The goal for me is to do a "full process" character utilizing Z-Brush for the high poly normal map transfer and Photoshop for the primary textures. The model itself will be made in 3D Studio Max. I'm going to use this project as a chance to experiment with some plug-ins that I want to try, as well.
The theme for the class is Dungeons and Dragons characters, so I'll talk a little about my personal experiences with D&D. Right now I'm running a 4th Edition Campaign. It seems to be pretty well-recieved. We run the game typically once a month (in August it will run twice, due to missing a July session) through the Capital Area Roleplayers in Lansing. In the past I've played a little of every edition of D&D, though my first campaign started in D&D 2nd edition rather than first (I'm an old school gamer in some ways, but still a youngin in others). I determined that 4th ed would be right for my particular campaign, though I like all the editions and don't want to get in to an edition war in my blog. What I do like about 4th ed is the tactical play during the game. You sacrifice options during character generation but gain a lot of options during actual play. Something I don't always like is there's not much support for non-combat stuff in the game as written, and I find I sometimes have to suppliment things like "monster ecology" from earlier editions.
I decided that modeling a D&D character would be a good exercise for students because it's a popular subject and a lot of found art is available on the internet to check out. Some sources for D&D art I've found recently, with more as I locate them:
- D&D Flickr Pool - Searchable by race and class, full of artwork
- Character Development Forum - on Wizards' web site, where the former Flickr site is linked from. There's some equally interesting art on other forums like the Optimization Forum if you browse around.
- Deviant Art - Lots of D&D inspired art here if searched
- Elfwood - Searchable SciFi and Fantasy Art
The rest of this entry gets rambly and image-heavy, so I'm going to put a cutaway here for people who don't want to load all my images...
The character I'm choosing to model is the most recent NPC for my game, a Dragonborn Paladin named Genessa. I'm doing this character for a few reasons. For one, she has a fairly distinct look in my head, and the combination of Dragonborn and Paladin is a fairly common class pairing that would make a good showpiece. Also, the fact that a Dragonborn is a sort of monster-like character should give me something fun to do during Z-brush and/or Mudbox processes, with the scales on the skin and so-on.
Genessa is a leader and warrior who is extremely devoted to her faith (more on that later). She has an 18 charisma so she's fairly striking and I want her to look elegant despite being a non-human character. The character is also an albino - I wanted white skin and scales to go with a cold-based breath weapon. I know the PHB says that Dragonborn don't typically follow the colors of chromatic dragons, but my campaign has a "rule of cool" and thematic and aesthetic things are free grabs as long as they're within reason. (I allow players to describe for themselves what their spell effects look like for example and encourage them to be different from the default, because personalized things are cool.)
To start with the reference images, here's the Dragonborn picture from the PHB:
This is showing a male and female. This is an OK start but I don't personally really like the hair-like tentacles that they have on their heads. I wanted a sleeker look.
This small picture of a figurine from the Demonweb Pits module is closer to what I had in mind for the head structure. I also found the Questing Knight from the Divine Power book which I like:
Some other cool pictures: this female Dragonborn from the Wizards "Races and Classes" gallery, a very cool commissioned Paladin on Deviant Art, and here is a guy with a pretty unique take on the D&D aesthetic doing his own take on dragonborn...
I did a bunch of thumb sketches of dragon heads. For these I Google-image-searched for dinosaur heads and dino skulls as well to have some more real-world reference. A lot of the dragonborn art really looks like T-Rex to me.
I kind of love the dude that's grinning but he doesn't suit the character at all. Other heads were closer to a raptor than a T-Rex. The one in the upper right is a pretty cool sketch for some kind of old wise dragon character but doesn't suit this concept well. And down at the bottom, um, I was just trying something different with a more human-like head, but I'm not digging it.
Here's my first full sketch of the character. The armor is not working for me yet in this draft. The head is close to where I want it now, though it probably could use at least one set of frills or something. The pose is also "blah," but I'm sort of bad at non-blah poses and just wanted to be able to see everything clearly. The little scribble in the upper right is a closeup of the holy symbol which is a stylized tornado. Genessa follows the goddess of storms, a dragon-flavored goddess from my personal campaign. I suppose if I really wanted to I could come up with an alternative "Bahamut" skin for this character later for generic 4th ed purposes.
I did a little additional work on the armor design, but that's all the spam I think I'll post for now. I've got to get around to handing out EXP and all the other things Dungeon Masters do.