The Documents of Stage Hands
General Character Creation
Proxy Model SetupOnce sculpting is completed on the characters, they will then need to be arranged into a composition within the same scene. However, sculpting will often result in models with extremely dense geometry that are not practical for the purposes of utilizing multiple models within the same scene, due to the excessive system overhead this would require.
As a result, creating a Proxy model that closely represents your final rendered model is necassary in order to reduce system overheads.
The main quality of a Proxy model is that it's topology will be comprised of substantially less geometry, than your sculpted model.
The process of creating a proxy model for the Stage Hands image follows a simmilar pattern for all the characters used in the final render. This permitted working with multiple characters within the same scene and not compromising on system performance.
1. Create a duplicate of the sculpted model taking care not to transform the original or duplicate model. If you inadvertantly transform either of the models either reset the translations and rotations to 0 for all axes with the scale set to 1 for all axes. Alternatively, if you do intend on transforming the either of the models be sure to "Apply" the transforms before continuing, thereby setting translations and rotations to 0 and scales to 1.
2. Select the duplicate model and add a Decimate modifier to its stack.
3. Adjust the Decimate modifiers settings to reduce the model's polycount. This should resemble a level such that the model's general form is still clearly defined but details such as wrinkles and folds added during the sculpting process should be removed during the Decimation process. These details will be added back to the model at a later stage. Depending on your model you can often yield a very high ratio of poly-reduction, for example the BatBird model yielded a reduction of more than 90% of it's geometry which was reduced from approximately 307k to 23k.
4. Once you are satisfied with the results of Decimation, "Apply" the modifier. Your character's modifier stack should now be empty.
5. Next add a Multires modifier then a Shrinkwrap modifier to your character's modifier stack. It's important to add the modifiers in this order as we will be utilizing the modifiers to subdivide the realtime model's geometry at rendertime, then utilize the Shrinkwrap modifier to place the additonal geometry created by multires at locations resembling the shell of our high res sculpt. Subsequently, order is important here.
6. The original high res sculpt model you created adds unnecassary system overhead to your scene. If this model is composed of hundreds of thousands of polygons all of this data has to be written to disc with your working file data and loaded into memory everytime you save or open your working file. In order to reduce system overheads in this case we will create another .blend file that only consists of the high res sculpt file. Subsequently, after this operation is complete you will be able to delete the high res sculpt file from the .blend file with your realtime model resulting in two blend files, one with the high res sculpt and another with the realtime model. The latter will be your working file.
7. From your working file you can then proceed to add the high res model, you just deleted back to your scene. The difference here is that we will be linking to the file externally and not importing all of the data back into our working file. Blender provides a convenient tool for achieving this by choosing the "Link" option from the File menu, we can link to data that resides at other locations on disc.
8. With the high res sculpt linked from within your working file, you can now go to the Shrinkwrap modifiers settings and choose the linked high res model from the "Target" list. This method can also effectively be combined with a more commonly used baked normal map to produce simmilar results. However, as Normal maps don't physically displace geometry the results from this method will produce more accurate results when a character's outline is clear and also yield more physically accurate-looking deformation in animated characters.