I've recently been working on my game modelling in my spare time, with hope of relevant work next year.
The brief: make crab tank, make painterly, make low poly.

Here is the concept, cribbed from cghub courtesy of one of Naughty Dog's concept artists.


While its quite lovely, it leaves a lot of the form of the tank to the imagination, relying on a strong silhouette to convey all it needs to.  Thats fine, until you have to figure out how it might work in three dimensions, so I took the concept into Photoshop and tried to create solid shapes from each of the different parts. Also there are some crab diagrams, never know when they might be useful.
That ultimately was not as useful an exercise as I had hoped and it turnout out the tried and trusted technique of blocking out the shapes in 3D was far more effective. From this blocky outline I was able to then begin adding more detail while retaining the proportions I had laid out.

This is the high poly (lots of faces on the geometry) mesh, I made a couple of mistakes here because I was too eager to get the things into Mudbox and start roughing it up in the sculpt phase. I should have gone in and refined the mesh, some of the unsubdivided meshes were too low poly. Another thing that would have been good to take into account would have been the distribution of edge loops, as I had only added them where needed- as you do when modelling for games, but Mudbox actually works much much better with evenly spaced faces so it can subdivide more cleanly.
But I went into Mudbox instead and added pitted surfaces, scratches, gouges, it was good fun.
Unfortunately I went to town and ended up creating a 7gb sculpt that no longer ran properly on my desktop, weirdly my laptop has twice the amount of RAM and Griffith saved the day, I was able to export all the AO and Normal maps from there.



Then began the texturing, I was trying to go for a cross between the texture style of Journey and the messiness of the original concept. These two styles are slightly at odds due to the clean gradients of Journey and the dirty oils of the concept.

Pretty pleased with how it was looking at this stage:
Maya render:
I then exported the whole thing into Unity. I recently bought the marmoset skyshop in a sale and used some of its image based lighting and shading techniques to creating a little scene with the crab tank in.

With a lot of luck you can actually walk around in that scene yourself using the webplayer below. W,A,S, D to move, mouse to look around.

Edit: Yeah screw that, you can download the folder here if you want to play



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