The meet the team project was assigned to a few different groups with ours included. Each team was to pitch an existing universe in which we were to create an original character for. These characters would then be simulated into whatever animation format the team working on them decided to use. Most of the group was indecisive in the selection of what universe to pick however the remainder had their hearts set on Warhammer. Specifically, the team wanted the gritty, darkened sci-fi version “Warhammer 40k”. With a galaxy soaked in races, war and ruins the possibilities are endless.
Meet the character
For this project, I chose to create a character called Gniitro. He is a part of an already existing species from the Warhammer series known as the Skaven. They already hinted at the Skaven being in the universe however they have yet to make a proper bridge to the 40k universe. In my iteration of Skaven, it depicts them as renegades, constantly on the run from their prior captives the Adaptus Mechenicas or more prominently recognized as the tech priests. Results of brutal mutilation and hideous experimentation the Skaven make their way through the galaxy scavenging what little they can from major factions they struggle to revive from the brink of extinction.
Early designs of Gniitro depicted him as riding a Gatling turret (Or Rattling Gun) however
later during pre-production another member joined and designed a beast creature. It was soon after we decided to convert Gniitro into a beast rider and forge the two concepts. This sparked a lot of questions as to what weapons and armor he would use. The most fitting weapon seemed to be the already existing lightning claws and a free hand to allow him to pivot freely on his mount. This gave Gniitro two mechanical possibilities both as fittingly brutal as each other. The first is that he can inflict deep lacerations onto his enemies. The second is that he can use the claws to grip into his ride.
Low poly and high poly.
When working in 3D you will either use tris or quads to form a network of connections. This is what is known as a Mesh. These make up everything you see in a 3D environment. A low poly mesh is a really jagged and basic model whereas a high poly mesh often is smoother and has more detailed variants. But you are probably wondering why would anyone bother with a low poly model when there isn’t as much detail. Well the simple answer is the higher poly sometimes is the harder to render mesh which in turn can slow down games which are rendered in real time.
Normal mapping is a type of texture that gives off the illusion of the details found on a high poly meshed but bakes them onto a low poly version. This means you can achieve the look of something more detailed while it also runs a lot smoother.
In 3Ds Max there are two basic skeletal systems you can skin your mesh too. The first being the Cat Rigs and the second being the bones. There is a lot of different ways you can determine a clean rig it’s just a matter of deciding where you want your RK and IK controls to sit.
example of bone rig (Left) and cat rig (Right)
UV mapping is an act of unfolding a 3D mesh onto a 2D plane. This 2D plane is essentially where the texture is applied to. This is a ver important part of the process. If two faces of the model overlap then the texture is applied to both of those areas. Overlapping is sometimes good, especially if you want the textures to be symmetrical however this still needs to be tended to with great caution. When using PBR textures such as in quixel it is also importing to pay attention what direction the UV’s are facing.
I plan to use the pipeline that was entailed in the project brief provided to the group. The first step is to make a rough base using 3Ds Max. Later using Zbrush core a lot of the extra details such as fur will be sculpted on. Since the Zbrush core is more restrictive then higher valued purchases this will have to be exported into 3Ds Max where the low poly mesh will be re-topologised. After normal mapping and texturing the character will then be rigged using IK and FK bones. Additionally, a plugin will be used during the rigging process that will allow the tunic to flow freely like a cloth rather than a stiff plane.
Prior to investigation a lot of this sculpted detail would have been covered in fur using a plugin in the unreal engine. Upon initially budgeting for the investment it was assumed that the service was a one off transaction however it was later found that a new copy would need to be purchased every time you started a new project. Additionally, the service is going through a transitional period. In regards to future projects however it is definitely a service I’m hoping to learn and implement into my works.
One of the most notable things I’ve picked up on is the fact that the Skaven doesn’t run in a straight line. Another notable feature is they are constantly moving even when they are in their idle animation. Additionally, the rats breathing is highly exaggerated through the timing and motion of its body.
Another recourse I plan to implement is League of Legends Warwick. He moves akin to the rat ogre found in the Vermintide and although technically not a rat he still moves like a bipedal. The most valuable part of Warwick’s animation cycle is his mechanical arm. This will help when taking into consideration how to properly display the weighting of the hand during animation.