With the help of Stevo, WinterDyne, and Leftwing I've put this quick "3d Modding in DoW" list together so anyone can quickly follow some simple guidelines towards ensuring your work passes seamlessly through our environment.
Please contribute to this list and I'll revise it.
I currently need some good animation tips.
1) As few vertices as is required to give a good representation of form
2) Mix of Triangles And Quads! If using only quads = organic shapes aren't as great as they can be. If only using tris: mesh gets messy.
3) Model in a pose suitable for rigging, not one that looks 'cool'
4) Remember to have 'flexible' areas near joints that will be skinned, to avoid distortion when animated
5) Do not rely on intersection of polygons at joints. If separate surfaces are used for jointed areas, both surfaces should be closed to avoid holes appearing when animated, but ideally vertices should be collocated and then assigned the same weighting values
6) If you model in editable poly's remember to convert objects into editable meshes
7) Never collapse the skin modifiers
8) Export your model before it is skinned in order to check for errors. Keeping a closed mesh helps this problem, but problems sometimes crop up when using models exported from a program other than 3ds max. If the exporter gives the error "Unable to build mesh!" then try using the "STL Check" modifier on the model to highlight problems
9) A clean mesh with nice topology is paramount.
Use the unwrapping phase to double-check your model's consistency: faces/edges with no geometry or several vertices overlapping should be easier to spot
Other Modelling tips:
a) No distortions in the model
b) No floating polygons everywhere
c) No holes in the mesh
d) No intersections which aren't joined/welded (parts of the model are floating which should not be)
e) Have some parts of the model that are symmetrical
1) Your texture need to be an interesting artwork to look any good on a model. Think about your UV layout so it doesn't frustrate your painting abilities: Consistent pixel density but also placing UV seams in relevant area is crucial to make your texturing as fun and compelling as possible.
2) Identify ideal seam locations - along 'hard' symmetrical lines, or in an unexposed area, such as the inside leg and side of the neck to behind the ear.
3) Use a checkerboard texture to adjust UV's in order to obtain a consistent pixel density and solve alignment issues if regular patterns need to be applied, such as stripes and checkers
4) Think about the surface detail and reuse areas of the texture that have similar details or gradients. This will allow a sharper appearing texture.
1) Always work on a resolution at least twice the size of the final result i.e 2048*2048 if your texture is 1024*1024: reduction will make your work look much more detailled and interesting
2) Use a single 512x512 for a standard infantry unit. If you want to use 1024x1024, the unit will look much better but suck up more processing memory
3) Always think about how much detail (pixel density) you need on a unit based on its importance
4) In general you want as few textures as possible on screen at once (drawn from any particular race's texture share)
5) Work with layers -- Keep layers separated and well labeled on your work folder. Only merge/ flatten your layers on final result and keep your working sources intact.
6) Especially in DoW, it saves a lot of time to define colour masks early in the texturing stage, and it can also be use to generate alpha masks for team colourable purpose.
1) Ensure all vertices are accounted for, and that collocated vertices have the same weighting to prevent the model from splitting when animated
2) Be prepared to adjust weights by hand - A common error is receiving invalid weighting errors on certain vertices of a model. To remedy this go to the vertices in the weight table in the skin modifier and set their weightings to manual. This generally does the trick, if it doesn't you may have to tweak the weights slightly
3) No vertex may be weighted to more than 4 bones. This is an absolute limit
4) When creating an animation skeleton from scratch, keep the amount of bones as low as possible: a complex skeleton demands significant power horse from CPU/GPU and takes more time to animate
1) The DoW engine doesn't recognize scaling bones so never rescale a bone within an animation. If you want something to expand and contract then you'll have to add multiple bones
1) Use the space marine ebp/sgm files provided with the mod tools as a template. Although they may not use the best methods, they work well and can save a lot of time with the ready made action/motion trees with conditions. For instance if you are creating a basic infantry unit then importing all of the actions and motions from the space marine ebp is a good start and is the quickest way to learn how the OE works.
2) Follow HorusHeretic's OE Tutorials
1) Excellent Relicnews thread
2) Try to add fx and sounds as you add in animations. Even if you use placeholders, the fx or sound used can be changed easily later by modifying the event. Always remember water and footfall fx.
Useful Online Tutorials:
- Independant 3dsMAX 9 Mega Tutorials *HIGHLY RECOMMEND*
- Free Autodesk 3dsMAX 9 Tutorials
- UVW Wrapping Tutorial
- 3dsMax9 "Making Of" Tutorial
- Excellent Tutorial Page