Creating the Warrior
To give context as to why I created this warrior is the fact that I love knights and the design around knights. From the Dark Souls grim, fantasy aesthetic to Age of Empires more realistic approach. So I wanted there to be 4 layers, the first being the body, the second being a under garment for warmth, the third being the armour plating, the 4th being the Skirt, Cape and Sword.
I created the model initially in Maya, unwrapping in roadkill, then moved it over to Z brush for further detail. I did the same for each layer, and moved them back with Topogun. Admittedly I found my first mistake here, as I wasn't keeping a kean eye on my polycount and the count shot right up. I didn't take into consideration the smoothing which would be coming later and made the face too poly heavy from Z brush.
I used substance painter for the textures on the metals, which includes the AO maps, Texture maps and Spec maps. I used photoshop to convert images into normal maps for the grain on the metal, and proceeded to tidy it up so it just fit within the UV map to make it easier to understand. I painted the feet and the skin manually with the maya brush, however I believe I could've done a much better job in photoshop. The hair was created with Z brush fibers and then manipulated within Maya (nHair). During rendering I had issues with the render image looking different to the view port, which I discovered was due to not using a linear work flow in colour management. (View port with 2.2gamma, rather than Raw and outputting with RGBLinear).
Overall this isn't the best piece I've created, however It was a very important one. I made many amateur mistakes on this piece which taught me a lot about proper production flow and how to make a successful model. I'm not completely satisfied with the outcome, but I am currently under going quite a large project for a new show-reel, so I don't have time to make a fresh new model to replace this one yet.
As for things I learnt the hard way. Keep the poly count as low as possible whilst keeping the detail. Focus more on making each map good rather than using the model as a substitute. Make sure the colour management is set correctly throughout. Remember smoothing will multiply your poly count roughly by 4. Take into consideration how much time there is to finish a project and how much time each individual within the team needs to complete their tasks. My animators found my model a bit too tricky to animate with the time given considering it's complexity. Generally I would've preferred to have added more detail to each segment of the model, however it was too much to do in too little time considering all the other projects I had running simultaneously (VFX, 3 other Models, Rigging, Lighting, Rendering and Directorial duties.) Still, this is an example I'm using of a great learning experience I had in the 3rd year of university. The best advice I can offer is to keep your models simple but very good and build up from there.