Personal Projects

Personal Projects

Simon Almeida
by simonalmeida on 24 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

It's been a crazy year with lots of personal projects and some amazing commissioned works. I've learned a lot this last year and I improved a lot in some areas that I was not very comfortable with.

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Round of applause for our sponsors

David Gulpilil

Cate Blanchett

Micheal Shannon

Some other projects 

I've been working on improving some areas that I was/am not so comfortable with

My process

The first thing I do after selecting the concept I'll be working on next is to gather as many references as possible and arrange them by topics (I use the PureRef app).

The next step, one of my favorite steps, is to sculpt in Zbrush (the organic parts) or modeling in Maya (the hard surface parts). In Zbrush, I always start to sculpt the main shapes and volumes, not carrying too much with details or topology, just focusing on the primary forms and volumes. This is the step where I spend quite a lot of time, it's the step that will define the whole mood and "soul" of the project.

When I'm happy with the main shapes and volumes I Zretopo in ZB, export to obj, and go to Maya to make proper UV's. Then I export the model with uvs and go to ZB again, I "ProjectAll" with some SubD levels and start to work on the details (tertiary forms, normally in SubD level 4). After detailing the tertiary I normally go to GeometryHD (use 2 or 3 SubD for HD) for the Micro details (wrinkles, pores, skin details, and stuff)
For the pores and wrinkles, I normally make my own brushes inside ZB. Creating them first in the center of a plane (using the elastic, clayBuildup, Standart, and DamStandart brushes) then I convert them into alphas, then I set up some settings and save them as Brushes to use again on other projects.

The next step, exporting all the displacement maps and test them inside Maya with some basic light setup and some basic skin shaders. This step can be a little time-consuming because I have to go back and forward between Maya and ZB always exporting displacements that have been modified.

Once I'm happy with the displacements and basic skin shader setup I start my first texturing pass inside ZB, always with the same principle, big forms first, in this case, big tex breakups first ending with the smallest breakups. Then I export all the texture maps (albedo, spec, gloss, and some alpha maps for the facing hair)

I finish and clean up all organic texture maps in Mari or Substance P (including albedo, specular, glossiness, some times albedo, displacements, tertiary and micro from XYZtexturing)

After all that I spend some time setting up a good lights setup and renders settings inside Maya using vray, adding hair with xgen, and finish the final renders with some basic comp inside photoshop. 

Of course, there is a lot of in-between small steps and setups but the main ones that I use are these ones


I've to thank you all for the tremendous support I've been receiving this last year and I'm truly honored to see my work been featured and posted on so many cool sites and apps around the world. 

I've also wanted to thanks all my friends, mentors, and coworkers (some freelance projects) for encouraging me to achieve more of myself.

Thank you all


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