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John Payne | Real-time Character

John Payne | Real-time Character

Adam James Marlow
by adammarlow on 1 Jun 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

This is a Real-time game character model that I worked on personally. The goal of this project was to try and see if I can achieve in areas that I know I needed help in. You will see below what I have learned. This Character is supported with guidance by Vertex School, Ryan Kingslien and its lovely community.

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Before we move on reader, let me just interrupt you for just a minute.

I know you just started but I would like to thank two people real quickly before we keep on going.

Ryan Kingslien of Vertex School: This man has been really going above and beyond in pushing my fellow students and I to really work on our journeys. He has a lot on his plate, and the fact he is able to somehow do it all is very admirable.

Charidimos Bitsakakis: The awesome and talented concept artist that made the Character during the Artstation Wild West Challenge 2 Years ago. I came out nowhere saying that I wanted to make his character and he was willing to help me out almost immediately. Whenever I needed a small direction, I would email him and he would respond back within a day. I don't even know this man personally, but I know he has my gratitude.

Many Links and Resources will be in its own section at the bottom.

A face only a mother would love. 

Actually, If you have Snapchat, his face is recognizable on the filters they have there.

" Can't wait to civilize this place. A man should be able to shoot, and look good doing it. And appreciate the feel of a good fabric too.

I'm not afraid to get dirty. But in the morning you'll see me with polished shoes...and guns!

Oh yes, there WILL be order. Order and finesse! " - John Payne

One of my goals of this project is Material Definition. I want you, the reader, to see what that material is at first glance. This belt is a great example of being tricky because it holds 6 different types of leather. My job is to convey to you, those 6 different leathers with their own age, worn, and feel.

When creating the design of the Hat Machinery. There were a few things that I wanted to tackle against the usual Steampunk trope. I must have become cynical on the genre during research but I felt that a lot of Steampunk has a lot of complex pieces and parts that just doesn't make sense or feels tacked on. I wanted to put more of an industrial spin on it while still maintaining the over complicated designs of late 1800's technology. Also still have it make sense, every part has screw, nut or ever welded together. Even I do not know what is under the hat, leave that to the imagination.

Also yes, that Monocle does work like a magnify glass. Ew, You can see some of the bumps on his cheek.

The Good, The Bad, and the is up to you to decide...

The project was honestly a kind of scary one for me. There is just so many factors that I had to learn and had to get better on. The concept  leaves a lot of room of interpretation. I chose concept because I saw what it could do for me and what I needed to know in order to do it well. 

I need to tackle what I did not want to do.

The big 4 for me that I lacked extensive knowledge in would be Hard Surface, Material DefinitionClothes, and Hair. 

John Payne had it all and I think he was the right choice to practice my skills. Unfortunately, his concept had his crazy gyro cog gun and I got really in depth with designing it. I got stuck in the designing process that I knew I did not have enough time for Rookies. I will take that loss as a lesson. On the other side, I have gained a large amount of hard surface knowledge as a trade off.


Psst... Snapchat Filter Face recognition still works on these guys as well.

Wireframe and Texture

The Ground has an interesting story. It actually was a last-minute addition and I had no idea what to do with it. If you notice in the picture, the ground is created using Quixel Mixer. I have never used it before, never been trained on it and wondered why I bothered. Well after watching the intro videos Quixel provided, I really love the program and it is insanely powerful with Megascans. It is definitely something I will use  more. It took half a day with the program to make me fall in love with it. 

This type of UV breakdown is awesome to me. I got inspired by Rodrigo Goncalves's Blacksmith Art. Looking at that Breakdown, it shows that where you set and organize your UV's matter. 

I found a tool that has really helped me out in my UV organization in general. I will mention it a little later.

When making these items. I had a bit of a tough time deciding on where goes what. In the end, I decided it would be easier if I organized it by Material and where its located on the body.

Anyways, here are some in-depth breakdown on some of my processes. Not all of them, I can go on for weeks. Don't tempt me. But some oversight and thoughts.


Speaking of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Time for some self reflection after the project. So here are some of the things I honestly think:

Overall, I am happy. Victories are measured by the man. It is about the journey and I do not intend on hopping off it. I think I succeeded in what I wanted to do. I cannot wait until my next character. I want to write down my goals with that character and see if I can hammer that down as well.

The Good: I gained a whole new understanding on the areas that I needed help on. I got exactly what I was looking for and now I want to go even deeper. I am personally happy with my Material Definition. I also really like the gun.

The Bad: As a artist, there is always something we don't like about our work. Happens to everyone. I think we have to see those as well, take it, and see how we can improve on it. I think the human anatomy sculpting could use some tweaking. Don't worry, I am already helping that with a Facial Anatomy course at Vertex School that I just impulsively signed up for 4 days ago as I post this. Whoops.

The Ugly: The uglyness is that this project took a little longer than I thought. Speed comes through time so I am not that worried. I am more bummed that I did not get his rifle complete in time. 

Hey Wait, Don't leave yet, There is still some more!

I am not kidding when I say that I will look to the ends of the earth to learn new nooks and crannies of 3D Art. I want to spend some time and list some of the tools that I found and have used. They all proved very useful in some way. These people spent their time and effort to help make these, I might as well give back in some way:


Hardmesh is basically this boolean based Maya plug-in that can help you combine objects to create new shapes. Now there are some warning signs to using Booleans though. One would be that you can risk your clean nature of your hard surface modeling. I stuffed it in my workflow and it is easy to get used to and to speed up your process. Also the customer support has been very nice dealing with me.

Check it out here.

Lennard Claussen's Toolkit

This toolkit is used in the workflow of extremely talented hard surface artist, Lennard Claussen.  I obtained it by purchasing one of his tutorials that he teamed up with His script has the ability to mirror duplicate, duplicate among surfaces, orient among surfaces and many more.  One tool that I love is that you can make any edge you select into a curve. You heard me right.

Check out the Tutorial here.

PolyRaven UV

PolyRaven is a MEL script for Maya that gives you a window that is dedicated to dealing and organizing your UVs. This script helps out a lot with my speed of UV layout. It can orient all my UVs or even Distribute them with specified settings. I would really recommend it, you will still need to UV manually, but it helps.

Check it out here.

I still want to give credit where credit is due. I want to mention and reference a lot of the programs and knowledge that I gathered to see if they can help you out as well. I am going to shotgun these.

Schooling and tutorials:

Vertex School - Has great teaching to be a 3D Artist in the modern industry. Ryan Kingslien is a great mentor and also has a good community of other artist who are in the similar boat. Website

Shane Olsen's 3D Character Workshop - Very talented artist and also a very supportive guy at that. More focused on Stylized 3D Character making. Website

XMD Academy - I went to this place for the Hair Course they offered by Ashley Sparling, It definitely felt worth it. They also offer a lot of resources if you get a membership there. Website

Level 80 - If you are doing 3D and you have not heard about them. Click the link right away.  This site offers insight on how to make 3D art in general on the daily. One of the best resources. Website

Adam Skutt Hair Tutorial/Basemesh - This amazing artist has a gumroad where he offers as hair tutorial that is still one of the best around. I also use the Basemeshes he sells for my human bipedal models.  Gumroad

Tim Bergholz / Chamferzone - This man is a expert of his craft. Highly adept at Hard Surface. Store

Texturing XYZ - They provide the worlds most highest quality skin scan maps. They also have a lot of tutorials that are useful. Website

Georgian Avasilcutei - A Extremely talented Character artist. When he makes his characters, he actually streams the entire process on Be sure to follow him if you haven't already. Artstation Twitch

Face Texturing with Magdalena Dadela - This is single handed one of the best face painting tutorials ever and it still holds up. Video

Simon Fuchs Gun Tutorial - Another talented hard surface modeler. Definitely check out his tutorials. Store

Pascal ACKERMANN Marvelous to Production Tutorial - There is not really too much production videos for Marvelous Designer. This is a helpful for game production. Store

Anatomy For Sculptors - This book is a godsend for human anatomy. I would recommend a hard cover book. Amazon

Sticky Bones Rig - This is a real life pose figurine that is made for Animation and poses. It is really high quality and can perform a lot of ranges. Website

Guide for Weapon Modeling for Games - a large source of highly detailed information regarding creating Guns for Video Games. It is up to date, free, and useful. Website

DanielBoschung Cartography - A Website that is a great reference for seeing people of any age and size faces in extremely high resolution. Website

Blender Guru - This guy is great for the community. He has a lot of YouTube Videos that explains so much. I used his lighting tutorials personally for a refresher. Channel

Siamak R - This guy is a Character Artist and he has recently been making videos to help other character artists like myself. He provides a lot of good info for being in the industry. Channel

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