League of Legends Battlecast Illaoi, Behind the Scenes of 3D Modeling

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Back towards the end of December, we covered what it took to create the fan-voted Battlecast Illaoi skin from a simple concept, to an actualised champion in the world of League of Legends. The process was filled with ups and downs, rejected ideas, new revamps, and more. Now that the concept is completely finalised, it's time to put it into action and Riot Games has done just that with a sneak peek for fans to come along for the ride!

Though the name isn't set in stone yet, her overall design is. The first step into making the final product within the game begins with proper 3D modeling, and this is the process that the champion has undergone for her latest skin.

"Once the concept was nearly finalized, we took a look at it from a 3D perspective and made some adjustments for readability both in shapes and colors," said Riot Games' SilverUnicorn. "We got rid of the white paint markings both on her arm guard and the robot head because they were starting to read as highlights and were causing some confusion. We consolidated the materials, brightened up the head, hair, and goggles, and cooled off the greens that were fabrics (the leather greens are warmer)."

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(Photo: Riot)

With a few design flaws, the team noticed that the original markings on her face had to go - it looked too much like an extra set of eyes. Though that could have looked cool, it wasn't exactly what they were aiming for here, "When we start the modeling process for the skin, we’re restricted to using the base rig, or the skeleton for the champion. We started off by taking the old Illaoi model and ripping out parts to build a base body for the new skin. We began this process before the concept was locked-in because it can take a long time. We couldn’t start working on everything for the skin though, so we started off by modeling the parts we were most likely to keep."

Creating the basic model took a little finagling, but ultimately it needed to fit in with how the champion moves during a match. The skin needs to match with both who the character is and how she's perceived by other players. Because of that - base model needed to be perfect. Once that was all set up and ready to go, it was time to move onto a little refining:

"Once the model was done, we set up her smoothing groups, which will take her from a blocky model to something more refined for in game. Afterwards, we did what’s called an “ambient occlusion bake,” which is how we start building-out textures. Textures are 2D images that wrap around the model and bring it to life with vibrant colors and details—for example, you see this in fabrics, such as cloth, leather, and gold."

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(Photo: Riot)

"Once the ambient occlusion bake was done and the concept art was finalized, it was time to start adding colors and details. The first step in this is to add some flat colors on a Hard Light layer, which is a base layer of color we can then add more details to. We like to use a Hard Light layer because it can really bring out the colors and make them richer." After the ambient occlusion bake, the colouring process truly began. From painting the darker skin tone, to what the armor would look like -it was an intricate balance between making her looking like the champion she is, while also staying true to the Battlecast concept design.

There's still some texturization work needing to be done, and final tweaks are still being made. At the time of their blog post, the model was at about 40% complete, so don't judge her quite yet by how she looks at the top!

The team finally wrapped up their inside look at some other brainstorming ideas as far as this champion's kit goes. From FX, to animation, here's how they closed:

AUDIO/SFX

  • Separate sound effects for hitting the clone created by her E
  • Partial process VO on certain words, especially when mad

VFX

  • E – Pulls out a hologram- or scanline-type thing that smokes and sparks when hit or has a chromatic shift
  • E – Wires come out all snakey and form over each other and then grab
  • R – Jetpack for the dunk
  • R – Burst, electricity, smoke, or wires
  • R – Crack on ground that’s a target or a symbol of the Resistance
  • Rumbling pipes in the totem
  • During activation, totem opens up
  • When cursed, there’s a hacky screen overlay
  • Electricity going through the wires in the totem

ANIMATION/RECALLS

  • Recalls:
    • Tweak totem to project the Resistance symbol
    • Sneaks into underground bunker
    • Slams Viktor’s bunker and beats him up
    • Turns totem upside down and uses it as a salsa bowl
    • Turns totem upside down and plays with the wiring
    • Throws totem down, stands on it and pulls out a Resistance flag
  • Dance: Puts totem on her head and dances the robot
  • Death: Illaoi takes out a bomb and explodes
  • Totem cries out in pain when hit
  • Totem laughs at jokes
  • Jetpack for homeguard

These are just a few of the ideas we had and, unfortunately, most will not make the cut. Some won’t work in the game, others are maybe too absurd, and some are out of scope for the skin.

By our next update, we should have a better idea of what her kit will look like and we’ll have started to build out her abilities.

(via League of Legends)