I've been doing so much 3d work lately I've been dreaming in polygons. To get to sleep I count vertices, and when I wake up I'm subconsciously thinking of rigging strategies to get the best movement out of a character.
Its time for a vacation, I think. Today I stopped at a bike shop and checked out some Kawasaki Ninjas, and for once I actually found myself interested in the real thing, and not just wondering how I'd make a model of it.
But while I'm still locked in the 3d thing, exploring new horizons with concepts, here is a small breakdown of how this stuff is done! Are you a customer? This will be enjoyable to see what is done to get to the finished product.
No doubt you've seen enough behind-the-scenes extra features — heck, a twelve year old knows it by now — to know whats involved in the creation of a 3d character! But here's another one in case you haven't had enough!
Most 3d artists enjoy showing the rendered product, but many 3d artists want to see the wireframe where a true assessment of quality can be made. Its not enough to construct the 3d model to "look right" but the "Edge flow", that is, the arrangement of the geometry, must be properly created to allow the greatest and most natural range of movement.
The hardest part of the entire process, for me, is rendering and re-rendering to get the lighting and materials right. Thats because its so incredibly time consuming. But the end results are usually worth the time involved.
The ant series is probably going to be more practical to the needs of the market, and I'm glad I spent a little extra time on it. The textures were created in Zbrush, a program made specifically for adding detail onto the model as one might paint a sculpture. Here are the texture maps created for the ant:
The multicolored map on the left is responsible for adding the smaller geometric details in the texture. It "fakes" things like cracks and bumps in the texture. It uses the RGB values as coordinates instead of color, telling the renderer to simulate the effect of changes in surface qualities. This map is called a "normal map" because it has to do with the "normals" of the polygon faces, that is, the direction in which the polygons face.
The map on the right is a typical texture map, wrapping an image around the model itself. All 3d model textures are stored as flat images, assigned to "UV coordinates". UV coordinates are the same as XY, except with different letters, so that its not confused with XY coordinates of 3d space.
The end result is an ant of low geometric detail that looks realistic, due to a strategic use of textures.
Hope you enjoyed this brief walk-through of the JesterArts workflow! If you have any questions, let me know. These models are available on my website http://www.jesterartsillustrations.com/ if you'd like to use them!