In this tutorial I will explain how to start modelling a character with few but essential polygons. Many years ago this kind of technique was absolutely necessary for the creation of characters, cars, and anything else you had to appear in a video game console. In order to create a character in game needed not exceed a maximum number of polygons defined (usually a few) and create a low-resolution textures that were to contain almost all the details of the character.

This process was quite complex and require patience and intelligence to maximize the potential of the console The modern consoles can run a large number of polygons without difficulty; but still many portable consoles still require models with a low number of polygons to be managed by the limited power hardware avaiable.Forward also many real-time applications require this kind of optimization to be able to turn smoothly.

On this tutorial we will create a low poly model inspired by the mech Omega Boost, the eponymous character of the PS1 games for SONY Polyphony (the makers of Gran Turismo series)

STEP1: Took pictures / setup scene:

After you take photos begin to setup the scene creating planes to which we assign photos of reference ( image_1 ). Then assign the respective images to plans to have a reference on the size and proportions. the toy of the character does not have many details, but we will need to be able to position our good elements in space. and 'Is better if to put these reference planes in a separate layer so that you can turn off if they did not need or get in the way ( image_2A ).From here we will begin to create the first polygon, we start from the foot, starting knows a simple polygon

STEP2: start modelling:

begin to create the first element: the foot, you have to be very simple and light geometry of trying not to make too many polygons. Here we start with the classical technique of dragging the edges, or you create an edge or series of edges and holding down the SHIFT KEY you create new polygons, and so more and more until he became the desired shape.( image_2B ) Once you have created polygon must be moved in 3d space visually by reference to background images that we put in earlier. In these models, the finished work will not be applied any TurboSmooth modifier therefore so we did not need to finish the edges with chamfer tool. We use photos of reference to create the toe as shown. No need to be overly precise. ( image_3)

STEP3: start the base foot modelling:

continue to shape the various elements we can add geometric details if we deem it necessary. Usually for this kind of details do you use the normal map, but not all engines support them ( for example the portable video game consoles ), and then to create accurate normal map you must first create a high poly model. then we would go to apply geometric detail if we deem it important, otherwise we can draw the detail in the texture. In the following piece, I projected a shape on the workpiece with the tool "shape merge" this tool is very useful for projecting sections cutting geometries, however, creates many vertices that will be cleaned by hand ( image_5 ). If you do not wish to follow this procedure, you can simply hand-cut polygons and extrude. Remember after that operation convert the object on editable poly and remove the not useful vertex . Or its possible use Cut tool on editable poly for create some geometrical detail

STEP4: finishing the base foot modelling:

continue to shape with the same style and complete the whole block foot. as mentioned earlier you do not need
to be perfect, we can also use your imagination to add some elements. here the polygons are positioned respecting the edges of the coloured band of the block foot, so that we can then select and extrude in negative to give detail ( image_5) The shaped pieces can be created in half and then mirrored ( Mirror modifier ) ( image_76)and then attach it together (remember to weld the vertices. )once the block of the foot is completed you can add detail and place well in space.

STEP5: modelling the legs:

going forward with the legs, will model the shin with the same technique used in prior periods. Instead, in order to create the various elements such as the thigh in this case you can start with a basic geometry such as a sphere, after which we give it the desired shape by using modifiers FFD (4x4x4 for example): After creating the desired shape we can begin to add detail. ( image_9) We can cut the surface with the cut command and extrude the polygons in order to create an uneven surface such as is present in the model. Let us remember also here to keep the mesh clean from top to unnecessary and excess

STEP6: Fingers:

For the hands just start with simple cylinders for the fingerss and sphere for the joints, then model with FFD modifier as previously for the legs (image_13) very useful tool is the "shift polygons" in order to move vertices and faces like a magnetic brush, this tool is in Ribbon tooblar

STEP7: Finishing modelling:

Arrived at this point you have the basic technique to be able to completely finish the model. In fact, the low poly modelling technique in itself is quite easy as you have to model only the essentials. For example. for the shoulders can start from a sphere as previously ( image_11) , for the arms instead just a simple cylinders, for the the tower guns create a spline to create the base and then bend it and extrude it with “Extrude Modifier” then convert it in editable poly , then create the spheres on the surface and make boolean operation for have a hemispherical hole on surface.

In the production of video games usually you have to respect a limit number of polygons, but can happen when the model is finished, we realize that often this limit is exceeded, in this case to go to the targeted reduction in the less important points, and continue until you reach the number of polygons established. It is very easy to reduce polygons removing edge loops.. select a edge then push button Loop on editable poly panel and pressing the buttons "shift + delete" ( image_15) In my case not having a fixed number of polygons to be respected

STEP7: start to mapping:

Here we are at the stage of mapping objects. This is a stage for many purely technical and boring, but absolutely necessary in order to create our own space where work will begin to create our texture. Indeed to each object will leave only a texture of limited size and to do this there is need good mapping coordinates in way so as to completely fill all available space. In applications more limited you may want to create one or at most 2 textures for the character. We start to apply the modifier "Unwrap UVW" model, and enter the sub-object "polygons", then click “Open UV editor” button. And from here we will select the faces that we map. we map the separate elements, and once you set them mapped in order in our UV space. To map the various elements we can use the tool inside the mapping (planar mapping, cubic, spherical, etc.), or use of external plugins. I bought "Xray unwrap tool" is cheap and works well, or you can use “Unwrella”, or other similar tool.I n the next image u can see all UV element detached and placed in order in UV layout space, are those selected in red ( image_16 and 17) Remember at this stage it is very important to respect the proportions of polygons, and avoid distort or stretch them

STEP8: Thickness trick:

To maximize the space to use, you can create mappings on the edges and thicknesses that will be more paintings later, these gradients usually take up little space and allow you to add graphic detail in areas connecting ( image_19). Also, if the model permits can be mapped surfaces in half in order to save considerably the space required This is used when we have symmetric geometry and space uv is very little ( image_20)

STEP9: Begin to texturing:

After the session the most "technical" of the mapping, we can begin to test ourselves beginning to create our texture. As we said earlier, we create one for every single object (like, right leg, left leg, spit, pelvis, torso, etc.) .in my example I prepare to create the texture of the most interesting part: the head. First, we return now to our Unvrapmap modifier, and create a layout to start, this will be our starting point to begin. Inside the layout of UV screen click the drop down menu "Tools" and then "render UVW template". Here we set the resolution of the texture we want to create. let's not exaggerate too much, in my case I did not go beyond 1024x1024. Then press save and render our template in jpg and call it "wire". as a result, un-tick all options (“show overlap”, “Invisible edges”, “Seam Edges”) and in the small drop-down menu select "Solid" also saved this image in jpg and call it "solid" (image_18)
STEP10: Inside Photoshop:

Open Photoshop, (remember that version 7 has become free, ideal for those starting this job with a limited budget) for loading images you created earlier "base" and "wire" and copy "wire" above "base" in order to create a new layer and put it in screen mode ( image_21). This will serve as a reference when will paint, in order to know where we are painting and also to see the flow of the polygons. The basic level is also useful for making quick selections with the Magic Wand tool, Now create a nel clear layer dedicated to paint create the edges scratched, usually found in metals worn. This map can be used to blend two textures, but if the model is to go to real time application usually are put together in the one texture to fake reflection, and details in scenes that usually must be calculated in 3d rendering phase ( image_22) Save a image for see a little preview of the map applied to model for check if is ok. ( u can see some grey parts detached, like visor and lefr/right detail becouse i use another texture for that ) ( image_23)

STEP11: Paint details

Now let's go back in Photoshop and complete the texture of all the details that we want to add. You have to divide all levels such as dirt, scratches, decals, thickness, edges, grease, fissures etc.) for quick and tidy displayHere you have to use your imagination or look at several photos of reference of other robots to get the right inspiration on what details to add .The arrows in the image below indicate the parts of the texture persons have been mapped to the edges and thickness, here we can draw gradients or details so long to map surfaces in a small space ( image_24)

below you can see the finished texture and detail in a good use of gradients for the thicknesses ( image_25)
Texture work finished, some detail ( image_26/27/28)

Some engine datails:
Some gun datails:

STEP12: Quick rig and pose:

Completed the mapping and texturingwe can begin to create a simple rig to pose our model.
Of course, we need to link our object to bones, every bone for each elements as we have done previously, and settle the pivot joints in the right way, so with that we can make a model rig for pose it or animate it ( image_29A and B) For the rig we will not use complex systems like CAT or Biped, because these tools are not compatible with the realtime application. Many engine for video games still use simple rig with bones and inverse kinematics.So we begin to lay the bones of the joints in mail order, then a volt acreate we can adjust the pivot that in almost all cases must match the pivot joints.we start from the legs ( image_30 )

Bones for the legs
with the rig for the entire figure, always end up in a simple model. ( image_31 )

Bones and rig for the hands

At this point our model is ready to be used for real time applications. or be placed in poses with Turbosmooth modifier and rendered ( image_33)

Andrea Lazzarotti - Mail: - © Copiright - all rights reserved - 2016.