Sometimes I start to work with a concept in mind; sometimes I have no idea and just start to work. In this case it was a second option. I started doodling in Photoshop with no purpose, and then some thoughts about forests, night and live trees started to occupy my mind. At some point I even figured out a tree with a face.
I then got distracted from that concept, because it looked too obvious to me and I kept searching until the idea of a sleeping baby satyr under the tree appeared. How I did that? It's just like when we stare at the clouds and see different shapes within them (Fig.01).
After I had a concept I made a sketch in 3D. I created very basic geometry to represent the actual objects, and tried out some different camera angles and lighting setups. At this stage I was able to deviate from the initial concept to find a more interesting execution or new idea. Also I tried to keep everything undefined for some time, because when something is done, my mind just sticks to that and it is hard to imagine that the character or scene could look another way. Distinctness locks the imagination.
On the technical side, I used V-Ray for rendering, planes in place of bushes, trees exported from OnyxTree, roots from splines and the basic model of the satyr was modeled quickly in ZBrush. Poses for my characters are always done with the Transpose tool in ZBrush. The creation of a scene of this kind takes no more than few hours and saves a lot of time in the future, because you don't need to worry that much about composition and lighting when you keep going through to the final modeling and texturing (Fig.02).
I liked everything at this stage, so let's move on. I changed the proportions of the satyr and added some details to him. The previously created splines, which symbolized roots, I converted in geometry and exported them with the tree trunk into ZBrush. After that I attached the roots to the tree trunk with retopology. I finally added details to it with standard ZBrush brushes and a few homemade alphas (Fig.03).
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