I started the troll thinking I would use it as a sprite. It was intended as just a head that floated around biting things. My first step was to build a low poly base mesh that I would use for Z-Brush sculpting and to create morph targets/ blend shapes for a character capable of facial animation.
At some point I ended up thinking maybe this would make a cool full character model and built a body for the character. I was planning on a fairly conventional troll other than being a cyclops, big, brutish with a loin cloth or troll pants to keep him from being too scary.
However feature creep started and I began messing about with some heavy duty bracers. Sculpting Armor and metal surfaces is something that I have not managed to get working to my satisfaction with Z-Brush so I started fiddling with it. I built a few bracers and played with sculpting the surfaces in Z-Brush, I got some results that I was pleased with and so........I decided to scrap the whole body and try making an entire suit of armor for the troll. You may remember I had plans for an armored orc a while back, I only built the leather armored version and I always wanted to return to it. Ok I'm getting a little ahead of myself as the first thing I worked up was the head.
I took the head into Z-Brush and sculpted it to a high level of detail. I then exported a lower poly version out to Maya as an obj file Which I used for texturing normal mapping and for the morph targets/ blend shapes. Above you can see the wire frame and a render from that model with the details exported to a normal map. Below are the different versions of the head which are used to create the different expressions for the model. I sculpted them in Z-Brush which worked pretty well. In the past I would have done them in Maya on the low poly base mesh shown higher up the page.
Below you can see how combinations of these basic blends can be used to put expression onto the character. The left image is the base pose. The open jaw is using a jaw bone and skinning as are the ears. The teeth, tongue and eye are separate models that I actually ended up creating the normals for separately. I've had lots of stuff going on in between working on this model and it seems there have been more than the usual number of hiccups with creating him. There have been multiple interviews and auditions cropping up so I've had to drop work on the troll many times.
Below is the Z-brush model of the head, you can see the eye and tongue masked out there as well. The red brown colour is the default Z-Brush material. I export the head only from this file for normal map generation using X-normal. If you try to do it all together as one model any intersection with the model will cause an ugly mess. with this model there is intersection with the eye ball and where the gums go into the head. I've put more detail than I usually do into this troll so you can see there is some fine detail on the skin, it is barely noticeable on the Maya version but you can tell if it's turned off. One of those details that is barely noticeable but somehow gives the character a little more life. My plan with this model was to push myself. I always seem to hold back on the polygons and that has happened with this model too. The reason being well.... basically I need a new computer, when I'm animating I like to have a good frame rate so I can see what I'm doing, for a good frame rate I need a relatively low poly model or of course.... a shiny new machine.
And then it all went a little bit armored. This is an early base mesh for a full plate armored suit. I did some skin tests and got the troll walking around, the textures are placeholder tests there was no UV mapping done at this stage, I just wanted to see if I could get him fully articulated without too much fancy rigging fuss and I will tell you more about that in my next post.