I’m currently learning 3D modeling (mostly Maya and ZBrush) by myself in order to create my own meshes and character rigs. So far I’ve been able to find a lot of good learning resources, but I’ve seen none that actually explains the best way (or some of the best ways) to create a character rig, in the context of creating for video games.
I now have a good understanding of what’s involved in the process of creating a 3D character, but I still can’t quite figure out how I should do it:
- Should I scuplt a full, high poly mesh in ZBrush, then “simplify” it and export it to Maya only once it’s ready for rigging and animation?
- Should I make a low-poly, game-ready version in Maya, then use Zbrush to add details to the mesh to finally get lighting maps out of it in Maya?
- Or maybe make a basic shape in Zbrush, modify it in Maya, then return to Zbrush for further sculpting?
I’ve seen tutorials for each of those methods, but every one of these failed to explain why I should do it this way or another. Not a single mention of performance, maintainability, modularity… nothing. So what I’m asking is: what’s the most common way to do it? What should I do in order to make rigs optimized for video game production?
In advance, thanks a lot for your help.
If you still have it in you to answer a few more beginner’s questions, there’s more specific points I can’t find good answers to and would appreciate some guidance:
- How heavy is the impact of skeleton complexity on performance? Should I go for the lowest amount of joints I can to simplify the animation, or is it negligible and I can go hard on the HumanIK skeleton in Maya?
- Same question but for face rigs. Should I try to keep my facial expressions to a minimum or can I load the thing with controllers for every kind of expression there is? Also should I use skeleton bones or blend shapes? Or both?
- How are customizable facial features (like nose and cheek size, eye height…) done in AAA games? Blend shapes? Doesn’t it conflict with the facial expression’s blend shapes?