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So far so good.

So far so good.

Carmen Ruiz Ricca
by Graphiccat on 31 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

This is a compilation of my latest project made during my studies at Animum Creativity Advanced School, where I discover not only a profession but such a great community to dive into.

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Three years ago I was kind of lost. I knew what I loved doing (drawing, painting, photography..), but I would not make anything out of it. I needed a push, something challenging that could make me believe in my skills again, so I decided to take up 3D modelling with an online program from Animum Creativity Advance School. I was completely new to all these softwares but none of them scared me away. After half a year of going through 3d production basics, I threw myself into a two-year master's in modelling and texturing.

“All Cats Are Beautiful” was the first character I developed. Considering it had to be about creatures, it was obvious to me it had to be a cat, so I came across Margot Zussy’s concept arts. I saw this four-eared alien cat and that was it. I started the base mesh in Maya, then I moved on to Zbrush. After setting down all primary volumes and wrinkles, I applied some skin alphas, veins and further details.

Texturing in Substance Painter was one of the steps I liked the most. I wanted the colours to stand out so, I used different procedurals for the base plus manually paint layers to blend all colours nicely. The touch that really made it look alive was roughness. I was pretty keen on making differences between body parts and colours. Once I was happy I moved to Maya again to start creating materials, which inevitably would lead to some texture changes.   

Some pose trials after, I set lights and planes within the scene to make the most of the model. I could not believe myself when I saw the result, it looked perfectly alive!   

Some anatomy training was in order. I had a previous human model that I had to work on, so after some retopologizing, I beheaded it, made UVS and off to Substance again. This time I used layers of main colours such as red, green, and blue to make a realistic human tone. Roughness was also applied mainly manually, as well as details like veins, moulds, spots, etc.

I created the materials in Arnold, which required some render trials to get the SSS to work good enough. It was time to try out xGen (for the first time in my case) to make this bust look the most human possible. It’s a matter of patience and redoing, but I was quite happy with the result.

The next project was meant to be cartoon styled, which seemed kind of easier compared to the wrinkled cat in terms of detail, nevertheless, topology was the key as we were going to use this model for blend shapes. Cleanliness was the most important thing to make this work.

For the concept, I chose one from the marvellous illustrator Anna Cattish. I modelled everything in Maya so it would make me more in control of the shapes and polygons, which would save time for the retopology.

While texturing in Substance, I focused on making the textures and patterns interesting as every detail would be created within this step. I loved making patches of clothing and shoes. Afterwards, it was all about posing, lights and rendering.

My last project for this master's was challenging due to polygon limitations, as the character was meant to work in AAA games. I chose one of the great concept arts by Jeremy Anninos.

The base mesh was done in Maya plus modelling of volumes in Zbrush, always taking in mind that further details would all go in textures after retopologizing the model.   

Making the clothing patterns and materials was quite fun. Once I was done with them it was time for hair cards practice. To make them work is a matter of time and patience. Finally, this time the materials were created in Marmoset and rendered afterwards.  

It has been the greatest experience to have gone through all these processes on my own but with such huge help, not only from my teachers and tutors but from my classmates whom I feel really grateful. I learned so much from all this (and still do) that it made me believe in myself again.

I am so happy not only because of the result I got but also because I finally carved out my niche.

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