My name is Rumen and I’m a Bulgarian 3D Artist currently working for Social Point mainly as a Texture Artist in sunny Barcelona (Spain). During the last couple of years I started to appreciate stylisation and hand-painted textures more and more, which is why I am extremely grateful to Sketchfab for giving me this opportunity to share the creation process for “Grandpa Mo”.
Initially this project started just as a hand-painting practice, but I soon realized that this piece has great potential to interest people with its strong narrative. Additionally I thought it would be a great opportunity to diversify my portfolio and enhance my skillset with a new style.
STAGE 1 – The Idea
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of REFERENCES and RESEARCH when starting a new project. This predevelopment will make your character original, believable and strengthen the final design. A good plan always helps!
First I created a moodboard with all the gathered references that inspired me and also established the emotional theme that the viewer should experience. I made notes to highlight what was important and would guide me throughout the production process.
STAGE 2 – The design
Second I did a really rough Zbrush sculpt to block out the shapes that I wanted. At this stage it is important to define the anatomy landmarks and major muscle masses.
Technically this project was not challenging compared to my previous artwork but I wanted to focus more on storytelling elements and a cohesive design. Experimenting with a caricature theme for the first time really took me out of my comfort zone.
The modelling process was quite straightforward, after finishing the sculpt I decimated the mesh and sent it to 3D coat for retopology. I created the 3D model by closely following the volumes and shapes of the already established design. After cleaning up the topology I unwrapped the low poly and sent it to 3Ds max for final adjustments and packing the UVs. 3D Coat serves my needs perfectly for this kind of stylized hand-painted art.
STAGE 3 – Painting
I absolutely love 3D Coat for painting textures! It has a very fast and efficient workflow for stylized texture maps. To start off I blocked out the volumes and big shapes. In order to create good hand-painted textures from scratch you need to study form and volumes really well. The understanding of values, contrast and color is also vital. Details are not necessary at this stage, it’s all about the big shapes. Later comes material definition, material interaction and separation, color zones and characteristics of the skin, SSS etc.
Usually, I do a rough pass in 3D coat to establish values and position of specific elements, the 3D viewer allows me to get a better idea about the texture in context. I can look around and make sure all the big shapes are readable, rough and confident strokes at this stage. Then I send the textures over to Photoshop where I improve the brush work, shading and rendering without breaking the base volumes that I have already established. It really depends on the project but for this one, I decided to experiment around with the colors of the clothing and shadows early on. In some places the skin is more dry and desaturated while in others it has some sunburn(common for farmers). At the end I gave the skin a warm tint to make him look more lively, friendly and relatable.
STAGE 4 – Presentation
As Sketchfab was the platform to present my model, I kept in mind the character’s pose and presentation. I chose Zbrush to pose the character. I decided that posing “Grandpa Mo” seated alone in a chair with a closed body language expressed his loneliness and sadness best.
Sketchfab’s latest round of improvements have really simplified the upload process and have better high quality texture compression. The shaders are incredibly fast and easy to set up. I am still improving my lighting skills so something that I really enjoy in the 3D editor is tweaking the lights and experimenting with the special features that Sketchfab offers. I kept this model very pure and natural, with very subtle post-processing effects like bloom, vignette, color correction and depth of field. The annotations are something really unique and I would like to make more art with a story which I can tell through them. The Sketchfab team has successfully optimized the workflow from upload to editing to preview. Now it’s my favourite online showcase for my 3D models. With just 1-click people can preview and have a close look at my art. <3
Thank you for reading and I hope you found something useful here!
Thank you Sketchfab team for the support and helping the art community. You are AWESOME!