Hello and welcome back to part 2 of this overview of the art pipeline. Today, our 3D artist will show you the ropes regarding the modelling phase
Matija Varga: The first thing I do when I receive concept art from our artist is determine scale of individual parts on ship. In case I don’t get any 3D concept I’ll usually make my own. This is an important thing to do if you want to get a bigger picture of what you are doing in the beginning. On concept art all parts of ship look well scaled, but when you start modelling those parts they sometimes wont fit with each other and you will need to waste a lot of time on figuring out / remodelling assets. After the 3D concept is set up, I decide what part of ship I want to start to model first. Sometimes I start from nose, other times from engine.. but I can also start with an antenna It keeps the job more interesting because I am not repeating the same steps over and over again for each and every model. If it looks good and has more sense, I won’t make some part of ship identical to the one on the concept art. For example, the engine’s position may look good on concept art, but when you put the model in the players perspective it doesn’t look or feel good. That commonly results in either repositioning or remodelling. Also noteworthy is the fact that the bottom part of ships on concept art is usually not visible. I have the largest amount of creative freedom on that part of ship – I just need to model some things on my own which make sense with the other parts of the ship that are shown on the concept. When a 3D model is done its time for texturing and we are using mostly tileable textures because we can share those textures between ships. Also, for ships that are really huge with a lot of detail we would need a lot of high resolution textures for even a single one. Smaller textures are 512×512 and the largest is 1024×1024. I usually use around 3 to 4 small textures and one large decals-texture for the ship. I can also combine one large texture with few smaller ones.
At the end, when all the base textures and the detail texture are applied, I start copying polygons and applying decals on them. Decals have a really big impact on the look and feel of a finished model; they highlight individual parts of the model which results in an amazing balance of visuals. The only thing left now is to split the model into its material groups and import it into our game engine. Our shaders make the 3D model come to life; the lighting and shadows, the ambient and tone mapping are all really amazing. For example, what looks like a simple orange colored surface in the 3D software I’m using ends up looking like real-life metal in our game engine, with all its shininess, reflections, etc…
Additional technical work on the model (collision mesh, shield mesh, derelict, engines, level of detail models – another 3 or 4 models of the original model, but each with fewer polygons) is, in our case, done by hand! After I’m finished I pass the model to our particle artist who then puts lamps, engines, additional ship effects like rotating parts etc. – which also give more life to model.
Check out our blog in a few days and we’ll take a look at how the final part of the Art pipeline works in more detail