The making of 'He’ll keep an eye on us'

The talented 3D artist Rodrigo Paulicchi shows us how he goes from concept through to final image using ZBrush and 3ds Max

Original idea

The original idea for this image came when I was searching for inspiration on the internet. I always try to collect as many references as I can and I find a great deal of talented people all around the world by doing that! This is where I came across the work by the talented animator and character designer Javi Salvador. It is important for you to study your subject very carefully. Observe it and take notes of what you want to mimic and what you want to give your own look to. In this image, for example, what caught my attention was Goku's design... I like how it looks so different from the one we're used to see and yet so recognizable, naive and yet confident. He looks ready to save the world!

<h5>The original concept by Javi Salvador</h5>

The original concept by Javi Salvador

Modeling

I just love modeling characters! This is definitely the most fun part! I try to keep my workflow inside ZBrush, at least for the main model. I always start off with very basic shapes to start defining things. Usually I take a sphere and play with it trying to find the right proportions. This is often a hard but very rewarding part of the process, since DynaMesh lets me experiment and achieve cool things very quickly. Later on in the process, I go to Marvelous Designer, which allows me to easily make his clothes, both for the initial and final poses.

Modeling the head

Modeling the head

For the body I use a technique I learned with Danny Williams (aka PointPusher), in which he uses a bunch of PolySpheres to quickly establish proportions and attitude.

<h5>A gif using PointPusher's technique</h5>

A gif using PointPusher's technique

<h5>Building up the body</h5>

Building up the body

The props were all really simple. The most "complicated" thing to do was the stone ground, because I wanted it to look like an old rock, so I tried to sculpt it a bit to help the textures pop out. The trees and the temple were secondary so I paid a bit less attention to it.

Scene props

Scene props

UVs and texturing

All my UVs were done using UV Layout. I've done proper UVs for all of the objects in my scene, but I'm just gonna showcase the ground here, since it shows what I've done for pretty much every object. For texturing I've used Quixel's DDO, which I think is an awesome tool to bring your projects to another level. Since I'm not very fond of normal maps (at least for non-real-time projects) I've chosen to stick with displacement. It's a bit more expensive in terms of render time but it gives me the result I want.

UV maps and textures

UV maps and textures

Scene assembly

Once I finished modeling and creating the UVs for everything I went into 3ds Max and started playing with camera position and lights. I used two V-Ray sunlights (one for the scenery and one for the character), one fill light, one rim light and one light for his eyes. In the images below you can see I've assembled everything according to camera in order to keep things as simple and "render friendly" as I could.

Close-up of the character lighting

Close-up of the character lighting

Scene assembly and lighting

Scene assembly and lighting

Rendering and compositing

Here I've used simple V-Ray passes to help me establish the final mood for my project. I treat the beauty render as a raw photography that needs to be enhanced and that's what I tried to achieve, both with the passes below and some photo manipulation, especially for the clouds in the sky.

Passes

Passes

The final image

That's pretty much it!! I hope you enjoy reading this making-of and it will, somehow, be useful to those who seek inspiration out there! Cheers!

The final image

The final image

Related links

Head over to Rodrigo's website to see more of his awesome characters
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