Dmitry Cheremisin: Mastering stylized characters

Dmitry Cheremisin shares his amazing work, inspirations, and tips

Dmitry Cheremisin shares his amazing work, inspirations, and tips

Dmitry Cheremisin is instantly recognizable for his carefully crafted, stylized character designs. As well as freelancing, he's been a judge at Blizzardfest and was a conference speaker at the NODE Forum for Digital Arts in 2016.

3dtotal: Hi Dmitry, thanks for talking to 3dcreative! Please introduce yourself to our readers with a bit about who you are, where you're based, and what you do
Dmitry Cheremisin: Hello everyone! My name is Dmitry. I live in Kiev, Ukraine. I've worked in the gaming industry for seven years, but I'm currently a freelancer, as well as working on my own projects in my spare time.

3dt: What was your artistic education like? How did you come to learn 3D?
DC: I'm an architect by education. However, I was always more attracted to computer graphics and video games. It was my hobby which later became my profession. I'm self-taught in 3D.

This was Dmitry's contribution to a Facebook contest by Serge Birault, the original concept artist

This was Dmitry's contribution to a Facebook contest by Serge Birault, the original concept artist

3dt: Who or what are your biggest creative inspirations?
DC: Generally, I'm inspired by video games and anime for new projects. I like bright, colorful, memorable characters that don't leave me indifferent. When I'm creating my own projects, I try to give the same qualities to my characters. It's really very important to me. I like to convey the character's personality, work on their accent details, and pay attention to detail. I set for myself several criteria for the final image and try to stick to them.

3dt: Tell us about the software or tools that feature in your typical 3D workflow.
DC: 3ds Max, ZBrush and Photoshop are my main tools for work. For rendering, I prefer to use V-Ray. Depending on the task, this list can be changed and expanded. For example, I really like MARI for texturing. I prefer to use headus UVLayout for making UVs. Marvelous Designer is a great program for realistic simulation of clothing. Usually I use xNormal for baking textures, and finally NUKE for compositing.

Dmitry made this model very quickly in his spare time

Dmitry made this model very quickly in his spare time

3dt: Skin and hair are always difficult to get right, but you do a great job on both. Could you offer any advice for artists hoping to improve on these areas?
DC: References are the key to success. I try to split complex tasks (for example, skin shaders) into more simple components and work on them separately. When I'm working on hair, I do the same thing – I break hair into separate strands and work on each separately. This approach allows me to work more quickly and efficiently.

3dt: What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of being a freelance artist?
DC: Advantage: for me, it's the freedom of choice. Disadvantage: lack of a team to work with. Live communication and exchanging experiences are very important elements of creative and professional growth.

3dt: What do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?
DC: I think I just figured out what I wanted to do in life and what I'd like to give a huge amount of time. I think this most important: to find something for everyone and then work in that direction.

3dt: What are you currently working on? Are there any new projects we should look out for soon?
DC: Currently, I'm working on a new project. I want to learn a software that's new to me, such as Substance Designer and Substance Painter. My goal is to create a believable character using game development technology (e.g. Unreal Engine 4). I hope I will finish it soon.

3dt: Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any)?
DC: I pay attention to new technologies in the gaming industry; it's important to be aware of new products. If possible, I play games too. I'd like to use new technology in my own work to improve its quality, and I spend a lot of time studying tutorials and learning new programs.

This is one of Dmitry's earliest personal projects

This is one of Dmitry's earliest personal projects

Top tip 1: Study your references images

Here is a simple large-sized photo. I've added Photoshop's High Pass filter to this image and made some simple adjustments. This helps me to see much more information than before, including a clear view of the pores and wrinkles' structure. Now this image can be used as stencil for sculpting or as base for custom brushes. You can always find more information in a reference image which might not be visible at first sight.

Top tip 2: Split complex things into simple ones

This is my method for making skin shaders. A skin shader is a complex thing, so it's better to split it into several simpler components and work on them separately. As you can see, I start from one element (subsurface scattering) and then step by step I add the other elements (specular, single scattering). By the end, I've achieved a very complex shader, but it was easy to do because I didn't try to set up everything at once.

Related links

To see more of Dmitry's work check out his website
Feeling inspired? Grab a copy of ZBrush Character Sculpting: Volume 1 today!
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