Hey! My name is Tatiana Devos and I’m currently studying Game Graphics Production at Digital Arts & Entertainment (Howest University), Belgium.
At DAE, I learned everything I know now, and I love doing it so much! My favourite part of the whole workflow definitely is the 3D modelling/sculpting, and putting everything together in a nice scene.
This project was one of my final assignments for my Stylized Creation course. We had the freedom of choosing our own 2D concept that we wanted to translate into 3D. After scrolling through Pinterest, I stumbled across this amazing concept by Connie Kang. You can check out her other work on her Instagram page!
I fell in love with this concept because of the overall feeling it gives off. The composition seemed fun, and I love creating small props and bringing everything together into its own little environment.
During my creating process, I made use of a handful of useful tools. I used ZBrush for the blockout, sculpting, and polypaint. After that, I did the retopology in 3ds Max. The baking and materials were done in Substance Painter, and I created an automatic rig using Mixamo.
During this stage, I had to make sure that all my proportions were correct. I still need to learn a lot about anatomy, but I think I pulled it off nicely.
The blockout was made in ZBrush, making use of IMM Brushes to create the general shapes. When those were set in stone, I used things like the Move brush to refine some parts. Using symmetry for the body really speeds up the process, but it’s always nice to have some asymmetrical parts (for example, the hair).
When I was satisfied with the general shapes of the blockout, I started to put in the details. At this point, I also started making the props. I slightly deviated from the concept, as you can see, for the hair. I made this decision because I felt like it’d be more beneficial when viewing the model from all angles.
For the sculpting and detailing phase, I used a small set of brushes. I took a bit of inspiration from the ‘Sea of Thieves’ art style, which features a lot of flattened parts and slight cuts. To recreate this look, I mainly made use of the HPolish and TrimDynamic brushes. To sharpen up some parts, I used a Pinch brush.
To make some cuts and damage, I experimented with a few Orb brushes but found that the basic OrbCracks brush did the job just fine. I really recommend the Orb brush set!
For the props, I started off with just primitive objects and played around with the scaling and MoveElastic brush to get the desired shape. Afterward, I used the same set of brushes (TrimDynamic, HPolish …) to give the props some details. To give them some cuts, I used the OrbSlash01 brush.
I didn’t want to give the props too many small details, because the attention should go to the character.
To create the thickness of the ramen, I actually used a hair brush (Makkon HairCurves). With this brush, you had so many different choices on thickness and amount of strands… it was ideal for the noodles.
When all the details were done, I went over to polypainting. I mainly used the Paint brush, but some sculpting brushes have a nice painting effect when you turn on the RGB. The TrimDynamic brush, for example, only paints the cavities, which was perfect to paint the shell and to give some darker hues to the wrinkles on the skin.
I started off by blocking out the colours, and then created some subtle gradients and colour variations. I exaggerated those gradients even more in Substance Painter, because I noticed it wasn’t that apparent in my polypaint. I really took my time here to get as many colours as correct as possible.
While polypainting, I like to put the material to SkinShade4 to get the best colour results.
Baking & materials
When everything was finished, I switched over to 3ds Max for the retopology. For the unwrap, I split my project into 3 UV maps; one for the character, one for the props, and one for the boat. Later on, I also created one for the environment.
My character ended up being around 16k polys; my props (+ boat) were 17k polys.
Next thing was putting everything into Substance Painter. There, I baked my high-poly onto my low-poly, together with the vertex color. When everything looked good, I started making some materials. I wanted the metal to have some shine, and the skin to have some skin-like texture. Nothing too exaggerated, though, as I was aiming for something clean.
Lastly, I still had to create a pose for the character. Luckily I could use Mixamo for this because I have no animation/rigging knowledge whatsoever. Mixamo lets you import a mesh to create some generic animations, but you can also export it back to a modelling program in a T-pose, which makes it possible to manually create your own pose. It probably isn’t a very good rig, but I’m grateful that this website exists!
Rendering & Sketchfab Upload
When uploading my project on Sketchfab, I usually stick to a lot of presets that I slightly tweak a bit. For the lightning, I used the Fairy Camp preset, and just changed the colours a bit. For the materials, it’s just a lot of messing around with sliders until I’m satisfied with the result!
I really like to mess around with the Post-Processing Filters, especially the Tone Mapping, because they give you the opportunity to change how your overall project looks, e.g., brightness and colours.
I also included a small animation of fireflies, which adds to the swampy atmosphere of the overall scene.
And this is the final result on my Sketchfab!