Create a children’s illustration in 3D

Introduction

In this tutorial I'm going to talk about how I made the Childhood illustration in 3D, starting from the concept to the render, going through sculpting, modeling, UVs, texturing, rendering, and paintover. I thought I was going to have a short time to do this project, like a week, so I had to use zremesher instead of retopology, and ZBrush unwrap for UVs. I used to do retopology and UVs in Maya.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon
Childhood © Giulia Marchetti

1. Simple concept

First I made a quick and simple concept just to guide me to the composition, character, and objects that I wanted. Because I had a clear idea in my mind this time, I didn't need a perfect concept.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon concept sketch

Concept © Giulia Marchetti

2. Sculpting and zremesher

In this part I sculpted all the characters and then I used zremesher to lower the polygon count and get a clean mesh. When the project is for animation I always use retopology. I used Extract for the clothes in 0 thickness and then zremesher and half to get a clean mesh, and when I had that I used zmodeler: extrude. And finally I subdivided the mesh to 5 or 6 to start sculpting the details.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon sculpting zremesher

Sculpting and zremesher © Giulia Marchetti

3. Preparation for Substance Painter

In this part I sculpted all the characters and then I used zremesher to lower the polygon count and get a clean mesh. When the project is for animation I always use retopology. I used Extract for the clothes in 0 thickness and then zremesher and half to get a clean mesh, and when I had that I used zmodeler: extrude. And finally I subdivided the mesh to 5 or 6 to start sculpting the details.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon preparation Substance Painter

Preparation for Substance Painter © Giulia Marchetti

4. Texturing in Substance Painter

I used Substance Painter to make the textures. I always search for new textures in the Substance Source, because there are a lot of textures of all types. I used a pattern from freepik to the dress. The clothes are basically a material of clothes, then I used a black color with an Occlusion smart mask to put some dirt and highlight fake shadows, and then a white color with a Fabric Edge Damages smart mask to highlight the edges.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon texturing Substance Painter

Texturing in Substance Painter © Giulia Marchetti

5. Posing the character

I posed the character using the Transpose Master in ZBrush because it is super easy and quick, instead of making a rig.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon pose ZBrush

Pose © Giulia Marchetti

6. Background

I made all the background with process in ZBrush; modeling, sculpting, UV unwrapping, and Polypainting for the monsters. I made this part simple because I already knew that I was going to blur almost all the background. I used an image of a forest with a gaussian blur and color correction for the background.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon background ZBrush

Background © Giulia Marchetti

7. Rendering in Blender

I used Blender for rendering and the AutoEye addon by Lucas Falcao for the eyes, because is super easy to use and with beautiful result. I made hair particles for the clothes, grass, and monsters. I passed all the textures from Substance Painter to Blender with the Substance Painter Live Link by Xolotl Studio. This plugin allow you to pass everything in one click, and it creates all the materials and nodes of each texture. So it's amazing! A lot of technical work.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon rendering Blender

Rendering in Blender © Giulia Marchetti

8. Post-production

I rendered separate layers for each objects’ group with transparency background, then I composed everything in Photoshop and painted over a lot of layers, like more fake lights, and more strands of hair for the character. I made in this part the color correction too, particles in the space, image background, and so on.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon postproduction

Postproduction © Giulia Marchetti

Top Tip: Make personal work and show it

I think the most important is to always be doing things, always studying, drawing, sculpting, whatever – but practicing! All that knowledge will get into your head forever and you will be able to put that progress in every new work. I got most of my paid jobs because I made a lot of personal work, so clients can see it and say, I want that!

If you don't have something to show what you can do, it is difficult to get the jobs you want because most of the time clients don't even know what they want, and when they see your work they realize that, that is what they was thinking about or imagining.

Giulia Marchetti childhood 3d cartoon

Final product © Giulia Marchetti

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