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By Chad Walker
[Author's Bio]
Gamasutra
November 20, 2001

Concept

Modeling

Texturing

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Features

The Basics of Designing and Creating Low Polygon Models

Concept

Draw first, then model
When beginning any type of character design for videogames, you first need to have an idea. Once you have an idea in mind, then comes the task of drawing a character. Be sure to free sketch for a while before you jump into drawing the characters. By this I mean, that it's a good idea to get loose so that you'll be at your best when it comes time to drawing the actual character.

Now, what do I use to draw with? Well, personally I use pilot pens, sharpies, mechanical pencils, and on those rare occasions an eraser. Paper is really up to you. If you like heavy stock paper with smooth plate finish, or maybe you're into the rough grainy paper. When I go about sketching, I'll use plain old 11x17 copier paper, which always gets the job done.

The best course to take when approaching a conceptual design is to create a solid front, back, and side view of the character so that you or the modeler will have exactly what you need. In the images below, you can see that we have a generic side view of a man. This will be the main image we'll use to create the army man. The front view of the character has been rendered tight but kept linear to clearly show the outfit. The other advantageous illustration you can choose to create is an action shot of the character in one of his or her many moods.The final image is a shot of the character in the heat of battle. Basically he's taking on everyone.

Side, Front, and Action views of a proposed character.

Tags
Tags are the properties of a character that you want to stick out. Take for instance, Batman with his pointy ears or Wolverine with his claws. These features should be clearly visible, easily noticed in a silhouetted shot and at a far distance. As you create your next character, be sure to add a cool tag that will set them apart from everything else!

Batman's ears are a tag that distinquishes the character.

 

Generic
The term Generic basically refers to something that looks very normal. There are no features of the character that stick out; he's just another face in the crowd. And in this case, we're going to use the generic human figure. In our book Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Modeling, we demonstrate the use of creating different characters by using a very generic human body sketch. Once you have established a solid character to work from, then changing the weight and appearance is no big deal. A basic example of this can be seen in the faces below. The first is normally structured, while the second has been distorted slightly. The biggest difference would be the jaw line; which has been increased, the nose was made shorter, and the mouth and chin have been drawn much larger.

Generic faces.

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