The Thumper Tree was a project focused on creating an asset based on concept art, followed up with making a LOD (Level of Detail) model for when the model was at a distance. The asset itself is huge in comparison to a standard player size, so it was approached as a hero asset in terms of detail level and approach to modeling it.
The asset creation process order went as follows:
- Base Model
- High Poly
- Low Poly
- Unwrap and Bake
- Texture Creation
- LOD Model
The tree and the thumper inside it were modelled separately, but followed the same process; the main difference between the two is that the high poly of the tree was sculpted in zBrush and the Thumper sticking out of the side of the tree was modelled in 3DSMax. For the tree, I used a last-generation style texture work-flow that involved a diffuse, normal, specular, engine-multiplied ambient occlusion, and an opacity map.
This project was based on official concept art for Red 5 Studio's Firefall named "Firefall Thumper Tree Concept" by JayAxer. His deviantArt can be found at http://jayaxer.deviantart.com/ , and the particular piece used can be found by clicking here.
What Went Well
- Alphas for the leaves looked good
- Combining hard surface modelling with organic zBrush sculpting.
- Genuinely feels like it could fit in the Firefall game
- Baking and compiling the textures together onto a single sheet
What Went Wrong
- Wasted time sculpting indents into the high poly canopy
- The optimized LOD1 has some issues with texture distortion.
- Probably could've optimized the geometry for the canopy's alpha further.
What I Learned
- When working with foliage, good base textures do most of the heavy lifting.
- Material seperation in base concepts saves large amounts of work in the texturing phase.