Human Character Design Challenges
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Human Character Design Challenges
16 June, 2017

Artem Dorkhin shared his workflow on the Laureline model – a character from the upcoming movie, played by the lovely Cara Delevingne.

Hello, everyone! My name is Artem Dorkhin, maybe some of you know me as Artem Artificial. As I remember, I started making CG at the age of 14. As a professional artist I started to work at the age of 18 and got my first job at the same time. In this article Ill try to focus on the most important aspects and details of my latest work – Laureline – Cara Delevingne.

Work preparation:

To start off, before you begin doing something, you need to evaluate your personal skills and capabilities very competently. You need to stay motivated along all of your work, and to clearly see your final goal. It often happens that you take on something that you can not do at this level of your skills, and because of a lack of knowledge and skills, you can very quickly lose interest in your work or project. And of course, sometimes it happens the other way round, when you underestimate yourself, and the final result you get are dissatisfied.

After analysis and planning your work, you can start to collect references. This is very important stage of work, which should be given a lot of attention. For example, this is my reference tab at the start of work, when I began to sculpt the head of the model:

But over time, it took me more and more references to clarify many details:


I started modeling from the most interesting part of the model – from the head.

Frankly want to say, I’m not very experienced in anatomy and art sculpture, that’s why my final sculpted head turned not so anatomically correct and similar to the original person. Here some of sculpting stages, what I got:

As you can see, I was changing my base form of her face from start to end. It was very complicated to copy her shape and translate it to my model, but I did the best I could.

I modeled suit half in the 3ds max and the other half in the Zbrush. Her outfit under the armor was sewed in Marvelous Designer. There is nothing to be complicated for me, it was just a regular hard surface modeling, and, since it was making for a static frame, I did not have to bother about polycount and topology.


For the texturing I used Mari. First I bake all sorts of masks and maps from my high poly in Zbrush, such as Cavity, AO, Smoothness and so on. Next, I start to project albedo map of human face in Mari, and then, I hand paint it. From output I got this maps:


Bump map for small wrinkles and pores



That’s how my shading network for the head looked like, nothing complicate, but, I need to note, that for this work I was a little to laze to made 3 individual layers of sss for the skin. That’s why I just replaced them with the usual Color Correction nodes.

Of the more interesting I can tell about the eyes. To create a realistic eye, you need to follow certain rules, and try to imitate the natural counterpart.

Eye must be anatomically correct, with right size, correctly fitted in the eyepit, and has to be the right size of iris and pupil relative to the luminosity. The shape of geometry is just as important, it can not be an ideal sphere in any way. Usually the eye is slightly convex in the area of the iris, and the body itself is flattened in front and behind.

For the eye wet or tear imitation regularly I add a small geometry between the eye and the lower eyelid, the main thing is not to overdo it.

Eyelashes of the right size emphasize the eyes and the incision of the eyes

I did vitreous humor with the SSS effect, because the eye has the property of strongly translucent in the side lighting.

And, of course, the second layer – cornea. It is a reflective surface with the IOR just above the glass.

Light scheme stayed standard throughout all of that work. This time I did not try to make some complicated composition or complex light scheme, as I did it on my work with Nick Valentine. Light is the most common for a portrait, that you can find.

For the main source of luminance I used 1 key light – a big area light, with mid intensity, 2 rim lights for a side reflections on her cheeks and hair, and the fill light, that compensated all dark shadows. It emits right from the camera. Also, I used default 3ds Max omni light, that had disabled diffuse rays checkbox. They can give you a nice specular on your shiny surfaces in the scene, such as metals or eyes.

I slightly rebuilt the light scheme, in the process of work, but the essence remained the same. Sometimes you worth doing this, to better understand how one or another surface shader behaves. Sometimes it was necessary to leave only 1 light source, for understanding the behavior of the surface. Here I enclose some “in progress” renders:

As you can see, rendering wasn’t so long, it something about 5 minutes per test in case of that image resolution was pretty high – 2560×1440. It consumes 30 minutes around on the final image, with the fact that the model is quite heavy, had a displacement and a fairly large numbers of hair.

I decided to render a final model from the different angles, and with DOF. I’m not a compositing guy, that’s why I like to create all the effects on the render, as maximum as it can be done. Here you can see the final render settings:

The final image ware rendered with this render elements. Practically, I don’t even use a 80% of them, but, nevertheless, I have a habit of rendering everything that might be useful.

As you can see, my compositing project was a quite primitive. From the most interesting – I like to duplicate a beauty several times, blur it to different values from 10 pixels to 140, and overlay with the “normal” blending mode, with an intensity of 4-7%. This gives an interesting diffuse effect between pixels and a small glow effect. I’m also fond of imitating the film, so I added an S curve and some film noise with the chromatic aberrations.

In general, that’s it. I tried to disassemble all aspects of my work, from beginning to the end, I hope you were interested, and you learned something new for yourself!

If you had some questions, you always can chat me on Facebook. I’ll post all my works, old and new, here on on my artstation page.

Artem Artificial, Lead Shading Artist / Character Artist


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This is fantastic, thank to both 80 lvl and Artem for another exemplary article. I have been learning Zbrush and have been looking for guidelines on a few of the things included here.