I've been doing a quick experiment with Photoshop's automatic indexing to get sprites with a small amount of colours quickly and easily, and so far it's come out a lot better than I thought it would.
If I can get a slightly cleaner result from this method it will allow me to manage palettes easily and also gives me a lot of space to separate each body part into a unique colour. Unfortunately my main hang-up is that the model is too low-poly to get a smooth result (Gamecube graphics, what can you do?) and I'm hardly a 3D artist.
edit: Okay I've got this down pretty much as good as it will get - save for a few messy spots like his right knee which is easy enough to edit out later. I've also gone and improved how the lighting hits the model.
As you can see on the left is how much is sprite is separated into unique palette colours. I've got well other 40 colours to work with which lets me make the alternate player colours better variations than changing the entire colour of his body, for example.
The models are all derived from Poképark, Smash or the nearest available way to extract rigged 3D models (alas nobody has a quick any easy way to get rigged and weighted models from PBR yet, although I got t-pose rips from XD)
His shoulders definitely appear to have gotten messed up when I was squashing and scaling the bones around, so I'm planning on going back to the original model and re-doing it soon. Thankfully it's easy enough to save and load animations onto different models.
Another issue is that the Poképark models don't put a lot of detail into some of the finer points on the rigs. I haven't seen a single model with fully posable hands. Most of them, like Blaziken, have a single finger bone but no joints - which means they can bend their whole fingers up and down but not curl them into a fist. Others have it even worse - Machamp doesn't even have individual fingers. Trying to fix them up to have proper working hands is going to be my real test of working with 3D modelling.
Several Wii games, including the Poképark series, use a standard format for character models and the container (BRRES) in general. It just so happens to hold all the model data, bone structure, texture maps and animation data in one file. These can easily be converted to PSK mesh and PSA animation files, although there's a few glitches in materials like fire effects.
Otherwise there's also a large amount of Pokémon models that have been ripped and rigged for use into Garry's Mod, trivial to convert back into usable files.
I've got sources for most Pokémon I'd ever need, and more being added daily thanks to the works of the people over at Facepunch who are converting Pokémon models into Garry's mod. If I learn rigging I could have a rigged model of any Pokémon from Gen III and below taken from XD.
In other news, I would have most of the graphics I need ready to start programming a character however my copy of 3DS Max now needs activation, and Autodesk's Student community website has been unusable due to an error somewhere for a few days now.
I absolutely adore the graphics on this game (Along with the fact that Blaziken is my favourite Pokemon) and I think that this project will be a huge success. I want to suggest some Pokemon for you, so here they are:
Samurott (The game is named after it)
It's just a random bunch of Pokemon, most of them being my favourites.