Character pipeline

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  10 October 2009
Character pipeline

Hi everyone,

Decided to join up and post as I'm just getting into next-gen character modelling for games and I'm looking for advice.

Can someone give me an idea of a good workflow pipeline for character creation?

I'm looking at using 3DS max and Z Brush but I'm a little unsure about what gets created where.
For example do I create a simple base mesh in Max and export to Z brush? Do I create normal maps in z brush or Max? Does my base mesh need mapping in max before exporting (in order to determine how the final normal maps and other textures are laid out)?

Obviously I know most people probably have a workflow that works for them (or determined by an existing studio pipeline) but just wondered about a good overview of a common procedure to go from "2D concept" to "final game model".

(PS...I did a search about this but couldn't find anything that really covered it)
  10 October 2009
Smitler - if you're signed up for the character modeling class with Jon Rush then he'll cover a lot of the workflow during the course of the class. I just took this class and you go back and forth between 3ds Max and Zbrush a lot depending on what stage you are at. It's really about using the best tool for the job and also using what's comfortable for you. I think I heard "there are many ways to skin a cat" a few dozen times during the course.
  10 October 2009
Here's a great tutorial for max / zbrush workflow:

website is currently down tho.

Here's a mirror

Last edited by Psyk0 : 10 October 2009 at 01:18 AM.
  10 October 2009
Heres the process I've learnt at uni for building a character:

1) Create a low res mesh in Max (or Use Z-Brush Z-Spheres then retopoligise and project details)
2) Use Max to unwrap UVs.
3) Import mesh to Z-Brush and sculpt high res detail.
4) Export Normal/ AO/ Cavity map from Z-Brush
5) Paint texture maps using PS or Z-Brush's polypainting tools.

Like kwynn says, you can flip between programs at whatever stages; perhaps you want to texture straight away and unwrap later, you could import an unwrapped mesh at the lowest sub-D at the end if you wanted (importing a different model with a different amount of verts won't work though).
  10 October 2009
Cheer guys that's been very helpful. I knew I'd get multiple answers but I always find adopting someone elses workflow and then adapting that makes a good start.
  10 October 2009
Yeah - I guess ultimately you've got to do what works for you (or the client).
  10 October 2009
my typical workflow is:

model in max/maya, get model approved.

layout uv's in uvlayout pro and sculpt in zbrush/mudbox, get model approved again.

export normal/ao maps from mudbox/zbrush along with sculpted base mesh. paint diffuse/spec in photoshop using normal/ao/uvlayout snapshot as a reference.

take model back into zbrush/mudbox to remove seams if i'm unable to do so in photoshop. get textures approved.

create LOD's

set up hierarchy for engine

set up material in max/maya so it can be exported to the engine correctly.

refine material in engine editor.

mess with .xml/.lua/.cfg until everything magically works. get everything approved one last time.

i should point out i'm not a character artist though, so i don't have to worry about skinning/rigging. mostly just props/vehicles/vegetation.
  10 October 2009
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