The Documents of Stage Hands

General Character Creation

Modelling

SHThe characters created for Stage Hands follow a similar pattern during the development process. In the following documents we'll examine this approach to character creation using the "BatBird" character as an example. You can download the model here.

The characters used in this image are for a static shot, therefore the flow of edge loops comprising the model's topology need not be too much of a concern.
However, it does help to start with a model that resembles the final product, as close as possible. Modelling the character's basic shape to start with, in this case, was the solution.

On the other hand if you were to start with sculpting you could encounter a situation necessitated by entering Edit Mode in order to make large-scale adjustments to the character's general form. However, if your character's geometry is already dense at this stage (from the process of sculpting), your system could potentially be slowed down considerably while Blender attempts to compute translations on the numerous vertices required to complete such an edit operation. This problem can be compounded particularly if you are utilizing Proportional Editing Mode.

It's also worth considering that large-scale adjustments to the character’s general form with tools such as the Grab brush in Sculpt Mode, can also be avoided if the character's basic form is modelled at initialization. A resulting issue from such an operation, could be that utilizing Grab brush in the formally noted manner can potentially result in self-intersecting geometry, that is not entirely evident.

Sculpting

SHDigital Sculpting is one of the more creative aspects of character development from a 3D point of view. It allows for a great deal of artistic freedom, with little trade-off in terms of technical execution.
The brushes Blender provides for sculpting are intuitivly designed to provide predictable results and a natural interface for displacing geometry in realtime.

Some of the more common brushes used for sculpting include the,
  • Clay Brush which is often used to partially elevate a surface thereby providing a means of adding detail to a model incrementally, with an uneven and organic appreance.
  • The Crease brush is often used to create crevices within a mesh and provide hard-looking edges that will augment the organic appearance of wrinkles and folds in skin.
  • The Smooth Brush will average the displacement of the Normals surrounding the target area, thereby creating an even-looking surface, with subtle or no bumps.

If the model is going to be rigged it will often be sculpted with symetry. In this case it is common for 3D artists to mirror operations performed on one half of the mesh to the equivelint opposite side of the model. This will often be achieved by turning on a single axis (either X, Y or Z) within the Mirror option under the Symmetry section of the Sculpt Tools settings.

Dynamic sculpting can also be achieved in Blender with the new BMesh system and Dyntopo. You can read more about this process as it is discussed in great detail within previous Stage Hands Documents.