Making Of 'The Final Frontier'
Gameloft concept artist, Andrey Gevechanov reveals the inspiration behind his latest image: The Final Frontier
On the planet Armagastus, the Bullgarium Imperium is the biggest empire ever in existence. This empire is at the peak of its power; having conquered almost the entirety of the known world, only a small portion of civilization is still free.
The Bullgar army is the biggest and most powerful war machine that's ever existed, revolutionary for its time. The advantage of the Bullgarium people didn't come solely from simple training and discipline, the people evolved telepathically; developing a powerful neural link that connected all of the legionnaires. The Dux Conductors are Generals that guide the army and train them to fight as one entity. The neural link allows the soldiers to share their experiences, and so it appears that Bullgarium legions are not lone individuals; they are one, and therefore the perfect war machine.
The borders of the empire stretched all over the Pontavus continent, yet now the Empire starts a new campaign to conquer Calderas – a frozen mountain region in the north. The empire has never fought the northern people before and there are rumors that they are fierce northern barbarians.
Leading the legion, Dux Conductor Arminius Fera Agustragus is cautious – as never before has a Bullgarium legionnaire set foot in this region. The weak old Emperor wants to achieve a final glory before his death, so has commanded that Calderas should fall. Arminius waits, watching the strange dark forest before him, knowing that he must not fail…
Creating an alien character based on Roman history was an old idea of mine. I love history, particularly the Roman period. When designing the setting, I didn't just want to create a generic fantasy world, but a more realistic and scientific setting without the common magic.
The character is from an alien species living on another planet. The culture is similar to the human race before the technology was invented, in a time period close to Medieval and Bronze Age. Like in the Star Trek Universe, these are alien races who have not yet invented technology, and are in different stages of development with different forms of society (though similar to our own in that they have empires, confederations and kingdoms). This culture is similar to the Romulans from Star Trek, as they represent the Roman Empire. My Bullgarium race design is based on Roman and Greek culture, particularly Roman.
In creating the look and the features of the race, I want a mix of elf, Minotaur and human. Designing the armor was a very interesting process. The heavy Roman Pretorian armor 'Segmentata Lorica' was the main source for the design. I wanted it to be bulky and with multiple layers. Under it, the character wears chainmail to mimic a medieval knight, but with a general Roman design. He also carries fur similar to a wolfskin, suggesting that the scene is located in the north during winter. The helmet is based on Roman legionary designs from 100-200AD and Spartan Corinthian helmets from 500BC.
Movies like Gladiator gave me the idea for the atmosphere. I designed the ornaments to give the character a more intimidating look and enforce a feeling of power.
Sculpting the head
I sculpted the basic form of the head and the horns using DynaMesh in ZBrush. Later I added the helmet and balanced the forms so the helmet looked like a design for an alien rather than a human. The shape of the helmet is designed to contrast the horns and follow the profile of the head, adding flow to the forms and enhancing the silhouette.
Sculpting the armor
The next thing was to add the plate armor. For the big detailed forms, like the eagle on the head and the lion heads, I sculpted them by hand. For the smaller details I used my insert brushes. Use of textures to create an Alpha map is a good way to add details and extrude the surface, giving scratches on the metal.
Using FiberMesh gives more realism to the image. This effect was achieved by using PolyGroups and custom settings until I was satisfied with the final image. Playing with the FiberMesh brushes removes the digital look of the fiber which in turn gives a unique look to the fur.
The model is PolyPainted by hand using advanced masking techniques. I created every material such as metal and skin in ZBrush, using quad shaders and channels. Rendering the image was then done entirely in ZBrush.
Using several lighting passes, the material was built up in every light with Specular map. I also exported Ambient Occlusion and Shadow maps and composed them in Photoshop. The over-painting process was done later to enhance the texture.
After, I used filters to blend the character with the background, and in the end I added snow particles. The idea was to achieve a cinematic feeling, as if it were a shot from a movie.