Studying Insectoid Character Concepts

Augusto Ribeiro E Silva joined us to talk about his atmospheric concept art, his approach to hard-surface modeling, detailing, and texturing. 

Augusto Ribeiro E Silva joined us to talk about his atmospheric concept art, his approach to hard-surface modeling, detailing, and texturing.


My name is Augusto, I’m from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. I still consider myself a concept art student since I haven’t got a job in the industry yet. I’m formally trained in Product Design and back in 2012, I used to develop my products in 2D, however, in 2013, I got an internship in KIA Design Center at Hyundai Motors, where I had my first contact with 3D. During that internship, the movie Pacific Rim launched making me want to change my career completely. I started to research about it and discovered a whole new world of concept art and 3D modeling where it is possible to create giant robots and monsters as a career.

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Character Art Style & Personal Projects

I never actually put a dark vibe into my works intentionally and don’t even look at it in this way. The central focus has always been on telling the story as objectively as possible, so if certain dark elements are introduced into the scene, they are more likely to be the result of the overall context. Now, thinking about it, the dark vibe must be related to my main inspirations which are Takayuki Takeya, Nirasawa, HR Giger, Moebius, Syd Mead… And as for the new generation, I love the work of people like Ben Mauro, Alex Figini, Rafael Grasseti, and Alex Oliver among others.

As a designer, you are always looking at the world around you, looking for something new, everything is a reference. It is important to note that even the most original concept has already been created by nature, and I see that many times we forget about it, so biomimicry is the doorway to many solutions and references.

I avoid defining a specific story for my characters before starting the creation process, however, while I’m sculpting I begin to think about the way this character can fit in my universe, and from the shapes and colors, I can define the story. Since I was little I really like insects, but I always thought it was not something the general public would like to see in the portfolio. But actually, I was mentally blocking myself, so now, as you may realize many of my designs are bug-focused. I started the Metamorphos project as a way to “allow” myself to create insectoid characters.

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The Watcher is supposed to represent me as the creator of Metamorphos. I wasn’t really doing it as a “real” project, it was more like a joke to some extent. As far as the concepting goes I’m always sketching some silhouettes in a sketchbook with watercolors, trying to find something interesting in the shapes and translucency of the sketch.

Advantages of Traditional Training

In regards to sculpting with clay, I really believe that whoever sculpts or has any experience with the traditional craft has a better three-dimensional notion when working. Because there is no false perspective between sculptor and model, I also think that by having the traditional base, you can create a 3D model that has more weight. Even though tools like ZBrush allow you to create impossible shapes they are of no use if they are not applied in a way that complements the model. I realize that many beginning artists fall into this hole of infinite forms that 3D allows, and end up generating something without substance. Anatomy, even for something fictitious is very important.

Hard-Surface Modeling

Due to my background, technical drawings are a must, so when I started to explore CAD modeling the transition was very easy. Most of my hard surface models are made in Fusion 360. It’s so easy to use and fast, allowing for the flexibility to explore and create. I always try to take advantage of my spare time, open Fusion360 and create some models. Then, when the need arises to create something sci-fi I import the Fusion models into ZBrush and integrate them into the current model, always considering the silhouette of the character. To get the integration of the hard surface make sense, it is important to analyze the different types of surfaces and how they fit. Functionality sells realism.


As for the details, I tend not to worry too much about surface detail. But if the details did not emerge as a byproduct of the larger forms and functionality, I end up using alphas. There are great Gumroad assets with infinite numbers of alphas for an extremely affordable price. For most of the clothes I model, I use Marvelous Designer. In Watcher, however, I used alphas (fabric creases) because for the result I wanted it did not make sense to waste time creating fabrics in Marvelous Designer.

A great tip for modeling details: if the scene is going to have a fixed camera, and for example, the back of character will never be shown, do not waste time on it.

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A cool tip for hard-surface in Fusion: when you import the mesh in STL from Fusion to ZBrush, the mesh comes triangulated, so when we use the move tool, we can explore even more quickly and freely, but still keep some real hard edges. That’s the technique that I used on the Preacher.

*click to open the GIF


In fact, I never create textures for my models, because the only objective I have with this type of work is to sell the idea. So most of the time I end up creating my materials in Keyshot. It does not necessarily require the creation of textures, so it’s extremely fast for concepting. The most important thing in this step is to make the separation of materials as obvious as possible and establish lights that favor the models. More lights are not always better. In the case of the Watcher, I reduced to a central light spot and an HDRI with extremely low intensity.

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How to Get a Striking Image

The key things to remember when you want to create a striking image:

  • Storytelling
  • Reference Silhouette
  • Lighting
  • Atmosphere

During the process of creation, always try to be most honest with yourself, ask for feedback, whether in art groups, from friends, dogs or cats. Always look for feedback, even non-artists can detect when something seems strange, so often the feedback turns out to be crucial.

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Augusto Ribeiro E Silva, Concept Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev


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Comments 1

  • rayen_hajji

    wow awesome , hope he make low polymodel and make them available for sale



    ·4 years ago·

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