Create a Game Character: Jouster - part 8

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!

Texture the armor

Step 1: Base colors

During the texturing phase I have my model imported into Marmoset to check how the textures are looking as I'm working on them. In Photoshop, create a group called "Bakes" and inside the group put the Ambient Occlusion map and the Cavity map. Set the blending mode for the Occlusion map to Multiply and above that layer, set the Cavity map to Overlay and the layer opacity to around 50%.

Create a new group called "Base Colors" under the bakes group. Using the Selection mask that we baked from xNormal, begin selecting the different areas of the texture and create a Solid Color layer for each color needed. Using Solid Color layers gives us the option of being able to quickly adjust the base colors later on.

Step 2: Variation and texture

Create 2 new groups above the base colors group. Name the first group "Textures" and name the second "Color Variation". In the color variation group create 2 new layers and set the layer blending modes to Overlay.

For the first variation layer, use a grunge brush and paint using black and white to add some variation to the armor panels - but keep it subtle! For the second variation layer, paint some more vibrant blues, reds, greens and yellows over some parts of the armor to add some subtle color variation - but keep the opacity low.

Within the Textures group, I create a group for each type of material. For the metal group I use 3 tileable metal textures and set the blending mode to Soft Light with the layer opacity between 10% and 30%, and a metal noise layer on top with the blending mode set to Overlay and the Opacity around 5%. Use a mask for the group so that the metal textures are only applied to the metal parts of the armor.

Step 3: Scratches - part 1

Create a new group called "Scratches" and another group inside that called "Metal". Inside the metal group, overlay some tileable galvanized and grungy metal textures with the opacity set low. This is to give some subtle variation to the larger scratches.

At the base of this group create a new Solid Fill layer and select a mid-gray color. Apply a mask to the metal group and fill the mask with black. Then with a white, hard-edged scratch brush, begin painting scratches in the group mask. Try to put scratches where they are most likely to appear, like where the shoulder armor would scrape against the torso - but don't overdo it!

Step 4: Scratches - part 2

Create another group inside the scratches group and name it "Small Scratches". This group will be used to add small surface scratches to the armor. I use a combination of painted scratches and some scratch textures from

Duplicate these around the armor and then use a layer mask to paint the visibility of some areas. This will help hide some of the repeating scratches throughout the texture. Set the blending mode to Screen and the layer opacity to between 5% and 10%. We want it to be barely visible, but we'll increase the visibility of the scratches in the Specular map.

Step 5: Lights and Emissive map

This character has some glowing lights and to create this effect we'll be using an Emissive map. Create a new group called "Lights" and put it above the bakes layer. For the circular lights on the back, use the circular Marquee tool to create a circular selection then go to Edit > Stroke.

With the lights painted, right-click on the layer and add a small outer glow to the layer styles. Select a slightly lighter version of the color used for the lights.

Create a new group above the diffuse and call it "Emissive". Duplicate the Lights group into the emissive group and create a new layer under the lights group and fill it black. Increase the saturation of the lights layer with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and increase the outer glow.

Step 6: Dirt

It's time to get dirty! Create a new group below the bakes group called "Dirt/Grunge". In this group use a grunge brush to add some subtle dirt and scuff marks. I imagine that the lights on the back were some kind of boosters that would leave scorch marks on the armor.

To paint the scorch marks, use a Soft Round brush with the hardness around 50% and create small strokes in the direction that the blast would occur. Then use the Smudge tool to go over the area, smudging the brushstrokes in the direction of the blast.

Step 7: Specular map

The Specular map is used to define the strength and color of the specular highlights. To create the Specular map, begin by adjusting the base colors for the armor. For the orange-painted metal parts of the armor I have inverted the color to get a light-blue color. This will help create a white specular highlight.

Go through the layers to adjust the opacity, hue and saturation as needed. The scorch marks and dirt will have no specularity, so they will be very dark. Increase the brightness of the larger scratches and increase the layer opacity of the small scratches. This will make the scratch highlights really pop as light moves over the armor.

Step 8: Gloss map

The Gloss map is used to control the sharpness of the specular highlights. To begin creating the Gloss map, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer at the top of all of the layers and turn the saturation to -100. Go through each layer again and adjust the brightness as needed.

Adding some extra grunge, dirt and texture to both the Specular and Gloss maps can make the materials looks more realistic. Both the Specular and Gloss generally require a little bit of tweaking to get them to work well together with the diffuse, so be sure to test how they look on the model as you are working. Marmoset requires the Gloss map to be put into the Alpha channel of the Specular map.

Step 9: Normal map details

nDo2, Crazybump and a few other programs/plug-ins can be used to add some extra details to the Normal map. I use nDo2 to add the scratches and metal texture detail to the Normal map.

Open the Normal map in Photoshop and with nDo2, select Mix > Normal to nDo2. Next collapse the scratches group and the metal textures group from the diffuse texture and move them into the normal map document. Then in nDo2 press Convert for each of the scratch/texture layers and adjust the nDo2 settings as needed.

Once finished adjusting the options, in nDo2 change the Blend mode to Overlay.

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