The Making of Pets and Monsters - Candy Dreams

Character and toy designer Teodoru Badiu shares the design process for the adorable characters in his Pets and Monsters illustration

The idea for the images is based on a short story that I have developed and for that story I needed some relatively simple but interesting characters. Based on The Duck character I will show the modeling techniques that I used to create all the characters for the Pets and Monsters image. Users with intermediate Modo skills will be able to follow up this brief project overview.

For the most of my characters I use to draw a quick sketch to be used as reference. Sometimes I can stick to the 2D sketch, but sometimes I have go further and make different changes on the character during the modeling stage, in order to achieve the look that I want in 3D.

For most of my work I use a combination of Box Modeling, Polygon Modeling and Sculpting in combination with the other tools that Modo has to offer.

Head Base

I start the work with the head of the duck model. For that I created a sphere using the Solid Sketch Tool, with a Subdivision Mode of Level 2. After that I have hit S key to Subdivide the sphere, and using the Transform Move Tool, W key in combination with the Transform Scale Tool, W key and Falloff set to Soft Selection I have shaped the base of the head to fit the look of the sketch and my needs. The next step was to create a copy of the head base mesh that was used as Mesh Constraints over the next steps.

The Solid Sketch created head base mesh

The Solid Sketch created head base mesh

The beak

To model the beak I used the Pen Tool in combination with the Transform Tool, T key to create one rough half of the beak shape. After that I have mirrored the polygons on the X Axis to get the other half of the beak. Using the Thicken Tool I got the thickness that I needed to create the finale shape of the beak. By using Subdivision and the Sculpt Tools like, Move and Push in combination with the Bevel Tool and the Transform Move tool I gave the beak the shape that I needed and also added the nostrils and the crease between upper and lower beak part.

Beak modeling using the Pen, Mirror and Thicken tool

Beak modeling using the Pen, Mirror and Thicken tool

Eyes

I used the Solid Sketch Tool to create one eye shape that has been duplicated and scaled to get the outer eyelid mesh that I needed. After that I deleted a few polygons from the lower part of the eyelid mesh, rotate it a bit on the Y Axis, and used the Thicken Toll to close the eyelid shape around the eye. Then I used the Transform Move Tool and the Transform Scale Tool to place and scale the other three eyes on the head and using the Mirror Tool to duplicate them. The next step was to delete the back half of the eyelid meshes and also the corresponding head polygons. Using the Edge Extend and the Bridge Tool I have connected the eyelid meshes to the head.

Eyes and eyelid creation

Eyes and eyelid creation

Body

As done before for the head, I used the Solid Sketch Tool to create the basic shape of the body that was then refined using the Transform tools in combination with Soft Selection, Smooth and Bevel tool. The arms and the legs were created using the Tube Tool with 8 sides and one segment. The foot was created using the Pen Tool in combination with Thicken Tool like the beak. Then I have positioned the arms and the legs to fit to the body, and using the Bridged Tool on Edge mode I have connected them to the body and the body to the head. Using the bevel tool I made the shirt look and after that, I modeled the hat and the hands using Box modeling techniques.

Body, hands and hat modeling

Body, hands and hat modeling

UW Unwrapping

To prepare the model for UV unwrapping I have created an own mesh item for all the duck parts. Then starting with the body I have selected the seams in Edge Mode and used the Unwrap Tool to create the texture map. In UV mode I used the UV Relax Tool in Adaptive or Mode to get rid of stretching or overlapping. Once I was happy with the result I have subdivided the mesh once more and used the Relax Tool and the Pack UVs Tool to get a nice texture map, which I have exported as .eps file via Export UVs to EPS. I have repeated that procedure for all the body parts and then I have merged the different mesh items into one and named it duck.

UV unwrapping and texture map export

UV unwrapping and texture map export

Texturing

In Modo I have created separate materials for the body, eyes, beak, shirt and hat. The texture maps for the different materials have been created in Photoshop. For that I have opened the EPS file at 2048x2048 pixels and by using layers and different paint tools I created the map that I needed. The file was then saved as .tga and added to the material as Diffuse Color and as Subsurface Color. I have repeated the steps for the other maps needed and at the end I have tweaked the material settings to get the results I needed for each duck part. To get the look that I needed for the scene I have created the texture maps for the other characters by choosing colors that will complement each other and that will help to separate the characters in the final composition.

Texture Map and materials creation

Texture Map and materials creation

Scene Setup

Once all the characters and assets where ready I have created a new scene and I have imported all the characters with the materials in the new scene. After that I have adjusted the Camera setting according to my needs and started to position all the characters and the assets to build up the final look of the scene.

The next step was to set the Render settings for Antialiasing at 32Sampels/Pixel and the filter to Catmull-Rom. I have changed the Shading rates to 0.1 pixels and Refinement Threshold to 5.0%. I have also turned on the Adaptive Subdivisions and the Micropoly Displacement.

Setting up the scene and making the Render Settings Adjustment

Setting up the scene and making the Render Settings Adjustment

Lights and GI

Next step was to create a second light name it rim light positioned behind the scene. The Main Light was set to illuminate the scene from up left and then I have adjusted the Radiant Exitance and the light color for the main light to a white/blue and the other one to white/yellow. The next step was to turn on the Global Illumination and to set the Subsurface Scattering mode to both.

After that I added a plane polygon to the scene and created a Plane material with a Shader Layer set to Catch Shadows.

Lights and Global Illumination settings

Lights and Global Illumination settings

Environment and passes

To get the perfect mood for the scene I have used the Grass Field Preset for the Environment. The next step was to duplicate the Environment. One was set Visible to Rays and the other one was set Visible to Camera, with a 4 Color Gradient that will create the illusion of the ground and the sky in the scene. The last steps before the render were to add some more Render Outputs for Alpha, Ambient Occlusion and Depth. The Occlusion Range was set to 50 mm and Maximum Depth to 30m. After once short check to see if all the characters are on the ground and nothing floats it was time to start the Rendering.

Adding ground and sky and Render Passes

Adding ground and sky and Render Passes

Photoshop Adjustment

In Photoshop I have opened the Final Render Output and added the Ambient Occlusion Output on a new layer above with the Layer mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 40%. Then I made a copy of the Final Render Output and moved it above the AO layer and set the mode to Soft Light with Opacity to 70%.That step will help to take out the cg dullness and to add some vibrancy to the final illustration. In Chanel mode I have added the Depth Output as Alpha 2 and then I have used it as Source in the Lens Blur Filter to add some depth to the final illustration.

I hope this short overview was helpful for your future projects.

Final illustration adjustments in Photoshop

Final illustration adjustments in Photoshop

Related links

Have a look at some of Teodoru's adorable toys
Read our interview with Katon Callaway, Lead Character Artist at Sony
Improve your Photoshop painting skills with our Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Characters book