Demon Girl: Sculpting, Texturing, and Lighting Techniques

Evan Gintsiak shared the production details of his Demon Girl character, discussed his sculpting and hair workflows, and talked about lighting settings. 

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Introduction 

Hi all, My name is Evan Gintsiak, I am a 3d Character artist from Tel Aviv, Israel. Currently, I work as head of the 3D department at a really cool startup in the field of computer vision in Tel Aviv. I started my journey as a generalist in the Israeli animation industry, mostly for smaller local animation studios, and, after a couple of years, moved to the tech sector, which is considered to be pretty strong here in Israel. Lately, there are more and more tech companies and startups that are opening 3d art positions. It’s an awesome sector and industry to work in, as we are always working on new super exciting technologies and solutions in computer vision, machine, robotics, and AI training, different large scale simulations, etc.

I actually never studied 3D art at an institution, but I have a game development Diploma from IAC - Israeli Animation College, where we had a short 3DS Max introductory course. I fell in love with 3D and continued to practice 3D at home.

The Inspiration for Character Art

I have been doing character art for maybe the past two and a half - three years. Before that, I was a generalist and did mostly environments, different effects, some rigging, some animation, etc. There was a time when I felt that I want to focus on something that really excites me, I am really into gaming, animation, and all the good stuff. I knew I wanted to do characters, but for a long time, I couldn't decide between character modeling art and character animation. I did a lot of research on both topics, tried some modeling(which wasn’t really good), some character animation(which I felt was better, to be honest), but one time, I read something on one of the forums that really changed my perspective on the issue. Someone was asking the same question: “what should I focus on? Character modeling VS animation?”, there was an answer along the lines of: “if you look at people on the street and find yourself paying more attention to the people appearance, then go with modeling, if you are paying more attention to the way they are moving, then go with character animation” - I think it’s great advice, and really helped me to find my way.

References for Demon Girl

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So, I am working on this likeness sculpt of Robin Williams, and I am following a course by the amazing Kris Costa(please, everyone just go check his tutorials, they’re worth every cent), and it's a super long and tedious process, every detail, every pore is sculpted by hand. It’s a process where I learned a lot and am still learning, but this project, along with my day to day work and family, I felt like I needed to take a break, and just do a couple of studies, and quick sculpts. So, I started some organic horns practice and really liked the outcome. I decided to keep working on that one and do a full portrait. There was no particular reference on this one, a collection of different influences from different artists, like Eugene Fokin with beautiful female faces he sculpts and Niyazi Selimoglu with amazing horned characters and many other references from Pinterest. 

Sculpting

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For the sculpting, I actually started from a base mesh I have played with the proportions a bit and started laying out the main forms of the face. I am trying to create a planner face before working on eyelids, nose, mouth, etc. For me, it’s a process where I work all over the face/place and rarely focus on one particular detail. I started working on the horns, and created a base form, at first, and sculpted it using Sculptris Pro. I then retopologized it using Wrap3 (it’s awesome, go check it out) and a previous base mesh I had for the topology, then added the horns topology in Blender simply by extruding 2 tubes from the horns area and shaping them accordingly to my initial sculpt. Then I took the retopologized mesh back to ZBrush and started refining and adding secondary details. Once I was happy with what I had, I started working on horns and face details. I used Texturing XYZ maps for the details of the face by projecting the map onto the face UV using Zwrap. This process gives you super-fast and good results to start with. Then I applied the maps I got to different layers in ZBrush, so I would have more control over the intensity of the displacement. I fixed the areas and added details wherever needed, after that, I baked everything to your regular maps. 

I am mostly using default ZBrush brushes, something with slight modifications and alphas, I also use Orb_cracks brush a lot, it’s super useful for me to lay big planner shapes on the face during the initial phase of sculpting.

Working with Details

I have 2 different approaches for hair. For peachfuzz and eyelashes, I usually use geometry(created with fibermesh and then exported as tubes) or created with splines in Blender. But for hair and eyebrows, I use hair systems, such as blender hair particle or Ornatrix, here, I used Ornatrix, as I rendered in 3DS Max.

I am starting with creating a duplicate mesh for the scalp area, and then placing guides, shaping them into a form I like, and throwing a bunch of modifiers on top to achieve the desired look. The same goes for the eyebrows.

Texturing

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Texturing is a mix of texture projection and hand painting. I have a few sets of photos from texturingXYZ, which I mix and match and use them to cover the face, neck, and head areas. I am usually adjusting the images in Photoshop as well, to match the skin tones of the different photosets I have. I am texturing in ZBrush and not using Substance or Mari as other artists might do. I am polypainting some areas I need to fix and areas that don't have textures, like the horns, in this case. I also create my Spec maps here, painting in black and white, and exporting a cavity map based on masking of the pores, then combine them in Photoshop to achieve a nicer result. Eyes are pretty straightforward, texturing from a photo and then creating the maps in Photoshop using different adjustment layers.

Setup

I am usually rendering in Blender Cycles or in Corona Render, this time it was Corona Render. I am starting with an HDRI lighting, playing with placement and intensity, then starting to add Key, Rim, and fill lights, depending on what I want to achieve. I did a lot of tests with this one and played with different lighting setups, some more colorful than others, but eventually decided to go with a more natural lighting. I do think that lighting is one of the most important things there is, it can elevate your model if done properly, or completely destroy it if incorrect.

Evan Gintsiak, Character Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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    Demon Girl: Sculpting, Texturing, and Lighting Techniques