Wow! I never thought I was going to get this far with this project, before posting some progress on the Blog.
The origin of this project is an assignment for another class. We were instructed to come up with a vehicle for a character in a game. This particular Bumper Car is the vehicle for a chicken necromancer, or as they call him: The Chickenmancer. The Chickenmancer is a character heavily inspired by Buckethead’s “biography”. A poor lonely man who was raised by chickens in a coop, with nothing but his guitar and a KFC Bucket, and surrounded by graves and tombstones. He was always obsessed with Disneyland, and after being rejected for a job in the park as an animatronic, he decided to create his own theme park using scrap metal from old farming equipment.
This vehicle is part of that theme park, in a fantasy world where the Chickenmancer is a powerful being that brings chicken from the dead to make friends and protect his family.
I want to show you the overall process I’ve taken to create this car.
Initially, I came up with a sketch. I’m not great at sketching, but I like doing it to have a better idea where I’m headed, and also to show to my peers in order to get feedback before modeling anything.
When doing the sketch I really wanted the bumper to be evident, as well as making it clear that the vehicle was a “Frankenstein” of different metallic pieces.
I also sketched some props, to give more context to the car once I finish modeling it.
I wanted to create this vehicle in a semi-modular way. To achieve that, I modeled a group of scrap metal panels that I would duplicate and place accordingly to build the body of the car. This would also be super useful at the time of texturing, as I would only have to texture 8 or 10 panels instead of 35.
After creating those panels, I created a blockout to establish proportions and the overall piece.
Then, I took the model to Zbrush and started sculping the high poly. I didn’t want the car to look completely realistic, so I emphasised on creating bevels for the metal panels, as well as finding a stylized pattern for the chicken feathers. (Maybe it went too far with the chicken!)
After that, I adjusted the low poly mesh based on the sculpts. It wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting, as their silhouette wasn’t modified drastically while sculpting. Still, I had to check that every piece was aligning correctly.
To bake the model I used Substance Painter, and it’s bake by mesh name feature. I had to do several bakes in order to get good normal maps due to the various dimensions of the shapes in the car. Still, there are some things that I have yet to clean up, like some projection errors in the wood side cavities, and some undesired projections on the chicken’s head.
This is how my UVs look before baking. I Offset the duplicates in order for the baker to ignore them when looking where to project the high poly mesh details.
Here is a preview of the low poly mesh with the normal map in Marmoset Toolbag:
Now to my favourite part! Texturing! For this project, I’ve created all the textures in Substance Painter so far.
The first couple tries weren’t looking that good. Colors were too saturated and they weren’t working together, and I felt too many things were happening and readability was being lost.
I started texturing the panels again, and got a much better result this time.
I continued working on it, and this is the point where it is right now:
Now it’s time to send it to Unreal Engine! I had to do some adjustments to the texture in order to make it look good in Unreal. The model never looks the same in Substance Painter, Marmoset or Unreal Engine! Mostly it was adjusting the saturation, and the roughness levels.
In Unreal Engine I created a Spline Blueprint to create the Christmas lights, and the strings for the Seat Belts following this tutorial.
Right now I’m working on creating a material to animate the different metal panels when the car is moving, make it feel like it is about to fall apart. On the other hand, Carolina Gomez, an awesome animator, is working on rigging and animating the chicken heads.
Now it’s time to create a small Diorama and work on good lighting in order to make it look well presented for my portfolio! I’ll post my progress on that more frequently (I hope!), and do a better job capturing the process.