How to make a good game character model?

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  10 October 2012
Smile How to make a good game character model?

Hi to all!!!
I saw a lot of amazing 3d game art here!
I really need to know what is the right workflow(or best/fast one) to make a game character.
I'm studying zbrush, xsi and other programs to know how to sculpt etc, but without knowing what's best I'm kind of lost..
I saw a lot of tutorials and searched for an answer but all seems different or incomplete...
I always changed the way I create characters to try and find my way but all I come out are other doubts about if what I'm doing is good or not.
My workflow actually is this:
1: making a concept, in zbrush, drawing it or copy something that I can.
2:Study the possible topology(how to do it)
3:Create a base mesh made(1 for all the character or 2 pieces if high poly or for body and changeble armor) in Softimage and import it in zbrush to adjust the forms.
4:export the mesh from zbrush and reimport it in xsi to make the uv's
5: reimport it in zbrush and detail it

This workflow present a lot of problems for me, for example the fact that if I modify the mesh then in high res in zbrush, like I add a little horn or something that goes too much out of the space of the base mesh, when I make the normal and the diffuse maps they seems too flat at that point so I had to retopologize all and project all the details.

Is this workflow correct? or there's a better/faster or safer way to work on a game model? I'd like to know what's your's!
Maybe I have to make the basic mesh in zbrush, and then retopologize all, make the uv of the retopo in softimage and then project the details in zbrush from the old mesh to the new one?

The second thing that's not clear to me is, a game caracter must be composed of only one mesh? if yes that mesh must be closed, without holes or I can do for example the hand and the body as 2 pieces?

And finally, for now ^_^... Is zbrush the best way to retopologyze, and to make the normal map? if yes what are the settings to make a good normal in zbrush? If no, what's best?

I hope for your answer and that this post helps people in the same situation
  11 November 2012
Street Cop character making of:

I do all my base meshes in max because it's faster for me, send it to zbrush for sculpting then export the completed sculpt back to max for retopo, i use a plugin called wrapit. I've also used topogun in the past.

Game characters don't have to be made one mesh, as long as you can hide seams (i find it odd that you'd want to detach the hand mesh from the arm).
  11 November 2012
thank you for your help! I'll give a try to topogun I think.
The thing of the hand separated from the arm was only an example^^
  11 November 2012
There are a tone of different ways to do this and all of them have there glaring problems. Every time I try changing my pipe line as new programs come out I find some things I like and others I do not. Personaly the one thing I found most is the more times you swap programs the more times I find sudden artifacts and flipped vertisies which is a pain to fix.

I do most of my work in Zbrush for characters because I feel the most comfertable with the program. I used to do all my base work in 3DS Max -> Zbrush for high res mapping -> Photoshop for texturing -> 3DS max to put it all back together. After working with Zbrush so much and finding it so quick to 'sketch' in I no longer touch 3DS Max...

I do this:
1) Grab concept art of what I want to model
2) Model high res detail of my model in Zbrush building up from Zspheres and going from there
3) Detach parts that I can hides scemes on and Retopo the model in Zbrush
4) UV Unwrap to get my UV's down now I love the build in one in Zbrush but some times I don't like how it utalizes the area so I will some times hop the model over to 3DS Max and unwrap it there
4) Bump my model up as high as possible and do poly paint Zbrush has some amazing tools for this
5) Generate Normal / Displacment / Diffuse / Cavity / Spec / Dirt / AO maps from Zbrush
6) Touch up maps in Photoshop
7) Compile everything in 3DS Max and rig my character for it to be ready to be animated and apply shaders with texture maps

Now I try different programs to try out the different parts of the process like Miria for texturing in real 3D space is on my list and Topogun for re toping my character is another one. When it comes down to it I need a simple process that lets me be as free as possible to create and produces a quality model in as short of time with a minimum need to hop between programs.
  12 December 2012
My workflow. Tho i'm still a bit noobish.

1. Base mesh in Maya
2. Sculpt in zbrush
3. Retopo in maya
4. Project highres detail to the retopoed mesh and final fixes in zbrush. (can use subdivision algorithm for baking.)
5. Uvmap in maya and headus uvlayout.
6. Normals and other maps from zbrush, mudbox, maya, xnormal or something else. I haven't figured what makes best result yet.
7. texturing in Mudbox + photoshop.
  12 December 2012
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