For almost 3.5 yrs I've been working on mobile iOS game for kids called 'Moovie Toons' (Jul 2013 - Feb 2017) at WizarLabs Inc. (Palo Alto, CA). I've been taking up a post of Lead 3D Artist (remote). Unfortunately, for some reasons the project was shut down, but it still was a great experience!
I was responsible for all stages of 3D-content production. For the key characters and objects (about 10% of all) we've got the concepts drawn by the famous artist Nicolás P. Villarreal. The rest was either supervised or designed by myself with primary goal to keep the overall style as close to Nicolás' as possible and preserve a visual integrity.
I've directly managed a small team of 3D-artists who've modeled the environments, characters props that I've rigged and skinned. I've developed a unified FACS-based facial rig system which allowed the facial animations to be re-targeted in just few clicks, literally. Also I've modeled all modular buildings and respective LODs, created a lot of pieces of environment, was responsible for almost all in-game look development. All 3D-content have got my rapt attention.
I've created almost all key characters for the game - from high-polys in ZBrush to final rigs in Maya and setting-up models and shaders in game editor.
This flower was one of the most complicated characters from the technical point of view. The smooth and curved shape of the 'face' haven't permit me to use SDK-based rig like I did with human characters. Even the subtle inaccurate joints movements leaded to breaking the shape and its 'roundish' shading. So I've developed (in Maya) and introduced a system that 'wrapped' any 2D flat deformations around any curved surface - in order to preserve it's smooth form. Also this character featured cartoon flat eyes (which gave a lot of headache to the coders, btw :) ).
Besides the characters I've created a part of environment models, few most amusing of them shown below.
Different shots of final in-game model with textures and a character for size comparison.
I've been responsible for developing the game look while following the stylistic and visual guidelines art-directed by our concept artist Nicolás P. Villarreal. I've tested the game for many hours, making numerous over-paints and fixing the shots. Looking for the ways to improve the overall in-game graphics quality was among my primary tasks.
Besides getting pleasant visual experience, look-development of the levels required to keep in mind a lot of points such as camera FOV, DOF and even user device screen aspect ratio and orientation. The videos below show the desired level of graphics quality struggled to achieve.
I was responsible for preparing all characters for animating. We used Maya built-in HumanIK for human body rigs, while for faces I've developed the custom unified FACS rigs, which involved Set Driven Keys (SDKs) and joints-only deformations with max 4 influence per vertex limitation (for usage in proprietary 3D-engine optimized for iOS). It was completely character-agnostic, i.e. the animals, creatures and human characters could be driven exactly the same way. This ensured that the animator could make one facial animation and then copy it to all other characters in a fraction of time. And by the way, this rig allowed us to achieve the unprecedented quality of facial animation across all mobile products on the market.