Having released Slarks Shell Dagger
a few days ago I have had some messages and comments about the transition from concept to final and how to keep things similar. I don't have the time to do a detailed rundown but I do have a bunch of saved files which chart the progression mostly well and I do use pretty much the same method outlined in my Pudge Weapon Creation Guide
. The few areas where I do deviate from the guide process ill be sure to note and give a small writeup.
Apart from this weapon being more detailed and somewhat organic, the first section is very similar to the process used to create the pudge offhand weapon, create two splines, extrude, bridge, move verts around, etc. Sure the shapes are harder to bridge and it is difficult to keep a reasonable polygon distribution but I just took my time and adjusted the splines or moved the vertexes where needed.
At this point you can see where I align many of the connecting edges between objects, I also chamfer the edges that will be bladed. On the handle in particular I made sure the edge flow follows the detail in the concept, I know I'm going to be sculpting in some large detail and I don't want to be fighting my mesh to do that.
I also go on to use a FFD box to change the overall thickness of the dagger and taper it towards the tip. In retrospect I slimmed the dagger far too much and ended up having to reverse the process with the high poly and low poly before bake, which was messy and less than ideal.
I now have the base mesh completed and have reduced the size of the handle and increased the size of the blade to closer match the proportions of the original weapon. I have also attached all the parts together to from one mesh, setup some smoothing groups added 3 levels of subdivision and feel it's ready for sculpting.
I ran into another problem at this point, I started sculpting which was taking far too long to add needed detail. Not only was it taking too much time but it looked lumpy, it took great effort to create a separation between the sections and was just looking horrible as you can see on the left in the below image.
So i went back to the base mesh in 3dsmax, separated the dagger into its original three parts, capped any holes, adjusted the smoothing groups and sent the three new meshes back to Mudbox.
Progression is now pretty quick with the new mesh breakup, I work at a low subdivision level with the sculpt, flatten, scrape and wax tools. I also Auto retopo my mesh when needed, which is a new feature in Mudbox 2014 and even though it's pretty good it's still buggy, so make sure to save your scene before you give it a try as you will often end up with holes in your mesh.
Now I'm going to want to start lining some sculpted detail up with the concept. To do this I start by taking a screen grab of my base mesh from 3dsmax and overlayed the concept sketch on a new layer in photoshop with 50% opacity, I then used the warp tool to align the concept as best I could with the base mesh and save this color image for later, where it will be used for the color map.
I then desaturate the image, and crank the levels until I have something like this
Which I then add to Mudbox as a stencil
, I then align the stencil with my model and sculpt using the stencil and sculpt tool until I have all the rough shapes I want. Pretty messy, but I like to think of it as a rough sketch which I can now refine.
From here I refined the handle using grab, sculpt, flatten and scrape tools.
And I start refining the main blade section in a similar way as above. Take note of the large jagged parts, these were pulled out with the grab tool, cleaned up as best I could with the geo being stretched and then auto retopologized. I used the stencil again to see where and how far the jagged sections needed to be extended out too.
And finally I do one last detail pass where I clean up some forms and add any subtle high level detail.
Back to max for the low poly, UV's, Cage and baking in Xnormal.
In Photoshop I open my bakes from Xnormal and add them as layers into a single image. I then past in the previously created warped version of the concept and match it to the bakes/UV's with scale, rotate and warp. I then roughly clone around the edges to make sure everything is covered and use the liquify tool to move some things around, which is what you can see in the centre image.
From here I colour pick from the concept and paint using a brush until I'm happy with the texture, I also adjust the blending of any bakes I have and test in max and Dota2 throughout the painting process.
And there you have it, colour map matching normal map detail and your concept image.
ALso if you haven't already be sure to take a look at DoubleLeafs
thread, the creator of the original concept image.