Introduction In this tutorial I'm going to explain the general work-flow that I used to create my real-time character Arkor.
A good concept is really important, and you should spend some time here, because no mater how good a modeler you are, you can't do much if your initial concept is poor.
When working on the concept, I find it useful to explore the silhouette with a simple blak and white drawing. Its easy and fast to draw and easy to discard, and when you find something you like you can go on and refine it.
Since I wanted to see how the concept worked in 3d, I did a simple base mesh and concept sculpt to test the shapes, and ended up changing quite a few things in the sculpt.
Modeling the high poly
Here you need to model each piece that makes your model and decide how you are gonna model it.
Hard surfaces worque better with poly modeling and nice beveled edges. When making organic surfaces, you'd be better off making a base mesh and then sculpting the detail with sculpt tools.
Modeling the low poly
When modeling the low poly mesh, silhouette is the key! You need to use your polygons wisely and try to keep the silhouette of the high poly as much as the poly-budget allows. If a surface is mainly planar, then there is no need for many polys, since the details will come from the normal map. If your model is going to deform, then you alos need to pay attention to the deformation areas (knees, elbows..) and add loops to support that deformation. Here your best friend is the blender retopology tool. :)
Activate it and draw your low poly geometry over the high poly. It's really a time saver!
This part isn't much fun, but is a necessary evil. Once you have your low poly modeled and have done the UVs, it's baquíng time! For Arkor, I baked a normal map and an AO map that I used to paint the color map. For each piece you need to bake the normals and AO from the high poly to the low poly model. Appróximate AO is much faster to bake, but it's a bit imprecise, so go for raytraced AO and do some tests to see how many samples you need to get a near “grain-less” image.
Be aware that any object that is visible in the scene will influence AO! So I sent only the objects that I need for each bake to a different layer make it the only visible layer when baquíng.
Lighting is a very important step, since you can establish the general mood and bring out the details of your model.
I like to use slightly colored lights to showcase my models, generally in a cool / warm contrast. In this case I used a blue / orange contrast, where I have cool lights on the right side and orange lights on the left. Since this is a real-time character there is no need to render and you get instant feedbak on the blender viewport.
And that's it, this was the way I worked when making Arkor, I hope you found it useful and keep blending ;)
My name is Paulo Silva and I'm a Portuguese modeler and animator. I discovered blender a few years ago and I just love its speed and versatility.
By Paulo Silva
By Paulo Silva