Course Character: Hatsune Miku - The World is Mine Version.



  • Scythe
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    Scythe polycounter lvl 8
    You, sir, are my hero. I can definitely see those hair flowing like Reimi's in SO4 (physic based), It would be a lovely pain to animate them by hand.

    Great gradient on the hair, they definitely stand ou the most, and they help putting the attention on her eyes too. Maybe they attract TOO much attention though, cauz I keep looking at them but not at her dress or her legs :)

    Anyway, blasting job so far, loving the breakdown. Manly tears of awesome has been shed
  • pinkbox
  • paberu
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    paberu polycounter lvl 7
    Great thread, thanks for taking the time to do this!
  • future-fiction
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    future-fiction greentooth
    Ahh thanks so much for the tips on UVing, I really want to improve!
    The hair looks amazing, love it! Also curious about how it was UVd too.
    Was wondering if you've seen this model? Might be inspirational!

    I love the skintones, would be cool to use a toon-style shader that picks out the shape of the nose in the 3/4 view.
  • R3D
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    R3D greentooth
  • El Scorcho
    So crisp and clean! Curious as to why you are not using specular on her skin and clothes.
  • PaulP
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    PaulP polycounter lvl 6
    Finally got round to reading the latest instalment, great stuff as usual! It's good that you've taken the hair so far, looked intimidating to start with, but your break down helped make it seem alot more manageable.
  • Hazardous
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    Hazardous polycounter lvl 11
    Hey everyone!

    Thanks again for the support, it’s awesome :)

    Fnitrox: Thanks for your crits man, I’m aware of the color differences in the hair - I changed it up, because I wanted to head toward a more complimentary harmony with pinkish for my final image :) Its subtle but it’s there :) Also her panties are staying white like the world is mine version...... But - I do like the stripy ones....... maybe... MAYBE I'll add them later heh!!

    Scudz: Haha thanks man, For uv’ing the hair it was a case of breaking it into strips only. I used the natural strips that ran vertically along the original 16 sided cylinder and then unwrapped the cylinder before I twisted everything up, so I ended up with 16 verticle strip's stacked in top of one another.

    nyx702: Hey man, I actually did a short experiment with the team about the half dome, its *incredibly* scale dependent. So those artifacts you’re getting, try scaling your whole exported scene way up, so that in xnormal you’re not dealing with .000001 and .000002 increments (ridiculous) and see if that fixes it - it fixed the artifacting for me straight away.

    future-fiction: Yeah I have definitely seen that model, it’s a masterpiece and was a big inspiration to my piece :)

    El-Scorcho: Thanks man :) I didn’t turn the spec up on the clothes because I wanted to keep them relatively flattish - My ultimate goal was to try and successfully combine the traditional anime look, with a hint of 3d over the top. I would have loved to control the spec in a tight ball or strip on the skin a la Hyung Tae Kim / Blade and Soul style though......hmmm heh!

    So this is the final installment of the course… sorry if its long winded… but TOO BAD!

    Part 10: Posing Miku

    This is where everything really starts coming together. I’m focusing completely on creating a nice eyecatching image or movie or set of images that shows off Miku and hopefully expresses her personality!!

    Firstly I’ll post this image of how I broke down Miku’s face technically:


    I kept the white, the iris & pupil, shadow and highlight as well as the eyebrows and lashes totally separate because I wanted control over all of those the elements.

    I made a few morph targets for Mikus face, (I might do a few more extreme ones still):


    And some decals to hyper amplify some form of expression or another, an embarrassed / blush and a ‘hearts-in-the-eyes-unspoken-longing’:


    To make the morphs, I made a few duplicates of the head off to the side, and applied a morpher modifier to the original. I then modify those duplicate heads into specific expressions using soft select and moving things around by hand. Inside the morpher modifier on the original head I ‘pick from scene’ my duplicate heads and it lets me blend or combine any of them – pretty handy! My file ends up looking like this:


    I’ve done this at the end of Miku’s process, but I actually used to do this when I was spending a lot of time learning how to model a face. I would apply this at the low poly stage just quickly and make some drastic morphs just to see if my topology was holding up and would work without too much tearing anywhere.

    Regarding rigging Miku, It’s kind of a 2 step process for my personal work.

    1) A very quick rig in Max - Biped
    2) Finesse and finalization in zbrush.

    I won’t go into the specifics of rigging too much, but essentially I will spend about 15 minutes or so getting a biped setup and getting all the bones in roughly the right spots - Just good enough for a simple and quick rig / skinning job.

    I apply a skin modifier and fix up all the rubbishy junk it creates using the weight tool and sometimes the paint weights tools.


    Again I’m not trying to create some master rig here, just something that allows me to fairly quickly move and pose the main masses around (because it’s a pain in the ass doing this in zbrush!) If the joints bubble out or things get a tiny bit wobbly I don’t really care because It’s a super quick fix in zbrush.

    Note: I apply the skin modifier on top of the morpher so that I can pose Miku and still mess around with the morphs!

    When deciding how to pose Miku, I thought about Miku Miku Dance, Vocaloid, I read how a whole bunch on the persona of Miku, looked at figurines and lots of pieces of concept art I ended up making up a very simple and quick ref sheet that to me embodies all that I absorbed:


    Top left ref for the hand ref, top right for the basic position of the body, bottom left to remind me that I need to get that cute factor across and lastly the bottom right because I wanted the one eye blinking.

    Now that I have an idea of what I want to do, I’ll make a quick rough pose with my rig including the face morphs, and then fire that through to zbrush.

    In zbrush I do all my finesse work, I break out of the restrictive mindset here, and do things like stretch limbs, bend and curve things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do unless I had a super crazy rig. I am thinking only about expression of her personality and movement without being restricted by anything at all. I think that’s a really important thing to think about for personal work.

    I don’t believe any character should suffer at expressing something because technically you couldn’t achieve it. With the tools we have now, don’t let anything hold you back. Do whatever it takes to produce the best possible images for your folio!

    So to illustrate, I’ll typically start with something like this from my basic rigged blockout in max:


    And then after some finesse work, using masking and rotating and smoothing, I end up with something like this:


    I reached this point though and was like…..DAMN! I need more movement in that hair!

    To better capture and express the original World is mine figurine flavor that I set out to capture, I needed to put some more strands on there!!

    Now there was a time when I would have freaked out about working like this, because the first thing that popped into mind would have been, ‘but I’ve already rigged her, I’ve already posed her’ coming up with all kinds of restrictive excuses.

    I can’t express how terrible it is to think like that - for me personally anyway. It’s my art, it’s my piece for my folio, I’ll do whatever I need to do to put the best piece forward that I possibly can!!!

    So here’s the final result:


    Aside from the background here, it’s a screengrab using ravenslayers ViewportGrabber script, straight from my max viewport using xoliul 2.0.

    I’ve been working with that combination for a while now, and I seem to be able to get good results, so props to those guys for providing the community with such awesome bits of FREE kit!!

    A quick note about presentation or final images because they’ve been recently bashed into my skull:

    Value, Contrast & Saturation. Use these vital tools to better convey the style / feeling / emotion your trying to portray. Ive used a fairly high saturation, because she is by nature a colorful, playful, happy character and a wide value range, but not TOO wide as to make the contrast between the dark stockings and the near white dress black to white, which would start looking too harsh.

    Even just some basic consideration to these things can make a huge difference to your work and your presentation.

    The Dota Character Guide really explains these things with just the perfect amount of detail and much better than I could – check it out here under the quicklinks at the top of the page, consider applying these techniques to your work, it will make it better 100% guaranteed! Thanks valve!!!

    Lastly, a question I get asked a lot in pm’s or via email is ‘how have you done this?’ or ‘how do you get these kinds of results?’ or sometimes it’s not questions but statements like ‘you have some kind of x-factor or sorcery to your characters that I can’t capture.’

    In this course, I’ve tried to express that sorcery to the guys n girls who joined up, in our interactions as a group. But for the sake of compacting it into something for the community to take away I’ll try to un-mystify that ‘sorcery’ here in a compacted form.

    I think a lot of artists have their own sorcerous ways and they will know what I mean when I say I’m always at a loss to answer simply or explain it when asked to because I’m not even 100% sure I know what it is yet myself, and unfortunately its not a 'turn on this checkbox' kind of answer.

    But the basic foundation and fundamentals go something like this.

    • I try to do things as simply as I can, Old-school and ‘by hand’ if necessary until I learn a better or more efficient way to achieve whatever it is that I need to achieve. I’m never afraid to tackle anything with whatever knowledge I have on hand, or to seek out new knowledge if I cannot achieve what needs to be achieved.
    • I don’t use 50 bajillion polys’ in my high poly sculpt if I don’t need them, its only going to make bigger file sizes and make baking, and exporting and tbh ALL further interactions with my high poly model take longer than they need to be.
    • I don’t bake out and test render stuff at 2048 x 2048 or 4096 when I’m adjusting settings, that’s just wasting valuable time.
    • I don’t use a million bajillion unnamed layers in my PSD when I’m painting texture. I get happy with something and collapse it down into layers that make sense – for much the same reason as the high poly above – it just creates more problems and time wasting later for me (unless It’s something I will obviously need individual control over, like ao strength).
    • When setting up my scene using xoliul, I don’t jump straight into messing with the shader too much, or throwing 3 different colored lights in it and get caught up tweaking knobs and playing with every value cranking them way up to achieve some kind of nice result. Mainly because if something goes wrong here, it’s much more difficult to track down where the actual issue is. Start with the default shader, maybe turn on a simple rim, enable half lambert at a very low setting so that its almost entirely your diffuse layer and work forward from that point, ensuring that your textures are doing MOST of the work, give it a shot!
    • For presentation purposes I always try to highlight the character in some extra way… for my Valkyrie I wanted to put her in a kind of dreamy, outer space environment because my version is a dark mystical persona (came off looking more like the depths of ocean but hey lol) For Miku she’s a very hip character, cute and kind of graphic designy, so I wanted to present her in that way also.
    • Go the extra mile for your personal work. Be prepared to push more than you ever have – it’s the only time you’ll see significant artistic gains for yourself.
    • Take screenshots and dump them to a ‘renders’ folder of your character progress ALLLLL the time. That way when you look back you can see this evolution of your character from start to finish.
    • Ultimately, do whatever works for YOU. Invest time into finding out what works for you and what makes you tick. And then DO things that way!

    This last one is critical.

    Too often I see struggling artists taking on other peoples styles or approaches or tools in an effort to propel them to epicness – and that’s great, but by constantly doing this your missing out on a lot of self-knowledge that the individual gained by reaching that point for themselves.

    If that’s difficult to grasp, imagine a straight line from left to right as a representation of YOUR ‘artistic-journey-of-knowledge-gathering. Now if some force picks you up (the uber knowledge) and moves you forward 1000 paces closer to the right hand side and drops you back down – it seems great at first!!
    BUT you now have no clue what you missed on that 1000 paces of road. If you get addicted to this behavior, your journey will be full of holes and it *will* eventually show in your artwork, *ESPECIALLY* if you try to ever really express or design a character yourself.

    This absolutely doesn’t mean avoid tutorials and tools to make your life easier, it just means don’t rely purely on those ‘forces’ to always be there to propel you forward. At some point you’re going to need to rely on your skill alone and if it’s a broken fragmented path of bits and pieces of knowledge, it’s going to be much more difficult for you when you need to prove yourself or reach the level that’s required by top game dev companies. For the longest time I've been that broken fragmented guy haha, I try super hard not to be anymore.

    Anyway, I could go on for so long about how I approach some things, and why I’ve done something one way or another, I’d love to download my brain regarding all this stuff, not quite sure what the best format to do that is though – there must be a nanomachine backup & download facility somewhere offshore in illegal waters?

    Anyway that’s about it for the course, I’ll be compiling this into a giant fat PDF with a few extra bits and pieces here and there, and let you guys and girls know when it’s available. I hope it’s a bit more cohesive and presentable in that format.

    Above all It’s been a super valuable excersize and experience for me, I definitely learnt a whoooole lot, and I hope by the time all the guys n girls finish, they have learned a tonne too. I’m very glad they put up with my antics for the last couple months so I take my hat off to FunkyBunnies, YBourykina, Mr Skullface and Almighty_Gir. Awesome bunch of people, and amazing artists each of them to boot.

    I hope it’s been valuable for anyone that’s been able to follow along with all of our threads as well!

    P.S Sorry to end with a wall of text :P

  • disanski
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    disanski polycounter lvl 10
    Wow :) Man you have no idea how helpful all of this is. Respect !!!
    Final results are fantastic and I love the presentation.

    I noticed something little that bothers me just a bit and I am sure you have reason for it but any way... on the final shot you can only see a very small part of one of her fingers on the hand on the back and coming from an amateur photographer this would bother me. If it was me I would either pop it out just a touch more or hide it behind her.

    Once again thanks for documenting this and congrats on ending up with such a masterpiece!!!
  • mr_ace
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    mr_ace polycounter lvl 9
    nice one man, it's been really interesting following along to yours and the people you're helping out's threads here
  • Funky Bunnies
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    Funky Bunnies polycounter lvl 11
    fantastic finish, Haz!
    love the final shot, i do agree with disanki about the back hand being a bit awkward though compositionally.

    I can't wait to use your writeups on my own character in a couple weeks :)
    This has been a great learning experience and I can't thank you enough for sharing your insight and valuable art timez with us :)
  • ablaine
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    ablaine polygon
    Fantastic work, Haz. Really appreciate the details you've provided along the way. Thanks for doing this!
  • Anthricus
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    Anthricus polycounter lvl 5
    *Commits 3ds max assisted suicide* Jealoussss :D
  • leslievdb
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    leslievdb polycounter lvl 12
    thanks for the elaborated train of thought and workflow writeups,
    beautiful outcome and im glad my script makes some peoples life a bit easier :)
  • erroldynamic
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    erroldynamic polycounter lvl 14
    Wow, this came out great! Great point you bring up about restricting oneself...I've often found myself facing restrictive issues when working, and holding back because it may be "technically wrong", or being scared that it has to be a perfect workflow. It makes total sense that for personal work, who the heck cares??? Do what you gotta do to make the best piece possible and not be afraid to try things out. Anyways, thanks for all the inspiration and knowledge. It's super helpful!
  • ErichWK
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    ErichWK polycounter lvl 10
    You are one of the reasons I want to move from being an Environment Artist to be a character artist. I'd be more excited to see this version of Hatsune live then the creepier one they are using now.
  • ChristianB
    This thread is amazing Hazardous, amazing amount of work you have put into it. You and your work is one of the massive motivations and inspirations that helped pull me out of the void of choosing a different career. Thank you and I can't wait to see more :)
  • haikai
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    haikai polycounter lvl 8
    Great job on this, man. Final presentation looks fantastic. You should post some of those little animation tests you did too.
  • free-willy_PB
    loving the breakdowns of how you work, heaps of good info :)
  • KyleJensen
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    KyleJensen polycounter lvl 9
    The final piece turned out fantastic. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and process with us. You are awesome! :)
  • Hazardous
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    Hazardous polycounter lvl 11
    I have to add a huge thanks to a couple of people as well - So tired i left that part off last night. Now i feel like a dick. Their bits of crit / guidance / thoughts / ideas all helped me get Miku to where she is at - and they are just awesome people fullstop.

    Hai 'haikai' Phan
    Donald 'junglehermit' Phan
    Vadim 'SlipgateCentral' Bakhlychev
    Trevor 'lukavi' Hennington
    Andrew 'AndyH' Hickenbottom
    Herman 'Openaneworld' Ng

    And last but definitely not least my wife Stephanie 'Anuxinamoon' Everett

    Disanski: Hahah man no reason for it, totally agree with you, does look a bit weird. Only really saw that when I'd finished doh!!

    ErichWK & ChristianB: Thanks guys, thats awesome of you to say, im humbled :)

    Hai: Haha..... man maybe ill dump a few of them here later :P
  • darkmag07
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    darkmag07 polycounter lvl 8
    Thanks for sharing so much and for giving us such detailed write-ups!
  • Anuxinamoon
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    Anuxinamoon polycounter lvl 11
    So proud you finished this in superb style! Looks awesome!
  • Hang10
    So freakin awesome, looks amazing congratz and again superb work.
  • Scythe
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    Scythe polycounter lvl 8
    Already said it but Gratz on finishing you piece, Haz. I like how you're not trampling on dreams and keep saying : do it, do it, whatever it takes, do it.

    Your insight are very valuable, it's super duper awesome to see the mind of someone that makes such pieces, so we can see you're not some kind of alien being, just someone who scrath his brain out !

    will be waiting patiently for the pdf, but for now I have my own pieces to work on :D
  • Dan!
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    Dan! polycounter lvl 6
    clean finish- great job. You guys did some good work.
  • Aga22
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    Aga22 polycounter lvl 7
    amazing work man, congrats!
  • PaulP
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    PaulP polycounter lvl 6
    The final image turned out great, nice one! And thanks again for creating this thread, its been super helpful! One day when I reach a higher level as an artist, I will try and pay it forward and create some tuts and threads of my own :)
  • duncan
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    duncan polycounter lvl 11
    AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing man.
  • Spatz
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    Spatz polycounter lvl 9
    great work hazardous and thank you for the awesome breakdown ...
  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty Polycount Sponsor
    This has been great and very helpful, thanks!
  • El Scorcho
    Finished with style and so helpful. Would be cool to see everyone's finished pieces together too.
  • Lonewolf
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    Lonewolf polycounter lvl 13
  • AmbiguousPackage
    Not a huge anime fan, but wow a beautiful piece. I really don't got much else to say on that subject. Really like the soft render and the hair is very well done.
  • future-fiction
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    future-fiction greentooth
    So so helpful, thanks again for posting all your progress and it turned out wonderfully!
  • chaosblade
    Thank you so much for posting your entire process, really helpful and inspiring.
  • Yokai
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    Yokai polycounter lvl 8
    Pardon for asking this, how exactly did you rig the eyes? You did a breakdown on the eye's construction but how do you prevent the eyes from looking too "floaty" at all angles? Or did you not worry about that and just moved the planes to accommodate for the angles just to get it "looking right?" Or is it just some sort of projection onto the other object?

    Probably a silly question, but I've got a similar situation (my character has non-spherical eyes) and it's proving to be very difficult to get the eyes in the right place.

    Any further advice would be great... or even reference links.
  • daivdm
    Great work flow. I never really completed my character. I am very inspired to do so now. Thanks for sharing.
  • AdamRodgers
    Fantastic work, humility and expert but very approachable advice. Love ya :)
  • Hazardous
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    Hazardous polycounter lvl 11
    Hey everyone, thanks again for all the kind words - really appreciate it! :)

    I havent forgotten the PDF, it will come shortly when I get back to civilization :D

    Yokai: I cheated with the eyes man, they arent rigged - i used morph targets to place them according to various poses i had made up. I dont see why you couldnt rig the eyes in the same way that you would a normal eyeball though the scale would definitely be different! If I was making a full animation, I would rig them up - I've got a couple of gif's of her blinking, ill post them up when I get back to civilization - Sorry for the late reply!
  • paberu
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    paberu polycounter lvl 7
    Thanks for the update Troy, can't wait for the pdf :)!
  • Hazardous
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    Hazardous polycounter lvl 11

    EDIT: I've uploaded it to my domain as well, thanks for the headsup Ryan!

    Finished the PDF of Miku, sorry it took so long - its basically most of the info passed along in this thread in one package.

    This thread still contains a lot more of the raw unedited anger as you buildup when working on characters heh, I omitted a lot of that stuff and tried to combine as much as possible and get some flow to the process, rather than it being all over the place like it was presented here... whoops!

    I hope its useful!!!
  • Tigerfeet
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    Tigerfeet Polycount Sponsor
    Ah thank you kindly Haz! I've been looking forward to this :)
  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir sublime tool
    even though i was on the course, i'm still saving the pdf :P
  • Scythe
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    Scythe polycounter lvl 8
    Damn, I love you lol... Thanks a fricking bunch !!!
  • Spatz
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    Spatz polycounter lvl 9
    thanks a lot for this ... it is a great tut ...
  • paberu
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    paberu polycounter lvl 7
    Champion! Great stuff :).
  • Fnitrox
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    Fnitrox polycounter lvl 6
    awesome! thanks haz...

    aaand btw if anyone is intrested they're going to reprint the original figure, it's printed by the Good Smile Company for 8800 yen, around 90 euros
  • YBourykina
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    YBourykina RIOT Games
    awesome job on putting together this pdf, going to share it with all of my friends XD
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi interpolator
    Great stuff brah!

    I'm gonna start copying a lot of your stuff.

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