The core prop for our prototype scene is the Haida shaman mask, which has influenced the design of the scene and the story used to tell it. To create a realistic representation of this object in the scene, I developed a 3D model in Maya and imported it into Unity to use as an interactive asset. This post covers the process of taking the mast from a reference photo to an interactive 3D model.

The Haida shamanic mask from the Wellcome collection is the primary  object for our prototype.

The Haida shamanic mask as seen in the Wellcome Collection.

Photos of the object from the Wellcome Collection were used as a reference. Rachel Taylor created a front-and-side pen sketch of the object from these photos to use as reference for 3D modelling.

Rachel's pen rendering of the mask.

Rachel’s pen rendering of the mask.

I set up the sketch as a planar reference image in Maya, around which I would model the 3D mask.

The reference image used in Maya to shape a 3D plane surface.

The reference image used in Maya to shape a 3D plane surface.

As the mask design is largely symmetrical, I modelled half of the object first, later mirroring the geometry to create the full 3D object. Initially, I used a flat plane to build the general shape of the mask and set up the geometry for extruding features like the eyes, nose and mouth. These polygons were then extruded to create a 3D ‘half-mask.’

Half of the mask extruded into a 3D object.

Half of the mask extruded into a 3D object.

I used vertex modelling and face manipulation to sculpt the half of the mask into the correct shape and add the more complex detail such as the nose and lips. When the model was complete for half of the mask, I used the mirror tool to mirror the geometry and merge the vertex seam, creating a seamless model of the whole mask.

The full 3D model of the mask before texturing.

The full 3D model of the mask before texturing.

The colouring of the actual mask is fairly crudely painted onto a pale wood. I used a simple wood texture to simulate this effect in 3D, and hand-textured the areas of the mask that required colour. The colours on the model are slightly simpler and bolder than those on the real mask, to help the object stand out again the background when used in-game.

The fully textured mask in Maya.

The fully textured mask in Maya.

Loading the 3D model into Unity was simple, thanks to Maya’s Unity-specific export function. The final assets are an .fbx model and the associated materials for texture and colour.

The mask model as it appear in Unity.

The mask model as it appears in Unity.

Unity’s modular nature made implementing the model in the scene simple – I already had a working mask model and script using a temporary white-box asset, so all that was required was to point the script at the new mask model and the mask was up-and-running in the scene.

 

Share this post.