Weekly Dev Diary #4 - Character art - agility bodytype

Hi, I'm a character artist at Hardwired and you can find me at our discord channel as LOBO.

TIME FOR a CHANGE

3D Graphics and game development has been my thing for over 15 years. I've been working on a number of different projects at many companies which has helped me to gain lots of experience and progress fast. But my dream was always to create "my own" game. Working for someone  could be frustrating some times and i know that only the right project will release my creativity at full potential. So you can imagine how happy I was to speak again with my old friend Lukas (LKR) last year, who responded to my ranting on topic of "getting tired of following other peoples projects and dreams and not my own” in one group on facebook, by saying he is about to start his own game with a bunch of friends-professionals he made during his career. He offered me the position of a Lead character artist and co-founder of the company. Over the years, I have been following Lukas's work, and I am amazed how much he evolved in art direction and style, and his ability to get better has been always inspiring to me. After several hours of chatting and going through all the art, designs and ideas they have, and the fact that they have a whole team ready to start I just said “yes”. Dark  cyberpunk with sci-fi elements of bio-mechanical enhancement, it was truly hard to resist.

 Bio version of agility bodytype character (no equip)

Bio version of agility bodytype character (no equip)

With the first look at the art work I felt like this finally might be space for me to shine and after a long time to challenge myself and learn something new. Substance painter, Unreal editor, material library, and most importantly to be the decision maker who says how it should be done. To put it in one sentence it was the right spark (or a kick in the ass as we say in Czech Republic), which ignited my love for character art again!

 starting version of agility bodytype character (no equip)

starting version of agility bodytype character (no equip)

CREATING THE PIPELINE

Above you can see two characters – basic version of agility body-type character and his progression to BIO mutation. To be honest the basic version was the easy one, no real challenge on the base mesh, nothing critical, re-topology and UV went well. The tricky part was actually splitting the character for future equip and gear interchanging, and later even modify/replacing limbs.

Questions like:

"Do we need the UV space for each part?"

"How would we combine each parts not to get hundreds of modifiers in the stack?" 

"How do we set the scenes for export?"

"What would be the most efficient way to manage hundreds of body parts?"

Way too many questions which needs to be answered to create stable pipeline.

Texturing

Texturing was like delivering a baby - very very painful. I was starting to get use to substance painter and my swear jar was steadily filling up with change as i progressed through new software inch by inch like an expedition through a jungle. Hours and hours of swearing, which would put any sailor to shame, testing and even more hours of finding solutions for a problem I could easily solve with my old workflow. At the end texturing in substance painter was finished. Our basic agility character is successfully animated and historically the first skeletal mesh in the DEICIDES game.

 zbrush models

zbrush models

BIO version of the character was far more interesting to make. Sculpt in Zbrush brought some questions already:

"What the heck does the BIO deformed character look like?”

"What kind of skin does he have?"

"What will he wear when equipped and what will still be visible?"

After an intensive brainstorm, checking lots of movie/comics/games references we decided that the character in the first stage will still have some human anatomical features but there are many mutating aspects visible already. Pale skin, protein generating glands and vines, hardening of muscle and bones structure which create cosmetic "imperfections" and other minor things. Combine it with random sweatpants, absence of any body hair, deep black eyes and you end up with one tough MOFO :). The work on this character was so much fun, I am already looking forward to what our game brings next!
 

- Lobo