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Sketchbook: Valentina Hawes (val.ociraptor)

greentooth
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valociraptor greentooth

Working on a lowpoly handpainted cat character -- she's the queen of an ice palace full of little cats šŸ˜ŗ

I find I work much faster and get a better end result when I "sketch" in 3D and start laying down textures early. I'm not working from a concept drawing (just have some inspiration pics and am making the rest up as I go). There are some extra edges on the head and ears I can probably remove, but I'm not finalizing anything yet.

Modeling in blender, texturing in 3Dcoat.

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  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    updated textures a bit, trying some body shapes. Might not mess with fingers or toes and just do "mittens." Probably going to give them a giant fluffy tail...

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    trying some basic silhouettes for the clothing. I want it to read as a little cute, but still "Royal," with some elegance. I'm thinking a mix of pattern silk on the dress/fitted clothing, and a thicker, more luxe velvety fabric for the jacket or cape, then fur cuffs. Need to add some metal jewelry accents, probably a large decorative clasp at the neck, some bracelets and earrings to break up the symmetry and add contrasting color, and a large cuff on the tail.


    So far I'm leaning towards the long dress, and not convinced about the short jacket. it feels too cute or casual, I might try a more dramatic cape to lean into the "royalty" vibe.

  • RocketAlex
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    RocketAlex polycounter lvl 6

    This looks cute :) If I may, my 2 cents would be that you've spent way too many tris and put too many loops on the ears, not worth it :) Else, it looks great!

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Render on the left, quick paintover in photoshop on the right. I'm not happy with it yet, doesn't feel coherent. I think I need to take another pass at the details and nail down some more consistent themes for the jewelry and accessories. I think the colors might be a bit too scattered as well -- maybe the gold could be cooler and lighter or more broken up, and the blue of the dress a little softer. open to suggestions as well.

    also cleaned up the topology in the head and ears, but I'll do another post on that later.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Got some feedback from concept artist pal Kat Bartlett (https://www.artstation.com/katalystart | https://www.instagram.com/katalystart/)! I struggle with fantasy clothing and don't usually design clothing for characters, I tend to get kind of distracted by contrasting colors and focus less on the garments themselves. She put together an awesome paintover and references for me which I'll post below :) I sometimes lose momentum on projects at this phase so I decided to reach out to people who can fill in some of the gaps in my skill set, and it was really motivating.

    I feel like everything is much more centered on the "ice queen" theme now. Excited to move onto the next phase now that I have a much stronger direction to work with.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Model+ wireframe updates, will be adding more little bits, like fur tuft cards to break up the symmetry, whiskers, etc as I go :)

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    started laying down textures, still very early on. not super happy with the dress fabric yet, its not super accurate/form fitting. Going to look at some texture references and take another shot at it.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    today's update. Lots of small changes all over, defining shapes in the medallion, fabric, ruffles, fur collar and hands/feet. Painted the earrings with a first pass of metal texture. Next up is probably a pass at rebalancing the colors -- make the cape more dark/dusty purple, make the fur ruff less saturated and bring in color mixing from the rest of the character. Defining more AO and adding textures to plain areas like the cape.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Made 2 simple beads and a rose to use to as cape detail:

    Pretty happy with the touch of opulence they add, despite being quite simple. The rose textures need a lot more love, they're basically just the simple shapes sketched out.

    I've been purely handpainting these textures from nothing (I generally use a gradient map base from a sculpt or something to save time, but I wanted to be more expressive and improvisational with this model than I am with production models for work). But, as a result, some of my colors are a bit off, so I took a break to render what I have so far and color correct in PS so I have a more accurate guide as I finish up rendering everything.

    Excited to lock in the last few model details and just paint to completion :)

  • Fabi_G
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    Fabi_G hero character

    Hey, super cool seeing your detailed process.

    I think it might enhance readability if the cape had different colors or values for outside and inside.

    When squinting, the ears look a bit seperated from the head, due to lower value? Blending with the bright fur of the head might connect them more to head.

    Just some opinion :D

    Looking forward to see how it continues, keep it up!

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    A lot of more subtle changes today, lots of cleanup and clarifying edges, especially the seams on the dress and the cat's face. I've been looking at a lot of handpainted textures done by Chinese and Korean artists on Sketchfab and trying to get that same clean, readable look -- a lot of the models in this style actually have extremely simple and "inaccurate" clothing folds, that are very large and low-contrast, but they all have contour lines showing the seam and the stitching at the fabric edge. You can see this at the bottom of the dress and the edge of the ruffle.

    I started putting down more texture on the cape, ice accessories and dress, plus some AO to define the different layers of clothing more. I use a hard light layer set to 65% opacity and paint shadows with a soft brush in different mesh intersections. Also added cute little wispy whiskers! Very important.

    Took the suggestions to differentiate the inner and outer cape color more, and to start softening the transition from the darker to lighter fur on the ears -- still working on these areas, but thank you for your feedback :) <3

    Closeup of the ice crown-- i think I need to pull back on some of the highlighted edges for more variation. I like the layered look I'm getting so far, but I don't know if it looks like ice...

    Also you can see very clearly here that the roses are a higher resolution than they need to be -- will need to go back and resize that texture map to fit with everything else.

    Oh yeah, she has a big tail, too!


  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Started making some expression blendshapes to take a break from texturing today. It's amazing how much of a difference a simple expression can make to showing the model's character. --I'm going to have so much fun rigging and posing her šŸ¤©

    "pathetic."

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Update comparison of the front-ish view! Brightened up the eyes significantly (but still kept a bit of that dramatic top shadow, I think it gives the character some intensity in the expression), added a vertical color gradient to the dress so it shifts from a blue to a more blue-green towards the bottom, and did a hard light layer pass to reinforce seams, wrinkles, edges of ice, brighten up some ruffle fabric, etc.

    I painted in a lot of "mushy" areas that aren't seen as clearly, like the back of the dress, back and sides of the crown and medallion, the roses, and the arms and legs of the cat under the dress. Added some hue shift and vertical gradient to the ears, both the inner ear fluff and the lavender-ish outer part.

    Plus a turnaround.

    I think she's ready to rig, and I'll revisit anything that stands out as odd in the texture after I'm done :)

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    A little lowpoly halloweeny wolf sketch from last night. No UVs, just applying colors to faces.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Spooky wolf got a body tonight! Trying to figure out what proportions I want, how chunky/simple I want the angles to be, etc.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Did a quick rig and poses! I think preserving the super angular style when deformed would take a lot of clever skinning/corrective blendshapes. I might move on to another project instead of fussing too much more with it. Will probably pick some poses and manually clean the geo so the deformed areas are super linear and clean, keeping the silhouette crisp.

  • valociraptor
  • lucardo
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    lucardo polycounter lvl 3

    Your cat queen model looks amazing. I love the hand painted textures! Why haven't you posted it on your art station? It looks so good!

    The wolf looks great too. I like the flat low poly style you went for.

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Wow, thank you very much!! šŸ˜Š I usually like to show my characters with some context, I'm working on a little scene for her (like a little diorama of her in a tower in her ice palace) so I can present it super nicely in my portfolio.

  • lucardo
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    lucardo polycounter lvl 3

    Ah, of course. It makes sense hahaha. Looking forward to see the completed scene then šŸ˜‰

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Weekend bloodmoon wolf sculpt from earlier this year! Knocked it out in a weekend -- sculpted and vertex painted in zbrush, a couple of lowpoly models added later in blender, rendered in marmoset 3. Had a lot of fun ignoring realtime UVs/retopo and just focusing on the expressive painting and sculpting :)

    Process images:


  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Decided to play around with viewport settings today, asking the very important question: what if a wolf was crispy? The pixel filtering looks pretty cool with the big, clean shapes, I think -- it almost adds a bit of implied complexity/depth to some of the color transition areas, like the belly and where the paws hit the platform. Might play around with it more...


    I stumbled across this guide on Twitter -- https://twitter.com/holographicpink posts really wonderful breakdowns of tech art in blender, lots of great tips for artists who do stylized 3D and 2D/3D hybrid characters especially :) Highly recommend following her!

    To get this result in the viewport, switch renderer to Cycles, and change these settings:

    (above image/artwork is from her twitter!)

  • valociraptor
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    valociraptor greentooth

    Making a little scene for my cat queen! All the the textures are super rough, just block-ins. I really enjoy working iteratively -- I started out by blocking in the shapes in blender and just assigning flat color materials to each piece so I could play around with colors before committing to UVing the final shapes. From here, i have 2 UV sheets for the whole diorama -- one for the big base pieces, and a second one with a good amount of space left so I can keep adding things like caps and polish to edges, hardware for where the curtain tog attaches to the wall, etc. I can also start with a symmetrical layout and then break the symmetry as I go.

    I want to keep a similar level of detail/polish in the diorama without losing focus on the character... I think not having a roof on the diorama is awkward, but giving it a tall roof extends the diorama too much vertically and loses focus on the cat. I don't know... would appreciate input on the shape and roof.


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