View all the Finalists for Rookie Awards 2024
Stylized Real-time Characters

Stylized Real-time Characters

Elijah Derick Araza
by elifortune on 1 Jun 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

My Rookies 2020 entry consists of stylized real-time characters that I completed since the start of the year 2020. I would like to say huge thanks to Vertex School, my mentor Ryan Kingslien, and all the inspiring artists who helped and motivated me to continue my 3D journey this year.

6 2431 3
Round of applause for our sponsors

Nurse Satomi Onryō

An original character submission for the ArtHeroes' Superhero 2020 Challenge with a restricted 7 days deadline. I was inspired to make a character based on a type of Japanese Yōkai - the Onryō (spirits who can harm the living) like Sadako from The Ring. With a mix of horror touches from my favorite horror game series - Silent Hill.

An undercover nurse who was sent to infiltrate an opposing force's underground bunker, to assassinate defenseless soldiers silently. She was soon caught by said soldiers when she tried to strangle one of their injured men. She was then thrown into a dark, sealed confinement room with no food or water. As time goes on, she starts to lose grip of her sanity and would hear whispers and loud-pitched screams of dark spirits around her. Eventually, she dies of starvation and self-harm. Terrible spirits that have once been haunting her finally enter her lifeless corpse. Her disfigured corpse stands still, with straps of bandages she controls at will and is ready to seek vengeance once someone unseals the room.

Days 1-4: Spooky Spirit Sculpting

I gathered references on Yōkai & nurse illustrations (as well as actresses study) to come up with a way on how to mix them together to create a horrifying character. Next, the participants were given a set of base meshes from the Artheroes team to use for their superheroes and I used their female base mesh. My plan was to use angular lines since sharp lines indicate an antagonist personality. I did not want to focus too much on anatomy due to the deadline restriction so I mostly covered her face and mouth.

I used various curve brushes for the hair and mesh extraction tool for the uniform, gloves, and bandages (with Panel loops!). As for the cap, I modeled it with Zmodeler by combing two plane shapes and then Dynamesh them together to merge.

Days 5-6: Pose like you're dead

Posing her was fun as I tried to emulate a disfigured zombie type pose like the Silent Hill nurses, I used Transpose Master to move and rotate each part of the body. After that, I added additional bandages that flow with her pose; using Insert IMM brush and then the Bend Curve tool to control the flow of direction.

Day 7: Turbo Mode Activated

The last day was a wild wide as I scrambled to texture and render the character. Thanks to Substance Painter auto-unwrapping for saving my life, it does give sloppy UV maps but the details looked astonishingly good. After ZRemeshing the high-poly character and baking it in Substance Painter directly, I used stylized materials that I bought from SoMuchMaterials to make the process of stylized textures faster, adjusting each color set and then paint the blood manually by hand.

I brought the model to Marmoset Toolbag and my plan was to make the render setup to give a Silent Hill vibe. So, I used Marmoset fog to create an atmosphere and set up a floor that looks endless (thanks to the fog). Various lights were used, spotlights to create both the cool and warm side (as well the volumetric lighting looks), Omnis were used to brighten some of the body parts, and lastly a directional light to create an ambient mood. In the end, I was very excited about how the result looked and impressed by how I managed to complete this in a week.

Rogue Axolotl

A game-ready character that was created during Vertex School's Stylized Character Challenge February 2020 in the span of 4 weeks. The character is based on a wonderful concept by Anna Maystrenko ( and I thanked her for giving me permission to model her concept. I chose her concept since it is a fun challenge to make a semi-human character, in this case, an anthropomorphic axolotl. I would like to say special thanks to everyone's support in the class, Ryan Kingslien, along with Yulia Sokolova for creating this challenge course which helped me motivated to create stylized characters.

Cute Axolotl References & Sculpting

On the first day, I gathered a vast amount of references to help me prepare and understand the appearance of the character. Using a female base mesh, I sculpted the head to match between the look of an axolotl with an anatomical head. As for the body, I tried to follow a normal female body anatomy, though, thanks to Ryan for pointing out some of the stylized anatomy mistakes as I tried to move towards realism instead of creating stylized muscles. The gills (on top of her head) have a stylistic leaf-looking shape so I used Shane Olson's IMM brush along with the bend curve tool to create the gill shapes. I again used the extraction tool to create the clothes for the character. Lastly, I used a combination of 3DsMax CAT Rigging and ZBrush Transpose Master to get the pose of the character right.

Retopology of Pain, Joy of Texturing

As time moves forward, legends said that a prophecy will become a reality, that prophecy is automation tools (I wish in the future). Though, Retoplogizing the character is quite fun especially around the head since it was a challenge to blend the topology flow of the gills onto the head. Next, I used Substance Painter to bake and paint in the textures. Thanks to Ryan's tip on creating stylized materials by using baked lighting and curvature generators which helped me to achieve the stylized look. It was a lot of fun texturing each part of the character and I used a lot of gradients to create a nice color flow. In the end I managed to get around 24,752 tris which is already good for a low poly game character.

Concept by Anna Maystrenko

Alice, The Witch Bunny

This was a personal project that I've finished at the start of 2020. An original bunny character I have designed and my plan was to create a stylized eccentric bunny witch student. This was the first challenge for me since I did not have any concept or a sketch to work out so I did a process where I mix-mash references in my moodboard and I go along with it. It was a bad idea first but I was satisfied on how it looked in the end, thanks to a lot of feedbacks given by my former colleagues.

A huge thanks to Vertex School & SAE Institute Dubai for helping me find and continue my passion for 3D modeling, and I would like to thank everyone who helped me on my journey. Special thanks to Ryan Kingslien from Vertex School, Amit Naval & Bing Ratnapala from SAE Institute Dubai for guiding me on a 3D journey. And Kimberly Reyes, John Sartorio, Christian Alver, Mark Gomis, and others for being supportive along the way.

Comments (3)