My name is Tamara Bakhlycheva and I'm a freelance character artist also known as First Keeper. This is my first tutorial about making an "old school" low poly 3D character. But what does "old-school' exactly mean? Simply put, it means the model is not going to contain many triangles and it will have full hand-painted Diffuse textures, Specular maps and Glow maps but no Bump or Normal maps.
My tutorial will start with the basic modeling steps and I'll try to show the tricks I use for creating good looking models, hand-painted textures and for presenting the image well upon completion. It may be different from your own pipeline and I don't claim to be 100% right on all aspects, but I'll share my workflow and I hope that some of these tips will be useful for you.
The first step in creating a character is an idea or concept art. Unfortunately concept art isn't my strong point, so I think you would be better off learning about this from a different artist. If you're going to create a non-commercial character you can use another artist's concept. Most 2D artists would be happy to see their character made in 3D, just don't forget to ask the author's permission. So I did. I decided to use a gorgeous series of concepts of a character called the "Demon Chaser" made by Slipgatecentral (Vadim Bakhlychev - slipgatecentral.deviantart.com). These were made for Dominance War III but were never created in 3D (Fig.01 - 07).