Character Artist Luis Omar has shared a small breakdown of the Vi project, explained how the character was modeled and textured, and gave an important piece of advice regarding rendering.
I'm Luis! I've been working with 3D for 8-9 years now. I have started as an Archviz but always wanted to work with characters. So, after 6 years in an archviz company, I left my job to take a break and focus on my portfolio, hoping to get a job in the industry. And after completing some courses and workshops I was invited to work at Iron Studios and stayed there for almost two years.
It was a great time working on a lot of different projects for a variety of companies that I love, like Marvel, DC Comics, TV series, movies, and comic book heroes. Besides that, I have never stopped working on my personal projects. That opened a lot of doors for me, for some great freelance projects and also to my prersent job at Roarty Digital.
The Vi Project
It all began after I had watched the Arcane series on Netflix. I couldn't stop thinking about it, the art, the story, the characters... Such a great show! So, I started getting some references and it all came out naturally I guess.
I always search for face references on Pinterest (especially female faces), sometimes I do it just to pass time. This process of reference-gathering gives me a library that helps me in the character creation process and that helps me to add features that cannot be found on the references gathered for any specific project.
Plus, I've got a lot of pratice over the years.
For the outfits, I like to use a mix of Marvelous Designer and hand sculpt in ZBrush, using MD for the main forms and folds and adding the smaller details in ZBrush.
As for the hair, I make hair only in XGen. The trick to making the hair look natural is to break it into layers, one to set up the main clumps using the Guides as clumps and one to break the main clumps into smaller clumps.
I also use a Noise modifier to set up the flyaways and a Cut modifier to add some randomness to the tips.
For the skin, I used 3D Scan Store's HD head as a base and worked on it until it started to resemble Vi.
The tattoos were added in Substance 3D Painter using the Projection tool.
For the outfit, I used the Polypaint made in ZBrush and baked in Marmoset Toolbag using the Vertex Color option and use it as a base to add the textures on top.
Rendering and Lighting
I used to work a lot with rendering, so this part was quite easy for me. As for the lighting, I used the HDRIs from Polyhaven, all free and with incredible quality. Using these HDRIs, I made 4 lighting options:
For some images, I used the HDRIs as a backdrop:
And for others, a simple modeled studio set up:
As for the cameras, one thing that I like to play with is the Depth of Field, it always brings a nice photographic feeling to the renders. This combined with the proper Field of View settings will bring up the depth of field and give a super cool portrait look to the render. After that, I like to add a little bit of Chromatic Aberration, but be careful with this one and use just a little. Otherwise, you will end up with a blurry image that hurts the eyes.
And finally, the post-production. Just a few tweaks made with Photoshop Camera Raw Filter to give more contrast and a bit of "film grain" to the images:
I like to call this final tweak "Crunchiness".
The whole process took me one and a half months to finish, working only in my spare time. Regarding the things, I think a could improve, almost everything! Especially the hair and clothes, maybe model her gauntlets too and make another pose... So many possibilities! But I had to force myself to finish her now to focus on other projects.
For the aspiring Character Artists, my main advice is to just keep working, sometimes you will not want to practice or study, but just keep working no matter what. Motivation comes with time, and sometimes it never comes. So just have discipline and things will get better with time.
Don't get attached to your own work, and when someone criticizes just listen to what they are saying with an open mind. Every work has space for improvements and criticism, sounds cliché, but it is totally true.
And that's pretty much it! Hope you guys liked this little breakdown. Thanks!