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Facerig Content Creation Overview

Discussion in 'Characters In Progress' started by Dawnchapel, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. Dawnchapel
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    Dawnchapel Well-Known Minion

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    Hey, so, I am seeing a lot of people asking how to get started making avatars for Facerig and I thought I might chime in. I'm by no means an expert, but I thought I'd start compiling what I know, so that other folks who want to create content can at least get an idea of where to start, and what questions to ask.

    The avatar creation pipeline can be broken down into the following steps (not necessarily in this order):

    1. Concept
    2. Sculpt
    3. Retopologize
    4. Textures/Materials
    5. Rigging part 1: Bone placement/weighting
    6. Rigging part 2: Creating the pose library

    In large videogame or animation studios, these tasks are rarely all handled by the same person. Usually the pipeline is handled by artists that specialize in one or two specific tasks before handing it off to the next person down the chain: A concept artist hands artwork to the modelers who sculpt, retopo, and texture static meshes, and modelers then pass their models off to a technical director who handles the rigging of a character, and then the fully rigged model is handed to animators.

    Each and every one of these disciplines are by themselves huge. It is rare for a 3d artist starting out to be a skilled generalist - usually they start with a specific area of expertise and gradually expand their skillset over the course of their careers.

    So it's important to remember, if you are interested in creating content for Facerig, that it will require becoming comfortable with the entire spectrum of 3d disciplines, and consequently will require a lot of patience and a lot of work.

    When you are starting out, pace yourself. Set small, achievable goals: Try starting with a simple prop, and go through the entire process of modeling, texturing, and importing it into Facerig. Then challenge yourself with a more complicated prop.

    Once you're comfortable with the modeling, texturing, and import process, move on to a simple avatar, and see how far you get. You'll make a lot of mistakes, and that's okay! Nobody ever arrived at a success without failing a whole bunch on the way there. Don't be shy about throwing out your work and starting from scratch, if that's what you need to do. Don't become discouraged if you stall out on an impossibly ambitious project; recognize that the scope of the thing is beyond you for the moment, and set a new goal for something more achievable.

    Are you ready to get started? Rad! Here is a breakdown of the pipeline, as best I know it, with some links to learning resources that you can study further:


    CONCEPTING

    Concepting is just coming up with some reference art to work from for your avatar. You don't actually have to draw it yourself, though drawing ability helps immensely in the modeling process. As you practice drawing, your sculpting and modeling ability will improve, and vice versa.


    Software -

    Any software you like to draw is fine for concepting, even a pencil and paper will suit you. Photoshop, Manga Studio, Krita, GIMP, Project Dogwaffle, Artrage, Paintstorm, and SAI are popular choices.

    Refboard is a handy little Adobe Air application that you can load all your reference images into and arrange to your liking.​


    SCULPTING

    Sculpting is the process of using a pressure-sensitive tablet to create your 3d model. Do a search on youtube for 'zbrush speed sculpt' and you'll be busy for hours.

    It isn't strictly necessary to create a sculpt first, it is possible to jump right in with your realtime model, though most artists find the sculpting process much more intuitive and suited to their style of working.

    Websites -

    Pixologic - The company that publishes both Zbrush and Sculptris, features an extensive collection of video tutorials on how to use their software.​

    Software -

    Zbrush is the industry standard for sculpting, with Mudbox being its nearest competitor. Sculptris is free and easy to learn. Modo, Silo, and Blender all have sculpting tools, but they are not dedicated sculpting applications. I'm pretty sure 3d-Coat also has a sculpting toolset.


    RETOPO

    When you create a sculpt, you're pushing around millions of densely-packed polygons, which can't be animated. In order to have an avatar that will animate, it's necessary to create the final realtime topology over your sculpt.

    When doing this, it's important to be mindful of edge flow, making sure that edge loops in the facial topology follow the muscles of the face so that when animated, the character will deform smoothly and in a way that is believable. A google image search for 'facial topology' will yield dozens of examples of faces with clean, animation-ready geometry.

    Software -

    Most major 3d software packages feature tools for retopologizing - Zbrush, Maya, 3d-Coat, Silo, Modo, and Blender are a few.


    TEXTURING

    -wip-


    RIGGING

    -wip-

    Websites -

    Game Character Creation Series: Kila Chapter 7 - features a walkthrough of creating a joint-based facial rig in Maya that very closely resembles the Facerig standard joint configuration
    GDCVault: Fast and Efficient Facial Rigging in Gears of War 3 - GDC talk by Jeremy Ernst on the workflow for creating Gears of War characters, features an interesting approach to creating joint-based facial rigs driven by lowpoly cages with morph targets

    Tech-Artists.org - An online community dedicated to technical artists.​

    ----

    General resources:

    The Gnomon Workshop - Excellent training videos for every conceivable discipline. The training dvds might seem expensive, but they're a lot cheaper than art school.

    Eat3d - Like the Gnomon Workshop, more specifically aimed at videogames. Their dvd on bone-based facial rigging is the best single resource I've found on the subject of bone-based rigs.

    Digital Tutors - Also like the Gnomon Workshop, but usually cheaper (and sometimes less comprehensive). I learned how to use zbrush from Digital Tutors videos.

    CGsociety - Huge online community of cg artists. I do not use it much, because the scope of the forum is so broad, but if you get stuck on a specific problem with a specific software package, you'll probably get a good answer here.

    The polycount wiki - The Polycount community is one of the largest and oldest communities of videogame artists online and the well of information they have accumulated on their wiki and on their forums is very, very deep. I lurk Polycount pretty much constantly.

    Gameartisans - Another online community of game artists with a library of tutorials and resources for creating 3d art.

    Artstation - A portfolio/gallery community for cg professionals. Not much in the way of learning resources, but very pretty to look at.​

    ----

    Anyway that should be enough to get you into trouble. I'll continue to update this post with more information as I get it! And as soon as I get a few working prototypes of my own avatars working, I'll be sure to write up a more extensive walkthrough.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
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