Concept and Idea
I created this image for the CGTalk's 22nd Challenge: "Uplift Universe". The main theme for this challenge was the "Relationship between Humans and Aliens". My main goal wasn't to create a little green alien standing by the side of an astronaut with futuristic clothing... My starting point was actually to make something light and chilled - a magical moment, unique in life and visually strong.
So, my first idea was to create an ambience with curiosity and amazement - a discovery; something new for both sides of the "relationship" (the human and the alien). Making a female was the starting point for this piece (before this, I actually already wanted to create a girl in 3D, just to improve my CG skills!). At this point, I didn't have a final image in my mind but I knew that this was going to be more than a simple project for me, as with this exercise I wanted to create a process, like a live drawing project - finding an end and always improving the "painting". So the first thing I did was to find references for the girl and the alien concept.
I started to model the girl using a reference of the Top Model, Adriana Lima. I tried not to create anything hyper-realistic because I didn't have too much time to work on the image for the challenge - just a month and a half after work and some time to chill out. I was simply playing around and trying to get a sweet picture. So, at this stage, it was good to have a clear methodology. I planned for a month to do the entire elements ready to render, a week to do the large renders and to think about the mood of the image, plus a week to do the final composite. So I started off modelling the most important part of a character: the head (Fig.01).
It's really important to have a good model of the head and to achieve a cool look, because this gives inspiration for the other parts of the body. So as well as the proportions, I started thinking about edge loops and a simple and sweet geometry. It's always good to draw attention to the other elements of the head, and achieve a good relationship with the general form of the head.
After I'd finished the head, the next step was to create the body and the clothing, always using references. I was going for an "ordinary" girl, who was at home before the meeting with this alien.
If you intend for your model to be in an action pose in the picture, or if they'll be rigged in the future, it's a good idea to create them in a Da Vinci pose. Keeping the joints slightly relaxed is the best choice, because a general human pose is relaxed at the joins of the arms and legs, etc. (Fig.02).
After doing the base modelling, the next step was to set the position of the character and also add details - after doing the necessary UVs layouts of course (Fig.03). For the position of the model (because I didn't have too much time), I used the transpose master, from ZBrush. I also used ZBrush to give more detail to the model, always keeping in mind dynamic shapes, interaction, weight and so on (Fig.04).
After modelling the girl, I started blocking in the image in 3D, constantly trying to achieve a good harmony between the two characters (the girl and the alien). To help me in the geometric composition of the image, I used some painting theories from my college days (at the University of Fine Arts - Porto) (Fig.05).