Long life to Embark studio and its fabulous procedural artists dream team !
truly excellent and inspiring to read. Would have loved to read some on the texturing since that is top-notch.
great environment with a lovely serene sense. Thanks for the write-up!
Madina Chionidi from DICE discussed her personal project, where she created an outstanding ‘Sharpshooter‘ model with excellent materials and clothes. Check out the detailed talk about the production process.
My name is Madina and I work as a Character Artist at DICE in Stockholm, Sweden. I am relatively fresh in the Gaming Industry as I’ve been working on games since 2012. Star Wars Battlefront is the latest project which I worked on. Before DICE, I was working at Sony’s Guerrilla Games on Killzone: Shadow Fall. A couple of words about my education: I received my Bachelor in Digital Film and 3d Animation Tech at Staffordshire University (UK) in 2012.
The Sharpshooter is a personal project I’ve been working on, on and off, on my free time.
The whole project was a bit of an accident.
I first built the rifle to practice texturing for PBR. While enjoying the entire process: from gathering reference material and trying to understand all the different parts. Later I painted the Materials Surfaces with Pixel Values, I thought this rifle would be eventually a waste of an asset without a character. So I decided to build a character who will hold the weapon , so to speak.
The “Tags” for this character project would be Dark, Tired, Minimalistic, War
- Dark: I do appreciate the dark side of things when it comes to art!
- Tired: I wanted this character to look exhausted, both mentally and physically.
- Minimalistic: I wanted to concentrate on the mood instead of the intricate costume details. Keeping as little accessories as possible was one of the main goals.
I’ve been consuming a lot of Sci-Fi content for the last few years and might’ve gotten slightly tired of it for now. Looking back in history was quite refreshing for me. We can draw so much inspiration from historical accounts.
I used Softimage for modeling, Zbrush for sculpting, Marvelous Designer for cloth simulation, Photoshop and Quixel’s DDO for texturing, Maya for the scene setup, lighting, Arnold & Marmoset Toolbag for rendering.
I started by making a neutral face. I had a rough idea of how the face was going to be and was aiming for mostly central european female phenotypes. When I was happy with the general features and proportions I worked on the expression that I thought would work with the mood I tried to create, with weary eyes and a subtle frown.
Marvelous Designer was used to build the clothing for my character.
If you want to learn more about how I use Marvelous Designer, here is a small tutorial that is “beginner’s friendly”.
Below is an example of a greatcoat. Here is the kind of greatcoat I wanted to build.
I wanted it to look ever so slightly oversized.
I used a combination of these two coats as a base.
My patterns became much more simplified, since we work digitally and we don’t need to have any extra internal fabric padding or a double layered collar.
Nothing is prety in the beginning: I spend most of my time making the base look good before proceeding to any details. The resolution is fairly low at this point.
When I’m happy with certain areas, I try to freeze/pin them so they don’t simulate anymore.
Below you can see how I “pin” areas (Red dots) here and there to prevent them from simulating any further.
When I was satisfied with the overall structure, I added the details, such as pockets, shoulder pads and the sleeve extensions. Layer clone is one of my favorite features that makes your garment double layered.
After I was done with the simulation part, the mesh was exported and test-rendered, to identify if any additional details need to be sculpted in Zbrush. Often I would need to sculpt some mid-frequency details in Zbrush but in this case that I had a heavy woolen greatcoat, Marvelous Designer details were enough to provide the desired look.
For the Texturing, I used Quixel’s DDO and Photoshop. Marmoset Toolbag was also used to quickly preview the results.
Below is an example of the Leather boots that were textured in just less than 5 minutes with DDO – No postwork in Photoshop was done at all. I think it’s safe to say that Quixel’s DDO is one of my favorite tools and I can’t imagine texturing without it.
Not all of the assets were textured though. In the case of the Greatcoat, I just overlayed a couple of tileable textures in the shader.
The Material setup in the main character render is super simple!
I used the standard aiSkin for the Face and an alSurface – “a physically plausible, energy-conserving, general-purpose surface shader” that can be found here.
I wanted my final image to be dark, foggy and low contrast with a muted color pallet. Having the black levels in place was not the goal of this image. Since it’s a personal project, I though I will just have fun and will go with “what feels right” for this character.
The lighting setup is super simple.
I think it’s a very “gamy” character! In fact, the best compliment I got for this project was from my Animation Director who said quote: “I would love to animate this character!”
Madina Chionidi, Character Artist at EA DICE