Very recently I finished work on the game “Killer Dolls United” for PS Vita, a game I featured briefly in one article about generating LODs using Character Creator 3. Right now, I am working on a port of the game for PC, and I decided it was a good idea to redesign the character outfits a little bit so they looked nicer. The first character (there are 6 in total) is a woman with armored shoulder armor, and I redesigned those. You can see a before/after comparison below (obviously with differences in the render quality, since one is a PS Vita screenshot and the other one is running on my PC).
For this, I used Maya, Substance Painter, Substance Designer and Character Creator 3.
I used the regular poly modeling to make the armor plates. Starting with a cube and then adding edges, and extruding faces, until I got a rough model. Then I smoothed the model so it looks like what you see in the image.
After doing this, I made a copy of everything and exported all the plates as a single model, for texturing in Substance Painter. I wanted the “beveled” parts to have a different color, so I decided to use a mask in Substance Painter. I could have created a hand-painted regular black/white mask, but I decided to make my mask quickly in Photoshop. To do this, I duplicated the object in Maya and then saved the UVs as a PNG image.
Then, I brought the image into Photoshop and I used a mask to select everything outside the UV shells. Then, I filled everything in that selection with white, and then I made a full-black layer below the white one.
In Substance Painter I created two material layers (they both use the same material, but the color is a little different) and then I used the mask I created above, to get the effect I wanted.
I was happy with the overall result, but I wanted it to look cooler. I know I could have added stuff like rust, damage, stains or scratches, but I didn’t like the idea to have damaged armor plates on a character that has such a clean look (and I didn’t want to add stains or damage to her leotard and skin either).
After exporting the textures, I brought them into Substance Designer. I assigned the exported Substance Painter textures to their respective outputs, and then I did a couple of things to make the armor look nicer. First, I baked an “AO from Mesh” map and I blended it with the color map, so I could have a nice AO on the armor. Second, I used an “Edge Blur” generator to make a slight color variation to the edges of the armor (making the edges lighter with an HSL node), and third I added a final HSL node to change the coloring a little bit. You can see the entire setup below.
And second, I combined the exported normal map with itself 2 times (basically making the normal map 4 times stronger). To do this, I used a “Normal Combine” node to combine the normal map with itself, and then I connected the output of this node to another “Normal Combine”.
You can see how the final armor looks in Substance Designer in the next image.
Now it was time to bring everything into Character Creator 3. While the entire set is an armor, I wanted to make a distinction between bendable objects (metal doesn’t bend but I want the armor to look cool, not realistic) and rigid objects. The shoulder plates, arm plates and leg plates were supposed to be rigid, but I wanted the boots to behave like boots. On top of that, they are high heels, so I needed to account for that. Luckily, CC3 allows you to configure high heels.
For the high heels to work in CC3, I needed to make the entire shoe flat, and make the heels stick out downwards, in an angle, like the image below.
Then, I imported the boots using the “Create Accessory” command in CC3, placed the boots in the correct position and then used the Transfer Skin Weights button to turn the boots into real boots (shoe figures). After doing this, a new button labeled High Heels appeared in the Modify pane. This allowed me to modify the height of the heels, adjusting the shape of the boots and making the required adjustments to the character’s feet. The reason I needed the heels to be in an angle is because this command “bends” the shoe, so the angle is meant to compensate how the high heel is rotating backwards as the height is adjusted (of course the angle doesn’t have to be perfect, since you can then adjust the angle using CC3’s Edit Mesh feature).
With the boots finished, I needed to import the rest of the parts. These are all rigid parts, so I just imported them as accessories and then I parented them to different body parts. Then, I added everything to my library so I could reuse all these elements on my custom character. The final character is shown below. I just added a couple of nice visual effects to the render (directly in CC3) to make the render look cooler.