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[COMPLETED] SciFi Renaissance Dude and Dog

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dGreenberg polycounter
I found a fun looking concept by Mikhail Rakhmatullin that I wanted to start working on. I'd like to learn some new things and challenge myself with this guy, so here goes nothin.


Since this fancy man and his little chihuahua aren't super complex, I'm also hoping to:
- practice and improve my anatomy (stylized but not over-the-top exaggerated);
- finally attempt to make some low poly hair cards;
- create a flow map for some anisotropic hair shaders;
- create some blend shapes (ZBrush > Maya) for a few facial expressions;
- make a full body rig (maybe minus the face) so I don't have to stick with one or two poses;
- create the main part of the jacket in Marvelous Designer;
- get that fancy-shouldered jacket to deform with some type of cloth simulation physics in Maya;

These are things that I think I have a basic understanding of, but I haven't put them to use on a full-bodied character yet. I'm sure I'll run into a some road bumps along the way, but I would really appreciate any advice or suggestions if anything looks way off.

Here's the orthographic that I put together to try and get his proportions working without the jacket.





I started out block modeling in Maya and worked on the forms in ZBrush. I've been using some stylized anatomy sheets to focus on some main shapes and connections, but I'll go back to check some more realistic stuff to compare and adjust. I'm definitely not an anatomy expert so would be grateful for any critiques or suggestions as I try to get things looking right.

His chest and arms will be covered with the jacket but I'd still like to get some working anatomy all around before I cover him up. His pants are pretty tight so I'll really want the definition in the legs to show through. I hoping I can make something really fun with this concept and I'll try to keep the updates coming whenever I'm able!

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  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Here's some more anatomy updates. It feels like it's getting closer but I gotta pick up the pace. After working off of some realistic references I measured him up against the original concept. He's a little over 8 heads tall but that might not be so bad since he's got the lanky fashion-model-type build (and I can always change his height later on).




    Working on anatomy always feels like a slow start for me, but I'm hoping the next update I'll be set and have moved forward with the face and stuff. C&C is always appreciated!
  • AgelosAp
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    AgelosAp polycounter
    Nice work so far! Silhouette reads nicely and it looks close to the concept overall.
    One thing I noticed is his thighs feel more box-y, it might be that you are still early in the process, but thought I'd mention it. They have a more slicker feel in the concept.

    ps: Please add that peeing dogo asap otherwise there's no point to this.
  • Mohamed_Salah_Bchir
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    Mohamed_Salah_Bchir polycounter lvl 2
    I love the concept. and i agree with this AgelosAp said:
    ps: Please add that peeing dogo asap otherwise there's no point to this.

  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    @AgelosAp & @Mohamed_Salah_Bchir: Thank you both! Hahaha you bring up a good point about the chihuahua. I'll bring him in as soon as I rough out the guy's face. I'll also work on getting his thighs / legs to be a little more slick and less boxy. I appreciate the input!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Went and smoothed out a lot of his anatomy details since it might have been distracting me from working on the rest of him. I think I'm ready to move forward from the proportions unless something looks way off (and I need to still work on his hands and maybe some of the muscles in his thighs and calves). I blocked in his facial features and attempted to pose him like the concept. It's not 1:1 but I'm beginning to feel like his stature and proportions are ballpark. Also started in on his doggo friend. Right now he looks way too much like a cat, but I'll change that with new updates.





    Next up is detailing the face and starting in on his clothing. I'm playing around with how to approach the style for his eyes. I'll try a pass at the concept's look (simplified and in shadow), but I'm worried it won't have as much impact in 3D. I guess I'll find out! As always any C&C is super appreciated.

  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    To start things off I've put some more work into getting that face towards the concept's style. I've also worked on the hands and started blocking out his clothing. I'll try and nail that weird insectoid-metal looking front of his outfit before moving on to the jacket.


    I wanted to make sure that I could get his mouth wide enough for that lazy/disgusted expression, but I gotta go back and retopo the face for his blend shapes later on. I think I'll finish his high poly (and dog) first. 



    Also Monster Hunter World is a hell of a drug... More updates to come!
  • Pav3d
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    Pav3d polycount lvl 666
    Looking really good so far, nice sculpted forms. I like your boxy maya workflow.
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks @Pav3d! I've tried a few different styles for starting a base mesh but that Maya box model method just works best for me (and I don't have to resize things later). Once I get further along in the high poly I'd really like to try and imitate some of the great detail work you do on the surfaces of your characters. I don't know how well that'll work with something so stylized but here's hoping it turns out well!
  • Olingova
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    Olingova polycounter lvl 5
    Love it :D The concept was already really cool but you nail it so far. I think you might keep those doggo ears bigger to avoid the "cat like" look and rework the nose a bit maybe?
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks @Olingova! Yeah you called it with reworking the nose and adjusting the ears. I still gotta work on a lot of that dog anatomy, but I'm at least moving in a better direction with his shapes/proportions. Now he looks less like a cat and almost like a chihuahua mixed with a monkey.

    I thinned out his legs to look closer to the concept but something feels off balance now (probably the tail or head size?). 


    I'll hop back over to the outfit for the next update so I can see things with a refreshed perspective. 
  • Olingova
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    Olingova polycounter lvl 5
    Definitely looks wayyyy better!! Really clean sculpt. For the proportions, i d'say that the body in general looks a bit too large (thiner shoulders should help a lot) but as you say it's good to work on smthing else a bit nd come back with a fresh look!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    @Olingova: Thanks man! Sorry for the late response. I think you're onto something with the body needing to be smaller, so I'll give that a shot.

    I've been trying to get this guy's jacket working and it's been a challenge. I've got everything blocked out now, but those folds really need some TLC before I can move onto the details. I'm also iffy on the butt-flap design so I'll try a few different versions and see if something looks more interesting or natural. This feels like a warning sign for me to practice clothing folds more often (and fabric in general), and any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. 



  • Pav3d
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    Pav3d polycount lvl 666
    The anatomy is looking really cool, and the face and hair are spot on. The coat is a hard one, especially since its going to look off until its posed. For the folds maybe look at things like PVC raincoats or any of that sort of hard plastic fabric clothing. I wouldnt follow the concept for the folds, find some real life reference (as close as you can :P ) With the back of the coat maybe incorporate some of the mechanical aspects of the front chest area into it? Ive done a paint over of some areas that could be tweaked, as well as a suggestion of how the folds could wrap up and into the coat. The way its folded in the concept reminds of me an inverted pectoral muscle, a bit of overlap could help as the coat is very flat at the moment.

    Heres an example of how you could potentially use areas of real life ref for your sculpt. Its what I tend to do when sculpting folds on clothes I dont have exact reference for.

  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Oh man, that's fantastic @Pav3d! Thanks for going through the trouble to do the paint-overs and find some workable reference. I never considered a PVC raincoat! I'd been looking through every kind of jacket or baggy sweater I could think of so it's great to have a different perspective on things. 

    I'll try to incorporate more realistic reference like you'd mentioned. I can also bring in some kind of hard surface thing to keep that mechanical surface language consistent with the front. Thanks again! I'll try and get some more progress in and post an update for next week.
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    New update time! I'm feeling better about the jacket now, but I don't know if I should push it further with details and folds, or continue to break up the symmetry (right now the folds are a little different on the arms but that's about it). I can try another pass to see if it'll work out better? I'm gonna try and use a cloth sim in Maya after the main body is rigged, so I'll see if I can find out what works better before then.


    Tried 2 variations on his butt-flap thing too. I think the asymmetry is helping break things up a little more so version 2 is looking like the current version over the weird coattails. 



    Also added a "relaxed" expression for helping with the blendshape stuff later on. Right now he looks like a cross between a zombie and some shocked Guybrush Threepwood-type character, but I'm hoping I'm on the right track with that. Added a high poly version for the mouth, eyes, and tongue. 


    Continued to fix doggo's anatomy and silhouette before putting him in a suit. The brown parts will be like that transparent plastic look (like the PVC raincoat that Pav3d mentioned above), and his legs will be blended into the blue of his coat. You know, texture stuff.



  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Dog wasn't feeling 'dog' enough so got rid of his super suit to try and fix that. He still feels a little like a gremlin-boy but it might help when I add some fur texture later on. Opened his mouth and added a tongue (still need to make the teeth) for those blend shapes later on. Also adding lashes and super tiny whiskers in a bit. C&C is always welcome and appreciated!

  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    I updated the jacket after putting off the folds for way too long. Minor update on the back design too, since I wasn't really feeling the butterfly design. Face is mostly retopoed, but I still need to add in the tear ducts and the wetness / shadow above and below the lids.




    Dog is going to go through another face update (and new suit) before I can call his high poly done, but then I should be good to move forward with the blend shapes. I don't think I'll have this guy done in time for GDC, but I'm hoping I can get to the low poly with hair cards in place before then. 
  • Olingova
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    Olingova polycounter lvl 5
    Think you nailed the dog aspect right now i love it :D The back design of the suit is great, right now the front design looks a bit confused but so it is on the concept, materials is gonna help a lot i guess :)
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks man! Yeah I think the front is really going to make a lot more sense once I get some material separation in there (I hope). I'm glad the back is reading well; I feel like it took me longer than it should have to come up with something, but it's time well spent if it reads better than the butterfly thing from before. 

    The dog is still coming together but I'm worried I might have pushed it too far outside of the intended style. I still want to make sure it'll match with the character's style, so I'll see if I can find a balance with that before moving on and getting that game topology put in. 
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Dog update!

    I brought his snout out a little further, and made his eyes a little less bulge-y on the bottom. Added in his suit and worked on some of the muscle parts of the face and jaw. He's also got some teeth now, which we might never see depending on his blend shape expressions.



    I think I'm good to move on from the high poly sculpts but please feel free to mention if something feels off on either of these guys and I can attempt to fix it. Next up is some blend shapes for the dude, and then a face retopo and blend shapes for the doggo. 
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    I forgot how fun it could be to work with blend shapes. They can be a pain to setup with retopo, but it's easy to get caught up in making different expressions for a character. I still gotta give plenty of attention to these (mostly on the Blue Steel expression), but I'm glad to be making a little progress. 



    I'll probably focus on the dude up until GDC comes and goes, but I'll go back and finishing the dog once this guy is low poly and baked down.
  • karytsukino
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    karytsukino greentooth
    Nice Expressions! I cant wait to see more of it =D
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks, @karytsukino! I'm hoping I can get through some low poly stuff this week at least but in the meantime here's a quick update on his Zoolander-inspired-duck-face. I figured I should give it a little more oomph to sell it, but I'm always happy to hear thoughts and critiques if it needs to be changed around.

  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    I've been posting these updates over time but I thought it might be nice to show some more cleaned up images with what I've put together (I hope this doesn't feel like spam). If anything stands out, please let me know since I'm still at that sweet spot to be fix things before continuing with the low poly retopo. 



  • Lurcisia
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    Lurcisia greentooth
    Love the dog! I think the reason he felt like a gremlin is because chihuahuas are 60% eyes and 40% tremble
    just give him a shake and he'll be realistic in no time! haha
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks @Lurcisia! I think you're right; it feels like 90% of his fixes have had to do with his eyes. I'm glad he's on the right track at least
  • AgelosAp
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    AgelosAp polycounter
    Hey, really like the progress so far, I think the torso part is looking good, a few suggestions below:
    0-Pants feel a little empty, you could either put some fabric seams or maybe make it more like nude muscular legs(like a ballet dancer), the sculpted angularity feels a little weird to me at least.
    1- I think this needs to be thinner material, like a a leather pad that has a seamed border, now it feels more like padded cloth and is too smooth.
    2- These folds could be deeper, at least some of them.
    3- this protrudes too much, I think as the concept suggests it is flatter, and almost has the shape of a hand covering his junk.
    4- Bolder separation for the soles
    5- Drag the outer layer a touch outwards so it creates more shadow/ao in the end.

  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thank you for the notes @AgelosAp!
    You brought up some great points that I'd overlooked, so I think I'll take a step back and rework a few parts before moving on. Thanks again!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Back with a low poly retopo vengeance. Some of these parts took me way longer to fix up than I'd like, but I think I was also able to incorporate some previous fixes to the mesh that I'd been putting off for too long. I still haven't started on the hair cards, but I'll get crackin on those once I get the character unwrapped and the normals baked on. I think I'll be saving the chihuahua until after the hair cards are in place.






    The lip-bite expression isn't reading as strong as the other two looks, but I'm hoping that the normal details will help that pop when I get them baked down. 

    Right now the dude is hovering around 25k tris, so it'd be great to keep it under 30k (no idea how many tris to expect with the final hair card placement). C&C is always welcome!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Got the low poly unwrapped and the high poly stuff baked down. Tried baking the eyebrows onto the face at first, and it wasn't looking great, so they're now separate geo. Also wanted to test out some early stage Blend Shapes, so I put the expressions together and added the eyebrows in with some Driven Keys. 




    Now I gotta get working on those hair cards. No idea exactly how I'll start on them but I'll get some studying in on some different techniques and see what I can do. 
  • Larry
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    Larry greentooth
    You can just make a single mesh-wig and animate that. Look at Overwatch characters' hair, i think that style would look good on what you are making. I want to adopt the dog as well!
  • Kaine123
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    Kaine123 polycounter lvl 7
    i think you captured the existential dread that chihuahuas have very well! 
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    @Larry: That's a good point. I really want to try and work with hair cards first (since it'll be a new technique for me to figure out), but things might not match up in terms of style. If that happens I'll definitely go back and work with the high poly shell to create more of a wig with the geo. Thank you for the suggestion! Also I'm glad the dog is looking adoptable.

    @Kaine123: Thank you! It's gotta be one of those things that helps identifies the breed so I'm glad it's coming through.
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Had to take some time to recharge but I'm back with some updates. After a lot of messing around with that hair, I ended up doing a mix of a wig and some free strands to get it looking more like the concept. I guess hair cards weren't... in the cards... this time? Anyway I've thrown him into Substance Painter and started throwing some materials and colors to see how everything is coming together. Still have to work a lot on the pats and vest separation and gotta spend some quality time on that skin and hair texture. 






    Any thoughts or suggestions along the way are welcome, and I really wanna try and get this guy finished before the end of the year! 
  • RocketBryan
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    RocketBryan Polycount Sponsor
    Hah, this guy looks great! That's a really unusual concept, but I think you're translating it pretty well. I think the push to make the model slightly more stylized was a good decision as his whole design is already exaggerated to begin with. Going with a more simplified hair method is a good call too - I would 100% have made that a solid hair 'loaf' with some additional fly-away strands for details.

    I'm not sure if you have enough shape borders/transitions for the undershirt and pants, but I would recommend playing with some material break-ups for the fabric paneling. In other words, build in some material changes to add subtle visual interest into the otherwise uniformly dark pants & shirt. Perhaps play back and forth between a slightly grayer fabric texture and a darker, rough vinyl-ish material? This is actually one of the things I love about the character work for the Overwatch cast, they built in neat material definitions to break up forms in interesting ways.


  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks Bryan! I hope it's translating well enough in 3D while still giving off that feel from the original concept. 

    I totally agree with the pants and vest area needing a lot more separation. I'll want the vest part to read a little more shiny and the pants a little more rough and less reflective. Pretty much everything needs more material definition, so I hope I can get things to pop a little more in further updates. 
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Got a first pass going on the clothes so far. Trying to mostly get things reading the right color while keeping the materials and pieces separate but visible. Still feel like a lot of it might change, but it's nice when things start to take shape with the textures. 





    Still taking screenshots straight out of Painter for these, but I'll try to bring some stuff into Toolbag for some future updates. Would love to hear some thoughts as I move forward and continue to tweak things!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    I think painting skin might be my favorite part of texturing now. Finally getting through a first pass and bringing things into Toolbag! I'll still be doing a few value adjustments along the way, but he's looking a little more alive now. Fixing up more of the jacket, I wanted to make that embroidered design a little larger than before (but I might dial back that intensity a bit).



    I kinda wanna play around with his other expressions and see how the textures transfer over before starting on the hair or anything else. I'm finally getting back some steam so hopefully some more regular updates are on the way!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Finishing off the first pass on the textures, I finally got all the materials into Marmoset Toolbag! There's still a lot to fix, and I'm not certain about that chest and jacket trim material, but I'm going to start in on the dog and get him retopoed next. I think I'll end up redoing those brown things on his shoulders too, since it feels like those are a pretty far stretch from the original concept (at least for the top piece). I feel like I'm getting a bit more separation between the pants and vest / codpiece, but maybe I should push it further? 




    Getting the expressions to read, I ended up creating an additional detail normal map for each look. I think I need to put more of an indent on the upper chin for the lip bite, so I'll play around with that to try and make it read better. 



    I haven't included any directional maps for the hair yet, so that's another thing on the to-do list. Any thoughts or suggestions along the way are super appreciated if you see something!
  • vikk0
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    vikk0 polycounter lvl 6
    I'm really digging this piece!! Keep up bro!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks @vikk0! I'm glad to hear ya like it. I've been working on the dog again and I've put together some good ol' expressions. I also found out my previous BPR render setup looks pretty cool when using my Longhi-sculpt-spec. Sooo here we go!



    I built all of these out of a remade low poly dog head that I'll have as a base for the blendshapes in Maya once I'm finishing off the low poly. I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions if anything feels off or needs to be reworked. Expressions are super fun for me, so I won't hesitate to jump back in and mess with some features if it helps improve the face.
  • JonJo
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    JonJo interpolator
    The hair and the fabric sculpting on the top is amazing. Keep it up dude!
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks, @JonJo! I'm glad you're feelin it. Hope I can keep the updates as regular as possible. Tonight we got ourselves a minor updated on the dog's suit. 



    I also wanted to bring the low poly blend shape expressions together in Maya, so now we got everything relating to the face retopoed and ready for unwrapping. 



    Here's the wireframe for the head right now. Gotta figure out how I want to retopo the suit next. I think I wanna try and make it just a single mesh and connect everything together (and not have the suit be another outer piece of geometry). I guess I could reintroduce the blendshapes once everything else is combined and unwrapped? We'll see how it goes~



  • akiratang
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    akiratang polycounter lvl 7
    Looking awesome, the dog in particular is super cute !
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks @akiratang! I'm really glad he's looking cute. I've finished unwrapping and baking out the dog's textures in Maya and Marmoset Toolbag. Total poly count is sitting at 10480 for this guy, but I think having that extra bit of geo will help when he's all rigged up. I might end up having a few more pieces of geometry if I give him some stylized eyelashes once the rest of the textures are done.





    I think I'm ready to hop back on board with the dude and finish his textures next!
  • akiratang
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    akiratang polycounter lvl 7
    Looks really great, can't wait to see it finished!
    BTW how did u do the facial expressions? Is it blend shapes? 
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Thanks, man! Yep; all done with blend shapes. I start with a high poly sculpt for the head in a sort of "default" pose (mouth open and everything kinda neutral looking) before bringing it into Maya and retopoing it. Then I export the new low poly head back into ZBrush and pump up the details in the sculpt before making a few duplicates (which can all be different expressions).

    When sculpting the expressions is finished, I can just go back to the lowest subdivision and export it back into Maya for blend shape. I only need to unwrap the default head and I'm good to go. I add the high poly versions of the expressions to the normal map texture bake, which adds a little more oomph to the final look. I don't know if I can streamline the process any better in the future, but that's what I've done for both the dude and the dog in this project.
  • akiratang
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    akiratang polycounter lvl 7
    Nice sounds like alot of hardwork but im sure the results will be worth it!
    I havent had much experience with blend shapes but definitely want to do something with it in the future.
  • dGreenberg
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    dGreenberg polycounter
    Playing with blendshapes can be super satisfying so I hope you can give it a shot, @akiratang!

    I finally had some time to update all of the Dude's materials, add and change some things (new eyeballs, eyelashes, face plugs, etc). I went in and balanced out the colors a little closer to the concept to try and match things up. Light was adjusted a little bit but I think it still might need some work.





    After hearing some suggestions on discord I went in a very different direction with the jacket material, and would be super happy to hear some thoughts on the new look. Was it working better with the concept when it was shinier? Would it be better to find a middle ground? I think it'll help to go back to the dog for a little bit while I think about where to take it from here. Any other C&C are welcome and appreciated!
  • Dumbanana
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    Dumbanana polycounter lvl 9
    @dGreenberg
    Hey, I think you're super close! I love this character and you've totally captured the concept in 3D. The two areas where it falls though, in my opinion, are the material of the yellow jacket, and then again in the material treatment of the leggings.

    I would really suggest embracing a very specular/ reflective treatment for the yellow jacket, similar to these vinyl pants. Also, take note that even though the material is non-fabric (I guess no real warp and weft like cotton?), it still has stitch seams, and you can tell it's been cut and sewn together from panels.

    Secondly, the leggings I believe you have a good base roughness, but now I feel it would greatly benefit from some fabric texture/ microdetail work, for suggestions sake the concept and overall future vibe feels like neoprene to me. Like a wetsuit fabric maybe.

    Regardless of where you end up taking the materials, I really do love it a lot as is! Good job!


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