3D Modelling Best Practices For Mobile And UE ?


I am an engineer and graphics programmer assigned to the 3D art production team at my company.

I am interested in improving the art teams 3D modelling skills and techniques.

Their current skills are average, but I want to help them raise the bar.

I wanted to ask if anyone knows of a site or collection of tutorials that cover

best practices when it comes to modelling characters, maps, static geometry

especially when developing 3D content for a mobile game.

(We currently use Maya 2014 for modelling)

Any advice offered will be helpful.

Google for “Hourences tutorials” some are for old engine version but those tips are still valid for ue4.

Tutorials that directly answer some of your questions:

Just be aware that those tutorials are four years old. Depending on which generations of devices you’re targeting, 2014-era mobile devices are MUCH more capable than they were back in 2010, with many devices featuring multiple cores, 64-bit CPUs, much more capable GPUs, and high-PPI screens.

Honestly, I’ve been surprised what we can get running with UE4 on mobile devices without doing a lot of special work to make things “mobile ready”. We haven’t gotten to the point where we’re optimizing, and we see great frame rates. Early on, we were focused on keeping the poly count low and now we’re facing a situation where we have to re-model a bunch of our assets at higher poly counts so they look good on modern mobile devices.

Mobile can’t handle the poly counts that the XBox One and PS4 can handle, but current generation devices are capable of handling pretty complex scenes and UE4 does a good job of creating shaders from your materials that run well within the limitations of mobile hardware (at least on iOS - we haven’t done a lot of Android testing yet).

Our general rule of thumb with models and textures is now to shoot for the moon - create high poly models and larger texture maps than we likely need, then create game assets by resizing textures down and retopo’ing models to lower vertex counts. There are great tools available for lowering poly count, and resizing textures downward is rarely an issue, but going the other way almost always involves quite a bit of rework.

Also, when you start from high-poly models and large texture maps, you’ll have assets you can use a few years from now for the next-gen redux version, or that you can re-use in your next game. :wink:

Great, thanks for the reply. These tutorials should help ensure that our game will work on slightly older mobile models as well as current gen. Good stuff!

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the reply. It is good advice. I wanted to ask if you have any suggestions for a good character animation package and a good retopology package.

I have seen ZBrush’s ZRemesher, but currently artists are modelling in Maya, so if you know any good retopo Maya solutions, let me know.

For character animation we are currently using Advanced Skeleton, but some of the artists want something better, so I am currently looking at HumanIK.

The art team also wants to have modelling skills like the pro’s do (SquareEnix/Capcom level etc). If you or anyone know of any tutorial sites or educational packages that can teach advanced modelling techniques for games, let me know.

Hey, Bcrooz:

Sorry for the delayed response. Honestly, this is kind of a personal question. A lot of people have different opinions. I dabble in modeling, but am primarily a programmer, but I use Blender and ZBrush. The actual artists on my team all use Maya/ZBrush with a slew of other tools like Photoshop/DDO/Marmoset, Substance Designer, etc.

ZBrush’s zremesher is a very good automatic retopo tool. For console & PC games, it often gives usable results with very few tweaks. For low-poly and mobile characters, it’s often better, however, to retopo by hand. My artists love ZBrush’s retopo tools, but I prefer using Blender with Contours and F2.

A lot of “what’s best” when it comes to graphics tools is what feels right to the person doing your work. I really like Blender, my teammates really like Maya. Good tools help a good artist do their job better, but they don’t make a good artist. Even a mediocre tool can yield great results in the hands of an experienced and skilled artist. Generally, ZBrush or Mudbox plus a general purpose modeling tool (Maya, Blender, 3DS Max, Modo, Lightwave) is going to be the basis of your modeler’s toolkit. (plus, probably Photoshop for texturing and some other ancillary tools) Which specific packages are better than others is a topic that can easily veer toward holy war, though.