STEP1 - Getting started - mesh preparation and base material
The base of this workflow begins at the modelling stage. The modelling process of all the armour's parts was pretty similar:
Step 1 - Work on the base shape of the armour's part and prepare it's topology for the details to come with as few polygons as possible (Please note: while it may seem I used more than the minimal amount of required polygons, that is only because the end result required many sharp corners to be able to easily modify it later on if that would be required). These polygons receive polygon ID 1.
Step 2 - Add Shell modifier to the model and set "Override Edge Mat ID" to 2. Once I decide the model's base shape is final I collapse the shell to editable poly and modify the edge polygons a bit further as I find fit.
Step 3 - Take advantage of the prepared topology from step 1 to extrude the polygons in (to prepare the socket), Change their ID into 3 and then extrude them out to create the diamonds.
Step 4 - (Optional) In some of the armour's parts I've used another polygon, ID 4, for silver when I wanted more variation in the materials, this was also used for the sword's blade (Fig.04).
Throughout the modelling process I've had the base material ready for early testing. The base material is made out of 100% procedural maps and that is why it did not require me to unwrap the model as I was still working on it. The complex final stage of the texturing only came once I'd decided modelling was done.
The base material is made out of a multi sub object with four ID's: 1- The main armour's metal, 2 - The armour's outer gold, 3 - The diamonds, 4 - Silver. I will focus this tutorial on the main armour's metal (Fig.05).
For the base main armour metal material (ID 1) I thought of going for a standard material, but decided to go with mental ray's A&D shader because it supports blurry reflections. This decision made the material pretty heavy but also made it look good!
The parameters I've decided to add maps to are as follows: Diffuse colour, Bump, Glossiness and Reflection colour. The idea is to add matching maps with different colour brightness levels to these parameters, while keeping in mind that brighter colours mean the following:
- Diffuse colour - brighter diffuse colours
- Bump - outer dents
- Glossiness - sharper reflections / highlights
- Reflection colour - stronger reflections.
Obviously, darker colours below 50% gray would mean the opposite (Fig.06).
The map I've created for these parameters was made out of a few procedural textures. This made it easy to control the brightness level of the colours for each of the parameters. For example, in one of the specific textures, I used a bright colour for the dirt in the diffuse colour but changed it to dark in the bump map to make it cause an inner dent. I also used a dark colour for the reflection colour, because this is supposed to be less reflective then the armour's metal. Making the base material with procedural textures is also good because a simple combination of a few procedural textures can hold a very high res detail level at a low resource cost and every single armour part will have different detail features (as opposed to mapped texture files which tend have duplicated features look) (Fig.07 & Fig.08).