I created this character, Thrull, for the Dominance War II game art challenge. The technical restrictions were 6000 tris for the character model and 2048 x 2048 for each map type. I was part of the CG Society team and our theme was "Ancients", so...creating a character that has come back from a long hiatis to reclaim their planet. This short tutorial will outline my work flow for creating this "next gen" character.
Research and Concept Drawing
I'd never consider myself a concept artist, but it's always import to at least have a rough sketch of your idea before you begin modeling. Here you will see any flaws that your character may have in anatomy or just design in general. I ended up having up creating 2 basic sketches in my sketch pad and went with a mixture of both for my final design. I liked most of the body on the first sketch but liked the second version of the arms.
I also looked around the internet to gain some inspiration for my character. It's fairly unique, so it's not like I was going to find an exact reference image. I did find a few things that gave me ideas though, mainly Motaro from Mortal Kombat and a lot of horse anatomy images.
Base Mesh Modeling
The first stage of modeling that I do is to create a base mesh model. This model's density will be slightly higher than a low polygon model (one that we will later create as an in game asset) and less than a high detailed mesh. The key to creating this model is to have evenly distributed polygons throughout the mesh and to have clean topology.
The technique I use is one that is becoming popular these days, edge extrusion. I start by just creating a plane, select an edge and extrude it out to follow the shape that you want. It takes some practice to get used to but now that I've been modeling this way, I can't ever imagine going back to box modeling. I usually begin my models at their nose and work out from there, creating the shape of the mouth, jaw, cheekbones, forehead, eyes and then complete the rest of the head shape.
I follow this method throughout the whole body, creating basic muscle shapes but still trying to leave my mesh nice and clean (minimal triangles) so that when I finally bring this into ZBrush, it will deform nicely when subdividing. You also want to leave enough polygons in your model so that you won't lose it's shape when subdiving. I usually model my characters with their arms at a 45 degree (roughly) angle, this seems to be common as it assists deformation at the shoulder and chest area. I model the legs relaxed and apart from each other. This may change for you if you're building to a preexisting rig or if you have other requirements.
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