Hi! My name is Miki Bencz, and I’m a digital artist based in Budapest, Hungary. I started messing around with 3D when I was 12 years old ( 3ds Max 6, I believe 😀 ) and it basically grew from being a hobby, to being a passionate profession over the years. I learned the whole thing through trial and error, with some help from tutorials on 3dtotal, and, after YouTube became a thing, from some of those videos as well. As a hobby besides digital art, I like to do yoga, poker, and martial arts right before heading out into the city nights to meet the friends who keep me sane.
I worked on Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Love Death & Robots, and in association with Riot Games. Nowadays I focus only on my personal projects, and experiment as much as I can.
The reason I created “Ghost” is because I had some feelings to deal with, and I did it in the form of a 3D video. Even though it’s not apparent at first glance, the video does communicate my state of mind, and what I was going through at that time. Digital art for me is starting to evolve into something more than just eye candy pieces one after the other, and “Ghost” was a project that took me further down that path.
I’d encourage you to experiment with creating artworks that have a deeper meaning for you other than just a good looking artwork. That way you can be more engaged, and daring with the projects, and also overcome obstacles and the periods of fading inspiration more easily!
Painting the image
I made a series of paintings not too long ago to try out different workflows and approaches to painting portraits.
Other paintings of this series, and newer ones, can be found on my Instagram for those who want their brain melted down by colors. 😀
Below you can see the painting process for the 2D painting which I then used as a base to create the 3D model.
As you can see, I like to work with colors from the start, as I really need to get excited about them in a painting in order for me to stay inspired. I can’t really say why I chose these colors, they just felt satisfying to look at.
Also, I started with brighter tones, and added shadows and deeper tones later. That way, I could see the final brightest colors on the painting right from the start, making them harmonious to my taste, and then working in the shadow tones that matched those bright colors later.
Forming the biggest patches of light and shadow first is essential, I believe, as it helps to establish the value structure of a painting. I try to keep everything as simple as possible for as long as I can, and work with few tones and shapes as I slowly build up the texture and painting. The way to find the right shapes and color is by discovering what you like to look at, and mixing it up with your own personality onto the “canvas”. Eventually some “unique” accidents will happen in your works that you can expand on!
I also used two references for the hair and face, which then I later moved away from, especially in the final 3D result.
I would recommend experimentation, to see what works for you and what doesn’t. These are only my methods that I discovered working for me, but maybe for someone who likes to start out with a line drawing, this would be a nightmarish way to go about a painting. Pen, pencil, brush, or tablet, pick up different mediums and experiment, discover, and most of all: have fun. After all, that’s one of the founding elements for both improvement, and a good artwork.
I used one of my existing meshes for the head, and adjusted it in ZBrush to match the concept! Then I modeled the hair out of alpha cards, in 3ds Max. It’s a pretty standard way of modeling, but if you are interested in the way that I model in 3ds Max, I made a tutorial series, and one of the parts covers the way I go about it. You can also turn on the wireframe in the Sketchfab viewer at the end of the article, and see how it’s built up!
Texturing & Brush Strokes in 3D
Texturing was basically half done with the painting, all I had to do was project my existing painting onto the model I had created in 3D-Coat, and then clean it all up. As I mentioned, I slowly moved away from the concept, to take the thing in another direction.
If you are interested in how I go about projection and brushstrokes in 3D, I explain it to the best of my abilities (meaning that I mess up words and mumble for 25 minutes) in this video, using “Phoenix” as an example.
Camera movement and After Effects
The music video was the focus of this project, so it was time to dig deeper into After Effects! I decided to only use one shot for the whole thing, as an exercise in doing the most that I could using only one take.
The idea was to create a cool reveal leading the viewer to believe it’s a process video for a 2D image, but then doing a full circle around the model showing how it works in 3D. So the camera movement is pretty simple, what took the longest was the reveal effect, which was done by hand using 5 different images, masking them with brushstrokes slowly, as they finally reveal the 3D shot, where the video starts.
Below you can watch the super short super quick music video!
Setting it all up in Sketchfab
It’s basically just the unlit diffuses that I painted, so there is no light in the scene, and I only used sharpness as a post process. I achieved a painted effect by using diffuse textures combined with alphas to make some areas see through. Below you can see the body and hair, and right below them their alpha textures. As you can see, the body fades away toward the bottom, with a messy brush stroke fade, and the mask of the hair is pretty messy as it fades away. I combine these, and the alpha cards to achieve the 3D painted look. I explain this process in depth in the video linked in the texturing section of this article above.
Another quick tip is if you want to prevent the camera from zooming in on the model when the Sketchfab viewer loads, you can set up camera orbit / pan limits for the model, that way the camera will not move when the Sketchfab viewer loads, further helping the effect of a flat painting coming to life as the viewer moves the camera around.
Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you learned something! If you want to check out other works and tutorials I made, you can do it on my ArtStation.