The Secret Behind the Scanned Characters

February 14, 2018

With the growing demand after photorealistic PBR assets, we are proud to announce the inclusion of 3D scan processing into the offered range of services.

This article describes our standard pipeline, from actor casting and 3d scanning, through scan processing and model optimization, to material set-up and rigging.

Minesweeper (recipe for a photorealistic character)

To prepare a delicious melange of photometry and 3D scan, you will need:

  • 3500 ounces of beefy actor
  • 115 high resolution cameras
  • 5-10 historically accurate military props
  • 10 cups of artists’ sweat
  • 1 dash of rigger’s perspiration
  • 1 liberal sprinkle of Substance material expertise

Step 1: Simmer the actor for at least one hour under the bright bulbs of an evenly-lit room. Dress the actor according to taste. Be sure to rotate and regularly change the configuration of his gear until you are happy with the resulting photos as well as the actor’s colouring and moisture levels.

Step 2: Briskly whisk together 115 photos until you have a rich looking, albeit slightly crunchy scan. Note that you may need additional scans for satisfactory results. Don’t worry about the jagged artifacts all over the surface of the model; it is perfectly normal at this stage of the process.

Step 3: Use your standard 3D kitchen toolset to smooth out model's surface. Be patient, it takes a little practice to estimate the right balance for the polish. The key is to avoid softening key surface details when removing the scan noise.

Step 4: It’s time to decimate the clean highpoly asset down into a runtime model. Don’t be shy to involve a rigger or animator when creating the lowpoly. Their sage advice helps to create a topology that keeps in mind potential character deformations during animation.

Next, coat the model with albedo textures for the first time. Thanks to the well-lit environment from step one, you will appreciate the clean base for the upcoming material tweaking.

Step 5: Now is the time for your the riggers, to set up the character and have fun exploring any number of ideas and scenarios. Get creative in the kitchen! You may sample a wide range of expressions and graceful poses when preparing your masterpiece for the hungry audience.

Step 6: While we waited for the riggers to pose the model, we hand-made a few items with photometric textures for the character to interact with. These require some PBR expertise to achieve a cohesive and realistic scene, but the effort is worth it.

Step 7: Once done with the final garnish, share the fruits of your labor with your art-starved friends. Voilà! They will be sure to provide their compliments to the chef and will certainly be hungry for more.


Producer: Tom Roller
Artists: Chris Torchia, Mikhail Rychagov, Artem Shiryaev, Jakub Krompolc
Support: Hamish Bryce, Martin Korman