Artstation Game Character Art Challenge - The Red Witch

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Hello hello!

I finally decided to fully commit to my very first full art competition and jump into the melee over on Artstation's newest challenge: Ancient Civilizations. I'm joining the 3D Game Character portion and I am so excited to see everyone working alongside one another on all their respective projects.

My thread here is largely a duplication of my submission thread located on the Artstation challenge itself, but I figured there are plenty of artists that prefer the Polycount nexus instead. So, I'd like to share my work here too and would certainly welcome all feedback or critique on either platform!
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I'll be doing the Witch from Tatiana Vetrova's fantastic character submission. When searching through some of the 2D Design portion of the challenge, witchy here caught my eye immediately and I couldn't pass up such a striking figure.


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  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    So I don't always execute this step in some of my personal projects, but I figured it couldn't hurt to plan a few things out this time. All of this is of course subject to change - we'll just have to see where she ends up as we go along.



    As I stated on my Artstation thread, generally when I start a character, I have to begin with some manner of head sculpt. I need "chat" with them a bit and figure out how to proceed and for that they need a face. It's tough to really get excited about a bunch of grey blobs otherwise.

    A lot of this is just block-in stuff, but I think she's off to an interesting start. The color is is just placeholder to get an immediate emotional read. No firm plans yet, but I'm pretty sure it's going down the painted face route instead of a mask.



  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    Still pretty rough here, but certainly starting to take shape.



    It's at this point I realize I need to actually cover a bit more planning before committing to some of the large costume pieces.

    I also spent far too long staring at shibari reference photos. That sounds kinda pervy, but that crap is complex as hell! It did pay off though - figured out one continuous rope binding (one piece of rope in a full loop). I did have to slightly modify the rope work of the concept as I don't know if it was based off of any particular pattern, but I got really close.


  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    Block-in mostly complete, but everything is open to change. She's still missing her rope bindings. In fact I'm trying to figure out the best way of tackling the ropes and how/if I'm gonna have to keep the ropes separate from the body in the final model (likely the case). We'll just have to wait and see. From here, I think I'm ready to start moving into nailing down a few specifics and I'll likely begin with revisiting her face and body. As much fun as carving out the obsidian corruption on her torso and leg is going to be, that's going to have to wait until until later - I need to see her "pure" anatomy while working so for now we just get a little teaser.




    As always, let me know if you guys see anything large that needs fixing.  ;) 
  • radiancef0rge
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    radiancef0rge Polycount Sponsor
    Im really digging the style! Very cool. 
  • lotet
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    lotet interpolator
    Really cool, great style.subbed :)

    small crit would be the arm looking a bit stiff from side view.
  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    Thanks guys, more will definitely be on it's way soon, just gotta find the time to get some heavy sculpting done.

    @lotet Hmmmm, that's actually an interesting point, although I'm a little unsure how to fix that. Are you referring to perhaps the weird perspective angle from ZBrush's wonky FOV in the viewport? Or...actually...if you're pointing to the anatomy, I think you may be right. I need to make a note to hit up that lower arm again and give it a little more love. The hand too.
  • lotet
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    lotet interpolator
    @RocketBrian
     Im talking about the actual anatomy, the rest of the sculpt has a really nice stylized curvy flow through the body. From the side view the arm looks very straight and stiff and feels out of place.

    actually so does the lower leg now when Im looking at it. :p
  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor

    Smaller update for now. I've been chipping away at some of the boring foundational work and preparing some of the lower poly block-in stuff to ship over to ZBrush which is a little hard to show, but progress is rolling.

    I am reasonably happy with her head sculpt at this point - I widened her features a bit and pushed some things around to match the concept a little closer. If you check out the previous progress on her face, you'll notice more of an elongated look, which was fine, but diverged enough from Tatiana's concept that I felt like it was missing something. Outside of building out her mouth and some later detailing/scarring, I like where she's at.

    I also put a little more work into her anatomy based on a few suggestions (thank you @lotet ;) ). Polished up her calves, tightened up the structure of her forearms and elongated her neck a bit to give her somewhat disconcerting proportions. Her hands and feet are still pretty rough so I'll need to tie those down shortly, but outside of a quick remesh and clean up she's got a rockin' bod to take to the finish line.


  • theStoff
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    theStoff polycounter lvl 8
    Wow this is great! I'm really impressed how you made things sharp but still feminine. I don't see anything to critique on at this point but I'll keep an eye on this :)
  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    @theStoff - Thanks mate! Yeah, strong facial features can very quickly end up look pretty masculine, but it's something I've been experimenting with lately to see what I can get away with.

    I'm starting to tackle some of the corrupted body of the Witch. The concept does a great job of describing an almost hollowed out core, so I'm really looking to communicate that internal negative space. I experimented with a few different ways of tackling it, but settled on subtraction shapes. I just threw together a mass of rough blocks/shards, clumped them together, and used that as a negative shape to 'scoop' out the internals of the thigh and chest cavity. The black crystals here are just placeholder for the moment. I can already tell that there's some serious potential here to get some neat effects by placing light sources in those cavities for the final scene. Should be interesting.

    These kinds of massive asymmetrical changes always make me a bit nervous because it naturally shuts off your ability to make further symmetrical edits to a some degree. Onward and upward.



    As always, C&C is always welcome either here or on the Artstation thread.
  • lotet
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    lotet interpolator
    looking really cool. I like the idea about the lights inside. thats gonna make some pretty cool cast shadows :)
  • RocketBrian
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    Ended up with some a wacky schedule issues this last week and now running a bit behind, so I'll have to play catch up. Fortunately, an early part of figuring out the Witch's corrupted bits resulted in tackling almost all of her body re-topo work, so that's a large chunk of work I don't have to worry about later. Small victories, I suppose.

    I've got a number of different things in-progress at the moment, but I went ahead and took a break to round out the hair a little more. Hair sculpts (especially women's styles) are actually one of my favorite parts of a model to dig into as the construction for each style can be so wildly different from the next. All those flowing curves, subtle details, and complex transitions really carry a lot of the personality of a character. There is still plenty of work to do on the individual strands, but I'm pretty happy with the overall style it so far.


    I'm also procrastinating carving up her face. That will definitely be a point-of-no-return moment.

  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter lvl 2
    This is coming along really nicely! 
    Looking forward to seeing how it will turn out in the end!
    Good luck on the challenge!
  • mfrederick
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    mfrederick polycounter lvl 5
    This looks like an awesome project.  I love the design, and the proportions you went for look great.  The only thing that I'd personally suggest is breaking up some of the sharp lines in the face.  Right now, the rest of your character has a really good balance of hard edges followed by smooth round surfaces.  I feel that the number of relatively horizontal lines in the face is a little distracting to all the other great things you've done.  I don't know if anyone will agree with me or not, but figured I'd put that out there for you to consider.

    Looks amazing though regardless.  I really can't wait to see what you do with the materials later.  Good luck!
  • peloncr
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    peloncr polycounter lvl 2
    @RocketBrian

    Oh WOW! I'm just amazed how incredible this is!! Cheers man!! I love the way it looks, keep on keepin' on!
  • Justin Meisse
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    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 12
    Hey, I actually love the sharp lines on the face! But take whatever critique you think is best! Also, holy crap, I didn't realize they were letting 3d artists use submissions to the concept challenge.... dang!
  • RocketBrian
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    @peloncr @Elithenia
    Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!  :) 

    @mfrederick ;
    That's actually a very valid point! She is definitely carrying a lot of horizontal 'striation' in her face. If I'm perfectly honest...I kinda like it that way, but that's likely just a stylistic preference. I'll experiment around with some of her features to see if I can come up with something a bit more subdued all the same. Gotta explore as many avenues as possible. Some of the horizontal lines may actually be balanced out a tiny bit with her face pain and throwing in some scarring detail too, so that may help as well.

    @Justin Meisse 
    Thanks man! I've always really dug the chiseled line look on the human form, so it tends to sneak into my work in some way. And the 3D Character challenge I think had the encouragement to use the 2D challenge concepts buried in the brief somewhere, but I do remember that being one of the key reasons for splitting the challenge into two sections this time around. It's been really neat seeing how everyone tackles the same concepts en masse. Kinda like the bi-monthly character challenge here on PC, but on a much larger scope.

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    Starting to get to the point where I can really see where she's heading which is really exciting.

    There's still a lot of her that's still pretty rough, but I think it's finally time to actually dig into the detail work. First up is finishing her body corruption so I can push & pull her clothing around those sections. I threw a bit of polypaint on her to explore a few ideas. I'm actually really digging the color transition on the hair, so I will likely incorporate that element into the final. There's also a few pieces not shown here that I'm working on outside of ZBrush, but they should be coming online shortly.

    The hardest piece of the puzzle for me at the moment is definitely her face. I honestly cannot decide between about a dozen different variations of tattoos, paint, and scarring - It's all just so much fun! I am a fan of  the less-is-more design philosophy however, so I may do something kinda subdued and just let her red face paint carry her scary looks.


    (Quick matte render to show the difference in completed hair sculpt)


  • lotet
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    lotet interpolator
    Looking good, digging the face detail.
  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    Just a quick progress shot on the crystalline corruption on her body. Spent a good chunk of time just making and moving those shards into place, now I just need to take some time to actually sculpt out some gnarly surface detail so they mesh well together. I'll likely use that as an opportunity to make some final decisions on her scarring and body damage as well.

    After that's done, I just have some sculpting to do on a few pieces of clothing, jewelry, and add her rope bindings back in, and she should be good to go. That's still pushing the sculpting longer than I'd like, but fortunately a sizable chunk of the re-topo phase was already completed earlier! Good job, me-from-the-past!


  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor

    Looking at her now, I think I may have to bump up the size on a few of those shards to exaggerate the effect a bit. She matches the concept pretty closely as is, but sizing them up might make for a better impact on the read. The weird grey color on shards in these screengrabs also isn't really helping with clarity either, so that's my bad.  :D


  • lotet
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    lotet interpolator
    that might be a good idea, its looking a bit messy/noisy atm.
  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia polycounter lvl 2
    I agree with @lotet ;
    I think following the concept is good, but then you will have to make artistic decisions in the end to make it pop even more for the 3d presentation. 
  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    After playing around with her a bit, I am with you guys 100% - she definitely needed another pass on the shard distribution. I'm already deviating slightly here and there from the concept for a stronger read, so it makes sense to not stick too closely anyway. I'll be finishing off her scarring and corruption sculpt this evening and post an update. :)
  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor
    Did some quick tweaking on the distribution and size of crystal shards across her body based on feedback (thanks guys!). I don't want to go too large with them, but I think the corruption effect now definitely carries more weight to it. I have a bit more work to take care of on her body so there will be a Part 3 soon.


  • RocketBrian
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    RocketBrian Polycount Sponsor

    I think this where I'm going to call it on the corrupted skin. I could go crazy detailed across the entire section, but the style of the rest of the figure wouldn't really support it, so I'm just leaving it to pockets of detail. The polypaint mock-up here is just testing out an interesting idea to visualize the spreading corruptions and strays a bit from the concept, but I think I'm going to drop it in favor of some selective red body paint. That's likely to have a stronger read anyhow.

    Was also considering bringing that tattoo scarring from her face into the rest of her body, but I think I'm going to leave that out as well - there's a danger of getting too noisy otherwise.

    Now on to all the fun clothing bits and details.


  • lotet
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    lotet interpolator
    I think it looks good, really digging the square spiral patterns.

    maybe the hole in the hand could be a bit more stylized but other then that I think its looking really good.
  • Caiterade
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    Caiterade triangle
    I havent read all the posts so forgive me if you've explained it already, but i see one thing. The neck without the cowl looks unnaturally long. But i'm not sure if that was a stylistic choice or something important to the character. But shit son, those are some cool shapes *_____*
  • mfrederick
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    mfrederick polycounter lvl 5
    Looks great!  I think the additional polish and details on the face helped break up the lines that were standing out to me.  I'm also loving the shard layout you have going on, it really adds a lot to the silhouette and look great.

    I think I have to agree with lotet's comment above about the hole in the hand, it feels like it's missing a little extra something.  I know it's not in the original concept, but it might be kinda cool to incorporate the corrupted shard elements into it somehow.  Anyway, awesome work, can't wait to see more. 
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