I started working on this image sometime back in 2010. My original intention was to create a sci-fi portrait, but as you can see the scene eventually evolved into a much bigger project. Although I usually try to work with sketches and designs, on this project I let my imagination flow and the scene literally formed itself. Fortunately this was my own personal project and this meant there was no pressure on me to finish it, so I had as long as I wanted to make sure I was happy with it.
Because I didn't have a set concept I could add and alter things whenever I wanted to. This was good as it gave me the opportunity to try out new things, which made the project more fun to complete.
Stylization and Modeling
Although my aim was to stylize the characters and avoid having them look too human-like, I did want to make them look technically realistic. When designing the appearance of the two main protagonists I tried to avoid genre clichés. I tried to think more about their personality, history and motives, and keep that in mind for their design. It was important to me that Gregor and Fixie had their own personalities that were obvious to anyone at first sight. This is why they both have distinctive traits. Gregor eventually turned into a stubby frowner and Fixie became a freckled athletic swashbuckler (Fig.01).
Whilst modeling the characters I began with the cruder forms, which I gradually softened and added more detail to. It was important to have a functional base before moving on to the details. I have learned in the past that if you neglect the smaller steps at the beginning you will pay for it later in the process when you create unnecessary work for yourself.
Most of the character models were created in ZBrush. I used ZSpheres to create the base mesh from which the rough model was created. From this point I used the Move and Clay Tubes brushes to get the shape I wanted. The whole process was very intuitive and creative, and didn't involve any unnecessary hold-ups because of topology. Once the basic shape was functional I thickened the mesh and began to refine the model. Usually I use the Clay Tubes brush, which I gradually alter as I develop the model (Fig.02).