Red Queen: Stylized Hair Production Tips

Red Queen: Stylized Hair Production Tips

Ivan Shevchyk discussed his career path in 3D art world, did a breakdown on his stylized character, talked about his workflow in ZBrush and Blender and shared his approach to hair production.


Hi, guys and ladies. My name is Ivan Shevchyk, I am 34 years old, and I live in Kyiv, Ukraine. Now, I work as a 3D character artist in the Chinese company, Skymoons, Kyiv. I began studying 3D in 2005. My path began with architectural visualization. In the process of my journey, I changed several directions in the 3D industry. And now for the last 5 years, I began to smoothly switch to ZBrush and character creation. Character creation is a really cool and inspiring activity. It is one of the most interesting areas in 3D for me.

Red Queen

About the Career

I started creating characters because it is a difficult job with interesting tasks. In my characters, I try to convey the beauty as I see it. And with each character, I get it better. It's hard for me to advise the best way on how to study characters. I myself try to just do as much work as possible. Do a mistake and do it again until it works out. Start a new project, a new character. I think it's worth making a lot of attempts. And so repeat it endlessly. Perhaps there is some easier way, but I do not know it.

I think, for a good result, I should thank my experience that I received on previous projects. For example, every time I try different new tools. In this work, I used Blender for the final renderings and was very pleased. Colleges at work told me the principles of post-processing. I got the experience of posing the model in ZBrush at my previous work - Kat - ocean dream. With each of my new projects, I try to get some new knowledge, which in this way improves all my future projects.

Gathering the Reference

I am on Instagram a lot, it affects productivity badly, you know. But there I see a lot of inspiration. I saw a girl there who impressed me and became the basis for my Amanda. I think if you compare my work with the main reference, they will seem a bit similar to you. I did not try to achieve a complete likeness. I was interested in her image. I also supplemented it with details from other references. I always collect a lot of references before work and advise everyone to do so.

The Workflow

I created the body from scratch for another job. Unfortunately, it is still not finished. I have been improving it for quite some time. Something didn’t suit me all the time. Plasticity of the hands or details of the palms. These steps can be seen on my Instagram. I worked on this body with iterations. That is, every time I improved it a little bit. And now I have a pretty good result, but I'm not going to stop there.

Working on the Hair

Creating hair through a sculpture has always been of great concern to me since I started creating my characters. This has always been for me a separate important point in the creation of each character. I reviewed a lot of references in the desire to understand how to get cool hair. For example, I really like the artist Maria Panfilova. I watched her performance at the 2019 ZBrush Summit.

There, she talked a little about hair, about its twisting and dividing into parts. I decided to try it. I highly recommend watching this video. In many ways, my work is inspired by it.

I also created hair with iterations. I tried to create a feeling of flow and smoothness. All brushes are pretty standard in my opinion. ClqayBuildup, Orb_Cracks, DamStandard, Move, SnakeHook, hPolish, Transpose. At first, I created large tufts of hair. Then, I divided them into smaller ones creating new subtools through the polygroup split. In the end, I added a few flying hairs. I think a good solution was that the hair is not one shape. Due to different subtools, I got an empty space between the tufts of hair, which creates interesting shadows and shows shape better. This idea was inspired by the work of Rosa Lee, Harley Quinn fan art. The large geometric curls of hair it are made in more than one large piece. They consist of several parts of the hair, and the air between them creates a pleasant feeling from the geometry.

Creating the Skin

I created the skin in Substance Painter. It has many layers. They give a random color due to which the skin looks more natural. I created this material in one of my past works. And in this work, I improved it and adjusted it for the current task. For example, I made the skin more white to contrast with red hair. 

The starting point for creating this material for me was the video lesson by Magdalena Dadela - GDC 2017: Face Texturing in Substance Painter.

Also, I applied a color correction to the render which made the skin warmer.


The basic texture of the face was also created in Substance Painter. Indeed, I applied blush on the base material of the skin. I think it gives liveliness. A more diverse texture looks much nicer. If you look at the human body, you will see that the skin is not the same color everywhere. For example, on the inner sides of the arms or sides of the torso, it is lighter. Where the bones come out a little more yellow. Around the eyes and mouth a little bluer. There is a physical explanation for all this, but unfortunately, I do not know this terminology well.

As for the eyes, I was not able to get such eyesight on the render as I wanted. But since I was happy with everything else, and the project is personal. I decided to finish the eyes and the eyesight in the post-processing. That is, Amanda's eyes are almost completely painted by me manually in post-processing to create the desired impression.

Setting Up

In the beginning, I used a fairly standard scheme from three sources. Key, fill and rim light. Then I added additional rim light for the highlights I needed. Two cones on top and two-point at shoulder level. I also added one small source with a pink color in front to give emphasis on the chest. I rendered Amanda without a background. The background that you see in the final presentation was created manually.

The Main Challenges

The main tasks for me were to create cool hair and get a good render. And I did it. Now it seems I'm in love with Blender. As I said, I am looking for things that I will use in subsequent projects. I think the next girl I will also render in Blender.    

Ivan Shevchyk, 3D Character Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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