Hive Wizard: 3D Character Breakdown

Alper Yenice discussed his view on the character art, briefly talked about each step of the production of his Hive Wizard character and got into the detail of his rendering approach using V-Ray. 


My name is Alper Yenice. I am a 3D artist and 36 years old. I have been in the 3D sector over the 10 years and have been making virtual art using 3D and creating 3D environments and characters based upon the concept designs and sketches. For the past 2 years, I have been working on an upcoming MMORPG game project "RISE ONLINE WORLD" as a lead artist.

Actually, I have a degree in German Studies and have been already qualified as a teacher of German as a Foreign Language (DaF). However, I have been always drawing and interested in digital art ever since I could remember. Digitals art has always been a big interest and passion for me. After I graduated from university as a teacher, I did not feel like it was going to be my dream job. So, I started to learn by myself how those coolest 3D environments and characters for games were made. I spent some time getting the basic knowledge of 3D modeling, in order words, I am also a self-taught digital artist. Before my current job at the game studio, I worked as an interior 3D designer in a big classical furniture company for more than six years and modeled the most complex and classical furniture, as well as interiors. This job helped me a lot to model carving and ornamental details. By means of working as an interior 3D designer, I also learned the modeling skills through creating 3D models of buildings, different constructions, and interiors. All these experiences and skills that I gained encouraged me to become a 3D artist for video games. Thus, I understood that I have to give myself a try and push my limits. That was the moment when I realized that it can be the start of my career as a 3D artist for a game studio.

About Character Art

I believe that character modeling is the high point of most of the artists' career. While I was learning and modeling, I started to practice the anatomy of the body and tried to visualize the body muscles and proportions in ZBrush. The 3D character works that I've seen always inspired me and led me to design and model characters. Nothing like character art, designing, and modeling characters, requires so much knowledge and new techniques to learn before you start it. You need to learn proportions and anatomy to have a proper 3D model. This learning process will last forever, as every character modeling requires some skills that I don't have yet and I treat it as a motivating challenge, and it is something that I really enjoy. I have been modeling 3D characters for more than 2 years, and before that, I also had some character tries. In sum, I really enjoy the character creation process in Blender, and when I finish and see the final result, I feel great pleasure.

Inspiration and References

I like looking at some websites which have 3D concept art images all the time. When I saw the concept art of this image, I could picture how it would look when it is finished and had the feeling what the concept artist wanted to share or to reflect. That was how I started with the Hive Wizard project. When I started modeling it, I didn’t have any expectations or goals for this project, besides taking the next step to learn something new in modeling and to try to get the best possible final result.

I found this concept on Pinterest and made the image bigger with the help of topaz and watched to understand it better.


I started to make some blockouts at the beginning and tried to make most of the work in ZBrush. I believe it is much better not to lose time. The helmet was all made in ZBrush with traditional ZBrush hard surface modeling techniques. I did not use Zmodeler for it. I followed the same method for the coat and gloves. But for lantern and belt accessories, I got back to 3Ds Max and modeled the base shape in there. When the base was ready, I exported them all to ZBrush and detailed. The lantern on the concept was not actually a lantern. In the beginning, I rendered however it was on the concept. But with some suggestions of my friends, I decided to have light coming through it and hitting to the coat. In ZBrush, I mostly use basic brushes such as standard, damien standart, and clay but, for barbed wire, I used bad king barbed wire brush, so I need to thank him for this. I never used sculptris pro. So I don’t have anything to say about it. This whole model started in ZBrush and, for some details, I got back to 3Ds Max such as belts and lantern but the rest was made in ZBrush. The purpose of this work was to demonstrate it in my portfolio. So I did not make the low poly version. The rendered version is high poly.

Unwrapping UVs

I decided to make the UV part as quick as possible. So in ZBrush, when you go transpose master with the elements you want, you can use UV master and pack all together by paying attention to protect and attract. Normally when I make the low poly of the model, I prefer using 3Ds Max unwrapping and Rizom. But for this model, I tried to avoid the seam lines.


When the unwrapping process was done, I exported the model in order to Substance Painter and baked the pieces. I prepared 6 different PBR shaders for the model. I mostly used dirt, metal edge generators on the base color. But for the fabric, I used Substance Painter base fabric color and worked on it. For the leather parts, I used leather PBR material and some roughness scratches on the base leather material. For the lantern, I used the base metallic color and added 2 different tonnes of rust material on it. I blended them with a metal edge and mask builder.

Rendering with V-Ray

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The scene was a studio render scene. I used 3 different basic lights coming from the top, right, and left. These lights had different intensities. The left one is stronger to have more shadow on the model. There was an extra sphere light just behind the model to have the rim light effect. The last light was coming through the lantern. Because of its size, it was very strong to have some light hitting on the coat.

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I used different render elements to make the composition easier to control. I have been working for almost 10 years with V-Ray. For that reason, I got used to its problems caused by V-Ray, whenever a problem pops out, I am able to solve it quickly. In this engine, to have a studio and a basic background like the image makes your character pops out like this render. I created the smoke with the smoke brushes of Ron's collection and them in the 3Ds Max opacity map slot. They all were actually just planes with the opacity map.

Alper Yenice, Character Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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