Create a Game Character: Jouster - part 5

This exclusive, free tutorial series will explore game character creation workflow. I will cover my entire process of taking a concept through to the final game asset.

You can see how the concept was designed by Marc Brunet on LayerPaint in his two-part tutorial.

During this tutorial series I will cover:

1. Blocking in the proportions
2. Sculpting the face
3. Sculpting the armor
4. Creating the armor meshes
5. Finalizing the details
6. Creating the low poly model
7. UV unwrapping and texture baking
8. Texturing the armor
9. Texturing the face
10. Model presentation in Marmoset

I hope you'll find this series of helpful in some way and if you have any questions feel free to contact me. Let's get started!

Sculpt in the details

Free Resources

You can download free resources to accompany this chapter: click to download Adam Fisher's custom brush.

Step 1: Panel Loops - part 1

In this chapter of the series we'll be covering sculpting the armor details and finalising the high-poly sculpt.

The majority of the armor panels were created using the Panel Loops feature in ZBrush. Panel Loops work by creating separate panels based on predefined PolyGroups. The process was fairly similar for the creation of all the panels, so I'll be using a couple of examples. The first is the shoulder armor.

Once the SubTool has been subdivided (Ctrl + D) several times, move to the highest subdivision and delete lower (Geometry > Del Lower). Next we'll need to define where we want to create the panel loops. You can do this by masking a shape and then pressing Ctrl + W (PolyGroups > Group Masked And Clear Mask) to create a PolyGroup out of the mask.

Alternatively, you can use the Slice brushes, which will slice up the mesh into PolyGroups based on the Slice Curves drawn over the mesh. You can access the Slice brushes by holding Ctrl + Shift and clicking on the brushes/selection icon. Select the SliceCurve and create slices across the mesh where you need to create Panels. You can see the PolyGroups by pressing the PolyFrame icon or Shift + F.

With the PolyGroups defined, under Geometry > Edge Loops you will find the Panel Loops settings. Turn off Double and set the Elevation to -100. Adjust the Thickness, Polish, Bevel amount and Bevel Profile to meet your needs.

To create the Panel Loops, click the Panel Loops button. Once the Panel Loops have been created, use the Polish by Crisp Edges, Polish by Groups and/or Polish by Features found under the Deformation tab to clean up and soften the Panel Loop edges.

Step 2: Panel Loops - part 2

For paneling, where we need to create symmetrical slices, we'll need a slightly different approach. For the next example of Panel Loops I'll be using the armor plate for the backside. We'll begin by creating the slices on one side only. Creating the initial slices on the character's right side makes it easier when mirroring later. Once the slices have been created, go to Geometry > Modify Topology > Mirror and Weld (with the X axis selected) to mirror the mesh and the Slices/PolyGroups over.

The mesh will now be split into many different PolyGroups. Next we need to re-group the extra Poly Groups so that only the panels are sorted into our separate PolyGroups. To do this, use the SelectRect brush to Ctrl + Shift + tap on a PolyGroup to have only that group visible, then Ctrl + Shift + drag on the document background to invert the selection, then Ctrl + Shift + tap on any other PolyGroups to hide them.

Press PolyGroups > Group Visible to group any visible PolyGroups as a new group together. Sort the mesh into new PolyGroups so that the only separate groups are the panels we want to create.

Once the new PolyGroups have been assigned, create the Panel Loops like we did in the previous step.

Step 3: Add details - part 1

The remainder of the details are fairly straightforward. For the smaller panel details and triangular shapes I've used the DamStandard brush with the Stroke > Lazy Mouse > Lazy Radius turned up and also the MAHCut Mech A & B brushes created by ZBrushCentral user Mahlikus The Black.

Step 4: Add details - part 2

For the small circular indents on the back of the helmet and upper leg, use the Mask brush (with the Focal Shift set at -100) to mask the circles on the mesh. Then Invert the Mask (Ctrl + I or Ctrl + click on document background) and set Deformation > Inflate to -2. If needed, use Defomation > Polish by Features to clean up the indents.

Step 5: Bodysuit pads

To create the padded sections of bodysuit underneath the armor, use the Mask brush to mask off an area in the shape of the pads and invert the mask. Go to Deformation > Inflate and inflate the padded area. Use the Move brush to pull the edges over the mask slightly to create more of an overhang along the seams. Then use the DamStandard brush to create the inner seams. Increase the Lazy Mouse Radius to give more control over the stroke.

Step 6: Body suit folds

Add some simple folds to the body suit by using the Standard brush to block in the larger folds; try to keep in mind the tension on the material to help determine the directionality of the folds. Use the DamStandard brush to go over some of the folds to define them some more. Only add folds to the parts of the body suit that will be seen under the armor.

Step 7: Finalize, Decimate and Export

With the sculpting complete, do a final check of the model to make sure everything is correct and ready for the low polygon mesh creation. Next we'll need to export 2 versions of the high polygon mesh: one version with all of the detail to be used for texture baking and another version with less detail to be used for retopology.

Decimate the SubTools once again and combine any meshes needed to make it easier when retopologizing; for example, rather than having 4-5 SubTools that make up the torso armor, it will make things easier to combine the armor pieces into 1 mesh.

Finally, export the meshes ready for the retopology phase.

Pro tip: Extra details!

For this character I want to keep the armor fairly clean and any damage details I plan to do in the texturing phase. However, if you want to sculpt some scratch and damage detail, try using the Slash1 and MalletFast brushes which can be found in LightBox > Brush. These brushes are great for quickly adding damage details!

Click HERE to see the next part in this series.

Click HERE to see the previous part in this series.

Want to start from the beginning? Click HERE to see the first part in this series.

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