Kevin Lanning, Senior Artist
For character modeling, you said that you build the base mesh in Max and then bring it to ZBrush. Could you go into more detail about that process?
Sure. I usually begin my modeling within 3ds Max by creating an extremely low poly and rough base mesh to be used as a starting point within ZBrush. Once the major forms have been blocked in and quaded out, the meshes are taken into ZBrush for sculpting.
The amount of time dedicated to creating the base solely depends upon the complexity and make of the character. For instance, a creature requiring purely organics will require less upfront time in Max, giving more time to flush things out in ZBrush. On the split side, for a character all suited up with multilayered armor pieces I'll hop between Max and ZBrush more often.
About what percentage of the work is actually done in ZBrush by the time you're done?
I'd say anywhere from 60-90 percent of the work is done within ZBrush depending on the design of the character. ZBrush has really become a vital tool in our character modeling pipeline. The amount of artistic freedom the application gives users is just incredible. With the new texturing and topology tools, ZBrush is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for many artists.
What are your techniques for creating the creature morphs?
With the use of layers and projection, the creation of morph targets has really become extremely easy and fun to do. Morphs can easily be used to create hit areas, wounds, or even boiling skin. The high-res morphs can then be used to generate the in-game geometry morphs as well as a masked normal map to be blended in and out in-game.
What are your favorite tools for roughing up the armor and accessories?
I'd have to say the Dam standard brush and Pinch brush are my personal favorites, but some of the other guys love the Slash 2 brush as well. It's really a mixture of manually going in there and cutting things in, along with the use of stamping alphas when possible.