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The Quarterly CHARACTER ART Challenge | October - December

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Alemja quad damage

Welcome to the Quarterly Character Art Challenge!

New concepts will be chosen at the start of January 2021
Previous Challenge Thread

How it works
  • Every new challenge, 3 Character Concepts will be provided
  • Pick one concept to work on for the duration of the challenge and post your progress here!
  • Complete a 3D game res model of your chosen concept
  • Help other artists grow! When you post an update, also leave a critique for someone else. Share knowledge you have learned
  • There are no software restrictions; you're welcome to use as little, or as many different software packages as you like.
  • There are no polygon or texture restrictions, it can be a 3,000 triangle hand painted model or a 100,000 triangle current gen model. Just make sure the final result is a game model, not a sculpt!
  • You are welcome to cross post on different sites (Artstation, Facebook, Discord etc.) for additional feedback
  • Before starting your character, break down the concept and plan your work accordingly. Being able to effectively estimate how long it will take to complete a project is an important skill, especially for freelance artists.
  • Your final presentation should be posed and rendered in any real time engine. (Marmoset, UE4, Unity, etc.)
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions, but don't hesitate to find the answer on your own - chances are, the answer to your problem has already been answered within these forums
  • If you feel anything should be modified or added to these guidelines, please let me know!


Please credit and link to the artists when posting on other sites!

Prince of Darkness by Stanislav Galai

blade nare by Q - peng

Vampire Knight. by Ilya Bodaykin

How concepts are chosen:
  • Trying to keep it consistently one masculine character, one feminine and one other non-human (robot, creature, humanoid, etc)
  • Trying to keep the 3 concepts look like they are part of a theme or could fit in similar universe.
  • Concepts must be full body and clearly drawn. There shouldn't be a lot of guesswork on what the details or proportions are. Turnarounds are a good thing to have, but not required
  • Concepts shouldn't be too complex or too simple to allow people to get them done in the time-frame while also finding something interesting and giving a challenge.
  • Must be able to link back to the original source artist to they can be properly credited, places like Pinterest can lead to link rot. If I cannot find the source or original artist, the art will not be used
  • If you are a concept artist and want your concept removed or want to create a concept for a future challenge please feel free to contact me.
  • If you have any suggestions of themes you would like to see in the future, send me a message!


  • jod13
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    jod13 triangle
    Spooky! Very thematic 
  • TheFear
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    TheFear polycounter lvl 7
    Howdy all,

    Here's my stab at this challenge. I'm working on the Prince of Darkness concept (totally wicked looking design, nice one Stanislav!). I've roughed together a quick board of ideas/textures I want to capture in my version, thinking of taking the surfacing toward a more surreal/hyper-real look, unsure how it'll go but that's the point I guess. Starting with the face (definitely not a strong suit of mine) - feedback very welcome!

  • Alemja
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    Alemja quad damage
    @TheFear Nice mood board! I think the face is looking great so far
  • ultimategoddess
    Started quick blockin! Excited to be a part of this,  
  • ultimategoddess
    Nice progress dude, its looking sharp so far!
  • Nixak
    Hello everyone! I wanted to try and join in the challenge. Decided to go with the cool Vampire knight concept!

    I gathered some starting materials as instructed. (used TheFears post as reference).
    I will be working mainly in Blender and texture in Substance. Have not decided game engine where i will import it, yet.
  • franky993
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    franky993 polycounter lvl 8
    Hello everyone,
    I will also be joining this contest and I'm going to give the Ancient vampire knight a try :).
    This is my reference so far.

    I will try to create and finish the blockout this week and detail it piece by piece in the coming weeks.
    The creation of the mesh will be in ZBrush and texturing will probably be done in either substance or quixel. I have not decided on the engine yet, but I'm thinking it might be UE4.

    Good luck and have fun everyone, I'm curious to see what everyones creations will look like :).
  • JosephIV
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    JosephIV polycounter lvl 2
    Hi everyone, here are my super fast (?) low-poly (?) modeling, texturing and rigging game character rendered in Unity:


    My original idea is to try all the challenge's characters. The first, the fastest I can do it, the second (the vampire knight) in a more worked way and a more standard game quality; and the last, the "Blade Nare" girl, in the more realistic and AAAAA quality that I can...

    Well, The first model, the Prince of Darkness", I think I fail, too work time and too poor quality:
    3526 triangles and 1768 faces for the character and 392 tris for the sword. Modeled and painted in Blender from a cube in the old poly-mesh way.
    All the project take me about 9 hours and a half from scratch to Unity play recording. Its take me more of half of the total time to hand paint the diffuse texture and it's too far away from an acceptable paint work. Normal map, metal and emission texture from diffuse with Gimp work. Rigged and extracted animation from Mixamo. The more simple presentation in Unity (Universal render...  what?).
    I think the modeling could has been more defined and optimized but anyway it's done.
    I'll try the next level.

    Some screenshots:

    Critics are welcome.

  • DPete3D
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    DPete3D polycounter lvl 5
    Started some progress on her. Just trying to block everything out without going into too much detail.

  • Nixak
    Progress update. 

    Next i will work on the wing hand. i will refine 2 claw fingers and wing "fingers" like it has already. 
    Left arm that is armored i will leave pretty simple just making major masses so i can model armor on top of it. 
    Same with the legs.
    i will leave the head for last it needs more roughness and sharpness.
    Feedback is Welcome! :)
  • Torch
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    Torch interpolator
    Damn, some great entries already! Looking forward to how this one turns out, well done everybody
  • Nixak

    Progress update.
    Armor block out is done. i will add sword and helmet later.
    I switched to Zbrush. My computer can't handle sculpting in Blender once i pass 500k verts.

    Cool to see how everyone gathers startup refs! Can't wait to see progress shots!
  • AleTrick
    Sorry, I'm starting this challenge pretty late but I fell in love with the concept "blade nare" by Q - peng.
    First of all I started gathering all the references I could find for the clothes along with anatomy references to build up the character.
    I did a list of the things I should do in Zbrush and what I should model and then bring in Zbrush for the detailing phase so I would not wase time wondering which program to use.
    For the clothes I choose to blockout in Zb and clean the topology in Maya instead of using Marvelous Designer because some things are too complex and it woulded take too much time.
    I decided to go with a stylized look for practice since is the one I enjoy the most.
    "Always start from a spehere" instead of a basemesh for me is the main rule while starting a new character since it allows you to practice proportions and anatomy better and this helps you build solid foundations for the future.
    I usually try to spend some time on the character until I think is looking good, this helps me to visualize better the concept and boosts my motivation aswell.
    Once I blocked out the character, I started with the clothes, cleaned the topology in Maya and then imported them in Zbrush so they are ready for the detailing phase.
    This sums up the process until now, still need to add some things but I think is looking good.

  • Kiraitul
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    Kiraitul polycounter lvl 4
    Joining in as well.

  • Scruples
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    Scruples polycounter lvl 10
    Starting since I need to update my portfolio, aiming for 2 week turnaround but I have to re-learn a lot of things, expecting some growing pains. End goal is to get everything at least posed in UE

  • Kat777
    Hello Guys! I decided to join this challenge too and I'm very happy being here! I choose blade nare by Q - peng, however all the concepts are great <3 This time I've started from low-poly elements in Blender and here they are:

    Next time I'll show you vampire girl :)

    Another screen, this time a girl:

  • Kiraitul
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    Kiraitul polycounter lvl 4
    Little Update:

  • Fraktayne
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    Fraktayne polycounter lvl 2
    Is it still possible to join or is it over? 
  • TheFear
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    TheFear polycounter lvl 7
    Fraktayne said:
    Is it still possible to join or is it over? 
    Definitely not too late! On till January :)
  • Fraktayne
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    Fraktayne polycounter lvl 2
    TheFear said:
    Fraktayne said:
    Is it still possible to join or is it over? 
    Definitely not too late! On till January :)
    Thanks! I guess I missed the date when reading, my bad.
  • RyanK2021
    This is so cool, -- New to polycount tbh, how do I officially join this challenge though, just post my work / refs etc..  like I am seeing above from people?   --- Or is there an official "enter this" somewhere?   awesome job to everyone above though!  Can't wait to see all the finished products!  

    I have my eye on the vampire knight :-) 
  • Alemja
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    Alemja quad damage
    @RyanK2021 Hey welcome to polycount! To join you just start posting in this thread or the thread of the next one. This is a casual challenge where the whole goal is to help yourself and others improve your character art skills. I pick the concepts every time, loosely based around a theme and/or style (always open to recommendations!) and any artists who want to participate show up to make one of the 3 concepts, whichever they like.
  • RyanK2021
    @Alemja ok great!  Thank you for the info!  I blocked some of the ancient vampire knight out last night, so I will post some of my references after I get alittle more done on him! :-)
  • RyanK2021
    Here are some of the references I gathered when I began to tackle this character.  (Also note:  This is the first full human- type character I've ever attempted.  Most of the things I've sculpted before are more abstract / organic / robotic things --- and mostly just Heads for characters.  So this has been really challenging for me,  so I've been studying human and bat anatomy like crazy, so there would be too many references to compile together if I posted all of them! 

    I am currently still in the rough dynamesh stage of this, and hopefully nearing the end of the arm blockout.

    I'm using Z brush 2021.5 ( The new Thick skin feature is amazing!)

    I don't know how long it will take me to complete this to be honest, and I'm not sure that we are allowed to post updates once a new challenge is up.  I started this one rather late, though..  and I will finish it regardless of the challenge being over or not. 

    And here are a few shots of what I've blocked out thus far for the character.   I think I approached it a bit backwards by doing the helmet before the actual head, but that's alright.

    He is probably a bit too beefy for the concept at the moment, but I just wanted to make sure I get the anatomy correct before I thin him down and start adding the more bat- like features.

    Blockout / Pass #1:

    Pass #2:  

    At this point I decided I wanted to really deep dive on the torso anatomy and get it correct before I went any further, so here are some before and after shots of the arm and shoulder / body. (Left is before and right is after) --- 

    and then I wasn't happy with the arms so I did another pass -- here are another couple of before and after shots.  Hopefully close to the final pass on the arms before I finalize them and make them assymetrical for the bat wing and the knight armor.

    Again (Left is before the latest arm / shoulder pass, and Right is after), The sculpt on the right side is where I am on the character as of this post (I hope this wasn't too long of a post :-| )


    That's all I've got for now!  

    All of the WIP's or completed projects above look great!  The only crit that I could give anyone that sticks out to me would be for @Nixak -- Your model looks great, but I feel like the Side legging pieces feel a bit too thin / cloth like on yours.  In the concept these look more plate-mail (to me at least!).   But otherwise, it's really clean and nice!  Much cleaner than mine so far!  :-)  

    and lastly, one more Question if anyone is able:  

    Can I update this here even after January?  (it's fine if not, but I will be finishing it regardless) -- Also, as long as I always include the concept art with the original artist's work / give credit to that artist for the concept, am I allowed to tweet progress pics or post this as a model on sketchfab?  etc.. ?  I read the rules, and I DID read this:  "You are welcome to cross post on different sites (Artstation, Facebook, Discord etc.) for additional feedback",  but I just wanted to be extra sure!  :-)  

    Thanks in advance! 
  • RyanK2021
    Well that was fun..  I just spent like an hour typing and posting WIP's and asking questions..   and then my post disappeared while I was editing it..   "sigh"...  so here is try #2!  :-)  

     Some of my main References thus far:

    ^ some of my References

    Here are some Wip's thus far of the sculpt:

    1st Pass:

    2nd Pass:

    Then a few before and after pics of the Body after I decided I wanted to go back and actually try really hard to get the anatomy correct on the arms and torso, which has been pretty challenging!  He might be alittle too beefy at the moment, but I can fix that.  I just want to get the muscles correct! :-) 


    That's all I have for now!

    When I posted earlier and my post got deleted somehow, I left some crit for @Nixak Your model is super clean and looks very on point!  I love it, but the side leg parts look a bit much like cloth to me / flimsy?   (They look more like hard surface / platemail to me in the drawing / original concept).   But otherwise, awesome job!  (I also understand that these may be heavily WIP and just blockouts at the moment!)  :-) 

    Also I had a question if anyone is able:

    I am curious if we are allowed to post our finished products here even after the contest is over and a new one has started. (It's ok if not! But I am going to finish this regardless)

    Also, this is my first attempt at a full "humanoid" character, so it is going to take me a while, as I'm taking this opportunity to study anatomy and get it as correct as I can on before I put most of his armor on him.  (I kind of went backwards in this regard, I think,  by sculpting the helmet before the head, which was probably a mistake in hindsight.  But oh well.    :-)   Most other things I have done have just been helmets / more abstract and organic / mech / sci fi style things such as:  Alternate helmets for Warframe Characters, etc..)   I am a huge fan of Warframe!  

    Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to everyone!  :-) 
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
  • RyanK2021
    Sorry for the double post above -- Forum lag made me think that one of them was not there for several hours, so I did it twice :-/  

    Anyhow -- here is a progress update:

    The teeth and hands are pretty rough right now..  and the legs..  well ..  This has been really a study for me, so I'm probably going to just layer hard armor over them and tackle leg anatomy on my next project.  

    Also, man..  Thank you @ Brian "Panda" Choi I LITERALLY was posting an update right as you posted that..  and all extremely valid crits, I appreciate it so much!  -- I hope this is looking better!  (Note:  I'm saving the webbing for last sort of, because using this to also study and learn "regular" human anatomy a bit more.  

    I figured I'd slap a metal gauntlet over the left hand and turn the right arm into a webbed monstrosity.

    As for the helmet -- Yeah.  it's very rough right now..  I decided to go all out and do the face and the helmet.  

    I really appreciate the crits though!  Awesome!

  • Brian "Panda" Choi
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    Brian "Panda" Choi high dynamic range

    Your cahracter reminds me of the proportional feel and lankiness of Artorias

    I'd look to that character for inspiration and reference for the silhouette and proportions, as well as gesture.

  • RyanK2021

    Your cahracter reminds me of the proportional feel and lankiness of Artorias

    I'd look to that character for inspiration and reference for the silhouette and proportions, as well as gesture.

    oh yes!  When I looked at the concept I felt like his arms were a bit longer than the average human’s ...  and I felt like he was probably tall, and very strong in the upper body despite having a ridiculously thin lower body.  So muscular and lanky was kind of my goal with this!  I hope that, that isn’t a bad thing!  

    As for the suggestion:  I am a huge dark souls fan and this is an excellent reference to add to my pile!  Thank you very much!  I had forgotten about this character! - But I was looking at various dark souls armor (especially for his back - since there is no back view of the concept).

    Thank you again!!  - Happy holidays! 
  • Alemja
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    Alemja quad damage
    Happy New Year everyone!
    New Character Challenge is up for January! https://polycount.com/discussion/224249/the-quarterly-character-art-challenge-january-march/p1?new=1

    You can and are strongly encouraged to continue a character from this challenge if you so chose. You can continue posting here or create your own thread, this thread will be removed as a sticky in of the new thread so keep that in mind. @RyanK2021 I hope that answers your question!

  • RyanK2021
    It does!!  Thank you very much!  :-) Happy new year! 
  • Kiraitul
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    Kiraitul polycounter lvl 4
    Still working on this, fiddling with the face and hair, please let me know what you think.

  • RyanK2021
    I haven't updated this in quite a while!   I need to finish, and move to another project ASAP to improve further.   But here is where I am at with him!  
    Note:  I took the time with this project to sort of do a "full body" anatomy study of all the main muscles, and this is my first sculpt of a "full" humanoid character.  I hope the anatomy improvements are noticable!  

    Working on his armor and learning a bit of Z modeler / other new features of Z brush 2021.6 while finishing him up!  (Still need to make his sword..  but the finish line is in sight now).   

    Something still feels wrong with his face / teeth to me -- so I am going to try to correct that at the very end.  Any feedback or encouragement is very welcome, heh!  

    Also @Kiraitul Awesome job on the character!  The legs look great!  and I love the clothing!  (all of it!)  

    If I had to give any crit on anything, it would be that the hands could use some polishing / more shapes to show from a distance the hand "anatomy", and the face feels alitle off to me.  But, I know.. faces are extremely difficult!  I am struggling with the vampire knights face atm.  (Only giving crit, because I like receiving crit.)  Please do not take this as me saying your model is "bad" -- It's not bad, it's great, it's just what sticks out to me that "I" would want to improve on first if it were my model!  :-)

    I'd suggest starting from a skull / and ALWAYS reference skulls /  facial muscles / how they connect etc..   (it really helps!).


    Anyhow, on to the latest of my ancient vampire knight:

    Improved Legs / Hands / Final base anatomy for this character (aside from maybe a final detail / polish pass on some things:

    Model With armor (Alot of the armor still needs polish and placement adjustment, and detail, and I still need to make his sword / re-do his helmet with a more "hardsurface" feel.

    I hope everyone likes it so far, and.. yes his wing claw still needs work!  haha.

    If anyone has any advice on the following:  I am using Micropoly currently for the chainmail "drape" on his back, and I'm unsure what that would bake on best..   a similar low poly with thickness, or maybe paper thin with transparency?  I'm unsure, as I've never really made something with that amount of "small" detail in it / small holes, and I'm not sure the normals will bake very well?  Maybe they will be fine, on the mesh the micropoly is using.  Anyhow, I know it's very very late and passed the deadline, but better late than never!  :-)
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