Creating a Dark Priest from Scratch

Creating a Dark Priest from Scratch

Dmitry Yehorov prepared a breakdown of his character bust made within Valentin Erbuke’s course and talked about blocking, texturing, rendering, and more.

Dmitry Yehorov prepared a breakdown of his character bust made within Valentin Erbuke‘s course and talked about blocking, texturing, rendering, and more.


Hello there! My name is Dmitry Yehorov, I currently live in Odessa, Ukraine. I work at Snapchat Inc. and I usually work on low poly assets for mobile devices. I wanted to try myself in production, so I went to Valentin Erbuke‘s course and over the past 4 months, I learned a lot of new techniques. Val’s teaching really helped me push my skill to a new level.

In this article, I will analyze my last work and reveal some of the conclusions to which I came.

Creepy Priest


I think that for the first experience in production I came up with a rather difficult character. I was inspired by one of the works of Lucas LEGER  and photobashed this concept in a hurry:

I understood that candles, many layers of clothing, paraffin on fabric and leather would be difficult to do, but if you really like the idea you are implementing, it motivates you to learn and do much more. Since the course time was limited and I wanted to have a finished render by the end, I had to go from a full character to one bust in the process, but in the future, I plan to finish it completely.


It was not necessary to sculpt the body in detail for my character because clothes cover most of the body, but making a new body from a sphere is always an excellent anatomy training. I advise you to do so more often. By the way, there are many true masters of anatomy, but if you are still studying it like me, use only real photos and not someone’s sculpts for references.

Quick anatomy study:

It is also useful at the blocking stage to paint the character’s elements in approximate colors, especially if this is your concept, so you will see in advance how colors and common forms combine.

Personally, I love to do first blocking of clothes already in Marvelous Designer. In addition to the very final picture, my goal was to raise my skill, and for this, I made all the layers of clothing, even the ones which could not be seen. Also, this makes the top layer of clothes look more realistic.

When working with many layers of clothing in Marvelous, be sure to set the layer number, then the fabrics will not penetrate into each other. However, even with it, sometimes I had conflicts between the layers, so after finishing the lower layer of clothes, I turned it into an avatar and then worked with the upper layer without problems.

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I also tried xWrap retopo following the official developer guide, which saved me a lot of time. It shows how to deal with the mouth socket which is very important for production. Do not sew lips, it is always better to make a mouth socket, so you get a more natural look.

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I textured the clothes in Substance Painter and then added some details by hand in Mari. You should not get used to the smart materials though. They are great, but if you just drag-drop the standard smart material onto your model, it will look too procedural and clumsy. Smart materials should be used as a basis for your own. I also used excellent fabric and leather maps from Texturing XYZ.


I had some experience with the use of old Texturing XYZ maps, but this time I tried their new pipeline using new multi-channel faces. They have a comprehensive guide on how to use their maps, that worked perfectly for me.

Setting up a skin shader is very important. Arnold user guide provides complete information about each shader setting and I strongly advise you to learn at least the main parameters, because each character requires a personal approach to setting up the shader. The skin requires very fine tuning. I slightly changed the shader parameters, rendered skin areas and compared the result with previous renders and found the correct settings for my character. The scale of the character also greatly affects the shader, it is better to maintain a realistic scale of the character and the scene as a whole.

Below you can see how I mixed the displacement map. ZBrush displacement provides hand-made details. Then XYZ maps: Red channel contains secondary details, Green – tertiary and Blue – micro displacement.  It is important to mix them correctly, micro displace should not break tertiary details.


For the final render, I used 4 point lights. A strong backlight for the contour, two main lights on the sides, so that the shadow on the face would fall as I wanted. And an HDRI with low intensity to lighten the shadows a little.

I did post-processing in Nuke, its node system is extremely convenient. The depth of field is great to tune in Nuke using Z pass from Maya.


I spent 4 months of free time after work for one character, and it was worth it. I really enjoyed working in this direction and I will continue to push my skill to the next level. Do not be afraid to try yourself in something new, discover new styles and techniques that will make you better as an artist. It was a great experience and I am grateful to Valentin for his mentorship.

You can always reach me on Artstation and ask questions, I will be glad to answer!

Dmitry Yehorov, Character Artist


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Comments 1

  • crowbringer

    This priest surely committed to his celibate there...



    ·a year ago·

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Creating a Dark Priest from Scratch