Project Overview: Hunter

Originally created for a Mass Effect-style challenge, Christopher Parnian went off brief to create this sexy, armored woman instead!


In this project overview I'm going to show you an overview of the workflow that I used for my Hunter model. I'll try to share the interesting parts about this project and I hope that you find what I say useful. Here are the sections I'll be covering:

1. Inspiration and Reference
2. Modeling
3. Textures and Materials
4. Lighting
5. Rendering
6. Compositing in Photoshop
7. Animation
8. Conclusion


I created this character for a challenge and the rule was to create a character that would fit into the Mass Effect universe, but I didn't follow that rule exactly! My character is very similar to Crysis's character, but a female version.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create a "sexy character in a nano suit and armor". I started by gathering references from various websites to complete my ideas. I watched some movies too, to help me find some inspiration. I think it's a good idea to collect references before going onto the modeling stage so you won't be confused later.

These are my inspiration and reference images

These are my inspiration and reference images


I intended to do the whole modeling process in 3ds Max and not to use any secondary or plug-in software. When modeling, I usually work on a base geometry in ZBrush, but this time I decided to use a different technique to help increase my ability.

Base mesh created in 3ds Max

Base mesh created in 3ds Max

After I had created the base mesh, I did just a little bit of deforming in ZBrush.

Deforming in ZBrush

When I was content with the shape, I went back into Max and did some modeling by using the Graphite modeling tools and the retopologizing technique. I have experience with Maya, XSI, ZBrush and Topogun too, and in my opinion it's better to use ZBrush or Topogun for retopologizing because the polygons will snap on the surface very well.

Final model, render to be rendered

Textures and Materials

I used the mental ray Arch and Design material and SSS system for this project, as they are very good at portraying metal materials. The Arch and Design materials have some good preset settings with which you can create all sorts of realistic materials. These are a good starting point from which to create your custom setups.

I also used an HDR image in the reflection map slot, which helped greatly in achieving realistic metals instead of relying only on the environment reflections.

The Arch and Design materials dramatically increased the render times, but I think the end result was worth the wait.

For scratched and weathered parts of the armor, I painted alphas with some other dirty textures in Photoshop.

For UV unwrapping I used the UV Editor in 3ds Max and most of the textures such as the face and patterns were created in Photoshop.

Some of the materials and textures used


I only used three groups of lights, and each group had two lights for the whole scene. Also, I used mr sky portal lights to give me the smooth shadows I wanted.

The entire lighting rig, consisting of six lights in three groups

The entire lighting rig, consisting of six lights in three groups

The settings I used for the lights

The settings I used for the lights

A clay render, just showing the lighting

A clay render, just showing the lighting


Because some of the materials were quite heavy and took a long time to render, I set my render test settings to a very low quality. This is always good practice and will speed up your workflow; the last thing you want to be doing is waiting around for test renders. I used the default draft settings for the tests and kept the render size small.

Once I was happy with my render and the lighting looked reasonable, I moved on to a larger render. This render had slightly increased settings such as bounce and final gather rays cast.

  Render configuration

Render configuration

Compositing in Photoshop

For the compositing, I worked with the final render with some passes (AO, Alpha).

These are the final shots and some additional images


I also made an animation for the helmet, just to show how it would open and close:


I would like to thank you for reading this project overview. This has been an opportunity for me to show a little of my workflow. If anyone has any questions about this overview or any of my other artworks then feel free to contact me at

Good luck!

To see more by Christopher Parnian, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 9

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