In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hi my name is Dennis Kurzeja. I am a student of Game Design. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my 3D game character creation.
Let me tell you about my inspiration first. This character was purely an exercise in creating a stylized lowpoly character, as my older works usually tried to achieve photorealism with high poly budgets and texture resolutions. I recently discovered for myself, that I am better at creating stylized artworks instead of just copying reality. Photo realism creates all sorts of problems. You need expensive shaders, lighting and high resolution texture and topology to get it right but just one mistake is enough to throw everything off; And the human brain is excellent at noticing them.
Developing a unique art style is very beneficial to your game project. Instead of losing yourself in details, you can focus on the overall design and save a lot of resources. Both in computer performance and budget. I recommend doing so especially for mobile game teams and small indie teams. Of course, in return you will need an artistic eye and spend some time in pre-production. Be prepared to face a lot of iteration. Which brings me to my Anju character model.
The design is based on an artwork by Joakim Sandberg (below). I really like his artworks, so I decided to take one and turn it 3D.
My tools for this were 3D Studio Max, ZBrush and Photoshop. The Head was the most difficult part. It took a lot of iterations until it stopped looking creepy. Taking screenshots to flip the image and taking a break to look at it again the next day helped me to constantly refine it.
After that, I made a rough sculpt of the body in ZBrush and retopologized it back in 3dsMax, using the GoZ feature to swap the model between the two. When modeling the body I recommend checking the silhouette frequently, by turning it fully black. It will help you to get a better feeling for the character’s structure and proportion.
After that, I did a quick unwrap and started painting textures. I primarily use Photoshop for texture painting but I like to use the polypaint feature in ZBrush for fixing seams. Even though there is more sophisticated 3D texture painting software out there, I like using polypaint in ZBrush because it’s data is stored separately. With GoZ, you can import the model into another application, change the UVW layout, then port it back into ZBrush and apply your stored polypaint data again to create a new texture that updates into the new UVW layout. It gives your workflow more flexibility, so you can focus on the design aspects, instead of getting slowed down by technical difficulties. This works only in the same session though. So if you import your model into 3ds max, make changes to the layout, but don’t import it back into ZBrush in the same session, the model won’t be recognized in the next session and your polypaint data is lost.
At the end I posed the character into a running position similar to the original artwork and modeled the skirt over the legs accordingly. Of course, this will end up with a model not suitable for animation but I did it this way, in order to speed up the process, as this was only meant for practise. If I had modeled the skirt in a T-Pose and then altered it into a running pose, texture stretches would be clearly visible. I also doubt that a lowpoly character in a long skirt will be capable of such movements unless you increase the polycount.
Finally I modeled the plate with the food separately and did some rendering test using a cell shading like shader in 3ds max and baked the lighting into the texture for upload to sketchfab.
Thanks for reading!
You can see more of Dennis’ work on his Sketchfab profile page.