The main problem with my characters, aside from aesthetic things, is the fact that they usually cannot deform properly or work in engine, two things we decided to include in the goal of this project.
Needed to brush up on my modelling skills, so I made a generic looking dude concentrating on proper edge flow and basic blocking out of anatomy, with no zbrush.
Here's some progress.
After getting a load of crits [thank you Del!] I focused on correcting things like uneven polygon distribution and the smooth flow of verts, as well as the overall posture.
Here's the result I've got so far.
Clocks in at 5296 tris including the head. Neither the proportions or topology are totally correct, but next is a rigging test to see how it holds up with deformations.
"-Is it essential to be able to rig characters, or just understand enough about how animation works to build the mesh correctly?
Placing bones and skin weighting I think is pretty essential as it’s the only way you can pose your characters to show them off and the only way you can really judge if your mesh is any good once it becomes an animated character. This is not the same as being a rigging expert though. To test elbow deformation all you need are the major bones and the skin weights, this a character artist should be able to do. To rig an elbow properly you might need to set up FK and IK and pole vectors and a UI. This wouldn’t be part of a usual character artist’s job scope."
^ Jolyon Webb in response to my incessant questions [thanks!]. A little clearer on what I have to do now. Will post the results of how I get on.