Making Of 'Zero'
Hello everyone! My name is Marcos Nicacio, I currently work at Best-CG as a character designer, modeler and animator and I'd like to share the creation process behind my most recent job.
Inspiration & References
Since being a kid, I've always liked to play video games - particularly the Mega Man series. In the Mega Man X game, a character suddenly appeared who was different from the kinds of character I was accustomed to seeing in the previous games. His name was Zero, he had long blond hair, a light sword and he looked more like a villain than a good guy. I thought his design was great and very audacious and from that point onwards, I became a huge fan of his character and started to play only as Zero whenever I could.
Nowadays, I've chosen to make a high-end, fan art version of the character, as I've never seen before in any games of the series.
To make the character as I wanted, the first step was to gather references that I could use to hit on the right proportions because during the game series, Zero had different heights and designs. Some of these can be seen in the references from: (http://www.themmnetwork.com/gallery/) (Fig.01 & Fig.02).
The best part for me was the modeling. It's always great to make a project where you can mix organic and inorganic modeling in the same mesh.
I started with the head (Fig.03) to help to get the other parts of the body in proportion, based on the references. Next I began modeling the inorganic parts, which were the helmet and the chest armor (Fig.04) and then I created the shoulders, arms and hands (Fig.05). After all of this was done, I could visualize really well the volume I wanted to the character to have.
I continued by modeling the other body parts, pieces which completed the armor and, lastly, the sword. This brought me to the end of the modeling process (Fig.06).
The next step was put him in a pose and to make some tests with shaders and textures with the final lighting scene.
I wanted a pose with strength that showed his personality and I just used Character Studio to make the rigging and to give him the final pose for the scene (Fig.07).
Textures & Shaders
The only textures that I needed to create were for the eyes, face and Zero's logo.
In terms of the shaders, I didn't want to draw too much attention to armor brightness; I just wanted some reflection so that it wasn't totally opaque and so that it contributed to the beauty of the scene. While the original concept didn't have any reflection, I wanted to try and show my own interpretation of the character by making changes like this.
I separated some shaders that corresponded with the red and green armor parts (Fig.08). For the face shader I created something simple, but which gave a good skin impression (Fig.09). On the cloth parts, I used a simply V-Ray material with the diffuse color and no reflection.
For the sword base, I used a gold material. Again, this was different from the original concept, which used a simple yellow, and was another chance for me to develop my idea. For the sword itself, I used a vraylight material.
Lighting and Rendering
My intention was to have a dark environment; something that could match the character's unfriendly expression. First I created an infinite background with reflection and GI environments. I also used two lights; one vraylight for the direct lighting and one omni light for the light coming from the sword (Fig.10).
In the render settings for the GI and reflection/refraction environments, I placed an HDRI image with a low intensity. This represented the environment clarity (Fig.11).
Here are the render settings that I used (Fig.12).
In Photoshop I did some adjustments on the lighting, contrast and effects on the render passes. I used four different layers for the composition: the background, the character, the glowing sword effect and the hair, which were rendered with the default 3ds Max system to save time (Fig.13).
And here is the final image (Fig.14).
So guys, I hope that you enjoyed it and that I could help to answer any questions you had about the creation process of my scene. Thanks to Lynette and all the 3DTotal staff for this opportunity. Best wishes and good studies for all!