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Very impressive article Jake! You are very talented.
nice article! i love seeing the breakdowns.
Agelos Apostolopoulos showed how he created the amazing model of Ciri, adapting it to the visual style of Overwatch.
Hey everyone, my name is Agelos Apostolopoulos, I live in Athens, Greece and I’m a freelance 3d character artist. I’ve been working as a freelance character artist for almost 3 years now and have been part of a few indie titles that are still in development (Swords of Gurrah, Circuits and Shields) and some more recent ones that are under NDA.
I knew I wanted to create a fanart character for the Overwatch universe, as I fell in love with the style when the game came out and I wanted to try and replicate that. I went through a few of my favorite characters to see which one could transfer over and Ciri felt like a good pick!
Getting a fantasy art style to fit into Overwatch’s sci-fi theme was a challenge but with the right changes to the existing elements, it can give you all the base elements to work with, and make your life easier than working from scratch.
Overwatch is clean, bright, it has details that don’t take away from the main forms and is all around a great example of using an art style towards the game’s benefit and not just for the character to look good. In my case, I tried to convert the original elements of Ciri to similarly clean forms while chugging away a few parts of her armor that were too medieval to translate.
I heavily referenced Symmetra for the body shape at the start and was going through all of Overwatch’s characters to see elements that could work with Ciri.
I looked at Mei’s pouches, Tracer’s blink device, Sombra’s collar, and just cycled a lot through saved images of the cast to pick small details, bevels, design patterns.
Since I’m not great at designing in 2d I just roughly modeled stuff using Dynamesh to see how they could work, until I had something I was happy with.
You can see here how some of the initial elements don’t exist in the final, with some I was sure they weren’t working with others it took some time to find something that felt better.
I always start with Dynamesh and at some point, I either zremesh or use 3ds Max to get a clean base. With Overwatch since a lot of its bigger forms are very polished it’s essential to really clean up your base meshes otherwise you won’t have consistent bevels or smoothing results later.
For the hair specifically, I used the IMM brush provided by Chris Whitaker(Funky Bunnies), for the initial shapes, and then used masking to drag them closer to the shape I wanted. Z-remeshed when the forms were settled and then mostly using the Orb cracks brush to carve some indents running along.
I still feel 3ds Max or similar packages provide better tools for some functions such as modeling a sword or a strap accurately. So I built a low poly sword, which can also be used later for the actual low poly in-game model with a few edits, then use turbosmooth by keeping the different smoothing groups and it gives a great result. I did this with a lot of the elements that are hard-surface and need to be accurate and have consistent bevels or edges.
Bakes are done in Marmoset, which is an amazing tool that provides you with a lot of control over offsets and skews and is probably your best bet at producing a clean baked map.
The actual textures are done in Substance Painter, other than the leather most of the materials don’t have a lot of dirt or weathering so starting off simple with getting right a single base layer can go a long way.
For the leather though I started off with a smart material and then used a “paint” modifier to edit the procedural mask.
One of the more interesting things I found out when checking out Blizzard’s art is that they have a lot of color in their albedo, meaning while a shirt might be white, it usually has a lot of colors “hidden” in it. I think that’s something that can be used in other art styles as well and can make a simple texture look good.
I roughly rigged the character in 3ds Max using CAT, so I could play around with some poses. I had a couple more but I think the two I included in my final post where both complementary. One was a good action pose, somewhat similar to what Ciri has in her promotional art, and the second one, was more relaxed but still had some emotion going on. That way I was able to show the model in both situations, as sometimes with extreme poses you might get some stretched textures or hidden props.
Other than using a relatively high intensity on the HDRI, I used a 3-point light setup. Overwatch’s lighting is often uniform and soft, I actually went a little harder with my key light because I just liked it better when her blue streak of hair shadowed her face!
It was a challenging project for me as I usually work more in line with concept art, but it was fun trying to match such a polished art style. I hope some of the information here is useful and if anyone has more questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to me!