Modeling a Cyberpunk 3D Character

Modeling a Cyberpunk 3D Character


My name is Antonio Sánchez, although my nickname is Otto. I’ve been a character artist and a digital modeler for 3 years. I studied Fine Arts at the University of Seville (Spain), with a major in Sculpture, since my goal was to become a professional sculptor. However, in Spain it is quite difficult to make a living with this work, so, I decided to try my luck in the world of video games, seeing that a good friend of mine from the university was already working in this industry. So I moved to Madrid to study a Master Degree in Art and Video Game Design. After finishing it, I got my first professional experience in the industry at Elite3d, located in Valencia. Since then I have not stopped working and learning every day.

Cyberpunk Yakuza: Idea & Inspiration

My interest in the field of Design increased when I was working at Mercury Steam (Madrid) on their latest project SpaceLords, an action game about futuristic adventures. I was lucky to work very closely with the design team which was a real privilege. This experience plus everything I had seen about Cyberpunk 2077  and the movie Alita was what prompted me to get down to work on my new character. The idea was to create a kind of bounty hunter/yakuza with cybernetic improvements, a cyborg, but more human than cyborg.

Start of the Project

As in any design project, the first step was to work on the collection of documentation and references. Then I started working in ZBrush, using a base in T position, just on general volumes, composition, and silhouettes, nothing very elaborated. For the mechanical parts, I used a mix of traditional polygonal modeling techniques and new ZBrush tools such as Snapshot3D and Liveboolean. Finally, after making a quick sketch in ZBrush, I took it to 3ds Max in order to make it as clean as possible. After this, I returned to ZBrush to start the details pass. The last steps are the usual ones: the low poly model, UVs, bakes, and textures.


The base of the helmet was made in ZBrush. I have to say that this part was what cost me the most in terms of time. When I finally got all the general forms to work well, I carried the model to 3ds Max to work on the volume and get clean edges and shapes. Some details were finished in ZBrush with Liveboolean in order to save time. Liveboolean allows you to save a lot of time, and if you keep working an orderly and regular way, you can always make changes without any problems.


The jacket, shirt, and pants aren’t really that complex if you know how to use Marvelous Designer. In terms of production, its main advantage is that you can get totally realistic results in less time, unlike ZBrush where you have to model wrinkle by wrinkle. For me, the key to Marvelous Designer is to find good patterns and control the physics of the tissues, as well as being methodical and organized, and, of course, arming yourself with patience since the program usually does strange things. In the case of Yakuza, the most problematic thing was the hood. To avoid problems, I usually freeze and unfreeze the pieces and always work with the lowest possible resolution. Sometimes, I also change the order of the layers.

Cyber Hand

For the Cyber hand, I have followed the same workflow as for the helmet. First of all, I made some sketches in ZBrush. When I managed to catch the sense of the joints, I took everything to 3ds Max in order to create a clean base over it. With this base, I could work comfortably in ZBrush with Liveboolean and Snapshot3D. The rest of the pieces such as cables and screws are simple Insert Mesh placed strategically.


Speaking of the texture work, first of all, I used Marmoset Toolbag to make the baking since it allows you to clean the maps very easily and save time. Then, after cleaning all the maps, I worked on the color in Substance Painter.

I have used some alphas and drawings, such as the silkscreen print on the back of the jacket. The silkscreen print is inspired by Japanese devils. I drew it on paper, then cleaned it and finally colored in Photoshop.


I tried to approach the character presentation from the point of view of the design, integrating him into a scene and atmosphere according to his style to make the shot more credible. Some backgrounds are images found on the internet and others have been made manually based on references.

For the poses, I used some mocaps from the internet – I spent quite some time searching until I found the ones I liked. After that, I made small adjustments in 3ds Max, where I also worked the static poses and the animations to finally see the character coming to life. As for the lighting, although it can seem a little complicated, I prefer to render the lights in Marmoset separately and then work with them in layers in Photoshop. This allows me to play with each element and have greater control over the final result.

Antonio Sánchez, Character Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev


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    Modeling a Cyberpunk 3D Character