Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Little Miss Penny's Oven - The Easy Bake

Even as a child I loved to bake stuff. Cookies, cakes, cats, all those C words. So when I grew up I thought, "where has that childhood dream gone to?" I wondered why I haven't baked in such a long time when I used to love it. Making treats for all my friends and bringing them in for the teachers. That's when I realised, it was because that wasn't me. But how weird would it be if I was?

Moving on, the title may seem deceptive - I know I would be peeved if I were reading this and didn't see any sweets or cookies. But it is actually relevant, in a way to 3D modelling. You see, when you have a high poly sculpt and a low poly/real time mesh. You want to get the details from the high poly onto the low poly. We call that baking. You bake the details from the high to the low so that when you apply it to the low you get the feeling that you're looking at the high. Ok, so that sentence doesn't make much sense, so I'll show you.

Remember all those Zbrush meshes I've showed you over the past... however long. Those are my high poly meshes. I can't use those to make a game because the game engine would crash and burn faster than the Hindenburg. So I made a new mesh based on the high poly. After you bake the details you can see the information from the high poly but on a low poly surface.

You can see the wireframe of the low poly mesh as well as the flow (remember I talked about flow a few posts ago). All in all this mesh comes to around 10k tris (triangles), I might poly strip a few edge loops (excuse the jargon, it means I'll remove a few of those blue lines to make the tri count lower) so I don't go over 10k. The normal map took a little bit of cleaning to get right, but that's always the case. Cleaning a normal map isn't as simple as color picking and soft brushing. You have to get into the meat of the channels and work the RGB channels separately until the final outcome is desirable. I guess in the channels it's just as simple as colour picking and soft brushing though.

You can see the before and after of the images. As you could guess, without the clean up the model would be looking very ugly. There were a few artifacts with lighting in Maya, which annoyed me because I noticed a similar thing happening on a previous render.

So after ditching that lighting set up (FU Daylight rig). I found another method of lighting that I quite liked. It also made me feel a lot better about the model and my baking/cleaning skills after seeing it like it. I was getting that feeling in the back of my head like starting over again wouldn't be so bad. That's a terrible thing.

So that's where I'm up to right now. Next up, hair!

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Remind me that I'm whining. Oh, and that I'm black.