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Character Art: Anthro Angel Bird [Wip]

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BlueChaos triangle

Hey All! Long time no see (*゜ー゜*)

Here I'll record the process of adapting this beautiful concept by @nelnalium_2 on Twitter into 3D for my portfolio.

I debated a lot about what character to adapt this time, but settled on this one because of the beautiful shapes and because I felt it would be challenging (●ˇ∀ˇ●).

I really tried getting permission from the concept artist but wasn't able to reach them (either by twitter replies or email as they don't accept DMs). I still took the decision to go on with this because they have given permission for this kind of work in the past, and because the resulting 3d model will never be used for anything monetary. I will still try and get permission later, but can't do so for right now. And of course, if the artist asks me to cease and desist, I will :)

With that out of the way for now, let's tentatively get started.

Just like last time with my Stylized Librarian model, I decided to jump in Maya right away without making a model sheet, just so I could block things out.

With between an hour and two, I managed to get this out!

I think the area where the hood, sleeves and torso meet will be the hardest to figure out. To be quite honest, this was quite the challenging blockout since I only had this one view for referencing! I'll have to imagine and fill in a lot of things to make this feel complete. (back coat pattern? How does the coat close in the front? What's the sword shape behind them, what does it look like?)

I was also not sure about how I'd pose the arms on a more relaxed way either, since it would make the transitional arm pit area very hard to figure out later, and I only intend to pose the character like it's shown in the concept. So for right now I'll settle for this unnatural position, In my opinion it will make the final product look better.

With those thoughts aside, I jumped right into Zbrush. And with just around two hours again, I got this!

I think the hood/arm area looks real bad for now, so I will be tweaking it next. Pretty happy with my speed this time though! Feels like I've improved since the librarian.

Next up, I'll be refining the sculpt some more :) here are some ideas, mostly concerning the coat:

  • -work on rounding up the main hood shape
  • -work on shoulder sleeve transition
  • -the coat danglies aren't satisfying to me right now, I'll try give them a better shape
  • -sharpen the ridges on the trousers
  • -There's a rope on the coat to close it (it's only my own interpretation of a pattern on the concept). I think I should make a separate subtool for it
  • -What to do with the shape that looks vaguely like a katana behind the character? Should I interpret it as one?

I'm happy with the face and feet, those don't need anything else I don't think.

A few more notes for future me:

  1. I noticed during this work session that when modelling things, I want to try have a more "separate subtool" workflow. Currently I work a bit like I would do in real life with clay, doing everything on one subtool. For crisper lines, I should probably part from this and separate things more :]
  2. Something else I want to note, the style I will be emulating for this piece is very similar to the one I replicated during my last project (base colours only, and outlines.) . I had noticed during that time, that the "high poly" section of the workflow is less important since the final product will actually not have any baked normal map showing. As is, the high poly is just a cleaner outline for the retopology, and when baked it will be helpful for texture outlines. Things don't need to be too crisp and clean, so no need to spend too long on it.

Let me know if you have any thoughts about all this! (even if it's to say that it looks like shit! I'm open to anything)

And with that, catch you later (* ̄▽ ̄*)ブ ❤



  • BlueChaos
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    BlueChaos triangle

    Well, Polycount ate my comment as I was writing it! In any case, here's the project after day 2. Not a lot of time put into it today, but it was still good work.

    I separated the coats into multiple parts, the overcoat, undercoat, sleeves and the closing bauble. It made everything look much cleaner in Zbrush and was very quick to do!

    I also polished a few other things mentioned in the previous post.

    After all that was done, I jumped into Maya to start the retopology, and here's where it stands now! (the white parts are the ones that need to get done, the grey ones are finished.)

    I'm running out of time for today, so list for next time!

    -start things easy by working on the fingers low/highs, as well as the coat closing bauble and the eyes.

    -block out the katana shape and imagine a design for it. Do the low/high.

    -the feet, hair and face will be pretty easy to retopo as well.

    -the scary bit, the coat retopo. Do the overcoat and undercoat together. As for the little button I added this session, keep it separate.

    Does anyone have feedback about this? I'd be interested to know! :D catch you later then,


  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G quad damage

    Hi! Interesting choice of style and character 👍️

    I don't know if you mentioned it in your notes, but I think currently the way the sleeves are wrapped/tied around the feathers/hands could be more convincing. I think the concept version without coat shows it nicely:

    Keep it up 🚀

  • BlueChaos
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    BlueChaos triangle
    Hey all, long time no see! I haven't sent anything in a long time but it's because life was going on, and I was doing some classic uneventful retopo whenever I could, with not much to show. 

    Thanks Fabi, I'll hop back in Zbrush to tweak that, good call :] I was so focused on the concept with the cloak I had not noticed!

    Here's how the current retopo is looking at 13.5k poly! 

    The process was quite uneventful.
    An interesting new technique to note though (nothing revolutionary haha) is that this time, to limit the amount of effort put into some of the parts, I'd create cylinders or spheres as a low poly base, overlay them with the high poly, then use the quad draw tool with soft selection to wrap them to the right shape. I managed to save quite some time doing this, and get some clean topology!

    Almost everything on here is symmetrical, besides the hair. It'll be speeding up the texturing process quite a bit when the uvs get stacked.

    I forgot that there is something I'll be interpreting as a small rope to close the coat. Made a quick low and high poly for them.

    I then grabbed my tablet and retouched the sleeves high poly to make the sleeves puffier, like the no-coat concept. It doesnt look the best, but as stated previously the high poly is only a base, the normals won't be seen later so there's no need to spend too long on it.

    Next up I booted up clip studio paint and threw a quick katana concept on the paper while looking at references. I tried mimicking the original style, but the katana looked like it wasn't important in the concept, so I chose to tone it down with a second attempt, which I then moddeled.

    After this, I'll make uvs for everything, stack shells for symmetrical parts, and layout everything in one material. (I'll probably end up using the same trick as my last piece, which was to take uv shells that are uni colour, make them very small and put them in a separated corner where I'll fill the Base Colour texture with a single colour. (to be quite fair it might not be necessary, there aren't many shells that will be unicolour.)

    With this, I'll stop here for today :]
    Thank you for reading this far if you did, I really appreciate it! I hope you're all well, let me know if there's anything you think I should change, and good night  (. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)~


  • BlueChaos
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    BlueChaos triangle
    Texturing is done :) As always I just went at it, and besides the usual hurdles when switching software, I textured this extremely quick thanks to my useful uv's! Proves that it's all worth it.

     I'd say this took me 1h30 max, + some revisions another day. 

    I also tried some rudimentary skinning/rigging again but made beginner mistakes.
    I placed the bones like this instead of what I should have done in orange. Oh well, this didn't take too long anyway, so I'll re do it next time :] So everything below will be scapped.

    Even if i'll start over, do you have any thoughts on how I could make this better? (both texturing and rigging)
    I don't really need the skinning/rigging part to be fair, it's just so I can pose the character like it's in the concept more easily, but I'd love to learn.

    Speaking of learning, I think my next project will be learning how to animate properly! I've always been meaning to get into it, and I think it's a good skill to have. 

    Till next time! ╰( ̄ω ̄o)

  • BlueChaos
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    BlueChaos triangle
    Hey all! Back again.

    I attempted some posing with the bad rig just to test it out. Even if it was a good starting point, I decided to start the rig over again like said previously, just to integrate the right workflow.

    So I reused the bad rig as a base, and made the needed changes, plus some additional bones for the Katana and the halo.
    Here is the resulting new skeleton! (+invisible rig.)

    Additional workflow notes: 
    To symmetrize joint groups (ie: the arms and legs), I group the first one I made, duplicate, scale negatively, rename accordingly, delete history, and then remove from the groups.
    I also decided to have only one mesh for all of this, so the halo and katana joints can look a bit odd. I'm unsure if this is standard practice, but I wanted to see if it was doable! In the end, I think it works quite well.
    I also added a bone for the lower coat, to make it easier to deal with later.
    All this time, I'm also keeping an unbinded version of the mesh, in case the UV's break like they sometimes tend to do.


    After I re-rigged the character, I also attempted posing them.
    It didnt go so well considering the original concept was not made for 3d, so I had to adapt to make the 3d view not look bad.
    Here's how it looked if I was very loyal to the concept. As you can see, it looks very good from side angle, but very bad straight on. (highlighted in blue)

    So I chose to compromise, here's how that looks.

    Side view isn't as good as before, but I feel like it's the right call to sacrifice a little bit to make the front view look better. :]

    After this, I used the same technique I did for my librarian and baked in the skin (just with a quick freeze transform and delete history), so I could mess with the vertices individually. This will be sort of a "statue" in the end, so I'm free to tweak things as much as I'd like, the rigged pose being more of a template :] It lets me get closer to the concept without too much messing around!

    Here's how our bird is looking after I tweaked things around.


    Not so different, but It makes a huge difference in the turn around! Quick thing to note, I chose to shorten the katana because it looked very silly the way it was.

    Next up, I think I wanna hop back in substance and tweak some of the textures! After that I'll go in UE, make some turn around, and wrap this up with an Artstation post :]

    Before then, do you have anything to say about this? Something I missed during the posing? Suggestions to make this look better? I'm all ears!
    Hope you had a nice weekend and catch you later (. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)


  • BlueChaos
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    BlueChaos triangle
    Hey all! Today is hopefully the last day I work on this [:

    First up, problem fixing!

    I was in the process of trying to render things on Unreal when I noticed the halo and finger Uvs had broken.
    I went back into maya to try and fix them and just trying to do anything to them destroyed the rest of the uvs. .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·. why is Maya like this.
    Since I noticed this too late, I fiddled with it a bit and was only able to mess with the halo by separating all the meshes. I then hand placed every vertex back to where it should be. It took half an hour figuring out what was wrong and how to deal with it, but at least it's good and done now (:

    Second problem fix, a quick texture change in substance on the sleeve.

    After that, I went in Unreal to make my turn around. I had to fight with the program quite a bit, and just like last time the colours didn't come out quite right. Oh well!

    With everything somewhat cleaned up, I posted this guy on sketchfab and artstation!


    I'm a bit too frustrated with the programs misbehaving to be excited about this (˘・_・˘) but at least it's done!

    It doesn't look too too good in my portfolio though, but I'll do better next time 💪

    I'll see you then!

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