Making a cartoon character
Boris Joanovic shares his workflow for creating a cartoon character in
3ds Max and ZBrush
Step 1: Concept
This character is based on Gui Guimaraes's concept, and it was "love at first sight" for me. It is always tricky if you choose to create a character based on a 2D concept; there will be some problems, such as matching lights, what does the back side look like, sometimes even pose although looks perfect in 2D is actually not very realistic in 3D, so I do not worry if along the way some things may change.
Step 2: Basic figure
First step was to create a basic body using ZBrush. Modeling a character can be tricky when you are working in T-pose or A-pose and the concept is in completely different (dynamic) pose.
Step 3: Legs
The most complicated part of modeling was making the character's leg design. I painted the design directly on to the model using ZBrush's PolyPaint. Next step was to work on the topology (in ZBrush); my goal was to create a hi-poly model. I turned on Symmetry when doing the legs and when I was happy with the result I used soft selection in 3ds Max to match the actual leg shape.
Step 4: Accessories
For electronic accessories, I always used old fashion sculpting directly in 3ds Max. Yes it can be achieved in ZBrush as well, but somehow it is always easier and quicker for me to sculpt hard surface parts directly in 3ds Max.
Step 5: Hair
I made the hair in ZBrush using the CurveStrapSnap brush. I can recommend seeing this tutorial on YouTube, it helps a lot. When I was happy with the result, I used the retopology tool in ZBrush again and created the final geometry.
Step 6: Final topology and UVs
And finally here is the full body. For UVs I used Unfold3D and created four sets of textures, one for skin, second one for hair, third for shirt, and the last for the body. Then it was the time to model the final geometry and bake the normal maps.
Step 9: Maps
What helps a lot and improves textures is when I use ambient occlusion and cavity map within diffuse texture. Now there are many ways how you can create those textures, I did the following: using Mental Ray I bake Ambient Occlusion from the model and a cavity map from the normal map in Photoshop.
Step 10: Textures
All textures where created and hand painted in Photoshop. I had to adjust the transparency of the shirt and glow/self illumination textures as well, but it was all about intensity. I also created diffuse, specular, gloss and self illumination textures used for body. For skin as I used the Fast Skin Shader in Mental Ray - except for the normal map and simple diffuse texture the whole job was done directly in shader by playing with values.
Step 11: Posing
I like to have freedom when it comes to creating pose that is why I mostly like to have character with rig/skin. For the rig, CAT was used in 3ds Max. Matching the concept pose as closely as possible can be complicated because matching shapes and colors.
Step 12: Scene
It was obvious to me that I will not be able to match lights exactly like those you can see on concept, so I knew only that I want to have strong rim light from left side, rest was just result of testing various light combination. At the end I have used except one rim light, one main light, one top light and two fill lights.
Step 13: Render
When using render systems like V-Ray or Mental Ray, or any other, I recommend using materials made for that particular render, and one of the reason is, that you can render more render elements than usual, this helps a lot in final process. This is what I do always, rendering all elements that Mental Ray offers.
Step 14: Final composition
Last thing to do is to create composition in Photoshop, adding some details that will make you render even better. So this is it, I hope it was helpful and thank you for reading.