Model Phoenix from “Valorant” using ZBrush & Maya
Hello, Phoenix is my last project I made it as a fanart of a game I’m playing, I wanted to make one of the characters but in a realistic style and that was the challenge.
The first stage of the work was gathering as many references as I could find online from other concepts and 3D artists that worked on the Valorant game, portraits of real people that looked like the character, and starting to block the general idea in ZBrush.
Next I started blocking all the elements with basics shapes. I always work with the insert low-poly sphere, and duplicate that SubTool to create other elements – it’s just something I do instead of appending new objects. The moment I felt happy with the overall general shapes, I dynameshed my model and started adding more space into the silhouette.
Adding more detail
In this step I did a rough Polypaint just to get a general idea of the forms and what I wanted to achieve, along with a first pass of retopology, like the head, and a quick Maya retopo of the jacket just to get clean shapes so I could change things quickly and keep the forms clean.
Now that I had clear idea of what I wanted, I started to block the cloth in Marvelous Designer. I took it to a point I’m happy with. I imported it into Maya to do retopology using a UV tool script in Maya. After that I used a transfer attribute tool inside Maya to transfer the UV into the 3D geometry based in UVs that comes with the Marvelous Designer mesh.
UV's and projection
After doing the retopology, I started doing UVs using a combination of UV inside Maya, and ZBrush. Then I exported all the objects and started projecting the high detail from the jacket into the retopo one, and for the face I used a combination of XYZ textures (Alpha pack) and ZBrush brushes.
For texturing, I used Mari for the face texture and Substance Painter for clothing, in combination with some mix materials inside Maya to emulate small detailsvariation in macro skin bump and hair color.
Hair was a challenge because i didn’t have any idea how to do that hairstyle. So I blocked all the hair in ZBrush and then did the UVs. Each cylinder had its own UV in case I needed to color each group of hair differently. Then i applied Xgen to that group of cylinders. For the material, I used vertex color to color my hair and inside the material I used Ai UserData Color node to make Arnold recognize the vertex color in the render.
I used Arnold for most of my renders. It’s faster and you can do whatever you want with it quickly. So in order to benefit from it, I worked only with the Standard Surface shader and plugged all the texture exported from Substance Painter and Mari. For the render settings I didn't go crazy with them because I also used HDRI to get the look I wanted.
Top tip 1 - Maya to ZBrush
Since GOZ is no longer working, I always use a plugin called Styx – it’s a really helpful tool to navigate between Maya, 3ds Max, and ZBrush.
Top tip 2 - XGen texture
I used vertex color to color my hair and Ai UserData to make Arnold recognize the vertex color I painted in the render.