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Genc Buxheli gave a detailed breakdown of his amazing character study devoted to one of the most hated antiheroes of Game of Thrones TV-series – Ramsay Bolton. Learn more about the sculpting, material creation and other production detail.
Hello, I am a self-taught 3d character artist from Albania, a country where 3D is still at its earliest steps. Since there are no quality Art schools and no 3D Art schools, I had to learn by practicing myself. Game art is not something you would do in Albania. This is also the reason why I always had to take on Freelance jobs. Most of the time it consisted of small companies making games for mobiles or outsourcing Companies. One noteworthy project was the XBOX360 game Kinect NatGeoTV which was a project between Microsoft and National Geographic. I was responsible for modeling some of the characters in-game. I was also hired to work on some Special Effects modeling for a feature film called Hunting the Phantom. Right now I am looking at the possibilities of getting a job at a higher profile gaming Company.
Game of Thrones Project
Game of Thrones is a very inspiring series. I quickly fell in love with its lore the moment I saw the first episode. My online portfolio lacked realistic characters, so what better way to improve and update a portfolio than making characters you are fond of? This was the main reason, self-improvement. It started with a Zbrush sculpt of Daenerys, which was welcomed by the CG communities. It didn’t end there. I decided to work on some speed sculpts, 1hr each of some characters but they were not the quality I wanted to deliver, that’s when I started working on a Low Poly model of Ramsay Bolton.
I spent maybe 2-3 days gathering pictures of the character and of Iwan Rheon, the actor who plays Ramsay. Thankfully there are many images of him and his costume from the series.
I prefer to start sculpting using a base mesh that I created in Zbrush. First thing to do is get the anatomy and proportions right. It’s a very important stage. All the extra accessories and clothing will be built over that mesh. When I’m happy with the anatomy, I start adding clothes created in Marvelous Designer. That’s where the jacket, gloves, shirt, pants and boots were created. With all these pieces together, I detach the head at a base where it’s covered by clothes. This way I can use as many subdivisions to get a realistic looking face with all the details of wrinkles and pores.
This is also the stage where I go through each subtool and start detailing them, adding material specific surface details, scratches etc. It takes a long time, but it is best to have as much details as possible right from Zbrush.
When the sculpt is complete, I used Topogun to retopologize a low poly mesh for each part of the character. Then, I made the UV Map in 3DSMax and started baking the different maps needed for the texturing process in Substance Painter.
Allegorithmic has created a truly impressive software which helps you texture a model with BPR specifics in a very short time, and everything is real time. You can go back and change something in the Albedo map and see it affect the roughness, normal and so on. For Ramsay, I specifically baked an ID map that consists of a single Bitmap where each material type in the UV has its specific color. Consider it as an auto masking system that tells Substance Painter what part of the mesh is made of what material. I first created a folder within Substance for the different material and worked each of them separately. Face was a different matter. I decided to paint a quick Albedo map using Mari and some face textures from different sources. I brought this Albedo to Substance and added more details there, like accentuating the pores with color and so on. Mari had done most of the job so there was little to do for the face in Substance.
While working with the textures, I had the low poly mesh loaded in Marmoset Toolbag with the corresponding textures assigned to it. This way whenever I exported them from Substance, they would automatically update in Marmoset.
Making realistic hair has always been a difficult thing to do for me. When I started this character I didn’t notice how messy his hair was, (I would have changed character for that reason!) so I had to plan on the best way to make it. It took a few hours and some failed attempts using different approaches to finally test a new technique that thankfully gave the results needed.
I started by sculpting a base form of the hair over the sculpted head. Then I made different hair clumps by drawing strands using the curve tool. I applied the Topological modifier to the smooth and move brush so that I could smooth and move each hair strand separately. I built many of them while also placing them in an interesting way to give more variation and volume to every clump. Then i made low poly planes of each clump which I manually placed in 3DSMax covering the head while checking for bald spots. Then I baked a normal map, occlusion and opacity map. Texture was quickly done in Substance.
Well I have to say that Iwan has shown that he is a very good actor, but this was not the main reason. I chose Ramsay because of the complexity of his design. Since this is a self-improvement piece, I wanted to work on a difficult character and learn as much as possible.