Hi there, my name is Petr Nasirov. I'm a 24 year old character modeler from Belarus. "Judge Death" was created for the game art challenge Comicon'09 and it won 1st place. Before starting I spent about 2 days researching comic characters. When I saw Judge Death I instantly thought, "I want to model this character" because he looked interesting, unusual and fun.
Searching for references is one of the most essential stages. The more time you devote to studying the features of the character, the fewer mistakes you will make. At this stage you need to study all the detail of the character's structure and the design and material of his clothes, to figure out whether everything is functional and comfortable. Character creation is a complex multistage process. If you find a mistake near the end of the process it will take much more time to correct it. If worst comes to worst you will even have to modify the high and low-poly models, and the textures.
Regarding the modeling of the Judge Death, I took advantage of all the references I managed to find on the internet using the Google search engine. There is a great variety of designs of Judge Death, some of their elements appeal to me, some not. One poster became a reference for a hand as I liked the details and color. Another poster gave me an idea for the bird on the character's shoulder. The combination of Judge Death images helped me to create my own version of the character. The more reference I found the more detailed my version of the final character became.
Base Low-Poly Model
After studying the references that I had gathered, I got down to creating a base low-poly model. Primarily this stage is necessary to reveal the right proportions of the character and to define a general silhouette. At this stage I use the standard 3ds Max materials to set different colors to the model elements. This helps me to see not only the silhouette, but also the combination of the brightness of the different elements (Fig. 01). From this early point it is more convenient to work with a low-detailed model. You have to focus on ensuring the silhouette is correct.
After I am happy with the silhouette I proceed to the next stage: high-poly modeling. When preparing a model to export to ZBrush, I create a high-poly model with no detail in 3ds Max by means of the modifier Turbo Smooth (Fig.02). Pleats on clothes and folds on bodies, and small details like this should be made in ZBrush.
Export To Zbrush
When the high-poly model without details is ready, I delete the modifier Turbo Smooth and export the model in .obj format selecting the ZBrush Preset in 3ds Max 2009 (Fig. 03). For convenience I export the model to ZBrush in parts with the help of the command "Export selected", when the parts are symmetrical I delete the halves.