Monday, 17 March 2014

Flame Troll #3 Flame Spear

Flame Troll "Hey I'm Walking Here!"
Flame Spear #1
Here comes the Flame Troll with his Flame Spear! The animated gif was grabbed from the Maya file using Fcheck with the high quality render on the viewing panel. High quality render is in terms of real time not really high quality just a quick grab. I thought seeing as in my previous Flame Troll entries I mentioned how I had him walking around, I should provide evidence of this. The reason why I didn't put him up before, I suppose some of you might be able to guess; the rigg is my standard rigg which I use for most of my models and most of my models are sci-fi orientated so the troll was walking around with the same giant laser gun most of my characters come equipped with.

The Flame Spear is a pretty simple model, I enjoyed making it and it made a nice change from having to worry about skinning and all the hassle I had with making the functioning plate armor for the troll. I was really happy with the way the design turned out and having to work through all the surfacing on the armor suit and the designs of the seals and sigils on the armor definitely helped me with the spear.

I loved sculpting the details in Z-Brush, the flowing fret work I did in the centre of the spear was done with masks and using the symmetry feature where work on the left half is repeated on the right. Very quick to do so I think I did a few versions but very fun, the kind of thing where it's so easy you feel like you're cheating.

After having an easy time of it with the sculpting I hit a brick wall with the normal mapping and couldn't understand why. I was getting very strange warping on the blade edges of the spear which made no sense to me as the high poly sculpt and low poly base were extremely similar. I turned to the internet and searched for the solution but it seemed an uncommon problem. I found many tutorials on how to make edged fantasy weapons, none of which had the same problems I was having. I finally found something about triangulation needing to be the same in Xnormal as in the source program (maya), my low poly model was mostly quads so I triangulated it and that solved the problem. It never occurred to me that Xnormal would divide quads differently.

Flame Spear page

I've used a little bit of self illumination, (or incandescence as it is in Maya) on the spear jewel. It's a separate map like the colour map but it holds only the colour that should glow, in this case a subtle rosy red  on the jewel itself and also on the metal around the stone. It gives the impression that the luster from the stone is reflecting in the metal.

Below is the colour map and normal map. The incandescence map is not much to look at being mostly black. I put the normal map in as I talk so much about them but I guess if your not used to 3d you would not have seen one before. The normal map works with the three colour channels red, blue and green. Each colour behaves as a projected light hitting the detail of the surface of the model from a different direction. This information then gives the impression of surface detail when rendered in a 3d program. It's similar to the old grey scale bump maps I used to use except that they are just dealing with height, black being in white being out to give the impression of bumps hence bump map.

Flame Spear Colour Map

Flame Spear Normals

 Below is the Z-Brush sculpt of the spear, there was some fret work on the base of the spear that was so fine it was really not worth the bother, as to see it requires getting so close to the model that the low poly nature of the base model ruins the effect. One day I will learn not to go over board with details....maybe.

Flame Spear Z-Brush

Flame Troll and Spear #1
 To finish a couple of renders of the full model, I will be returning with more of the Flame Troll as I have built an environment for this character too, an archetypal dungeon/ castle cell with flaming torches, sturdy hewn stone walls and studded wooden doors. I am intending to animate some new work for my showreel with this set up as in my recent audition work I am often asked to animate scenes which I don't currently have on my reel. I think there are way too many walk cycles in my reel and it needs some Flame Troll to liven things up.

Flame Troll and Spear #2


  1. Amazing how complicated the process is. Gives me a new respect for this kind of work.

  2. Thanks NP I've gone a long way from paper and pencil which is what started me down this road :)

  3. while I don't understand much about the process, I really like the end result!

    1. Thanks the process comes down to idea, model and paint basically. Idea is always first no matter what tool you use. Making the initial low poly model is a bit like mechano or leggo I guess. Detail sculpting is a cross between painting and sculpting. The colour of the model is painted in photoshop so just digital painting.

      The main skill I think is to be able to see what you're making, in your head before you start.

  4. Ooh, nicely done process.

    I think the spear came out pretty nice. I like how there's a little chink it. Probably been used sometimes.

    The jewel in the middle makes it look a bit expensive.

    1. Thanks Anders I've not put a price on it yet but I hope it will make me some money :)
      I've a backlog of stuff I need to add to the shop. Polygonal jewels are actually easy-peasy to make even when they glow, shame you can't sell them on Ebay.

  5. Looking good: you put a great deal of character in your characters.

    1. Thanks, am animating it right now, will be posting it but have some other work that needs to go up first.


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