Art Spotlight: Nausicaa

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In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.

Hey there!

My name is Samantha Luo and I’m a 3D character artist. I take inspiration from a lot of movies and contemporary media. Today I’m here to talk about one such piece: Nausicaa.

Nausicaa is based on the title character from the Hayao Miyazaki film Nausicaa: Of the Valley of the Wind. I’m drawn to strong female characters and thought she would be a great subject for my venture into Sketchfab’s new PBR system.

As with all models I started with a drawing:


I like to get as many details worked out in 2D as I possibly can because it helps me streamline the sculpting process. In addition to drawing out her silhouette I indicated some of the folds I wanted as well as the detail seams on the clothing. I wanted a nice mix between dramatic, deep folds and subtle puckers to create a really diverse normal map that would keep the model exciting to look at.

From there I jumped right into zBrush to start sculpting.


For a lot of the model I mirrored my sculpting, but on the parts of the tunic near the center axis I did some unique sculpting so the mirroring wouldn’t be so stark. The hair gave me a little trouble; I went back and forth a lot trying to decide if I wanted to go with alpha planes, or if I wanted to sculpt it. In the end I went with sculpting which I’m glad I did because I think I learned a lot more, and it achieved a much fuller, bushier look to the hair.

Once the high poly sculpt was done I took her into Blender for a complete topology rework.


I used pretty flexible topology on her body since I knew I’d be posing her. And even though the face is not hyperreal and doesn’t animate, I wanted to practice good loops for myself as well as ensuring good rendering.

For the eyes I wanted to capture the anime style that originated the character while still making them look like a believable model. I decided to create a cross that is definitely recognizable from the original yet also readable in a 3D setting. For the eye itself I used a technique to mimic a real eye: concave iris with a convex cornea covering it.


With the high poly and the low poly in hand it’s time to get some bakes done. I baked out the normal map first to make sure everything was in the right place. After a few tweaks on the cage I got a nice clean bake.


Following that I baked the occlusion map. I took the occlusion, overlaid colors, and used it as the foundation for my color map.

And then finally, it was time to put her all together. In the actual piece I separated each material by its own rendering material when I really should have just defined materials with a greyscale map for the specular values. Had this been a real time game model, that would have been much more efficient. In retrospect the lack of specular mapping is a major setback for this model and keeps it from taking full advantage of the PBR system. In the future I’d like to more accurately represent the materials of the model since the sketchfab viewer is so powerful. For now though it’ll just give me a good excuse to come back to this model.

by endie
on Sketchfab

Thanks Samantha!

Check out Samantha’s other models on her Sketchfab Portfolio.

– Bart


About the author


Bart Veldhuizen

Head of Community at Sketchfab. 3D Scanning enthusiast and Blenderhead. Running BlenderNation in my spare time.

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