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Creating a Wasteland Girl in Maya & ZBrush

3D Character Artist Luana Bueno shared an extensive breakdown of the character Wasteland Girl sharing tips on modeling, texturing, and more.


Hi folks, my name is Luana Bueno and I work as a 3D Character Artist at Wildlife Studios in Brazil. I was born in a small city called Socorro and I moved to São Paulo to study Game Design. After college, I was working with advertising in a good place having a good position. But that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.

Since I was little, I dreamed to work with art because that was and still is what moved me, but working with games in Brazil is something very difficult because there are few opportunities and usually the positions are not for beginners.

I started doing some online tutorials to learn more about 3D at night and on weekends. And after some months I entered Gilberto's Magno Workshop. This was a pivot point in my life because of all the things that I learned and especially the friends I met. These people helped me so much and are an important part of my life.

I started to work with some freelance jobs and after some months when I felt more confident I left my work with advertisements and dedicated my energy to work and learn more about 3D.

I worked for some months on a startup in São Paulo and then I received the offer to work in Wildlife, where I am now working with an amazing team of artists.


I did a fan art bust of Alloy from Horizon Zero Dawn that had very good feedback. That model opened a lot of opportunities to me, and one of the reasons was the post that I had here on 80 Level, so I’m very thankful for that.

I knew that the next step was to make a whole body character. I wanted to challenge myself to choose a concept that was way more difficult than the level that I was at the time. This wasn’t a good decision looking back now, because this made me very frustrated sometimes, and made me take too long to finish her. But I learned a lot and this is the most important thing to me.

When I saw the Wasteland Girl concept I knew that was her. Because the concept was appealing, looks like a game character, has a great silhouette, she’s cute and badass at the same time. All things that I love!

References and Design Decisions

A lot of great artists always say to use references. So let’s listen to them! Let’s be humble and accept that we don’t have all the design answers in our heads.

This is my PureRef board. This is a great software to use and I totally recommend it. If you want an online board, Miro is a good alternative too.
My board is huge! I saved a bunch of images from everything. Now I know that I spent more time lost in the panel than I should, so if I would start again, I think I could clean 50% of this board at least. You don’t need 10 pics of the same thing at the same angle. You just need good images that you really are going to use. The rest is garbage and will just make you more confused.

I wanted to create a game character from this concept, this was the goal that I set at the beginning of the project, so all the important decisions that I made after that were guided by this. I imagined her like a character from a third-person game, so the back side of the character would need to have some interesting assets too. I needed something to hold the baseball bat and the big skull of her shoulder, this is why the backpack worked very well.

Even for the small creature that she keeps inside the duck purse, I did a quick concept to imagine how he fits inside it.


The blockout was made on ZBrush. I didn’t use a Base Mesh because learning anatomy was one of my goals for this project.

As you can see, I needed to do and redo many times the anatomy till I have a nicer result:

Topology and UVs

I did the retopology and UVs using Maya. I do a very simple process that requires more patience than technical skills.

This is the basic process to do the topology and UVs that I showed in my old article:

Here is the model on Sketchfab, in case you want to see more details about the topology and details.

Instead of making a few UV sets with a huge resolution, I decided to separate the model into more UV sets. Note that this is not a random choice, I separated the UVs according to the material/kind: skin, cloth, fur, weapons, and the base.

With this organization, it was easy for me to know which UV was the part that I was looking for.

I know that the software Rizon UV is awesome. This is something that I'm going to try for sure on my next project.


This is the part that I like the most and the reason why I started working with 3D. I did the texture using 3DCoat. This is a great software to paint the textures and it has good compatibility with Photoshop.

Before and after I painted some adjustments on the texture to look better in the posed character:

I did this video to explain a bit about my texture process:


I did this rigging many times till I really knew the process and even then I had many rotation problems in the fingers. I learned a bunch in my rig journey of mistakes and tears, and then I decided to use the Advanced Skelethon. This plugin helped me a lot! But, I only knew how to use it properly because of all the things that I learned rigging in the default process.

I totally recommend this plugin and I think that it's a time and life saver:


When I was almost finishing the model, I decided that would be very cool to have a base for the character. I would like to contribute by adding some story to the concept with this little environment.

I researched, which kind of environment I wanted. These are the images that I chose:

This is a sketch I made just to quickly see if my idea would work or not: 

I did a quick blockout on ZBrush mainly to decide about the shapes of the concrete and then I did the retopology and UVs using Maya.


I learned so much in this project with a lot of great artists who helped me so much with their feedback. That is why I think that she has a little piece of each of them. I’m very grateful for all the support and help that I had and this taught me a lot about the importance of us helping each other. I had the pleasure to talk to people that had many years of experience and they were so humble and gentle that inspired me to try to be the same.

Sometimes even when my own sister, who is learning 3D, had some questions or asked for feedback  I wasn't so patient with her, but I think that when I had the perception that the support from a person that you like makes a total difference, I tried to improve my way to deal with her and with people that need help.

I think that this was the biggest lesson that I learned doing this model – to be kind!

Luana Bueno, 3D Character Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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Comments 1

  • ㅤ Luma Liana

    I'm very proud of you. ♥


    ㅤ Luma Liana

    ·3 years ago·

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