80 Level: Best Characters of 2021

We continue celebrating the upcoming 2022, this time, let's take a look at some of the best characters that inspired us over the past year.

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Hello everyone! Last week, we collected 10 of our favorite breakdowns related to environment art of the passing year. We did that to celebrate the upcoming 2022 and, most importantly, to thank our fantastic readers and followers for inspiring us, sharing your experience, and for always providing much-needed feedback.

Today, we continue our series with the 10 best character art breakdowns of 2021. Whether you want to just sit back, relax, and enjoy gorgeous characters, or if you are an aspiring Character Artist seeking help, advice, and inspiration – it doesn't matter, these breakdowns have you covered.

Let's start, shall we?

We begin our list with the ultra-realistic renders, that so many of you liked back in March. A Blender Artist known only as Blitter had managed to make thousands of people stop believing their own eyes by creating characters so photorealistic, many would think that they were simple photographs. In this article, Blitter proved once and for all that these women were, indeed, made in Blender, by sharing his workflow, discussing lighting and composition, and providing us with a lot of behind-the-scenes shots. 

Next up, we have Graphic Designer Kai Müri's breakdown of his fantastic Mr. Freeze project, that despite being made in Blender and Substance 3D Painter, looks like it was painted in real life. In this breakdown, Kai thoroughly explained the entire working process, how textures were created in Substance, shared the results of his experiments with watercolor renders in Blender, and talked about creating a paper-looking background. Check out the full interview to learn how Mr.Freeze was created.

The next breakdown we would like to talk about is our interview with an experienced 3D Artist Julia Tikhonova about the artist's gorgeous character inspired by Russian folklore and made for the ArtWar challenge. In this interview, Julia talked about the challenges of designing an original character, explained how ZBrush, Substance 3D Painter, and Blender were utilized to accomplish the goal, and shared some advice about finding a way to overcome artistic struggles. An excellent breakdown for aspiring artists willing to create stylized characters.

Our next pick is the breakdown of David Kwahk's intense and powerful Kid and the Hyenas scene. In the breakdown, David told us how the dramatic effect of the concept was wonderfully conveyed into 3D, shared the workflow in ZBrush, Maya, and Substance 3D Painter, and explained how studying kinesiology, a science of human body movement, can help you to become a great 3D Character Artist. A great read for artists willing to learn something new and add several new techniques into their workflows.

Next up, we have a more lighthearted project created by Art Director and CG artist at Fiero Animals studio Nikolay Kvartnikov. In our interview with the artist, Nikolay shared the extensive breakdown of the entire project, explained the usage of Megascans and Marvelous Designer, discussed sculpting and modeling in Blender, showed us how all the little assets and details were created, and gave an important piece of advice regarding time management.

The next project we would like to mention is Pouria Roshan's realistic version of Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls, made using Maya, ZBrush, Substance 3D Painter, Unreal Engine, and 3D scanning of a real human's face. In our interview with the author, Pouria talked about the challenges of reimagining popular cartoon characters, explained how the 3D scanning was performed, and shared some tips on texturing the characters to make sure they look good after rendering in Unreal Engine. Here's your chance to learn more about 3D scanning in character art and reminisce about the good old days spent watching Cartoon Network.

Our next pick is Austin Martin's amazing breakdown of the 1420 Wolf project. In this breakdown, the author explained how the incredibly realistic portrait of Matt Damon as an armed warrior was created from scratch without using scans or ready-made textures, shares the workflow in ZBrush, Maya, SP, and UE4, and comments on the challenges of finding the time and motivation to work on personal projects. Read the full article if you want to learn more about the creation of ultra-realistic characters.

The next project on our list is Manu Herrador's realistic version of Jill Valentine from Resident Evil 3. In our interview with the author, Manu explained why the facial features of Milla Jovovich and Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie in the Walking Dead, were the perfect references for the project, discussed the modeling and retopology, and touched upon the texturing process in character art. Check out the full article to learn more about the author's workflow or to simply enjoy some renders of a well-made character.

Back in early October, we interviewed the Principal Character Artist at Guerrilla Games Arno Schmitz regarding his adorable and hyper-realistic Grandma project. In this article, the author thoroughly explained what techniques were used to create a realistic portrait of his grandma in 3D, shared the photogrammetry workflow, talked about using Maya, ZBrush, and XGen in character art, and showed us how to render and light realistic-looking faces. Read the full interview to learn more about nailing likeness.

And finally, we have Khoi Nguyen's ultra-realistic version of a famous horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. In our interview with Khoi, the author explained how to achieve likeness with the lack of references, shared the workflow in Maya, ZBrush, Substance 3D Painter, and Arnold, and shared some thoughts on creating realistic characters. 

These were our favorite characters of the passing year. Do you agree with our picks? Did we miss a great character or two? What was your favorite character art-related project in 2021? Share your opinions in the comments.

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Comments 1

  • Xiao Jimmy



    Xiao Jimmy

    ·a year ago·

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