How to create art assets for a 3d avatar editor

Posted by Andrew Garrison on Game Development See other posts from Game Development or by Andrew Garrison
Published on 2011-02-09T19:57:27Z Indexed on 2011/02/09 23:35 UTC
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I am currently prototyping an idea for an iPhone game. I'd like to create an avatar editor inside the game so that the player can create a 3d avatar face and modify certain features (using slider controls), such as nose shape, eye color, mouth size, etc. This has been done in several games, but what I'm looking to do would be fairly cartoon-ish/caricature-ish, similar to the Mii editor on the Nintendo Wii (http://www.myavatareditor.com/). I'd also like the final result to have the ability to use some canned animations, such as simple speech animations, smiling, frowning, etc.

I am not an artist, so I would be unable to create these assets, but what kind of effort is required for an artist to create the 3d models necessary for this type of game? Also what mechanism would be required to tweak the face's characteristics? Would you use bones or morph targets? How would the final result be animated? Would facial animation use bones or morph targets?

I've seen several tools that do this sort of thing too, such as FacialStudio. Are there any facial generation tools out there you'd recommend for generating some base content for this game, or should I just hire an artist to do this type of work.

Thanks!

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