Hanza Character Breakdown
I wanted to create a character breakdown of my latest project. This character fan art project was done in my spare time as a way to practice some skills and techniques as well as pay homage to the minimalistic art style of Overwatch. Here are some notes on the creation of her and a few tips I picked up along the way. hopefully you find something useful.
For the full images check the Portfolio
I’d work on this a few hours here and there and some weekends when I could. All told it was probably 4 months start to finish. I didn’t have that much free time to do personal work since I work full time, started a new job, and had a long commute the last couple months (84 miles)
That’s a actually good tip to start out with. Something I learned from Akihito Ikeda when I heard he worked on one of his personal pieces an hour a day for months during a busy schedule and full time job. Even if you think you “don’t have the time.” You can make time. Anyone can spend an hour a day doing anything and eventually those hours add up and you’ll eventually finish. Just keep chipping away.
Here’s a shot of my scene in Zbrush “all low” and a look at the subtools. I like to keep pretty low divisions, it makes everything easier to work with and I knew I’d be posing in Transpose Master at the end.
I got the hair to look the way I wanted by adding a lot of Fibermesh. I created several “clumped” strands and some larger sections to fill it out then some loose/short hairs.
20 subtotals total not including the eyelashes and eyebrows. I created a seperate Fibermesh preset for the hair and for the eyebrows. I even created seperate Keyshot materials for the eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair.
The tattoo was done by first sketching the design onto the model in Zbrush then tracing those guide lines in Photoshop. I built up the elements of the tattoo in photoshop to allow for easy adjustments, layer effects like glow, and adding a tiling scales to the masked areas.
The rope was made entirely in Zbrush. I used Zspheres for the creation and position and noisemaker for the spiraling and detail. The little furs where done with fibermesh.
I whipped up a little info graphic of an extruding process I use a lot. On this project I used it for the dragon logo, patches, tech socks, and leather trim.
Here is that extruding process used on the dragon logo on the sake bottle
Rendering and Composting
All of the Rendering was done in Keyshot using the Keyshot Bridge and Photoshop. The Keyshot Bridge allows me to move everything from Zbrush at its highest Sub-Division over to Keyshot without exporting any files. This is great for creating images without the hassle of creating render meshes, displacement maps, or other traditional render time assets for renderers like Vray and Mental Ray. Other benefits of an IRay Renderer or “interactive Retrace Rendering”
First thing is the environment, which is what is lighting the scene. You can have subtools in zbrush that are used as lights in keyshot by applying a light material on them once bridged but my image is all lit with an environment probe. I downloaded the one I used for free using keyshot cloud. The lighting is super important, I don’t need to say that but a program like keyshot really illustrates how lighting can elevate the subject or make it quickly look wack. I always play with the “rotation” of the environment to see what the look is at any position so I can find one that looks best. I like this environment a lot, especially for that studio look I was going for. Pictured here and named 33
I found it easiest to create a new Keyshot material for each element of the character. I created a folder and named every material accordingly. This helped with applying everything from one scene to another (T pose and Posed). It also helps if anything messes up and was my way of saving the material work progress.
Another tip for keyshot materials is with metal. I found the metal materials were too clean and shiny, especially within a clean studio lighting environment without much color and noise to break it up. After doing some research in what others did I decided to make my own. I started with a “anisotropic” material. This allows me to tweak roughness X – Y and specularity independently. Metal material has one value. Since I felt the metal was too clean this shader is about noise and breaking up that reflections and highlights. I made some maps including a bump so the light had all kinds of imperfections to trip up on.
Here’s the metal material settings:
Here are the texture maps I made for the Keyshot metal material
The material used for the skin in keyshot is called “translucent.” Some tips I can give are that I’ve dropped the translucency number any time I’ve used it and tiling a micro-bump map helps. I don’t know if the shader just defaults with a high translucency number or its based on size and sculpts that originate in Zbrush are super tiny so you need to drop it. Be careful not to make your model look too translucent. My character is a bit high because of the stylized Overwatch/Pixar look I was going for. Tiling a micro-bump map for the skin helps break up the highlights further, I’ve sculpted some pores but having an overall noise helps the skin look. Here are my settings.
Here are some other various textures created for the project.
Then there is the rendering and compositing. Compositing and post processing/corrections is a big deal. Pretty much every image made with computers goes through a post process and it’s relatively easy to achieve big impactful results.
I rendered two passes, a beauty with everything and an ambient occlusion pass. The ambient occlusion is achieved by assigning a matte white material to everything and selecting the pure white environment. I rendered these passes quite large so I could be free with the different compositions and final format of my images. It took about 5-10 minutes to render the beauty, the occlusion is much quicker. The translucent shader takes longer. In photoshop I added the finishing touches like a focal blur, vignette, and overall value and color improvements.
The focal lens blur effect is achieved by using the lens blur filter in photoshop with a custom mask. Adding little inconsistencies and physical camera effects is a great way to add another level of realism to your images. I mean when it comes to “real” stuff we see in images, its always been shot with a camera, in the real world, and with real light. The more of these things you can convincingly add to your image the more it appears like a real piece of photography. And it looks good! I mean portraits are so improved by focal blur that the iPhone 7 fakes it too ;P
In other renderers and the full version of keyshot you can render out a Zdepth pass. Zdepth is a black and white image where the closest thing to camera is pure white and the farthest point is black. I haven’t found a good way to do that in bridge. So the Zdepth for this is faked by painting softly and loose inside the masked character. Heres the Zdepth I made and the blur which I think makes things looks a lot nicer and more physical.
That’s it for this breakdown. I hope you found something to help you in your own creations. It was a long process to get this project finished, especially with all the goings on of life. Remember to keep at it even a little at a time, chip away. About to move in a couple weeks into a new spot much closer to work. Things should be settling down for me soon and I hope to create more art and videos to share. Happy Zbrushing