Batman: Arkham Origins artist, Aleksandr Kirilenko takes us through the main processes involved in creating his image, Gladiator
The idea for the project came from reading a book that had nothing to do with either gladiators or the Roman Empire in general. The line that gave me inspiration to start the project read something like this: "Coliseum is a monument of human destructiveness.” Scary, and unfortunately true.
I always start my projects by gathering as many references as possible so I don't get distracted when I'm in creation mode. In this case, I started doing some research on the web to get myself familiar with types of gladiators – there were quite a few of them as it turned out – as well as putting together pictures of clothing, weapons and accessories. I decided to go with a combination of Thraex
for my model.
I'm not a fan of huge jaw/Mr. Olympia-looking models, that's why I decided to go with a more natural-looking guy who wasn't all muscle beneath the skin. I wanted the character to look quite heavy and brutal too, so Fedor Emelianenko
was a perfect role model for this. I used another MMA fighter as a reference for the anatomy too, but he was too pumped so I mostly used his pictures as a reference for certain muscles, like pecks for example.
Modeling the body
The sculpting process of the body was pretty straightforward: ClayBuildup for most of the sculpting, a bit of Standard brush here and there, and a custom brush I created solely for this project. Basically, it's the Clay brush with tiny tweaks in the settings (Alpha 35, Brush Imbed 8). I used this brush on the forearms and lower legs where the muscles are long and relatively flat so the brush worked quite nicely in these areas. I'm not sure if I'll use it in my future projects but it was fun experimenting for a change.
Using ClayBuildup, Standard and custom brushes to sculpt the body
Modeling the head
Since I knew that the head would be completely covered by the helmet, I didn't even bother to make it look natural or believable. A general representation of the face features and correct proportions of the skull was all I needed to model the helmet correctly later on.
The completed body sculpt
Modeling the accessories
All the accessories were done in 3ds Max, ZBrush and Topogun. I started off in 3ds Max with a very simple geometry, brought it to ZBrush and started working on the shape, proportions and detailing. If I needed some other elements on a newly created object, for example additional plates on the helmet, I took it to Topogun and created new geometry on top.
Topogun plays a big role in my modeling pipeline, not only for asset creation, but for retopologizing too. With the introduction of ZRemesher though, I'm finding myself using it less and less. Pretty much all the bigger parts of the armor as well as the body itself, which was started with ZSpheres by the way, went through ZRemesher.
I started modeling his helmet. In my opinion it's the most interesting piece of a gladiators' armor which makes them stand out from other warriors. For that reason it was crucial to me to make it look right. I could also tweak the proportions of the body once the helmet was modeled.
Modeling the helmet first made the head easier to refine
Modeling the leg and arm guards
The leg and arm guards were also started in 3ds Max, but since those objects were so simple in shape and form, I modeled some detail in, such as stitch lines, in 3ds Max rather than doing it in ZBrush. It's a common thing for me to model this type of detail for a couple of reasons: the end result looks more accurate and clean and it's perfect for unwrapping.
The fabric look of the guards was achieved by using the NoiseMaker in ZBrush. There are many ways you can create this type of detail but I chose probably the easiest and fastest one.
The process is as follows: first of all, make sure the object is unwrapped (UV Layout and UV Master are my tools for making UVs). Then in NoiseMaker, change the preview mode from 3D to UV; select the Stripes pattern in NoisePlug and play with the rotation controls so the lines align vertically on the object. Apply the surface noise and go back to NoiseMaker; change the rotation controls so the lines would go horizontally this time, and finally apply the surface noise.
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Sculpting the leg and arm guards and applying modifiers to get the right effect