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Rendering death and learning about life

Rendering death and learning about life

Álvaro García Lozano
by Artakkin on 31 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

The beginning of my journey as an artist at Animum Creativity Advanced School and learning about effort, impossible goals, and personal motivation

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Rendering death and learning about life

I want to take this entry as an opportunity to give a message to other artists. I will quickly show later other projects, but in this article, my explanation will focus precisely on what has been done wrong, because it is just as important to recognize the positive as the negative parts.

Quick context about my experience.

Before Animum Creativity Advanced School

I'm Alvaro, I studied a video game development & design degree, obtaining basic notions of all fields, but focused mainly on the development and programming part. I decided that I wanted to learn more about 3D, which was what most caught my attention and my current passion. I started with blender, signing up a few months later to Animum School.

Before the zombie

The first project was about anatomy, it took us two months, and it helped me to get the hang of Maya, substance, and ZBrush. We learned by sculpting a muscular ecorché from a base and later adding volume to create our first human.

The next project was the first personal project in which we would each choose a concept and make it from scratch. I always try to go one step further, and I chose something way above the level of someone who has been working with ZBrush for two months, however, the school accepted my concept, seeing my progress. For me, it was more than enough motivation.

I ended up hating it and loving it, but finally, I'm proud to present my first big project.

Concept by Clayton Barton 

The zombie (08/2021 - 11/2021)

I told myself that I do not know how many hours will take me to be a professional, but the sooner I do them, the sooner I will be one. Unfortunately, body and mind are different things, just because you can stay awake doesn't mean you should do it, just because your mind tells you that you can do it doesn't mean it's either way.

I'm not saying it's forbidden to put in that many hours, sometimes you just need to do that, the problem is in the way you do it. It is positive to have a high goal to be able to improve, but that goal has to be the best you can get out of yourself, maybe a little more, but no more, nothing impossible or totally above your experience. 

It is as important to gain experience as to learn to conceive realistic goals. In my mind I always visualized an exaggeratedly detailed result, practically unattainable, thinking that being close to that would be at least impressive, anxiety should not be taken lightly and therefore motivation should never be confused with pressure. Even if you feel good and confident, you have to try to manage it in the best possible way, anxiety attacks in moments of relaxation and a week of poorly managed work can generate a terrible week of anxiety days later.

I managed to achieve a visual result which I am very happy to share with you, I ignore how much talent there is behind my part, I can only assure you how much effort, dedication, and how much anxiety because of unrealistic goals.

As creators, taking care of our minds and our health is always the most important thing.


Quick showreel of the process

─ Zbrush high model

─ Retopo (Maya)

─ Baking and texturing (Substance 3d painter)

─ Cloth (Marvelous, Maya, Substance 3d painter, ZBrush)


This was one of the hardest parts to figure out without experience.

The cloth was made in Marvelous Designer to match the concept, I found that my cloth depended a lot on the pose, without the right pose, the clothes just fall off.

The middle holes were painted in an opacity texture for rendering.

For some extra details, some temporal holes were made in Zbrush using the opacity mask as a stencil to properly create cloth fiber details using TornCloth and Fybermesh.

Other Animum projects  

Cyberpunk videogame character and Unreal showcase

Unreal Demo Reel

Music, Lighting, UI set up, scenario set up, and physics by me.

Animations and NPC´s from mixamo.

3D meshes from an asset bundle.

UI elements from an asset bundle.

Concept by Yuhong Ding

─Zbrush for high model
(The face is manually detailed, R3DS Wrap4d is used to fill some gaps with a real face scan)
─Maya for retopology and low poly objects creation
─Substance Painter / Substance Designer / Hair Strand Designer for baking and texturing
─Blender / Mixamo for rigging and animation
─Unreal Engine / Marmoset toolbag for real-time visualization
─Photoshop / Premiere Pro for final touches

100k tris / 
4 Uv-Sets

I wanted to go one step further and learn some rig and Unreal engine. I would never forget the first time I saw one of my characters coming to life.

Rig made on Mixamo, adjusted and upgraded on blender. Animation retargeting made on Blender with Mixamo plugin.

Videogame low poly Axe 

(2004 tris)

Videogame ready axe with 2004 tris made in Animum Advanced Creativity School 

Retopology & texturing / 1 UDIM

─Maya for retopology

─Substance 3D Painter for baking & texturing

─Marmoset toolbag for real-time rendering

Concept provided by Animum

(When exporting to Viewer, there is a Metalness workflow to Specular workflow conversion, so Albedo & Reflectivity channels are a little messed up)

Stylized Girl 

Stylized character made in Animum Creativity Advanced School based on a concept by Luigi Lucarelli. 3 UDIMS

Concept by Luigi Lucarelli

Unsubdivided animation mesh for topology visualization

Subdivided version close to final view, for better visualization

I hope that my experience can contribute something positive to yours. 

Thanks for your time. 

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