There are many different artistic methods that can be taken in order to replicate the real world. For the longest time, drawing and painting were the most favoured methods but were always restricted to the 2 dimensional. Now artists have ventured towards digital replication and the achievements are outstanding and forever improving. Rise of the Tomb Raider has elevated real world replication via the medium of video games, both technically and visually.
Replication of real world objects is a lengthy process which yields satisfying results. In film and visual effects, there aren’t really any set limits to the amount of detail an artist can apply to an asset. In the end, each frame is rendered out as an image or multiple images. That is not the case in video games since everything is rendered in real time. But the limitation of polycount does not limit a game artist, not at all.
Game artist will take a few more steps in order to make their asset game ready. Generally, a artist will model their asset with the greatest detail, a high poly, as well as painting the texture. Once that is complete, a low poly model will be created. This is the model that will be in game. This is when the magic is applied. The artist gathers all the information from the high poly model and applies it to the low poly model via 4 different image maps. A diffuse map, a normal map, a specular map and a gloss map. These maps give the illusion of a very detailed model but without the heavy load of polycount.
With these steps, artists are able to replicate life without being limited and what they are creating is simply gorgeous. Rise of the Tomb Raider has many stunning environments and is an excellent example of game asset creation. The game artists have studied the real world and use their 3D skills in order to create it in a game environment.
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