I've tried the Low to Hi-Poly pipeline for a game asset, using Zbrush to add details to the UV'd Maya Mesh.
The Concept art I've followed is from Dungeons and Dragons. I used custom IMMs from Custom Alphas made in Photoshop for the smaller details, and Snapshot 3D from the lightbox and Union Booleans to create the floreal patterns.
For the Normal Map baking I experimented with a Cage Mesh, with great results.
I used two materials, a Lambert for the axe and a Blinn for the gems, in order to achieve better contrast and reflectivity. Furthermore, the gems have a double resolution in the UV Map. Considering that they are all stacked together, this allows for better texture painting (I used this custom material from Poligone https://gumroad.com/poligone?sort=newest#hkcHr ) with a minimum impact on the UV Map layout.
I've kept the polycount larger than usual, not deleting the bevels for the SubD in the lowpoly, to not mess with the UVs, which makes me conclude with the belief that the Hi to Low pipeline, with retopology, is still the best for videogames.
Made in Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, Zbrush and Substance Painter.
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