Pipeline for modelling and animating a character?


I may be overcomplicating things in my head about what’s involved in the process of making and animating characters, but a lot of terminology goes over my head when looking into it and I often can’t find anything that gives me a direct answer, so hopefully somewhere here can. (Apologies if this has been asked millions of times)
For context purposes, I’m using zbrush, Maya, and photoshop.
SO! Here are my questions to all who can answer them:

  1. The basic idea I’ve gotten is that you model highpoly in zbrush, import it into maya and do cleanup. Does this mean tracing over the model with a much cleaner version that has holes in the eyes and mouth for animating?
  2. Are clothes (non removable) merged with the character or pinned on with some way that I need to educate myself on?
  3. When painting onto a model directly rather than onto a net (I’ve heard of some programmes doing this) is there an opportunity to use other brushes or is this process only used as a base/guide for a detailed net version?
  4. Do I need to add wrinkles and small details onto a model or can I just rely on texturing and bump-mapping?
  5. I read about the process of texturing skin and saw that many layers are used, does this mean that I’d need to play around with texture settings or is this lies?

Thanks for taking the time to read through my beginner terrible questions and/or answering them! I’m still researching into this all but can’t seem to get my head around those specific things.


Well, you are not asking about pipeline, you are asking about workflow.

1, It’s a much more involved process, than just adding holes. You may want to study topology a bit. As for the working method, there are number of ways:
a) start directly in zbrush, don’t worry at all about the technical details. Then import this in maya and draw the usefull mesh on top of it. Then take this new one in zbrush too, and project all teh details onto it and export the relevant textures.
b) use a premade base mesh, which is already has good topology, ready to animate. Import this in zbrush, deform it as you want, then export the same level mesh back to maya.

  1. Keep them separate. If necessary, you may need to use a cloth simulation, or just bind them to the joints you are deforming the body. Actually, is a very good idea to delete the parts of the body that are covered by clothes.

  2. Each application is different, but most of them have a huge selection of brushes, also the option to make your own. You can have layers in some of the apps - but not zbrush.

  3. Most likely you want to sculpt these and export the wrinkles as displacement maps - here again there are lots of things to consider. The basic idea is this: how far is teh face from the camera? if the camera is very close, you may want to model the wrinkles. If is far, don’ bother.

  4. Again, this is dependent on the camera distance. For close ups you may need to use a subsurface scattering shader with multiple layers. Otherwise you may get away with a simple subsurface scattering material or even some basic but fast shaders.