Thursday, August 20, 2009

Low Poly Facial modeling for advanced animation

The face is the most important aspect of a character. People look at faces all the time, if something is off, you can just tell. Out of the almost 2k polygon Ethan Bridger character, with independent fingers, almost 600 polygons belong to the head alone. What you see in the picture above is half of Ethan's face, half of his teeth and mouth chamber, and his eye.

The Lips:
Pay attention if you will, to the corner of his lips. There are a few extra polygons that need to be discussed. They are there for animation purposes that seems to have been widely overlooked. When you smile, a crease forms between the lips and the cheek area, and you have to have enough polygons to define that crease for the smile. Without the crease, the smile looks smaller than it is. If your character isn't ever to smile in the game, then remove these extra polygons.

The Mouth:

The mouth has no tongue, to save polygons and isn't exactly attached to the lips. The attachment isn't necessary as the lips never go below the teeth on Ethan when he talks. The teeth are just one curved block that will have a displacement map attached to it to give it extra detail, and the mouth's chamber is only there to make sure that you will never see the back of the neck through the inside of the mouth.

The Nose:
Not much to tell here. All you need is the basic shape of the nose, not too high def. extra detail will be added later with the distortion maps.

The Eyes:
The eye is just a sphere with the back end cut off. For animation, the bone would start where the center of that sphere would be, and end at the eyes tip. Further on the eyes, never let the eyes stand still, use a combination of constant head movement and slight eye movement to give your character more life. Otherwise, you will just get a cold stare. Also, an empty object is a great way of making sure that the eyes are aligned with each other when creating your animations by adding a track to constraint on the eye's bones.

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