So I picked up a nifty copy of Marmoset's Toolbag, and it's actually taught me a ton, about how everything works for textures and the like. Sometimes, cranking the 'detail' as I view it, so to speak, of a 3D Mesh, isn't what you want to do. Honestly I always assumed a mesh/model was 60-70% Texture, but I'm now leaning more on the 85% Texture, 15% Mesh.
As an example, on my Barrel model (for The Hunted) I learned that adding a 'dividing line', a raised piece to make it look pretty in the viewpoint rendering, is really completely un-needed. Amusingly enough, it's actually -hindering- my ability to go farther!
So I'm redoing the model/mesh (really simple, just a cylinder really :P, I just put nice edges on it.), and hopefully I'll get it done right this time. Now, onto a word about textures, Photorealism is non-existent. Period. You can-NOT take a stock texture image, from say, CG Textures, and expect to plop it on, and have it look perfectly *right* away. Yes normal mapping and the like helps it look great, but actually touching it up, learning how seams join together texture wise, and the like, eats more time then it typically takes me to -make- the (relatively) low-poly meshes I've done.
This leads me to believe I need to learn a hell of a lot more artistically, now, I've always told myself the skill-level I have can be refined, but I'll never reach the point some of the more amazing guy's here (Overgrowth, Northern Ireland, Warm Gun, Age of Chivalry, Pirates Knights & Vikings 2, god the list is endless.), due to my lack of an 'artistic' background, hell, I'm a writer and a gamer by self-described skillset. Not an artist, I can't even draw a simple circle to be frank :P
So at this point, while I feel I -can- improve my skills in this area, I have a feeling I'll be hitting some brick walls fairly fast, until I can overcome my inability to create my own concepts, and bring them to life. I've always (well, not always, but I'm getting there :P) had a fair ability to bring others concepts, blueprints, or images to 3D, such as with weapons, and to a degree scenes even. But, I feel at this point, I have a crapload of work ahead of me to actually make them 'useable' by any game-standard.
SO this caffeine fueled rant sends me back into playing around with Gimp to carve-out a texture or two, to stare at till they drive me mad, and I shoot my monitor afew times :P
Yes this little insight was heavily inspired by the active hand projects like Overgrowth have taken in the community, explaining the skills, difficulties and principles behind working on a project.