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How long does the average model take to create? Which one took the longest? How many polygons is the average -- both in high and game resolution? Which model needed the most polygons?

Shane Hawco – Lead Character Artist
The average creature or armor takes about 3 weeks from start to finish. But complex creatures such as the High Dragon and the Archdemon took about 5-6 weeks to complete. Most of the characters are about 10,000-12,000 polygons including the head and weapons. Once again the High Dragon and Archdemon were the most complex and are around the 27,000 polygon mark.

What kinds of maps are used for Dragon Age characters and creations? How many maps are used for a typical asset?

Shane Hawco – Lead Character Artist
Most character assets in Dragon Age Origins are made with the following maps: Diffuse with the opacity on the alpha channel, Normal, Specular with the Specular Power on the alpha channel, and a Tint mask that allows for tinting of specular and diffuse properties. A typical character in Dragon Age Origins is comprised of a combination numerous parts such as Face, Eyes, Eyelashes, Scalp, Hair/Beard, Armor, Gloves, Boots and of course weapons. We wanted to make sure that the designers could customize the appearance of almost every character in the game to help make it a rich unique experience.

What can you tell (or show!) us about upcoming expansion content for Dragon Age?

Shane Hawco – Lead Character Artist
As I was mentioning with pushing the envelope with new creatures for the Dragon Age Expansion with the “Childer” we are pushing this idea even further with the Harvester which will be available in one of the next upcoming PDLC’s. I don’t want to give everything away at this point but let’s just say he has a few surprises up his sleeve...

Going forward, what are your goals to continue raising the bar for Dragon Age's graphics with upcoming downloadable content?

Shane Hawco – Lead Character Artist
We are always looking to improve things regardless of whether it is in graphics, animations, creature design or innovations. We are never happy with the status quo, making Dragon Age one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on.

What is your favorite ZBrush feature and why?

Ben Carriere – Senior Character Artist
Can I say that ZBrush is my favorite feature or is this too corny? There’s tons of good stuff in there. The new decimation tool is awesome. You don’t need a NASA computer anymore to render or bake out high-res models. It clearly reduces production time and lets us have more time to create even better looking assets. SubTools! They’re a great time saver; no need to create masks or polygroups to retain surfaces or overlapping elements. Now you build it, export it in and create amazing things without worrying. The new ZSketch is pretty sweet. You can now create everything within ZBrush, quickly and without having to go back and forth to your modeling package for tweaks or repositioning. Applying different and unique textures to the SubTools is also nice. It’s definitely better and simpler than in the previous version of ZBrush.

Leroy Chen – Character Artist
My Favorite ZBrush features are SubTools and SubTool Master. They are some of the most basic tools, but they are a big help when it comes to organizing my files efficiently. Moreover, because SubTools keep each tool’s subdivisions independent from one another this gives me the freedom to decide on which part I want to focus and give more resolution to. Another thing I found extremely useful is Decimation Master. It gives really accurate control for the user and the result is amazing. It’s really handy when it comes to taking high poly models out of ZBrush and bringing them into external programs like Max for doing projections.

Jae Keum – Character Artist
My favorite thing is the excellent support of ZBrush’s internet forum community. I think ZBrush is the best example which shows what great things can happen when an excellent program meets a great community. Whenever I encounter a challenging issue, I can always find a solution on the ZBrushCentral forums. There are so many talented artists who are willing to share their knowledge.

Francis Lacuna – Character Artist
The decimation tool in ZBrush is amazing, but it’s more of a must-have feature than favorite for me. I could say that SubTools and all the benefits that come with them, particularly the ability to easily apply different texture maps to each SubTool is a handy feature for our multi-part meshes. That would be a close favorite. But I’ll have to go with being able to export OBJ’s between 3dsmax and ZBrush and still translate the higher subdivisions over. This is integral to the work we do with our head system as well as allowing us more freedom to make those subtle but essential tweaks to our creatures. That is nothing short of awesome.

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