In this "making of" I will show you the complete process I go through when I am creating one of my own original characters. From an original concept that starts in my head to a fully complete 3d game ready character model.
I have created many characters for games (my own games of course) in the past but this will be the first "making of" I ever post for one my characters. I have seen a lot of other peoples "making of" stuff from characters to environments and I noticed that almost everyone has their own unique techniques and strategies for creating their own stuff. I always loved seeing the behind the scenes stuff and that is what inspired me to post my own "making of". So with this making of I hope to share some of my own techniques and give you a behind the scenes look into how I create my game characters.
As you know by now, in this "making of" post I will go over how I created "The Flower Boy", an original character of mine that you will see appear in a future game project I am planning. So lets get started!
Concept and doodles!
Before even jumping into Blender3d and starting to work on a character I like to pick up a piece of paper and pencil and just brainstorm ideas. This is just me but, something I learned from experience is that if you just open up Blender3d and kind of start creating something but you don't exactly know what it is you want to create it will end up not so well. Numerous times I have opened blender began working on something and always ended up with terrible results. I realized this was because I wanted to create something but never really knew what I wanted to create. When you have at least some idea of what you want to create before you start you can work in a much more focused pace and end up with results you will be more happy with.
Anyway, like some of my other characters, I just took some paper and did some quick sketches. They don't have to be perfect and not a lot of time should be spent sketching because this is just something to help you. Its just to give you an idea of what character you want to create.
So here is my original character concept art/doodle for my flower boy character, its not that great but again its just a starting point, an idea you can reference off from down the road. (I think I was sitting next to a flower vase when I sketched this and thats how the idea came to me)
Of course this is just personal preference and again, each person probably has their own strategies, but I like to do a quick sketch before starting. If you look at my original sketch and compare it to my final model they almost look nothing alike but the whole flower concept is still there and that is the whole point of doing a quick sketch for me. But again this is not really necessary.
Sculpting and Modeling
Ok, after getting some idea of what I want to create its time to finally jump into blender3d. Keeping my original sketch in mind as reference, I can focus on creating a character similar to my doodle.
So I start out with a basic cube:
In edit mode I collapse all the verts to one and then use blenders skin modifier along with a subsurf modifier to create a base mesh of the head and torso for my character. These are two separate meshes.
I then focus on the head base mesh. I take it into blenders sculpt mode and begin sculpting in facial features using dynamic topology. I quickly modeled the eyes and used them to help me sculpt in the eye sockets for my face. (Not my face, I mean my characters face)
Then I moved onto my torso base mesh and began sculpting with dynamic topology just like my head.
I created a base mesh for the ears and then sculpted them with dynamic topology just like the rest of the model so far.
At this point I was finished with the sculpting part for my character. I began to re-topologize my sculpt from here.
Poly Modeling the rest of the body
If your wondering why I didn't sculpt the entire body and retop it that is just my own personal workflow. Some people like to sculpt the entire character and retop it, some people like to poly model the entire character. etc. I like to sculpt + retop and poly model. I do this because I feel like it is a quicker and more efficient work flow for me personally. I prefer to sculpt in forms that are more complicated to poly model such as the face and torso and then I poly model forms that are easier to poly model such as more cylindrical shapes like arms, legs, etc. So this kind of brings me back to how I said earlier everybody has their own techniques and processes to create characters and stuff.
Anyway, now that I was done with the major parts like the head, face and torso I began poly modeling other parts of the body.
Even the hair was poly modeled. There is a lot of different ways to create hair for game characters, I kind of adapted my own hair look for characters where its more of a clay type hair style but at the same time not really sculpted clay hair. I create hair for my characters based off the number of faces the model has around the head area. If you don't really know what I'm saying I might do a tutorial for it sometime in the future. But it is a pretty simple process to create the kind of hair I create for my character models.
Creating the Flower hat
If you remember back to my original sketch, the character wears a flower hat on his head. This is one of the most important features for my character as it is really what makes him distinctive. So it was really important that I incorporate this flower hat idea onto my final character model from my sketch.
The flower hat was pretty simple to create. I modeled the base of the hat out of circle and adjusted it to fit onto my characters head. I used a bezier curve to model the root of the flower.
I modeled the center of the flower out of a circle and the pedal out of a plane.
In order to create the entire flower, I used and array modifier on the original flower pedal that I modeled.
I gave the flower 10 pedals and then used an empty object to rotate the pedals around the center of the flower in order to give it a flower appearance.
Here is the finished model
Once I finished the modeling all the parts I decided to go back and make some design changes to the character. So I ditched the happy face in the chest area concept and adjusted various parts of my characters mesh such as arms, legs, nose etc. I guess this can be called the clean up phase?
After a little touch up and adjustments I was finally satisfied with my character model.
Texturing the character
With the modeling finally finished and out of the way I began texturing my flower boy character. (Personally I believe that the modeling is the longest process out of the rest of the workflow.)
First I unwrapped my model by marking various seams along the body. I then adjusted my uvs on the texture map.
I then created a simple base texture by using blenders paint tools. Painting only with solid colors. I do this just to get a general idea of what colors I like on my character model.
Painted the face.
Once I knew what colors I wanted to use on my character model I moved onto creating the normal map and ambient occlusion map. Everyone has their own techniques to create these maps. The way I create mine is by duplicating my character mesh, moving it to a different layer and then adding a multires modifier with a res of 4 or 5.
Now working on my duplicated mesh with the multires, I switch over to sculpt mode and begin to sculpt out smaller details for my character model such as clothes wrinkles.
These smaller details are very nice but make the model to high of a resolution. The whole point I sculpted them was to help me create the final texture of the model. So I am able to bake out these smaller details onto a texture which I can use on my final model while managing to keep a decent low poly count.
With my hi res sculpt and my original low poly model selected I a bake out an ambient occlusion map
Using my base texture map, ambient occlusion map and normal map I created a fourth texture by combining the other three. This new texture map let me combine my base colors with the shadows of the ao map and small details of the normal map.
Finally I began to paint some more details. I used images I got from cgtextures website such as flowers and dirt. I painted these textures onto parts of my model by using blenders stencil tool. With this tool you can paint from a photo source directly onto a model.
I really wanted my character to look like he has been rolling around in some dirt or soil because he is a flower boy type character. In the game I am making I am planning on making him look like he just came out of the ground. So this whole time his entire body has been underground and only his flower has been sticking out of the ground. Anyway, to give him this look and make it more believable that his entire body was in the ground I painted dirt streaks all over his pants, chest and arms as you can see in the above image.
Here is the final texture:
I quickly set up some materials and previewed them in GLSL mode just to get a quick look of how the model would look like in the unity game engine.
Rigging The Flower Boy
The modeling and texturing are both fully finished at this point and now I just need to rig my character in order to animate him, move his limbs around, put him in different poses etc. This is the final part of the process.
Character rigging is a subject of its own and there is a lot behind it and a lot to learn about it and it could be a very long time consuming process. Fortunately Blender makes this process very easy and saves you a lot of time with the Rigify add-on. With the Rigify add-on you can quickly generate a fully working rig for your humanoid character. To me it is one of the best add-ons and a real time saver. I have used rigify to create rigs for almost all of my previous character models.
Anyway I first enable the rigify add-on and then adjust the rig to my character.
And just like that I have a fully working rig for my character that I could animate. I parent my character mesh to the rig using automatic weights. Now I have control over my character and can move his limbs and such around. The rig works great however it is not perfect. So sometimes you get some small problems with it and that requires fixing it manually. So I had to fix a couple of parts on my rig because it wasn't moving my mesh around properly such as the flower on top of the head wasn't connect to the rig, the feet had some problems and the upper arms were kind of messy. These are easy to fix though. I manually assigned specific parts like the flower to the correct vertex groups and for other parts like the feet I switched into weight paint mode to fix the specific parts of the mesh that are effected by the rig.
After fixing the minor problems and adjusting the rig I now have a fully working character rig and its ready to animate and pose to use with in the game engine.
And finally my character is fully complete, ready to be used in game and ready to go on adventures!
EXTRA: Creating the soil themed turntable
You might have noticed in the unity webplayer and in the images that my character is standing on a little circular object that has soil and flowers on it. This is a turntable. Usually these are made to display your character on or present them, they are for showing off the character model and its something that is used commonly for 3d character models. Often the turntable is themed to fit with the characters style.
For my flower boy character I decided to create a soil/flower themed turntable. Heres how I made it:
Its pretty simple. I started with a circle. I modeled a rim for the outside and then I quickly sculpted the inside using the inflate brush. All I did was just randomly inflate little bumps around the floor to make the ground look naturally uneven like soil ground should look like. Then I unwrapped the model and used stencils to texture paint soil onto my ground mesh. I modeled the plants by using a bezier curve for the stem and then I just used a simple plane as the flower. I layed the plane on a transparent texture of a flower. I put it all together and thats pretty much how I created my soil turntable for my character to pose on.
Unity Game Engine
Last step. I exported my character model along with its textures to the unity game engine and then set up the lighting, materials, etc. I also set up a simple FSM using playmaker that lets users preview different poses when they press the space button.
Here is the final model and how the character will look like in game
Well that's all! I hope you enjoyed this "making of" post about how I made the character.
If you haven't already, you can check out the character model for yourself directly in your own web browser in a real time game environment in the webplayer I built over here:
Flower Boy Unity Web player
I hope to post more "making of" stuff in the future. Thanks for reading!