Art Spotlight: Alien

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I’m a self taught artist from South Africa and  I started doing CG as a hobby about 8 years ago, using mainly Blender 3D, and other open-source apps like Gimp. About 3 years ago I started doing small freelance jobs for random people online, and it has since grown into my full time work. During my creative journey I also branched out into other software packages like ZBrush and Substance Painter, and I’m currently doing quite a bit of games related modeling and texturing work. I’ve been following the Sketchfab community with great interest, and I’ve recently started uploading real-time versions of some of my artworks.

I can’t exactly remember where I found the inspiration for this particular piece. I’ve always been  inspired by Ents in Middle Earth and Spriggans in Skyrim. The idea of a walking, talking plant or tree just seems so cool, and so  I guess I decided to go with a Mushroom design for the challenge, because mushrooms look a bit alien to me. I made a very rough sketch, just to get the design idea to “stick” in my head, and then started blocking out the forms in ZBrush and Blender.

Once I had the forms, I took everything to ZBrush and started sculpting details in Dynamesh mode, making sure to keep the polygroups around as long as possible, in order to isolate different areas on work on them individually:

I combined ZBrush’s Zremesher and Blender’s retopology tools to get a quick retopology, and then unwrapped everything with Blender’s UV tools:

I also baked the Normal map and AO map in Blender, and baked a thickness map in Substance Painter. The thickness map was pretty important later on, as I used it to generate several effects.

Finally I took all the geometry to Substance Painter and painted the diffuse map, and used the thickness map to simulate a bit of Sub-Surface scattering and emission in the thinner parts:

I also used the Curvature map generated in Substance Painter to subtly darken the crevices, and painted a roughness map. I used a generator in Substance Painter to get the tops of the mushrooms a red color, while keeping the bottoms yellowish, and less glossy.

From Substance Painter I quickly exported the PBR textures to Sketchfab, along with the posed geometry from Blender,  and started playing with the lighting and PBR materials. I went through a process of trial and error to get a nice result, and I was able to generate a very lovely sci-fi/painterly/comic book effect, mainly through using Sketchfab’s filter system, and using some fill and rim lights to help out the HDRI reflections. I was particularly impressed with the sharpen and grain filters, which helped achieve that over-the-top sci-fi look. In the end I also saturated the midtones a bit, just for extra “pop”.


If you’d like to see more of my work, catch me at:




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Seori Sachs

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