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Create stylized character scenes

By Germán Zamorano Córdoba
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 22nd May 2015
Software used:
3ds Max, Photoshop, ZBrush

Games industry professional Germán Córdoba walks us through the creation of his characterful personal work Abandoned Gas Station made in 3ds Max, ZBrush
and Photoshop



When I started this piece, I had no clear concept; I just knew I wanted something with a cartoon style, totally different from what I usually do at work. At first, my idea was just to create a character to practice modeling, but when I finished I liked it so much I decided to contextualize it and develop a scene.


I modeled the character in 3ds Max in a neutral position. Even though the model was intended to be part of a static image, I decided not to take the risk of creating it in the final pose, just in case I wanted to change it later.

I always start my models from the head, because it's the most difficult part and the one I usually spend most time on. My modeling technique for this part is to start modeling with a plane, turn it into editable poly and extrude edges.

Final head topology

For the body, I started with a cylinder primitive for the torso and the limbs. Then I adjusted the proportions and started to refine the mesh.

I then started modeling the index finger and, making small adjustments, I created all the other fingers. Next, I modeled the rest of the hand, emphasizing the topology.

For this piece, I searched for sole reference images for the footwear. Once I found one that suited what I wanted, I started to model the pattern of the sole and built the rest of the mesh extruding edges from that geometry.

Biker modeling finished

Sole modeling process

When I was happy with my model, it was time to unwrap. I started by making a basic unwrap in Roadkill UV, an excellent free program that helps you to unwrap your models quickly. Next, I exported the mesh back to 3ds Max to add the final touches and pack the UV's.

Most of the time, I maintained a uniform texel density, although sometimes it is necessary to increase the size of some of the UVs islands that need additional detail. If you plan to do a static image, this is quite a straightforward task. You can just increase the size of the UV's close to the camera and reduce the size of the ones further away from it.

The biker UV's finished

Once the model is completed, I take it into ZBrush to add detail and bake maps that will help me later in the
texturing phase.

Cloth detailing in ZBrush


The bike is not based on any particular model, as I have no idea about motorbikes. I just gathered some photos of motorcycle parts, especially engines, modifying and adjusting the designs to fit into my motorbike's frame. Most of the pieces were modeled from primitives, nothing complicated.

The motorbike model ready for painting

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