Since I enjoy a challenge I did not shy away from this curious assignment. So to start off, I needed good reference material. I needed to go beyond just finding high resolution imagery of various cows and start digging deeper. So I proceeded with gathering many different references, including some authentic World War II photography from the German Bundesarchiv as well as some anatomical diagrams of a cow's skeletal structure and its musculature.
|As you can tell, this cow clearly could not manage to pass away elegantly. The resulting challenge: how can I make it authentic, yet avoid creating something that is bordering on ridiculous? The answer to that question was obviously to tone down the extreme pose that cows seem to find themselves in when they die, simply to avoid disrupting a player's sense of immersion. On the other hand, the pose was quite useful in regards to making this dead cow stick out from a sea of grass. I imagined a player's situation, running across a wide-open field with limited options for cover, only to see a leg or two sticking up into the air as an indication for temporary improvised shelter from whizzing bullets.|
Next up was the creation of the diffuse map, not as small a feat as it may seem at first glance. I decided to go with hand-painting it entirely with my pen tablet. I wagered that the additional amount of work would be worth the investment if the outcome was of arguably high quality. Usually, I would create textures with a blend of photographic and hand-painted elements. For this specific project, I went and created the fur one strand of hair at a time, basically consisting of hundreds, if not thousands of individual brush strokes. All the while I was fully aware that 99% of all players would run by this cow many times without even really looking at it, so I did not want to spend too much time by getting lost in details.
In the end it was worth the effort but I still have some refinements that I want to make.
I hope you enjoyed this entry of our dev blog and I look forward to sharing more of my work with our team and the audience/players.
We are still looking for talented individuals to join us on the team, so if you think you might have what it takes or if you are just curious then you can check out our recruitment page for full details.