Art Spotlight: Fisherman Grandpa

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Hey guys! My name is Jean-Médrick Piché, and I am a 21 year-old student aspiring to be a 3D character artist from Montréal, Canada. I knew that I wanted to work on video games since I was a child, so I knew where to go to learn what I had to know to enter the industry. After secondary school, I went to the Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne, where I got my diploma in 3D animation and computer graphics. I am currently attending the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue where I will get a degree in video game creation as an artist.

The Fisherman Grandpa is actually an assignment for my Digital Sculpting class. As one of the steps for the submission of our work, we had to publish our artwork on Sketchfab.

It all started with a small exercise that our teacher made us do at the beginning of each class. We had an hour or so to sculpt a face from a sphere, y’know, run-of-the-mill practice.

I kind of liked the result, and since we knew that our final assignment was to make a whole character, I started to think at what kind of man this face would go well with. I thought of it as a kind, humble, lovable face, like a grandpa with which you could go on fishing trips on the weekend.

I started it off by modeling the basic shape of the body with ZSpheres. Unfortunately, I don’t have any images to go with that step, but I guess you could try to picture a weird-looking, detail-less alien. I went from there and got more divisions in order to sculpt a new face. Not being the best drawer out there, I had to rely a lot on references to get the face that I really wanted. I wanted character, I wanted something a little less realistic than the first face I’d modeled. So I made him a big, fat nose, and made him almost look like a caricature.

I then proceeded to sculpt his clothes with simple Panel Loops, nothing fancy, nothing complicated.

After that, more details came through.

The face got better, with cleaner lines and shapes.

The clothes got a bit more texture.

And the hands got veins, nails, and folds. Retrospectively speaking, if I had more time, I would’ve definitely worked more on the thumb, because looking at it right now makes me kind of sick.

And then came the colors. Pretty much everything was done in ZBrush with PolyPaint.

That jolly good fellow finally got some colors on him!

And those ugly hands too!

I went with basic colors, again, nothing complicated: blue, green, yellow and red.

Afterwards, I had to do the retopology, because the teacher put a limit of 40k tris on our final model. I did the whole thing with Maya, because I was more well-versed with it than with the other programs available. Since it was close to the deadline, it’s been one the aspects on which I put less time, so it’s not one of my best-looking steps.

As many people do in the industry, I did the retopology on one side, and then I mirrored and merged the other.

For the UVs, I separated the different parts of the grandpa, so I made cuts on the neck, arms, pants and boots. For his clothes, I cut along the usual seams that you can find on real clothes.

Here is the result. I think I went a little overboard with the spacing, but I really wanted to be sure that there would be no overlapping.

Pretty uniform UVs in terms of size.

Then I used xNormal to project the normals, occlusion and vertex colors from the high-poly to the low-poly.

For the rigging, I went for something quick and relatively reliable: Maya HumanIK’s skeleton, and I added some bones for the eyes. For the skinning, I used a heat map binding, which was very quick and easy as well.

And since our teacher always pushed us to do more, and that all of this wasn’t enough, I decided to animate him as well! I quickly modeled a bucket and a low-poly sandy shore and I did a quick animation of him standing there, breathing, looking around, supporting his old back.

Then I did a FBX export and I uploaded it to Sketchfab, and voilà!

Sketchfab has been introduced to me as a platform for sharing my art and making it easier to show it to other people. Since it’s working very well on Facebook, my family and friends can have a better grasp on what exactly I’m doing at the university. Fisherman Grandpa was one of the first artworks that I’ve posted on Sketchfab, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised when it got Staff Picked, even more so when I got asked to make an Art Spotlight about it. I’ll be forever grateful for this wonderful opportunity. Love you guys!

Some very interesting links:

My ArtStation profile

My website

My LinkedIn

About the author

Jean-Médrick Piché

Studied 3D&CG @ Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne. Currently studying Video Game Creation as an artist @ UQAT


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