Flash Gordon modeling contest
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Flash Gordon modeling contest

David Gorman
by dgorman on 5 Jun 2021 for Flash Gordon Modeling Contest

This design is so cool I just had to pick the Lizardman to bring to life in 3D . I love the concept behind the mingling using mind control to weaponise the Lizardman, and also that I can challenge myself to work on my anatomy and form while also having some fun with all the details in this reimagining of the charatcer.

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Update - 18 Jul 2021

This is my final submission into the Rookies Flash Gordon competition. I had a lot of fun with this character, and I will definitely be returning to this model to refine some of my textures and give him a cool pose for my portfolio. I hope you like my work and it has done Giuseppe Di Stasio's concept art justice. Good luck to everyone who entered!

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Update - 18 Jul 2021

Renders of my topology from Arnold

I went back and sculpted some more on the retopologised Mingling before I exported to Substance painter. 

Update - 18 Jul 2021

I textured Lizardman in substance painter with 5 UDIM tiles, the shield I made separately. 

Update - 13 Jul 2021

The Mingling looks like he might have some footwear on to help him grip onto Lizardmans back. I decided to sculpt in some simple footwear using slip on water shoes as reference. 

I exported my sculpt to Maya and retopologized with the Quad draw tool. I tried to match up the seams with the topology and Uv's. 

I retopologized Mingling in the same way I did with Lizardman. I also used the same process to create the mouth cavity for Mingling. After I retopologized the mouth and teeth, I made some UV's for the teeth, mouth and tongue. I realized that I made the model a little too rounded like a human mouth cavity. Mingling has quite a wide face so I used the lattice tool to stretch it a little and line it up better with the inner cheek so it would make it easier to stitch it together. 

I UV'd the Mingling before stitching the mouth cavity with his body. I used Cv curve tool with the extrude face method to create the hanging wires. I rebuilt the cruve so the points are well spaced and there is enough so I can tweak the wire later when I import to place ontop of Lizardman. I have kept my history on the curve so I will be able to adjust later. 

Lastly I made some eyes and extruded to make the antennas. I wasnt 100% sure if they were meant to be crazy eyelashes or similar to caterpillar antenna. But I figured Lizardman has sight and perhaps Mingling is blind and instead uses these antennas and mind control to manoevre. 

I have set up the Mingling to have two UDIM tiles. The first is his accessories and the second for his skin/antennas. 

Update - 13 Jul 2021

I imported my high resolution sleeves from Marvelous designer into my Lizardman project. I subdivided until I had the right amount of density, and then I sculpted over my seam lines to make them more obvious. I then projected the details over to my retopologized sleeves in the same scene. After I had the details , I just added some very subtle creases to the rest of the sleeves and a bit of scrunching at the bottom of the sleeve and near the cuff where the forearm armour strap will be tightened. 

I had to do a little adjusting around the shoulder armour, I added a little extra padding on the shoulder sleeves just so the armour is cushioned in there. After this I went and added colours to all my subtools to create my vertex colours to bake my I.D. map in Substance Painter. 

When this was completed I exported back to Zbrush and projected the details from the merged jacket/sleeves subtool to the newly retopologized subtool. I masked the inside of the jacket using Uv groups so it didnt get messy with the projection. 

I have set Lizardman up to have six UDIM tiles. skin, clothing, hard surface accessories, straps and belts, the backpack, and lastly the eyes. 

Update - 11 Jul 2021

I did quite a few bake tests in Substance painter to make sure everything on the Lizardman character is working correctly before I add some skin surface details/texture to the character in Zbrush. 

Update - 9 Jul 2021

Next stage was to reproject my high res details to my newly remeshed model. I exported my lower poly model back to zbrush. I sub divided 4 times and then created a morph target to make sure I could use the morph brush to get rid of any artifacts. I went back to level 1 and masked out the mouth cavity and then did a test projection to see what my results would be. Overal they were really good, howerer around the main horn and also the inner eyes I was getting some messy areas. So I undid my projections and masked out a few small areas and then redid my projections up to level 3. For level 4 I thought I already pretty much had the exact model I sculpted in good detail so I just lowered the projection for the final level. After completing the projection stage I went back to level 1 at the lowest level and used the move topology brush to just try and test out what my mouth was going to look like when I take the time to open it later on in the process if I want to render him out in a few different poses. I also at this stage, wanted to do a test bake in Substance painter between the low and high res body meshes. I put some poly paint on my model so I could also test my vertex colour transfer for my ID map in substance. The model baked really well, just some areas that will need to be painted out inside the mouth but overall was looking quite good. I like to slap on the aluminium insulate material just to check my density of each area of my model and I find it useful and quick to spot any areas of warping UV's or if Uv's are not running in the direction I had intended. 

Update - 9 Jul 2021

To retopologize the Lizarman body I merged all the horns, eye lid (which was a separate subtool), claws together as one subtool and exported to use with the quad draw tool. I first retopologized the main bulk of the body using quick low poly. I then started on the face as a separate part, using more density and making sure to have edge loops around the mouth, eyes and horns so that when I open the mouth later I shouldnt run into many problems. After the whole head was complete I then added more density to the rest of the body and stitched them both together. For the feet and hands I used the same process. I made one claw/toe and one finger and then duplicated these over and used the relax function on the quad draw tool to snap to the mesh. After the hand and foot were completed I also stitched these to the rest of the mesh. Next I imported my retopologized mouth cavity and stitched the inner lip to the top and bottom of the gums. After I knew my mesh was clean and I was happy with the topology I Uv mapped one half of the body, and then mirrored and flipped the UV's. 

Update - 9 Jul 2021

To model the forearm armour I used my flat plane I modeled in Zbrush as reference to flat model the shape as one plane making sure the topology flowed the correct way to allow me to separate each component later, and had enough topology that it wouldnt create pinching when I added the bend. I then added a bend deformer to the whole plane. Then I separated the faces for each component and put each part in place. I also added further bends to the smaller parts to create different shapes. I then extruded all the components to different thicknesses. After I Uv mapped the forearm I added my bevels. After importing into my scene I rotated into place.

Update - 9 Jul 2021

I exported a decimated model of my high res Lizardman after working on the anatomy some more. I took it into Marvelous Designer to try and make some of the sleeves for his space suit. The goal here for me was to replicate the seams and the folds around the elbow crease as you see  in the concept art. For me the sleeves look as if they are stitched into the lining of the actual jacket/waiscoat so I first pinned the top of the cloth to the top of his shoulder. After I pulled the seams around the arm to where I wanted them, I then increased the length of the material. I then narrowed the cloth around the forearm where the strap would be and pulled the excess material up the arm and released to get some creases and folds. Once exporting this left arm I repeated the same process to make some different folds and creases so I could export and mirror to the right arm in Maya so each sleeve will be slightly different and more natural. I retopologised each sleeve in Maya using the quad draw tool.  

I moved on to create the jacket and straps. I used the same process of exporting my extract mask from zbrush into maya and using it as a guide to quad draw a jacket onto the decimated model of Lizardman. I then gave it some thickness. To make the straps I created CV curves and positioned the curve to follow the geometry of the body. I then used cubes with the thickness I wanted for the straps and selected the face and the curve and extruded along the path. After some repositioning of some of the edges I then stitched the straps onto the jacket and then placed some rivets where needed. 

For the shoulder armour I imported my zbrush sculpt for reference. I rotated the model until the flat face was facing the front orthographic view. I then created a plane that matched that shape and similar to the concept. Its hard to tell if its symetrical from the concept, so I changed the design from my originally unsymmetrical sculpt to a symetrical one in Maya. I created some cylinders and positioned them to booleon through the plane. After doing a bit of cleaning up I then used the bend deformer to give the shape a nice curve across the surface. I then duplicated the faces of the cirular areas and extruded them on their axis to create the 3 screws/bolts/designs that you see on the surface of the armour. After I imported it into my Lizardman scene and rotated until I had it positioned on the shoulder. I then just moved some of the verts from the black area of the armour (maybe rubber that holds it in place) closer to the sleeve.

I started the forearm armour by making the what looks to me like heavy duty velcro straps that hold the armour on his forearm. I created a cylinder, deleted the ends and rotated and scaled in place. I then created the angular end of the strap separately and once I had the strap in place I stitched them together and just did some tweaking until they were both close enough to look like they are velcroed together on the wrap around. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

After remeshing the lower accessories for Lizardman I went back to Zbrush and tried to improve my anatomy before taking the character to Marvelous Designer to create the sleeves. I spent quite a bit more time really focusing on his arms and adding some more details in the hands and feet. I used polypaint to map out some of the muscle structures just so I could turn it on and off to use as reference whilst also studying anatomy references. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

I took the lower body sculpted sub tools from Zbrush to Maya and used the quad draw tool to create all the different parts to the armour for the leg. I extruded to give all the edges a thickness and then carefully closed any gaps between the plates. I then Uv mapped each plate before adding my bevels to save time unwrapping. I have started to build my different UDIM tiles for the Lizardman. I think I will have 4-5 tiles.  After I was fairly happy with the armour I used the quad draw tool over the straps I extracted in Zbrush as flat planes. I mostly used the soft selection tool to manipulate the straps after giving them a thickness. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

Once I had the bag shape filled out and the pouches and satchel bags in place I imported the teeth for the zipper I modeled. I created EP curves along the surfaces of the pouches and then used the create animation snapshot method to place my teeth evenly along the curve after snapping my original tooth to the end of the curve and manipulating it so it was flush with the surface. It wasnt a perfect outcome, I did have to go back in and manually rotate a lot of the teeth into place but overal I felt it was quite successful. After I had the longer zipper in place it was quite easy to chop parts of the sequence out and duplicate to other areas of the bag. 

I thought it would look quite natural to have one of the zippers slightly undone so I extruded into the bag mesh in maya and created some extra topology so I could try and create the sense of an open zipper. I imported my clean mesh back to Maya after UV mapping it and used mostly the damien standard and clay build up brushes to create ripples and creases.

After I completed the rucksack sculpting I wanted to run a quick bake in substance painter with the low and high res models so I could test out my UV's and make sure I was happy with how it will texture once I eventaully take it to Substance painter as part of the character. I threw on a few tiled fabric textures and also some rough colours as a test. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

I modeled the buckles and straps in Maya using references by flat modeling first to get the topology needed to extract the shapes. I then extruded each part and then used booleon unions and intersections where needed, and then cleaned up the topology before adding bevels. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

I interpreted the orange/blue and pink areas of the concept art that you can see sticking over his shoulders to be some kind of supply bag as he is a soldier, so either carrying weapons/fuel or even some sort of camel back for hydration as he is pretty big and heavy so probably sweats a lot. I took inspiration from army satchels and long distance runner hydration rucksacks and sculpted a combination of both that I though lined up fairly well with the concept. I really felt strongly that the orange section with the hard edges was quite purposefully done and to me looked very similar to the flat crumpled area you get with a roll top rucksack so I incorporated that into the bag as well. I felt that it is probably a blue bag, with a orange roll top and perhaps pink straps/details. 

I started with a simple cube and just used the move topology brush and sculptris to get a shape I felt was a right fit for his frame. I then used the flatten, s polish and damien standard brushes to create soething resembling a roll top. 

I modeled a zipper, the teeth and a army buckle and simple clip buckle in maya starting out by simply flat modeling the shapes and extruding. I retopologized the bag using my very simply sculpt that I exported from Zbrush with the Quad draw tool. I imported the buckles and straps to get a sense of where those features may sit on the bag to help me with my remesh. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

Next I started working on the lower half of the Lizardman. I sculpted in rough leg armour and sock, and tried to focus on the silhoutte from the concept art to get a good idea of the shapes and angles on the knee guard. I masked over the legs where his pants are and used the extract method with no thickness to roughly place the pants. Then I inflated the geometry slightly to fit over the legs, and sculpted some rough ripples where the buckles would pinch the cloth, and where areas may puff out around the leg armour. I used the same method of masking to create the straps and the belt harness. I then gave the belt harness some thickness and started sculpting the hard edges to create the nice angular curve around the hip. 

Update - 8 Jul 2021

I started adding some details to try and match the silhouette of the concept art as best I could. I used sculptris to add geometry where I need it, and used the move topology brush to guide areas into place until I was happy with the rough shape of him. I used anatomy references to try and get the anatomy generally right, which I will go back and focus on a little more accurately later. I used the polygroup function to remove the horns and clay build up brush to dig back into the main mesh. I used the Damien standard brush a lot to carve out those main landmarks on the face to help me get him as accurate as possible. 

I brought in my Mingling sculpt as a subtool just to see how I was doing for scale and to get an idea of where I am likely to be placing him on the back of the neck/shoulders. 

I modeled a mouth as a new subtool from a sphere, just dragging with the move topology brush and adding geometry with sculptris mode. I created one tooth as a new subtool and carved out the gum indentations, and once I had one I really liked the look of, I then just duplicated that subtool and altered using the gizmo by stretching and rotating. Once I had the rough mouth I used the move topology brush to try and find the inside of cheeks so it will fit quite well when I stitch it together when retopologizing it. I then repeated the same process for the tongue. 

Update - 4 Jul 2021

I repeated the same steps using rough estimates from my table of measurements to model a rough base model for the Mingling in Maya.

I exported my base model to Zbrush with my measurement sticks for reference. I started to flesh out the model using sculptris to add geometry where needed. I mostly used a combination of the Damien standard, Clay buildup, Trim dynamic, and the Flatten brushes in Zbrush. 

Update - 9 Jun 2021

To start my base mesh for Lizardman I made a cube in Maya with the rough dimensions of the character to use as a bounding box. I added this to a new layer and turned on template visibility. I then created thin polygon sticks that matched the notable measurements from my table eg. Height (from ground to the tip of largest horn) which was rougly 343cm. After I had this set up, I imported some human references to use as image planes. I then started with a cube for the head and extruded down the body adding edge loops where needed and moving vertices until I was happen I had captured the silhoutte of the character fairly well. 

I exported my polygon stick measurements along with my Lizardman model to Zbrush and dropped them in their own sub folder so that I can continue to reference back to them as I get more detailed with the model. Once everything was imported I started out by using the clay build up, trim dynamic, and damien standard brushes to get a more organic rough shape and tried to find some of those landmarks on the model. 

Update - 8 Jun 2021

To get as close to realistic scale as possible I researched the average length of a male head, which I found to be around 8-9 inches long. I will be working in cm in Maya where I will create a base mesh. I took the average of 8.5 inches to use as the size of Flash Gordon's face, which is around 21.59cm long. After finding the size for my head, I created a cube with the same length in Maya (21.59cm x 14.5cm). I imported the line-up concept to use as the front orthographic image plane reference. I then scaled my reference up until Flash Gordon's face matched the cube I had created. 

Now that I had matched up my reference with the size of Flash Gordon's face (the cube), I used the measure tool in Maya to get rough measurements for Lizardman - the character that I have chosen to 3d model. I then created a table so that I can quickly reference back to these measurements when I am blocking in both the Mingling and the Lizardman. This should allow me to get fairly accurate proportions on my models so that they match the concept art. 

Update - 5 Jun 2021

This is the mood board I have created before I start any 3D work on Lizardman. Creating this just helps me to start thinking ahead about the real world animals and creatures, objects, and materials that will hopefully inspire me to create a realsitc 3D interpretation of Giuseppe Di Stasio's design.