Reallusion Character Design - Antareus - Ancient Greek Warrior

vertex
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Adolf vertex
Hi everybody!

My name is Adolf Navarro and I decided to develop a classic ancient Greek warrior for this Reallusion contest. I’m not going to be too strict in the historical facts. So, I’ll try to create a nice and impressive look, half way from what we know about the Greek combat suits and weapons, in order to achieve a more artistic result.

I collected images of ancient remains and sculptures as well as the designs used in modern movies like 300 or Troy to inspire me.



First, I needed the character itself, but having Character Creator, the task couldn’t be easier. Using its morph sliders, in a matter on minutes I had my muscular warrior ready to get a Greek face Profile.


As a veteran of several battles, I thought to add him several scars of old wounds. So I searched the internet for scar pictures and used “Substance Player” to create all the maps for Character Creator…

Then I used the “Decal” option of Character Creator to add several scars in the face and the body of my warrior…

At this point, I exported the Character in “fbx” format with all the rigs, to start the modelling in 3DStudio. First I added a beard prop to get a closer look to the Spartans of 300.


In the same way, I added a hair prop that I carefully adapted to my warrior skull using the “soft selection” feature of the vertex editing in 3D Studio.


Then, I started dressing my character, starting for the skirt. I simply used the standard Skirt that comes with Character Creator and I shortened it, deleting the spare surfaces on 3D Max


I made a Pro Boolean object from the skirt and another model of leather stripes, because I intent to animate the skirt using the soft-cloth feature of iClone. Props that react as soft-cloth can’t interact physically between them, so the only solution I found, was to create a single object containing the skirt and the stripes…


Then, I modelled and adapted the other necessary parts for the skirt, including a leather belt and the holster for the sword. I attached all the parts to the skirt as I needed it as a single object.


I wanted all the UV Maps combined in a single material, in order to make my life easier when creating the weight maps on iClone. So I used the UVW tools of 3DMax to leave the model ready to be texturized.


When animating skirts, the skinning process is always tricky as the envelopes assigned to the rigged bones by default are too tight on each limb. This is useful for pants as each leg has to move independently from the other, but with skirts, it causes an awkward appearance just in the middle of the skirt.

So I changed the area of influence of the thighs over the skirt, allowing the left limb to affect a little the shape of the right side of the skirt and vice-versa…


And so on… I applied and adjusted the rest of the elements… The shielded sandals, the armour with the leather stripes that will fix the cape and the leather protections for the arms… One by one all the elements were taking shape…




At this point, I imported a sword model I downloaded from the Internet and I realized that my holster was too small, more suited for a knife than for an actual sword… So I had to modify this part of the skirt object in order to harbour the sword I wanted to use…

Once this last modification was done, I skinned all the objects to the body character using the “Skin Wrap” and the “Convert to Skin” tools of 3DMax and the character was ready to be loaded again on Character Creator.


Character Creator recognized all the skinned props and I just have had to assign the proper “level” and “category” to each one, according with the table provided by Reallusion.


And so my character was back to Character Creator, but this time properly clothed… (Still without the textures).


From here, I just sent the character to iClone to check it while performing animations… First thing in iClone has been to activate the skirt physics as a “Soft-cloth”, creating its proper weight map.


For the people not familiarized with the concept of “weight maps”, just to mention that they are just greyscale images that have to be created according with the UV maps of the accessories defined as “soft-clothes”. The darker the area is, the more constrained is this part of the object. On the contrary, the lighter the area is, the more freedom of movement this area of the object has. All this, calculated in real time by the physics engine of iClone.

I loaded the UV map in a Photoshop layer, just as a guide to create this greyscale image that is going to control the movements of the warrior skirt…


Then I should to define the collision shapes for my character. These attached shapes define the areas that are going to interact with the objects of the project that have physic’s properties, whether rigid or clothes.


I tested the character running in order to check the skirt behaviour, and after some few tunings on its physics properties it started to look pretty convincing.



However, I realized of little glitches on some parts of the armour and under the sole of the sandals, where the feet were protruding. Before, I should have needed to come back to 3DMax to refine the shapes, but now Character Creator allows to do these final retouches directly on it, avoiding the tedious process to import again the character…  THANKS Reallusion!!!


Well, that’s all at the moment… Now I’m going to continue doing the helmet, the shield and the spear. The final props for the warrior, before to start with the textures.  See you!!!

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  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex
    Hi again

    Now it’s been time to create the accessories that are not going to be “clothed” to the character, so I prepared the sword, the shield, the spear, the helmet and the cape.

    Probably it was not a good idea to go to battle wearing a cape where you can be entangled in any moment, but it looks more artistic and is a good challenge to create a soft-cloth and see how it reacts when the character moves…


    I also left the helmet not really useful for combat with a long shape under the chin that doesn’t allow to look down, but again, the cool look prevails…


    I exported all the accessories as “fbx” and my partner Izara started creating the textures for them, using 3DCoat. We started with the shield, mixing several classic Greek designs in what should be a wooden shield covered with cooper in the outside and with leather in the inside. We used PBR materials to get this cool aspect…


    Then we continued with the armour. We painted a leather body with a golden plate in the middle of the leather stripes. This is the current view from 3D Coat…


    At this point I left Izara with the materials because I was thinking I needed an enemy in order to make a combat sequence. A Persian warrior should have been the appropriate, but I wanted to do it fast, so I checked on http://www.tf3dm.com/ looking for free models and I found this kind a nice low poly Barbarian…


    I downloaded it and used 3DStudio to modify its aspect, making it as closer as I could, to my vision of how an ally of the Persians could look… So I removed the horns and several protections of the clothes and adapted the remaining to another character I exported from Character Creator…


    After doing this animation test I was pretty happy with the result and I stored the character for future uses.


    And now, is time to work with the materials of the Greek soldier… See you in the next post… Cheers! =)
  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex

    Hi again! I have been in the last stage preparing the textures for my Greek Warrior. I used 3D Coat to paint the different items with a combination of leathers, copper and gold.

    Finally I changed the skirt deleting the leather stripes as they looked more “Roman” than “Greek”. I kept the weight map and this was the final aspect of the skirt…


    I made the helmet entirely of engraved copper, but I didn’t include the plume on the top in the model for 3D Coat.

    I didn’t paint the plume on 3D Coat because it could have been a never ending task… Instead a adjusted its UV map in order that every spike UV matched exactly the same position…So just painting that area in the texture maps with Photoshop, the desired pattern is automatically applied to the entire plume…It also opened an interesting opportunity… To add a weight map to the plume! So it will react to the movements and the wind, adding a touch of reality to my warrior. So I defined the whole helmet as a Soft-cloth item on iClone, but I left the weight map pitch black except in the UV area of the plume.


    The cape was the other element that had to be defined as soft-cloth. I had made a clean UV map in order to facilitate the task, so the process was quite easy and quick.

    I painted the rest of the items using 3DCoat as well. I finally added engravings and paintings over the body armor and this was the aspect of the accessories for my classic Greek soldier…
    And this is how it looked once imported on iClone…

    I made a marching animation to test the soft-cloth settings, before to start with the battle animation and it looked pretty good to me… This is a short animated GIF that shows the effect of the physics soft-cloth and the weight maps…
    Well… Now is time to make the battle animation… See You…  =)

  • Philsip
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    Philsip vertex
    That's all looking quite good!
  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex
    Hi again guys!... :)

    Although I'm using the size-optimized character for the battle video, (Will be available soon), we have tuned the textures for the Greek Warrior that is going to be presented in the contest, adding some extra details and not caring about the size of the character. So, this is how it finally will look...






    In order to check the behavior of the character soft clothes, I have made this short video with different combat posses. It's a nice appetizer for the Battle video I'm doing now. Hope you like it...

    https://youtu.be/f0CZyFG8bUc

    I have also uploaded a 3D model to Sketchfab... this is the link...

    https://skfb.ly/UsBQ
  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex
    Hi Everybody! Just before the deadline... But I finished the Epic Battle Video with my Greek and Barbaric warriors...  You can find it here...

    https://youtu.be/99WEnm6tFac

    Hope you like it! :)
  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex

    Hi again! To finish this WIP I’m going to give you some tips about how I did the Battle video...
    In order to make the clip, besides the characters, I needed some epic music and the right scenario. For the music I used segment from a compilation of epic music called “Epic Music Soundtracks – Battle Music”

    For the scenario I used background images taken from Google Streetview.  I knew there is a gorge in Spain called “El Congosto de Ventamillo” that suited perfectly as location, so I “travelled” there using Google maps and I took several shots of the place from different angles.

    First, the images looked like this...



    But after cleaning them using Photoshop, they started looking ready to be used as background for my animations. This is how the image looked like after been “photoshoped”...



    I created a model of the path to receive the shadows of the characters and props. I included a gradient opacity map on the edges of the path to make them gradually transparent in order to facilitate its integration with the background pictures.

    Then I used plants from the Reallusion Botanic pack to hide the parts of the set where the integration failed. Once the lights were properly set, the integration was pretty good...
    This is how one of the sets looked from the “Preview” Window of iClone...



    But this is how it looks form the Camera view... 



    It was pretty good to me... So I started putting the characters on place. The sets created for the project are actually really simple and repeated the same pattern... Background prop + Path terrain + Plants to hide defects and improve the parallax effect when moving the camera.

    The most difficult of the project has been to coordinate all the movements of the characters while they are fighting. The more characters involved in one scene, the more adjustments and tuning I needed.

    This is the aspect of one of the iClone projects from the “Preview” view, before start the animation...



    It doesn’t look very spectacular at all from here, but putting the camera in the right place and the image changes completely. The blue pyramids on the path are particle effects that emulate the dust created during the battle.

    This is one frame of this particular sequence once viewed from the camera...



    Well... That looks much more convincing. It really seems a close view of a crowded battle, although this particular project only uses five characters. In any case, I needed some sequences showing big crowds of warriors, so I used Reallusion popvideos to create panels with animated textures created in separate projects.

    For the people not used to work with iClone, Popvideos are animated textures with an alpha channel embedded that can be applied over billboards. Reallusion Popvideo Converter allows to mask green screen shots creating video files with transparent background that can be placed directly on the iClone set. They react to the light conditions in the project and project the consequent shadows over the rest of the elements of the scene, avoiding a lot of post production.

    Each panel I created, showed a row of warriors standing or fighting. Combining several of these rows I generated scenes were it seemed there were hundreds of characters, when in fact, just the foreground characters were real iClone iAvatars.

    This is the aspect of a row of barbarians showing an aggressive and defiant attitude, viewed from Popvideo Converter 3...



    I created just three different rows, but flipping them and changing the starting point in the time line, in order to avoid coincidental movements, I have been able to use more than these three rows as you can see in these screen capture of one of my crowded projects...



    Once again, from the camera view, the scene looks much more impressive...



    In some scenes I performed a heavy camera travelling. Using a flat picture as background I didn’t get the feeling to be moving through the cliffs on the sides of the gorge, so I needed to apply some VF in these cases.

    I used Hitfilm that allows to create several 3D planes converging into a background image. Using a static camera initially placed in the same spot where the travelling camera starts its motion; Hitfilm projects over the plains an image generated from the background image that matches with perspective of the static camera. It allows to create a convincing 3D feeling using just a simple picture.

    First, I disabled the background image on iClone and I rendered the project as a sequence of png files with alpha channel, so their background will be transparent.

    I loaded that sequence on Hitfilm in one layer, and the background image in another layer. I created two planes, one on each side of the path and I finally created two cameras; one static that I will use to create the textures projected over the planes and the actual camera travelling trough the set. This is how it looked...



    As the camera moves enclosed trough the lateral walls, the textures, automatically generated by the static camera and projected over the walls, simulate a real “walk trough”. The only tricky issue is that the travelling camera on Hitfilm has to be as close as possible to the travelling camera previously used on iClone. But after some “error – test” procedures, is no long after we get some acceptable result.

    Hitfilm also provided another solution to recreate the blood spattered from the wounds. It has a particle generator that can be easily customized to create sprays of blood in any cadence or direction. But I mostly used the effect directly on Vegas while editing the video as Hitfilm and Vegas are fully integrated.



    Although in some sequences I needed to use the motion track of Hitfilm as the wounded character kept moving after being hit, and the blood spray should be following the wound movements...

    I also added a Duotone and a Film effect filter to the whole video to change the natural colours of the scenes and that’s been all...

    Thanks for read my comments... If you have any question... Please don’t hesitate to contact me through [email protected]
    Cheers!
    Adolf

  • Philsip
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    Philsip vertex
    That looks just great! I especially love your use of google maps to create an environment that is viewable from multiple angles. Good thinking!
  • Kuchini
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    Kuchini vertex
    Thanks for great tutorial. Your video is amazing.  ;) I like It so much.
    Can you make videotutor: "How to make amazing movie" ?
  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex
    Philsip said:
    That looks just great! I especially love your use of google maps to create an environment that is viewable from multiple angles. Good thinking!
    Yes! Google maps allows us to travel everywhere and take snapshots on any direction. This is very helpful to create coherent background scenarios. It works better on natural landscapes, because the urban places are filled with "static" people that must be removed from the pictures and the camera in google cars are placed higher than the average human height resulting in images always taken from above. It causes a perspective problem in urban shots filled with streets and buildings, but nothing cannot be accomplished with patience... ;)


  • Adolf
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    Adolf vertex
    Kuchini said:
    Thanks for great tutorial. Your video is amazing.  ;) I like It so much.
    Can you make videotutor: "How to make amazing movie" ?

    Thanks for your kind words Kuchini! I suppose I could make the video tutorial but we are already developing several projects right now and we are struggling finding enough time for all of them. My best tips for create a nice animation... First, get the idea and then get the right tools. For example, iClone could not be as professional as Maya or 3DStudio, but is affordable, user friendly and allows you to create the animations in a fraction of the time needed using other expensive and complicated tools.

    It leads to my second tip... Be aware of the limitations of your tools. Don't try to make things that your software or hardware cannot do. Instead, explore the things it can do and exploit them... For example, softclothes and the physicx engine allow spectacular and realistic effects, so... Let's include them in the the project! On the other hand, instead to fight against the limitations of your software, just hide them... For example, that bloody motion with sliding feet that is driving you crazy!... Just hide the feed with plants or other item, or change your camera view... Problem solved!

    Lack of resources boosts imagination... I like to find solutions thinking out of the box, like the Google maps backgrounds. :)
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