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Are multiple layers on a mesh a bad thing?

I have a character here with armor that has overlapping joints and such. I’ve just left it in layers from when I modeled it. But I’m working if I should covert it into a single continuous outer skin of sorts. Weight painting so far has been a nightmare. What is y’alls usual workflow? And if I convert it into a single linked mesh, how would I bake the UV’s from my high poly mesh that is not one solid piece? Thanks!
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I would keep it separate. There is no need to make it all one single continuous mesh unless you are working on a really really tight poly budget.

You want the mesh to remain as realistic as possible so your deformations can cover things like cloth sliding, belts and straps sliding etc. Not sure what this software is, but in maya for example there is a plugin called ngSkinTools, that offers a whole bunch of useful tools to make skinning things like additional cloth, belts, straps and other small rigid details a lot easier. Operations are for example:
Unify weights: all selected verts skin weights get averaged and applied to each, making the affected area appear more rigid, its good for buttons, plates and such, long tubes and belts (by selecting each individual edge-ring).
Relax weights: smooths weights of selected verts with themselves and their surroundings.

My workflow generally is as follows:

First skin character body (its a whole body, no missing sections)
Copy skinning to clothes as a start.
Detail skinning by having the rig assign some extreme poses and correcting skinning where needed with several tools (like those mentioned above)

Ok good, I was hoping thats the case. I’m using blender (cause its free). I’ll check out though, maybe there are some similar type plug in’s. Thanks for the help! Just out of curiosity, how many tri’s would you consider ok for a main character?

That depends completely on the type of game and how many other characters are visible on screen along with the main character. 80k triangles seems like a current value for high poly characters. A good LOD system will be essential too. But in the end youll have to test it.

Thanks! Yea thats the number I’d come up with too. Still trying to learn about LOD