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Stanculescu Alexandru shared some game character production tips, explaining the way he prepares couriers for Dota 2.
At this moment I work at some personal projects and sometimes when I have a good idea I enjoy doing some Dota 2 characters. As I said my main portfolio is based on 2d graphics and a cartoon style.I started 3d graphics 10 years ago when I had to do this at work and I enjoyed so much because was something new and different from what I was doing. I did a lot of low poly work and in the last 3 years I started the deepening of digital sculpting and PBR texturing.
DOTA 2 Models
Dota2 is an extraordinary game! I started as a Dota1 player and I never thought I’ll end up making characters and items for this game. Dota 1 was made on Warcraft3 engine. At that time I studied a lot the in-game characters, textures, and animations.
Everything was very low poly and the important work was in the texture to give all details and shadows. When Dota 2 launched after a while I saw that steam workshop opened and a lot of artists started making item for the game.In 2013 I tested my first equipment but it was difficult because I wasn’t used with Valves request.After a period of deepening Zbrush I tried again with a small Wabbit courier and was accepted by Valve. I don’t work too much for Dota 2 …I work when I have very good ideas for new couriers or sets.But Dota2 helped me to improve all my 3d skills from sculpting to painting and texturing…and for this I’m very grateful.
First of all I’m impressed about this market.I see a lot of extraordinary artists and their works and I’m glad when I see that many of them are accepted into game. When I start the work at a set or a courier I have to have an idea first and a clear image about what I have to do. Second thing , have to pay attention to Dota 2 requirements especially when competitions are organized, for example, Collector Cache 2017.
And very important the characters have to have a very good visibility into the game not just in menu or in the presentation.
After I finish the sculpture details I end up with the color too. Next is the retopology part that takes a little time because I have to make the perfect shape of the character and the projection to be done perfect. I export the low poly and high poly from Zbrush and I import everything in Substance Painter for projection. Is more easy for me to extract the main textures from SP like normal map,ambient cavity and id color. I use all these layers in Photoshop and I give the last details here.Is not a patter for texture layers… I use different combinations depending on the character I work on.
With the base color texture done I go back to SP where I make the specular , metalness , self illumination etc. These textures are requested by valve and are needed to finish the character. In SP I use the Dota 2 shader which is perfect and easy to use. Other things I have to do are the lods ,one for menu and one for in-game.
With everything done I prepare the rig, the skin and animations if I work at a courier.For set items is easy because I have to replace the original item whit what I did and sometimes to adjust the skin.
This is a short description of a long and beautiful working process.If you have luck the workflow will be very smooth if not you have to rebuild some certain parts.
Sketchfab is the best way to present your characters. You have all the options for zoom, rotate, pan etc. total freedom for presenting your characters. I was very excited when I saw Sketchfab for the first time…I was like a kid who got a beautiful toy.
For Dota 2 workshop I have to add some extra in-game images and a movie clip showing the characters.For next character I want to upload and test some animations in Sketchfab too.
Yes…the animations are very very important too because they give character life ,fluidity or sturdiness. When I sculpt a character I start to imagine how that character will move will fly etc. For the last courier I was thinking of it like a fluid jelly movement. The animations process is always the same…I make the rig, I use the biped from 3ds Max and I adjust it to the character shape and sometime some extra bones. After this I make the skin and I try to create the perfect tension between biped and geometry.
For rig and skin is very important to have some knowledge about anatomy and how muscle works in the body. And the last thing I start the animations and I play with this until I get the movement I need.
I start testing the character in 3ds max because there the animations are done. After this is very very important to see how it works in the game. It can look very good in 3ds max and can have problems in-game. The animation can be too slow or too fast or to need a more amplitude.Sometimes the texture is not good.Can look great in SP and can be burned in-game and need some adjustments.Or some body parts are not so visible as I want and I have to change it. As I said, is very important to be visible ingame. And for next character I want to try some animations in Sketchfab too.
I’m still learning and I’m looking at experienced artists like Katzeimsak, Anuxi, ChiZ, OrganizedChaos, Jeremy Klein etc…and what all these artists have in common…EXCELLENCY.