For this project i decided to model a Ceremonial knife from the newest Far Cry video game. I liked the design because of its simplicity yet also its complexity in certain areas of the geometry and topology.
I started this project by finding some reference photos online as well as attempting to get a good picture of it from the game itself, however I found it very difficult to get a good unobstructed profile view of the knife to use as my model reference. After messing around for too long trying to get a good picture i decided to draw my own reference picture. This let me get the proportions just the way i wanted to. I opened up Photoshop and painted a quick estimation to how i wanted the knife to look. I didn't worry about any details just yet as i didn't want to worry too much about how it looked until i had a base model done and could experiment with what looked good and what didn't.
When actually modeling the knife I started with the outline shape of the largest and simplest part of the knife, the blade itself. It is a fairly simple shape and I wanted to start placing vertices down to get a good reference for the mirror modifier to be reflected about. After this i jumped around all over the place working on small parts at a time. When modeling I find it best to jump around often to places you would know how to approach and mindlessly fill in the gaps while thinking about how to do the more topologically complex areas.
The hardest parts on the model were the sharks tail as well as the scales on the handle. The tail was so hard because my goal for this project was to keep the entire model as one mesh. This caused some really difficult topological problems in the tail where is starts to curve around over top of itself.
In addition to the shark, the scales where quite hard as well, not because of the topology (in fact they are quite simplistic in their geometry) because of the sheer number of them. Most of the scales are duplicates of the others but a fair number of them (all the ones on the seams and at the head and base of the handle) were done individually. As well even the copies had to be individually linked to the previous scale by hand.
Unwrapping this model in some parts were very simple and nice and easy while in some parts were a total nightmare and consumed a lot of my time. The majority of the knife auto unwrapped very well with no help other than a seem down the entirety of the center edge loop. The only issue on the blade was that part of the sharks tail seemed to over lap on the base of the blade.
The parts that showed the issue unwrapping were the overlapping parts on the sharks tail fin as well as each individual scale of the handle. In order to get the scales to be unwrapped appropriately I had to go back and mark a seam around each individual scale. After marking the seams I had to move them all in to one position and have them overlapping so that I could paint one spot in Photoshop and have it transfer over to each individual scale. Just moving and positioning these scales properly took about 3 hours as there are over 250 scales on half of the handle alone.
The picture on the left shows the final unwrapped piece. The handle is in the top / middle right, the blade is along the bottom and the very small pieces on the left consist of small pieces from the sharks tail, gills, and the inside of the mouth.
On the right is the UV Map after being painted in Photoshop, and below are two references to show the model before and after the UV Map was applied.
The final rendering was completed with both a 4 times subsurface modifier and mirror modifier. After the two modifiers where completed the resulting model had over half a million vertices and faces.