Benjamin Oman, a CGS Advanced 3D Modeling student, explains how to create a finished 3D character and offers some helpful tips and tricks.
Benjamin explains how he modeled, textured, and applied cloth to his 3D model of Alumon from the Battle Chasers: Nightwar video game using Maya, ZBrush, Marvelous Designer, and Substance Painter.
He also considers integrating assets into Unreal Engine to provide them with a nice background setting with atmospheric lighting for those finishing touches that will set your work apart!
Hello, Benjamin! Thank You for Taking the Time to Talk to Us. Could You Please Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself?
Hey! It’s a pleasure to be here; thank you for having me. Hello, my name is Benjamin Oman. I am 23 years old and originally from Austria!
I was thinking about what job path I wanted to take after graduating from high school. I stumbled discovered 3D art and 3D modeling throughout my investigation. The idea of creating video game landscapes and characters drew me in right away. I later spoke with a CG Spectrum student who told me about some of the school’s digital art classes.
I am currently enrolled in the Advanced 3D Modeling Course, and I am attempting to master as many tools and styles as possible in order to finish my duties and projects.
I prefer stylized work because I enjoy the bright colors and fantasy that it allows me to create. I believe it all comes down to growing up playing Nintendo console video games like Pokémon, Zelda, Fire Emblem, Xenoblade Chronicles, and others.
Your Fan Art of the Alumon Character, Which You Modeled for Your CG Spectrum Advanced 3D Modeling Course, Looks Excellent! Can You Take Us Through Your Process?
Thank you very much. I’m delighted you enjoyed it! I’m happy to share a step-by-step breakdown of how I created my 3D model — here it is:
It’s important to do proper research and gather good references.
When I find anything I like, I save it in a collection and create a library for each theme, such as characters, locations, hard surfaces, and so on. During this process, I came across Joe Madureira’s fantastic Alumon concept art. To arrange and organize my reference photos, I created a PureRef file.
After deciding on the major reference, I divided the known elements into clothes, armor, weapons, and accessories. Then I gathered references for all of those individual parts so I could have some ideas on how to approach them later on and get a better concept of the design I wanted to accomplish.
Block-out in Maya
It was then time to start designing the 3D character. I imported the concept drawings into Maya and roughly sketched out the base anatomy shapes to utilize as a base mesh in ZBrush. (This may also be done straight within ZBrush, but I chose this method since it felt more natural.)
Male base mesh in ZBrush
I created a man basis with a lot of anatomy resources that I may reuse for future projects.
Working in a low-resolution stage makes it easier to get all of the shapes and volumes down. After you’ve nailed these, you can subdivide the mesh and refine the general anatomy.
For this stage, I primarily utilized the Clay Buildup, Standard, Smoothing, and Dam Standard brushes.
After completing the male basis, I utilized a mixture of masking body sections and moving them with the Gizmo 3D manipulator, as well as the Move brush, to obtain the concept art’s appearance and anatomy.
Clothing in Marvelous Designer
I had to keep in mind the components of Alumon’s clothes that would interact with the behavior of the fabric creation inside Marvelous Designer, such as the large hip belt, leg armor, and chest belt.
I returned to Maya and blocked out the elements that would make placing the cloth easier. After that, I was ready to make some basic fabric patterns in Marvelous and apply them on the character.
I ended up adding all of the visible clothing elements depicted in the idea, and because to the software’s live simulation, I was able to generate some nice-looking folds that could then be improved and optimized in ZBrush.
When I was happy with the results in Marvelous, I exported everything back to ZBrush to begin the main work. It was now time to incorporate all of the other components seen in the concept drawings, such as the fur and the crystal on his breast.
Everything I’d done thus far had been sloppy. Now came the exciting part: adding detail and giving everything the same quality!
To begin, I attempted to capture all of the volumes and forms by dragging everything to the right position on the body with the Move brush and the Gizmo 3D manipulator. After that, I began to subdivide the meshes and increase their resolution so that I could properly sculpt each piece.
I normally start by trimming and adding edge damage to the metal components with the Trim Dynamic brush, then cleaning up the strokes with the Orb Flatten Edge brush to make them look sharper.
I applied the similar approach to the leather parts, such as the belt and bag, to add worn. I primarily utilized Clay Buildup and HPolish to get sharp edges and flat planar surfaces on items such as the mask and the cross on the belt.
Because the Marvelous folds were more realistic than stylised, I had to simplify them using the Smooth brush and then rebuild parts of the folds. To get the volume of the folds, I utilized the Standard brush. Then, to give more defined edges, I used the inverted Dam Standard brush while holding ALT while drawing with the pen.
To make the fur, I used ArtStation to purchase an IMM brush pack, which allowed me to add single pieces of fur strips that I could then place onto a sphere and tweak using the Gizmo 3D. I utilized a brush with an alpha texture that had some good-looking surface information to acquire more surface features, especially on the metal components, which I then simplified using the Trim Dynamic brush to make it more stylized.
I utilized the same process as before for the whip and shield: blocking out in Maya, detailing in ZBrush, retopology and UVs in Maya, texturing in Substance Painter, and rendering in Marmoset Toolbag.
This is normally a relatively simple process, but as a general guideline, I advocate going big first and not getting bogged down in details. The most critical part is to provide proper edge flow and a clean topology.
After that, you may add more edge loops to increase the resolution of your character and modify it with the Relax tool to obtain a more even distribution of your topology.
The final step before texturing is to create your UVs. Apply a checker map to your geometry to see how your cuts and UV unfolds effect the checker texture. The goal here is to achieve minimal stretching and uniform density to reach the same level of detail later in the texturing phase!
It is critical to leave as little space as possible in your UV layout in order to extract as much detail and information as possible. But be wary of overlapping UV Shells – they must be avoided at all costs!
Texturing in Substance Painter and rendering in Marmoset Toolbag
My 3D character may now be colored and textured! To avoid baking issues, I opened Substance Painter and baked my high-poly elements onto my low-poly model using the proper naming scheme.
I began texturing by blocking in all of the materials with a base color. When I was happy with the overall look, I delved into detail by adding highlights, ambient occlusion, surface details, and color gradients using several layers. For the most part, I use generators and change the parameters to achieve the results I want. Adding some handpainted detail to your texturing might give it a wonderful overall touch.
Taking some of the prefabricated Smart Materials and dissecting them to better understand what each layer performs is an excellent method to learn the process and how to use them to efficiently use them in your materials.
I then exported my textures and used Marmoset Toolbag to create a render. To make my render, I arranged and replicated my character such that he was viewable from all sides, highlighting the details I wanted to convey. Creating a three-point lighting arrangement with a key, fill, and rim light is a simple but powerful technique. I propose trying out multiple light setups, choose the one you like most, and then refining it to improve the overall quality of your presentation.
You can also include a wireframe render to demonstrate your retopology abilities. A turntable video demonstrating the progression from wireframe to grayscale to textured mesh might be a good touch to include in your portfolio.
You indicated that you had difficulties during your procedure; what were some of them, and how did you overcome them? Was having a mentor beneficial?
Because this was my first sculpted figure, I struggled with issues such as anatomy, how to correctly add detail on the various elements, and how to tackle all of the essential processes to create an awesome-looking character.
What happens when you finish the Advanced 3D Modeling Course?
For the time being, my first priority is to build a high-quality portfolio so that I can apply to studios that interest me. Furthermore, I intend to create more projects to refine and develop my talents because, in my opinion, as an artist, you should never stop learning – I intend to evolve with each project!