**originally a blenderartist.org post...**
Let me start with a quick breakdown of my recent Blender project:
For my youtube channel I decide to share a series of videos where I create a new character from the scratch, trying to speak out a lot what I was thinking during the drawing.
Trying to explaining each decision so people can see there´s no magic behind this process.
I always wanted to watch such thing and I hardly (yet) find it. So I did my take...
I wanted to make an 'original' Orc character. It´s a beaten concept, but I liked to have one on my portfolio anyway.
My idea was to steal from some of my favorite Artists/Styles (Paul Bonner, Mat Dixxon, Disney, Blizzard) and combine with some of my own ideas.
The direction choose was to keep him Green, with a huge tusk BUT add some elements of the Gorilla and a Dog.
Below the first sketches where I was exploring the style/proportions:
The third iteration seemed more interesting to me at the time.
I like to much of the cartoony, simpler look, because of my early influences (Disney, 80´s toys, Blizzard, Capcom...) -
I know some may think this is 'not leaving the comfort zone' but I don´t care, really.
I prefer to leave the Comfort Zone making the best cartoon-style I can (trying to learn more anatomy and how I can simplify it, trying to design with more appealing, trying to push caricature - there´s plenty of stuff I can improve while in the boundaries of the cartoon style).
Moving on. Here´s his armor/vest - again; tried to speak out what my mind was thinking during each choice (eg.: a barrel on their chest started with the dog motif, but in this context can be used as some 'magic potion' this race of orcs can carry to a battlefield and drink to start a berserk mode...)
And here´s the final concept sheet. At this point that was the end of the project.
I've been doing professional 2D Art only for +10 years and this (Concept Artwork, Production Art, Illustration) was the limit of my output in art. Despite my initial background with 3D, I haven´t touch any other 3D software since 2008/2009.
**THEN - BLENDER CAME TO MY LIFE. :)**
This last September I decide to take a break on social media and from entertainment on the internet as a personal challenge. Every year I take a time for myself and I can´t suggest enough to my peers and relatives to do the same. Specially if they are interest in nurture a creative mind.
During this "ZENtember" I decided I was going to use the Internet ONLY to communicate with friends, clients and to Educate myself on something new.
There´s also this old list of Wishful Thinking's that I always carry around. One of the items was to try and learn Blender. Curiously 2.8, the new real-time engine and a promise of an user-friendly'er UI came to my attention at the begging of September. It was a huge bait that I cannot escape.
With that I installed 2.79 and started to play around. Actually bought a great course on Udemy to teach me some basics, but I watched just the first couple of hours. I felt I was going to learn faster If I started a different approach: learning by doing actual Projects. From Simple to Complex.
Here´s those projects. On each character I tried to learn and apply something new:
From this period some points I'd like to share to anyone interested in learning blender:
* Don´t do random things. Pick a mini-project; create a complete asset.
* Don´t try to compare Blender with other tool. One of the reasons I procrastinate on learning Blender is that I was always trying to make it look like Max/Silo. If you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Blender only for a couple of weeks, you'll start to learn the Why's and How's much more faster.
* There´s TONS of information provided by the community. If you don´t know something (how to merge two vertices, eg); you just need to ask for it. Actually I'm surprised by how easy is to learn this tool using Google and Youtube only.
With all that said.
I still don´t know many things about Blender, but after just 2 months of immersing myself on the software/culture, I can say I have now a decent knowledge to offer, at least, an initial *working* 3D asset to any of my clients who ask me for some concept work.
So. Please. If you want to learn this (or maybe any new tool). Immerse yourself for a while and work with the limitations and peculiarities of the thing. Don´t be discouraged fast by a window you can´t stop duplicating or a mouse button that is inverted. ;-)
Back to the Orc project:
Before jump to full 3D I decided to spend some days to test a workflow in Blender using a cut-out type of animation. It worked.
And then I decided to start creating the orc in 3D for real.
I was going with the workflow I was already using (classic subdivision surface + handpainted textures); here's a picture of the last iteration on this style:
But I was thinking THIS was a "Comfort Zone" to me; then I decided to take another route.
On the image below you can see how I used the Skin Modifier applied to a single, isolated vertex to create a base mesh. It was super easy and effective despite being such non-usual workflow...
Goal now was to use a more current, standard, asset-creation method: basemesh, sculpt, retopology and so on.
I never sculpted before (just some busts on, at the time new, ZBrush 2.5/Sculptris) - always found it was too hard....but, again: when you put yourself out of the distractions of the internet, something magical happens. Like....plenty of extra time. :))
My first take on Topology took me +10 hours! I knew already that Blender had addons to help speed up the process. BUT... well, I had time to spend. My first topology was made just with the native tools and the usual process is taught on various youtube videos:
After this I ditch all the lowpoly model and started again using Retopoflow. Managed to get it done in aprox. 7 hours; not so fast but I think the tool is indeed helpful. Specially when it comes to wrap around cylindrical forms.
Here´s the final set of lowpoly objects. Decided to use 3 UV's to create the projections:
On the final assets; I remember to have a hard time trying to get my normal maps baked right.
I asked on twitter and a peer helped me with a tip : "better to not have hard edges on the lowpoly mesh..."
It´s not the cleanest projection, but I was very (VERY) happy to see my first "next-gen" character.
I felt a great urge to have a time-machine and return to early 2000 when Doom 3 was on the making. Maybe I had a chance to work on ID Software. ;-P
Textures were painted on the meshes using the Texture Paint tools; maps were mixed and combined in ClipStudioPaint - I tried to follow the only 'next-gen' texture workflow I had in my memory (that old Dota2 Texture Guide). The main workflow was to combine the AO + Color on the Diffuse texture to give some extra-volume to the character.
I also got some valuable tips from a Polycount thread of some of my favorite (yet!) artists out there: Pior Oberson.
I was aiming Sketchfab to render in realtime BUT with Eevee on the horizon...why not give it a try?
Had to learn a bit about the PBR workflow (until yesterday, a totally alien subject to me) so I could create the remaining texture maps (Roughness and Metalness) and render the different materials a bit properly.
And that´s it.
I hope I managed to write my ideas clearly and I really hope most people don´t get a wrong tone of my words. I'm not here to show-off or marketing myself.
By know, promoting Blender and what the software helped me to achieve is the best think I can do to payback this great and supportive community. If you have a better idea in how can I help, have specific question, please let me know. I'm more than happy to try answer.
If by any chance you want to take a peek of me working on this; check the archived playlist of my Lives on youtube.
That´s it. Wish 'yall a great week.