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3D Game Artist in the making

3D Game Artist in the making

Niklas Frogner
by niklasfrogner on 30 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Hey, this is my first time entering The Rookies and I'm really excited to share my work. I've always had a dream of working in the game industry but never had the guts to go for it. But last year I finally started my path on becoming a 3D Game Artist by enrolling in Noroff School of technology and digital media.

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"Kira" Character Creation

Kira is a fictional character created by me. I've always been a big fan of the fantasy genre, and I've probably spent a few hours too much playing Overwatch. So these combined gave me a good idea of how I wanted Kira to look.  I'm not too much of a concept artist so I needed some help developing the concept. 

Unfortunately, I don't have the name of the concept artist, but his artstation is - I provided him with a visual guide and my character sheet for the character. And he brought me along through the thumbnails, detailed thumbnails and optional designs, color palette, and finally the character turnaround.

I made my base mesh in zbrush. Exported it to 3ds Max for clothing blockout. I feel more confident using Max for things with hard surfaces and straighter lines etc, and I'm more proficient in Max so it felt natural to do this part in Max. When my block out was good I took the Model back into Zbrush for Sculpting and this is the final result of my high poly.

The retopology is done in 3Ds Max. Lod's isn't covered in my curriculum until next year, but after listening to the Artstation podcast I learned that optimizing for games is something a lot of new artists lack knowledge about. So I did some research and found out that for a lod-1/ playable character are often around 30k polys for the body and 7-12k polys for weapons and accessories.  With this in mind I aimed at getting the total amount of pollys bellow 40k.

My final poly count: 38.6K

My unwrapping and UV's are also made in 3Ds Max. I used Marmoset Toolbag 3 for baking. And substance painter for the texturing. Because my character is stylized I made sure to bake lighting into the textures, I also used the roughness channel to simulate metalness. This way I didn't need too many textures and could aim for a higher resolution - 4k. 

I made 1 set for the weapons and accessories, 1 set for the head, and 1 set for the body and clothing. All being 4096.

To be able to pose Kira I brought the Lowpoly model into Maya for the rigging and animation. This is where I made 2 poses; 1 idle/ casual pose, and 1 action pose. 

Once I was happy with the poses in Maya I exported them over to Marmoset for the final renders.

For the action pose, I wanted to showcase the character's ability to use magic. So I made some simple opacity masks in photoshop and set the color and emissive in marmoset. And to ground the character more into the scene I also made a Stylized Cobblestone texture in Substance Designer.

This is the showcase of Kira that I made for my school exam.

I really enjoyed making Kira, and I learned a ton during the process. Hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

The Flying Engineer's Inn

This scene is a scene I made for one of the final exams of my first year as a 3D Game Art Student. My goal of this was to make a game asset that is optimized for use in a game engine like Unreal. I also had enough time at the end of the project to bring it into Unreal 4 and make a cool environment to showcase the models.

The Concept

The concept is made by: Helga Tanyushkina

My goal was not to strictly follow and stick to the concept, but to have it as a close guide so I have taken some creative freedom in the end.

The Inn, Air Ship, Platform, and accessories are made in 3DS Max, with details sculpted in a ZBrush, baked in Marmoset, and textured in Substance Painter. 

I then had to quickly learn Unreal 4 as a good way of showcasing my models. I used a bought asset pack to build the environment. (

 This gave me the opportunity to really show the scene as I see it in my mind.

The house, and props - Trimsheet with HP bake

For building the house, a platform with elevator, and the props I really wanted to create a trim sheet that I could use to add textures and drag and drop the UV's into that would allow me greater freedom to create.
So I ended up making base meshes in 3Ds Max for every piece and making the high poly details in Zbrush. I used placeholders for the flatter surfaces like glass and metal. I did the baking in marmoset and baked everything down to planes. And I used Substance Painter to make the texture sheet. I made sure to have slots for all my high detailed assets like the rooftiles and wood planks and beam. But I also made more general slots of texture like for metal, glass and a general wood tile. 
The texture set is 4k, with Albido, Normal, Roughness, Metalness and opacity.

Having a really universal texture set like this made it really easy to add in props at the end. And I really do think that's what added in that little extra to make the scene come alive in unreal.

Airship - Custom Texture with HP bake

For the airship that I made in this scene, I wanted to show that I could make a solid custom model with its own texture. So I made the base meshes in 3Ds Max and brought it into Zbrush where I made a high poly sculpt of everything. I also put a lot of focus on the engine to get some good practice baking hard surface models.
The texture set is 4K with Normal, Albido, Roughness, Metalness and Opacity.

Game Props

Kiras Katanas  

These are the katanas I made for Kira. They are based on the original katanas but I added in some details like the crystals and lightning damage to make them fit Kira better and give a better stylized look.

Monk Bamboo Staff

This is a stylized monk bamboo staff I made to do a study on stylized game art. It was also a way to practice optimizing for game engines. So this prop is also blocked out in 3ds Max, sculpted in Zbrush, baked in Marmoset, textured in Substance painter, and rendered in Marmoset. I made this staff in January/February.

This is a hero prop that I imagined a Pandaren from the World of Warcraft universe would use wondering the world. 

Stylized Diorama of a Japanese House

This is another stylized study I did in January. Where my main goal was to create a low poly game asset while practicing sculpting and baking the details into the texture sets. It was also a really good practice of learning how to make modular models. I made this in January/February this year.

These are the modular wood pieces I made for the diorama. I also made a modular set for the walls, roof and "others"(stones, lanterns etc). This way I could also make a separate textureset for each material; 1 for wood, 1 for walls, 1 for the "other" and 1 for the roof.

Here you can see my low-poly with normals applied, and the wireframe view:

Here are my final renders, rendered in Marmoset. 

Japanese Shrine

One of the more interesting things about this whole scene was creating the shrine.  And it was building this that I learned how to make my own low poly foliage assets. Which makes up the leaves on the tree and the grass on the ground. These were made as models in 3ds Max, and I used substance designer to bake them down to a plane and modify the texture sets.

Thanks for having a look at my first entry into The Rookies, hope you enjoyed my work and I hope to bring even better stuff next time around!

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