Most optimal workflow for asset creations (humans)

Hello all…

I was hoping some clarification can be had by experienced asset makers for the ideal process of creating assets (humanish characters specifically).

I have a good high poly human model made, now I am unsure what to do next.

I know I need to:

-Bake high poly into normal map and apply to low poly that matches shape (already have mesh)
-Make hair particles
-Texture skin colors and such
-Final adjustments of mesh detailing
-Adding clothes
-Creating rig

I am having unsure on which order to do the above steps in to create my asset… Some clarification on how to proceed for the best workflow. If I have missed some step please include. Other than of course animations, and logic which will be last two steps.

Thank you all!

Well, unless your characters are meant to have modular clothes that players can mix and match, you should add them first. Then you bake. After that, the order doesn’t really matter.

One thing to keep in mind is that if your characters are all meant for a particular project, you’ll often already have a standard rig (to allow the characters to share animations) before you’ve even started on the hipoly, and you have to make your model to match the rig, not vice versa. If you’re making one-off rigs, I’d develop that alongside creating the lowpoly to detect problems with polygon density in deformation areas early.

Texturing your high-poly instead of your low-poly is also an option, and will allow you to iterate on the lowpoly and LOD meshes faster, but generally takes more work due to unwrapping the more complex highpoly and working with many textures. It also requires you to get your baking setup perfect.

since you are asking here I am going to assume you use entirely Blender.

Make a sculpt base mesh (optional)

Sculpt or Model Hi poly object( including accessories and extra parts you would like . Can be anything from clothes to hair to teeth or eyes)

Create materials ( Place holder or basic ) ( Optional)

Retopo or Model a low poly object

UV unwrap Low poly object.

Bake Maps u want ( Diffuse, AO ,Normal, etc) (Optional)

Texture paint/ Create texture in Blender or 2D app ( using baked map or not) (Optional)

Clean seams and finalize texture (Optional)

Create an Armature (skeleton) (Optional)

Create bone weights (Optional)

Create a Relax / Final Pose (For presentation) (Optional)

Create Hair groups and Fashion hair Particles (Optional)

Start Shapekeys (Optional)

Start Animations (Optional)

For most human / animal type resources, the following is my general workflow

  • Sketch out the basic details I’m after. If I don’t have a solid idea of what I want, I waste too much time pushing forms around and not getting anything finished!
  • Model or import a basic mesh that fits the basic sketch.
  • Sculpt the high poly mesh (generally including any doodads and whatsits that will be a permanent part of the figure
  • Create a basic pelt map of high poly figure
  • Paint this using a combination of tools (in 3D projection paint, 2D manual paiting, reprojection, etc)
  • Retopologise the high poly mesh so as to have a clean low polymesh (with better polygon layout for animation and the like)
  • From this point on, I will export the low poly mesh with any new assets (textures, armature, animations, etc) at every step to check how it looks & performs in the game engine.
  • UV map this low poly mesh with an eye for in-game performance, hiding seams, etc.
  • Bake normals, colours, ambient occlusion, etc from the high poly mesh to the low poly UV layout.
  • Rig the low poly mesh (often re-using an existing rig resized and proportioned to this specific mesh)
  • Create animations using the armature. Due to design preference - I don’t use shape keys if I can avoid it, so this’ll all be armature actions.
  • Process the animations in custom software so that blending between actions is smooth and can be controlled parametrically (i.e. matching certain key frames between the run, walk, idle, etc animations so transitions are more natural).

Hope that helps

Yes thank you all, these are all helpful advice.

One thing though that has me confused still if you please…

For my rig, if I wanted to as the first poster suggested, mix and match clothing, how would this happen? I would have base model, and then create rig (using rigify) then for each clothes combination, relink the rig to the mesh with the clothes on it using the auto weights option?

Or let’s say later I want to add to face to sculpt it, or add in a wrinkle I am relising I am missing in forehead for example, I would just simply sculpt/add it in, and if I add a bunch of faces I would retopo and apply to rig again?

Thanks again…

If you want to mix and match clothing, then each piece of clothing will be a separate mesh. Each piece should be linked and weighted to the armature just like the body.

Depending on the type of clothing in question, you may want to divide the body into zones and, for example, hide the legs if the character is wearing pants, to prevent the body clipping through the clothes in animation.

You may also want to combine sets of clothing likely to be worn together into atlases, to save draw calls. This may or may not be important for performance depending on your engine and your target hardware.

If you want to see how this gets done ina game context - import a few Morrowind, Oblivion, or Skyrim body & clothing mods into Blender. I remember it was a bit of an “Aha!” moment for me several years back when working on mods for Morrowind.