Making of “Chibi girl”

3D character artist Manuel J. Gallardo takes us through the 3ds Max, ZBrush, KeyShot, and Photoshop workflow for his "Chibi girl"...

This image is a personal project, and was created in my spare time. It was based on a great Salvador Ramirez concept. In this making of article I will go through my process showing how I made the character. I enjoyed this project a lot and I hope you guys get some information from this tutorial!

The concept

When starting a new project, the first step is to choose an attractive and elegant concept. I do not choose projects that do not convince me 100% because I will be working on them for several days or weeks, and if they do not motivate me I will end up leaving them unfinished, or with a level of quality that will not be up to par.

Once this point is clear, before starting to model, I analyze the character that I have in front of me. I dissect the model into parts, taking into account the proportions, and main volumes.

The base mesh

The first step is to create a base mesh of the model. I started the main volumes of the body in 3ds Max, and after passed it across to ZBrush. There I placed the background concept with the Spotlight tool and adjusted the proportions more precisely.

Modeling the head

The head of the character is half the character in proportion. It is a very cartoony model, and the face has a vital importance to convey the character's personality. The sculpting in ZBrush is the part that I enjoy the most when creating characters, it allows you a freedom and a modeling speed that makes the task much easier, and it is valued even more when you make traditional sculptures. First I modeled the face and then the rest of the elements of the head, such as hair, eyebrows, glasses, and so on... and then I applied some color with polypaint.


Modeling the body and accessories

Once the head was sculpted, I started sculpting the body, in this case the arms and legs, where I only have to define the hands. For clothing and other accessories I started from basic primitives such as spheres and cylinders, and subdivided to add polygon resolution. I continued to sculpt until I reached the final shape.

I look for very soft shapes that do not generate much noise in the silhouette of the model, as in this type of character it is paramount. For the relief of the backpack I applied a preset of the plugins that are inside the Noise window.

Posing the model

The pose of the character is important to convey the personality of the character. It would be a tedious task to have so many elements in separate SubTools, but luckily in ZBrush is the SubTool Master plugin, to be able to unify the entire mesh and pose the character in a more comfortable way.


Lighting and shading

To illuminate the scene and apply materials I have used KeyShot, the lighting of the environments and the model is more natural with an HDRI image and some lights to apply contrast to the scene.

The materials are standard for the model, and glass for the fish tank.

Final image

And finally, in Photoshop I created the final composition, applying the different KeyShot rendering passes and applying a few final value and color tweaks.