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My VFX journey

My VFX journey

Gus Garcia G
by gusgarciag on 1 Jun 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

The beginning of my journey to become a VFX artist.

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Hi, my name is Gus, I live in Mexico City and since I was a kid I loved movies, writing stories and playing with clay. I dreamt of becoming a VFX artist, creating mainly latex masks, prosthetics, and animatronics. For different reasons I ended up getting my Bachelor’s degree at the Universidad del Valle de México specializing in Corporate and Organizational Communications, but I never put aside my love for cinema, VFX, and computers.  I am a self taught artist, and recently I decided to enroll at the Langara Centre for Entertainment Arts in Vancouver. Supposedly, I was going to be there by now, but due to the Covid-19 it was not possible and now I am on the waiting. So, here it is my second character still WIP and his name is Don Diego de Zama.

Don Diego de Zama is a movie character from the film "Zama". The character is performed by a mexican actor called Daniel Giménez Cacho. I create a base mesh with good topology in Maya and used Zbrush to model the face. For me the face is the most important thing of the whole character and I tried to put as much effort as I can to achieve his likeness. Reference is absolutely important, PureRef is a great program to manage this.

As you can see from the reference the garments are extremely important to help the character communicate, especially the worn and old clothes. I used Marvelous Designer to create the garment, I did it as separate pieces, even though it seems pretty simple I am still learning how to use the software, so it was not an easy task. I think I will give this worn effect in texture. The hat was also fun to do in Maya and Zbrush, I simply loved the shape and I'm thinking to try to get one for myself.

This is my Jorah character from Game of Thrones, this is my first character, I put a lot of work in this piece and it was super challenging.

The first thing I did was the face. I started with a basemesh mostly concentrated on the contours and the placement of eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, etc. Then, I took the geometry back to ZBrush and began to sculpt the face. In the same way, I started with the body and the base of the armor, first in Maya, and then polishing and adding details in ZBrush. One of the main challenges I had during the process was the assembly of the pieces that were part of the character. I had many versions of each piece and organized everything by versions in output and input folders.

When I finished modeling the face and adding secondary forms, I took the model to Mari to paint the maps which I did with XYZ texturing material, color and displacement map, plus, painted the roughness channel. When I finished projecting the displacement, I exported that channel and imported it as alpha in ZBrush into a layer. This way, I was able to project the details painted in Mari on the geometry and increase the intensity if necessary.

The armor and some leather elements such as belts were made within Substance Painter. For example, all the metal is composed of two materials, one light and one dark. In these materials, I also play with the reflectivity of each one to show wear, both have a small color correction. On top of the scratches, I use masks where only the height layer is applied. Finally, I added several layers of dirt, such as green and a little dark red to simulate rust. Substance Painter is super fun and simple program to learn.

Using XGen for the first time was a challenge because it is not simple to understand the behavior of the guides, the maps that control the density and the way modifiers are applied. The first thing to pay attention to is having very clean geometry and adding the guidelines. After that, work on the region and density maps and start adding modifiers.

Finally, avoid penetrations in the mesh. You can use the Cull tool to eliminate them.

Thank you! :D

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