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Stylized Characters Collection 2023-2024

Stylized Characters Collection 2023-2024

Antonio Nikolovski
by AntonioNikolovski on 24 May 2024 for Rookie Awards 2024

Collection of models i created during my studies at M3DS Academy.

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The projects in this portfolio were made during my time at M3DS Academy. They showcase the work I've put in to the study and making of 3D characters. I would like to extend my gratitude towards the instructors who have been with me, supporting and guiding me trough all of this projects. 

Thank you for taking the time to look trough them and I hope you enjoy!

Gaia, Lost Guard

This character is based on a really amazing concept by L Air.

For this project, my aim was to create a game-ready character while also striving for the highest visual quality possible. The character was fully sculpted in ZBrush, and afterwards was transferred to Maya for retopology and UVs. After the bake, the painting and rendering were very important in achieving an eye-catching and stylized 3D model that closely resembled the original reference.

For the painting, I used a straightforward approach, starting with a darker base color and gradually layering lighter tones to add detailing where necessary. By maintaining a degree of roughness in the painting process, rather than going for complete smoothness, it contributed to a more painterly aesthetic for the character.

Although the painting process was mostly done by hand, I took advantage of a few tools such as curvature and dirt generators to add easy details. Additionally, I used a secondary, smaller mesh for the red body and arms, playing with the opacity to imply that there is depth to these areas.


The model was fully made in ZBrush and here is the breakdown from the block out to the final version:


The leaves were made by using cards with textures I put together in Substance Designer. After that I used those textures and spread them out using the tile sampler to get the material for underneath the cards. I also found a really simple and easy way to place them on the base. You basically make the mesh you want to place them on live, adjust the pivot of the card to match the leaf's base, and then it's just a matter of copying, pasting, and rotating the leaves until they look just right.

Character Outline

For the characters outline, I used a simple method inside of Maya with Arnold's toon shader which I then converted into physical meshes.
You can check out my workflow below: 

Empress Ling

For this project I wanted to showcase my skills in making human characters, going through every step in the process until they are game ready. I used ZBrush to make the body of the model, then Marvelous Designer and Maya for the clothes and then went back to ZBrush to work a bit on the clothing and other stuff I missed.

For the painting, unlike Gaia, I used a lot more generators and alphas while using way less hand painting to still achieve a good-looking stylized character. Afterwards I made the hair using XGen and started to work on the rig. Ling was the first character I properly rigged and animated with an idle pose and served as amazing learning experience, providing hands-on experience into character animation.


Rig and Xgen

Falduin, The Blind



For the scales I used a mesh I had separately made and converted it into an IMM brush. Afterwards I adjusted the depth of the brush to make it so it goes into the body and then started dragging each scale onto it's surface.

Rig and Xgen

Side Note

When I started making the character Empress Ling I really wanted her to have a cool companion, or some sort of mythical creature by her side. So, when making the dragon I tried to make them feel connected and for them to look good together. Even though they are different projects, I wanted them to feel as though they are one.

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my work!

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