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Walkthrough: Mimic

There are two things strange about this blog post that I'm going to share with you.

The first being that tonight I have substituted my usual IPA or gin and tonic for some... water. It's normal for me to have a drink to get me through (the day) these blog posts but I'm taking a break tonight. Albeit this is not a celebration of tonight's sobriety but more of a warning - Like my parched lips longing for the Gordons in the liquor cabinet, my humour gets as dry as my mouth and my grammar as shaky as my hands.

The second, being as astonishing that I've made it past 6pm on a Wednesday without having a drink, is that I've gone and done something creative! No, your eyes don't deceive you. I've gone out there and made something that's been weirdly carved and designed by my very own thinking-meat-noodle! And I tell you what, it felt pretty good!

So much so in fact, I've designated 2018 to be the year of creativity for me. Out with the blueprints and pre-designed concept art that does nothing but turn us into reproducing keyboard-monkeys! Every piece of art made by myself in 2018 will be designed, drawn, concepted, thrown out, drawn again, white boxed, deleted, recovered, deleted again, archived, and photoshopped beyond all recognition by yours truly. Even if it's total shit.

But I digress.

You have to start somewhere.

And in my case I started off with eight cubes and subdivide the shit out of them.

So I'd had already drawn this guy up on paper and was excited to see what I can get him looking like in 3D. I wont show you the drawing because I don't have a scanner and even for the four people that actually read this blog, your devotion isn't worth my time. Sorry.

After I blocked out the main shape of the sofa, moved some verts around a bit, skewed my head and sighed multiple times, I had something I was happy with.

I was never sure of the type of fabric I was trying to make it look like. I figured leather was the best as it's close to skin and it makes it look like a bit more of an animal than a thirsty armchair.

The pose that I was aiming to capture the mimic in was also challenging. I was trying to make it look like it had just woken up and was about to spring on its victim. I kept one eye closed and the other one half open and arched. Trying to age the material through my sculpting was something I really enjoyed. The top of the cushions also act as eyebrows, sloped in towards the centre to emulate a sort of 'pissed off curiosity'.

Reference gathering was also quite enjoyable for this project and I didn't have to look far. For the teenage acne and bad teeth I used my Facebook profile. For the sad dead eyes, cold disdain for life, and dried-up cracked leather, I used my Ex's.

Teeth! And did this guy have a load of them! In hindsight I probably went a bit overkill on the dental front. It ended up doubling my poly count and kind of ruined the simplicity of the model with all the extra detail. Maybe bigger teeth and fewer, or just smaller and less jagged would have been better. I mean I didn't want to give this guy a gleaming smile which is why I disjointed them so much, but I think it's the biggest problem I've got with this model.

As your brain has probably already deducted from the above image, I created five different teeth and duplicated them around the mouth and tongue. And boy did I regret that when it came to retopology.

Thankfully due to modern technology and lazy artists creating a demand for quick topology tools, I was able to use ZRemesher in ZBrush to smash that poly count down to something reasonable. The whole thing ended up being 16k Tris with roughly half being the teeth which, when you think about it, really isn't bad for someone who really doesn't care.

Which leads me to my next process, Substance.

Substance Painter, the once bullied weakling off the class is back with his dad's loaded AR-15 and teenage hormone driven angst, ready to wreak havoc upon all those who merely mutter the words "3D Coat".

Though it's perfect for games assets, I'm still going to be using it in whatever Vis projects I'll be doing in the future. Obviously this goes for pretty much all game standard pipelines now. A healthy scene is an optimised scene.

I ran into the same problems I did on my paintball gun with baking the textures and the projection cage overlapping different parts. However this time I preempted that in my workflow so it wasn't much of a chore to do.

Since Normals, ID's and Curvature maps aren't relevant to surrounding geometry, I can bake them independently. Then after that I can do my neat trick of replacing the mesh and keeping the baked maps (because the UVs are still the same) and carry on to bake the World Space, AO, and Position. By all means you can bake the Thickness too, but I wasn't doing any sort of crazy mask generator particle shit that I would need that for. By some act of divine intervention my computer managed to render these all out at 4k with the AA at 2x2. Any higher and I'd need a new hamster.

The texturing was pretty standard and nothing no more complicated I've explained in the past. I had a lot of fun playing with the spots on the tongue and gums as well as the small details of the patches and saliva. Like this blog post, my energy was pretty much spent as I got towards the end of it and even though I had more planned for this little guy, I decided it was time to set him free into the big wide world of vengeful internet art critics.

In 2018 I'm going to try and get a bit more regular with these posts instead of once every general election. I've got an interesting project lined up and I want to share a weekly/fortnightly progress post with you. The first post should hopefully be up sometime this decade.

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