Hot on the heels of my animation tips article, Creative Bloq have uploaded another piece I wrote for 3DWorld magazine. In this article I share 15 tips to help you as you create your real-time artwork.

Game Art Tips

The enhanced power the next generation of gaming brings also means the scope of projects expanding, putting more pressure on the teams behind them. Richer worlds means more content, which in turn will make you busier.

Here, I share a selection of tips to help you focus your modelling and texturing skills on the areas that matter, while also sharing a few tips to help speed up your workflow.

01. Know your limits

When creating assets for film or TV you are usually encouraged to use higher resolution models and textures to enhance the detail and visual impact. This is possible because the only limitations come down to the systems you are working with, and the impact at render time. When it comes to real-time art, before a single polygon has been created you have to consider the game you’re making, the target platform and how many polygons, pixels and texture passes it can handle.

A mobile device, for example, will be more restrictive than a PC or console, meaning your overall budget is much tighter. This will also affect the textures you create as some platforms or game engines may not be able to handle normal maps or even specular maps. It’s with these lower end platforms that you will have to be a little more creative in your polygon and pixel placement.

02. Maintain clean topology

Building a model by haphazardly throwing polygons around may get the job done, but at what cost? Care needs to be taken about the placement of each triangle or quad, ensuring the surface of the model is kept clean and tidy. A structured edge flow will ensure the geometry will deform correctly. It will also make life easier when the model comes to be UV mapped and textured.

03. Deforming certain areas

When working with a small number of polygons it’s important to place them in sensible areas, not only to be economical, but also to enhance performance. Areas which are to deform more than others, like the face and hands, will need more time spent on them in order to make them ready for movement.

When working on a face, refer to the actual facial muscle structure, and mimic these in your topology, so as it deforms, the model’s surface will bulge and pinch in the correct areas. With the joints and fingers, ensure each pivot point on the mesh holds enough geometry so it can confidently handle being bent and compressed.

Using too few polygons will cause the areas around the joints to collapse in on themselves, or deform in an unconvincing way, which will essentially break the illusion of life you’re trying to convey. If you are unsure how an area will look when deformed, don’t be scared to quickly apply a skeleton and test it.

That`s all for now, but you can find the other 13 tips right here –

Real-time Artwork – 15 Top Tips & Techniques