[Mixamo Contest] Shy Necromancer

Hopefully I can finish this before the deadline! Just saw the contest today. Looking through some of the entries, I'm seeing a lot of badass/ awesome/ perfect characters, and I thought I'd bring a bit of a British twist of shame and awkwardness.

I want to do a young female necromancer, ashamed and nervous to be out doing her night work. Either she is a student of a shady sorceror, or perhaps this is an embarrassing addiction that she stumbled into, but just doesn't have the willpower to stop. There's no glamour in her life of digging through graveyards trying to hack together enough parts that won't be noticed if they go missing - it's just hard, dirty work.

So here are a few Google searches rolled into one (well two really) to give me a decent amount of initial reference:

ref.jpg ref2.jpg

Thanks for checking this out, more updates to follow shortly!


  • reecpj
    Spent a few hours doing some designs - the lit ones are those I might go with. Comments are very welcome!

  • sipher3325
    Well as far as pose goes like number 5 myself but for what you're going for as far as shy probably 10. Can't wait to see some updates.
  • reecpj
    Thanks sipher3325. I guess I should think about clothing and design before pose though.

    I couldn't work on this yesterday, but today I've been finishing retopologising a sculpt I did a couple of weeks ago, which I'll use as a base in Zbrush, and if I don't have time, will suffice for the majority of the final mesh, I think:
  • reecpj
    Today I unwrapped the model. I think I got quite a good balance between few UV elements (i.e. less seams) and distortion. Hopefully I can start sculpting in Zbrush tomorrow! I think I will do clothes/ prop design after the character itself - I may not spend a long time painting detail on things that will be covered up though.

  • Texelion
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    Texelion polycounter lvl 5
    I don't understand, why did you do the unwrapping of the nude body, and why would you paint it before having the clothes ?
  • reecpj
    Well, I want to get the underlying figure correct, and add clothing on top, rather than guessing at some flappy robes or something. I think this might make a good general female base mesh, so it'll be nice to be able to reuse it if necessary. I did actually start the model with another character in mind, and wanted to finish it to this stage at least. I'll modify proportions in Zbrush.

    If I run out of time while sculpting, at least I won't have to spend a day re-topologising/ unwrapping the model. I want to try out some different clothing designs in Zbrush to find something that works well in 3D. I can then sculpt, paint, retopologise and unwrap the clothes.

    I doubt my method is the fastest, and I probably wouldn't go this way in a production environment, but this is a good learning exercise for me as well. Hope that makes some sense!
  • reecpj
    First thing I did today was check Max's normal mapping - with a 128,128,255 colour in the normal/ bump slot, there were obvious seams on the model (not good). I realised this was due to the gamma correction settings, so I had to change the input bitmap gamma from 2.2 to 1.0. Tada! No seams - that'll help later on.

    Mainly though I was sculpting my character in Zbrush. I feel like I learnt quite a lot about the female form doing this. I would love to know what faults you can see in the anatomy particularly. I was careful to only subdivide as much as necessary. Here's the result at the end of the day:
  • reecpj
    I've been testing out the normal map worflow. Can't quite get the hang of multiple subtools yet.

    If you want to see the current state of the model in glorious 3D (with a low res jpg as a normal map and ugly seams):


    I would really appreciate some feedback on the anatomy! I'll start working on her clothes next.
  • reecpj
    Well, I spent all day yesterday figuring out how to work in linear space and apply gamma correction properly, as well as the different normal mapping algorithms used by the different software - didn't realise it could get so complicated!

    Today I've been really enjoying sculpting in Zbrush. I detailed the body to an acceptable level (without adding extra subdivisions) and started on the clothes and hair. This is my first time trying to sculpt either of them. Clothes are fun! Hair is really really hard! It currently has the most polys out of all my sub-objects and still doesn't look great. Anyone have any tips? I'm not sure whether to go with geometry or alpha mapped planes in the final low res model.

    Here's the current state of the model. Oh, and she has a name now - Charlotte. I used symmetry on everything but the hair, t-shirt and belt. Colours are merely for differentiation between sub-objects:


    All feedback welcome!
  • reecpj
    More clothing/ accessories today. Had my first major Zbrush crash! Lost a couple of hours work. Not sure about the shoes and gauntlet thing in particular. I think tomorrow (when I'm happy-ish with clothing, props) I might retopologise everything, unwrap it, then I can pose it in Zbrush and colour it... dunno if that's a good workflow.
  • greyskill
    Oh, I HATE zbrush crashes, especially when it crashes because I am saving...

    Your character looks good, but I think that her outfit could use some more pieces to show that she is not just a peasant or commoner.

    Also, I think you should look at some cloth references, because it is unclear why her clothes are folding the way they are in some places. It looks to me like they are made of very heavy rough leather, is that the case?

    Anyway, good luck!
  • reecpj
    Thanks for the advice greyskill, the plan was always to add accessories and build her up as a more obvious necromancer. I still need to adjust the wrinkles and folds on the clothing; thanks for alerting me on that.

    Did some more sculpting today - here's the latest:
  • reecpj
    I haven't finished the sculpting yet but today I worked mostly on polypainting the diffuse colours for the face. I'd really appreciate some criticism, especially as I'm colourblind and may have painted all the skin green or something... hopefully not! I worked with ZAppLink and Photoshop mainly, seems to be a good workflow. Here's a (default) BPR from Zbrush:

  • sofabound
    I think the color work is good, just with the dirt, when you're adding it on, you should be thinking of how it got there. Like if she was wiping sweat off of her forehead with the back of her hand and it left a dirt trail; things like that.
    Watch the edge quality of the lines you have in her face- they seem a little too hard and not very natural, and it looks like you have a bit of pinching at the corner of her mouth. One thing that might be cool to add is some semi-heavy bags under her eyes since she does night work :)

    And going back to the anatomy, her hips seem a little low, and the lower part of her leg should be a bit longer than the upper part- right now they're about the same length.

    Good luck!
  • reecpj
    Thanks for the critique sofabound. I will adjust the face colours if there's time after painting the rest to a similar level of detail. I might try and adjust proportions in Max after the normal generation/ mapping, just to avoid spending half an hour trying to do it well in Zbrush, with all the different subtools that would entail.

    I'm spending some time doing dull retopologising and uv-ing in Max at the moment, then hopefully I can project the preliminary maps, set up materials in the scene to see how it looks, and iterate on the sculpt/ painting to make everything better. There are still a few props I'd like to sculpt as well. Last step will be in Max to quickly rig her to a biped and pose her. If you can think of a better workflow, I'm open to experimentation!
  • reecpj
    Here's the latest Zbrush BPR. File sizes are getting big! I still have to design the staff and hope everything fits in the poly budget - everything's unwrapped. Then I'll go through each of the subtools, and run XNormal on them to create normal maps. Then I can reproportion and repose her in Max, and go over the maps in Photoshop; create a specular/ glossiness map. Then it's just lighting (and maybe if there's time, a base!). So lots to do really!
  • reecpj
    Since the last update, I've made a staff and a book for her to hold, and retopologised/ unwrapped everything. I used xNormal to transfer the vertex colour and normal information from all the hi-res subtools to their low res counterparts, one by one to avoid overlapping rays. I reconstructed the diffuse and normal maps together in Photoshop. Here's a screenshot with the maps directly applied, using the xoliul shader in Max. The diffuse map is there as well. I hope the UV is good - there is some space for extra bits like hair and eyelashes. Some of the bits share the same/ mirrored UV space; I hope that doesn't look terrible. Regarding maps, I need a specular, and I need to repaint some bits in Photoshop to make them look nicer. Criticism/ advice is appreciated!
  • reecpj
    Finished skinning today using 3Ds Max's CAT rig. Some really bizarre bugs, but should suffice!
  • reecpj
    Here's the current state. I scrapped xoliul's shader for mental ray, since I know you can get decent results using it! I'm using arch&design materials, not sure if they're the best. I've mostly been working on the face and hair, diffuse and opacity maps - there's still no specularity.

    I've got a couple of hundred tris spare - maybe I'll give her a cloak if I have time! I'd like to put in a graveyard-y base but not sure how much time I have spare before the deadline. The priority is the character.

  • Texelion
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    Texelion polycounter lvl 5
    A shovel could be more usefull than a cloak ^^. I thought to a grave too but I won't do it.
  • reecpj
    I don't think a shovel would work well, but thanks for the advice. The cloak was just cause she's going out into the cold night, with apparently not a great deal covering her. I want to give her stockings to add some visual interest to her legs textures, if I have time.
    I love your necromancer model! The textures are great - could you spare any advice for how I could better mine? Thanks
  • reecpj
    Do you think this is acceptable for a beauty render? I'm not very practiced at lighting or rendering, so would really appreciate some criticism. Hopefully it's apparent it's meant to be at night.
  • TigerGD
    No, it really needs more light. You can put in a spotlight in front overhead and blue ambient for moonlight. Nice pose, though.
  • reecpj
    Thanks. I'm having trouble with what seems to be varying gamma profiles in different programs - compared to chrome, my browser, in Photoshop it looks much brighter, unless I use monitor proof profile; in Windows photo viewer it looks way too dark and contrasty. Hopefully this will come out better:

    Also here's a real-time viewer of the model (textures reduced to 1024 by 1024, no alpha):http://p3d.in/Htkba
  • reecpj
    Final Submissions!
    Beauty shot:


    Texture sheet (full 2048 resolution):

    Thanks to everyone who commented, and for checking it out!
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