In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hey! My name is Yekaterina, I go by Katia and today I am sharing with you the process I used to create my Paladin Alyonushka model. She’s a World of Warcraft fanart that I did a few years back for fun and to test my speed.
I started off by looking at the proportions of the female human in WoW and took one of my base meshes and transformed her figure and pose to better fit what they already have in game. I didn’t want to spend a few weeks working on the sculpt alone so I decided I was going to work smart and not worry too much about the areas that will be covered. While sculpting her anatomy, I knew she would be wearing robes and her stomach would be covered so I went ahead and mainly focused on her overall body shape, face, and arms.
Design wise, I love armour, fantasy, and old school knights, so I pulled inspiration from anything that was knight/crusader like.
After I decided what I wanted to do, I brought in a lower subdivision version of my anatomy mesh into Max, and started to build out a base mesh for all the pieces. This is not something I do as often anymore, now I tend to mix some Max base mesh stuff with dynamesh and mesh extrusion in zbrush for faster results. However, for hard surface stuff, I usually block out roughly in zbrush, and bring a decimated mesh back into Max for clean high poly modeling and then bring that into zbrush for dings and scratches.
By the end I roughly sculpted Alyonushka out, this is a diffuse only project so if something isn’t perfect, I can just paint it out 🙂 One of the things I was doing to save time was lots of symmetry, the shoulders were going to be both the same on the front and back, so I kept them even and sculpted on X and Z, later I had to move them for proper placement and shots. I also sculpted the vambraces and hip armour the same way to get the shape and then broke the front and back symmetry for final details.
After I was done with the sculpt, I decimated it to get ready for baking maps later, and also baked in a matcap through ZAppLink in Zbrush. I don’t do that very often anymore, currently I paint up a pretty detailed AO/Skylight and use Hard Light when adding color.
I then decimated lower versions to bring back into Max to build my final low poly. WoW has a pretty low tri count, especially a few years back, so I had to look for references from WoW and other games that have similar wireframes.
After building a low poly I unwrapped with with Headus UVLayout and Max, everything is symmetrical to keep in line with WoW’s parameters and to utilize texture space.
She ended up being 3,368 tris, with a 512×512 body map, and the helm and shoulders were each on 256×256 maps. For texturing purposes, I worked on them double the size and then halved them.
After everything was unwrapped nicely, I brought the low poly and the high poly sculpt (the decimated one with the baked in matcaps) into Topogun and baked out a Skylight map (Hardware AO version), AO (Hardware AO version uncheck skylight), and Vertex Color, which held the details of the matcap. After playing with different overlays and multiplies, I had a decent starting point to start texturing. I cleaned up the bakes and then played around with a lot of different color palettes for her with Hue/Saturation adjustment layers, Hard Light and Overlay. The red/gold/black/white one stuck 🙂
After getting the base colors in I started texture painting through 3d Coat, I tend to mix a lot of painting inside 3d Coat, as well as Projection Painting in Photoshop. In the process of texturing I ended up deciding to get rid of some of the detail on the lower half of the tabard and adding in some extra detail on the chest. Yay for diffuse only! One of the main things while texturing is making the materials read, whether it is gold, steel, leather, cloth, crystal and so on. On her they turned out okay-ish, but if I were to rework her today they would read a lot better, the detail would be chunkier, WoW is all about the chunkiness, leather/cloth, all of that would be thicker, and also big gashes, make a statement, make them feel like someone struck the amour from that direction, and keep the rhythm of the design.
I wanted everything to bring you back to the main focus. Most of my details are in the upper half, so I wanted people to be drawn to look at her face and the top. However looking at her values now, I would ever so slightly lighten them up so nothing is 100% black and only very little strategically placed super hot highlights. Another good thing to keep thinking about while texturing is always to reinforce the form, I now tend to do an Overlay and a Color Dodge pass at the very top of my layer stack to make sure the character still pops. It’s amazing how flat some of my work is until I do that XD After finishing up all the painting, I did a little gradient so her bottom half was a little darker.
Last thing is to half size the maps and then sharpen and save as targas.
I exported out her objs and textures and threw them into Marmoset using flat shaders and this is what she came out to be.
I haven’t looked at her in 3d for a long time now, being able to upload her to Sketchfab is nostalgic for me and I love being able to show her off the way she is meant to be seen 🙂
Thanks so much Katia!