Melvin Okoronkwo: 3D character artist interview

Melvin Okoronkwo

3D Character Artist

Melvin Okoronkwo is a 3D character artist living in Sydney. His latest creation is a Sophie Turner-inspired “Dark Phoenix” render created with ZBrush and Marvelous Designer. Find out more…

Melvin's Profile


Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?


My name is Melvin and I’m a 3D character artist living in Sydney. I very much enjoy the process of creating digital characters from concept to final renders. As a character artist, I have studied human anatomy quite a bit, as it helps with my work. I’m also interested in photography, so when I’m not at my desk sculpting, modeling, or painting textures, I’m out and about with my camera taking pictures and learning about image composition.

krillen, fan art, cartoon, design

Krillen fan-art

cheeky kids, character design, girl, boy 3d, zbrush

Cheeky Kids

snail, raspberries, design, 3d, animation

Hungry for Raspberries

spartan hoplite up close, zoom, 3d

Spartan Hoplite close up

spartan, full body, design, fan art

Spartan Hoplite full-body

Despicable me, fan art, minions, zbrush, marvelous designer

Despicable Me fan-art


What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?


Watching the trailer for the upcoming Dark Phoenix movie was what inspired me to create my latest gallery image. My goal was to make a version of Sophie Turner wearing the classic Phoenix costume found in the comics.

I started off with a base model of a woman I made earlier, and then I modified it in ZBrush to look more like the actress. I created the hard parts of her costume, like the base of her boots and the insignia, in Maya. Her body suit and belt were built in Marvelous Designer, and then exported to ZBrush for detailing. Initially I had a large flaming phoenix behind her in the main composition but I decided to remove it as it was taking away from the main character.


What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?


It’s always a lot of fun when I get the chance to work on a personal project. The most challenging part of the artwork was getting the face to look like the actress, while striking a different facial expression than she’s known for. I experimented with a few expressions, but went with something more sinister. I wanted to place her in a pose that stayed true to the comics, so I experimented with a few poses in Maya before choosing my favourite one.


Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?


In the past I have always shuffled primarily between Softimage XSI, 3ds Max, and Maya, but these days I try to keep my software to a minimum. I mostly use Maya for all my modeling, ZBrush for detailed sculpting, Marvelous Designer for whenever I need to have fabric drape realistically on my characters, Substance Painter for the majority of my texture painting, and Mudbox for image projection. I’m still meaning to learn Blender, and I see a lot of interesting features being added to it, especially the new 2.8, but I haven’t had any real need to add a new software to my existing workflow.


How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?


When you stop learning, you will soon neglect what you already know; so the most important tip I can give is to always take time out to work on a personal project. I get inspiration for my artwork from a lot of places, and since I cannot work on all of them at the same time, I usually write the idea down and add it to my schedule. That helps keep track of what I’m supposed to be working on when I get some time away from work. My favorite place to get lost in a lot of ideas is Pinterest.

I get inspiration for my artwork from a lot of places, and since I cannot work on all of them at the same time, I usually write the idea down and add it to my schedule


Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?


On Facebook, I am a member of 3D Modeling and Animation Group, and Ten Thousand Hours. I usually post my artwork there to get some feedback. I also have a Facebook page and Instagram, where I post exclusive content about my artwork.


What can we expect to see from you next?


I am gradually making a tutorial series for character development, and also working on a new Native American character with more emphasis on realistic skin, face paint, and extreme close ups. I have learned a lot about the previous inhabitants of North America in the process, and I can’t wait to present it.

dark phoenix, fan art, design, character

Dark Phoenix fan-art