Tips on Sculpting 3D Characters

Tips on Sculpting 3D Characters

3d artist Quentin Soubrouillard talked about the way he builds amazing characters and how he presents them to the world.

3d artist Quentin Soubrouillard talked about the way he builds amazing characters and how he presents them to the world.

Porteur de Roc by Tink on Sketchfab

1. My name is Quentin Soubrouillard. I am a French freelancer working currently as a sculptor for collectible figurines and illustrator for games. I’m still a newcomer in these areas and I am searching for new opportunities and things to learn, being especially interested in the video games creative process, from concept art to textured and animated 3d object.

I attended an art school, specializing myself in illustration and concept art, but my first job happened to be in a company making a lot of 3d related work. I had only very basic knowledge in this area back then and had to learn most of what I know on the job, thanks to the help and patience of my coworkers ! 
I quickly became fond of this kind of productions. There is something special about bringing to life a 3d model. It usually take me a lot more time than my 2D work, but it’s worth the effort ! I also think that working on 3D help me improve my drawing skills with understanding of volumes. The two media feel complementary to me.

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I started sculpting in ZBrush at first but couldn’t get along with it’s interface and some of its features. So I ended up trying other softwares to see if one of these could replace it and found 3D Coat. Although some interesting tools from ZBrush were missing, features like voxel mode, dynamic tessellation or the Photoshop-like layers system made up for the loss. I discovered the retopology and texture tools afterwards along with the possibility to modify the UV mapping without losing the texture work and it further convinced me. The ability to handle so many steps of the production pipeline is very convenient.


Actually, I’m not so proud of the leaves as they turned out to be really tricky to retopologize… If I where to do it again, I would probably use a different method! 

I made the first version of this sculpture in ZBrush. It was meant to be printed in 40mm scale and their was not much details. I decided later to import it in 3dc in order to try some new things and add more details. Keeping in mind the idea of a printable figure, the leaves where merged into a single bloc in order to avoid holes that would prevent casting it into resin. Sculpting the wood took a lot of time too!

Once it was finished, I couldn’t help but try to create a low poly mesh and upload it on Sketchfab. I used mostly the automatic retopology tool, but had to work manually on many parts (little roots, wood knots, finger tips and such).

The texturing part was actually pretty quick, as the diffuse map is mostly flat colours and some details made using cavity detection and helped by the ambient occlusion, normal map, and a bit of post-process.

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Well, I fear I’m just more at ease with stylization. I tend to become impatient with my work when I go for a realistic approach.

I rarely use alpha masks. They are useful to add photo-realistic details or texture effects on the model, but in a lot of my works I use only “raw” brushes. Very few of them, actually (mostly move, crease and flatten tools, with a bit of clean clay when my topology is too messy). I may be too lazy to dig into the rest of the tools.


Rendering is one of the area where I still need to learn the most. I try to keep it simple with my clay renders and use them to showcase the high polygons models I can’t upload on Sketchfab, but I’m still figuring out how to make them look better.

Luckily, Sketchfab tools are easy enough to use and I was able to give a decent look to my last model with the help of a bit of lighting and post-process. I think, the most important thing is to not overdo it. If the subject is good, you don’t need to add a lot of thing to highlight it.


The hardest part is to create the low polygon meshes prior to the upload. Once it’s done, the export itself is rather simple. Most of the problems I met came from my own mistakes… like forgetting to create .jpg of my textures and trying to upload full quality .tga maps, or that kind of stuff… 

Sketchfab’s player allow a lot of things, it’s very satisfying. The number of options available allow a good control of the final aspect of the scene. Post-process tools, in particular can help achieve amazing results!

I hope you find my answers satisfying. I’m pretty new in this field so I haven’t many things to say. I would have loved to show you some pictures of my current client works, but they are under non disclosure agreement.

Quentin Soubrouillard, Freelance artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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