Essential Tips on How to Create Amazing Character Models

What makes a mobile game outstanding is its compelling characters.

If you’re trying to create a game of your own, it has to stand out amongst its thousands of competitors. Aside from great gameplay and amazing graphics, you have to create characters that players would have a strong emotional connection to.

Creating great characters is not an easy task. But trust me when I say this, it is not impossible. Below are some tips that you must know when creating character models for games.

  1. Know Your Restrictions

Before you even get your hands on starting any game character, the first thing that you must do first is knowing your working restrictions.

Though understanding the texture page and polygon limits are necessary for your creation to be successful, you must evaluate the environment settings and how your character will be seen and used in the game.

Environment settings are variables such as working units. These variables should stay consistent throughout the game or you’re sailing yourself to failure. Understanding how your character will be used and their capabilities can have a dramatic effect on your model. For example, will it be animated? If so, will the mouth need to open or will individual fingers need to bend?

  1. Conduct Your Research

Starting a project with no research material is like sailing through a dark ocean without a compass. Even the most talented and experienced artists need to have plenty of references around them while they are designing their model.

You may have a photographic memory and you could probably work from your memory, but you’ll do even better if you have a wall of concept sketches or a folder of photographs to work from. A simple one hour researching the web can go a long way if you want to create great images.

  1. Start Simple

Simplicity is still the best, especially when you’re a beginner in game designing.

We all want to create a fully detailed character, but not every one of us is Picasso. You’ll have to go through a lot of model designs and failures before you can create a masterpiece of your own. There’s no rush when it comes to designing a magnificent model.

Before you can finish the whole painting, you have to start with the first stroke. If you start simple, you’re more likely to succeed. You don’t have to necessarily start with a detailed head or hand; you have plenty of time to master that later. What you need to do first is to use basic primitives and stitches together in blocking out the whole figure. Doing so will give you a broad overview of the proportion of your character.

  1. Try Subdivision Surfaces

If you want to create a smoother model with an initially low polygon count, then using subdivision surfaces is the perfect approach. This method enables you to create a higher-detail model from a low-resolution ‘cage’ mesh so you don’t have to push around lots of geometry.

Once you’re satisfied with your creation, you can simply bake out the model and convert it to a fully polygon-based mesh. Now it’s ready for further optimization and editing.

Click here to know more about subdivision surfaces.

  1. Avoid Adding Too Much Details

When it comes to game designing, more does not necessarily equate to great. Having too many details does not mean that your character will be great. More often than not, these unnecessary details will just add confusion and useless purpose to your creation.

You may be tempted to put detail into every area of your creation, but you should fight off this temptation. Instead, you should only add details wherever it is needed. Always bear in mind the purpose and usage of your model.

If it will be seen from a distance, it’s unnecessary to add fabric detail or the inside of its mouth. It’s a complete waste of time and effort trying to create very detailed fingers when it will not be seen.  What you can do instead is to use mitten-style hands in scenarios like this.

  1. Be Economical

If you want to avoid the trouble of having to revisit your work later, you should know how to optimize your models and become economical.

You should apply these two basic rules: First, remove all unseen geometry: if you can’t see it, delete it. Second, remove all unused geometry: anything which doesn’t directly benefit the shape of an object, or how it deforms. A cube is a perfect example. It should only ever be made up of 12 triangles; unless they add to the shape, any additional divisions are a pure waste.

  1. Follow Natural Muscle Lines

You should always think ahead as you build your design. The topology of your character should mimic the natural muscle layout of a real person.

Whilst it’s not necessary that you etch every muscle into the surface, using a normal map will add a nice detail for your model. If done correctly, when the arm raises the shoulder and upper arm, geometry will twist and crease as real muscles do.

  1. Retain a Seamless Model

Many designers are guilty of adding lots of separate elements into their models. This is not only painstakingly hard to do so; this can also shatter the game experience. Many parts will intersect with the main model as it moves around and deforms the screen.

This also holds true when it comes to clothing. It’s always a bad idea if you want to create the body beneath the outfit. The skin under the clothing will inevitably pop through when the model is animated if you don’t make these two elements part of a single model.

How do you stop this from happening?

Simply physically build these into the mesh. Not only you will have a magnificent model, but your life as an animator will also become lots easier.

Creating a perfect model or game character does not happen overnight. You need to pack lots of patience and determination compounded with plenty of practice to become successful in game designing.

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