The Documents of Stage Hands
General Character Creation
Textures and ShadingOnce the Proxy models have been set up the process of prepping the models for final renders can continue. This is achieved by respectively creating UV's, Textures, Shaders and finally Particle effects such as Hair.
UV's are easiest to layout on a realtime character, therefore the proxy model (created in previous steps) is utilized to complete the necessary steps by selecting Edges and marking them as "Seams".
As you can imagine making a more controlled selection set for creating UV shells, in this sense, is a lot easier on a model with lite geometry.
Once the character's UV's have been layed out the subdivided higher levels of the model’s geometry will inherit the realtime model’s UV's Layout via the Multires modifier.
After laying out UV's an AO (Ambient Occlusion) Map is Baked. This in conjunction with a Wireframe rendering of the UV shells generated from within the UV Editor are used for creating the model's Difuse texture map.
The process for creating texture maps follows a similar pattern for each character, with each texture map differentiated by their content. This content often refers to the colors utilized and more significantly the photographic references used to build up the textures. A large part of generating textures occurs from within a 2D photo-manipulation application. The texture generated from this process is then exported and mapped back onto the 3D model within Blender. Once this has been done, visible seams in the texture can be painted out within Blender's Texture Paint mode using a Clone Brush.
Finalizing the models will generally involve locking the lighting in the scene, then utilizing this for setting up Shading Materials and finally Particle effects.
Finalizing the Models
When working with particles in Blender setting up Vertex groups will often be necessary.
These vertex groups allow for assigning specific properties of the particle object to certain areas of a model, while simultaneously controlling the distribution of that property over the rest of the model.
This is made easier to achieve through Blender's Weight Paint mode, which allows for the creation of Vertex groups via a "painting" interface.
By assigning colors to the vertices of a model you are able to determine the strength a property will have over a particular area of that model.
For example, it is possible to control the Density of particle distribution over a model by painting a model within the color range of red to blue. Areas painted red would inherit the greatest effect of the property and therefore rendering, in this case, would result in those areas being the most densely populated with particles.
Painting areas with blue would render those areas as inheriting little to no effect of the property, thereby rendering little to no particles on those particular areas (or zero Density of particles).
As Stage Hands is a still image, rigging the characters was not necessary in most cases. However, in order to create a more versatile set of options for posing the BatBird creating a Pose rig was, in this instance, necessary.
Although, the Skin modifier does allow for the option to generate a Pose rig, it will not always match the results you expect. In that case generating an FK (Forward Kinematics) Pose rig in Blender will be required.
The main point worth noting when utilizing a rig with this setup is the order of precedence within a model's modifier stack.
The modifier stack should subsequently be initialized with the proxy object setup. First consisting of Multires then Shrinkwrap, respectively.
The Armature modifier would therefore reside after the preceding modifiers in order to ensure that the model's topology already matches the intended output before deformation for animation and posing.
At which point this modifier would be followed by the Particle modifier.