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Hey thumbs, I'm not sure this is strictly 100% game development, but it is game adjacent, so I'ma put it here.


I went to school with the hopes of learning 3d art for game development, but I didn't really do an adequate amount of homework in the schools I was looking at before applying - the extent of my investigation was oh cool, this school is in a lovely beachside town and they have a Maya class, and it turned out that the maya class was.. really rudimentary.  So as a consequence of that, I didn't have a great portfolio when I wound up graduating in 2007ish, and after that, I spent a lot of time treading water in tech support jobs that didn't especially interest me.  I've been fortunate enough to have built up an audience online that's supported me with a lot of commissioned 2d illustration in the last few years (and more recently, being willing to back my webcomic's patreon), and I've built some good working relationships with regular clients, but I've always regretted not bringing my 3d skills up to scratch.


Last year, though, after the Facerig beta was released on Steam, a regular client of mine said they and a few of their friends were really interested in having custom avatars made, and I told them I was interested learning how to build avatars for the platform, and so we've worked out an arrangement where they're underwriting my learning process with the workflow - they get their avatars and I get to figure out how to use Zbrush and Substance Painter and how to rig stuff in Maya without having to stress too hard about how bills are gonna get paid.


So I'm pretty stoked to have a second opportunity at possibly making my 3d skills Marketable again.


Here's where I'm at now.  I started with Zbrush sculpts, and was pretty pleased with what I was able to come up with, for never having touched the software before:






The reason that I sculpted them as head-and-shoulders only is because all of the Facerig demo videos at the time only showed the avatars extending that far - it uses realtime facial motion capture to map the animations, and so I thought I only needed to model to the camera.  Turns out that the official avatars have arms and hands and most of them go down to the waist, whoops. 


Retopo/unwrap progress, using Silo:





And I started rigging the bear avatar in Maya -





I skipped ahead to the rigging stage after unwrapping it (rather than texturing it right away) because I wanted to try to get a functioning prototype in the Facerig software as quickly as possible, even if it just has placeholder maps for materials.  I figure I can go back and iterate over the materials as much as I want once I have the thing in-engine, but because the hardest and scariest part of the whole pipeline is rigging and skin weighting, I should get a handle on that first and save the texturing dessert for last.


Rigging (and specifically skin weighting) is always the thing that gave me anxiety nightmares in college.  I'm using this tutorial from eat3d about facial rigging to guide my progress, since the methodology it teaches lines up with the requirements for Facerig just about perfectly.  I'm hoping that if I do this enough times it will become rote, rather than a weird terrifying sort of witchcraft that never seemed to work for me the way it's supposed to.


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Progress this week:


-Started painting in skin weights on the bear avatar, noticed when I got to the jaw that I forgot to put the tongue bones into the skeleton hierarchy before doing the smooth bind, so now I need to see if I need to start over or if I can add bones after the skeleton's been bound.




Posed the mouth closed put in all the relevant joints for the hyena avatar:





Finished retopo/uv unwrap of cat avatar, almost ready to put bones in and start skinning said cat:



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Painting more skin weights and putting in animation controls and landmark poses!


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Thanks gerbils!


Kind of stalled out for a few weeks with other work, but I made progress this week painting skin weights on snoots, eyebrows, and eyelids.
















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Thanks man!


I got the facial joints all skinned and weighted, so next week I should be able to start putting in the source library of basic facial poses that the facerig software will use for retargeting the mocap data it pulls from the webcam.  Painting skin weights is (for me at least) the really hard part, so I'm really excited to have it all done.







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Started another one this week, even though I haven't finished the others yet. D:



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More progress. Got the wings and the hindlegs done, need to add claws, tailspade, and belly scales before moving on to retopo.



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