Even Top Notch Artists will be replaced by AI. You have no idea what you are talking about. If you do, only very superficial. At the end you are only an employee. You dont have any contact or experience to the High End Echelons we worked on. In 20 years, 40% of workforce working today will be out of jobs. First we will get worldwide financial crash, then AI takes over. Admin will remember my words in not distance future.
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3d artist Tim Oliver Haag shared some wonderful characted production techniques, which he used during the creation of his recent stylized project.
My name is Tim Oliver Haag and I am a character artist from Sweden. I studied at a upper vocational school in Sweden called Playground Squad which is a 2 year game development education which focuses on practical learning. I also studied game art at an university before that but it was utterly soul crushing and not a rewarding experience. I graduated from Playground Squad 2015 and since I have been working on various smaller indie projects as a freelancer but didn’t start working at a studio until earlier this year when I started at Hardscore Games in Germany. Sadly the studio went out of business in May but for me it was a blessing in disguise as it was what prompted me to apply for the job at Forgotten Key which I am starting this August!
As I did this character as an art test for the studio Forgotten Key, the only requirements where that it had to be done within a week of receiving the instructions and that the style where to be inspired by Overwatch. Personally the main challenge was the time limit, working on personal projects I have in the past had tendencies to start 10 different projects at the same time which means not finishing a single one. That I was actually able to finish this character within such a small window, without overworking myself and to an good standard was a confirmation to myself that I can perform as long as I have a clear goal.
The concept was proved by Andreas Nilson and was simply a side view of the character with the sword. I thought that because it was an test I wanted to add some of my own flair to him so I added a shield, the tree stump and some asymmetrical details to stand out. Planning wise the time-frame was already set so I planned it out by dividing it into blocks, 3 days for sculpting, 1,5 day for low poly + UV, 1,5 day for texturing and finally 1 day for rendering, posing and final adjustments. The posing where done using humanIK which is highly recommended for when you just quickly need to pose a character. Being a huge fan of Overwatch and that very game being a stylistic guide for the test I was looking a lot at the various art drops the artists working on that have made on ArtStation for inspiration.
When it came to building the clothes where actually pretty easy, with the stylized kid proportions and poofy style of the garments themselves. I made a simple body that corresponded to the proportions of the concept and used that as a base from which I extracted clothes. I use the zremesh and dynamesh in Zbrush a whole lot when making clothes, for example all the trims are made by using a curve snap brush and which I dynameshed to the clothes. It may not be the most efficient way to get even trims but it works well for me. Since I wanted the clothes to have a clean look I did not put in many folds other than the most obvious places. For this style it’s good to practice restraint when making folds – too many and it’s distracting and too few and it’s looks plain.
Before moving on to the texturing I painted the whole model with polypaint in Zbrush to use as a base texture in Substance Painter. It is only basic colors and gradients as I find it useful to have something there to begin with rather than just starting from scratch in Painter. Other than that it is pretty straight forward, I mostly adjust the basic materials that comes with Painter, layering them with generators and changing the roughness of the material to fit a more stylized character. I also made sure to no have too much micro detail that would make the texture look busy and by changing the global blur/balance/contrast in the masking generator I could get big and nice dirt details.
The shoes where made starting from one of the leather materials in Painter then just dialing back on the details and adding overlays with mask generators for the edge wear, of course I had to manually adjust the masks a bit but not that much. Maybe some more variety in roughness, especially to differentiate the worn and unworn parts, would have made them more interesting (that goes for the jacket as well) but I do think that for the style I was going for it’s passable.
For the final renders using global illumination in Toolbag 3 was invaluable to the the warmness I wanted to achieve. Without it the black and gray tones of the shadows takes over a bit and it would have a completely different feeling, especially since I was using ambient occlusion. The light setup itself is super simple containing of just 2 lights, placed at quarter angles in front as well as behind the character, and the sky. I also used secondary reflections for all shaders to make them pop a bit more.
When doing stylized characters the scope can vary so much both technically and artistically. For this character I had a freedom to do pretty much whatever but decided to follow the technical scope of Overwatch with not going overboard with the tri-count or texture size. Having such guidelines set from the start helps me focus on actually producing what I need and cuts down on wasted work that won’t show up in the game resolution version. Using Substance Painter also allows me to not commit to details I may not want later in my high poly sculpt. Instead I can focus on giving the character an appealing silhouette and clean forms at the sculpting stage and experiment when texturing!
On a more general note something I have learned is to have a clear goal, time-frame and concept – especially if you are struggling with staying concentrated. I have so many nearly finished Zbrush sculpts that where meant to be low poly models which now are just laying on my hard-drive. As a game artist high poly sculpts serve me little purpose in that state. Being able to produce a game ready character is what gets you a job at the end of the day!