Making Of 'Carlos Huante Creature Model'

This Making Of will show the different stages of the complete artwork from a basic 3D mesh, adding details using Mudbox, to rendering the final model in 3ds Max with Brazil, and with completed textures in Photoshop. Firstly, I must give thanks to the great artist Carlos Huante for inspiring me to create my 3D artwork; I am a huge fan of his work and I have learnt a lot about anatomy, creature design and colours from his work. I find his creatures awesome, and they have a great sense of anatomy and organic form even if they are a fantasy concept. So, hats off to Sir Carlos Huante (Fig01)!

Fig.

Fig.

Step 1

First of all, I started modelling the base mesh with proper mesh flow in 3DS Max using polygon tools, starting with a box. I also kept in mind that the model had quads only, and no tris, as it was to be later sub divided in Mudbox (Fig02).

Fig.

Fig.

Step 2

Once I was satisfied with my base mesh, I started doing the unwrapping for the mesh in Max using the unwrap tools. I made sure there were no overlaps or stretching in the UVWs, because good UVWs are a must for every major step ahead in the process, whether it's normal map generation or texturing. So, I spent quite some time on this boring process (Fig03).

Fig.

Fig.

Step 3

Once I felt that the UVWs were good enough, I started preparing the model ready for exporting it into Mudbox for high poly detailing. As you can see in Fig04, I set the pivot point of the model to the centre and all coordinates to zero. You can also see that the model is half built at this point, which is because, after looking at the concept, I decided to model just half of the creature and then mirrored it later on. I also planned to show just the profile of the model, as it is in the concept (Fig04).

Fig.

Fig.

Step 4

Fig05 shows a screenshot of the OBJ export options. This model, with complete UVW mapping, was ready to go into Mudbox in .obj format for a higher level of detail (Fig05).

Fig.

Fig.

Step 5

As you can see, the base mesh was successfully imported into Mudbox, and I prepared it using a proper naming convention - which is very important because everything should have a name (Fig06). Now the fun begins! Mudbox Rocks!

Fig.

Fig.

Step 6

I subdivided the mesh to 1 level in Mudbox in order to start sculpting the details. As you can see in the wireframe image (Fig07), the mesh density has increased from the original mesh that we imported.

Fig.

Fig.

Step 7

(The fun has already begun!) I firstly started sculpting and giving mass details to the creature. I studied the concept and tried to finish the basic mass and shape of the creature using a combination of bulge, move and smooth brushes to achieve my goals (Fig08).

Fig.

Fig.

Step 8

As you can see in Fig09, I started increasing the level of details. With each and every part, I slowly tried to spend more time studying the concept and the style of the concept artist, whilst also trying to add my own details to the model (Fig09).

Fig.

Fig.

Step 9

I subdivided the mesh again to level 2, and started working more details into the model, this time adding more flesh and small organic details to it. I liked this part a lot; I used normal sculpting tools like bulge, soft and smooth brushes (Fig10).

Fig. 10

Fig. 10

Step 10

More subdivision, more details. This time I concentrated on doing skin folds, stretches, and things like pores and boils. I am totally in love with Mudbox, and doing this has never been easier (Fig11).

Fig. 11

Fig. 11

Step 11

Satisfied with the detail of the model, the next step was to generate a nice normal map. Fig12 shows the settings and the image size of the normal map; I specified subdivision level 1 as my low poly mesh, and used the highest subdivision level as my high poly mesh. The normal map generated was my base bump and diffuse map. I hit the operation button and the map was ready in the path I specified (Fig12) - it's so simple!

Fig. 12

Fig. 12

Step 12

As you can see in Fig13, I then exported the level 1 mesh from Mudbox into 3DS Max. This mesh has higher mesh density than the original base mesh and has more mass details (Fig13).

Fig. 13

Fig. 13

Step 13

The mesh was imported into 3DS Max using the .obj import option. It was then ready to have a shader pass on it and I was able to test the normal map that I had generated (Fig14).

Fig. 14

Fig. 14

Step 14

Fig15 shows the test render of the mesh. I applied a skin shader from Brazil's rendering system. I always use this shader with creatures and characters because it is easy to use and gives some awesome results with subsurface scattering, and has a real skin-like quality (Fig15).

Fig. 15

Fig. 15

Step 15

The above (Fig16) image shows the normal map generated in Mudbox, plugged into the shader, and the test render shown with the model. I left this here at this point, as later on I planned to tweak the shader more with more detail, once I was done with the diffuse map and lighting (Fig16). (See you soon, Shader!)

Fig. 16

Fig. 16

Step 16

I then mirrored the mesh and started modelling the mouth, along with other important small details which were to bring more life into this creature (Fig17).

Fig. 17

Fig. 17

Step 17

I added more details to the model, like the teeth, and those spikes on his back. The creature received all of his beauty elements at this stage - I love that he has lots of teeth to eat puny humans! The next step was to add some colour to it, and so I moved into Adobe Photoshop - another program which I love and cannot do without (Fig18).

Fig. 18

Fig. 18

Step 18

Now it's time to colour! As you can see in Fig19, I used the normal map, which was generated in Mudbox, as a base for all maps; I desaturated the normal map and generated a fake occlusion (which works for me) and started hand painting the colours. By the way, I only use a mouse for modelling and painting - I never use a tablet. I love my mouse and I am very comfortable working with it. Some people call me the 'Evil Mouse Guy'. So, I started painting organic flesh colours whilst checking a lot of reference material from Carlos Huante to see how he used interesting colours for his creatures. I also kept all of my layers for different colours so that I could tweak them. Details like spots and strokes were also added on a different layer so that I could tweak or blur them later. To test the colour in the 3D renderer, I plugged it into the skin shader (Fig19).

Fig. 19

Fig. 19

Step 19

Fig20 shows the screenshot of the Brazil skin shader preview in 3DS Max. I then had to set up the lights, as can be seen in Fig 20. I was then ready to hit Render.

Fig. 20

Fig. 20

Step 20

Before, the screenshot from 3DS Max showed my lighting setup from the top and perspective view. I was using four spotlights and one Brazil light. I then hit Render from the camera view selection (Fig21).

Fig. 21

Fig. 21

Step 21

Now, Fig22 is what I call a test render! It all started coming to life at this stage. I then started to think about adding extra visual elements to the creature like slime, hair and a ground - so I got stuck into creating them (Fig22).

Fig. 22

Fig. 22

Step 22

As you can see, all of the extra visual elements were added like slime and hair, and also shading for the teeth and spikes was also done. They used the same Brazil shader with simple diffuse, and the material on the slime was done using a Brazil standard shader with transparency and a high specular value. I modelled the hair because it was very minor, and I was then ready for the final render (Fig23).

Fig. 23 - Final Image