View Full Version : Fire Fighter - CC Greatly Appreciated!

05 May 2009, 12:08 AM
Hello all. I started on this fire fighter the other night. I'm used to working on armored fantasy type characters and am trying to break out of that mold with something real world.

I'm going for a realistic game art quality model (ill be texturing it as well). I read that 10-12k poly counts are commonly found in PS3 Xbox360 models so thats where im setting my limit. I'm hanging at almost 12k right now so I think i'll have to remove some spans and clean up faces.

The main thing thats bothering me about this model is the face. Faces I model always seem like they are missing something...I can't quite put my finger on it, and I cant tell if its because my edge flow is still not mimicing facial muscles enough or if it's just the neutral pose im modeling the features in.

Ive also started messing with hair planes, I may have that wrong in terms of how many planes are there and where the hairline changes from planes to head geometry. First time messing with it so... =)

I'm also brand new to modeling clothing for games.

A few notes: The hands havent even been touched yet, same with the coat arms.

All feedback is greatly appreciated guys, let me have it! =P Thanks!



05 May 2009, 12:20 AM
A quick critique on your face polycount, its really, really dense for a game face. specially around the mouth and the ear. The ear detail that you've modeled in would mostly likely all be done in the normal map, right now its way to dense.

Your legs will likely need a few more rings around the knee, and also the elbows, and also more rings around the shoulder, right now the shoulder would fall apart in animation, keep in mind those have to be clean rings so it deforms right.and also more rings around the thigh area.
Over all it seems you're modeling in a lot of stuff that would all be done in the normal map.
Just my opinion i could be entirely wrong.

05 May 2009, 12:25 AM
No I think you're totally right there I didn't think about that. I'll try reducing the face edge rings by like half, and simplify the ear to prepare it for a normal map. Thanks for the input!


05 May 2009, 12:33 AM
Our heads are roughly 1k polys, not including teeth, eyes, or hair. Just the head geo. textures are about 512 x 512 col,spec,normal, cosine (spec roll off) but we have a ton of models on screen,

05 May 2009, 12:43 AM
Awsome, Yeah i checked out your website, and saw you worked on COD2. Would you happen to have a render with wire of emilios face that you would allow me to use for topology reference?

1k is really not that bad, I've got it down to 1500 right now taking edgeloops out where I dont need them. 512x512 is alot lower than i though you'd have your textures also, but thats great information, thanks!

I like how much expression you can put in to Emilio's face without having it distort strange too, his mouth is so wide open and it looks natural.

05 May 2009, 12:45 AM
Also, do you model in the Sternocleidomasloid (Protruding neck muscle in the front left and right), and the Nasial Labia (Smile line coming off the nostrils) or is all of that normal map. If so do you even try to get a peice of geometry out there to represent it?

05 May 2009, 01:57 AM
So I rebuilt the head and I must say that was the best edgeflow redirection / triangle termination excercise ive ever had. It was a mess.

But now the head itself is sitting at 986 polys, down from ~2500.

I'm working on smoothing the edge flow out and the nostril might need to be adjusted to give it volume, i dont know if thats necessary though.

I'm also not sure if that ear geometry is sufficient for what a normal map would need.

05 May 2009, 03:19 AM
I don't have the emilio head on me, but also our mesh hash change a great deal since cod2.its been almost 4 years.
The new reduce mesh looks a lot better its not far off from the base mesh that i start with,
As far as modeling the muscles that you mention that's all done in the normal map, in games you still don't have that much polys to play with.
As far as the ears go you can probably use more polys to get the over all silohuete of the ear to look better and leave all the ineterdal detail to be handle by the normal map, you still want strong shapes. For the ears i would treat it the same way as the eyes, meaning a radial poly flow.
Over all the head is looking more like what our game resolution looks like.
The best way to think about modeling is that you want to model in the over all big strong shapes and the smaller shapes would be handled by the normal map. I hope that makes sense.
Over all not bad, you just need more practice like we all do.

05 May 2009, 03:30 AM
Yeah you make perfect sense, thanks again for all the replies and input. For something like an air pipe line going from a tank to a mask like I have here how would you guys approach that?


05 May 2009, 04:02 AM
So I optimized everything, took tons of unnecessary spans out and so im sitting at about 8k poly count for everything, down from about 12-13k. I think I can still take out probably half the spans out of the visor and still have it look decent, maybe a couple from the bottom of his jacket.

I also added spans on the elbows, knees, upper thigh and midsection areas for better deformation.

I still dont feel like its ready for texturing yet it needs more tweaking.

05 May 2009, 08:13 AM
completely rebuild the pipes in the extinguisher system to be more efficient the model as a whole weighs in at 6216 polys now with the same appearance.

05 May 2009, 09:10 AM
Hi there -

Would it be possible for you to post a screenshot of the face without wires? -

It appears to me, to be the weak part of the model in terms of believability, there seems to be some 'uncanny valley' -ness going on..

I believe that with some photo-reference to base the face on, it would be a far more successful piece; separating it from just-another-Lowpoly character, to excellent use of the poly budget.

( unless you have something clever planned with vertex lighting, or vertex alpha, it looks like you could cleave a couple hundred polygons out of the clear Visor. lots of seemingly unecessary edgeloops in there?)

The shoulder/torso point looks a little strange - could you post up some of the reference you used, too?

CGTalk, posting reference, is this appropriate?


05 May 2009, 05:41 PM
I have to agree with some of the stuff the nick said also, the visor is way to heavy,
Like he said also, maybe post some ref. pics of the head if you're using them, and if you're not using them you should start using them.

also the bottom of the jacket seams to have a few edges that you just don't need. Also seems like the gas mask is really heavy also.

As far the hose it would really just be a cylinder with maybe 8 to 12 edges, and as many rings as you may need to get it to give you a nice curvature as it goes from the tank to the mask.
Also post a close up of the hands, they seem pretty rough maybe you haven't gotten to those yet.

05 May 2009, 08:59 PM
Wow, I just want to say, this is my first time even using this forum, and I've been out of school for about 2 years. I'm the only one in my friends network here that is in this field and so I havnt had anyone to "speak the language" with.

So yeah I just wanted to say how awesome having both of you critiquing my work is, and how much I really appreciate you guys taking the time to do so. I'm absolutely loving this forum.

Now to address the issues you've brought up =):

Pipes: Like I said I rebuilt them, I was using a circle extruded along a curve but it was resulting in a ton of polys as well as N-gons. So i took a torus with 5 sides (thought 4 even with soft edges looked too rough) and manually tweaked them with exactly the number of spans I needed along it.

Face Reference: I used a front and side view of a model I found free on the web but they are not professional pictures, the lips for instance do not match in both views as the model had changed his neck angle between shots. I'll post the images in just a moment.

Visor: The visor I was trying to keep more vertical spans in it to retain the curve. The reason I felt I had to do this was I used a antisotropic (sp) material to get the specular gleam along the plastic surface, and In that specular I was seeing clearly the edges in the model. I'll post an image showing what i'm talking about in a moment, it's hard to explain.

>>Nick - What you mention about seperating this face from just another low poly face is exactly what's been bothering me about my face models. They seem plain. I'm going to render a gif sequence without wires so you can really see the model.

Thanks again for both your comments, posts coming in 10-15 mins.


05 May 2009, 09:32 PM
So to start here here is the ref images I used. I am in no way attached to these at all, I just hadn't modeled a head in a while and grabbed these for a general guideline.

Second, here is an animated gif 360 of the head without wire, I hope this helps give you guys a better idea of what is going on here. =) (I've never rendered an animated gif out before and it ended up at 1.7mb at low render quality so my apologies for the download time.)

Third: Here is a render of what I was trying to explain with the anisotropic material's specular showing the vertial spans. Perhaps I need to attach a ramp to the material's specular to help it evenly spread across spans? (I used the gas mask as an example. The same applies to the visor)

And finally I thought id just throw in a render of my pipes / hoses geometry to show how i rebuilt them incase you guys have a better idea =). These together come in at 371 polys, maybe thats a little heavy, I'm not sure.

Hope these give you guys a better idea of what im working with here. Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see to help you critique. Thanks again!


05 May 2009, 11:19 PM
First the shape of the ears is looking nice and solid, there maybe a chance for you to make them slightly thicker, but very little.

The hoses look fine those will work just fine, any time you want to end up with a more organic looking shape, you'll end up with higher poly count.

I think you've mentioned that you just don't want your head to look like a generic looking head, i think to try to remedy start picking out the features that you like in the ref. Most of the works is going to come from your normal map and your color map, until then, your head will likely look very generic.

One of the things in your model that has been bothering me is your mouth area, over all the shape of mussel, i think that's what you call that area, it just doens't seem right, one of the things is the bottom lip, as the lips travel away from the center of the face they less sharp, your are the same shapness where lower lips meets the skin,

I love this guys sculptures if you look at the lips you'll see what i mean.
Hope it helps

05 May 2009, 12:07 AM
Hmm looking at those images I think I know what you're trying to say. Do you mean that the falloff from lip-edge to chin is very steep towards the center, and less on the outer edges? I'll try to modify the lips to reflect those images more and see what I come out with.


05 May 2009, 12:20 AM
LOL. Yeah, that was it, hahaha.

05 May 2009, 12:25 AM
So I did a little more in depth research as to why that falloff occurs and I think its because of the muscle "F" in the below image. It looks like it actually puffs out a little bit even.

05 May 2009, 01:49 AM
So im done atleast for the moment on the mouth. I bookmarked the site of Philippe Faraut instantly those sculptures are golden, thanks Stonepilot! I also redid the nose a bit, upturned it and adjusted the nostrils according to some of his sculptures.

I learned several things about the mouth here that i illustrated in the second picture below. There are two definate spots that seem to puff out, along the bottom left and right as you noticed (Stonepilot) and a small puff at the corners of the mouth. (Red)
There is a steep indent below the center of the bottom lip. (Purple)
I also noticed a somewhat recurrent pattern of ups and downs along the horizontal axis of the lips. I Soft modded this pattern in. (Yellow)
Lastly, there is a very small region that curls out over the corners of the top lip, that the actual corner tucks in to and underneath. (Blue)

The face is starting to actually look human to me which im very happy about. Tell me what you think!

05 May 2009, 03:39 AM
Nice, its really coming along.

The nose is a tad blocky, especially on the nostrils, and the part around the eyes looks like a elastic loop. I think you can also smooth out the wires a bit on the face.

Don't let this discourage you, the face overall looks pretty good. Few more adjustments and tweaking and I think you will really start to see it come to life.

Also don't be afraid to look at anatomy images of muscles/bones and just overall face structure. It really helps when your modeling.

05 May 2009, 04:26 AM
I was just about to say the same thing about the nose, its really sharp. just soften the silohuette up a bit,more like the contour of the model you're using.
i would model a really simple tear dock into the eye also.

also, if you look at the anatomy pic that you posted, see muscle g, the wraps around the mouth, usually around the corner of the mouth that slightly stucks out, its more pronounced on some people, look at the left hand side of the mouth on that pic, its very subtle but it adds a lot to the mouth area.

just for screen shot, switch your focal view to 85, by default is 35 and makes the stuff look fish eye.

its coming along you're likely maybe 1 day away from texturing.

05 May 2009, 07:50 PM
Thanks for the comments Matthew and again Stonepilot. Ive attempted to account for muscles around the eyes around the mouth and coming down off the cheekbone onto the top lip area.

I added another span in the middle-front vertically terminating to triangles in the mouth cavity and up ontop of the head. It gave me a whole span in the middle of the nose. I also took one out of the nostril and across the tip of the nose.

This addition added alot of polys but I rebuilt the mouthbox which was incorporating every span that hit the lips all the way through it, the spans now terminate to triangles right after they leave the visible inside lip line.

The bridge of the nose was tweaked a bit, added some volume to the upper part of it and reduced the center brow protrusion up above it.

I'm still feeling like something needs to change with the eyes, I added in tear ducts and It definatly helped but they seem to be missing something...Maybe not.

Any more ideas guys?

(BTW I meant to post this last night but the servers were down =P)

05 May 2009, 08:08 PM
Hi man,

I think it's definitely coming along,

The eyes are bothering me at the moment,

I think you are showing too much of the eyes' surface, and the shape is a little too oval..

This is from a sketch i did a couple of years ago, and it's a fair demonstration of how much eyeball is visible, when looking at a relaxed (not startled) face.
The shape (at least in my example, here) could be described as a relaxed Kite shape, or Rhomboid shape, as opposed to an Oval.

you can also see that the flesh from the underneath of the brow touches, and in some areas, occludes the upper eyelid.

I've no doubt that your textures will explain far more of the face's form than your naked model currently does, but if you can model-in these fundamental topographical features, I think it could be a lot more successful.
your character looks a little 'caught in the headlights' at the moment :)

hope this helps!

Edit - I've read my post through, and the eye image on its own could be confusing,
here's the rest of the piece, to give full context/head-angle,

05 May 2009, 08:34 PM
Awesome, thanks for replying so fast guys! I'm getting going on these changes right away. Updates coming soon.

05 May 2009, 08:34 PM
WOW. that's a huge improvement over the original. I think once you fix the eyes like nick says, you may be ready to texture.
Also, your 3/4 view seems like it may need slight tweakin by the brow area,

You see that little bump that you can see on the outline of the pic, your face could benefit from that bone beeing hinted or the brow as seen from 3/4 view

05 May 2009, 09:19 PM
Thats a really great portrait Nick thanks for sharing it as reference.

So here i've added in the upper brow shape more, (maybe not enough let me know), and I tweaked the spans around the eyes to give them a more correct curve; as well as pulled the lower lids together a bit to make him more relaxed. The area above the eye i pulled down on the outer edges to sort of get that overlap Nick noted.

Its really crazy how different this looks now compared to before I got input from everyone, I can't get over it haha.

Oh, I also noticed my ears were way too low, i moved them up so the bottom of the ear lines up with the bottom of the nose and the top of the ear is above the eye.

What do you think?

05 May 2009, 02:39 AM
Here's some subtle suggestions for the brow, and the lips. The lips is very subtle

05 May 2009, 04:52 AM
I added in the upper brow you noted as well as the subtle dip in the lips. Then I went ahead and UVed it. Theres some minor stretch but it occurs around the inside of the nostrils and thats about it, I manually tweaked some parts of the ears, nose, and corners of the mouth to get them good.

Theres some room in this UV area to add some of the other items on this model in to later I wont let it go to waste.

I have a dilemma though, I'm not sure if I should sculpt the normal maps now and use the maps as a guide to paint the diffuse or just do the diffuse first. I think the first way makes more sense.

05 May 2009, 05:52 PM
Are you planning on hand painting this or are you using pics.

I guess you have to decide what kind of look you're going for if its more of realistic look, you need to use pics and manipulate them for everything, body, etc...i may not be a good idea to hand paint one thing and use pics for another. I could be wrong, I personally use pics for everything but i'm working on a project that's more realistic.

I think from what the work you've put into the model you're going for more a realistic look.
Your call tho.

As far the normal map or color, it could go either way, i tend to do color first so that way i can see where subtle details like wrinkles are, and folds etc....and i just kinda trace them in zbrush, also paint your texture big, that way you can always bring it down etc...

As far as my process of painting color,
I tend to do projections in maya,

-take a screen shot of the model front,side,back,top,bottom,

-i take those into photoshop and line up pics to that,

-Save out the images outta photoshop, front side etc...

-Project them in maya,

-bake out the textures, side, front, top etc...

-Combine those in photoshop, and clean up to end up with one texture. There's a lot of clean up. From unwanted shadow from the original photos, to to much highlites from unwated light from the originals. This is just my process, i'm sure there are better ways, but i tend to use photos, cause in reality when you hand paint stuff you'll spend a buttload of time trying to get skin color, and you're likely miss all of the subtle changes in color that happen in skin.

I learn this projection technique from this cat,

I think his site is no longer on the interweb.

05 May 2009, 07:02 PM
Damn, yeah that sounds like a cool technique, I've never projected textures onto models in Maya actually lol.

I always use a combination of pictures and paint though, usually pictures to fill up the bulk of the uv space and then heal brushing the gaps in and using lighten/darken layers to paint out what I dont want lightwise.

I don't want to just use my current methods though I want to find out how to do it your way, so I'm going to do some searching to find a tutorial that deals with this.

One thing about your method I don't understand is if you're projecting a texture from the side front and top wouldnt they just all overlap in the middle of the face? Maybe it would overlap but match up and it's just not working in my head yet heh.

As far as quality goes I'd love to come out with something along the lines of the example you posted, that looks great and id be really happy with it.

05 May 2009, 07:17 PM
Not much is coming up so far, but I thought of another question.

I've used mudbox for a while but i could be using Zbrush, which I've never used before. Would you recommend I make the switch now? I ask because I know that Zbrush can do so much more than mudbox from what ive read. Also I wasnt sure how different from mudbox zbrush is for sculpting high polys using a wacom tablet; I love the way the controls in mudbox are almost exactly what they are in maya.

Input on that would be helpful, trying to make up my mind.

As for projecting the textures, I'm going to just try to figure it out myself in maya, I think I can work it out. Project textures made to fit views of the side top and front onto the respective sides of the model in maya making 1 texture map with all 3 of them on it then use that as a master? =P

05 May 2009, 07:57 PM
Tried using this projection tutorial but im seeing my image repeating over the face of the model, turning off wrap U V doesnt help.

05 May 2009, 08:18 PM
I managed to get this result by scaling and moving the placement node for the projection, however im not sure how to get the image I see in the UV view (below) saved out to an image file. Also it's blurry and i have the res maxxed on the blinn.

05 May 2009, 09:04 PM
Let me see if i can guide you through it

1- Basically, you get a front screen capture of your front view,

2-Take that into photoshop, Now in photoshop, crop the area that is just head, the closer the crop to the head the easier it will be to project, after you crop you'll end up with a smaller image, 512 by whatver,

3-Now enlarge the crop image of the head to whatever size you want to project, say 1k or 2k or whatever that will depend on your pic that you're using to prjoect,

4-Now take your rezise cropped head, and take your face textures and using what ever tricks you can think of line up nose,eyes,mouth, etc..., cutting and pasting, erasing, anything you can think of so that when you're done you'll have the face painted with your photos,

- Once you save that out of photoshop, nothing less than 1K and up, take your projection,
and assigend it in maya, in your projection properties you can just hit, fit to box button, if you cropped it correctly and you lined up your projection to the original face capture, it should automatically lined up to the face in maya, you may have to rotate it but it should line up.
Than just save out a bake, and do it for the rest of the head,

Hope you fallow,
Once you have all the projections bakes out of maya, start with the front projection and open it in photoshop, bring in, the side,and copy paste into the front bake document, on a separate layer. and erase the parts that you know you don't need cause the front covers it, doing it correctly you end up with the front and sides texture, you'll have some clean up, this gets faster the more you do it. and do the same for the rest of the face.
send me a private message if you can i'll give you my messanger info.

Hope this helps, or doens't confuse you much.

05 May 2009, 09:22 PM
I went ahead and just painted together some front and side views the way I'm used to but I cant say im really happy with how its coming together, the angles of features arent quite right and require a ton of tweaking/masking etc in photoshop.

Even just that basic projection I got going earlier looked better.

I can't remember how to bake out the texture, I found some "bake sets" options under Polygons>Color>, if you could give me a quick refresh on baking out that'd be awsome. Thanks again Stonepilot!


05 May 2009, 11:26 PM
In hypersahde,
Edit--->convert to file texture

In the option
the only thing i live turn on is anti-aliasing, and fill texture seams, and enter the size you want, i usually bake out all my stuff at 1024 x 1024 or higher

05 May 2009, 05:29 AM
With just some minor masking after joining the two projections. I'll never go back to painting from scratch, projections are the way to go! With some more tweaking I think this will look pretty good, pre-normal map.

06 June 2009, 06:19 AM
Pretty cool. Little bit more love and you'll be all good. Makes me want to start doing some of my own personal work. very inspiring. :-)

06 June 2009, 08:45 AM
Hey man,

This is lookin alright now - Aside from Normal maps giving it some extra detail, I think a specular map would serve to lift it even further (maybe even a faux SSS skin-shader) to give the skin some luminance..

on a more fundamental level, try to get rid of the symmetry in your texture.

it looks like the same side of the face, flipped about the central line (the freckles/moles on the nose kinda give it away really quickly). if it doesn't bother you to badly, just use half the face, reflected with the geometry, and use the whole texture space for one side of the face.

(but.. it's a good thing if symmetry does bother you ;).. it's the single most unnatural thing to see in organic CG, and as such is the detail that will snap the player/viewer out of their immersion soonest..)


06 June 2009, 01:49 AM
Nick> I totally agree with you, the texture is going to be tweaked to get rid of that mirroring, and yeah symmetry in organics bothers me for sure, which is why I didn't mirror and stack the UVs =).

So it turned out I had a tiny 5 sided poly under the nose...So, I fixed the model, re-exported, reUVed, and redid the normal map sculpt.

The texture this time is way more clean with a top projection of hair this time, (had terrible looking hair last time).

I've added in moles, scars etc in this normal model to get some asymmetry in there, the texture still needs that tweaking so it still has the mirrors of freckles etc.

I've built a SSS shader in maya before but never heard of a "faux" SSS. Info on that would be appreciated =).

So yeah this thread is alive again after that brutal mishap lol. Atleast I always do things better and faster the second time around, it really helped ingrain these new techniques in my flow.

Tell me what you think! Thanks everybody.

06 June 2009, 01:50 AM
Haha its amazing what you see when you get away for a minute and come back, after posting those screens I noticed the lower rear of the skull is clearly protruding too much, and the top-most wrinkle in the forhead is way too far out. =P meh.

06 June 2009, 11:03 PM
The normal map sculpt as well as the texture for the head is pretty much done, added in asymmetry scars, pock marks, freckles etc. Enhanced the beard stubble and generally cleaned it up. Next up, clothing and body.

06 June 2009, 08:48 PM
Wow. Simply wow. This is coming along great. Loving the progress!

The only thing I could suggest, is that alot of the details on the face (moles, holes, ect.) are a little too extreme. I'd bring them down a little.

06 June 2009, 10:53 PM
Thanks for the input Gurboura =).

I've been texturing the suit, with several redos and tweaks thanks to input from Stonepilot. It's coming along.

06 June 2009, 12:54 PM
Niiice! I like your textures and model. Could you please tell where to find some tuts about texturing? I'm working on the S.W.A.T soldier. Thinking of the best way to texture it.

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