Video Game Art: Create A Low-Poly Game Character in Cinema 4D | Aaron Bartlett | Skillshare

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Video Game Art: Create A Low-Poly Game Character in Cinema 4D

teacher avatar Aaron Bartlett, Motion/Graphic Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Painting Textures

    • 3. Modeling

    • 4. Texturing & Rigging

    • 5. Pose & Export

    • 6. Create the Scene

    • 7. Fun, fun!

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About This Class

When you’ve got cool graphics software at your fingertips you can make make really fun video game art! In this lesson we’ll learn how to replicate low-poly characters that can easily be custom tailored to suit your creative ideas!

You’ll be able to do this class in Photoshop and C4D or C4D Lite (included with After Effects CC).

If you’d like to learn how to do this in After Effects, you can find the companion lesson right here. The photoshop sections of both lessons are identical so you’ll just need to redo the middle sections that cover After Effects.

Music Credit:

"Chipper" Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Meet Your Teacher

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Aaron Bartlett

Motion/Graphic Designer


I'm designer who works in LA and I've spent much of my career in entertainment marketing creating promos and ads for TV, movies and video games. I've got a fairly broad background in a variety of media. I love cartoons and comics books.

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1. Intro: no Polly. Game art is a fun style where you can create a lot of unique images in a relatively small amount of time. I'm going to show you how by painting textures, creating a character rig, exporting, oppose and using it in a scene. We'll be working in photo shop and cinema four D or cinema four D light, which is available through after Effects CC. Once you've built your character, you'll have the flexibility to change it easily and make even more if you want to time to get to work. 2. Painting Textures: before we start painting the textures. I just wanted to explain how I'm going to teach this lesson. A lot of this process is very repetitive, so I'm going to show you the basics of how it works. And I'm including some extra materials so that you can finish it on your own. Whenever I skip over one of the repetitive sections, you'll probably want to pause the video if you're working along. The primary inspiration for this project is Minecraft, as well as other old school games that use the doom engine. Part of what gives the art the unique look it has is being able to see individual pixels. Now, we could work at a normal resolution and paint large blocks, but I'm going to show you a different method. We're going to work incredibly small and then scale up when we're done painting to begin, I'm going to paint a face. I'm going to create a new image. I'm gonna call it head underscore front. I'm gonna make it eight pixels by eight pixels. I'm gonna zoom that all the way in and I'm gonna fill it with black so I can see the grid. Normally, I would just use my brush tool, but I'm actually gonna click and hold on this and switch to the pencil tool. This lets me have something that has hard edges. Make sure it's set to the smallest size of just one, and then you can see it's this little box. I'm gonna fill it in with a skin color somewhere in there. Then I'll fill the background. Then we'll choose a darker color and paint some hair. Oh, pain semis. Maybe this character can have a mustache. Obviously, you can be as creative as you want to be. Once you've painted one of these images. An interesting way to give it a little bit of texture is to add some noise. If we go up to filter noise, add noise, I'm gonna set it to 2%. And then you can see all the little variations that added in. This makes it look a bit more like some other examples you may have seen. Now I'm going to save. This is a tiff, and now I've got my first texture. Here. You can see I've laid out all the different pieces we need to make and what sizes they are . You can also find this in the resource is section of the project where you can see all the different parts I made, what size they are and what I named them. In each case, I do the same thing. Paint the image, add the noise and then save it as a tiff. Once you finish making all these pieces, you'll be ready for the next section. 3. Modeling: I'm going to do this part in cinema four D light, but you can use the full version of Cinema four D If you have that. If you save your cinema four d file in the same places your images, it won't ask you if you want to make a copy. Every single time we import, one will be importing a lot, so that's something that will be less annoying. Starting in after effects. I'll save file New Max on Cinema four d file called This Character and now Cinema 40 Light is open. First, we'll start by making a box for the head, so I'll click to create a new box. I'm gonna be working at a scale that's 100 times the size of the original images. So something that was eight by eight will now be 800 centimeters by 800 centimeters. That's what size this should be. So I'll change the box to 800 by 800 by 800. Well, hit s to scale it in the viewer and I'll rename it Head control or command dragged that to duplicate it and rename it body. We'll change that to 1200 tall by 400 deep. I'll duplicate the body and rename it Harm. Underscore are for right and I'll change the width. Done that 1 to 400. Now select the head and I'll move it 1000 centimeters higher. Well, hit H to zoom to everything. They will grab the arm and move it over 600. Now I'll duplicate that arm and change it toe l for left and change the position to 600 instead of money 600. Now I'll duplicate both of these and call them leg right and leg left. So, like those two and I'll move them down 1200 centimeters at H again to zoom. Now move them each in two, minus 200 and plus 200. I'm going to select all of these and hit Alter Option G for grouping them under a null. And I'm gonna rename the smell geometry. Now I'm going to duplicate the whole thing. Close this one down, and then if I hold down alter option and click on these two dots twice, it'll change them red. That means it'll hide them both from being visible in the viewer and from being rendered. I'm gonna rename the 2nd 1 and call it rig. Then I'm going to select all of these and hit Seek that converts everything to inevitable mesh. You'll notice they will have a new tag now that's called a U V W tag. Basically, what that does is tells the texture the best way to wrap around an object by default. We'll be using that in most cases. Now I've got the whole thing modeled so we could move on to texture ring. 4. Texturing & Rigging: I'm going to hide all the objects except for the head by holding on altar option, clicking, clicking again and dragging. Then, if I select head and hit tests, it'll zoom, and I'm going to switch from modeling mode to polygon mode. Now I can collect just the front. We'll double click here to create a new material going to basic unchecked reflect INTs because I don't need to use it. Then I'm going to rename it Head Underscore Front. I'm gonna go in to my color tab, go to texture, select a new image and choose head front. Then I'm gonna drag that onto the cube de Select, and we can see it's there. Unfortunately, this isn't displaying very nicely. That's because it's trying to smooth out something that's too small. If we go down here and change sampling toe none, we can see that it shows up better. I hit Commander control are to render it looks better. We also see these jagged edges, which I don't like very much. If I hit control or command, be toe open up the render settings, I could go to anti alias ing and change it from geometry. The best close that Render again. Now you can see that it's moved out to save a little bit of time For the rest. I'm gonna continue by duplicating the existing texture. So hold down control or command and dragged this watch. Now I've got a new one. I'll call it head hair and then I'll change the image from head front The head here Now I'll back off a bit, grab the top in the back and then dragged this over I d select. I can see that it applied. I'll grab the bottom, make a new texture, switch it ahead base and change the name. Now grab both sides. Make yet another new texture. Call it head side, change the image to head side and apply it. You know, if I d select, we can see that on this side it's backwards. But on this side, it's lining up correctly. So what I'm going to do is undo this until I don't have the thing applied anymore. I'm gonna grab just this side, apply side to it. Now I'm gonna flip it around de select, click this other one and apply it again. In case you haven't noticed every time we drag a texture onto this. It created a new tag, but it also added this tag. Hold a polygon selection tag. If you look at this, there's some stuff you can mess around with to observe and make use of which polygons air selected. Basically, this tag tells this texture where to be. These last two are the two versions of the side we just played with. So I'm gonna click the final one. I'm going to change it from U V W mapping to flat That looks weird and stretched, but it's probably because it's on the wrong access. So I'm gonna go to coordinates and I'm gonna try rotating at 90 degrees on the heading. That looks good. Except now we can see the patterns too small. If I right click on this and choose fit to object now it's made it the right size. If I d select, it looks good. It s again in our heads. All set. I'm gonna hold down Alter option, Turn this off, turn body on. Select it and hit s. I'm gonna need all the same things so I'll duplicate each of these. I'll rename them and I'll change the images Thankfully, this one's not supposed to be called body hair. We'll rename it to top. I also like the front in the back and apply bloody front to it. They don't select the side and the other side and imply side to that. Select the top. Apply the top. Select the base. Apply base. Yes, and everything looks to be in order. We'll turn this off. Turn arm right on. Now. I'm gonna copy the last three top base inside. Rename them toe arm. Change the images on top. Our base pull down shift to select all of these and apply arm side now, the arms all set up. Now, since the other arms identical, I can actually select all these tags and the control or command dragged them onto our Mel. I'm going to do that again and drag them onto leg. Are. But I'm gonna turn this off. Turn this back on. All it needs is for these textures to be replaced with right images. So I grabbed these three controller command drag to duplicate one more time, go through and rename them change the images. Then I'm going to drag this watch on top of this icon top first, then base, then side. And it worked. I'm gonna gravel those and then dragged them onto the other leg. Since it's also identical. And then I'm gonna turn everything back on by holding alter, option clicking and dragging. Okay, H to zoom out, Render to look at it now he looks correct. So the only thing left to do is set him up so we can move him around properly. If I select his arm switchback toe modeling mode, we can see the pivot points in the center. If I hit far for rotate, that means that he'll rotate around where his elbow is. And that doesn't make a lot of sense for what we're doing. So I'll undo that. We can fix this by changing the pivot point. Gonna start with his head, toggled disarm, hit E for move. But if I look down here in my coordinates, I see they're not round numbers, which is kind of annoying, So I'm gonna select everything that's parented to the rig null and drag it down. So it's not anymore. Now select the head again and the number relative to the world is 1000. That's nicer to work with. I need to move it down 400 centimeters, so I'll change it to 600. The arms and legs are all gonna have to move up the same amount 600 centimeters. So I'll just set them all to zero. And now, if I click one at a time, I can see each one moved up individually without changing any of the other properties. Since they're all in the right place now, I'll turn this, enable access off, select these, drag them back on top of rigs. So that parent now, if I select the head hit hard for rotate, it rotates at his neck instead of in the middle. That looks better. Same with the arms and the legs. Now we're ready to pose this guy and export him. 5. Pose & Export: so make opposed version while saving our work, I'm gonna make another duplicate gonna control or command drag rig. Then I'll close Rick Down. Alter option. Click this twice. So it's red. Then I'm gonna rename this pose. I'm gonna hit control or command be to go into my render settings under output. I'm gonna set it to 800 by 800 which is the final size I want to use. We can see from these boundaries where that is exactly gonna rotate to a slightly lower angle. Zoom in a little bit. I'm gonna grab his head, hit our for rotate, turning a little bit towards the camera in a little bit down, gonna move his legs toe, look like he's walking. Then I'll move his arms to mimic that, and I'll raise his right arm if I render that I conceive in the natural lighting looks pretty cool because it adds a little bit of shading to the sides. Now there's two ways to export this based on which software you're using. If you're doing the full version of cinema four d, just hit commander control, be toe open up, render settings and then under save, You'll have the option to choose where your file goes and what format it is I'm going to export. This is a ping file. Make sure you check your Alfa Channel so that you don't lose it. Once you selected all those things hit, shift our and it'll render your image out. If you're incident for delight like I am right now, we'll close this. Save our file, then we'll close. Cinema four D light back and after effects will make a new calm 800 by 800 it Okay, then I'll drag this into my comp. In there we can see a low rez version of what we're looking at when it changed the render from software toe standard final, which looks clean. And then I'm going to go to composition se frame as file gonna hit the tilde key to blow this window up in a change photo shop to pain, make sure RGB plus alphas selected hit. Okay, then I'll click on this to choose a file, location and hit render. Once that's done, we're ready to go back to photo shop 6. Create the Scene: so I'm going to open up my render. And now I have my character on a transparent background. I'm gonna go ahead and say this is a photo shop file and I'll rename this layer guy. Now I want to paint a background scene similar to the way that I painted the textures in the first place. To do that, I'm gonna start small and then blow it up. I'll make a new image. I'm gonna make this 1 40 by 40. I want to make a scene with clouds and mountains. So first, I'll fill in a background color for the sky. I can use alter, option backspace and control or command backspace to fill a layer with the foreground and background colors. Now I'm going to make a selection and fill it with green for grass. And now I'm gonna paint some clouds. I could use the paint brush tool, or I can even just use the marquee tool in fill in shapes. I'm holding down shift to continue adding to this selection every time I john new box and alter option to subtract now hit control or command backspace to fill with white Gonna hit my eyedropper tool, Pick this blue and then choose a lighter version. Tad, some detail. I'll use my pencil tool to do that. And I will choose a medium grey to do some mountains, little at a little shading. And then I'm gonna drag this whole layer over into this image. I'm gonna hit control or command t to transform, drag each corner to the edges, gonna make sure that the interpellation is set to nearest neighbor. What that means is it's not gonna try to smooth everything out. It's just gonna leave everything on a jagged edge like it looks hit. Enter to apply. Rename that BG for background to the back. I'm actually gonna move him up in the composition slightly. And then one thing I want to add in just to give the impression that this is inside a game engine is to make a fake shadow. So make a new layer above the background. I'll switch to the circle marquee tool and I'll draw an oval down here. It deeded. Set the colors to default, alter option backs face to fill it with black controller command D to de select, and I'm gonna blur it to make it look more like a shadow, so we'll go to filter blur Goshen blur into try something higher. Have you been higher than that? That looks pretty good and actually shift that down slightly. So it lines up with his feet a little bit more just moving around, and I think I'll set the opacity a little bit lower somewhere in there. Pull a shadow just to be organized. And now I've got a low Polly game character seen Now, a lot of the work that we did in this lesson was kind of the boring part where we put this whole thing together. The fun is now that you've got that rig, you can paint as many different textures as you want, so you can change things out. Give characters different expressions. Consider the possibility of doing the art of higher resolutions. You can include more detail, make scenes with multiple characters. Have fun with it. 7. Fun, fun!: I hope you enjoyed that exercise and learn some new things. As you can imagine it. Be easy to create an entire army of characters very quickly by duplicating your rig and changing the textures. Feel free to make a many as you like. I love to see them, so be sure to upload your project when it's finished. Let me know if there's anything I can help you out with, and I'll see you next time.