art spotlight sly the sword saint

Art Spotlight: Sly The Sword Saint

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About me

Hi Sketchfab! My name is Joyce Silva, I’m a Mexican-Brazilian 3D environment artist working at CyberConnect2 Montreal Studio, a Japanese video game company.

I studied graphic design in Toluca (a small city near Mexico City) because I liked drawing and didn’t know what else to study. During that time, I came across this site called Sketchfab and discovered 3D art. I rapidly fell in love with it. I also discovered that it was something you could do for a living. I decided to focus on video games and started learning a lot through trial and error, YouTube, and online tutorials.

Before graduating I started working at a mobile game company in Cancun and then I moved to Montreal to start working at CyberConnect2.


Inspiration and objective

I like creating environments but they take me some time to finish. In order to rest from my main personal project and from work, I like exploring other software and art styles. I was looking for something interesting to make and focus more on the texturing process.

Oh, I also became obsessed with a little game called Hollow Knight and wanted to create a small diorama in its honor, but I found the_wrong_artist and fell in love with his style and ideas of combining two things I like a lot, Hollow Knight + Japan. Check him out for more similar illustrations!.

I chose Sly for no particular reason. I found it cute standing on the drum (which I believe is called “Taiko”) and this concept was the perfect match for what I was looking for.

sly the sword saint references


For this part I just needed to get the silhouettes right as all the details were going to be made in the texture. I started blocking a sketch in ZBrush to have more freedom in finding the shapes.

I exported the sculpt to 3ds Max and started modeling some more parts. Honestly, I was too excited to start texturing and didn’t spend much time modeling; some parts were only decimated.

sly the sword saint 3d model

Setting the scene

Once I had a decent base, I started setting the scene in Marmoset Toolbag. For the materials, I used only 3 shadeless/unlit materials, so there are no lights, only a white background and two cameras, the main camera that was locked from the beginning, and another one was added to move freely.

I imported the model and from here I was going back and forth between 3ds Max and Marmoset, matching the image the best I could to the concept and making the proportions work in 3D.

I also created a plane and applied a texture with alpha for the red background circle.

sly the sword saint alpha background

If he is Sly, the Sword Saint, where is the sword? Not so long I realized that the sword didn’t make much sense in 3D—it was going through the flying cape and the hat.

I tried moving and scaling things a bit but it was difficult to make it fit without moving or scaling the other pieces too much, thereby sacrificing the fidelity to the concept. I decided to continue on and procrastinate on this decision, but in the end, I decided not to include it.

sly the sword saint 3d mesh

Instead, I decided to leave the Knight hanging from the hat (which doesn’t make much sense either) but it looked nice in the composition and helped to make it easier to recognize where this character is from.

UV and materials

The UVs are not fancy at all. I wanted to have a rest from work and focus more on the artistic side. I started separating what was completely black or white—they didn’t need any UVs so I just assigned them a shadeless black or white material. Then I created UVs for what really needed a texture. In the end, I created 4 different base color textures: the red circle background, the props, the body, and the drum.

sly the sword saint UV groups

Almost there.


Finally texturing! I used Substance Painter. This model only needed one color texture, so I deleted all channels but Base Color, then I created two layers, the white background and a black layer for the ink, and then started inking! It was also a lot of iterating to make it match the concept.

sly the sword saint drum


This model didn’t need one but two outlines! For that, I used the technique I learned from making a Borderlands-style fan art I had made before. Not all the parts had two outlines and the same thickness so I had to adjust them piece by piece.

3d outline sketchfab

First I duplicated the piece, pushed out the vertices based on normals (push modifier in 3ds Max), render it single-sided, and applied the material. For pieces that needed two outlines, I duplicated the first outline and pushed it out a little bit more to make it thicker.

I made an image to better explain it including the material settings for Marmoset Toolbag:

3d outline marmoset

First I did each part, and then I merged everything and applied the IDs for the different materials. Once I had everything looking good and ready in Marmoset, I put it on Sketchfab. 🙂


Overall it was really easy to set up in Sketchfab. The settings were the same as in Marmoset, the shading was set to shadeless, for the texture I only imported the base color and used a white background. For the outlines, I didn’t use any texture, just chose a black/white base color. For all the materials, the face rendering is set to single-sided and there is no light because everything is self-lit. For post-processing, I added a bit of noise and sharpness.

sketchfab 3d editor settings

Here’s the final version of this little guy!

If you have any questions you can contact me! You can follow me here on my Instagram or ArtStation. I really hope this helps someone and finally thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this community! 🙂


About the author

Joyce Silva

I make 3D art and help create worlds.

1 Comment

  • Nils Deitmers says:

    That’s really cute, I love it! Thanks for sharing how you made it!

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