It's ok to add a little more geometry here. For an asset like this that will be seen up close it's fine to bevel the edges and conform the surface to the woodwork a little more. For instance, your high poly has inset squares in the back rest, you could add an inset square in the low which you might not expect to add much, but the ability to vertex paint those few additional vertices can really help the overall appearance. Do you have your high poly imported into max as well? If not, Go ahead and export your high poly as an obj and merge it into your max scene. From there, clean up and optimize your low poly, and finish by UV unwrapping it. Posting the uv layout here for feedback is probably a good idea. After that, we're going to bake our first maps in XNormal, so you need to make a 'cage' for baking the high poly information onto the low poly. The cage mesh essentially projects rays along the normal line, and needs to completely surround the high poly. This video provides a decent explanation of how to do it fairly easily: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeczjVAqznM
What you're looking for is a 'hard surface' workflow, its mainly used for things like armor modeling but the general techniques are useful for other objects as well. There is a huge amount out there to read/watch on hard surface modeling, but one very simply thing you can do to make your life easier when starting out something like a table or chair is to create a low poly mesh in max, use GoZ to send it to Zbrush, and either subdivide if you have evenly spaced vertices or dynamesh if you don't, and go from there. A bonus with that method is that you have a low poly mesh ready to work from when you're done in zbrush. It looks like you were able to use subtools to construct the object though, good job! Also, nice use of the Orb slash brushes =D Since we're going to take this model in game, why don't you add some more details to the surface before we export it and bake out texture maps. Maybe something like celtic knotwork patterns? You could try sculpting them by hand (the lazymouse feature will be very helpful for drawing smooth lines if you go that route), or using alpha masks to create a deformable selection. After that, either see what kind of low poly model you can achieve with decimation master, or try to create one by hand in max (or combine the two techniques). If you go the second route, you would send the high poly (or maybe a medium poly version) to max and make a mesh that stays as close to the high poly surface as possible while keeping polycount to a minimum. What you really want to avoid are places where the high poly sticks out a large distance from the low poly mesh. also: ZModeler can be useful for these kinds of geometry but I honestly haven't used it very much, and still prefer to do the low poly work in max.
Just keep in mind that you'll have to capture as much of the overall shape as you can with a limited number of polygons, and that you want your low poly to be something that is more or less straightforward to UV unwrap. I'm thinking something the size and complexity of a table or chair as opposed to a house.
Hey I'm impressed! You're really getting the hang of this quickly. It's not easy to conquer the Zbrush interface.For things like architecture we normally will use tiling textures for most surfaces, because if you were to bake out and texture a whole bridge with a unique texture your overall resolution will end up being fairly low, since everything has to fit into the square of the texture image. It's possible to sculpt tiling textures in Zbrush as well, using a number of different techniques, but we won't get into that now; remind me later if it's of interest. Next I want you to make something that you want to put in the game world. Doesn't really matter what, just keep the overall shape from being overly complicated because we're going to reduce the geometry to a few hundreds of triangles and UV unwrap it. For the initial model you can go up to a few million polys, from where we will have to drastically reduce the geometry to obtain a low poly model, a process known as retopology. You can do this in a number of ways, using Decimation Master, ZRemesher, Retopology tools within brush that allow you to draw vertices, or external programs for retoplogy. It's likely that your low poly model will require some modification in Max later. Should be easy to find videos on those Zbrush functions. I generally use Decimation Master to obtain an initial low poly, unless it's a very organic shape, in which case ZRemesher is a more appropriate choice since it leaves everything in quads and gives nice topology for animation. Once you have a high poly you're happy with have a go at creating a low poly mesh using those tools and Max, where the surface of the low poly follows as closely as possible to the high poly without using an insane amount of polygons. Here is a free pack of brushes from a well-known Blizzard artist that you may find useful when sculpting a high poly: orb brushes Another technique that can help is using alphas. You can use them a number of ways, one of my favorite is to change the masking brush to pen in drag mode and give it an alpha. You can then use deformations on the unselected area, like inflate for example. It can help to dynamesh after making adjustments like that, and clay polish can help with the jaggies. If the jaggies are too much you probably need more polygons =D
Hi Adam, Welcome to Beyond Skyrim! Always glad to see new skilled 3D artists on the scene here. As Ketttewitch said, take a look around and get a feel for the different province projects to see if there is one (or two, membership isn't limited to one province team) that really call out to you. I'm sure any would be glad to have you. I'm the 3D art director for the Iliac Bay project, which includes the Hammerfell and High Rock provinces. We're nearly finished with our first landscaping pass, and are working toward completing the set of assets needed for a mini-release similar to the Bruma release that I'm sure you're aware of. Since you're a character artist, take a look at our Equipment and creature Trello boards. Let me know if anything catches your eye? What would be most useful to us right know are clothing and armor sets for Hammerfell. We have some sets already completed for High Rock but are aiming to have parity in the number of sets for our release. again welcome! Looking forward to seeing your work here.
Hi Rowan, Welcome to Beyond Skyrim! I'm the 3D art director for the Iliac Bay (IB) project, which includes High Rock and Hammerfell. We're very active at the moment, and working toward a pre-release similar to the upcoming Bruma release from Cyrodiil. We've nearly completed our first pass of landscaping for the province, but what is holding us back the most is the rate at which we can create new assets for the world. From looking at your work I think you'd be able to contribute a lot to the project and we'd love to have your help. The IB 3D department uses Trello to organize our tasks; feel free to take a look at our boards (clutter & equipment, tilesets, creatures) and see if there are any unclaimed concepts that catch your eye. I'll also PM you a link to our discord server if you'd like to meet some team members or discuss possible claims.
cool, so now you've got the basic idea of how edit/draw modes work and how to use brushes. We could now try to take that dog into skyrim, but lets spend some time in Zbrush first learning some more useful techniques. Let's try Subtools and Dynamesh for now. Subtools - You can think of subtools in a similar way to how Max treats separate objects. They are distinct meshes, but they exist as part of the same 'tool'. When you make more complex models, say bricks in a wall, or teeth for a creature, you'll want to use subtools. Take a look at ( http://docs.pixologic.com/reference-guide/tool/polymesh/subtool/ ) and from there (and maybe google some youtube videos) you should be able to figure out how to append additional meshes into your tool, and manage them by merging and separating subtools. Dynamesh - This is a really useful function for creating complicated shapes. You can distort your starting mesh (maybe a sphere) and then every so often recalculate a new mesh that will place evenly spaced vertices across the surface of your mesh, enabling you to easily create say a biped form or a tree from a sphere. Here is a good example of that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2rRsnB5lYY Dynamesh and subtools can work together, too. If both subtools are dynameshed, you can use boolean logic on your meshes to for example subtract the volume of one mesh from another. Your assignment is to create two interesting dynamesh tools (doesn't matter what, could be a rock could be a face), append one into the other as a subtool, and then merge them together and use boolean logic to either add or subtract one mesh from the other. Have fun!
The 'blockiness' is just the individual quads showing because you haven't subdivided the mesh enough to make it appear smooth. Under the 'geometry' roll out you can press the big 'divide' button to add more subdivision levels, but don't go too crazy there because its easy to get more polys than your pc can handle and zbrush will crash. At the top of the window you can see the number of polygons you are currently working with, if you get it up to more than one million that should be enough for the sphere to look smooth.
OK so first I'm going to have you do some reading / watch some vids as well as follow the basic ZBrush tutorials. This vid was helpful for me when I was first starting out: https://videogameartist.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/high-to-love-poly-game-modeling-tutorial/ It shows a similar workflow to what we are trying to learn, using Zbrush to create high poly models and transfer that high detail information onto a low poly model for the game engine. Of course there are many, many different ways to get to similar ends and what he shows here isn't exactly what we'll do, but close. Searching around the internet will turn up lots of interesting reading material on workflows, and its definitely worth reading as much of it as you can at this point. The second part of your assignment is to go through the 'Getting started' and 'Zbrush UI' tutorial videos at http://pixologic.com/zclassroom/course/getting-started Zbrush is a fairly convoluted UI but what is most difficult about it is that it doesn't behave like any other software and takes some getting used to. I'm still learning new things in Zbrush all the time. However, it's an EXTREMELY powerful piece of software, and once you learn to use it will you will love it.
Alright, so you have the basics of creating a low poly model in Max and you understand what UV mapping is. My aim is that you will learn to use those skills together with Zbrush and texturing software (either/and/or Photoshop/Substance/Quixel) to produce a game-ready model. What is your skill level with zbrush and do you have any experience with textures?
The thing I hate most about skyrim is it's rock meshes, so I've been working on techniques to create new ones. I've worked out a workflow using a plane and heightmap to create a displaced and tiling mesh that can then be used for very interesting things. Here you have the tiling displaced plane:
And now the power of the tiling plane comes into play, where I can apply modifers to do things like make a perfect rock column:
After a base texture with accurate heightmap is created, the workflow only uses Max and the Simplygon plugin to create good low poly models. edit: The one downside to modeling the shape to the texture features is that the textures might not appear much higher resolution in some places than the vanilla cliff textures, even though it is 2k. This would work a lot better if I had 4k photosource with a good displacement map.