Creating Game Characters – Part 2

Part II: Scale and Depth

In part one of the series, we started the process of creating a game character. We began with a rough description of the character. The ideas in the description were turned into a basic shape. From this shape we evolved the character into a front and side view.

Because our goal was to provide a character that anyone at nearly any skill level could attempt to model, we chose a more inorganic form for our enemy character. If you would like to challenge yourself, you can add additional depth and detail to the character. You can also challenge yourself by creating a less detailed low-polygon model and focus on the texturing to bring out higher levels of detail. In this tutorial segment we are going to add a bit more detail to our design so that it can be modeled in 3D or drawn in 2D.

We’ve upgraded our original sketch to add some information about the scale of the Mark IV Decimator. The relative scale of all of the parts of your game world is extremely important. Scale builds on our real world experiences to give players inside the game an idea about how powerful or how dangerous enemies are and how they might behave. Players might expect that a larger, heavier looking object will be probably slow moving and well armored. This is exactly the feeling we want to convey about our game character.

From the character blurb it is clear the designer wants the machines in the game world to loom large against a player. The Mark IV is taller and wider than an average residential door. We have a good idea of the Mark IV’s height and width but what does it look like from above? If our game is going to exist in a 3D world, a modeler will need some idea of not just the front and side view but also what it will look like from the top and bottom.

To keep our character simple, we will assume that the Mark IV’s right and left sides look the same and the front and back surfaces are also largely the same. Even with these simplifications there are elements that we simply cannot guess from just a front and side view. For this reason, a 3D good concept art sheet should include a front, side and top view. In cases where all six planes of the object are different and important, the more detail that you can provide the better your asset will be. Even if you are doing the modeling yourself, having a good set of initial blueprints for your design will help speed up the process and allow you to create design variations (Hint: the Mark IV is a modular killing machine. It probably has other variants that can deal with heroes that feel they are unstoppable!)

In part III of the series, in the last big step before modeling, we’ll look at describing moving parts and details in the model/art asset.

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