I am a 3D character artist and I've always wished to be able to quickly turn my sculpted characters into animated characters; however the techniques required for modeling and painting a character are not the same as animating a 3D character: it takes a lot more effort to skin, rig and keyframe animation if using traditional methods. The iClone Animation Pipeline helps provide a base to start outright and avoid some common challenges that will get your character sculpts animating quickly.
iClone Character Creator provides a very nice 3D character prototyping system which uses sliders to define the character look, and those models with fully rigged face and body which are ready to animate from the go. Instead of doing everything from scratch, in this tutorial we will morph a base mesh in Reallusion's Character Creator (CC) using morph sliders to give it the look of a warrior character. Later, using this base mesh as a reference, we will create the armor for the character using ZBrush. Also, we will put more detail in the base mesh using ZBrush. The base mesh is already rigged so we won't have to go through a rigging process for the body, but we have to skin the armor which we will do in Maya. For the texturing we will use Substance Painter. Finally we bring everything into iClone. Here we will light, shade and animate using iClone's tools.
Fantasy characters have always fascinated me, so I plan to create and animate one for you and for myself. So, I collect some references of fantasy concepts and motif designs. The idea is to integrate these motif designs into the armor design
Prepping the base character in Character Creator
The full figure is separated with 2-part control set (Body and Head) with sub morph controls.
From the default character project, which is a female character, I use a combination of the male face and body controls to give it warrior proportions. I individually modify the waist and lower trunk from the feet, calves and thighs, to the forearms and upper arms.
These are the values changed for the controls to get to the desired look.
Finally I export this as an OBJ file to Maya. In Maya, based on the material ID, I reposition the UV set for baking use in ZBrush. This process will help us to make Polygroups in ZBrush based on UV tile and Hide meshes in ZBrush while baking individual parts.
Now I Quadrangulate using the following setting to make the mesh more sculptable in ZBrush.
Detailing the body
After importing the OBJ file into ZBrush, I sculpt all the necessary details using different brushes like Clay Buildup to give more form to the body. This is where we start adding those details which add realism to the character, such as veins, scratches, and pores in the skin.
Using ZBrush's surface noise function, start with the higher noise scale and lower strength. Each time I apply the surface noise to the mesh,I lower the noise scale and raise the noise strength. I also start with a lower sub-division and increase it while I apply the surface noise each time. This may inflate the model each time so in some places we can use the Morph brush and mask the area.
We can add these final details to the top of his existing form. For the pores you can use the alphas that are provided in the ZBrush alpha palette; these worked pretty well for this character. For the scratches I like to use the dam_Standard brush. Use this with a small radius and intensity, and with some patience you can achieve great results.
Smooth brushes play an important role for creating texture and details, including blending the brushstrokes. For example, the Smoothpeaks brush can smooth a stroke's relief details keeping the indent detail intact. Also try to vary Z intensity while using it.
The whole body was detailed using this process. Preview of the body in ZBrush.