Dwarven Blacksmith Animation, Character, Weapon & Environment

Animated Character Trailer

The character model on Sketchfab.

The weapon on Sketchfab.

Character Moodboard

Character Moodboard

Weapon Moodboard

Weapon Moodboard

Environment Moodboard

Environment Moodboard

Storyboard

Storyboard

HDRI test render 1.

HDRI test render 1.

HDRI test render 2. This was the HDRI used in the final animation.

HDRI test render 2. This was the HDRI used in the final animation.

Dwarven Blacksmith Animation, Character, Weapon & Environment

This is the animation, character, weapon and environment, I made for my final assignment in the 3D Animation for Games module at university. The brief for the assignment was to create a 20-30 second animated trailer to introduce an original game character. The animation had to include one fully rigged and animated character, one environment and one elaborate prop. I started the assignment by brainstorming ideas for an original game character, eventually settling on the dwarven blacksmith idea. Next I created moodboards for the character, his weapon and the environment. I then created a quick storyboard to guide what would happen in the animation and what other props (if any) I would need for the animation.

After the pre-production was complete, it was time to work on the character model. I started out with a low-poly blockout in 3ds Max, which I then brought into Mudbox to to sculpt in the detail I wanted. Afterwards, I brought the sculpt back into 3ds Max and created a new low-poly using the step-build tool. I then unwrapped this and modelled the character's outfit around the body. Once the modelling was complete, I took it into Substance Painter and textured it. After the character was complete I rigged it in 3dsMax using the Character Animation Toolkit (CAT) and skinned it with the Skin modifier.

Next I created the weapon he would use in the animation. This was modelled entirely in 3dsMax. I created the low-poly version, then used the OpenSubDiv and CreaseSet modifiers to create a high-poly version for baking. I then took this into Substance Painter to texture it.

The final part of the asset creation stage was to model and texture the environment. For the environment, I only created a low-poly model and used the low-poly bake option in Substance Painter. I did this as I was fairly limited on time, and new that with the fairly simple/blocky shapes that made up the enviroment I could get away with this.

Once all the assets were created, I encorporated them all into one 3dsMax scene and set up the materials and lighting for the Arnold renderer. As you can see I used an HDRI map to create the lighting for the scene as well as a light inside the forge. After I was happy with how the lighting and materials looked I set about creating the animation. During the animation process I had a few issues with the skinning on my character model and had to reskin it a number of times. I believe this was due to how the character model was made up of several different pieces and is something I'll have to wary of in the future.

After I had completed the animation, I rendered it as a sequence of PNG files, so that if there were any issues I would only need to re-render problematic frames rather than the entire animation. I then took the animation into Adobe After Effects where I added some VFX, namely embers rising from the forge, sparks and the name card at the end of the animation. I then exported this to Premiere Pro where I added background music and sound effects.

I'm quite happy with how the final animation turned out, though had I managed my time better I would have been able to spend longer on the rendering stage and been able to reduce the graininess of the final animation.

Sound effects used in the animation were from BBC Sound Effects (http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/), used under their RemArc License for personal and education purposes.
The background music is "High Octane" by Benjamin Tissot, made available royalty free at www.bensound.com.

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