We are Valerio and Massimo, we are cousins and coworkers and we live in Rome.
We studied at the International Comics School of Rome, and started working on separate projects after our degree. However, a great part of our formation came with online courses and tutorials: in this way we learned a lot of new techniques and workflows.
We started our collaboration in 2016, knowing that working together would improve our art, since our skills are complementary: one of us is more shifted towards the 2D side, and handles concepts and and texturing, while the other is more oriented on the 3D and programming sides and makes the actual models and game prototypes; so our usual workflow is well balanced between the two of us.
Our expertise fields include art direction, storyboarding, 2D and 3D art.
We like to realize environments and characters, with an eye to game ready and 3D printable models.
Speaking about style, we mainly like to make stylized and cartoonish stuff, because we think that they give us the opportunity to be more personal with our style and to approach every project in a more fresh way.
We usually use Maya and ZBrush to sculpt and model, and we do texturing with 3D-Coat or Substance Painter.
Concept and Modeling
The idea to make the silly lancer model started with a random phone drawing that we liked and colored to turn it into a proper concept.
The style we used is really cartoonish and deformed, with Adventure Time-like proportions.
After the concept phase, we went directly to modeling: we skipped the turnaround phase, that we usually have in our workflow, because the character itself was rather simple. Our idea was to also make the model printable in 3D, so during the modeling phase we made two different models: a low poly version, on which eyes and mouth had to be painted on the model, and a high poly version with sculpted eyes and mouth shapes.
The next phase for the low poly version character was texturing, which we did in Substance Painter. It was actually our first time using Substance for hand painted style textures, since we usually use 3D-Coat for that style.
Here there are a few texturing steps.
Step 1: we imported the model into Substance, with three separate materials, one for the character, one for grass and one for the base. We then calculated Ambient Occlusion maps and made a fill layer on top of the model, with just color info on it, and we put our AO map in the Base Color field, to create a painted occlusion layer, and give the model a more 3D “clay” feel
Steps 2 and 3: we added base colors for all the elements. We used a tileable texture for the ground and we made a gradient on the face, so that it’s darker around the edges
Step 4: the next step was painting the outline on the model. We tried to follow every model edge and detail, to create the cartoonish feel we wanted to achieve, based on the concept.
Step 5: finally, we painted the face, and made a couple more gradients on the character: a greenish overlay gradient from the bottom, to make the lower part a bit blended to the ground, and a soft light gradient from the top.
We also finished modeling the 3D printable version, and made a test print.
All seemed to work and the model was ready to be painted!
Before putting the model on Sketchfab, we had to make the 3D outline work, so we went back to Maya and made a second mesh a bit larger, and flipped normals.
We followed this useful guide.
We also prepared some 2D clouds and placed them around the base, to give a little bit of parallax when rotating the model.
Then we used a simple sky background with a circle to highlight the character.
Publishing on Sketchfab
Setting up the piece on Sketchfab was rather easy, because we didn’t want any external lighting. So we used shadeless mode.When setting up the materials, we used a little trick to enhance colors, putting the albedo map also in the Emission field. This really helped make colors pop out a bit more!
We are very happy with how the model looks on the Sketchfab viewer: being able to post our works on Sketchfab is an essential part of our works, because it gives us the opportunity to share our model with lots of other people, to receive instant feedback, and, maybe, to get some new clients to know us!
We can call this model finished, but our idea is to further expand this character style, making more characters, maybe based on other shapes, to complete the set.
We had so much fun making this model, and we hope you liked our article and you’ve found some useful tips in it!