Making Of 'Space Vagabond Scout Sniper Armor'
Hi there folks! This time I'll show you how I created one of my latest 3D characters, which was inspired by the great work of the concept artist Kai Lim (aka Ukitakumuki). You can see some of his work here: http://www.imaginaryfs.com/ or http://ukitakumuki.deviantart.com/
What inspired me to start this project was the unique style and design of the character. I thought it was very interesting and would be a personal challenge. I just needed to sculpt it and I hoped to do justice to the original design.
Translating the Concept into 3D
Sometimes it can be very hard to translate a concept into 3D. It helps if you focus your ideas on some of the main aspects to start the modeling process. Once you've found the basic silhouette, things start to look easier.
The character has stylish and futuristic - but very realistic - combat gear, and my aim was to make it look believable when sculpted, because the original artwork had this near-future vibe, but with a lot of real-life stuff. In some parts you can see the relation between our current technology and what's in the image. It's 20 years or so ahead of us and our soldiers will probably look like this one day. Since he's a sniper, he looks stealthy and I think the navy bluish coloring fits the style perfectly. His helmet reminds me of the design of the B-2 stealth bombers and the legs make me think about MGS soldiers. All of which makes for a pretty awesome combination of influences and an extremely inspiring concept.
Sculpting the Suit
The first thing I did was pay attention to the highlights of the concept artwork. I picked out the main aspects of the armor and the suit, and began to think about which parts would be hard surface modeling and which ones would be more organic.
The challenge this time was to keep the same design as the original concept. I started to sculpt the suit using a very simple base mesh (Fig.01) and divided it into three parts: head, eyes, hands and body.
The other parts I modeled separately. The helmet, cloak and some of the armor pieces were done using ZSpheres and primitive geometry, then the blocking stage was done in ZBrush After reaching a look that was close to the concept, I began to sculpt the details such as the metal parts of the helmet. I also had to make the hood and knife, packs, helmet lights/scanning system as separate tools (Fig.02).
For the clothing I used the Slash and the Clay brushes. For the hard surface parts I used the TrimDynamicTrails and the TrailM3 brushes (Fig.03).
After doing the final detailing for the whole character, I started the retopology process in Topogun; first the body and then the other pieces (Fig.04 - 05).
A pedestal was the next step. I tried a few variations for it, but finally chose to make a metal plate floor. I did the same objs grouped with different polygroups and exported it into Topogun (Fig.06).
Modeling the Weapons
The next step was to sculpt the weapons: a badass sniper rifle and a deadly pistol. The concept had a lot of info that helped me to build them. The rifle was divided in four parts made of primitive geometry, using the side view from the illustration as modeling sheet and then refining in ZBrush. The same was true for the pistol, but that was split into five parts with a polygroup for each one of them. This makes it possible to sculpt details without a lot of subtools; you can add different colors and stuff simply by masking it (Fig.07 - 09).
The projected bakes in Topogun worked really fast and were clean. I exported normal, ambient occlusion, color and cavity maps for each part of the character and grouped them in Photoshop. I then merged a lot of texture patterns to make the materials, such as metals, fabrics and self illumination maps (Fig.10 - 12).
Posing the Character
To pose the character I used the same process that I'd used for my medieval Daredevil: ZBrush Transpose Masters and the Move brush for tweaks. Since it wasn't a complex pose, I was able to make it really quickly using this technique (and I'm not good with rigging, so this is the best way for me).
It can be applied to more dynamic action poses as well, but it can turn into a nightmare sometimes so I choose a simplistic stance. I just went for a character loadout style shot (Fig.13).
My main tool for this project was ZBrush, of course, but Topogun and the Marmoset Toolbag have become my best friends lately. Especially for this character, where I didn't want to go for a pre-rendered scene; I wanted a realtime character.
In Marmoset I created three lights and a metro environment HDRI (Fig.14) to simulate the style of lightning that could show every texturing details and material variations. I also turned on the AO realtime rendering and the bloom effect, but very softly.
So after a few explorations for the final shots, the project was finished and it was fun (Fig.15). I hope you like it! Thanks to Kai Lim for allowing me to sculpt one of his characters and I'm really glad to share the process of the making with you people. I also need to thank (http://z-design.deviantart.com/) for the brush set to make the holographic stuff for the final comp. Peace!