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Let us suppose that I want to make and animate a character for a fantasy scene. This kind of character often comes with multiple layers of clothes, armours, whatever. In most of the professional final renders I've seen so far, most characters seemed to have several different objects on top of each other.

Here is a good example of what I'm talking about : https://www.artstation.com/artwork/EWW3N

In most timelapse videos I've seen on YouTube, it's done in the same way. However, I think this method could cause many problems when it comes to rigging and weight painting the character, with meshes clipping through each other. Deleting the geometry underneath also becomes harder, because the clothing doesn't move as one single piece.

So far, I've always tried to have the smallest amount of meshes possible, to prevent this issue. Especially for the chest, the hips and the fingers. So everything was made by using extrusions, scaling, and stuff like that. The downside of this method is that it makes it much more complicated to have fine details. The final render always looks a bit too simple in my opinion.

So, what's the best approach to have this layered aspect and still be capable of animating the character properly?

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  • $\begingroup$ That's kinda interesting! As far my knowledge goes, it can be hard to rig the image you have shown as example. In this particular example, when you look at the chest pieces, it almost unavoidable to bend the metal with the body itself which is unrealistic. I haven't tested it on armors, but maybe using Corrective Shapekeys might be helpfull. The pauldron/shoulderpieces are somewhat easier as you can parrent this to the upper arm bone and use drivers to make it move correctly. In the end it all depends on how your model looks, but it really is possible as there are many ways to tackle this. $\endgroup$
    – DarkSoul
    Apr 9 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ I watched the animated video of the example you've shown. It looks like the developer simply rigged the chestplate to the rig. The movements are so subtle, you barely notice whether the plates are solid pieces or bending unnaturaly. But you can clearly see that the shoulders are somewhat rigged to the shoulder/arms as seperate pieces. And the results are good. So again, it really depends on what you want to archieve and how you're model looks. If you have more information on this, let it know! $\endgroup$
    – DarkSoul
    Apr 9 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have an accurate idea of what my character will look like because it's the beginning of my project. However, I feel like this aspect restrained me during the past ones. But the chest plates are the kind of thing I'd like to have. Or even make this kind of gauntlets: pinterest.fr/pin/347269821272967183 But I still need my character to be able to move properly, walk, run, swing a sword and stuff like this, even if for that, metal has to bend slightly. I'm more concerned about clipping meshes. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Apr 10 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ First of all, don´t let this restrain you from creating your project! Try to create your armor and see how it works out. Each time you face an issue, look for tutorials or see if anyone has asked it in this community. There are many ways to solve these issues! Good luck! Here is an example: youtube.com/watch?v=9UOInldtUEE&ab_channel=ColbyWeaver $\endgroup$
    – DarkSoul
    Apr 11 at 16:29

1 Answer 1

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I am not an expert, and this may not be an answer. Just sharing with what I am up to which is hopefully only steering towards optimization of project in my case just to be able to fit as much as I could towards smarter and more interesting AI and loads of space for implementation of other cool stuff.

I'm making shape keys out of 7x4 face mesh. Just because I am not able to get armatures to run as single user, while I can do so with objects which has actioned materials on property play actuator and on spawned into scene shape key actioned things, and not to forget spawned object into scene which has child objects which represent or work as bone objects (not armature bones) to which shape keyed sheets as body parts will parent to - that will have to have shape key actions to bend some parts by shape key actions to complete the movement and other animations.

If games inventory slot will get an item, nothing will go over the top, but end, and respawn with new shape of the same sheet for a particular piece of armor item or clothing. The sheets logic basically will contain various bone objects to which to parent to depending on certain properties which they should get after spawning into scene, and parenting to an empty which will be actioned and work as sheets temporary parent to deliver it and leave to reparent to structure in the right shape - in other words "rendering character out of shaped planes"

In this way, the whole character, and all of its armor, clothes, wapons and other stuff can be created out of a single 7x4 face sheet left on layer two and pretty much nothing else... and yes - it will have a lot of actions on timeline. But I doubt that those shifts of existing data as moved vertex points by shape keys will exceed normal ways of creating characters which I've seen in countless tutorials. - Yes, game needs presentation anims, intros and its media but if You kick off with functionality and optimization at first. It wont be hard to make game media for adds and other reels from in making game anims. Without even talking about the fact that these ways of making things to happen will even help to implement visual durability of items not just a property without visualisations, destructive death or traumatic injury effects if those planes suddenly start to action away from character by changing shapes and fading into transparency along with empty which may drop parts made out of the same sheet to reveal what has just been spawned on structure with dents and what may shine through those dents to simulate visual scars or dismembered and stolen body parts - which character may replace with prostetics to kick off with a new mission to find opposing force bot with same blood type to pawn it, get his arm and be on his way to visit an npc who could stitch him together unless Your ally could do it. Dismemberment of character body parts in fights as in 300 movie wouldn't be a problem at all. Besides there's just armpits, jaw, stomach, eyelids, knees, tighs, neck and ankles to be keyed along to anims to fit movement cycles while not all of the parts need to be animated to bend which after all can't weigh that much, even if it needs to be done for every piece of armor of any set the project may have. Can't really compare this to anything I've seen in tutorials if I look at it possibility wise. And Yes again, You would need to have some "stuff" to joggle with to spawn them in - which would be actually something for Your processor to do and in fact for what it has been built for instead of strangling the ram.

Besides if You get stuff to work in minimap, gains and movement of bot instances can be simulated by generating their movement and things they may do as their generated choices at the time and visualized on minimap only if you get your spy ninjas to reveal their location while they're not even spawned anywhere in or are existing as spawned structures if they're not in current main players perimeter or in its view... and once again if they spawn in behind the corner, yet again it is the same structure with nailed and knocked around with same sheet, not a seperate dedicated bot. Even its title text object can be hooked to copy and display properties from minimap after spawning along with all of the equip and what they may contain in their loot.

If You get those sheets to complete character, then by starting with knocking new shapes - variations of different characters will be possible to achieve with extra just extra keys and no excess which has single use to be as just another junk on ram with a single purpose to bend along a single armature - but do doubt, for animations armatures are perfect - which I guess is what they are more likely ment for but not a game after breaking Your horns while thinking for hours how to fit in more. Besides, those objects which work as bones for E.G. 4x7 to be parented to, can take different shapes of different type of character, as an animal or a spider if something extra gets spawned into scene and parent to the control character/bot cube for the same sheet to take new shapes to construct different type of creatures. Same can apply for perimeters in maps which are too far for character to reach to and are not in view or stay behind the corner. As if character walks out of one perimeter, the one which it leaves behind may end for actioned empties to set up the next parts of maps towards which the character may be heading. Once again, because You do not need parts of maps which character cant see. Trees, stones, ponds other vegetation can be also made on a cost of another single sheet and robot bone structure on layer two while basically parts of maps hold their overall layouts in actions and shapes which get positioned and left in right places, not in models. To add, the link You shared contained "game character" so I thought that what I wrote You may find useful, interesting towards what You may be after. I guess this is a way towards E-Lite project which will leave space for more interesting things as for example something like a book of ai for player to read and to know how to interact with Ai as by making space by optimization You leave space for implementations towards replacing online friends with more reliable and more entertaining AIs as ally bots or tamed creatures.

Tap in edit mode of an obj, select a vertex point and hit Shift+S - Cursor To active followed by Mouse2 on another object, Tab into edit mode Shift+S - Selection to cursor This thing is pretty cool to tighten gaps between roughly sculpted shape keys. And then if You select the bone object and hit Shift+S - Cursor to active followed by mouse2 on shapekey mesh obj to shift+s - selection to cursor - it will set an object in exact position of previously selected object with help of moving the 3d cursor. It is very helpful to get the main shapes before you start to make keys for bends. Besides on the right of Viewport shading, there is a pivot point with which it is possible to rotate selection of vertex points wile using 3d cursor as centre of rotation which makes things very very very easy and pleasing to work with because it is just so amazing - because if you add a "timer" to an actioned empty with a lot of actions, empties "timer" property sensor can be set up with logic and its Evaluation time "changed" and with "Timer" selected. Then by passing it to property actuator through and controller. The property actuator can add +1 to an integer property "x" lets say. And every time when 6 decimal digits behind point of timers first digit changes - it adds +1 to an integer "x". In this way I guess it is possible to construct things super ultra mega lightning fast. And it is also always recommendable to set limitations and monitor amounts of data ⚡ striked into scenes once doing this kind of weird stuff because if You go for huge or lets say dense things, always keep your task manager open because You don't wanna to cook or burn Your computer down to ashes.

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