Art Spotlight: Irene Black Light

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About me

My name is Alexander Chiveli, currently living in Barcelona (Spain), but originary from Zaragoza.

I am a 3D artist in love with arts, learning new stuff day-by-day. I have a university education in Computers and Programming.

The way I started doing 3D was with the crazy idea of making a video game with a friend of mine. In the beginning I didn’t know what to do, and the told me to learn 3D. He said that the task would take me 2 years, more or less, and he was right!

After 2 years I felt that I needed to fly away from home, to start growing as a better artist in a professional environment such as Gameloft. They hired me as a character artist, and today I am currently working there, after almost 8 years.

During this time I have learned pipelines for modeling, texturing, skinning, rigging, shading, and some animation basics. It was pretty good for me to start working with talented and self-motivated people around me.

Today I just think about growing as an artist little by little, jumping from one discipline to another, because everything is connected and for me this is a good way to develop my artistic perception.

3d renders


I always invest some time looking for work from another artists. This time a concept from Terry Wei blew my mind. The concept was Irene Black Light and I felt that I should do it in 3D. In fact, while I was working on the model I used his image as desktop wallpaper just to put it inside of my mind.
So my goal was to take his beautiful concept and turn it into a AAA game character.

Ref ref and more ref

I searched for lots of references (a good program to save them is PureRef). In this particular case the main reference was the concept, but there were some parts that were not visible and I needed to understand them also.

I don’t have as big a mental ref library as people that know how to draw. Because of that I always try to complete my knowledge with anatomy refs, and any photo that can inspire me or tell me something.

It is also good to find some refs of styles and lighting – whatever you save in your refs folder is always useful.

These are some of the ones that I have used for every step.

pureref inspiration


I really like to split my pipeline. When I say “split” I mean that I like to separate the artistic part and the technical part. So basically I like to forget the technical part when I’m having fun with the artistic one.

But I always keep in mind the entire process from the beginning to the end. It’s also good to have the chance to go backward and forward.

Anyway I like to remember a phrase from the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso:“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Sculpting and Retopology

As I said before I just start playing with big shapes in ZBrush, just playing with with DynaMesh and Sculptris, trying to get the gesture and feeling from the concept character (I don’t mind about order, I just have fun playing). As you can see below:

ZBrush sculpt

Once I feel that is almost ok, I start breaking middle shapes, as before and thinking in pieces and topology at the same time.

When I want to start to have things clean, I use ZModeler tools, polygroups and ZRemesher to obtain clean topology based on my pretty basic meshes. Once everything is clean I can start modeling the smalls details and it is easier to refine shapes more in detail.

ZRemesher 3D

ZBrush sculpting

These are some of the sculpting steps inside ZBrush.

For the retopo I use the first level of some tools as a retopo base, and in others I start from scratch. It is very useful for me to have clean topology in ZBrush because it speeds up my retopology process a lot. I like to use TopoGun or 3D-Coat; in this particular case I have used 3D-Coat.

3D-Coat retopo


I unwrap using RizomUV, a very intuitive and very nice to use software. In this particular case, I have used several UV sets (one for skin, one for metal, and one for cloth).

RizomUV unwrap


My texturing process was done in Substance Painter using spec and gloss shading. I prefer to use that shading because I feel that I have more control adding color variety from spec, especially for stylized characters.

Substance Painter texture

Rigging and skinning

The rig, skinning, and animation is done in 3DS Max. Im pretty basic at it – I just animate a simple idle to give her a little bit of life. The hardest part was the cloak and the hair; that just took me a lot of time and some good advice from real animators. 🙂


Once everything was done it was time for the best moment…that moment was to put everything inside Sketchfab and start to see how everything took shape.

I went material by material and tweaked textures individually if they needed it.

At the same time I like to play with illumination and start doing a good light set.

At the end I added some very subtle post effects.

And this is the final result:

I’m very glad to have this chance of explaining my artistic process, thanks Sketchfab!

If you want to have a look at my portfolio, check my ArtStation page.



About the author

Alexander Chiveli

3D Artist

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