Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Art Prototype Dev Blog 03: Tired of Attire

So, for the next part of my character, I decided I needed a bit of clothing.  Clothing usually hasn't been a big issue for me; however, there are a lot of aspects to it that can quickly make the pipeline I'm trying to develop rather challenging.
Essentially, I have a few options, which I explored:
  • Marvelous Designer
  • Use iClone Character Creator's clothing
  • Model Clothing from scratch
  • Find existing clothing

Marvelous Designer

I really liked Marvelous Designer at first.  It's a cool program for designing clothing; however, I eventually found, once the coolness wore off, that it just isn't really for games and it just really isn't that much faster because of the required knowledge needed sew clothing together.  In addition, it's expensive, and with 3D Studio Max having its own version of Marvelous Design built into it with Garment Maker -- with the caveat of it being far inferior -- I decided to pass on this program.

iClone Character Creator

One nice aspect of iClone's character creator is that it comes with a decent amount of clothing.  It doesn't have every type of costume -- martial arts, occupational, etc. -- but it has enough casual clothing that you could probably construct usable outfits for most things.  In fact, it uses Substance Designer materials to edit clothing.  I didn't really dive into this, but if I want to make a shirt with a certain type of pattern or decal, this probably wouldn't be that challenging.  The bigger challenge would just be making the textures -- an area I didn't touch yet because my texturing skills are rather weak.
My only issue is that the clothing is rather high poly, a pair of jeans being about 12,000 triangles.  Again, for a next gen. fighter, this probably isn't a big deal, but I still have the feeling I'd have to do some clean up in most other cases.
Another issue that came up is that this clothing will always look the same, so I probably will need to do some adjustment.  I thought to try and use Blendshapes to make the pants a little more baggy, this way, I wouldn't have to reskin the entire thing.  Unfortunately, because of an issue with smoothing groups, when the jeans were reimported, the smoothing groups were eliminated, making it look like something from Virtua Fighter.

Though interesting, that square, patch pattern is not intentional.

Modeling Clothing from Scratch

When I say "from scratch", I really mean one of two things.  One is modeling clothing from scratch, something I'll probably need to use from time to time for more complex attire; however, for some clothing, I'll sometimes just take existing parts of the mesh, duplicate, remove geometry I don't need, and boom -- I have a pair of gloves.  This technique isn't perfect for all clothing, but again, good for tight, form-fitting clothing or gloves.

Glove and inner sleeve made by just duplicating parts of the original mesh.  Needs texture work, but for an initial pass, works.

Find Existing Clothing

Since I'm making a fighting game character, I wanted to try and make an alternate costume.  I decided to try martial arts attire; however, I didn't want to spend hours modeling it from scratch, so I decided to look for one.  After failing to find one on Turbosquid, I found one on a site called CGTrader.  It had nice edge flow, and with some minor adjustments, I was able to use skin wrap to get it onto the character.  The skinning isn't perfect, but with the amount of modeling time saved, I could definitely spend a little time adjusting the skinning.  It was about $50, and it's not something I would want to do for EVERY outfit, but I think this approach isn't bad for when I need an article of clothing for a character quickly.

Untextured, but this took very little time to fit and skin; the arm pits verts need work, but in the amount of time it'll take to fix that, I'd probably barely have the pants model if I were to do it from scratch.

Again, the goal of this prototype is to see if making a character by myself in a short period of time (1 - 2 weeks) is viable.  So far it's shaping up to be.  Here are some of the biggest challenges I've faced thus far:
  • Hair!  I need to come back to this, but decided to take a break.
  • Closing gaps -- when working with clothing, a lot of it is open, but Unity culls faces based on the shader -- and not culling (making it double-sided) increases render processing -- so you get these strange instances where the inside of a sleeve becomes see through.  There are several techniques for preventing this, but it's a bit of extra work, and I wish I didn't need to do it at all.
  • Texturing.  I'm going to try and use 3DCoat to see if I can texture clothing in a way that doesn't make me want to abandon the project altogether.
  • Will it animate?!  Once I get the entire character's look figured out, I have to see if my biped rigging script will do it any justice, will the clothing deform in a way that looks decent, etc.?
  • Shaders -- I'm not sure if I should use Unity's built-in shaders or my own; however, one thing I learned from past projects, is that when figuring this out, you should do the textures simultaneously as some shaders will change the setup of you textures -- channels, normal map use, etc.

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