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Glauco Longhi, a senior character artist at Sony Santa Monica Studio, gave a small talk on the production of his amazing Bloody Necromancer. The artist told us about working with the references, finding the perfect look, dealing with materials and other production details.
I’m Glauco Longhi, currently working as a senior character artist at Sony Santa Monica Studio, on God of War. Prior, I was at Naughty Dog working on Uncharted 4. I started my career about 10 years ago, back in Brazil, and since then, I’ve worked for many advertising studios doing 3d and I also run my own traditional/studio/atelier, where I tough traditional sculpture for about 3 years, and run an FX studio attending the Brazilian film and advertising industry with traditional make-up FX and practical FX. 3 years ago I decided to go back to digital and went straight into videogames.
I basically saw this concept and was super inspired…I was also playing Bloodborne and Dark Souls, so I wanted to do a personal project within that realm, but with a realistic twist, adding a bit of my own personal style to it. So I started “based” on that concept, but then I kept changing and tweaking to my taste. My buddies Rich Lyons and Corey Johnson also helped me with tons of ideas.
I started the body with a low res base mesh I have and everything else was a combination of Zbrush modeling, Maya modeling and Zbrush sculpting. I usually focus on my high poly first and then I build the low out of a retopology, which is usually done in Maya. The anatomy was very fun to work on. I gathered many different references, from very skinny people like Iggy Pop to mummies and stuff. I love everything that has interesting anatomy and it was so much fun!
Although I was not following any specific reference, trying to achieve a likeness, I always use as many references as I can. You can see many features that I stole from Iggy Pop in his face, and the expression was a combination of different portraits I had. It’s not easy to mix match stuff like that, but I guess it turned out just fine. The scary look feeling it’s subjective…I like playing with the expression and trying to feel something out of it, as if it was me doing it. It’s always handy to have a mirror near you 😉
How did you model clothing and other Necromancer’s accessories, like his amazing cross? How did you know when to stop while adding these details?
It was a mixture between Maya base meshes and Zbrush sculpting. I’ve been trying to use more Zbrush tools like the zmodeler to speed up the process even more and not have to leave Zbrush to model a base mesh is very nice. For the details, I always have in mind the size of the objects and the texture resolution I want these to be displayed. It’s always about finding the right balance and getting the right read from these details and objects. It’s very common to see amazing details in close ups during the sculpture step but most of it looks like noise when baked out. Gotta remember that these will be baked at 2, 4k resolution into the uv space and it’ll be seen from a distance in most cases. Substance Painter is also amazing to add more details in the normal map and I also did all my textures on it.
You can watch this presentation where I discuss the material break up on this project below:
I’ve used Substance Painter 100% for this project and again, one thing that I always keep in mind is how these materials will read from a distance. Usually, organic materials I like to hand paint from scratch and for the clothing and metals I use a combination of generators for masks and break ups, and hand painted stuff.
Rendering was done at Marmoset Toolbag 2, which simulates a realtime engine. I love how much it has been evolving through the past years, making my life so much easier to display my work. I have a hard time rendering stuff so presenting realtime models it’s always challenging but also rewarding. It simulates closer the challenge we have when dealing with a proprietary engine. I try to keep the lighting as simple as I can, usually with 3, 4 lights. I always make sure the eyes are well lid. Overall, I like to keep my exposure 1 or 2 stops lower than the final image and bring it back to life in post, inside of marmoset. I find it easier to get the specs and reflections to read, also control my shadows and highlights.