3D character artist Gabriel Dias Maia shows the ZBrush, Substance Painter, and Marmoset Toolbag workflow behind his Magneto fanart…
Hello! My name is Gabriel Dias Maia. I am a freelance 3D character artist currently living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I will guide you through the workflow I used in my latest personal project “Magneto Fan Art.” The idea here is to give an overview of my process to make a 3D sculpture from the block to the final render.
Step 1: Gathering references
This step is one of the most important during the work. Look for good references, with good lighting and good resolution. During this process I like to use a program called Pure Ref; it is an excellent program and helps to gather all the references together. You can organize it any way you feel best.
Step 2: Blocking the character
Here we begin to sculpt the character. In this part the main objective is to build the character with the correct proportions and volumes, always worrying about having the most correct silhouette possible, without worrying about details. I usually start blocking with a sphere and use the dynamesh to get to the correct shapes and proportions. (Always try to make the silhouette more interesting, so your characters will always have more personality.)
Step 3: Posing the character
This step is very important, so have patience with your character. Pay close attention to the silhouette and try to make it as strong as possible. Use the Transpose Master with the help of the mask and make adjustments with the Move brush. Try to find a strong and attractive silhouette (at this stage I have already blocked the hair, to help me in the dynamics of the pose).
Step 4: Accessories and clothing
After being satisfied with the body of the character, I start to make the clothes and accessories. To model the clothes, I make a mask and create a Polygroup with the shortcut Ctrl+W, and then I use the Zremesher to leave the mesh cleaner and good to work with. I make the accessories in the same way, and I use the Zmodeler brush to give thickness and make secondary details in the pieces. For hard surface parts, I like to use creasePG, it helps me to leave the edges harder without having to add more edges to the model.
Step 5: Hair
The hair is a very important part because it changes the silhouette of the character. In my workflow I use the CurveTubeSnap brush to make the base wicks, which are bigger, and then I make the wicks smaller. I always work with Polygroups so it makes it easier each time to position each part of the hair using the MoveTopological brush. And finally to detail I use an excellent brush created by the master Rafa Souza, the MuscleFibers that gives me an excellent cut to make each hair strand.
Step 6: Decimate and UVs
In this project my intention was only to render the model in the Marmoset Toolbag without doing Retopology, so inside ZBrush I texturize the character through Polypaint, and used the Decimation Master to make the model lighter, so that it could import into Marmoset. To help me with this workflow, I used UVMaster to create the UVs and export them to Render in Marmoset.
Step 7: Generating AO in Substance Painter
To generate extra maps for my character I used the Substance Painter. Importing the decimated ZBrush models, I used Bake Textures to generate the Ambient Occlusion from all parts of the model, so I got better results in the final rendering, with more realistic shadows between the objects of the character.
Step 8: Importing your model and creating materials in Marmoset
In this step, we import the decimated model into Marmoset and create the materials to place our texture maps exported from ZBrush and Substance Painter. I’ve created additional maps for SSS and Fuzz. I used the SSS to make the body texture more like the skin and the Fuzz to create a cloth-like texture.
Step 9: Lighting in Marmoset Toolbag
Now it’s time to create the lights, so that rendering becomes more interesting. First I selected one of the HDRI available in Marmoset. After I created 3 main lights (Key light, Fill Light, and Rim Light). In order to give more realism and create a more dramatic scene, I created 3 lights from the HDRI and 2 Omni Lights with colors that contrasted with the colors of my character, so the model did not look like flat, and the additional lights along with the Rim Light, help to focus the silhouette and areas of interest on the character.
Step 10: Final render
Now, after all the work, it’s time to take our final renders. This step is extremely important, because it is these images that your audience will see. So always try to capture images with interesting camera angles that make your character more attractive. Try to use depth of field to give more depth to your images. Always capture several images so you can find the best possible ones, and try to show interesting angles on your character. Have fun. Thank you for following this tutorial.