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Making Of 'Future Worker (low-poly)'

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Introduction

In this tutorial I'll explain the creation process of "Future Worker", a low polygon head of a character. For creating it I've mainly used 3dStudio Max, Zbrush and Photoshop; all combined with the help of two Total Texture CD's: v4 Humans & Creatures and v7 sci-fi.

We have several workflows to choos efrom for creating a normal-mapped character.
Some people create the high-poly mesh, from that they create the low-poly mesh and afterwards they create the color map and get the normal and specular maps from the high-poly. Others create the low-poly mesh, from there they create the high-poly and then the maps...

Since I'm playing with total textures and I wanted to use pre-made textures what I've done is a mixture of both processes. I've created the low-poly with 3dsMax, and a color map (not the final one but close) using total textures, after that I have exported it into Zbrush and have created the high-poly (using my color map applied to the model as a base for depth and details). Afterwards I have created the normal and specular maps and some bakes that will be used for the final color map

1. Concept
You're supposed to have the concept of the character/object you're going to model drawn somewhere, so keep it near you to take a look at it as often as you need.

2. Modeling
Model the character optimizing the mesh and adding triangles only when needed, but remember a good low-poly model doesn't seem low-poly so give it enough detail to avoid square corners where smoothed surfaces should be.

As you can see in the image, while working with the mesh I applied a texture to the eyes because it gives me a major sense of how the character would look like. It's more alive.

3. Applying UV and unwrapping
Once you're happy with the modeling it's time to apply mapping coordinates for creating a proper unwrap and creating the texture over that unwrap.

3.1. Delete what will be texture mirrored
The smaller the final texture will be with visible details, the better will it be done so try to simplify the geometry into the final texture.

3.2. Assign id's to the mesh (it can be done now or while you unwrap) Select the faces which will be mapped and textured together and assign them an id.

3.3. Create a material with checker and several tiles and apply it to the model. It will help you to find out which parts of the texture will have distortion.

3.4. Unwrapping loop process
- Inside Edit Poly, select an id.
- Unwrap directly (unwrap tools recommended: http://www.microcan.nl ) or uv map and unwrap it. In both cases you will probably have to touch up breaking and welding vertex in the unwrap max editor to get the desired result.
- Edit Poly modifier again, select next id and unwrap....

Remember to put the unwraps in different places, otherwise different id's will overlap.

4. Apply a last Edit Poly and unwrap it to place and scale the different parts in order to fit it inside the texture you'll create. It's important not to leave big empty spaces, which could be used to improve your model!
5. If there is something wrong, geometry... you can Edit Poly (modifier), and unwrap the id that contains the error another time, then repeat number 4 again.

The aim is to see the checker texture over all parts of your model without distortion. The more distortion it has now, the more you will suffer painting to get good results later to solve the problem of stretched textures.

Here is the mesh mapped with checker

Here is the texture resulting of the unwrap.

Texturing

This is the section where total texture CD's have been used. I wanted to give a futuristic look while showing he was still human, so I used v4 humans & creatures for all human related textures like skin and eyes, and on the other hand I used v7 sci-fi for the metal parts attached to his head.
You will later see that exporting maps from our high resolution model will be useful for creating a base for our skin dark and light parts, so now we will focus on all that can be done without a depth base texture.

Since I've used lots of textures and layers it's necessary to be well organized, so group layers of the same area (face, side parts...) or related ones (normal maps, speculars...) with layer groups, otherwise it'll be a chaos.
I've also put a layer with the unwrapped render shown before at the top of the layers with 44% of opacity and in screen mode to work with the wire showed. And a uniform grey layer at the bottom using it as a limit for transparent areas.

Creating Skin

For creating the skin base I used a mixture among several 3d total skin textures.
This first image is composed by 4 skin layers with that top-down order:

In the last layer I added some soft red color to simulate cheeks and other colored parts of the face.

continued on next page >

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