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Describe a typical character for us.

Rudy: The visual designers start with character concepts that will be refined further and further. This is an intensive phase between the Visual Artist and the Art Director. When the design is signed off on, we receive a character board including reference pictures of the materials that are used.

The polygon budget for in-game characters hasn’t changed much from Killzone 2. You deal with polycount, topology and whatnot once the ZBrush model has been signed off on. At this stage we only want to focus on the character’s shape.

We want to prevent a molded look. Some things you can sculpt into the model easily but lots of times we decided to create SubTools for items like straps, clamps, clips and such. This usually ends up as a huge list, so you’d better name the SubTools properly! I definitely recommend the little extra work by organizing it all in SubTools.

When the ZBrush model is signed off on, our characters are around 40 million polygons. Some characters actually exceed that number even further. The number does not say anything about how detailed a character is, but it definitely says something about ZBrush; namely that the software maintains its ease of use when working with such high-resolution models. I am sure many artists used to other applications know how frustrating it can be when your software is not responsive enough.

The target polycount for our in-game characters is 10,000 triangles. For characters carrying large and/or complexly shaped accessories, we can use an extra 2,000. Human heads have a separate budget of around 4,500 polygons. We remesh the ZBrush model in a dedicated piece of software which we also use for generating our detail maps. This can only be done by decimating the model first - so thank God for Decimation Master! This plug-in does an outstanding job. When we finish our new topology we then have to create a UV layout before generating the normal map and ambient occlusion map.


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