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Making Robocat

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Date Added: 10th November 2016
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Rakan Khamash takes you through his process of creating Robocat from concept to final render...


In this tutorial I'll be showing you how I approached modeling this character and sharing the progress and some rendering outputs and post work effects. 2D concept by one of my all time favorite artists Creature box, basically half of my gallery is inspired by their characters.

Step 01: Modeling

I started with a character concept by CreatureBox (they are one of my all time favorite artists). I start by creating simple blockouts of the different shapes and parts in MODO. I continued to add the components but I didn't focus too much on the details, which came later; it was much more important to get the proportions correct and closely follow the concept. I kept symmetry turned on as I find it easier to model with it on and then break symmetry once I had finished the modeling and get to the posing stage. With the bulk of the character modeled I moved on to adding the little details such as the grill in his nose and his spine. The next bit of modeling was a lot of fun because the concept sketch only has the front view; this meant I could give my imagination free reign to design the back of the bot. I added parts and details that fit with the look and feel of the original concept but also added my own little touch.

Blocking out simple shapes

Building up the model

The model is ready for the next step

Step 02: Look development and color

With all the modeling done I moved on to posing Robocat and connecting the free floating parts to the body. I decided it would be much easier to model these parts once I had finished posing the main parts such as the arms. I also started testing different lighting option to find the mood for the final image.

As the concept is in black and white I was able to use my imagination to shade and color the character. I tried different colors but found that yellow really made the character pop, so I went with yellow and orange shades. I also made a base for him to stand on.

Robocat is posed and ready to go

Step 03: Finalizing details and pose

For this step I finished all the little details and refined the pose. I added some back pipes and also remodeled the base so that it matches the overall look of the model and original concept. I often go back and forth adding and deleting details on my models, I do this because I'm never 100% sure about which angle the final image will be taken from so I like to make sure that the model is finished and detailed from all angles.


Step 04: Light setup

Lighting setup is an important part of any piece of work. To light this scene I placed two area lights on the bot's left and right, one directional light on shining from the left side to highlight a focus point on the eye, and finally, one spot light with volumetric from the back to give him a soft rim light with a few light rays. This helps to add some depth and separate between the background and foreground.

Lighting the model

Step 05: Setting up shaders and materials

For this step I added materials and shading to the model. I did most of the parts with procedural texturing, I didn't bother with UVs. MODO is really great for this type of texturing. To make the dirt and scratches I used an AO map and set it on the edges with a darker color, this is a cheap hack but works fine in most cases.


Step 06: Raw render

The final raw looks a bit washed out, which is fine for this stage because I try to get 60 to 70% of what I need for the raw render and then do some post work and tweak things. I did a few render passes (Color, AO, Material ID, and Shading Incidence). The depth was rendered in MODO with 1024 AA samples to get a clean result. This is one of my favorite steps to get stuck in to, I did the final color grade and added some extra punch to the image, as well as sharpen it a little bit and focused the light around the model.

Raw Render ready for post work

Model after render passes

Step 07: Adding the last details

Looking at the results of the previous step everything looks great but is there more that I could add? I realized that Robocat looked too clean for a robot so I decided to add some dirt and scratches here and there on the model to add some realism; although not too much as I didn't want to overdo it. With the dirt added I was happy with the finished result. Thank you for reading this making of and I hope it has been useful to you.


Related links

To see more of Rakan's work check out his portfolio
Looking for inspiration? Grab a copy of Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi today!
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