Entry 3 - 3D Asset Production -
This week we want to show you how we create the things that you will see in Gates of Mirnah. To better visualize this process we are using an example object: the Floater egg. The production of a static 3D Asset has different stages that have to be completed. We call this sequence of steps "Production Pipeline". Some of these steps can be done in a different or parallel order so we adjust this process for every asset depending on the needs.
Step 1: Planning and Concepts
When the first idea of an object arrives we start by doing scribbles and sketches to visualize our thought process. After these scribbles we create a concept art that shows the Object with more details as a final piece to communicate the idea. At the end of this Step everyone that is involved in the creation of this object should have a pretty clear image of how the object should look in the end.
Step 2: Creating the Highpoly
The second step is creating the object itself out of a simple 3D object like a cube, we call that "modelling". You can often compare highpoly modelling with clay sculpting just in digital form. A 3D artist changes the shape of this 3D object until it looks very similar to the Concept Art from the previous step.
Step 3: Lowpoly
Every Polygon has to be processed by your GPU which means more polygons result in more work for your PC and could lead to many different problems. For optimization purposes we recreate the highpoly object into a lowpoly object, that means we will loose a lot of detail but gain a better performance out of every object. This reduced arrangement of polygons is also called retopology. Simple objects like the egg, can be provided with a retopology with just one click. Complex objects, such as the surrounding structure around the egg, are modeled by hand. In this case we want to keep the option to animate the object. That means we have to be very careful on how to construct the moving parts otherwise the mesh could get unwanted deformations during an animation.
Step 4: UV-Unwrap
You can compare a 3D object with a simple canvas on which you want to paint. But since it is in a 3D shape it would be very difficult, just like painting an origami figure. In addition to that it is easier and more efficient to save 2D data instead of 3D data. So in preparation for giving the gray 3D Object colours it has to be unwrapped into a 2D space, this process is called UV-unwrapping. During this unwrapping process the 3D artist is cutting the object into small pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and flattens them out without distorting the surface of the object.
Step 5: Texturing / Baking
In Step 2: Highpoly we created lots of details that are not on the lowpoly object so in order to bring those details back we are creating textures out of the highpoly object which will be projected onto the lowpoly object. This will create a more efficient but still highly detailed object. There are many different types of textures that will create a wide array of different effects on a 3D object.
Step 6: UE Implementation + Adjustments
After Importing the lowpoly object and its textures into the Unreal Engine we combine the different textures into a material which is assigned to the Object. The game engine is computing all the different Textures and their individual Information onto the object so that it will be displayed in the game World how we imagined it to be on our first concept. Atleast... thats the base idea, in some cases tweaking and adjustments to the Materials and Textures are needed.
We hope you found this little peek into our 3D Artists work informative and interesting. Stay tuned for next weeks devblog!