Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Book – Essential Zbrush

I saw this book recommended on an art forum, so picked it up the other day. It’s a cross between a Zbrush manual and a series of tutorials.

I have to recommend it, it’s kinda like the missing printed manual but it embeds the functionality of the tools in lots of real work examples.

TUTORIAL – creating perfectly tiling meshes in Zbrush for use in videogame environments

I defer writing content yet again, and instead send you Owen Shepherds site to look at his post, TUTORIAL – creating perfectly tiling meshes in Zbrush for use in videogame environments.

This tutorial walks you through a workflow that I have developed that allows you to create perfectly tiled normal maps on perfectly tiled lowpoly geometry, especially useful for cliff faces and rough stone surfaces.

Polycount Wiki

A huge collection of game art knowledge.

Ben Clark builds a giant

I’ve just stumbled across this lovely modelling tutorial where Ben Clark takes a sketch and builds a base model, sculpts it, builds new topology, UVs, bakes, textures and Rigs it.

The Making of the Giant

The Giant

Leith B&W Series-4

Leith B&W Series-4

Leith B&W Series-4

Originally uploaded by Rick Stirling.

Whilst off, I took the camera to Leith docks again, even though I felt that I had totally exhausted that area. I used a neutral density filter to add some darkness into the scene and shot in black and white all afternoon.

I wish that Adobe Lightroom had a good facility to add film grain to images, at the moment I have to export them to Photoshop to add that.

Keeping your skills up to date.

How do you manage to find time to keep up to date with modeling techniques, new programs, etc?

This was a question from Game Artist Forums – since the technology is constantly changing, and software is always evolving, how do you stay up to date?

Just reading various sites on the net can keep you to date with new games and their engines, tools and other other tech, and hanging around forums (such as Polycount) will keep you fairly up to date with what is new out there. Looking at other peoples posted artwork will point you towards techniques that may not always be new, but perhaps cover something you’ve never considered.

As for actually sitting down and learning new techniques, or trying to put into practice something that you have spotted online, I occasionally do this at home, but to be honest a lot of this happens at work. When we got Zbrush at work a few years ago we all just sat down and played with it – looked at tutorials on the net and simply got tore in. We learned off one another, someone would ask “Does anyone know a good way to this?”. More often than not my home learning is down to seeing interesting art on the internet.

You don’t need to know a package inside out to use it – I don’t know Maya these days, I’ve never used XSI, but if I got a job where I had to use either of those packages I’d probably be up and running within a few days. The only major difference is the interface, the rest is pretty much the same from package to package. When we got a trial of Mudbox, we were creating things in minutes because we knew Zbrush.

Learning on the job is something that just happens as a matter of fact.

Now, if you are making (for example) Playstation 2 or Nintendo DS assets day to day, then you most likely wont be learning highpoly sculpting and DirectX shaders on the job, and you’ll have to put in the effort to learn it outside your normal daily tasks – though you can easily hack away 30 minutes over a lunchbreak.

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What software do I need?

A common question on many internet forums every few weeks is “I want to get started game modelling, and I’m wondering what modelling program I should get? Which one is the best? Which ones are used to make games?”

I could bypass the entire post by simply directing you to a thread on the Polycount forums, Suggestions For Programs, but I’m going to give a concise overview of what is used in the games industry and what your realistic choices are.

The second question is easiest – there is no best. There are a few packages out there, then all have pros and cons, zealots and detractors. Most of them are expensive, but several offer 30 day demos or even free learning editions.

Which ones are used to make games? Lots of them, so I’ll combine questions 1 and 3.

  • The big three modelling packages are 3D Studio Max, Maya and XSI. I love to use Silo, many people swear by Modo. Lightwave has a big following too.
  • For high polygon sculpting, Zbrush is currently the most used, and Mudbox is well loved.
  • For 2D texture work, Photoshop is the industry standard, but in certain cases artists could be using Illustrator or Freehand for Vector work, or Pro Motion for pixel work.

Since you are just looking to dip your toes into the water of modelling, you don’t want to spend money, so the best thing to do is to download either a free package, one of the 30 day trial packages, or one of the free learning editions, so I”l leave links to the demo versions of the big 3:

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Yes, but how many polygons?

Previously, I’ve explained that it is very difficult to answer the question “How many polygons should I be using in a character/vehicle/environment?” This doesn’t stop the question being asked however, so I thought I’d approach it in a different way – how many polygons have other games used?

By listing the game, the hardware it runs on, and any art information I could find, I hope that this will be a good starting point as to suitable polygon counts and texture sizes. Ideally I’d like to list as many games as possible, from different genres and platforms.

This is very much a work in progress, and if you haven’t read my previous thoughts on the “How many polygons?”, I suggest you do check it out.

So, I’ll warn casual readers again – the number of polygons used don’t matter if they are not used well. This is simply a technical markerpost to try and identify what certain games used on certain hardware at a certain time. Supposedly Halo 2 used less polygons for Masterchief than Halo 1, and I’ve heard that Call of Duty 4 used less polygons for the character models that CoD2 did – I suspect this will due to relying more heavily on normal mapping to create the details.

Dead or Alive series, Xbox, 2001-2004
Character – ~10,000-15,000
Gears of War, Xbox 360, 2006 (according to D’Artiste book)
Wretch – 10,000 polygons with diffuse, specular and normal maps
Boomer – 11,000 polygons with diffuse, specular and normal maps
Marcus – 15,000 polygons with diffuse, specular and normal maps
GTA San Andreas, PS2, 2004
Characters – 2,000 polygons with 1 256×256 8bit texture
NPCs – 1,200 polygons with 1 256×128 8bit texture
GTA IV, Xbox 360/PS3, 2008
Story Characters – 8-10,000 polygons with multiple 256×256/512×512 diffuse, specular and normal maps
NPCs – 3-4,000 polygons with multiple textures
Half-Life, PC, 1998
Zombie – 844 polygons
High Definition pack Zombie- 1700 polygons
Halflife 2, PC, 2004
Alyx Vance – 8323 polygons
Barney – 5922 polygons
Combine Soldier – 4682 polygons
Buggy (without mounted gun) – 5824 polygons
Classic Headcrab – 1690 polygons
SMG – 2854 polygons (with arms)
Pistol – 2268 polygons (with arms)
Halo, Xbox, 2001
Masterchief – 2,000 polygons
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, GC, 2002
Link – 2800 polygons
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, GC/Wii, 2006
Link – 6900 polygons
Lost planet, X360/PC, 2007
Wayne – 12392 polygons (but finally 17765 polygons for compatibility with motion blur effect)
VS robot – 30-40,000 polygons
Background – ~500,000 polygons
Mass Effect, X360, 2007
Sheppard + armor + weapons – ~20,000-25,000 polygons
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, PS2, 2005
Snake – 4,000 polygons
Project Gotham Racing 2, Xbox, 2003
Vehicles – 10,000 polygons
Project Gotham Racing 3, Xbox 360, 2006
Vehicles – 80,000-100,000 polygons
Quake, PC, 1996
200 polygons with 1 320×200 8bit texture using predefined palette.
Quake 4, PC, 2006
Player model – 2,500 polygons with multiple diffuse, specular and normal maps
Resident Evil 4, Gamecube, 2005
Leon – 10,000 polygons
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, PS3, 2007
Main characters – ~20,000-30,000 polygons
Drake – ~30,000 polygons
Pirates – ~12,000-15,000 polygons
Unreal Tournament, PC, 1999
Player model – 800 polygons
Unreal Tournament 2k3, PC, 2003
Player model – 3,000 polygons
Unreal Tournament 3, PC, 2007
Weapon models – 4,500 to 12,000 triangles for the first person view
Virtua Fighter 5, Arcade/PS3/X360, 2006
Character – ~40,000 with diffuse, specular and normal maps
Background – 100,000 – 300,000 polygons

Please feel free to add QUALIFIED information in the comments, or drop me an email with information that you think deserves to be here..

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