Art Spotlight: Astro's Monsters

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About Me

Hey, Sketchfab community! My name is Lex and I’m a 3D artist based in Montreal in the French-speaking province of Quebec, Canada. I specialise in modeling and texturing of all kinds but prefer a cartoonish and colourful style. I’m constantly inspired by the city, street art, and nature around me.

I’ve had the chance to work on several interactive multimedia projects, indie games, and mobile apps. I’m now exploring the freelance world and working on commissioned projects that encourage me to develop my style. I’m always open for freelance opportunities and collaborations so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Inspiration for Astro’s Monsters

If you’ve ever been to Montreal, you know that the city is full of murals. There is even an annual mural fest where local and international artists paint new street art live on the iconic St-Laurent Boulevard.

Going to the studio every day, I would pass in front of these giant murals of fantastic creatures and I really liked the colors, the movement, and the energy that artists achieved to give life to a wall. I particularly love the murals of a local artist whose work I’ve seen all over the city. With his recognisable style, I was able to find him on Instagram. His name is Astro. You’ll find his social media links below, at the end of the article.

I really like his style and wanted to do a first collab with him. I decided to ask him whether I could recreate some of his characters in my 3D style and he immediately accepted.

He sent me multiple characters and I chose a couple to make a quick montage with them.

astro's monsters concept


I began by modeling each character in 3ds Max. Since this project was not meant to be sold or used for video games, I felt free to have a lot of polygons and make it as smooth as I wanted.

For this project, I used 3ds Max because it’s what I’m most comfortable working with. I used to work a lot in Maya and I’m learning Blender in my free time so I may post models made in Blender soon! I’m most interested in real-time viewports (lighting, fx, and shaders) which are better developed in Blender.

astro's monsters blender wireframe


After the modeling was finished, I imported the models into Substance Painter for the texture.

I’ve been using Substance Painter for years now and I love it! It makes it easy to paint directly on your model. The viewport is nice and there are already a lot of materials and brushes to play around with. I also like that they let you isolate the parts by materials.

I wanted the skin to have a plasticine texture while keeping in mind that I wanted the final result of the characters to look like plastic toys.

For the parts that are made in wood, I used a standard wood material available in Substance Painter. I used it as a normal map and kept it really large, to only have some random wood grain. I also added some holes in the wood with a round brush and put some tribal paint on it.

astro's monsters texture


The last step was to export to Sketchfab! I always love this step because between 3ds Max and Substance Painter, I sometimes have no idea how the final render is going to look. When I’m ready to put it all in Sketchfab and adjust my lighting and effects, it’s very exciting for me to see it all come together.

One option I really like in Sketchfab is the Subsurface Scattering. I think it should be available in more viewports and video game shaders because I use it a lot! It makes the light pass through the model and can give a jelly, fleshy, or waxy look. It can also be used on leaves to give a backlit effect. When they first added it to Sketchfab, I was so happy and passed hours playing with the settings and models.

Also, when it’s not a videogame prop or something I want to sell, I like to put many different materials on my models. This way, it’s easier for me to adjust my materials separately in Sketchfab and sometimes change colours or reflectivity, etc. It’s much easier to play with it than if you have everything on one map and have to go back and forth in Substance Painter to adjust textures.

Some final thoughts

I’m pretty happy with the final result and Astro was too! I hope there will be more occasions in the future to work with him and other fantastic graffiti artists.

Thank you for reading about this project. To see more of my work, you can visit my Sketchfab page and follow me on Twitter.

A big thank you to Astro for this collaboration and I invite you to visit his links below to see more of his amazing artwork!

Astro on: Instagram / Website / Behance


About the author

Lex Charland

3D artist working in the video games industry in Montreal.

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