We live in the 10's, Jedi Academy was released almost 10 years ago. Between 2003 and 2007, character creating was easier. There were more tutorials, more information and more help for modders who are willing to create their own character for this game. also, the programs needed were easier to get.
I've been searching the internet for multiple months now and came to the conclusion there isn't much information about JKA modding left. Mapping had the most information, but it seems these days the mapping communites for JKA are also falling apart.
So for the lucky ones around, i am going to write a tutorial about how to create a new model, special for the ones who are willing to get old memories, or want to be a special designer for their clan or community. So, this tutorial is not only meant for EFF, but for every JKA (or JK2) modder.
I am going to teach you, how to build your character from paper, to JKA. If you have any questions or problems regarding this tutorial, feel free to contact me on the EFF forum in a PM, or write an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I know some of you might think "oh my god, this is too hard. I am going to quit this shit". But don't worry! i had exactly the same! Everyting is easy when you get a hang of it. If you find an aspect of this tutorial hard, try to do this multiple times until you get a hang of it. In the end this will become very easy for you. Also, when i am explaining something and it seems like i missed a part, just google what you need.
Below is a checklist for the programs and files you will need.
- 3D modelling software
I personally work with 3Ds max. But as long as the program can export files to 3Ds files, you will be fine. Common programs are Maya, 3Ds max, Gmax, Softimage Mod Tool and Blender. Blender and Softimage Mod Tool are free. However, i am going to write the tutorial out of the perspective of 3Ds max. If you wish to use another program, i suggest you follow the basic tutorials of these programs and follow this tutorial for the basics about how you should build your model.
- Softimage Mod Tool
Half Life 2 and Crysis modders might be familiar with this program. We will use Softimage Mod Tool for weighing the model to the JKA (or JK2) skeleton and exporting it to dotxsi 3.0 with ASCCI.
- The JKA skeleton
You can download the skeleton here
- The JKA SDK
Download the SDK here. This contains Modview, Assimilate and Carcass. Programs that you will need later on.
- Eclypses weighing tutorial
This file is not nescesary because i will cover everything up said here too. If i am unclear about weighing, you can feel free to download this file. It might help you better than i will. :) Download here
- JKA Skeleton for sizing
I will use this file for sizing the model in the 3D program. Download it here. It is the same skeleton we will use in Softimage Mod Tool, but we won't use it to weigh the model to, instead it's for sizing purposes. Place the 3Ds file anywhere on your computer
- Photoshop, Gimp or any other program what you can use for texturing
I will work with Photoshop in this tutorial. So again try to find tutorials for the similar program you will use.
There might be hundreds of modellers around the globe. And i noticed a few things when i looked at different models done by multiple people. First of all, some modellers are lazy. They tend to create a model and think; "hmm... close enough" when they make several aspects of their model and then they release it while they should have spend more time at their model. I am not part of that group. I only release mods when i know it's good. Otherwise i don't release it. Players will have more fun when the model is good. If the model looks like a toddler sketch come to life, players would dislike it. (unless you intended to create a toddler sketch that came to life. It might be cool!)
Another important thing you need to take with your character design, is the edgeflow. Edgeflow is really important when you create models for animation. If your edgeflow isn't good, your model will not deform (animate) well.
Thistutorial about 3D modelling helped me get my edgeflow right.
Edgeflow are a sort of guidelines for the model. If you draw something highly detailed on paper, you will also start to draw the lines you will see the most. For example the chest. The chest has lines going from the armpit, in a small curve, then get straight again, across the middle, straight again, small curve again and end in the other armpit.
The tutorial i gave a link above covers multple things up about edgeflow. So i suggest to read that if you don't have any experience in 3D modelling.
Check your polycount every now and then! Your model may not exceed 3000 polygons in total. But a model is actually already good around 1000. When you see you used too many polygons, try to reduce it. I will tell more about this later.
Desigining your model
The first step of every modeller is to know what you are going to build. You will need some reference material!
You can do this by going oldskool and getting the dusty old paper and pencil out of your closet. This can also been done in Photoshop for the geeks around us. :P
See the picture on the right? Doesn't he look familiar? Yep, it is Luke Skywalker. I created this picture in Photoshop for designing purposes. You can print this picture and use it as template. But first it's best to draw your character from different perspectives. Get a new piece of paper and start sketching. Does you character have a belt? Does he have special kind of boots? Does he have a robe or hood? Is your character muscular or skinny? Just draw every detail your skin has and try different designs. If you are done designing these details, get a new sheet and start drawing your model in the davinci pose like on the picture. The picture on the right is a good template because it will help you get the scale of different bodyparts right.
This step is very important because it helps you visualize your model. If you are done drawing, scan the picture in your computer. (if you don't have a scanner you can also draw your davinci pose picture in paint or photoshop)
Setting up the scene (3D Studio max)
With this reference picture you can start creating your model in 3D!
Start up 3Ds max and click on the Left viewport. next click on Views>Viewport Background. Click on Files and open your reference picture. Next select Match Bitmap and click Lock Zoom/pan. Click on OK. Now do the same for the Front viewport so the both views have the same reference picture you will work with.
You can move your camera in 3Ds max by holding the middle mouse button. If you want to roll the camera in the perspective view, just hold Alt and the middle mouse button.
Now to make the model 3D!
The technique we will use is called "Box modelling" because we will start with a Box primitive. On the right, you will see Box, Sphere, Cylinder etc. We are interested in Box. Now click on Box, hold your left mouse button in a viewport and drag it. When you release, the height of the box will change. The size of the box doesn't really matter now so just click anywhere to have your box set. You just created a box!
In order to see what we are doing, you need to click on the Left and Front viewport and press F3. This will show the faces of the box like it does in the perspective view. Now right click in any viewport to deselect the create a box tool. Right click again, and a small menu will open. Go to the bottom of the menu and select Convert to: >Editable Poly.
See how the right menu changed? We are now starting to get somewhere..
There are four types we can use to change the model:
- Vertices (Vertex)
- Edges (Edge)
- Borders (Border)
- Polygons (Polygon)
A 3D model exists of vertices, connected via edges. 3 edges connected create a polygon. A border is a hole in the 3D model, that can be used to extend the model step by step.
I will use polygons edges and vertices in this tutorial.
Modelling the foot and leg (3D Studio Max)
Now we have set up our scene, we will start to position our box. On the top of the screen there are three pictograms next to each other. The 4 arrows (it forms a + ) An arrow turning arrow, and two boxes of different scale.
The 4 arrows is the Select and Move tool. The turning arrow is the Select and Rotate tool, and the last one is Select and Uniform Scale tool. Right now we are interested in the Move tool.
Go to the left viewport, and select and drag the model to the left side of the picture. Now do the same for the front of your model. We want to start at the feet and build up to the head. Let's take the Left leg to start with.Click on the vertex tool on the right (the dots) and zoom in a little bit. Notice how your model is made out of four vertices? You can select and move them with the move tool. You can also select multiple vertices and scale or rotate them. What we want to do is place the vertices close to the pictures edge.
Lets go to the left view and select the top two vertices. Just hold your left mouse outside of your model, and select the right top vertex. (like how you would select multple files on your desktop) Now place them on the edge of the picture, like ilustrated on the right.
Do the same with the front of the foot, until it looks somewhat like this:
It is starting to get shape and we didn't even add new polygons. So, let's do that shall we?
Select the edge tool (Next to the vertex tool). Now hold your left mouse above the foot in the left view and cross in the middle so you select all the edges that run from the back of the heel to the toe. When you selected those, scroll down in the right menu (hold your left mouse on a place that isn't a button and drag down) and open Edit Edges. There is a tool called "Connect".
This will connect the edges with each other and create new vertices. Wait.. new vertices? so we can adjust those too? Yes, and that is exactly what we are going to do!
So let's go back to vertex mode and select the two just added vertices that lay on top and move them up a little.Notice how it defines the model more. You can use connect to add more polygons and define your model. Let's define the foot more. Select the edges from the back to the front of the foot on the left side (so leave the back, front and right side of the model alone) and click on connect again. this creates a new edge running from the back to the front of the foot. Again, move the vertices around until it gets more defintion.
Now we can start at defining the heel. And this gives a new problem. In the picture below you see two screenshots. On the left i created a new edge with "connect" but the edge is connected to the middle of another edge. Instead we can weld this with "TargetWeld". Go in vertex mode, and in the Edit Vertices panel you'll see TargetWeld. Click the vertex that has issues, and drag it to where you want it to be. The result is shown on the right of the picture.
I think you get the idea here. Connect two edges together, move the new vertices with select and move tool. The result that you get will be quite blocky but there is a solution for that. Lets go to polygon mode (It's a red block in the selection mode panel).
Now select a polygon you want to make rounder, and go to Edit Geometry. There is a button called Relax. Clicking it will relax your polygon and make it smoother. This is really handy if you create a leg, arm or torso.
With everything i summed up here, i think you can finish your foot yourself.
If you are happy with your foot, lets create a leg! (and don't mind my foot as seen on the examples because it sucks. :P )
Begin by selecting the polygon where the leg should be. go to Edit Polygons and select Bevel now left click the polygon and drag up. Drag him up until he reaches the knee. When you release your left mouse, you will scale the polygon. At this moment, the same rules will apply as with the foot. Connect the edges, move the vertices in position (either with Vertex or Edge mode), connect the edges, move the vertices, until you are happy with the result. You are starting off with 4 polys in the length, try to make 8 to 12 polys, position the vertices and relax the polygons. As seen here:Optionaly you can reposition the vertices again because relax will change them a bit.
A thing to remember: Bevel and Extrude are similar to each other except that Bevel is also scaling the selected polygon. Relaxing is handy, but don't overuse it because it will also move the vertices out of place.