After I finished working on Hitman Blood Money back in 2006, I started working as Lead Character Artist on Hitman Absolution. I worked with the talented programmers at IO Interactive to develop the entire production pipeline for characters and created 100s of characters for the game. The work displayed here is just a small part of the work I did for IO Interactive between 2006 and 2011.
Creating characters for a Hitman game poses many challenges that most other games don’t have. Besides creating a living, breathing world with 100s of characters, Agent 47 has the option of taking the clothing of the other characters in the game as a disguise. This means that unlike most other games Hitman have 100s of possible hero characters. This created a huge challenge for the very small character team to manage.
What you see are the actual low poly game assets I created for the game. Each character is about 12.000 faces (triangles) and uses 120 bones.
Images rendered in 3ds Max using Mental Ray and V-ray.
In order to create all the characters on time, we tried to keep a maximum of 10 work days spent on each, which included up to 5 variations, different faces, hats, etc. but also an undressed version in underwear and a version with Agent 47’s face and body. The work also included rigging and skinning the characters.
Certain, more reusable, parts would get some extra attention… below you see the high resolution version of Agent 47’s hands.
These renders have all been rendered outside the game engine for the sake of uncompressed presentation. To really show off the details I used Mental Ray and V-ray to render the characters inside 3ds Max. The background is a HDR image that I used to light the scene, or a 3D photo studio I build like in the image below.
For textures we use Diffuse, Normal Map and a Specular. The faces would also use a translucency map. Clothing and skin would, in many cases, use tile-able detail normal maps for when the camera get extra close to the character. Additional Cube/environment and gloss maps were used when it made sense for metallic or other reflective surfaces.
As we created more and more characters we built up a huge library of character assets, pants, shoes, shirts etc. That meant, towards the end of the project, we were able to create characters in a rapid speed by reusing elements from other characters, sometimes as fast as a day or two.
We used ZBrush and 3ds Max to create most of the characters, however a series of in-house developed plugins were also used to handle all the variations of the characters, face rigging and various other elements.
The character designs were, for the most part, created based on concept drawings done by the very skilled Concept Art department at IO Interactive.
To cope with the gigantic work load, we used 3D scanning to help create some of the many heads needed for the game. But several of the main characters’ heads, like Agent 47, were still created the old fashioned way.
The two girls above were given extra polygons to keep jagged edges to a minimum, you know, for the sake of realism.
To achieve more realistic skin shader in the game, special post filters were added to create a translucent subsurface scattering effect.
Hair was another huge task, and we experimented a lot with different methods and technology. But in the end, the simple technique of modeling planes with alpha maps was adopted.
The tattoo on the character above was done by the great Oskar Lundqvist.
Hitman Absolution is set to hit the stores November 20 – 2012 on PC, PS3 and XBOX 360.
Thanks for reading; You can now read Part Two here.
A Huge thanks to IO Interactive.