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Star Wars Inspired Character Model

2019

This is my first attempt making a character from concept art to game ready asset.

My goal for this project was to create a AAA game quality character from the Star Wars universe in 9 weeks. I gave myself limit of 80K polygons for the base character and hoped to spend another 20K on hair cards using Xgen.

Character Biography

Name: Rodin Borso

Age: 36

Race: Human

Gender: Male 

Place of Birth: Ryloth
 

Origin: Parents were smugglers who settled on Ryloth to raise Rodin. Rodin’s mother was killed during a coup and barely escaped with his father who flew them to Courscant. His father was often away doing jobs for the Hutt clan, constantly wrestling with his wife’s death. When Rodin was about 12 he fell into a gang who boosted speeders. While being chased by local law enforcement he exhibited enough force powers to gain the attention of the respected Jedi knight Satele Shan. He was trained and became a Jedi knight when he was 24. After the destruction of the Jedi temple and the death of his father during the sacking of Coruscant, Rodin decided he’d had enough of fighting other people’s battles and figured that if he was going to die, he’d die living for himself.

Reference

I am extremely proud of the concept art I created and it was really cool to gather elements from my various thumbnails and combine them all together to create an even cooler design. The outfits design was created with functionality in mind, both for me to create it and for the character to wear it. I specifically wanted the straps attached to the pauldron to restrict the movement of the cowl so that when the character moved I wouldn’t have to worry as much about correct cloth deformation. I’ve followed concept artists like Aaron Beck and Ben Mauro for quite some time and love the idea of being able to create unique concepts through photobashing and believe I came up with a pretty good result which served as a great foundation for the project.

After creating the concept and having an idea of the art direction I wanted to head in, I gathered an insane amount of reference which almost all came in handy. Collecting over 200 images on pinterest for both my anatomy board and character specifically, I continued to go forward with a very strong foundation. 

Concept Designs

From the conception of the project I was all too aware of the deadline and often made concessions in the polish and detail in order to complete the project on time. 

During the concept phase of the character, I decided to attempt to sculpt Rodin with the likeness of Rob Mcelhenney. This was the first and I believe the most major change from my original concept. After speeding through courses in anatomy by Rafael Grassetti, Flipped Normals and various anatomy references online, I quickly realised what a massive undertaking a recognisable portrait sculpture would be. With the approaching deadline I decided that the character’s anatomy was ‘good enough’ (especially knowing that it would be covered by cloth and armour) for me to move on to the next stages.

I spent a very long time on the base character, I have never done a proper anatomy study and really wanted to push myself to see what I could achieve. I’m very happy with the result I managed to create. The face was obviously a disappointment but I feel like there was a lot that I got right and for such a complex topic as anatomy, I think that’s a pretty cool feat.

Character Anatomy Process

The creation of the armour was far more difficult than I had originally anticipated. It took me some time to get the ‘hard surface’ look to a level I was happy enough with to move on. To create the armour, I attempted to use the hard surface methods demonstrated by Ben Erdt in The Character Art of Horizon Zero Dawn with Guerrilla Games. After masking out the armour segments on the base mesh and extracting it off, I mistakenly stopped looking at my reference. Unfortunately, this mistakes’ influence can clearly be seen on the characters right pauldron, moving away from the more realistic and functional design in the concept. Once I had realised my mistake I was too far down the pipeline and had to just work with it. In an effort to regain time I had lost on the armour, I made the decision to use greebles and straps already existing in Zbrush. This decision was a particular shame because I knew that anyone who had spent more than 2 weeks in Zbrush would be able to spot the ‘Shoulder Strap’ IMM Curve brush.

 

I was very happy that I had a very functional design in mind from the concept as this made breaking up the armour pieces into segments very easy. I realised while looking at my reference that a lot of storm troopers had straps attaching their armour that looked like snowboard binding straps. This inspired me to create a ‘binding’ style latch of my own. Unfortunately creating this latch took me about 6 hours to make and was about 250K polygons each! In my opinion it was worth it, I believe it grounded the character and worked really well for the functional design I was going for. Deciding to go with the more 'Star Wars' looking strap terminus over the originally designed carabiner was a great decision, as I was able to do a much more basic job of retopologising the pauldron strap clips that were underneath the buckle.

Creating the cloth in Marvelous Designer was quite a challenge, especially the arm bandage and the cowl. The cowl could have used some more R&D because it looks a little too much like a baby’s bib in the final renders. I wanted to create a specific look of complexity and volume of cloth around the neck which ended up making no sense in the real world and looks pretty ridiculous up close. To have the cloth believably interact with the straps and armour I needed to correctly layer all of the character’s elements when running the simulations. To do this I used the morph target function within Marvelous which frustratingly took hours to get working. For some reason Zbrush kept exporting the mesh at different scales and slightly moved off the world position to the previous export (despite me literally not even touching the mesh in between exports!). In the end I just fixed it in Maya and moved each piece off individually for the morph target. After all of t