bloom - submission post

Reflective statement

Over the course of this project I forced myself to learn and use as many programs as I needed to. With many games companies using many different programs I find appropriate to learn as many as you can because you don't know what they will use. In this way I feel as if I'm pushed for time to take in a lot of knowledge rather quickly. Having said that, I am happy with what I added to my repertoire. Orantrix, dDo, ART, and Marmoset Toolbag 3. 
I felt the most uneasy towards the beginning of the project in which I couldn't decide exactly what type of design to go towards. On top of this I realised I was finding it hard to distinguish between good design and personal aesthetic preference. Though it's okay to have them crossover; I thought I was relying too much on what I tend to gravitate towards. However in the end I have become rather fond of Sawa's design. Whether or not that design was properly fit for 3-D is another thing. I found when doing the retopology that the design of the suit was not exactly efficient as the subtle silhouette difference made for a lot more work with not a lot of visual "pull". I was also completely unsure if the retopology I had done would animate properly, no matter how much research I had done. But this was more an issue of my inexperience than obliviousness. Speaking of which, I had conducted a great amount of research both beforehand and at the time in order to reduce the amount of grandeur mistakes made. I did however make a lot of mistakes down to simply not knowing a small part of the pipeline that would nevertheless stop me from moving forward. They felt like good mistakes, though. Ones that I knew I would not make again and thus help me speed up the process in the future. For example I had a problem with Marmoset Toolbag in which I didn't realise it did not accept material IDs. Whilst it seems insignificant, it actually became rather difficult trying to figure out how to break the mesh up in order to have the skin and body elements separate to texture them properly. 

As an over-arching theme; I don't believe I managed to optimise my character that I made in 3-D well enough. But this would've been to do with becoming overwhelmed with the workflow and thus slipping up on the cleanest way to do things. Although I must say, and this is partially because the character was for games; at no part did I feel as if I was making decisions that could be classed as "cheating." In that regard; I didn't cut corners because I couldn't figure something out, but I also didn't cut corners in a good way - for optimisation. This will be something I'd like to explore in the future.

As a last note, and perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot here, my one major gripe with the presentation of my project is the pose I gave Sawa. Though I used reference from a real ice skater I don't believe I chose the right one. Aside from that, this project has been an eye-opener for what I can achieve by myself as often I tend to subdivide what one person's role is, akin to how the industry works. This project has given me more confidence with what I can achieve by myself and also a good idea of where I stand skill wise and what I need to improve on.

bloom - skin and hair~

so i had no problems importing from dDo into marmoset toolbag 3. I worked on the skin shader a great deal today, as well as the hair and eyes, though I'd like to continue tweaking the hair. From these screenshots I see I need to move the lower eyelashes down a little too. She's going to look a little wide eyed until I get the face rigged up so I can lower her eyelids. 

Actually I had a problem where the gloves and the back of her are not separate pieces, unlike the head. I did not realise Marmoset Toolbag doesn't support Mat ID's, thus I had the choice of either separating the back (easy) and the skin part of the hands from the gloves (annoying star shape). I realised instead I can manually take all the maps I made in dDo and create additional maps for the skin by hand, masking off the SSS, emissive layer, and detail normal maps from the cloth materials. There is a little less customization but it still works. So now I know for the future. : )

bloom - texturing part 2

thought i would upload another preview now that i have the bulk of the objects textured. this is previewed in dDo, the next challenge is going to matching it properly to marmoset viewer + figuring out the skin and hair. when that is sorted out i'll go back to the holsters and guns.

Bloom - dDO texturing

i thought i'd just share some of the progress i've worked on today with the texturing in dDo. Using material IDs, normal maps and AO. cavity maps were generated from the AO maps thanks to dDo being clever! i think i'd like to tone down the latex on the long glove.

Bloom - Normals & AO bakes

Finished baking normal maps and AO maps. Used xnormal. Tried handplane but with worse results. The gun was annoying because I couldn't explode the low poly (due to the high poly having details that I did in zbrush ontop of the original maya hp version) so I had to bake each piece separately so that the ray casts didn't interfere with eachother. So I just took the parts and combined them together in Photoshop for both the normals and AOs.

also, i sculpted the iris detail. actually i did this on my les parapluies de cherbourg image from year 2 but from a drawn texture. 

Bloom - Retopology

normal map + uv preview
I finished the retopology and the UV's. I'm just currently moving shells into the 1-1 space rather than using separate UV sets as I'm not entirely confident with what programs support them. i decided i'll be using dDo for texturing as it's basically a built in bridge with Photoshop and works seamlessly. I'm baking normals and AO maps right now. Going to bake & work at 4k then scale down to 2k in final.

The model is overall 80k tris. (including holsters + guns) I worked to FFXV's polygon count of around 100k polys per character + 20k allocated to the hair alone.
Hair makes up about 19k on mine.

The two suit parts, armbands, glove, and bow part are one combined mesh, and combining the fancy raised part with the vertical striped underlayer was probably the most challenging thing to do and was laborious to say the least. As I worked on it I began to think that it's probably conclusive of not much thought on my part going into the design process. If this was a lower poly character I would not have been able to get this same raised effect in the silhouette. (One that is minimal at best regardless, and especially from far away) Learning experience ! Furthermore I was worried about baking a normal map, but I tried especially hard to respect smoothing groups. The edges of the model where the objects usually break up have hard edges and are separate UV islands. Thus I am having no problems with baking. (when using cages properly, that is)

example, low poly left baked normals on right (not final bake version) 

Bloom - Guns + Holsters

Made the gun by going from high poly box modelling to the low poly by optimizing. It was a learning experience for sure! I wish I knew how to use 3ds Max too now.
Also finished the holsters, and consequently the rest of the high poly so I'm moving onto the retopology now. (Guns look dodgy in zbrush as I was using the lowpoly as light placeholders.)
As I made the lowpoly of the holsters in maya first the lowpoly is done for those too : D

Bloom - Detailing Part 2

The detailing work I have done today! I tried to make the patterns flattering. It was done by just drawing a mask onto the outfit and then extruding it out, z-remeshing and then reprojecting details so that it wouldn't be jagged. In my head I wanted it to have the look of those squishy stickers you can sometimes buy.. 

Bloom - Detailing Part 1

I wanted to share some of the detailing work i've been doing today! Mainly: Skin, the padded/lined underlayer she wears and gloves/armband thing. i'm going to leave the hair as it is because it's only being used here for reference for when I make hair cards. i also retopo'd the satin above layer of her leotard thingamajig so I can manually go around and line the border without it looking bad. (on the blockout it was pixely because i used the inflate deformation on the pre-created bordermask left from extracting.)

ah and i made her jaw and head in general smaller. the eyes are also slightly different. I tried to respect my own concept art a little more. the hands were made smaller too. : ) now featuring her 90's shoulderpads wooooo

Bloom - 3D Blocking Model

Today I blocked out the model to make sure proportions and everything is in order and readable before I commit to details and such so in turn this is very rough around the edges. (a small note: I blocked out muscle tone in her legs but didn't smooth any of it yet) I think her head is too big right now and maybe her hips are too small. She does not have her gun holsters because I will make those in Maya separately as they are a little elaborate with all the pieces. I decided to get rid of the hanging earrings as there was too much going on around that part of her head. The rails at the bottom of her shoes are also missing currently. Any criticism is greatly appreciated as always !! 

Bloom - Signing off on the design !

I still wasn't particularly happy with the design of Sawa, and felt she was too bright in contrast with the stark white alien so I went for a darker approach akin to the design language of Bayonetta. Tried to communicate the harnessing of magic better through the guns and ice skates. 

As I said in my previous post I wanted the shoes to be multipurpose so she can change between rollerblades, iceskates, and normal shoes. For specifics: the bottom of her shoes have a railgate that she can slide the ?mode of transport she wants? into it. (They then power up from there)

Final Design

(sorry for the terrible upload congruency and layout. i'm currently sitting in lakeside carpark waiting to take my laptop in for repair ! shall maybe fix later)

Bloom - Further Direction

Firstly; a tag line to summarize the game's story simply: Sawa, 26, an intrepid Iceskater moves into New York City after following an advert for a small basement apartment that requires no rent. Her mysterious landlord requires instead that she aide an investigation into an equally as mysterious giant monster.


Going further with the design I'd begun thinking about forms that Sawa will have. It makes sense that she has an outfit that fits around her everyday life and always harkens back to the fact she, while willingly, unexpectedly took up this task. So it should transform when ready to fight.

Considering how she will scale both the giant monster and the buildings around NYC; when she transforms her skates give her the ability to play with gravity and stick to whatever surface she's on. As she skates black dust and pretty sparkly thingies will emit from underneath trailing a little. Thinking about it I don't think you'd be able to slide up most buildings in NYC easily; and it wouldn't be a smooth ride anyway. So I'd like to push the idea that she can transform back into her normal state and run up fire-escapes. Because those are a cool staple of NYC I feel.

Currently she feels a little as if she's like an annoying fly on the wall to the giant alienmonster. Furthermore; a game seems triflingly odd if you only ever fight one monster regardless of the investigative aspects. It would need to have smaller monsters along the way perhaps.

i wanted to do some paintings with her next to the monster to see if they contrast eachother well, and it's given me a good indication some colours need to change and design elements.

Bloom - Concept Direction (big post)

These were some of the initial concepts I drew to get a sense of where I was going to go. I knew I wanted the aliens she is going to be fighting to be big; and so she needed a way to get up to them. My concern in terms of game mechanics were how she will do damage and any subsequent meaningful damage. I drew her topheavy, with mechanical arms that could make her fly with boosters. By giving her restricted movement in the form of a super duper stylish pencil skirt n' some heels it would make her a slow runner and in hopes that the player would realise it'd be faster to fly. However I got tired of this idea and I didn't like the inclusion of mech parts.

So I'm now looking closer at some inspiration. From the likes of Street Fighter, Bayonetta, the videos of 水曜日のカンパネラ, Katharine Hepburn, Dana Scully, and when BB played Bonnie in that one music video !

I want the head of the alien to be its biggest weakpoint, and also the hardest to reach. I tried to make some obstruction of getting to its very unfortunately always open mouth. Considering the game would be set in a New York style sky-scraper filled city, I'm trying to get the alien partially mirror the buildings. Vertical !

I got rid of the mech arms and spliced together some rollerblades with ice-skates so this way there isn't a reliance on anything rocket-based ! She'll have to skate up the alien cutting it in the process. For weapons, as this time around it is unavoidable, I decided to give her two high firing Glock 19's, although I also want to give her a tommy gun too. (thinking about those trigger buttons on a controller)

I pushed the vertical shape of the alien further, and thought it'd be interestingly hilarious if the alien had this accordion style body that unfolds (thus making the alien get higher) as it loses health. The concern being each time it does this it's not a clean process, has a little bit of a fit, and destroys the surrounding area its in.


This is where I'm at design wise right now ! (Though I still need to test different colours) She is still loosely top-heavy but it's not as obvious. She's got a harness set up to hold the guns on her shoulder-blades and lower back.

I'm hoping to be able to make this character in 3D as well as the alien. The alien in terms of rigging will be so hilarious because I'll have to make it un-posed. Gotta unfold the accordion ! 
As I want to start with a high poly in Zbrush i thought i'd better take advantage of all the embellished detail work I can do as aside from the guns and harness clips most of this project will be organic. 

I'd love for any feedback of any sort please ! : ^)

Major Project - Proposal / Inspiration

For my major project I want to create characters for a game that is a mashup of the lighthearted magical girls genre like Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura etc, and the investigative mystery of the x-files ! I'd like it to aim for the amount of detail seen in triple A games. - Focusing more on a more mature art style with procedural texturing. However; at the same time I'd like a contrast between horribly odd aliens and girly dainty characters . Scale between the aliens and the characters will be exaggerated but there'll need to be some experimentation into how big I make the aliens. I think straight away they should be more organic rather than armoured etc.

Games featured: Batman Arkham Knight (DLC), Final Fantasy 14, Final Fantasy 15, Evolve, Bayonetta 2 , Aegis (Persona) Fanart by Blair Armitarge!

I'll need to look into polycounts for these games to aim for a similar amount. I'm looking here on Polycount to which I see FFXV ranging at 100,000 max per character (20,000 assigned to hair alone), with Sunset Overdrive (particularly more stylized) at 40,000 per character. In Bayonetta, there's around 20,000 per character. I'm thinking already I'll need to use 2 texture maps but I can allocate 2k for the main parts and a 1k map for the accessories so we will see.
Finally I'd like to research into a proper game rig rather than a strange hybrid with what I did in my previous project !

As for how the gameplay should impact the design of the characters, the amount of "gravity" the characters can get away with probably needs to be lenient. - Similar to how Kingdom Hearts deals with size difference and gravity etc. A lot of this seems to be reliant on weapons however so part of the design I'll need to consider will be how the characters fight these giant aliens !

What I'll make: 

For this contrast in giant aliens and a character to work I'll need to make:

Concept work & Complete 3D Models (Highpoly+lowpoly/textured/rigged/displayed properly in Marmoset viewer)

1 human character
1 alien

At the level of detail I wish to achieve I think this is reasonable for the timeframe as they'll be vastly different and nothing would be reusable.