Making Of 'Morocco Topo'
TheÂ main ideaÂ ofÂ thisÂ work was toÂ redesignÂ aÂ classicÂ cartoon character.Â InÂ thisÂ caseÂ I choseÂ one ofÂ myÂ favorite Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Secret Squirrel and decided to recreate the squirrel's side-kick, Morocco Mole (Fig.01).
WithÂ respectÂ to the artÂ theÂ ideaÂ was to giveÂ a more realistic styleÂ to theÂ cartoon by taking a real mole out of his den, putting a coat and glasses on him, and sending him to hunt criminals.
In a purely technical sense, I wanted to make use of some of the new tools in ZBrush, like Transpose Master, UV Master and Polypaint. I am still a novice with this program and I think that creating models in 3D as a challenge and trying to solve the problems that arise is one of the best ways to learn.
Normally when I make a 3D model, I start by doing a very basic sketch on paper and then shape the parts in ZBrush, but inÂ this case I did not yet know what result I wanted, so I started looking for references of moles instead. I looked at real moles, caricatures, 3D moles and also other 3D models by other artists that could serve as inspiration (Fig.02).
AfterÂ analyzingÂ theÂ originalÂ character, I came up with the following description: Morocco Topo is an agent, a sky, an assistant, a detective, slow, fat, sleek and peaceful.
Developing a concept like this helps to keep your mind clear and allows you to identify with the character, resulting in a more faithful model and this is what I wanted to achieve. If, like me, you're not so good with 3D, I think working up a concept first is a good way to avoid a lot of mistakes.
After gathering my references, I made a very basic sketch by hand to guide me when it came to the pose and details I was going to be modeling. With this idea in mind, I opened ZBrush and made a base model with some ZSpheres (Fig.03).
I worked on the base a little more, adding detail and using retopology (Fig.04).
Next I started to model the specific parts of the mole. Here I know other people shape their characters, clothes and accessories separately and in full. I try to "cut" the model and leave only the objects that can be seen - for example, if a character has a jacket on then I won't model the character's torso or arms, I'll just model the hands. In this way I save computer resources and time by not mapping things no one is going to see.For an animated character this is probably not the best solution, but it works for me. Once all the modeling was done, I finished editing some triangles that had appeared on the model in 3ds Max and added some details that I find easier to model in Max than ZBrush (Fig.05).
For those who are just starting, maybe sending the file to ZBrush is a problem because it appears transparent. We can use the Shell modifier to resolve this, but in this case I used Detach (Fig.06).
With all the accessories modeled, I exported everything by group. First I exported in an .obj of the whole body, then an .obj of the head, hands and legs, then another .obj with the jacket etc. After I'd exported all the files into ZBrush, I opened subtools and just used patience and ZBrush to deliver the level of detail I was looking for.
Once I'd finished the sculpting I used the Polypaint option to paint the model. Sometimes I only use this as a guide to give it more texture in Photoshop; it really depends on the results (Fig.07 - 09).
When the model was sculpted and painted, I used the plugin UV Master to create Normal and Diffuse maps. Displacement maps I use very little; sometimes I prefer to export the mesh with thousands of polygons and use only Normal maps - this is something of a personal taste. UV Master can help to save a lot of time, allowing you to focus on the character and the detail (Fig.10).
When mapping with UV Master, and painting in ZBrush, I do not give much importance to the final shape of the UV maps because being good in ZBrush you can make sure the mapping is okay.
I use V-Ray to render, and the lights that I commonly use are VrayLightPlane because I like the result. The samples from the shadows I always leave at about 20, depending on if I want a bit of grain in the render or not. The camera for this image was a V-Ray Physical.
I also used settings that I had saved in the past. I think it's a good idea to have render settings for situations like interior lighting, outdoor light etc, as then you only really have to indicate the directions and types of lights (Fig.11- 12).
The materials I used are mostly V-Ray materials with a Normal and Bump map, and Diffuse and Specular maps in some cases. The skin material is VraySSS2, although as he was covered with hair, the translucency effect wasn't very important.
Here you can see the various passes I used (Fig.13).
InÂ PhotoshopÂ theÂ assembly sequenceÂ wasÂ as follows (Fig.14 - 17).
And here's the final image (Fig.18).
I thinkÂ there areÂ much more complex models on 3DTotal, but personally this work helped me to learn how to use some new tools and produce more of a professional result. I learned a little more about good workflows and this was very satisfying. I think that as a modeling and 3D project there is still some work to be done, but the learning I gained from this process was invaluable.I think that these Making Ofs are very useful when you already know how to use some 3D tools and want to know how other people's work compares, and also see that there are different ways to achieve the same result. I've always liked to review the processes of other 3D artists and it was great to write this Making Of. I hope you find it useful and let me know if you have any questions.