FMP CHARACTER CREATION
CHARACTER 1: VUMP
First week of FMP!
My brief consists of creating three Characters and presenting them in a real-time format such as marmoset. Each character will have a limit for tri's, texture sheets and extra props. The amount of time spent on each character will be spread throughout 20 weeks; 5 weeks for each character, and 5 weeks extra for any polishing that needs to be done, or stretch goals.
The first job was to look for some concepts! heading straight over to Artstation, i started looking for some dark and gritty concept work for characters that i feel would be best for me to create; something to keep me motivated along the way. I looked at artists such as Ariel Perez, Brian matyas and Ivan Dedov.
I want to showcase the skills i can show; hard surface, organics, anatomy and clothing folds/creases - things i feel are key to a successful character artist. I decided to chose my first concept from Bogdan Rezunenko, titled "vump". I personally feel this is a good concept suited to my style, and showcases plenty of skills which can be presented nicely in a 3d model - Material definition, folds and creases, hair card alphas etc. Not to mention, the character has a bad-ass weapon.
I started making quick lineart over the concept to try and get a feel of the anatomy behind the clothes. Noting that the character has extremely long legs compared to his torso, small head, tight chest and big forearms. These are the proportions i will try and nail down in the scultping process.
This week i tried getting a base down for the head of my model. I put down the opacity on the zbrush viewer and tried to get the correct proportions and features of the characters face - Making sure the eyes, nose and mouth match up to where they're placed on the concept. I'll be using the concept to show the direction of where i will be taking this character, so i won't be following it 100% to the concept, i will add certain details which i feel would fit better in a 3d format.
Once the head had a good start, i decided to move onto the body, creating the anatomy for the character. I used my Native american character's body as a base mesh; Dynameshing, moving topology and just editing the proportions till it matched the lineart created over the concept. Something that sticks out with this character is the hand-to-head ratio. His hands are large and so are his forearms, but his body seems quite slender; so i made sure to keep his waist tightened along with his muscle definition.
I'm modelling the character in something similar to a T-pose, which i will then rig and pose in the same pose as the concept. I tested this out by using transpose in zbrush. The final character will be a total of 60k tris. 2x2048 texture maps and an extra 2x2047 for the weapon.
This week will be focused on detailing out the creases in the leather duster, and adding fine details such as crumples to show material definition. Other aspects to hit this week is to complete the model of the sword, as the detailing in the original concept can be quite hard to make out, i will be following the overall shape, but winging the exact detail.
Polishing up the leather duster and adding general material details. It's time to focus on the smaller parts such as fingers(nails) and skin pours.
This week will be focusing on creating the low poly, getting ready to put it into substance painter for texturing. As i want most of the detail staying true to the face on my highpoly, i will be giving it extra tris than usual to get as much geometry as possible. Rather than modeling the whole shape of the duster, i will be re-topologizing the outer layer in topogun, and once in 3dsmax i'll be using the shell modifier to give it an inner layer.
Once the retopologizing was out of the way, i sorted out my UVS to how i think would be best appropriate - face & skin, Leathers, Boots, i tried to seperate my texture sheets according mostly to materials. Once my Low poly was created, i threw it into substance painter. I tried experimenting with things that could give vump a little more character - such as blood from his face as he's a vampire... I decided to try and stay as true to the concept as much as i could- and decided not to go with it.
The tricky part for this stage was getting colour variations in the leather. Different lighting in the viewport showed different results; i decided to go for more of a dark brown leather rather than black, to really make the colour variation stand out a little more.
This week was spent finishing things up. This character took a little longer than i thought, but it was down to learning new techniques that would benefit me in the future to be more efficient.
Once i had the character textured, i put the low poly in max along with the Albedo textures for each material. This made a good base for placing my hair alphas without seeing any empty spots to distract me. I baked the hair alphas in Xnormals and used the anistropy slider in marmoset to get natural lighting reflections on the hair. I decided to change the hairstyle from the concept and go for something a little more modern.
The pose and overall character came out pretty much spot on when looked at side by side, i'm happy with the outcome but after receiving crit from the tutors and other peers, i know areas i could improve; with the main thing being symmetry.
The start of a new character! I decided to go for a concept created by Jason Nguyen (https://www.artstation.com/artwork/Lb2qR) Labelled "fire Mystic". The reason i chose this concept was because it had a clear front and back illustration, along with an awesome colour scheme and mask design!
I started by scultping the mask, hair and the hood. This was just to get a rough estimate of how things are going to be in proportion ( how low his head will be in compared to the hood, as it's very low down in the concept ) Once this was pretty much set in place, i moved onto experimenting with different horns the character could possibly have, rather than the ones displayed in the concept. I didn't want to deviate too far from the concept as i'd be fixing some bodily proportions; i figured that might be enough.
Once i had this down, i moved on to sculpting the torso armor, and the shoulder piece. I gave it simple vertical lines to get a simple wood effect on each piece. I also quickly used fill colours with poly paint to see how the colours would work on the character while in sculpt.
This week was spent finishing up most of the character and polishing things through. Once i had the character finished from the concept, i noticed it was a little empty. I added straps around the body that i thought would fit the character well. This was to attach things that wasn't attached in the concept such as the shoulder piece. I added buckles, but was stuck as to how to design the boots as it's not really clear in the concept. I decided to put a place holder there from my Vump character until i designed a new boot.
I finished the low poly this week, designing the boot went pretty smooth; i decided to go for something very eastern inspired, staying true to the concept. Week 10 was spent making the low poly for my character, This was done in topogun. I managed to hit my ideal tris, aiming for 55k. The overall goal is 60, so i have a few extra tris to spend on the magical daggers i plan on making for presentation purposes in marmoset. I kept everything relatively quads rather than using too many tris; this is because i wanted a cleaner layout when unwrapping, which came out to be rather successful.
After retopologizing and unwrapping, i moved into substance painter. The bake came out pretty much perfect, not many errors; only when it comes to my AO, which i would export and fix up manually by creating new ones from my normals in photoshop. I stayed true to the colours in the concept, but tried experimenting with other materials; seeing if a gold armor and leather straps look would work well. I liked the outcome but preferred the initial colour scheme.
I posed the model in a position i thought would fit the magical daggers, and then exported it from zbrush to marmoset. I set up lighting mainly to focus more on the blue glows, i then made some smoke alphas in 3dsmax and photoshop to go alongside the daggers, and took renders using the marmoset render tool. I took these into photoshop for post-production to enhance the smoke effects, and to fix some colours.
After looking at some concepts on artstation, i went for a cyborg samurai type character from the artist Deepfry. I spent this week trying to get the body proportions spot on for this character, especially the upper body as the lower half is more mechanic. I spent most of this time trying to get face correct. Trying to make it so the ethnicity of the character is clear, without being offensive by exaggerating anything was the main goal.
Things are coming together! I decided i wanted this character to be made with and without the bomber jacket, so i went ahead and sculpted the mechanics of the arm to how i thought it would work best. I also got placeholder pants and bandages sculpted in there too as i spent quite a lot of time on the arm and skin details such as pores.
To see how well the character would look when being textured, i polypainted some skin tones in to try and get a look of how it'll feel when being presented, which i thought came out quite well.
First time attempting shoes and the panels for them, was a weird experience! I spoke to shane, discussing how to go about actually getting a good base sculpted, weather to stay in zbrush or start box modeling in 3dsmax. The decision was to use zmodeler and get the base shape in, and use dynamic sub division to keep a rough shape. As the high tops in the concept are a little unclear, i used the brand Supra as reference, specifically the Supra skytop, chad muska.
I also went a little bit more in-depth with the poly paint, and decided to sharpen up some areas of the body and tattoos.
This week sort of ran in with week 15, during mid week 15 and the whole of 16, i spent learning marvelous designer and how to export the meshes properly, as normals can get all kind's of flipped over in the marvelous process. It's pretty much impossible to find any decent marvelous designer patterns for clothing online, so i just looked at the seams of a bomber jacket in my wardrobe and followed it. It was a pain to get out of marvelous and import in zbrush, because you have to add your own thickness while keeping the different polygroups on the mesh ( cuffs etc ).
I started to add more accessories to the character, introducing a second blade that would be sheathed that is carried from the back but leans towards his side. I went more in-depth on the arm and made the hand fully mech, adding joins similar to the elbows and knees at each knuckle etc.
I also started to sculpt over the bomber jacket, adding in seam details and just more creases over all, to get a more worn-feeling jacket. I also added padding on the inside, so when presented i'll be able to show two visibly different materials on the jacket, alongside the planned dragon embroidery. I also went more in detail on the shorts and mechanics.
This is the week everything crash and burned for my FMP! Turns out, the character i had been working on and finished scultping for upwards of 6 weeks, was corrupted. Goodbye kenzo!! i might return to you in the future! The backup file was so far back i figured i'd just make something new and have fun with it ( being there was only 2 weeks left! I decided to look at inspiration from Heroes of the storm, they have some great characters and skins in there. My biggest inspiration was Thrall and Zul'jin's elemental skins, so i went for a rocky/lava type character, and thought the roman god Vulcan fitted the description.
Everything was a little rushed, and lots of places could be improved but the sculpt took the entire week to finish, keeping in mind i knew it'd be relatively low-poly compared to the rest of my characters.
Carrying straight on from the previous week, i went straight into topogun and did a test bake, making my own metal/lava smart substance material. I got the exact effect i wanted to create, and went ahead and finished the low poly without any breaks during this week. I kept most of the topology in quads so unwrapping and sorting out my UV's went quick and smoothly. I was happy with the result, especially knowing theres only 1 week left till the end!
I reached my goal of 35k tris, using only 31k. This means somewhere down the line, something could have been given more topology, and my thoughs about this is that it could probably have been the weapon!
This was the finishing week of my FMP!
Having gone through the devastating loss of my beloved Kenzo character, i threw my low poly of Vulcan into marmoset and instantly started playing with the emissive sliders and setting up different lighting elements. I wanted to stay true to the god of the forge and fire's nature, so i posed him holding his great hammer in a powerful stance. I got some nice renders to showcase the crack details.
Though there could be major improvements, i'm happy with the outcome, especially as it was such short notice for this character. I definitely feel like the making of Vulcan was the most educating, i learned a lot more and feel as though i became much more efficient being pushed to my limits, and only had 2-3 weeks to get a brand new character, without concept finished to a standard that is presentable.