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Achieving photorealistic game models/assets


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#1 Nathan2222_old   Members   -  Reputation: -400

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 08:28 AM

I was just wondering about this when playing FIFA and COD MW. Characters in these games are sooo realistic (almost photorealistic).
I use blender and i've created some character models but not as realistic as those.
What makes the models in those games sooo realistic. What do you need to consider in order to make your models that realistic.
I know lighting and textures are involved.

Could you post some photos of your most realistic models (if you want to).
Thanks.

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#2 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 796

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 09:44 AM

Your bold lettered question has a very straight forward answer. Photorealistic art is art that attempts to replicate the exact appearance of its subject. Perfect replicas confuse people who look at them, but this also requires skill. Some things can be achieved that is not possible with a machine such as damaged photo restoration.

 

On the other hand, if you're wondering about why some human characters look really fake when they may be attempted to look real, the answer is complicated:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/the-uncanny-valley


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#3 Dodopod   Members   -  Reputation: 474

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 02:35 PM

I'm a 2d artist, not 3d, but making a character look realistic takes a lot of anatomy. You need to know how large the character's bones are, where their muscles connect, how bulky the muscles are (in different positions), which veins are visible on the surface, etc. Then you need to know the textures of the skin (which in addition to texturing and diffuse and specular reflectivity requires subsurface scattering to look right in most lighting), the eye (the way that the eye's lens refracts light hitting the iris is important), hair (I assume that making polygons look like strands and locks is extremely hard, since it's hardly ever done well, even with the rigid, short styles modellers use to keep from dealing with hair physics), nails, and other tissues. That's without putting the body in motion, or even making it look right in an environment.



#4 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1252

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 04:17 AM

Why don't you post some of your work and we can talk about how to make them more realistic?

 

It's perfectly possible to create realistic characters with Blender, you can head over to blenderartists.org and see some truly amazing works. Making them work for real time and game use is just a question of optimizing where you bake ambient occlusion lighting, normal maps and simplify mesh topology.

 

But the biggest issue of course is to have the skill needed to shape realistic human characters and make clothing look plausible. Even more skill is needed for rigging and animating proper looking organic animations so your characters don't look like robots defying gravity and other laws of physics. Such skillset is not owned by many individual people and bigger game studios have dedicated artists working for each of the areas to ensure maximum proficiency and best overall results.



#5 Nathan2222_old   Members   -  Reputation: -400

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 04:32 PM

Thanks. Will get back to blender when i'm ok with programming

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#6 azonicrider   Members   -  Reputation: 421

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:03 AM

Very high polygon counts is also nessesary.


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#7 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1506

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:32 AM

Accuracy.

Baked Lighting, Materials, and textures.

 

ACCURACY

Realism is all about accuracy. That means the models have to be accurate as well as the textures. The lighting has to be accurate also. Luxrender is a rendering engine that uses physics based lighting, so naturally it creates realistic renders. Most 3d software cannot simulate realistic lighting this way. They Cycles render engine (blender) uses a similar approach though. So everything has to be accurate, even the animations (they perhaps use bvh animations). Now, actually those AAA games are not very realistic at all. Yes, they look good, but they lack very much in accuracy. The best I have seen so far is the latest Metal Gear Solid (the one yet to be released):

 

 

BAKED

Another thing they use in AAA games to sell the "realism" is baked texture maps. They also use texture atlases to deal with larger scale models. A baked texture map is taking texture information or material information and gluing it to the model. If you want your model to have good ambient occlusion, you bake out an ambient occlusion texture and it will stay on the model. Ambient occlusion takes a while to render if you want it to look good, so if you bake it into your character, you don't have to re-render the ambient occlusion. You can bake in reflections also (remember, accuracy). 

 

So, say you can get a decent still rendered image, but you want the way it looks in the render to be applied to your model. Well in blender you can bake a render to a texture so that all of the lighting information and reflection information in your still render, will be glued to your models. Then you can rotate around the model right in the 3d viewport, and it will look like the render. That is what I did for the top image here:

 

http://forum.maratis3d.com/viewtopic.php?id=888

 

Again, most of the AAA games are not that realistic mainly because of processing limitations.  Have you heard about the Euclidean engine?

 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 30 December 2013 - 11:34 AM.

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#8 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3066

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:42 PM

Hi,

 

The answers in this thread are for the most part exactly right.  No, you do not need to have very high count of polygons to have photorealistic characters, though higher quality generally increases the number of polygons.  The artist needs to watch all the numbers in the files of the model folder to make sure that there is not too much data in the model folder in order to keep performance demands reasonable. How much is allowed varies widely among game engines and how much art asset is actually rendered in game, as well as a few other factors.  

 

Very nice characters can be made with a few thousand polygons, actual photographic image applied to the normal surface map, some baked lighting and texture, and of course art skill. You may add much more such as shaders, bump maps, and so forth, which add some realism, but only experience can make you discern the right balance for the situation.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#9 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3066

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 09:45 PM


I'm a 2d artist, not 3d, but making a character look realistic takes a lot of anatomy. You need to know how large the character's bones are, where their muscles connect, how bulky the muscles are (in different positions), which veins are visible on the surface, etc. Then you need to know the textures of the skin (which in addition to texturing and diffuse and specular reflectivity requires subsurface scattering to look right in most lighting), the eye (the way that the eye's lens refracts light hitting the iris is important), hair (I assume that making polygons look like strands and locks is extremely hard, since it's hardly ever done well, even with the rigid, short styles modellers use to keep from dealing with hair physics), nails, and other tissues. That's without putting the body in motion, or even making it look right in an environment.

 

For extreme realism, this is true, but we are talking about world-class artists for AAA popular games in that case.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#10 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1506

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 01:28 PM

Here is a model in Blender from the MakeHuman software:

 

Screenshot%20%28935%29.png

There is no ambient occlusion on it.


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 31 December 2013 - 05:26 PM.

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#11 Nathan2222_old   Members   -  Reputation: -400

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 10:37 AM

Here is a model in Blender from the MakeHuman software:

Screenshot%20%28935%29.png
There is no ambient occlusion on it.


That looks really good.

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#12 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3066

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 10:47 AM

Yes, that does look pretty good.  There are techniques for making that same model look even more realistic.  Blender files, like all 3D Software, can usually be converted to another file format with little or no loss of data.  Many of the most common 3D software have been developed with a lot of interchangeability (import and export) with other software, not only 3D Graphics but also graphics render engines and game engines.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#13 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1506

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 12:20 PM

This particular model is missing a lot though. You can tell it is 3d. One thing it is missing is a specular map (skin isn't that shiny unless it is wet). Another thing it is missing is asymmetry. I just realized that asymmetry is what really makes a 3d model of a character look believable. Another thing it is missing is sub-surface scattering. Sub surface scattering adds life to figures that are organic. Subsurface scattering as it applies to characters simulates light passing through the skin, revealing a slight reddish pigment (blood). Also, when rendering plants and trees, it simulates the light passing through the leaf making it a bit translucent. 

 

Another thing that adds realism is defects. There are small defects in skin that add to realism. Nobody has perfect skin. No plant is perfectly textured, etc. 

 

I am thinking of making a tutorial on how to do quick and fast projection painting in Blender. It is very easy to add realistic texture to a character model in Blender. It only took me about 10-15 minutes to do it. 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 04 January 2014 - 01:00 PM.

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#14 Nathan2222_old   Members   -  Reputation: -400

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 04:11 PM

This particular model is missing a lot though. You can tell it is 3d. One thing it is missing is a specular map (skin isn't that shiny unless it is wet). Another thing it is missing is asymmetry. I just realized that asymmetry is what really makes a 3d model of a character look believable. Another thing it is missing is sub-surface scattering. Sub surface scattering adds life to figures that are organic. Subsurface scattering as it applies to characters simulates light passing through the skin, revealing a slight reddish pigment (blood). Also, when rendering plants and trees, it simulates the light passing through the leaf making it a bit translucent.

Another thing that adds realism is defects. There are small defects in skin that add to realism. Nobody has perfect skin. No plant is perfectly textured, etc.

I am thinking of making a tutorial on how to do quick and fast projection painting in Blender. It is very easy to add realistic texture to a character model in Blender. It only took me about 10-15 minutes to do it.

That tutorial will be useful even though i don't what projection painting is :(. I modelled and textured (uv mapping) a reference head image 2 days ago and the model looked nothing like the reference and the texture made the head model look like plastic. I'm using a different head modelling tutorial by montage studio to see if it'll give me a model that looks more like the reference and maybe i can use your tutorial to texture it and make it look realistic.

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#15 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1506

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 07:09 PM


I'm using a different head modelling tutorial by montage studio to see if it'll give me a model that looks more like the reference and maybe i can use your tutorial to texture it and make it look realistic.

 

The best head modeling tutorial I have seen is this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86JiuZpbi_w

 

And I have watched a lot. He is also using Blender. As for projection painting, this guy has a decent one:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liWluJimWM0


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#16 Nathan2222_old   Members   -  Reputation: -400

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:54 AM

I'm using a different head modelling tutorial by montage studio to see if it'll give me a model that looks more like the reference and maybe i can use your tutorial to texture it and make it look realistic.


The best head modeling tutorial I have seen is this one:


And I have watched a lot. He is also using Blender. As for projection painting, this guy has a decent one:

Yup, that's the one i used. The model didn't look like the reference

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#17 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1502

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:34 PM

I find the biggest key for every artist that no artist wants to admit to is reference material. My friend models for EA and the bane of his work (on sports titles) is when certain soccer or hockey players don't have a lot of reference pictures to work from. On average my friend has over a hundred images to work from for any given model usually closer to the thousand mark if he can manage it. These include but in no way are limited to the turn around images, dynamic and bland lighting images, old and new images of the person, high res to focus on important features (as mentioned) defects and details like pore size & other skin type things, some times even pictures of family members to explore likeness, in the case of clothes (or sports jerseys in my friends case) reference material allows you to pay attention to details like of how fabrics sit on their body, etc. No reference is entirely useless, keep it all!

 

As mentioned, anatomy is key as well. If you don't have a firm grasp on the reality of your model you can't expect it to look realistic. Start with the most broad aspects. Get the silhouette to look right, then start in on details. Your eye will pick up problems right away when the silhouette doesn't look right. This should take you back to your reference material of course. 

 

Shaders are key! Getting the most out of your textures is achieved through shaders. A painting can look great with all the right colors and all the perfect strokes with all the right brushes but if it doesn't use the light properly, it's just colors. 



#18 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3066

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:44 PM

By the way, gradients in textures and shaders are a performance cheap way to get great realism.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#19 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1506

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 09:33 PM


Yup, that's the one i used. The model didn't look like the reference

 

I'm sure if he would have painted the texture on it and done some good lighting, it would look like the photo. Some people's facial features are subtle, and they don't have many prominent features. For example, when I see a 3d model without texture of Angelina Jolie, I can tell it is her from her lips. But some models I have seen of Angelina Jolie, even if they didn't get the lips right, when a texture was added, it looked like her. 

 

His technique is very accurate though. You could also use spline modeling (but that is, to me, more difficult). A lot of AAA companies don't bother modeling that way (as you could see in the videos), they just scan someone's head using fancy software. 

 

123d catch isn't up to par yet. hehe. 


Edited by Tutorial Doctor, 09 January 2014 - 09:33 PM.

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