Near the end of texturing I also started to paint out obvious seams, like on top of the head. I did this by importing my mesh into ZBrush and, using the ZApplink plugin, painting out my seams through the screenshots in Photoshop that ZBrush provided. Since I had no overlapping geometry in these areas, I generally had nothing to worry about. For painting seams on areas that are overlapping, such as mirrored arms and legs, I suggest just deleting the overlapping faces on one side.Ffor this purpose, paint out the seam on just one half and everything should be fine on your original model that had mirrored elements (Fig.29).
Once my diffuse was finished, I grabbed the flattened TGA, desaturated it and ran the nVidia Photoshop filter to create a dudv map that I then set to overlap and to a low opacity. I find this helps to incorporate finer details that have been painted into the texture and that aren't in the high poly model that you baked the normal map from originally. Be careful of this, however, as much like the spec map workflow, some areas won't necessarily translate the way you want them to. Generally speaking, anything dark will appear to be sunken in and anything light will appear to be raised. You may need to manually split up certain areas for this purpose (such as nuts and bolts, perhaps) and create their normal map overlays separately or, if you feel the detail is not needed, just erase it from the overlay layer using a feathered brush to not cause awkward lines between fine detail and no fine detail.
Creating the pedestal, though fairly straightforward and simple, is a difficult phase. It usually comes at the end of the project when your steam is running out and you all of a sudden have to create a new asset. For Bishop I just wanted to create something basic; I didn't want a lot of colour or points of interest to distract from my character. I decided just to make a tiled floor that was fairly beat up and worn down. I created the basic shapes in Max, using the same workflow as stated above for Bishop, and brought it into ZBrush for detailing. For things like the bullets, I just manually placed them by hand in Max.
For the cracks in the titles, I created an alpha in Photoshop using a photo of damaged stone and imported it into ZBrush. From there, under the Alpha tab, I selected "Make St” which turns the selected alpha into a stencil. I could now freely move my model around on screen and any detail that I added or subtracted would be controlled by the stencil I had created (Fig.30).
Once your alpha is applied as a stencil, make sure to disable the alpha on your brush as this can cause some weird results. Basically, you'd be painting detail with a tip shaped like your alpha over a stencil caused by your alpha. I get the best results by just using a standard brush with the stencil created. Also, you can move/scale/rotate your stencil around. Just press Space and follow the onscreen instructions!
Once I was done with my highpoly pedestal model, I baked down the information (normal and AO, like in previous steps) and textured it with photos of stone and mud, adding extra grime to the edges of the tiles to blend them into the ground.
Rendering / Presentation
As mentioned earlier, I used Marmoset for my final presentation shots, which enabled post FX for the beauty renders but not for the actual "presentation image” (as post FX was banned for that image.) I used a modified post FX setting from the "next gen” preset provided by 8 Monkey. I basically added more blue to the final image, more sharpness and adjusted the shadows.
I imported my model as separate pieces, basically as just one OBJ file, but split into separate meshes within Max. A trick to control alpha sorting in Marmoset is to make sure that the alpha'd image is the last object in the stack (on the right hand side of Marmoset, these objects are listed.) To do this, I would export my OBJ files separately (Bishop_body, Bishop_pedestal, Bishop_fx and Bishop_loincloth) and then import them into a fresh scene in the order previously listed. Then, with all of these OBJs imported, export them again as just one OBJ. This seems to retain the order and when imported into Marmoset, then the objects will be listed in this way; I assume there's something under the hood that I don't fully understand that cause this.
Once all of my models were imported, I created a few materials – one for the actual character textures (normal, spec, diffuse), one for the pedestal with pretty much the same properties and one for the FX – and then applied them accordingly.
To take a screenshot of my scene, I first set the screenshot resolution by pressing the ~ key to bring up the console and typed in "set screenshots #” with # being the biggest number that my video card could handle. Then I pressed F10 to drop a screenshot of my scene into Marmoset's root folder. I ran a few tests before finding a number that would work because if the number is too high, the video card won't support it and will just spit out a black image.
To get my glow FX working, it was sort of a hack, which is a known issue for Marmoset. I basically just had to apply the FX material with a custom alpha channel that culls out the non-glowing parts of my model, take a screenshot of that and apply it over the top of my original screenshot using a screen blending mode.
After I had all of my images ready, I created a fancy border to use on all of my images for consistency and saved them out (Fig.31 – Fig.36)!