[WIP] Samus Aran, Zero Suit - Stylized PBR fan art

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GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3

Hello Polycounters!


After a few months of being busy moving and settling to a new place with new job, I finally have time to work on personal projects again.

As a long-time Metroid fan, I have always wanted to make a fan art of Samus. 
After seeing Allan Lee's amazing take on Samus recently on the webs, I fell in love with the series again and decided to finally do mine.

I am going for a stylized Zero Suit Samus, with Overwatch, Paladins, HotS in mind as references.
I'm thinking about a very dynamic final pose, with Samus and her gun, either running or jumping, in addition to probably a more static stance on other shots.

Here are my main references on a board:

And my current progress:

So I mainly blocked the hair shape, worked on a pretty advanced state of the face for what I'm aiming to get (willing to improve some features though, need help on this, something still seems off to me but can't seem to find what ><), and got the body base clean with the first layer of the suit.

I'm now going to tweak the suit with some circular pads plugged in the suit itself, as seen in Gantz and Neon Genesis Evangelion, for instance. Also she will get the black holsters and straps seen on the young Samus concepts from Metroid Other M (see ref board) which I find very interesting in giving fresh air to the classic Zero Suit and playing with contrasts/inner shapes. She will also need a pistol. I'll probably go for a HK MK23-ish gun mixed with D.Va's pistol (Overwatch), making it more like a blaster than a modern pistol.

I'm glad to post here again, feeling fresh for this new project. I hope to get some feedback from you guys, knowing from past experiences in here that it is greatly valuable and enhances the quality of my works!

Thanks for checking this thread, have a nice day.


  • Sebeuroc
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    Sebeuroc polycounter lvl 7
    Cool, I'll be watching this! I do have a suggestion for her face - the bottom half of her head feels like it's pushed too far forward. From the profile view, I'd bring the plane of her nose/mouth/chin back a bit. Nice stuff though, I look forward to seeing more.
  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    @Sebeuroc Hey Zane, glad to read this and thanks for the input! 
    I pushed it back a bit and it looks better in 3/4 and profile views.

    Something is still off though, I think it might be because of the cheeck/nose line that is maybe too hard, I need to check if it is.

    Here is some progress on the straps. For the circular pads à la Gantz/Evangelion, I tried and didn't like it, so I'm not adding them.

    More progress soon!
  • Magihat
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    Magihat interpolator
    Really neat project so and solid work so far. I do think that she have a bit of a odd face in certain ways proportion-wise right now tho. The positioning of the eyes are the main thing that contributes to that and you can se it below (also made some other suggestions but the eyes are my main gripe with it right now).

  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    @Magihat Awesome feedback, thanks a lot for taking the time to overpaint/explain.
    I modified stuff accordingly, and it looks way better now obviously.
    I am satisfied with it for the moment so I'll focus on the rest!

    So yeah, here is a progress shot, I probably won't be able to work on it until this Sunday, so I'm posting tonight to keep a good pace.

  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    I'm not dead!
    Finally had some free time to get back on this project.
    Started working again on it by tweaking the face, mostly lips and eyes.
    Cleaned the straps and added clips too.

    Next session will probably be cleaning the hair, and crafting a clutchbag and a holster on her hips. And ofc a pistol would be nice, I don't have a precise idea of what I want for it though.

  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    Again, having time to work on this project, and motivated to use these few vacation days to finish it.

    So I'm currently done with sculpting, retopo, and baking, ready to start texturing her.

    So I added little Metroid-shaped shoulder pads, as well as a laser pistol in a back holster. I thought the shape was interesting and these kind of holsters are rarely seen in games compared to torso, under arm, belt or leg holsters. I think it fits the exploration feeling I want her to have.
    Also refined a bit the face, shoes, hair, and straps.

    Currently around 35k tris. I'm used to do low-polycount characters, so this time I'm allowing more budget even though I want it optimized.

    Retopo and baking came pretty clean, had only little baking artifacts to take care of. Pretty happy with it.

    So a baby Metroid is coming soon, currently sculpting it.

    The scene should be in a dark underground cave mood, with this kind of posing: she would come face to face with a non-hostile Metroid larva, and would be reaching for it, like in a "this one looks different, I don't want to shoot it".


    Also, Samus Returns' coming out in two weeks on 3DS, can't wait for it. I'm aiming at getting this project done when it's out (if I don't break my elbow again :mrgreen: )

    So yeah, any feedback is still appreciated, even if I'm done with sculpting and retopo/baking and won't change this now, it may probably help me on my next works. 

    To be continued...
  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    Texturing wip shot time!

    I'm going for a hyper reflective suit, a la Widowmaker. Hair is very WIP, just roughly handpainted its albedo. I will go for anistropic reflections, still need to figure out what are the correct settings in toolbag 2, and painting a flow map.
    Not sure about the overall values; will see this after, busy on other stuff for a few days.
    Also I added a few hair strands on the back of her neck and at the ponytail start, to make transitions more natural.

    C&C more than welcome!
  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    More WIP shots, working on the little metroid at the moment.
    I'm quite done with Samus's textures, might tweak a bit if needed later.

    I'm struggling to get a nice jelly render for the metroid but can't work it out yet on toolbag...

    C&C forever appreciated :D

  • slosh
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    slosh interpolator
    Really diggin the progress!  I shoulda mentioned this earlier but the arms feel a tad short and her knees feel a smidge high.  I think given the stylization, I wouldn't mind seeing you push the proportions a bit more as well...possibly thinning her knees a bit and giving her calves more volume and shape.  Just a thought!
  • pior
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    pior ngon master
    Add a strip simulating the shadow cast from the upper eyelid onto the eyeball, like this : 

    You also want to make her eyebrows a shade darker than her hair, otherwise it'll look like she shaved them.
  • Koromo
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    Koromo triangle

    As Pior says, try to use a fake eyeshadow. A super fast way to preview it with transparency in marmoset is a simple black flat colour +dithering, but in a final texture as it´s stylized do a gradient as it shows in his youtube video.

    My example is more realistic,but that´s the simple idea in marmoset 

    For the jelly have you tried refractive index+add transparency in a double layer?
     The external jelly with a higher value of refractive index and or high extinction and the internal jelly a more glossy/minor refractive index.
     Or the opposite, depending if you want to achieve certain type of jellyfish.

    And well, if you want more a candy type of jelly, use a high value of sss to smooth the reflections and overall colour and shadows.

    Overall a very clean result and looking forward for the end result  :)
  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    Hey guys! Thanks for the replies and feedback, I appreciate it a lot. 

    @slosh I should be able to push some vertices on the low model, the arms lenght (mostly the forearm I think) and knee width then.
    @pior That's a cool technique, I'm definitely using it on her asap! The eyebrows are already darker than the hair, but you're right, not enough.
    @Koromo At the moment, these are two add transparency meshes with toolbag skin shaders, with sss and fresnel. But poorly done yet, lol. I didn't play with refractive index, I'll give it a look! Also a friend suggested this morning I try adding more meshes for the bulb, and playing with different opacity values to get some sort of gradient. I'll play around and try stuff.

    Also I'm wondering how to get this nice glowy effect on the outer shape of the metroid:

    but without camera post effects, cause I don't want Samus to look like Galadriel, lol. If you guys have any trick I'll take it!
  • Koromo
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    Koromo triangle

    I´ve done a dirty sh** to try to see the approach to that shader in marmoset.

    Without textures or anything so don´t mind the result xD. Of course your going to do a good texture in the surface to have a more likeable aproach to the original concept.

  • GravityBwlast
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    GravityBwlast polycounter lvl 3
    Hey guys, I'm glad to show you the end result as I call this project done!

    Thanks @Koromo, I kept playing with the metroid until I had something I liked, thanks for the tests and tips!
    Also thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on this one.
    Rig/skin were done by my friend Guillaume Delbecque, I did the posing.

    You can see Marmoset Viewers on the artstation page:

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