Since childhood, I've been a big fan of comic books and have always tried to include some of this style in my work. I recently had the opportunity to participate in an annual contest hosted by renowned GameArtisans.org site, the Comicon Challenge 2009. The challenge consisted of creating a representation of a favorite action character from a comic book, no matter if it was hero, heroine or villain. As this is a competition specifically related to character creation for games, there were some restrictions like not being able to use more than 10k triangles in the final model and having to create 2048x2048 texture maps.
One of the comic book and movie characters and that I have consistently followed is the Incredible Hulk. I've always wanted to make one that looked as real as the movies, but had the likeness of the comics. But because there are so many versions created by different artists already and an equal number of representations in 3D, I thought about doing an unusual one.
Thus was idea of making Red Hulk was born. He's a character not well known in movies or games, or even in comic books. The character is an evil version of Hulk, created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness (one of my favorite comic artists) and according to them, he is more aggressive and intelligent, besides having all the abilities of Hulk. The main difference with the original Hulk is that Red Hulk does not become stronger with anger, but rather radiates increasing levels of gamma radiation. In some editions, he is also called Rulk to distinguish him from the original Hulk character, but personally I prefer the original name.
Keeping all of this in mind, I began searching and collecting images that I could use as a references for creating my own version of this strong character. Then I began work on this new challenge.
High Poly Modeling and Sculpting
The first thing I do with this kind of character for games, is to create a high-poly model, which later on I can use to transfer all the geometry detail to the texture maps.
Starting from a box and by using the polygon editing tools, I began creating a base mesh in Max and exported it as an obj file. Once inside ZBrush, I imported this basic form and began to move vertices with the Move brush, looking for a more defined shape (Fig.01). When I was satisfied with the overall proportions, I retopologized it, always trying to keep a balanced number of quad polygons in the model's entire surface. From this model I created other parts such as the pants and hair, making a selection by using the CTRL key and drawing a mask selection with the Standard brush (Fig.02). Once I'd made the selection (shaded in the model) I used the Extract function to create the new object, which was added automatically to the SubTools panel (Fig.03).
When I had all the elements organized, I started working on the overall body anatomy. First I enabled the symmetry button in the X axis and began to move vertices, looking for a good balance in the proportions. Then I added a new subdivision level to the model and began to shape muscles by using the Standard brush (Fig.04). To achieve a better definition, I subdivided the mesh again and kept using the Standard brush in conjunction with the alpha 39 to accentuate the separations (Fig.05).