Dusting off my 3D art skills

I’m not entirely sure what prompted this (possibly restlessness from being under lockdown) but this month I’ve been digging up old 3D models and animations of mine. I’ve been sprucing up old models and putting them on Sketchfab, and am planning to eventually put some (especially animated characters) on Unity’s Asset Store.

While I’ve been primarily a game programmer for a long time now (as is best exemplified by my book about programming in Unity) I actually started in game development as a 3D artist. As a result, I am still fairly skilled in that area, and also have 3D work in very old backups. I mean really really old files, so old that it’s been a non-trivial task converting them into usable forms.

For example, a few models were only in .max format, the file format of 3ds max. Well I haven’t used 3ds max in years and no longer have access to it, so I had to request help online to get those files converted so I could import them into Blender.

Similarly, a lot of animated characters from past games were in b3d file format, since I used to develop games using Blitz3D. Fortunately I’ve found converters to turn b3d files into fbx, so I’m in the middle of processing my library of old game characters.

While the process for some models has just been archiving in new file formats, I’ve also been doing lots of touch ups. I am currently working on readying this phantom organ player to put on Sketchfab:

organist

That’s a render of the original model, which I still have in obj format. However I did that hair before learning of some neat tricks involving vertex normals, and so I’m going to try manipulating the normals of the hair. This blog post (translated from Polish) outlines a way to improve the shading of grass by manipulating their vertex normals, and I’m thinking the same technique can improve the look of hair.

I’ve found a couple resources explaining how to edit vertex normals in Blender, and hopefully I can improve the hair this way. In particular, note how the clumps coming up from the hairline don’t merge nicely into the head, but more like a hard line where the hair just abruptly starts.

Anyway, whether or not this trick works I’m going to put this model on Sketchfab next, and then start preparing asset packs for Unity.

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