, and animating. I believe that taking the time requirements, benefits and risks into account using a well thought out automated solution is going to be the best way forward.
Researching automated solutions I have narrowed my decision to two options. Which I plan to decide on this week. Super Simple Rig by Super Rune(2015) and CAT Rig (Autodesk. 2015) are on my short list. I know CAT will work in unity as I have used it successfully in a previous project it has most of the features I want. Super Simple Rig from the look of it has all the features I want, but it is not as widely supported as CAT, and I am unsure of its compatibility with Unity. I will post an update to this in the next few weeks when I have narrowed down my decision.
(Testing Super Simple Rig) (Super Rune, 2015)
Initially I resisted taking on the task of rigging Abigail. Normally, I do enjoy challenges and often volunteer to take on extra tasks however this is not the kind of challenge I usually enjoy, compared to figuring out a different method of building of face topology, or working on a complex animation. Taking time to consider how I acted and felt when tasked with this I realise I was not operating as the best animator and team member I could be. Its apparent that to be an effective group member I need to be able to work on tasks that do not enjoy, for the betterment of the project. It’s important to recognise my weaker areas but I also need to work to overcome them, instead of avoiding the situation.
I feel so far I have estimated the time allocations successfully, as we budgeted having Abigail modeled, textured and rigged before trimester break. Some test animations are desirables in this time, and currently I am on track to achieve this.
Athias, Delano. (2010) [Video File] Character Rigging for Production in 3ds Max. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/332-Character-Rigging-for-Production-in-3ds-Max
Athias, Delano. (2010) [Video File] Introduction to Character Rigging in 3ds Max. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltutors.com/tutorial/336-Introduction-to-Character-Rigging-in-3ds-Max
Autodesk. (2015) CAT Character Animation Toolkit. Autodesk Help Manual. Retrieved from http://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2015/ENU/?guid=GUID-EA1D6D09-A2CD-4204-8093-A7AE5EC5E333
Totten, C. (2012). Game Character Creation with Blender and Unity. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.saeaustralia.edu.au:2051/lib/saesg/reader.action?docID=10580256
Super Rune (2015, January 5) Super simple Rig. Retrieved from http://www.superrune.com/tools/supersimplerig.php