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Of Characters and Environments

Of Characters and Environments

Steven Serra Mock
by StevenSerraMock on 1 Jun 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

A collection of recent projects that I wanted to showcase. I feel at home in ZBrush and Blender and love exploring different workflows and technical tricks.

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I created this character sculpt based on the amazing concept art by the even more amazing Bella Liu.
I used a female base mesh as a starting point for this project and utilized both standard poly modelling in Blender as well as utilizing ZBrush's toolbox to create the block out of the shapes (mainly Shadowbox for the golden shapes).

After the block out was done, I created the UV Layout for the whole character because I knew I won't have much time for the colouring part, I decided to use Substance Painter to have a non-destructive texturing workflow.
I did the UV Layout in RizomUV, splitting off the entire character into 4 UV Tiles to preserve detail when baking data maps such as curvature.
I worked back and forth between ZBrush, Blender and RizomUV with Blender and its bridges being the link. After that I was able to sculpt the character and her weapon.

After I finished the sculpt, I created a second file for the posing of the character entirely done with ZBrush's rigging and posing system with a bit of clean-up sculpting afterwards.

After I was done in ZBrush it became quite technical again. I've wanted to render the character in the best way possible and I wanted to do that in Cycles (Blender). However, Blender cannot process very big polygon numbers so I decided to bake down the fine details onto a somewhat mid poly. Since I've worked completely with subdivision levels in ZBrush, it was easy to save out the sub tools as mid-and high-poly meshes. 

The baking of normal, curvature and ambient occlusion maps was done in Marmoset Toolbag.

Since time was running out, I had to rush the materials a bit. Substance Painter really helped me with that. The only exception was the colour map for the character which I hand-painted in Zbrush.

For the Crystals, I made a special shader in Cycles combining glass properties with translucency properties. I also duplicated them and scaled them down inside of each other to give it a more crystalline effect. To give it the magical touch of her casting a spell, I translated Bella's idea by using planes with hand-drawn magical fire.

I packed my project and send it to a render farm to cut down render time on my machine. Afterwards, it was post-processing time in Photoshop.

I spend around 4 weeks working on and off on this project.

This is my own original character I created for a cyberpunk inspired assignment. I had the idea of a boy who got obsessed with religion to the extent of thinking he is the one and only leader and creator. I had to differ a bit from my initial idea with even more religious references because I felt it would become too noisy and too much in your face.

I took the inspiration for the arm from Anita Battle Angle. The base structure for the mechanical arm was created by using ZBrush Surface Noise with UV oriented noise and a custom made height pattern created in Substance Designer.

I rendered these images in Blender Cycles with a self-made clay shader that uses light subsurface scattering and takes in the vertex colour data from the poly paint applied in ZBrush.

I created a little sculpting diorama which I made up from individual sculpted Assets. I envisioned a camp in the forest for a young wizard who specialises in the ancient magic of Crystals (He cooks them down into potions). Note to self: What is my obsession with Crystals lately?

Everything is created from mix and matching different references except the Dagger which I created based on a concept by Julio Nicoletti.

This is my favourite result from my Game Assets Pipeline Course. I created this Monocular Nightvision Device by getting more deeper into the Boolean Workflow of Blender (and in general, I'd say).

The baking and the textures were done in Substance Painter. To add even more realism to the monocular I made decals for the stickers. The project was rendered real-time in Unreal Engine 4. 

This was is my first project where I got in touch with creating an organic environment in Unreal Engine (4). 
I used mainly Megascans Assets as well as some meshes from the Paragon Assets (since I loved the game I see this as a little tribute). 

The greatest challenge was to make the foliage in the background not too noisy. I achieved that by overwriting the normals in a way that they create a nice gradient. 

I also used ZBrush, Substance Painter, Substance Designer as well as Blender to create a few assets myself.

I want to close this entry with this little ArchViz Scene I did for the Level Decoration Course. 
The scene is lightened by static lighting only and baked with Raytraced GPU Lightmass baking in Unreal Engine 4.

I used a few assets from the Unreal ArchViz learning project (the couch for example) but made the majority of the assets myself. I also changed the material of the couch as well as giving it an extra folds pass in Zbrush. To top it off, I made cloth wrinkles with the ZBrush Cloth Simulation, baked them down as normal maps and applied them as Decals onto the couch area to get a little more light variation and realism out of it.

Besides two materials that I made myself using Substance Designer, I used surface assets from Quixel Megascans.

The images in the background are personal projects that I applied in Substance Painter on a Canvas Mesh together with mixing a linen material.

As the main reference for the scene, I used a photo from an Ikea Catalogue.

Thank you very much for looking and reading through my entry! 

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