Wrapped up a new character for use in the next Retro Convoy short (aptly titled "Compressor").
This character was unique in that I needed custom actions, including the ability to "crush" the entire character (the short pays off with the death of the Compressor, compressed against a wall. Comedy!).
I used a lattice for this effect, and then made a shapekey driven by a bone (if you want your character to be linkable between Blender files, any shapekeys must be bone driven, as meshes are only referenced in a linked file).
The armor plating was done by first creating the base mesh, then selecting the faces that are to be used for the armor. Duplicate and separate said faces, and then apply a solidify, subsurf, etc.
This step is done AFTER the weight painting on the main mesh, so the armor plating is already weight-painted (Blender intelligently saves all that data when splitting our geo from the main mesh. Huge time-saver! Always analyze your workflow; it would make sense to model the plates as part of the early modeling phase, but doing this later saves us a lot of work.
I had an issue with the mirror modifier. It was mirroring the geo properly, but moving the left arm would also move the right armor piece. By simply moving the mirror modifier ABOVE the armature modifier, Blender detects that it should mirror the rig influence, and does so seamlessly behind the scenes (assuming your rig follows proper naming conventions, I.E; L.HandIK, R.Hand.IK). We're using rigify, so thankfully all conventions are followed by default.
Not even sure if these extendable goggles will be used in the short, but they look cool.
Really happy with this character overall. We were able to use some new techniques (lattice modifier) and I learned some new functionality regarding the mirror modifier (put it above the armature modifier!). With this character I plan to leave all the modifiers on perpetually, as that gives me room to update the character or easily create "alternative" versions by modifying the armor/textures.
Now, let's talk about some lore.
The Compressor is a data thief, capable of compressing and sealing massive quantities of data with his Compression Bracelet.
Compressors operate as individuals, not associated with the Space Pirates or any other "organization." They steal and re-purpose data, either to create and-resell their own content or to partition it out in pieces, selling those pieces to dealers and brokers throughout the Outer Colonies.
Compressors are more technologically proficient than their utilitarian counter-parts, the Space Pirates. Compressors are often creatives themselves, working on their own projects. They fancy themselves as righteous outlaws, stealing from the "rich" (anyone) to give to the "poor" (themselves).
Compressors often fly modified vehicles, utilizing stolen tech to increase the speed and firepower of their rides. Retro-fitting and re-purposing vehicles and tech is the name of the game in the Outer Colonies, and Compressors see themselves as ahead of the curve.
Without centralized government and law, Compressors present a threat to any individual or enterprise seeking to do business in the Outer Colonies, so watch out for them.
Retro Convoy: Compressor coming soon!