Last time my blog article about the making of a HOPA/adventure game scene, was well received. Now the 3D render + 2D overpaint method of scene production is quite popular, here I have a few more tips to share.
The very first step of the whole workflow is to create scene drafts, or concept. You can create multiple drafts for the same scene description, just as follow:
And then let your client/producer choose one. This method is proved much more efficient than creating a single draft and then fix according to your client/producer’s opinions.
†† For “elaborated line art” I mean something like this:
† For the 3D+2D workflow, you only need to draw a very rough sketch, something like that in “Tip 1” above. Then 3D artists would place 3D models into the scene according to the sketch. So the sketch doesn’t need to be detailed, as long as the composition is well defined, and you can tell what is what in the sketch.
†I think this tip can save you lots of time and money :)
Usually the scene is a mix of 3D render objects and photo objects. There’s no fixed rules of what things should be 3D or 2D made. However, generally speaking, we like to use 3D objects for big things, for their shader setup is simple. Look at these two samples, only 1~2 shaders is needed for each item.
On the contrary, the shader setting for small items is quite complicated. For example, look at these, I think you can tell how many shaders are need for each item, if you made them in 3D:
We often use photo objects for these items:
For 3D bottles need at least these shaders: cork, glass, label, the material setup and render of bottles are complicated. †So you’d better off using photos.
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If you make 3D food without lots of investment of time, they would just look like faked.
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Again, if you make them in 3D, there would be lots of investment of time before you get the desired quality.
In many HOPA/adventure games, some collectable items would be repetitively hidden in scenes across the whole game. Such as toolbox, paint bucket, etc.
You can create those items in 3D, and render 10~20 angles of the same item. Then when you need to hide the items into scenes, you have variation of the graphic, to fit into different position and perspective of the scenes.
Here I have another article, which discusses how to do this job in details.
In doing all the 3D work for a scene, the artist would spend around 60~70% of the time looking for proper 3D models and textures on the Web or anywhere else. So lots of the 3D tips are about managing the model and texture resources, to save you production time.
For example, when you need a 3D chair in a certain setting, you would search it on the web, bearing in mind the general style which is required by the scene. Most probably you would download 6~7 chairs, then try out which one is the best.
And all the chairs you have downloaded would be of the same general style, they may be useful in other scenes of the game. So, don’t delete the unused chairs. Instead, take a screenshot of each chair when they are still loaded in your 3D application. And organize the 3D models in folders, and name the folders and your screenshots accordingly, like this:
Next time, when you or other artists in the team need 3D chairs, they can take a quick look of the screenshots, without having to load the 3D models into the 3D application-which takes time.
You can do this for all the 3D models you have. Over time, you may accumulate enough 3D models for certain type of game settings.
After you have done 3D works for a scene, you can save quality textures you have already used, for next time use.
For example, †in the making of interior scenes, a few types of textures are intensely used: wood for furniture, wooden floor, carpet, brick wall.
I know you can find in any stock photo sites thousands of those textures, but only 5~6 pictures out of a thousand are useful to your particular scene. And once you have found, and used certain textures in your scene, that means they suit your scene, your game. So please take care to save them for next time use. That you don’t have to waste time picking them out of the thousands on the Web again.
Make the texture files organized.
For example, you have 5 different types of wood in a scene: 3 for different furniture, 1 for the old clock, 1 for the door. And you have only one good quality wood texture in hand.
You may want to look for another 4 wood textures. And you don’t have to. Load the texture into Photoshop, and change the hue, saturation, etc, to create 5 variation of †it. Just like this sample:
And you can complement the feeling of variation by playing with the shader settings. No one would discover that all the wood texture in the scene are essentially the same.
Likewise, if you have a good red carpet texture, you can change it to a green one:
Once you have setup a good shader of wood, metal, marble, bronze ware, and anything else, the next thing you want to do might be saving this shader as a new preset. (You can do this in Max & Maya)
And next time, when you want to create similar shader, you can load the preset straight forward, this can save you lots of time of setup the shader and do trail renderings.
And I believe if your studio have worked on 3D+2D HOPA/Adventure games before, you will always use presets for shaders. No need to create new ones.
†If you have looked for 3D models on the Web before, you may feel that even though there’s a sea of models out there, how difficult is that to find a single model perfectly fit into your description!
You can simplify the issue in this way: for example, you’re looking for a chair, and you find one, but the back is not exactly what you want. You may find another chair with the desirable back. Then you can combine those two chairs, it’s simple 3D editing.
Most often, you can’t find the exactly wanted item, some small 3D editing would always work. For example, you find a bookshelf of the wanted style, but too many drawers on it, you can delete a few.
Last time, I have mentioned rendering some mask images, to facilitate the overpainting job of the 2D artists:
The idea is to separate things or things with the same type of materials. This is the simplest render output setup.
Now I have some updates on this idea. If you can make a render, with every single item and furniture in separate layers, that would be even more convenient for the 2D artists.
There’s a smart thing in Maya called contribution map, which can do the job nicely. The 3D artist may take 1 hour to setup this stuff for a scene, but eventually it would save hours of labor of the 2D artists.
Books are very frequently used in all kind of scenes. You can create a pile of 3D books once for all.
Here we have created 2 sets of books, new and old books.
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Here is the texture of the old books, we have a few variations.
More of my articles about games & art production: