Character Customisation

Basic Info:
I made a character customisation scene in Unity for my graduation project. The focus of the project was to make a character customisation where the player or developer was able to create characters freely with wide ranging options. The final character (with all customisations applied on it) will be baked on a new mesh. This way the character can be used in game withouth overhead of the blendshapes used for the customisation. This was an important issue for me. It doesn’t matter if your character customisation works flawelessly if you can’t use the characters themself.

 

1, Research, Research & Research

I started my project with the usual research phase. My research concisted of ethnotype research, other character customisations and anatomy transfering into topology. After these steps (especially the last one I mentioned) I was able to start my project and start modelling my base face mesh.

 

 

2, First Prototype:

When the research was done, I was able to start my first prototype. The first question I needed to anwser was if my character customisation is going to be a “Addable” character customisation (a character customisation where the player or developer is able to add certain thing to a character, but never being able to really change the face mesh. The player or developer is able to change the shape of things like the nose into other shapes, but isn’t able to change certain parts of the nose for the nose is a loose object placed on the face).

or a “Addjustable” character customisation (a character customisation where the player or developer is able to change very specific points in a face of a character. Things like the size of the nostrils or other small details. The whole mesh is able to be changed and therefor this way of character customisation has more depth).

 

 

I chose for the last one, this choice was based on the idea that I will be able to create more parts of a character customisation this way. Another big influence was that I wanted the players of developers to make characters they wanted to make. It’s important that they can change as much as they like for that would increase the players enjoyment while using the character customisation.

 

My first prototype used joints to change the basic shapes in the face based on the “addable” character creation system. The mesh is weight painted and reacts on the joints when they are moved around using a rigidbody drag system.

 

I started to implement the same system on a more detailed mesh based on the “addjustable” character creation system. This was the moment I figured out that joints weren’t the way I wanted to go. The joints were producing to much strange artefacts or stretching when they were used on a higher detailed mesh.

I found out there was a better way, using blendshapes. This resulted in a smoother, visually better changeable mesh.

 

 

2, Eyes:

I started creating the eyes. Most people I asked said that they think the eyes are the most important part of a character. The first eye shader was made in Maya. This shader had procedural generated stripes in the iris. The player or developer was able to change the number of stripes and the density of those stripes.

 

When implementing in Unity I wanted to create a customisation option for the color of the eyes. I found out that for a smooth looking result it’s better to use 2 change able colors for the eyes. The first is the center of the iris and the second is the ring of the iris giving it a more divers look. Eyes in real life are never just one plain color, this is something that needs to be reconsiderd when making eyes in 3d.

 

 

3, Skin Shading:

After completing the eyes I started to work on the skin shader (well, actually I started modelling the face, but the modelling part wasn’t really innovative compared to other models so I won’t be talking about it in this entry).

For the skin I wanted to create a system that made it able for the player to change the color of certain spaces of the face.

 


 

 The project can be found here.

Four Nomads – Animations

Basic Info:

For Survive & Thrive (project of Four Nomads) I became the animator after the main animator started to take to much time per animation. I used to animate for my first internship so I was familiar with animation.

Follow up movement:
I’ve always been a fan of the follow up movement rule. Once a muscle or object stops a motion, it’s always met with a counter motion to stop the original motion. A good example is the bouncing of objects. But this technique is also applied to living creatures. Motion can’t be stopped imidiatly and must be slowed down or be counterd.

With the arrow shot the follow up movement is most noticeable with the knockback of the bow. The bow builds up tension. This tension is released in forward motion. When this tension is released the string arm will automatically create a counter motion because both forces need to balance eachother out to be neutral. Thus when the string is realeased, the string and the arm both take their original force without being balanced out by the other force.
This all sounds very “sciency” for some artist. But I’m convinced that an animator should know these things to create more pleasing animations

Diamond Studies

Reflections & Refractions:

The picture above are two diamonds made for an external client. These diamonds aren’t using a texture image. The shading only uses light reflections and refractions. The whole diamond “feel” is purely created by the lights and reflections and light bounces of the the mesh. This is in style of how real diamonds get their aesthetics and look & feel. The diamond consist of two meshes of the diamond shape within each other. This is so the diamond calculates the light it bounces of the edges and polygons (the outer mesh) and the light that bounces and reflects inwards (the inner mesh).

If you combine these two meshes they create a network of light reflections and refractions, simulating the effect of a diamond.

 

 

Low Poly

Basic Info:

Here’s a small collection of low poly models I made for different projects. I found that a post per picture would be a bit too mutch, so I bundled them into one post.

 

Low Poly Axe:

This axe was a model that was created for the first prototype of Survive & Thrive  (project for Four Nomads). It’s an axe created in a low poly style with a photoshop shapes texture. This model was replaced later in the game because we wanted to keep the anatomy of the character realistic thus the shape sizes of the axe were off.

 

Low Poly Portrait:

This portrait was a model that was created for the first prototype of Survive & Thrive  (project for Four Nomads). It was an expiriment on making a low poly bust with enough possibilities to customise it for multiple characters. The bust is very low poly containing less than 150 polygons. The topology follows the facial shapes (cheeckbones and jaw) closely to create a facial silhouette without the use of many polygons. Combined with a semi flat shader in Unity it could do its magic.

 

Carrot Warrior:

A simplistic carrot warrior I created when I had some hours of free time with nothing to spend it on. It was a 3d low poly sketch for a game idea I had about assembling a small tribe of vegetables and taking care of them. I used the leaves coming out of the top of the carrot as skirt for the carrot warrior. The boots were made curly to fit more with the carrot shape of the character.

 

 

 

The Prince 3d version:

This is the 3d version of the vector character “The Prince”. As I wrote in the flat design post, I really liked the flat style character. So I tried to convert it in a 3d low poly style. I used a flat design color palette and made facial planes for the eyes and mouth. This was a hommage to the technique used by Animal Crossing. This made me able to change the image texture in the facial plane material. Changing the emotions or expresions of the character.

 

The T-Rex:

This is a low poly dinosaur I made for the Global Game Jam 2015. Our team decided to make a game where you play a dinosaur and you had to do little tasks. With each player (of the four players) controlling another part of the dinosaurs body. The players needed to work together to reach the goal of the tasks. These could be weird things like biting a rubber chicken or playing piano. The model didn’t got a texture to save time on the asset making proces. It was a jam after all. If we uv-unwrapped the dinosaur, all the other objects would have needed to be too.

 

Secret Santa Jam:

Our class had the tradition to do a “Secret Santa” jam. This ment that in the holiday vacation you would get assigned to a random classmate in secret. You than create a picture, asset or game about that person in your style. I was assigned to one of the Grotman members and chose to not only make him as a character, but also the two most used characters within the game (Tribal & Error) they are developing. This were the robot you played within the game and the caveman which you needed to gife orders.
I started by making the base shape and important details of the characters. With overdoing some of the important parts for more contrast (like the cavemans nose and the buttons on the robot). I kept the person I was making as a placeholder for I wanted to spent the most time on getting him right.

 

After this crude setup I decided to start on the person I was assigned to. The person I got has rather “generic” facial features which made him hard to convert in a simplistic style. This isn’t a bad thing at all but it makes it rather hard to create a character looking like the person because you can’t exaggerate aspects of his face. I chose to make him in a style that looked a bit like the Mii’s of Nintendo. This choice was backed with the idea that if it would be hard to convert the person in a simplistic style, I could also use a style where the character itself looks a bit generic matching the “generic” facial features of the person.

 

The person I was assigned to was the lead programmer of Grotman so I decided to make “bugs” that were attacking him and the two other characters. I placed the cave man in a smashing position, the robot is floating while covering its face in shock and the person himself defends himself with his keyboard, his tool of choice. The “bugs” felt a bit static, this is the reason why I added code referencing particle systems. This ofcourse accentuate them being bugs and all.

 

You can download the project here.

 

Global Game Jam – 2014

 

Basic Info:

During the Global Game Jam I joined four crewmembers of Speelbaars to create a jam group called Jambaars. P.S. Yes the cool logo above is also made by me.

Our team wanted to create an original game. We shot down multiple ideas for being to generic or easy to think of. The design process even took the first half of the day we started. After a lot of discussions and shouting the idea of Obscura came to mind. A game in where the player is able to walk around on a streetcorner and investigate everything.

The Concept:
The concept of the game was that the player would be walking around taking photographs of things they thought was related to the murder scene on the streetcorner where they were dropped in the game. The player than was able to write a little article about what they though happend on the murder scene. The fun part was that we had made a lot of clues that didn’t worked together. This created a discussion between the players about what really happend. While all along there wasn’t a real plotline. The plot was what the players thought that happend on the scene. We just wanted to start a discussion between the players.

 

There was an article written about the game after the Global Game Jam.

Click here to view the article

 

Our team:

Brenda v Vugt – 2d Artist

Jeen Visser – 3d Artist

Luc Veiga da Palma – Programmer

Niels Koopmans – Programmer

Steven Honders – Designer