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DF Lee

Art Update 8: Creating Character Textures

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Hi, everyone. It's time for a technical update! Today, we'll cover the overall process and technical guidelines for painting character textures and converting them into game-ready textures.

OVERALL FLOW

art8_charactertextures_01.png

FACING & ANGLES

Characters will have one to three angles (front, side, back). All characters should be painted so that they are oriented to X+ (which means facing right). In the examples below, the Preener Dad only requires two angles; other characters might need three.

art8_charactertextures_02.png

LAYER SPLITTING

After characters have painted flat (which is faster and easier to iterate until the painting is final and approved), they must be separated into layers for modeling and animation purposes. Additionally, many areas will need to be extended so that they can animate without creating any gaps. Notice in the example below how both the legs and feathers have been extended to continue on through the torso.

art8_charactertextures_02b.png

TYPICAL LAYER SPLITS

Below is a list of how most characters are typically split. Each split should be grouped so that they can be more easily exported (see Group Exporting, below)

Because many of our characters are unique, an animator should be consulted to come up with a final list of layer splits for each character. For example, some characters may have “noodle arms”, in which case the upper and lower arms should NOT be split. Note that exact naming convention doesn’t matter, as these groups will be exported and assembled into game textures.

• LF_Eyebrow

• RT_Eyebrow

• Nose

• LF _Eyelid

• RT_Eyelid

• LF _Pupil

• RT_Pupil

• EyeWhites

• Mouth

• Head

• Torso (usually includes neck)

• LF_ArmUpper

• RT_ArmUpper

• LF_ArmLower

• RT_ArmLower

• LF_Hand

• RT_Hand

• LF_Hand

• RT_Hand

art8_charactertextures_03.png

GROUP EXPORTING

Once the layers have been split and grouped, they groups should be exported as individual .png textures and then assembled into game textures so that the character can be modeled. Note that it is not required to export all of the groups to individual textures before assembling a game texture, but most find it faster to approach it this way. A custom script has been written that will export all groups as transparent .png files into a folder of your choice.

GAME TEXTURES

The next step is to assemble all of these textures into a game texture. These game textures are the basis for the 3D model and used directly in the game, ensuring that our final characters match the paintings as closely as possible. Although there is some variability per character, game textures should be created according to these guidelines:

• All textures must be square and power of 2.

• For main, large or otherwise important characters, their textures should be authored at 2048x2048. This gives us plenty of pixel density for all of our platforms.

• For very simple or side characters, their textures can be authored at 1024x1024.

• Characters that are large, or do a lot of acting, will have separate textures for their face and for their body per angle. That means a main character, like Sacrifice Girl, will have 6 textures total (head and body for each of her three angles).

• A side character, like the Preener Dad above, will usually have one texture for both face and body. Because he only has 2 angles, that means he will have 2 textures total.

• When assembling the textures at 2048x2048, an 8 pixel border should be maintained between shapes (or shells) and the edges of the texture to avoid any artifacts (caused by various things such as filtering and mip mapping). This space can be reduced to 4 pixels for 1024x1024 textures.

• Although care should be taken to not waste any space, do not attempt to overly pack a game texture by stretching or scaling the pieces past a small margin. This can introduce distortion into the textures, and since the alpha of these textures determines the silhouette of the character, it is more important to preserve the exact silhouette than it is to create slightly more efficient textures.

• Additional flipbook textures may be created for the characters for things like visemes, hand poses, or other custom behaviors for the character. These are typically implemented after the basic character has been put into the game and are not covered in this document.

Note in this example texture for the Preener Dad, his side and front textures have been combined into a single 2048x2048 texture. This is because his tall, thin silhouette didn’t occupy a square space very efficiently and because of platforms like iOS, all textures must be kept square.

art8_charactertextures_04.png

And that's that!

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Wow, these updates are the best masterclass ever :D that nest on the neck is awesome too

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Learning!!! I try to avoid it typically, but I seem to enjoy it here... Hrmm...

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Interesting update, and I'm loving this art style!

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Very interesting update! I always wondered how exactly these are made so they're animatable.

[del]One problem, though: this image (the third image in the OP) doesn't work for me...[/del]

edit: Nevermind, it works now. :)

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Yet another awesome post! Also nice to see another character :D

I'm curious about a couple of things though:

Will the rigs have the texture swapping on the mesh or will the textures be applied to custom meshes for each body part and shown/hidden accordingly?

I notice that the legs on the texture is on some occasions horizontal or vertical, can that lead to orientation bugs down the road?

Thanks.

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Another great post. It's always awesome to see new characters! :)

For example, some characters may have “noodle arms”, in which case the upper and lower arms should NOT be split.

I'm curious how you're handling "noodle arms" animation. Do the rigs for these characters have more joints than usual, or are you using a deformer-like trick or flipbook-style solution? Thanks!

Edit: Wow, Howlstone and I wrote really similar first lines. haha

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Great update, very informative and with a sneak peek at a character to boot!

I'm curious about the noodle arms too - I imagine they would be done flipbook-style. Or someone is going to have to make a noodle-rig.

Heh. Noodle-rig.

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Very nice! Could we see the final 2048x2048 texture, perhaps as a link from the 597x597 downscale at the end?

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Thanks for the update, even if I only looked at the pictures. ;)

Smiles

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Outstanding.

The art style looks so cool, plus all the technical details means I can actually try this out at home if I want to.

Two questions:

Q1: did you mean to repeat LF_Hand and RT_Hand - or are there really two shapes that make up one full hand (four in total).

Q2: how are you doing the mouths? Is it going to be a series of phoneme shapes that swap in and out depending on the syllables?

Thanks so much for the updates.

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Q2: how are you doing the mouths? Is it going to be a series of phoneme shapes that swap in and out depending on the syllables?

• Additional flipbook textures may be created for the characters for things like visemes, hand poses, or other custom behaviors for the character. These are typically implemented after the basic character has been put into the game and are not covered in this document.

Sorry - I think I just answered my own question.

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Yet another awesome post! Also nice to see another character :D

I'm curious about a couple of things though:

Will the rigs have the texture swapping on the mesh or will the textures be applied to custom meshes for each body part and shown/hidden accordingly?

I notice that the legs on the texture is on some occasions horizontal or vertical, can that lead to orientation bugs down the road?

Thanks.

Flip book textures are put on additional pieces of mesh and shown/hidden as needed. We didn't have to implement it that way, but it gives us more flexibility.

And, no, there is no orientation requirements (in terms of matching them up per angles). The final orientation is determined by the mesh and the joints it is bound to.

Lee

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Another great post. It's always awesome to see new characters! :)
For example, some characters may have “noodle arms”, in which case the upper and lower arms should NOT be split.

I'm curious how you're handling "noodle arms" animation. Do the rigs for these characters have more joints than usual, or are you using a deformer-like trick or flipbook-style solution? Thanks!

Edit: Wow, Howlstone and I wrote really similar first lines. haha

Noodle arms are done by using more joints. We don't have any fancy deformers, given the broad range of platforms we are targeting. So far, it is working out fine.

Lee

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Outstanding.

The art style looks so cool, plus all the technical details means I can actually try this out at home if I want to.

Two questions:

Q1: did you mean to repeat LF_Hand and RT_Hand - or are there really two shapes that make up one full hand (four in total).

Q2: how are you doing the mouths? Is it going to be a series of phoneme shapes that swap in and out depending on the syllables?

Thanks so much for the updates.

Hah! Nope, didn't mean to repeat the hands. I blame Greg. He's the producer.

Yup, mouths are a set of visemes. We typically start with a Preston-Blair inspired set and cater it to the particular character as needed.

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So how do you use these character textures to create the 3D model?

Do you use them as an outline to model the character, and then lay the UV maps out to fit the texture?

Sorry if I'm missing something.

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Neat! I see how it works now :)

So even though the game textures have to be square, all the space around the actual picture is transparent, right? This allows you to see other layers both behind and in front of the texture like if the Preener dad moved his arm in front of a tree. Seems a lot like paper puppets actually!

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Possible spoiler: (?) Is that guy gonna morph out of that ominous vulture we saw in the rough sacrifice puzzle from the last episode? Or maybe he's just his messenger minion?

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Hey Lee, I hope you can make this somewhat understandable for me. I always wondered how the program knows where which texture is going where. What happens between "here is the png" and the final char. Currently I go with "magic", but that can't be the solution to everything :D

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Noodle arms are done by using more joints. We don't have any fancy deformers, given the broad range of platforms we are targeting. So far, it is working out fine.

Lee

I remember it being mentioned in the last documentary episode that making the tentacle monster will be difficult because the tentacles require too many joints, or something?

So does that mean noodle arms aren't always a good solution?

Have you managed to overcome this since the last documentary episode was released?

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