In this tutorial you’ll learn how to create a cool stylized character. We will cover everything you need to know to produce a professional-looking image for your portfolio in Blender – modelling, sculpting, texturing, rigging, hair particles, lighting and rendering.
The concept art of the character, Milo, was done by the artist Rodrigo Wolff for a 3ds Max course by the Brazilian Mascoteria School. You should check them out because they have fantastic work. I decided to use their cool concept art and make a proof of concept to convince myself that Blender is a good replacement for my beloved Softimage (yes, I’m that old school!).
Bear in mind that this is quite a big project if you’ve never modelled a character like this before, so take your time. There is no deadline here. For me, this process took five full weeks of work that were spaced out along my free time, but for some people it could take less time and for others it could take more. This is not a race. All that matters is the final result.
01 INITIAL BLOCKING
Import the concept art as image references (using the Add menu on the top of the viewport). Create several UV spheres and use them to block out the main proportions of the character using only the scale, rotate and move tools, and sometimes, if needed, move the vertices around in Edit Mode. You can also use other geometric objects like cylinders for the neck and torso. This stage is very important, because if the proportions are not done correctly the model will look strange later on.
02 MERGE THE MESHES
At this point the scene must have a lot of objects lying around on the outliner. You can start joining them together. Join them in six groups: head, hair, torso, arms, hands and legs. Use Ctrl+J or go to the Object menu>Join. Apply all transforms (Ctrl+A) – this will help brush deformation while sculpting.
Although the objects are joined together you may notice that they are still independent from each other, because the geometry hasn’t changed. For a change like that to happen we need to remesh it. Go to Sculpt Mode and on the right side of the screen on the Active tool settings, look for the Remesh tab.
04 SCULPTING I
If your model looks like a stickman do not worry, we are going to fix it right now!
Go to the Sculpt Mode and use the Grab brush with a large radius size. We'll be working on the overall look of the character to lock down the silhouette and proportions of the body. If you feel that you’ve achieved a point where you cannot improve the character any more, go to Object Mode and join the parts you think are ready to become one, then repeat step 03 again.
05 SCULPTING II
Go back to Sculpt Mode and give it more detail with a smaller sized brush. At this point you should be comfortable enough to start using the tools on the top of the sculpt bar (use Ctrl to invert the functionality of the tool) to add more detail.
If you need more resolution to sculpt on your geometry you can add a Multires modifier and subdivide it (but be careful, the more subdivisions, the slower your computer will get, manage it wisely).
06 HIGH-RES MODEL
When you’re done sculpting you should have your high-res character ready for retopology. Only the hair and the eyes should be separated. If by any chance you left any separated objects that you would like to join, this is the right time to do it.
Apply the Multires modifier if you have it.
The model you have so far cannot be the final model because it doesn’t have the right topology flow. Having a correct topology on the models will help the mesh to deform correctly when it’s moved. Take your time to do it well. This is the most time-consuming part of the project, but be patient.
To start this process create a plane and, in Edit Mode, move it until it’s parallel to a part of the body that you would like to start the process with (usually I start with the face where a correct topology flow would be the most important in an animated character). Activate the snap tool, on the top of the screen, for easier modelling along the preexisting surface. Use the Polybuild tool or just extrude by hand (E key) the vertices and edges.
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