The Poison Claw: Production Guide

The Poison Claw: Production Guide

Rey Jhon Rosano talked about his recent character and shared some bits of the workflow. 

Introduction and Career

Hi, I'm Rey Jhon Rosano, a 24-year-old 3D Character Artist based in Naga City, Philippines. I started my 3D career back in 2014 at Dawn Purple Inc. as Junior 3D Artist, my main role was to create animation for games. From 2015 to 2018, I worked for Human-Engine LLC as a 3D Generalist, here I learned a lot about Zbrush and Photogrammetry for creating realistic characters.

In 2018 as well, I worked as a 3D Designer on an App called Facemoji, which is now available in the App Store. Now I'm working as a freelance 3D character artist and hoping to be a part of a big project.

Kay - The Poison Claw original concept by Shen YH

Gathering the Reference

My first step is gathering references. I always take time finding good references before starting any project, and I will tell you it is not cheating if you use references! Just don’t copy exactly someone’s character and tell everyone it’s yours.

I use PureRef for gathering all my collected references and this App is superb and you can download it for free here.

In this character I challenge myself to recreate the character with the same feel as the concept art and not adding too many personal touches, my real challenge here is making it stylized.

I am used to creating realistic humans, so I'm trying to balance here what is enough and what is too much for it to be stylized.


Zbrush Brushes I use:

  • Clay - Brush for building up the shape and primary forms.
  • DamStandard - Creating sharp valleys and tertiary details like wrinkles and lip details
  • Standard - Adding volume on areas.
  • Polish - Creating hard surfaces and sharp edges.
  • Move tool - Moving the volume of the mesh.
  • Move Topological - Moving the surface of the mesh.
  • Smooth
  • Inflate      


I started with my own basemesh on creating this character, this is not advisable for beginners as you should learn how to sculpt from scratch but in real production, basemesh is always used for faster workflow.


Layers are very important. I always use layers so I can go back if I did some unwanted details. I typically have 4 layers: Basemesh, Primary form, Secondary detail, and Tertiary detail.

Primary shape & proportion

Getting the primary shapes and proportion is always my priority on starting a character if you messed up here you'll mess up everything next.


Creating the face is one of the most important steps. It's always the main focused on every character. My goal for her is to look as badass as possible. I used a lot of references to create her face.


I use my anatomy knowledge in creating the body and also looking at references. I visit Sketchfab for body references; it is a great website with tons of 3D scanned human bodies that you can look at.


Like with the body, I focus on primary shape of the clothes, placement, and sizes. When you get the body proportion right, adding clothing/props is easier.

Armor and Weapons

I used Maya and Zmodeler, I’m still getting familiar with Zmodeler, so I mostly used Maya on creating hard surface.

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Secondary Details

Now, it's cleanup time. Here I focused on getting the secondary details. Secondary shapes are the smaller shapes that either sit on top of or help to make up the primary shapes. At this stage, I have the overall look of the character.

Tertiary Details

I added the smaller details such as wrinkles, lip detail, scars, cloth detail, scratches on the armor and damages.


I use Maya Quad Draw Tool for retopology, it is a very useful tool and easy to use.

UV mapping

For this character, I created 4 texture sets: Body, Bagback, Claw, Blade. I use Maya for UV mapping.

Now, the model is ready for texturing. Always keep in mind to check for overlapping UV as this will cause texture issues later on.

Exported the model in 1 FBX with 5 separate objects, body, claw, blade, backpack and mask each with assigned material so that there is 5 texture set which I can hide and show to focus texturing one object at a time.

 Substance Painter Texturing

I used the template PBR Metallic Roughness for this character. For the material, I used Zack Maxwell's smart material available on Artstation Marketplace and overlayed with my handpainted details and grunge.

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For the glowing poison effect, I used Organic Spread particle and Dirt 1 brush with green emissive and base color and played around with the settings to get my desired look.

After texturing, I have 6 texture maps that I exported for rendering in Marmoset.

Texture resolution for the body is 4k and 2k for the bag, blade, claw.


I did a simple trick on rigging this character by using Mixamo and Maya. I uploaded my model in Mixamo to generate skeleton and skinning. Then, I imported it back to Maya for editing the placement of joints and adjust the skinning. Mixamo once has a plugin for control rig in Maya, now it’s not available anymore but luckily I still have it. I only use this process for posing characters.

Marmoset Toolbag Rendering

Setting up lighting

I always start by adding Sky for ambient light, I've chosen Desert road and played around with the brightness till I get the lighting that I like. I tend to not make it too bright. Next, added the main light, I use one main light for this. I prefer to use Omni light for lighting as it's softer than the other lights. Then, add the backlights. Backlights are important for making models pop-up and more appealing. Lastly, I add bounce lights for extra lights to show details below the torso.

Render Settings

Turned on Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion for more depth of the character.

Post Camera Effect

Depth of field> to create depth of the scene.

Sharpen> Added sharpen to 1 for outline and to define the details more.

Vignette> For background depth.

And finally, in capture settings, I cranked up the sampling to 100x for great image quality. Then I did some post-processing in Photoshop by adding a green smoke effect. 

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That's all guys, I hope you find this overview of this character useful. Thank you!

Rey Jhon Rosano, 3D Character Artist.

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev.



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    The Poison Claw Production Guide