Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Quick first pass on the head and the helmet. More to follow soon.

Head AO and Normals

I did a quick first pass in zbrush on the head, after I was done sculpting the pain began. Firstly I made the critical mistake of missing a few stray polys when I was unwrapping the head which zbrush doesn't like. So when it came to rendering the normals in zbrush (which I usually do to save having to export silly poly counts in and out of 3ds Max) zmapper popped that infuriating screen that doesn't actually tell you what you've done wrong nor lets you know that anything is indeed wrong...I'll post the most annoying error screen in the world later. SO i investigated in Max, found the offending polys and then tried to use zbrushes import function so it would use the new UV's...but of course zbrush wasn't happy. Seems I messed something up with the import/export settings. I didn't want to lose the work I had done on the head so I started looking at other solutions (baking the normals in max not only took forever but the results were bloody crap) and then I remembered xNormal, which I first found on the polycount boards

Jogshy has produced an incredible program, it managed to load my +1million poly object so fast I wondered whether it worked at all. It had, and it then calculated my normal and AO maps in a flash. I had some small problems with banding in the AO maps but it does it job fine for now, I'll need to tweak and play with it some more. xNormal is also a model viewer that allows you to preview your work with normal maps, lights and stencil shadows. A truly excellent little program.

Here are some quick shots of the AO from the high poly sculpt and a couple of zbrush renders. The metal tassels on the bottom of the beard are going to be made in max using sub-d techniques, so ignore those blank areas on the sculpt for now, and teeth will be added in later also.

Realign Symmetry tip

To speed up my workflow in zbrush I usually use Realign Symmetry function after working on one half of the mesh. This allows me to hide lots of unnecessary polys speeding up viewport performance. There are however a few tricks to make sure you end up with a clean mesh in the end. As the image above shows instead of simply applying your realign symmetry to the final subdivision (level 6 in my case here) apply it on every sub divisional level starting with the lowest. This can take a while but the results are worth it, you should end up with a seam free mirror of your sculpt. If you don't do this chances are you will get an ugly seam which will be a total pain to get rid of.

Quick AO render

I was trying out Faogen and decided to quickly render out some ao maps for Gimbal...which was a little pointless without smoothing groups etc, but I couldn't help myself. Faogen seems really nice too, I'll put it through its paces with some high poly stuff later..

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Gimbal Lock

Haven't had much time recently to update the blog or do anything outside of work. I somehow managed to squeeze out this guy after getting some unexpected free time last weekend. I've been zbrushing the head now and unwrapping the rest of his body, so the next update should be just round the corner. Thanks to Erik, the dwarf is now called Gimbal Lock!