Creating Realistic Oriental Druid Model

We talked to amazing Hang Li from Beijing – the master of realistic 3d art. Artist discussed the production of his Oriental

We talked to amazing Hang Li from Beijing – the master of realistic 3d art. Artist discussed the production of his Oriental Druid Model, giving some tips on modeling, texturing and post-production.



Hi, I am Hang Li from Beijing,China. I studied Digital Media Arts in Communication University of China (Nanjing) during 2006~2010. At the third year of University, I got an opportunity to start my career. So far, I have been working for several Chinese local VFX movies and animation movies, I also took part in a couple of Hollywood movies like “I am No.4”, “Super 8” and “Conan The Barbarian”. I’m specialized in texturing, shading and lighting.

Oriental Druid

I am a big fun of Blizzard, so while Warcraft was landing on the big screen those days, I decided to do something about it. But I don’t want it to be a fun art, I created my own, realism with a little bit of fantasy. I hope I can finish the full character someday.

My first stage of production process is always collecting references and finding inspirations.I ended up with an idea of mixing some primitive elements with wild but fashionable style.


Next,I started 3D scratch directly in ZBrush from a base head. For the shape of his face, I sculpted a Asian look to imply the theme “Oriental”. I did a quick sculpting to block out his hair’s rough shape, so that I had a good reference in the grooming stage later.

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Among all kinds of textures of human skin, I always paint fine displacement map (pores and little wrinkles) first. I was fortunate enough to be a beta tester of, their scanned displacement maps are very easy to use in Mari (You can find some tutorials here).

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After the fine displacement,I kept working on color map. I prefer hand-painting rather than projecting photo directly in this part of work because I want to control more, and it really gives me a lot of fun. The most useful brushes for me are “octoSkin” and “roundScale”, which can give a very natural result.

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The last texture map I did for skin was “Specular Roughness”.Darker value on this map means wetter/oilier effect on the final result wile brighter value means drier.

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My favorite renderer is Arnold, because as an unbiased PBR renderer, it is very easy to use, so that artists can always have more time to focus on their artistic expression. When I work on skin’s shader, the most important part, in my opinion, is specular. I always spend a lot of time on adjusting parameters like “specular roughness” and “bump weight” carefully, they effect greatly the feeling of skin. And next, the SSS, remember there is a principle: when you see it, it’s too much. It means keep “SSS Radius” a low value!


This is my favorite part of the entire production process, lighting is all about art and expression.

For this piece, I would like to achieve a kind of dramatic and beautiful feeling, wild but fashionable style.The final lighting setup was pretty simple (look image below), I believe once I use it properly, less is more.

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Image converted using ifftoany

​Useful Tools

For personal work,I use Maya and ZBrush for modeling and sculpting, Mari (handy for painting) and Quixel Suite (high-efficiency for hard-surface) for texturing, Arnold for shading and lighting, Xgen for hair grooming, Nuke for post effect.

When I work in studios, sometimes I use Houdini or Katana instead of Maya, because Houdini and Katana are better for team work.



What I would recommend for beginners who are trying to do some great 3d art is to learn some tutorials to master softwares and technical things.Observe more and practice more in your art side,be patient, don’t rush.And the most important thing above all is HAVE FUN with your work.

Hang Li, 3D artist, specialized in texturing, shading, and lighting.





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