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Learn from Winners : K-style game character created by undergraduate student.


Go Eun Kim

Hello, my name is Go Eun Kim, a college student majoring in computer engineering, and I am from South Korea.

Since my hobby was playing games and drawing pictures, I naturally became interested in a job related to my hobby and had a dream of becoming a 3D modeler who can implement realistic characters in games. However, graphic classes in college were not what I expected, and I felt the need to study 3D modeling separately to ensure a clear path for my career. So I decided to take a year off from college in 2021.

That year, I started studying character modeling through a graphics academy. At first, I studied using 3ds Max and gradually studied how to model characters using programs such as ZBrush, Substance painter, and Unreal Engine. And by participating in a contest held in Korea, I could learn how to easily implement high-quality characters using Character Creator. Learning various programs was not an easy process, but visible results are satisfying and fun to me. Also, I was able to concentrate on studying 3D modeling with passion because I always get excited when I imagine people playing future game characters that I have made. It was very valuable that I studied 3D modeling for a year. This year, I am studying my major and 3D modeling together because I am attending college.

Part I. Winner Entry Workflow

Step 1. Character Concept

I found various references to make characters that would appear in the game and decided to make characters with the concept of “Adventurer”. 

Character Creator 3 provides various types of modeling, and the sliders can be used to modify the body shape and appearance so that the desired character’s appearance can be made high-quality and easy. It also provides texture maps such as base colors, normals, etc., which helped to shorten the working time very much.

Step 2: Additional Software

Take the model from the Character Creator to the Z-Brush and make a simple clothing shape to see if it matches the character. Then, make low poly and high poly using 3ds Max and Z-Brush (or Marvelous Designer if necessary) and bake the normal map.

Take the baked normal map to Substance Painter, apply it to the model, and create a texture map to complete the clothes.

Additionally, the face texture map provided by Character Creator 3 changes the appearance by modifying the skin details and makeup in Photoshop and Substance Painter.

For the hair, use the hair cards in 3ds Max to create a hairstyle that fits the character. And make a hair texture using Z-Brush‘s Fiber mesh and apply it to the hair cards.

Step 3: Pose and Lighting

Move the character’s bones and pose according to the character’s concept in 3ds Max. Adjust the skin value using the weight tool to make it look smooth and not awkward. 

Then export it and take it to Unreal Engine 4 (UE4). Apply all the texture maps created in step 2 to the material node in UE4.

In the case of the background, it has a solid color or gradation plane to give a lighting effect, or it adds various brightness and colors to the set downloaded free of charge from Unreal Engine to make the character look the prettiest and “coolest”. If you apply lighting effects to the character, you can create various moods.

Step 4: Character Animation with iClone

Export the action of applying facial expression change to the animation provided by iClone and take it to UE4. As in step 3, add a lighting effect to the animation and add camera movement to make it look more dynamic. Then take a screenshot and record a video to complete all the work.

In Conclusion

After going through the steps above, all the work is done and the character is completed. Character Creator 3 makes the process of modeling the basic appearance easy and fast, helping to reduce working time and making the work fun. Thank you for viewing my workflow.

Part II. Feature story

Q : Hi Go Eun, thank you very much for sharing the workflow with us. First of all, congratulations on winning the contest!

There are two scenes of your entry Adventurer: one in the spaceship and the other in the canyon. Can you elaborate more about the stories behind this Adventurer?

What’s the fun part and the biggest challenge of creating this character?

Hello, thank you for congratulating me on winning the award! I was worried about choosing a background that would make the character of “Adventurer” stand out. To maintain the concept, I thought I shouldn’t bring the character to any background. So I chose two backgrounds because I wanted to give the character a feeling of exploring a place. It’s like an NPC waiting for a user on a hunting ground or a dungeon in an RPG game.

The biggest challenge in creating characters was the clothes modeling process. Because it was my first time making clothes using Marvelous Designer, but I think it is a good experience. The greatest fun in creating characters is in the process of using Substance Painter. I think adding color to low poly mesh and detail using textures is the most fun work because it feels like instilling vitality in the character.

Q : How did you learn Character Creator (CC)? In your experience, what are the merits and drawbacks of using CC to design characters? Have you ever tried the GoZ function to sculpt your characters in ZBrush and CC at the same time?

What are your favorite features of CC 4 / iClone 8?

I got to know CC through a 3D character production contest hosted in Korea, and I used the GOZ function by making the appearance of the character using CC, modifying it in ZBrush, and bringing it back to CC to check. I think the advantage of CC is that it not only provides realistic and high-quality character models but also provides various textures and facial animations, so it saves working time.

However, I think it was regrettable that I had to install and use various software to use the animation function. And among the newly added features of CC 4 / iClone 8, I am looking forward to using the physics and animation player functions for my new project.

Q : Because of your great passion for creating games, you have even decided to pause one year from college and learned 3D modeling by yourself. Do you have any role models whose works keep motivating you to pursue this goal?

As you’ve returned to the campus this year to continue your studies in Computer Engineering, I wonder if you see any potential to combine your passions with your major studies? Or say, has the knowledge of Computer Engineering ever helped you to create something different from the past year?

I don’t have a role model, but I always try to do my best in a given task because I believe that if I do my best, I can be the best. And the project I did my best is the motivation for the next project. Currently, my major is different from studying 3D modeling, but I continue to study them together because I think that knowledge of computer science can help me communicate with other departments when I produce games later.

Q : The Mechanic Girl has a similar style to that of the Adventurer, but with more interesting accessories from her hairstyle and weapons to her bag. Do you usually design unique props for your characters? Could you share more of your artistic ideas on this Mechanic Girl?

How did you achieve your character design and character animation by using Character Creator, ZBrush, 3ds Max, iClone, and Unreal Engine? In your opinion, what are the merits and shortcomings of using iClone Unreal Live Link?

Mechanic Girl was my first project to create after seeing the concept art of characters drawn by others. The design looked unique, so I thought it would be fun, and I chose this character because there were many things that I could try, such as skirts, weapons, and accessories. And the body and appearance of this character I modeled using 3ds Max and Zbrush, so it takes a relatively long time and there are some awkward parts, but I was able to learn how to make a body mesh and how to make a human face; I think it helped me understand character modeling.

And I planted the bones in 3ds Max and rotated them directly to make the character take the attack pose. I then modified the face model and created a facial animations that matches the attack posture to complete the character animation. I think the advantage of iClone Unreal Live Link is that it works with iClone and Unreal Engine in real time without having to export and import FBX.

Q : Please share with us three things (e.g., website, books, podcast, music, games, sports, etc.) that inspire you most when you start a new project.

When starting a new project, the most inspiring things are games, ArtStation, and animated movies. Because I think these inspirations come from the desire to challenge, starting from the curiosity of “how did you make this?” when I see things that I have never made. 

For more of Kim’s work, check out her ArtStation page.

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