We've talked to Diana Kaspruk about her recreation of Blackpink's Lisa, how the luxurious outfit and the crown were made, and the working process in Unreal Engine 5.
My name is Diana. Video games have always been my deep passion, and I love expressing my creativity through drawing. I successfully completed my studies at the Odesa State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture. However, my career aspirations took a new turn during my third year of study. I decided to dive into the world of 3D art with greater intensity, driven by the desire to pursue my dream job in one of the most captivating fields.
Throughout my academic journey, I actively engaged in courses on digital 3D art and combined them with online learning to expand my character and environment creation skills.
My university education provided me with a solid understanding of human anatomy, color theory, composition, and image analysis. These valuable skills and knowledge laid a strong foundation at the outset of my game development and digital art journey.
I started with creating characters for sale on the Epic Games Marketplace. Afterward, I transitioned into a career as a freelance 3D artist, where I used my skills and expertise to collaborate on indie game developers' personal projects. All this valuable experience eventually led me to the company where I am currently working.
Yearning for a more challenging and realistic project, I began my search for an inspiring concept. That's when I came across Lisa's performance in her debut solo music video. The intricate design of the details, clothing, and accessories, along with the way she proudly showcased her love for her culture, left me captivated. Her performance served as a powerful motivation for many people in Thailand to take pride in their country.
I collected various photos of Lisa from different angles, along with the scene elements featured in the music video.
The most crucial aspect of the project was dedicating approximately 70% of the time to sculpting.
To practice realism, I began sculpting from scratch using reference photos that I had prepared before. To expedite the process, I decided to utilize Metahuman. However, the MetaHuman female character I used did not closely resemble Lisa. This made the sculpting process more interesting as I studied her facial features from various angles.
To transfer the vertex information from my model to the MetaHuman, I followed these steps:
- I replicated the pose of my sculpt onto the MH skeleton in Maya and imported the modified low-poly MH topology into ZBrush.
- I used the ZWrap plugin and manually adjusted the points to ensure a proper match for transferring the mesh data.
- Lastly, I subdivided the MH model and employed the standard ZBrush projection tool to transfer the high poly sculpting from my mesh to the newly subdivided topology.
Following these steps, I had a mesh with the same topology and UV as the MetaHuman, allowing me to later apply the MH textures and materials in UE4. (At the time I commenced this project, UE5 had not been released yet. I later upgraded to UE5 and made modifications to various additional parameters, including Lumen, Nanite, ray tracing, etc.)
The eye mesh consists of three components: the eyeball, the tear line, and an ambient occlusion mesh used for creating the fake shadow effect. I used MetaHuman eye material.
Initially, the base of the clothes was created in Marvelous Designer. Following that, I proceeded to further sculpt and refine it in ZBrush.
I was following the concept of the designer that created the clothes for Lisa.
The gems were initially created in Maya and then positioned individually using ZBrush on each part of the garment. In total, there are over 500 gems adorning the clothes, along with an additional 300 stones incorporated into the crown and flower branches.
I created the garment's material in Unreal Engine, using Substance 3D Painter to create mask maps that outline the specific zones for each pattern. These patterns were designed using Substance 3D Designer and Photoshop.
One of the most challenging elements of the project due to the scarcity of adequate references and the numerous details.
I categorized the details into different groups, such as petals, flowers, gems, and other small shapes. After sculpting and retopology, I created UV maps, which were crucial to maintain. Without proper UV mapping, I would have had to reposition the crown elements all over again.
Frequently, I needed to modify polygroups, switching between large clusters and individual petals or gems. Having well-preserved UV mapping was incredibly beneficial as it allowed me to easily regroup the details when adjusting their position, and proportion, or assigning specific materials to different parts of the meshes.
Firstly, I started with sculpting the petals, uniting them in flowers, and adding the gems inside. Then I copied them with the shift button and placed them in similar positions as shown in the references to recreate the overall shape of the branches.
Next, I proceeded to create the branch tips.
To achieve the details of the branches, I started by modeling a basic shape, generating UV maps, and then duplicating and positioning them as closely as possible to the branches. The bracelet and rings were modeled in Maya and later adjusted in ZBrush.
To export all the meshes with distinct materials for Unreal Engine, I assigned polygroups to similar objects and then exported them as separate FBX files, ensuring that I selected the option "polygroups as materials." This approach allowed me to maintain the material assignments correctly in the Unreal Engine.
I used a combination of textures from TexturingXYZ, 3D SK, and 3D Scan Store for the face and body texturing. As I did a lot of manipulations and sculpting of the face and body, I needed to modify the texture maps to suit the specific requirements of my artwork.
After exporting the MetaHuman normal map from Unreal Engine, I imported it into ZBrush and applied it to my sculpted model. After that, I used alpha brushes to fix certain areas where the original texture was distorted and after finishing skin sculpting and detailing, I exported new normal and cavity maps from ZBrush.
For the projection of the textures, I used Mari. I prefer it more than Substance 3D Painter when I need to use high-resolution textures (8,16 and 32k). Also, it provides projecting different channels at the same moment.
In my case, I had to change the albedo, roughness, and gloss maps. Also, I modified the mask maps for the makeup and created a new mask metalness map for the flakes and glitters effect.
Using the XGen plugin for Maya, I created the hairstyle, eyebrows, and eyelashes. I began by positioning the hair guides and then converted them into interactive grooming. Through this process, I utilized various tools like comb, density, width, and length brushes to achieve the desired results.
After importing it into Unreal Engine, I applied the MetaHuman Hair material and changed the parameters of the grooming and material instance.
Unreal Engine 5
I activated Lumen and Nanite support for this project. Because there are many details, it helped to optimize the scene and add better quality to the final picture. Also, I added several lights and activated ray tracing shadows.
Each mesh was imported individually and then grouped into four main Blueprints: Crown, Body with Clothes and Grooming, Chair, and Arch with Moss. This approach allows for better performance and facilitates the ability to adjust the position or scale of multiple meshes as needed.
In order to achieve a smooth and gentle blur transition, I manually adjusted the Focus settings for almost every frame. During video creation, I utilized the tracking Focus method. To implement the Bloom effect, I incorporated the Convolution Kernel texture from an asset pack that I purchased on the Epic Games Marketplace.
Given more time, I would have further refined and idealized the artwork.
Throughout the process, life threw me unexpected changes and difficulties, but my determination to see this project through never wavered.
I encountered various technical hurdles, all of which I endeavored to overcome independently. These obstacles ultimately contributed to my growth as an artist and pushed me to further explore my capabilities.