G’day everyone! My name’s Eric, I’m 23 years old and I live in NSW, Australia! I studied 3D digital art and animation around 5 years ago and since then I’ve been working in various small studios around Sydney and am currently working in archviz. In contrast to my current job I really enjoy more stylised pieces and love making creepy/cutesy things, from environments to characters! 😀
Firstly, I grew up loving everything Pokemon, and it’s been a while since I’ve made anything Pokemon related! Additionally, I also follow a bunch of amazing artists who inspire me on different social media platforms, but for this piece, in particular, I recreated a concept from my super talented friend VivinkArt’s ‘Strayan Pokemon Region, that recently has blown up in popularity! I thought the concept for Drimp was super cute and I really wanted to capture that in 3D!
Before I even start modeling I make sure I have the original concept visible somewhere—usually on another monitor. I also mentally break down the model into pieces and consider how I will animate it down the line. For example, I keep segments separate, like the pincers and the metal ring, so that when I move them around later there won’t be any weird stretching in the model. For 3D modeling, I use Autodesk Maya.
Most of the technique I used here was just extruding shapes from basic primitives and mirroring the mesh to save time. Sometimes I’ll use ZBrush to pump out quick shapes or for detail passing, but since this was such a basic model I kept it all in Maya.
I kept the UV’ing as tightly packed as I could to optimise texture space, stacking similar shells and straightening shells when necessary. I try to keep the texel density uniform across all parts of the model but for some areas that are more obvious (like the eyes and body) I will scale the shells larger to give those areas more texture quality in the final output.
For exporting to work in Substance Painter, I’ll save the file as an .fbx and make sure that there is only one material ID on the mesh (obviously you would add more if they were needed, but for a character like this, one was plenty).
I handle my texturing with Substance Painter. My art style process involves working with masks for most of the texturing and then adding final ‘post-process’ filters into the texture. I import my .fbx model with the Unreal Engine preset and I’m ready to start texturing!
I start off by making an empty group for each component of the model; based on the concept I split the groups by colours and larger components.
I also bake my model to get a bunch of useful maps that will help the process of texturing. For this particular model, I didn’t have a high poly, so I made sure to check the tick-box on the baking options that use the ‘Use Low Poly Mesh as High Poly Mesh’. Artistically I decided against using ambient occlusion because of how much of the model was being animated, and instead hand-painted some bits of AO later in the pipeline.
I then add a fill layer to each group, and create a mask that defines where that colour should be! It’s useful to work in fill layers and handle the painting side of things in the mask, this way you can always come back and change things like colour, roughness, metallic or height at a later point in time.
From here, I like to create a fill layer that sets my roughness to 1 and metallic to 0. I do this so that I don’t get distracted by default roughness glare that doesn’t accurately show the base diffuse values. I’ll even do this when working with realistic assets so that I can make sure the base values are correct before playing with things like roughness and metallic. I’ll then go back to each group and add the next layer of detail, in this case the lining.
My next step is how I like to pop out my lines with a little blur. I do this by duplicating the line art, and setting the new layer to multiply. I then add a blur filter to the mask and play around with blur intensity and layer opacity. Lastly, I inject the final touches, an overall gradient and some baked lighting. To achieve the gradient, I create a blank fill layer and assign a generator to it. There’s a cool option for a ‘3D linear gradient’, which uses the baked position map to apply a nice gradient from the top of your model to the bottom. I then overlay this with some low layer opacity to create some visual interest so the model doesn’t look flat. For the baked lighting look, I use the ‘Baked Lighting Stylised’ filter and notch down the setting so it’s only subtle—I still want the model to work in a dynamically lit environment so I don’t overdo it.
From here I was happy enough to export the diffuse as a .targa and start animating!
Back in Maya, I set up a quick skeleton using the rigging tools and, using the useful plugin kk_controllers, I made some nifty rig controls to make animation easier.
The animation itself was a lot of fun. I set up the scene to play at 30fps with 60 frames (2 seconds of animation) and thought of how I could bring the character to life. I ended up going with a swaying ‘idle’ animation as if it would be something from the actual Pokemon games where they idle in battle!
Once animated, I had to think about a nice way to present Drimp! Bouncing off the original concept I added the Pokemon’s stats and information underneath in a plaque kind of thing. I thought it started looking like a Pokedex entry so I bordered it with the rounded square to make it feel like it could be something from the game!
Setting up in Sketchfab
Uploading to Sketchfab is really simple, I pack everything in a .zip file, upload, and everything’s ready for me to set up. I kept the materials with a flat roughness but still kept the scene using full lighting. The camera is set at a 45 degree FOV with a flat background.
And here’s the final look! 🙂
Sketchfab is super useful to quickly see your model in a realtime render. Sometimes I don’t have the time or the patience to put everything into a game engine, so it’s very convenient to upload straight online and quickly get your model looking really nice with all the post-process settings and material adjustments! Also, being able to share models on social media and embedding into ArtStation, etc. is a really good way to show off work!
10/10 would upload again! 😀
Thank you Abby for reaching out to me about this piece and I’m glad everyone seems to like my work! It really keeps me motivated to learn and improve on my art!