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Division inspired character WIP - Linda Fyen

Hey everyone!
I'm a game art student at The Game Assembly and we have just started our Advanced Project Productions course. It's a 6 week long course where we work on individual projects with supervision from our teachers. Other than that, we need to hunt for feedback and sources on our own.

I'm an aspiring character artist, so I chose to make a character that would fit in Tom Clancy's The Division or something with a similar setting/design. Since our project is divided in two parts, 6 days each, I have planned to make the high poly the first part and, if it's good enough, proceed with the low poly and texturing the second half. If not, I will be doing the highpoly through the whole project.

This is my first time making a proper character from concept to finished in-game model and will thus appreciate any and all feedback. It's going to be a rough journey to get this done and I would love tips and tricks on how to improve my workflow and pipeline to make it in time with a high standard : )

Most recent update:



  • ysalex
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    ysalex interpolator
    This is a great place to get that feedback, good luck and looking forward to seeing what you do.
  • Pisciel
    ysalex: Thanks a lot! I'm looking forward to it :)

    Here is my initial concept. I chose to use myself as reference since it's close at hand at any time I might need it. Precious time is precious~
    Since I need to start working on my high poly asap, I will refrain from making any major changes in the design. I am contemplating on what parts I can skip taking along in the end to save myself extra workload and time. For now I'm thinking at least the basic outfit, kneepads and backpack to give the model weight and shape. What do you think?

  • ysalex
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    ysalex interpolator
    Personally, if it was me I'd be high-poly modeling everything except the hair (crude stand in if you want to check mass and style). I'd start with a lightly detailed anatomy model to get proportions and make the clothing look more natural when you get to it, and to save time I would not model the clothing which is hidden (belt area, middle of sweatshirt. All pretty standard and unsurprising. Nice concept.
  • Sanro
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    Sanro triangle
    ysalex wrote: »
    Personally, if it was me I'd be high-poly modeling everything except the hair (crude stand in if you want to check mass and style). I'd start with a lightly detailed anatomy model to get proportions and make the clothing look more natural when you get to it, and to save time I would not model the clothing which is hidden (belt area, middle of sweatshirt. All pretty standard and unsurprising. Nice concept.

    spot on advice right here - start with a simple anatomy model to get the proportions and volumes right, and keep it fairly low poly
  • Pisciel
    Thanks a lot! I'll do that and return with more progress images as I go :)
    I have already made a head during our Zbrush course which I plan on using for this model to save some extra time.
  • Pisciel
    So I worked on setting up a crude body base for my sculpt as suggested. I fit it to the head I had done from before and whipped up a fast blob for hair mass and feel. Since the mesh is messed up in some places, is it worth doing some retop like on the bust? I'm not the greatest at anatomy and feel as though something is off. I might've just stared at it too long...

  • Pisciel
    Slowly getting the clothes and accessories on. Learning to use Maya to build up shapes to import to Zbrush for further detailing. Parts like the belt and boots were made in Maya first so far, planning to do the same to more parts. A bit unsure how to make the open boots... I'm contemplating on closing them and having the pants outside instead to simplify it and save some time.

  • Popolo
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    Popolo polycounter lvl 5
    Hi Linda. It's Adam from year three (?)
    This piece looks really promising and it's so good seeing someone post here at polycount. You'll earn so much from doing that!

    Can't really give feedback in this early stage beside keep up the good work and good luck with the APP :)
  • Emil Mujanovic
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    Emil Mujanovic polycounter lvl 13
    I'll be here stalking :D
  • Pisciel
    Hey! Nice seeing you around, and thanks. I'll try my best!

    Slooowly, slowly getting somewhere. Spent most of my day eagerly following Emil Mujanovic's lecture at school. Yet again, thank you! And real nice to see you following my thread. I spent some time in the evening making some minor changes after receiving great feedback. Made the arms a bit longer, the legs a bit shorter and gave the pants more sag right above the knee pads. Added a backpack and gently started putting some more definition on the jacket and pants. Up next; LOADS and loads of ref studies on folds and cloth before moving on :D

  • Pisciel
    So uh... Pants. Yeah. I totally underestimated the simplicity of folds and material feel. I'm not giving up though! Although I'm running out of time real fast, I'll try to spend some extra effort on the pants and jacket to get a desent feel of the material. Now on to the left leg!

  • silkroadgame
    Design is looking cool!
  • Pisciel
    Got completely lost in the pants and forgot to work on everything else. They prolly need a good re-work on many places... But for now I won't bother too much til I know if I have enough time for it. Gonna try to keep from getting too focused and try to get everything to the same quality instead before poking around with details too soon. Worked on the pants and poked around on the lower part of the hoodie to add some definition and a zipper. Puh. Still a ways to go!

  • Popolo
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    Popolo polycounter lvl 5
    First part will mostly be feedback on the APP as a course :)

    Considering the "rushing" to meet your deadline, I think you should reconsider doing the highpoly for the entirety of the APP. Like you said:
    Pisciel wrote: »
    I have planned to make the high poly the first part and, if it's good enough, proceed with the low poly and texturing the second half. If not, I will be doing the highpoly through the whole project.

    From experience I know that you have quite alot of time during the portfolio creating course and your going to gain more by pushing the highpoly as far as you can go before continuing to the texturing.

    I rushed some pieces to be able to meet the deadline of the APP, and other deadlines. All those projects had to be scrapped from my portfolio because I didn't spend enough time in the beginning of the project to finalize my vision.
    Take some time aside on weekends and to the texture and low-poly and just focus on making a great sculpt, I know you have it in you :)

    Talking about time limits, I never had a single company asking me how long any of my projects took while applying for internships.

    Regarding the character.

    It's looking good so far, but it's lacking that extra polish.
    But when I'm looking at the character I noticed that it had roughly the same build and lenght as you have, use it to your advantage!
    Try finding some clothing that look similar to what the character is wearing (the kneepads could be replicated by using a couple of belts) and ask someone to take reference photos from all angles and many of them!
    Having a proper 360 reference of what to sculpt will help incredibly much.

    Good luck and I'll be lurking around to see the progress :)
  • Pisciel
    Thanks a bunch! I am considering just doing a complete high poly for the entirety of the APP. I'd rather have a great high poly to work from during spare time than rush my way and have something I could do better. I do want to explore a bit and learn as much as I can after all. I will still try to keep my deadline and finish the high poly to a descent quality by Tuesday. If nothing else, I'll use the rest of the time to polish it, which should also give me time to adjust to any feedback I might've received.

    And you caught me :)
    I did use myself as reference when making the concept. I thought it would be convenient since I always have myself at hand if I need pictures of proportions, clothing, hair and more. I'm slowly getting more into the workflow of making clothing, folds and wrinkles, but still have a lot to learn.
  • Pisciel
    Finally got to work on the jacket after my PC refused to start at home. I'm way off schedule, but oh well. Slowly working my way up the subdivisions of the jacket to build upp the detail. This is what I got so far from just the basic folds on the lowest subdiv :)

  • mkZ3R0
    Folds looking very good so far. With such a promising concept I'm really eager to see the final realtime model.

    I do hope, you thought of an interesting rear design, because if this model would be making it into the game you would mostly see it from an over the shoulder perspective, but you got enough references.

    I would like to see some close ups from the face, but as I said myself that this is supposed to be a third person character it's not too important, but for you as a student it is.

    Some parts of the skull look a bit to bulgy and it is important to get the shape right, due to your choice of hair style.

    Can say anything else much except for the backpack laces. Did you choose to remove that supporting lace in the front? It's a good design and I would keep it, because it shows that you put thought into your character concept. Backpacks without this support lace tend to bounce when running and sprinting. Something a soldier would care about.
  • Pisciel
    Thanks a lot! I do agree the head needs some working on, at least on the top and back area. I left it for now to finish off the other parts and will adjust it once I get done and start applying planes for the hair. It was a head I had done from before that I threw in to save time. More exactly this one: http://lindafyen.se/img/folio/girl.jpg

    As for the extra strap, I didn't exclude it. I just got so into it that I forgot to add it to the sculpt. Thanks for reminding me, in it goes!

    For now, the WIP I got so far. Did the jacket and the hoodie. I didn't do some parts like the seams, I thought it would be more efficient and a bit easier to throw them in on the textures later on.

  • mkZ3R0
    Head and face are looking good. The ear could use some more polishing, but it ain't that important, because the anatomy is basically correct.

    You should really sculp the seams, it's very easy with the right brush and lazy mouse settings. It'll be much harder to draw a straight line across the UV layout in Photoshop. Also UV distortion could cause visible texture stretching which is hard to tell if your working on a 2D texture. And even seams have a visible Ambient Occlusion and Cavity, which is way more easier baked than hand painted.

    You could end up spending more time to fix these issues. Sculpting seams may be tedious, but it'll save you time to invest into polishing other more important details.

    Also the fabric and the end of the jacket can be easily done with the right brush settings, especially because of its repetitive nature. Simply use a pattern brush - or any brush which repeats a stamp - with a fitting height map.

    Jacket and hoodie are looking good, so go the extra mile!
  • Pisciel
    You are absolutely right. I wasn't thinking about the AO at all. Since it's past my deadline I will see if I can get an extra day or two for polish before, or during taking on the low poly. I saw some neat tutorials on how to make that kind of pattern on the sleeve ends with the use of alphas or curves, I just didn't really take the time to try them out yet. I'll see if I can do some polish at home today and possibly finish the belt and holster at least.

    I gave up at 3am and handed it in. It was a super productive day and I feel I really started to get the hang of working out folds. It still needs some extra love on certain parts, but I am quite satisfied either way for a first try on a high poly character. It did take longer than I expected, and I wish I had taken some extra time to work on it. At this point I might have to cut out the backpack for this project, but fear not! I'll take my time to do the backpack at another time to complete the character :)

    I gave it a super crude and boring pose just to get some more interesting render shots of the model. I haven't really tried my hand at rendering yet, so I'll be spending more time on lighting and presentation in the future.


  • Hamish Bode
    Definitely following this one!

  • mkZ3R0
    I guess you learned your lessons as you summarized them well. Self-criticism is a key soft-skill.

    Now finish that model just like you concepted it, or I'll send you some viruses. That's what gave me a hard time when I graduated. If I had finish all the stuff I started, I would've had a good portfolio. So, don't you do the same mistake. You got great potencial. Use it.
  • J-kid
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    J-kid polycounter lvl 9
    I really like this. Nice work! I hope you continue
  • Emil Mujanovic
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    Emil Mujanovic polycounter lvl 13
    I know I keep promising you paintovers and not delivering, but to be honest this is coming along really well and it seems like you haven't had much need for them so far.

    There are some minor things I'd personally address for stylistic/aesthetic reasons (which are generally just my personal tastes) and some things because of anatomical or cloth flow reasons.

    Right now the face is a little off. The back of the head looks like it's been pulled out too far and the same for the front of the face. Also the ear placement is a little too far back (based on the angles I can see it from). The jaw line is very defined and harsh, it could be the dark shadowing from the matcap, but it could do with some light softening up.

    Regarding some of the folds, I'd need to do a paintover for that to better illustrate my critique (and yes it is coming :P). So I'll get back to you with that.

    But I can tell that you were paying attention at the workshop, there's a lot of stuff in the sculpt that I brought up which is really nice to see. Great job and keep it up. Totally psyched to see this finished.
  • Pisciel
    Oh noes viruseses! I'll try my best! The model would lack some personality without one of the parts, wether it be belt, holster or especially backpack. I'll try to fit in some extra work on it during this weekend to finish off the high poly. The model needs to be completely done by the 22th this month. So I got two more weeks. There are plenty of things I wish I had time to ree-work or do over after seeing tutorials and references on the net. I found some real neat things and workflows that would've helped me a ton if I had only known. I guess I'll plan my work better next time :)

    Hamish Bode & J-kid
    Thanks guys!

    Emil Mujanovic
    No worries, man. I understnad you're busy.
    Thanks for what little you shared so far. The head really needs to get re-worked, especially after the flaws I saw once you had the lecture. I tested around a bit on the face very briefly, but will eventually re-work it once the rest of the model is done. Or maybe I should put more focus on the head? It holds a lot of the character after all... I didn't work by much of any references when I made it, so this time I'll use some references of myself to get it better.

    I've stared myself blind on this, but there are some folds I plan to fix. I'm not completely satisfied with the front of the crotch, and the back by the bum where it bunches up also looks a bit iffy. I'll get my head in some references to make it better. I bet a week after I'm done I'll look back at it and see all the flaws and laugh :D

    As for now I haven't worked much on it lately. Game project is coming to an end and a lot of work is bunching up. I managed to do the holster straps and get started on the belt, along with adding some details on the ends of the jacket and hoodie. I spent most of the time watching tutorials, tips and tricks for adding details and other nifty things. I'll try to get it finished during the weekend.

  • Pisciel
    Planned on finishing up the high poly during the weekend, but things came in the way. Was going to start on my low poly today, but I guess I'll put time off to finish parts like the holster, arm thingies and hair instead. I could still start doing the low poly, but I think I'll finish the whole thing first instead of breaking my workflow. I'm still thinking of saving the backpack until later as I'm late with my work, and see if I can cram it in once I have the rest done.

    At least I managed to do some pouches and detail work along with a simplified version of the little computer at the shoulder.

  • Popolo
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    Popolo polycounter lvl 5
    Progress is looking good :)!

    There's some areas that need to get a look at.
    The folds of the pants doesn't read as realistic everywhere. On some place it's looking really good and others it's looking quite strange. E.g. By the boots. Found a reference that good work for the pants/boots that will hopefully explain what I mean:


    The other part is the metallic object, not really sure what it's supposed to be but your edges are really razorsharp at the moment. Can't remember who said it but "Nothing in nature is razorsharp, not even a razor". So you should loosen up the bevels to get a better bake. E.g.

    Last thing: The hair. I'm not sure if it's a placeholder but if it isn't then you should really consider using polygon planes for the hair instead. Sculpted hair will always get the feeling of last-gen and loose all the detail and "waviness" (?) that hair has.

    But beside those points it's looking really good. Keep up the good work and good luck with the project :D
  • mkZ3R0
    Didn't you wanted to replace the head as a whole with another version? Because this one still looks like the original one. The skull and face are bumpy at some areas, like behind the ears, along the temples and the jaw.

    Nice job on the pouches *thumbsUp
  • Pisciel
    Thanks for the feedback and reference! I smoothed out the sharp parts and reworked the pant legs a bit. Still not there though... I'd need to spend more time on that. And no, the hair is just a placeholder for now. I just wanted to get a feel of what it should feel and look like. I'll be making planes, of course :)

    Thanks, man! And no. I didn't want to replace it completely. I was thinking of reworking it to make it look better since I already have a base, instead of spending time on a completely new one.

    The only thing remaining is the backpack and the hair. I took the feedback and reworked the pant legs a bit and tried to fix up the face and head. I'm running out of time and plan to have a low poly done by the end of the weekend so I can start texturing asap on Monday. Next week is really busy since our game project meets a deadline Friday morning, and then this task Friday midnight. I believe I can still make it, but I'm worried about running into problems during retop and baking :(

  • neilberard
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    neilberard polycounter lvl 14
    Looking good, I'm glad to see that you're working through the process of gradually building up detail.
  • mkZ3R0
    A week for retopo and texturing sounds fine.

    Problems will occur when you at least expect them. Save incrementally and often. Prefer to retouch minor baking artifacts, rather than fixing the bake. It takes way less time to use a Photoshop brush, than to re-bake a complete map.

    The jaw looks fine to me now. Keep up the good work.
  • Pisciel
    So she went and got herself a backpack :U
    Pretty much done, for as much as time can allow me. I'll be adding some minor details tomorrow where needed along with adjusting some places slightly. Still got the planes for the hair to do, but I plan to get a low poly done by tomorrow!

  • Mathew O
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    Mathew O interpolator
    Subscribed :) My only crit is that I feel like the trousers look a little heavy above the knee pads, if you want that amount of material sitting above them I'd think it'd be lots of smaller folds similar to:


    As it looks like quite a light weight material based on the rest of the folds, looks great though.

    I love it :D
  • Pisciel
    Mathew O
    Thanks a lot! It helped even out the feel of the material :D

    Sorry for my lack of updates. We've had an incredibly busy week on our space shooter project and I had to sacrifice time on my APP which lead to a delay in the end. I didn't make it in time for the deadline, but will finish it anyway within the upcoming week or two. Still got my plan and need to finish it, overtime or not :)

    I have no screenshots to show at this time (tease, tease). I'm starting to assemble the low poly part by part and it's almost done. Since I can relax and experiment, I'll see if I can get some nice posed render shots of the high poly during the weekend.
  • Pisciel
    Since I didn't meet my deadline as planned, I proceeded to make a presentation and hand it in either way. Anything is still something!
    I'll find the high poly done now, and will proceed with the low poly and texturing in my own pace, since we have other things on our schedule now. I found a nice tutorial for rendering online and tried it out. Not the most dynamic pose to say the least... The zRig wouldn't work out for me and thus I had to mask, rotate and move each part by hand. It went ok but it's a tedious process I don't really plan on experiencing again. I'll know better until next time :)


  • mkZ3R0
    In my honest opinion every critique on this piece is critique on a high level. I don't see major flaws in your highpoly.

    The watch basically looks good, but the lowpoly edges are visible. It's the only thing that popped into my eye instantly.

    You've done a great job for a student and I'm looking forward to see the finished result. Keep up the good work.
  • Pisciel
    Agreed. Every piece of feedback here has helped plenty! The watch was a miss. I didn't divide the low poly enough :(
    Probably gonna do it again and fix it.

    Progress has been slowed down a lot. Real sorry for it. Other school courses are taking up time and I've taken some rest after our project crunch. Next week is our last week for this term, and I'll be giving my APP more time so I can finish it before Christmas :)

    I'm wondering how I should go about texturing. I've never really textured a character properly before. My first attempt was at a task we got last year, before we knew how to use Zbrush and pretty much anything else. So here goes my second try. So while I assemble the low poly and do some research, I'd love to hear some tips on how I should go about texturing. Should I try polypainting? Or go another way?
  • Vertrucio
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    Vertrucio polycounter lvl 10
    Late on the crit here but I do see a problem with the high poly. You have a lot of straps that bear weight, but the only place you really show that is in the knee pad straps.

    I've worn a one shoulder big messenger bag for a long time and that shoulder strap and securing strap really digs in. It was bad enough with art school supplies, but those survival and combat supplies would be worse.

    Having those straps alter the clothes under them more, as well as alter the overall forms allows you to add even more contrast to the model, especially in the front torso area which seems to be pretty uniform.

    Try getting those straps to dig into the padded clothing she is wearing, pulling up folks of cloth above them and stressing the fabric. Her lower left abdomen where the shoulder strap loops around her side could be pulled in tighter, causing more fabric to put out gather on her right side under the stabilizing strap.
  • Pisciel
    Thanks a lot! I'll see to it before I move on :)
  • mkZ3R0
    Got no tips on polypainting, but you can get fair results with handpainted textures overlayed with photo textures. Even a 100% handpainted texture can look pretty realistic, if you know how to make and use custom brushes.

    I usually add base colors to the meshes parts first. This way I can get the right feeling of colors, which will help define the asset. Color schemes are as important as silhouettes and the ratio of detailed and undetailed surfaces. In general try to use saturated colors. People tend to use desaturated colors when handpainting the first times for reasons I do not know.

    When I retouched my normal map - mine are rarely without some artifacts - I use xNormal to generate some cavity maps to enhance the diffuse. An ambient occlusion alone isn't enough to give the right feeling of depth, especially with seams and scars and the likes. A cavity generated with EMB setting and used with an overlay in PS saves you the work to paint custom highlights on worn edges.

    Generally I create my specular maps from the final diffuse map with deactivated ambient occlusion. Turning all non-metals black and white. Turning up contrast and painting custom specular levels. The saturation of metals can be bumped up.
    Remember that metal is the only material that reflects it's own color. That's why it's the only material of the specular map that isn't black & white (but this only works if the game engine's specular shader can read color, e.g. with Unity3D it wouldn't work on default). The glossy map can be all black & white, for it only defines the pinch of the specularity. Both maps are required, if you aim for a realistic look.

    In your case, you probably will require a emissive map for the glowing parts of the asset. Keep in mind, that the brightness of the map will define the intensity of the glow. This map does not necessarily require the same resolution of the diffuse map. So, you can save it in half the size. It's going to mostly black anyway.
  • Pisciel
    Thanks a bunch, your tips will be really useful! Would've probably never thought about the cavity map if you didn't mention it. I was going to split my map to two 2k textures, but I was recommended to gather it all into one 4k texture instead. I plan on using a PBL shader since our school and projects use it, and it would be good practice to learn how to work with it. I could just tweak the maps to work in a standard shader if I need that :)
  • BlacKBeast
    i love the work you do, i try to integrate in Wallpaper ;)

    ih1q.jpg uo96.jpg
  • Pisciel
    Thanks man, I'm glad you like it! :)

    I guess it's time for an update. Been a while! Hope you're all well. I really needed to get away from work over the holidays, and I'm glad I did. I really needed that rest... It's gonna be a hell of a second term in school! We're half way through the RTS project, and our portfolio creation course has just started. In between, I try to find a couple of hours to work on the character to a finished piece.

    Slowly getting parts together. I've gotten great feedback, and thank you all for it, but I really need to move on from the high poly and get it done. There is only so much I can do on this one. Time to move on! This is what I got so far. Some pieces missing, but almost ready for UV and baking. 12.7k tris right now and there are definitely parts I could remesh better. My initial limit was 15k, but I was suggested to raise it to 20k at least. I'll try to keep my 15k limit, but I won't be afraid to go over :)

  • Pisciel
    Let there be hair! Been a bit since I worked on this. I'm sad I can't spend more hours on it than a couple few here and there every week. But it's slowly making its way to a finished product :)

    So now there's hair! Hair is hard! Tried out some different techniques with the hair, but I think I might spend a bit more time on it. As of now, I'm quite happy about it. I only got two or three pieces more to go before I can take on UV mapping. Looking forward to texturing!

  • Pisciel
    No super big update. Since I’m currently recovering from a bad, bad cold, I thought I’d take some time to experiment a bit and see how fibermesh in Zbrush works. I wanted to make the hair, but I think I’ll tackle that some other day. I’ll settle with getting the basics with lashes and brows today :)

  • Pisciel
    Finding the low poly done. Might still adjust some things before or after baking, but all in all it's ready. It landed on around 18200 tris with minor pieces not counted in. But all the necessary parts for baking are there. Ready for UV mapping, and then in the oven it goes!

  • Pisciel
    Got to work on it and got most of the normal baking done. I need to fix a few last things and rebake some small pieces, but all in all it went better than I thought it would. There are things I wish I could fix, but time is scarce, so I'll try to fix what find on the way. Sorry for the fast and bad lighting...

  • Pisciel
    Making progress step by step. I've tackled texturing and put together a fast presentation of what I got so far. Mostly just basic colors down. I've played with teh reflective and gloss maps to get the general feel right, and I'll be taking on details next. The scene still tweaking, shadows are looking a bit weird. But overall the texturing is going better than I expected.

  • mkZ3R0
    Woohoo ^^ Long time, no see. Looking great. A bit too clean and unworn, but still: Good job Linda!

    Glad you went the extra-mile redoing the hair.
  • Pisciel
    Thank you! Hope all is well with you :)

    Agreed. It's still a WIP, but I've got most of it down. All I have left is texture details to get in a more natural and worn feel. A bit too stiff and plasticy right now. At last, I passed the course it was meant for though, so I'll be spending some time on and off in between work over the summer to play around and explore a bit. Wanna give it that extra little finish before I move on to a new project.
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