Method of Designing a Video Game Character & Rendering in 3D

Method of Designing a Video Game Character & Rendering in 3D

A video game has several essential components that add charm to it. There’s obviously the gameplay, the fictional world, and the audiovisual presentation. However, the video game character rendering design is one of the most important items on the list. A video game with cookie-cutter characters may have a fun plot and stunning graphics, but it lacks the spirit and originality of games with well-thought-out characters.

Video game characters begin with the storyline’s building blocks to better inform their design and appearance. When creating your game characters, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What world are they from?
  • What defines their appearance and feel?
  • What’s the personality of the game character?

You’ll be working with animators and storyboard artists on your video game character, so make sure you know their backstory so your designs can be in alliance. Before their final appearance, most characters start as sketches and progress through thumbnails, colour drafts, and Photoshop renderings. Keep your video game character rendering design grounded in the world they will interact with. Game designers can also provide inspiration for the look and feel of your game characters.

Video Game Character Rendering Design Stages

The process of video game character design 3D rendering might differ from studio to studio. However, we’ve compiled some basic factors and key stages that can’t be ignored or skipped.

1. Developing a 2D Drawing for a 3D Character

Without a solid concept, the 3D artist won’t be able to accurately recreate the character as the game designer imagined it. It’s preferable to present the character at this point from at least three different perspectives (front, back, and side) and to make sure all the materials and accessories are clear and simple to identify. Sometimes concept artists produce such high-quality work that it can be applied straight to the model; however, this is more often done for props than for character art.

2. 3D Sculpt

3D Sculpt

In this phase, you redesign the idea as a 3D character model. Many tools are available for sculpting, including ZBrush, Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, and Blender. The main silhouette of the character is blocked out throughout the sculpting process. Blocking out, also known as blocking in, is the practice of using cubes, cylinders, planes, spheres, and other simple geometric forms to represent the size of a gaming area or a 3D character and to plan how it will travel through it.

Using various brushes, the artist then creates the fundamental shapes, the hard surfaces, and finer details like muscles, creases, and wrinkles. The artist defines the shapes that will make up the mesh through topology. The artist can anticipate performing a retopology later to tidy up the model for simpler animation.

3. Retopology

This is the procedure for modifying the model’s surface to reduce the number of polygons. All 3D game assets must be correctly optimized for the system requirements to be acceptable for a seamless gaming experience, as most games rely on the players’ hardware to function effectively.

Solutions like SpeedRetopo, Retopoflow 3, SoftWrap, and Instant Meshes are helpful and are available in Blender. On the other hand, Maya provides strong retopology tools that can be effective and occasionally automated. Ultimately, it all comes down to your choices and the result; working manually with all its planes and edges is required for the more intricate sculptures in video game character rendering design.

4. UV Mapping

A UV map can be considered as the 3D mesh’s unwrapped, flattened 2D skin. UV mapping is used to add texture and adjust the composition and lighting of a scene. At this point, the artist will frequently perform additional retopology and bake the high poly details into a low poly model. Baking in this context refers to data preprocessing or compilation for use in the game. Because doing it in real-time in the game would be unrealistic, time-consuming, and expensive, the data is preprocessed. Baking is frequently used to compute lighting and texture information in advance.

5. Shades and Textures

The texture artist was given a shaded, flat colour 3D model. Colour, reflection, displacement, grime, damage, illumination, and other map layers are created and applied by combining skin or fabric scans with hand-painted textures. Textures are not required for all 3D models but are useful in video game character rendering design. Texturing can, in fact, become a separate process in and of itself, especially when hand-painted textures are involved. Texturing artists are a subset of game artists who focus solely on creating textures and materials. Substance Painter, Substance Designer, and 3D Coat are three popular tools for working with textures.

6. Rigging

Rigging, also known as skeleton animation, is the process of adding control to a 3D character model. It defines your 3D model character’s range of gestures and actions. Rigging can be applied to any object, not just human models. The artist adds bones, sockets, and connections as per the game’s specifications. Rigging streamlines the character animation process and, as a result, increases production efficiency.

7. Animation

Video Game Animation

When creating 3D characters is another time-consuming step. In this section, game developers finish all the animation tree animations, such as walking, falling, running, stooping, throwing, dying, shooting, taking damage, talking, and so on. The animator moves, rotate and scales the model to mimic different movements and poses using the bones added during rigging. When the animator is satisfied with a particular position of the model, they save it on the timeline.

8. VFX

Instead of 3D modelling, the VFX stage employs physics-based simulation to create more complex 3D game elements such as explosions, fluids, fur, and so on. They make use of high-end effects software like VEGAS Effects.

9. Lighting

Adequate lighting enhances a scene by representing the location, time of day, mood of the shot, and so on. The goal is to make the image and 3D model appear more realistic and convincing. When exploring the game environment or the 3D model character, an expert lighting artist can use lighting to manipulate the viewer’s focus.

10. Rendering

This is the final stage of production, in which each scene is rendered in layers, including backgrounds, foregrounds, colours, objects, highlights, shadows, and so on. According to the scene’s complexity, rendering a single scene can take as little as a few seconds or as long as many days. After the video game character rendering design is finished, the process moves to post-production for fine-tuning and final adjustments.

Many professional 3D artists use separate rendering hardware, which allows them to continue modelling on the main machine while the rendering takes hours on the secondary one.

Outsource Video Game Character Rendering Design

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