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Hades developer Supergiant Games has put together a video to showcase how it turned hand-painted character art into the full character models players see in-game.
The in-depth art deep dive is narrated by Supergiant 3D artist Paige Carter, and focuses on how she created the character model for Nyx. According to Carter, almost all of the NPC characters in Hades begin life as one of two base models, which are then molded into new characters.
In the case of Nyx, also known as 'Mother Night,' the model was directly based on portrait art created in-house. Carter explains how she would typically put the portrait art behind her Z Brush file while working, and would use the sculpting tool's 'see-through' function to compare the facial features of both the 2D artwork and 3D model in close detail.
It's a technique that allowed her to transport all the nuance and personality of the 2D model into her 3D sculpture, before eventually moving it into Maya for further refinement.
"Once taking it into Maya I can refine the model and retopo all of the pieces so they deform well and render quickly," she explains in the video. "After the model is complete and I'm happy with it and the UVs are there, I will import it into substance where I immediately turn off the lighting and stick a base color on the model, which is typically just the character's skin tone.
"I also bake textures within Substance. So, I'll bake in an ambient inclusion map, a curvature map, and a thickness map, which I'll overlay over the base color so I can actually see where the characters features are.
"From that point, I stick basic color blocks in their own separate layers so I can adjust the colors to better match the 2D art. [...] After all of the base colors are there I put a black line art layer on top of everything and go in and hand paint all of the black lifework to try and match the 2D look of the character as much as possible."
Carter goes on to explain how that hand painted line work is critical to bringing characters to life, and reveals it's her favorite part of the entire process. If that little slice of insight whet your appetite, you can hear more from the Supergiant artist by checking out the full video (also embedded above).