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Fig. 09b

To create the pedestal, which was a section of damaged road, I used a similar procedure. I began by creating a basic form in Max and then I exported it to ZBrush to sculpt and add final details through alphas (Fig.10).

Fig. 10

Low Poly Modeling and Normal Mapping

Now it was the turn of the low poly model. First, I placed the high poly model and went down to a medium subdivision level, trying to keep the overall detail. Then it was exported as an obj file to open it in Max and once there I overlapped it to the initial base model. From this model I made a mesh with a new topology by using Polyboost and Max's polygon editing tools (Fig.11).

Fig. 11

Once this model was ready, I started with the UV mapping. Although I usually use the unwrapping tools of Max, especially the Pelt tool, I also sometimes use Unfold3D, a quick and effective tool when performing these tasks. What I did was mark cut lines on key places such as the neck, trunk, back and on the inside of the limbs, trying to make the fewest number of divisions, to keep these areas recognizable when painting and creating the textures (Fig.12).

Fig. 12

When I'd finished this task, the model was exported back to ZBrush where I created the normal maps. The importance of these maps is that they transfer all the detail created in the high poly modeling stage to the low poly model, making it appear to have more detail in geometry than it really has. It's just a visual effect, which is effective from any point of view. This allows you to add a high level of detail to low poly models, which explains its continued use in the games industry today.

To start I placed the high poly model without mapping and went down to the first subdivision level (Fig.13). Then I used the ZMapper plugin included with ZBrush. There, I used the Mesh Current Capture function that is under the Projection tab. Normally this is done in order to capture all the high poly detail information through the polygon normal directions (Fig.14). Then I imported the low poly unwrapped model and turned on the ZMapper again to project the normal map on this mesh. To do this, first I checked the Tangent Space map type and used the Create Projected NormalMap function (Fig.15). This procedure was repeated with each of the model parts to get the final normal map. As you can see this map shows all the detail of the high poly model (Fig.16).

Fig. 13

Fig. 14

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