Making Of 'Red Beard Cop'
Hello there. My name is Leandro Pavanelli and I'm a freelance 3D modeler from Brazil. Red Beard Cop was a personal project that started as mix of the many studies that I wanted to do. For example, I wanted to make some studies of cloth folds, but didn't want to make just a shirt or a pants sculpture. I also have been flirting for some time with the idea of doing a nice jacket so I could practice sculpting some cloth folds and doing a nice leather texture. And since I'm a huge fan of real-time characters, I started to think about what kind of character I could do that may have all of those characteristics. That's when I came up with the idea of making a cop character.
With the idea of making a cop in mind, I started searching for references. I knew that I didn't want to make him look generic so I had in my mind the basic idea of giving some kind of different hair style and bear.
The clothing was going to include all of those studies that I wanted to do. So I just went on Google and searched for as many references as I could find of jeans, , shirts and leather jackets (Fig.01). I also started to look for references of the accessories (gun, badge, handcuffs and so on). I didn't need to look for reference for some of his accessories as I own things like the watch, bracelet, dog tag and sunglasses, so in that way I was able to put some part of me into the character.
High Poly Model
I started the high poly model by sculpting the body and the head. This is a very important part because it's at this stage that you will give the proportions to the character. So you have to pay a lot of attention when doing this to make sure your character has good and correct proportions. If your model doesn't look right at this stage it won't look right with clothes and everything else.
I made a very simple base mesh using ZSpheres inside ZBrush and then I started by sculpting the head because it's usually the most expressive part of a character. So I gave more attention to the head to make it look the way I wanted it to.
Then I moved on to sculpting the body. Although the majority part of his body wasn't going to be visible, I sculpted everything except for the feet. I think it was a great opportunity to practice and study anatomy. When modeling characters I always look for as many anatomy references as possible. I have a folder with tons of anatomy images so that was my main source of references, but I'm always looking on Google and in books for more because you can never have too many anatomy images to help you with your sculpting. ZBrush was used for all my sculpting on this character. The brushes that I mainly used were: Clay, ClayBuildup, Standard, Smooth and Move (Fig.02 - 03).
After I finished the body and head, I started to model the base meshes of the clothes and accessories in Softimage (Fig.04). Since the base mesh was going to be used to sculpt in ZBrush I made sure that I had an all quad base mesh with even spaced edges. That helps a lot when the sculpting part comes because your mesh will subdivide better and you'll avoid some problems.
Then I went into ZBrush and started to sculpt the pants and the jacket. I grabbed all the references that I had of pants and jackets, and sculpted the folds and later the details (Fig.05). I always sculpt as much as I can on the subdivision that I'm on at the moment before subdividing it again. That way I naturally go from big forms to smaller forms and then details. When sculpting clothes it's really important to take into consideration some elements like gravity and points of tension. Try to understand how cloth reacts to gravity and how it folds on top of itself. Observe some patterns that cloth makes when it folds on itself and how it behaves when near a point of tension (like near the armpits when the arms are down).
When I was done I started to model the accessories in Softimage (Fig.06). I guess I don't have much to say about the accessories. It was just basic polygon modeling that can be done in any 3D modeling software. I use Softimage because I really like the tools that I'm able to use in this software. At this point the high poly model was done (Fig.07).
Low Poly Model and UVs
With the high poly model done I started to get ready to do the retopology. Since this was a personal project I didn't have a polygon budget to match. I just wanted to end up with a really nice model so I didn't worry too much about the polygon count. The full model (with the gun and the jacket) sat at about 25,000 tris. Almost every part of the low poly model was made from scratch. Just a couple of things were made using geometry from the high poly model. I used Topogun to do the retopology. I really like this software because it's really simple and easy to use, and you can do the retopology really quickly.
I used Decimation Master in ZBrush to export a less dense high poly mesh to Topogun and did the retopology by parts (head, then pants, then shirt, and so on), always paying a lot of attention to the silhouette of the low poly. Always try to make it as close as you can to the silhouette of the high poly so that way you'll end up with a low poly that's really similar to the high poly and your maps will come out better when you bake them - not to mention you'll have less problems with the baking part.
Once I finished the retopology of everything (Fig. 08 - 09), I brought all the low poly meshes into Softimage to make some adjustments and tweaks that I find easier to do in a 3D modeling software.
When the low poly mesh was done I unwrapped the UVs. I decided to have four UV layouts so that way I could have a lot of resolution to work on the maps (diffuse, normal, specular, etc). That also allowed me to make almost everything unique (not mirrored).
The layouts are: one for the head, one for the body, one for the jacket and one for the gun. I unwrapped the UVs using UVLayout. That's another great piece of software that really makes things easier to do. I always try to hide the cuts of the UV on places that naturally have some "cuts", like the stitching on the pants and jackets. One thing that I like to do with the UVs that really helps when the texturing part comes is to straighten the edges of some parts of the model (Fig.10). That really helps with clothes and other parts where you need to put some kind of pattern on the texture (like a fabric pattern).
Baking Maps and Texturing
When I was done with the UVs, I baked the maps. All the maps were baked at a 2048 x 2048 resolution except those for the gun, which had a 1024 x 1024 resolution map. I used xNormal to bake the normal maps and to bake the occlusion maps I used Topogun. Topogun gave me amazing results on occlusion maps (Fig.11). The Hardware Ambient Occlusion Map option gives a really detailed occlusion that really helped with the texturing part.
Topogun also allows you to bake normal maps, but for that I prefer XNormal as it's given me better results. I used the default values in the High definition meshes and Low definition meshes, and in the Baking options I just changed the size of the maps to 2048 x 2048 and the Anti-alising to 4x (although I don't think it's necessary; I just wanted to make sure I had everything close to maximum quality).
One thing that I really wanted to make look good was the textures. So I gave extra attention to this stage of the process. To make textures for clothes and other inorganic parts I usually start by making a layer of flat colors to define what color each part of the character will have. Then I put the occlusion maps on top of that with the blending mode on Multiply at a low opacity value (somewhere near 25-30%). That gives me a nice starting point on the textures.
After that I start to add some basic textures, like fabrics and metal parts (using photos). With that done I then start to add some color variation using some brushes from Photoshop, with the Burn and Dodge options. To add some dirt effects and give the feeling that clothes have been worn for some time, I create another layer and use photos of metals and concrete (for example), as well as trying different blending modes and opacity values.
To make the textures for the organic parts (head, arms, etc.,) I used Mudbox. I loaded some photos of faces (front, side) and other parts of the body and projected them onto the model (Fig.12). Then I started to paint some parts to make the textures stand out more and to give some unique characteristics to it (like small moles, little scars, etc).
When I finished the textures, I made the specular maps. To make these I just grabbed the textures and made it black and white. Then I adjusted each material (metal, leather, etc.,) to have the correct specular using Levels in Photoshop, while always checking in a real-time engine to see how the specular was working. Here you can see the finished maps of the body (Fig.13).
I chose to present the model in Marmoset Toolbag .This is a great tool to show real-time works and it's very simple to use. It allows you to try many different lights and effects to make your model look the way you want. To present my model I just made a really simple three-point light and used the Overcast Ambience skylight preset as the ambient light (Fig.14). Then I just took some screengrabs of the turntable and made some color corrections and small adjustments in Photoshop to make the final image (Fig.15 - 16).
I had a lot of fun making this character and doing this Making Of. I hope this was of some use to you. If you have any questions about something specific, just send me an email and I'll be happy to answer you! Cheers!