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3D Character Art for Games 2020/2021
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3D Character Art for Games 2020/2021

Tristan McGuire
by tristanmcguire on 14 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Collection of game ready characters produced as both personal and university projects.

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Over the past year I have worked on a range of 3D character art projects across multiple art styles and subject matters. Here I showcase each project with various in-engine renders and technical breakdowns.

Find me on social media:

ArtStation / Instagram / Twitter / LinkedIn 

Johnny Silverhand - Cyberpunk 2077 Fanart

University final major project - Realtime fanart of Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves) from Cyberpunk 2077.

The goal of this project was to recreate Johnny, matching the art style of the original game and capturing the likeness of Keanu. My inspiration behind making this project was being a big fan of Johnny (and also of Keanu) and wanting to make a character that would really push my abilities in the creation of skin, hair, clothing and hard surface. Made as part of my final major project for my degree in computer games art.

Zbrush: Sculpting skin and clothes.
Maya: Hard surface modelling (cyber arm and accessories), retopology, UVs, hair cards, rigging, posing.
Substance Painter and Photoshop: Texturing.
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation.

V - Cyberpunk 2077 Fanart

Personal Project - Realtime fanart of my version of V from Cyberpunk 2077.
Presented in UE4.

The purpose of this project was to take the feedback from my previous university project and get a bit more practice in before the next university semester started. Focusing all my time on the head and upper torso rather than stretching the time thinly across a whole body, rig, blendshapes etc that I would normally give a character.

Zbrush: Sculpting
Maya: Retopology, UVs, hair cards
Substance Painter: Texturing
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation

RJ MacReady / Kurt Russell - The Thing

University/Search for a Star project - Realtime model of RJ MacReady, protagonist of the 1982 movie The Thing, played by Kurt Russell.

This project went on to win the Grads in Games Search for a Star competition in April 2021!

For this project, I started with sculpting the portrait of Kurt Russell in Zbrush. I then created a starting point for the clothing using Marvellous Designer, and went on to create the full high poly model in Zbrush. Retopology and UVs were done manually in Maya, then the texturing was done in Substance Painter. Hair textures were generated with Xgen and hair cards placed manually in Maya. The blendshapes were made in Zbrush and exported to Maya, with wrinkle maps baked in Painter. I used the Advanced Skeleton plugin for Maya to produce a rig and then posed the character. Final renders all being from Unreal Engine 4.

Marvelous Designer: Base cloth simulation.
Zbrush: Cloth detailing, skin sculpting, blend shapes.
Maya: Retopology, UVs, hair cards, rigging, posing, blend shapes.
Substance Painter: Texturing.
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation.

Mollymauk Tealeaf

Personal project - Realtime fanart of Mollymauk from Critical Role. This artwork was shared on the livestream of Campaign 2 Episode 111.

For this project, I took my basemesh and created a starting point for the clothing using Marvellous Designer, then went on to create the full high poly model in Zbrush. Retopology and UVs were done manually in Maya, then the texturing was done mainly in Substance Painter, with the hair textures being generated with Xgen. I used the Advanced Skeleton plugin for Maya to quickly produce a rig and pose the character, which I exported to Unreal Engine 4 where I took my final renders.

When creating this character, I used mainly the official artwork by Ariana Orner as my reference, but also referred to the official figurine and combined with some elements inspired by imagination. I wanted to produce a model that was true to what I imagined while watching the show whilst also still being quite true to Taliesin's original vision.

Marvelous Designer: Base cloth simulation.
Zbrush: Cloth detailing and skin sculpting.
Maya: Retopology, UVs, hair cards, rigging, posing.
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation.

Blood Dragon

Personal project - my recreation of the Blood Dragon from Skyrim.

This was my first attempt at creating a realistic reptilian creature, so I put a lot of time into it as I was actively learning and trying out various different sculpting techniques before arriving at the final result. Similarly to the Mollymauk project, here I was looking at improving my realism skills, but using a fantasy subject matter.

Zbrush: Sculpting.
Maya: Retopology, UVs, rigging, posing.
Substance Painter: Texturing.
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation.

Fairy Queen

University project - Hand painted texturing using an unlit shader.

My aim in this project was to use a similar texturing style as World of Warcraft, but not restrict the tri count and texture resolutions quite as much as what is needed for that game - the aesthetic style itself was my focus.

Zbrush: Sculpting.
Maya: Retopology, UVs, rigging, posing.
Substance Painter: Texturing.
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation.

Bounty Hunter

Personal project - Stylised PBR.

The purpose of this project was to explore using hand painted textures alongside realtime lighting.

Zbrush: Sculpting.
Maya: Retopology, UVs, rigging, posing, blend shapes.
Substance Painter: Texturing.
Unreal Engine 4: Presentation.

Hand Painted Chameleon

Personal project - hand painted textures with an unlit shader.

This mini project was done specifically to improve on my hand painted texturing skills. I also made a tutorial for beginners on how to get started with painting textures that was published by Stylized Station. This tutorial was aimed at those with little or no experience in traditional or digital painting who may find intermediate texturing tutorials too confusing as these often exclude the absolute basics of painting that beginners need. I was inspired to do this as I personally have a background in traditional and digital 2D art, but I noticed that a lot of my peers at university did not have this experience in the art fundamentals.

Zbrush: Sculpting.
Maya: Retopology, UVs, presentation.

And that concludes my portfolio of game ready characters from 2020/2021 :)

Find me on social media:

ArtStation / Instagram / Twitter / LinkedIn 


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