creative industries

Mash Mob Project – Character Modelling

I started off with a rough concept and a simple maya model which was quickly autorigged for use in previs.


I then brought the basic mesh into ZBrush as the basis for my sculpt.

Not bad, if you’re trying to sculpt an alien.


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It took me a while to get used to using ZBrush but once I did I really enjoyed it, especially when it came to sculpting the facial features. To save time I used this free ear mesh from Turbosquid, adding it to the sculpt it by turning it into an insert mesh brush.


I’ll be honest and say I spent much too long sculpting and refining the character’s body, hands, collar, etc., even though in the finished model a lot of this sculpt’s detail which I had spent time polishing was lost. At least I have a better idea of this workflow for the future.

Though I’ve got ZBrush’s basics down I’m still very intimidated by its many other functions. It took me a while to figure out the retopology/projection process but it worked out fine and man, was I happy to see the model back in Maya.

I wasn’t happy with how ZRemesher had reduced the polygons in the hands so I took the time to retopologise them myself. I also needed to fix other errors in the mesh, which unfortunately took a lot longer than anticipated. This is the finished character geometry.


I’m not too happy with the character’s head as I don’t think the retopology/edge flow is very good and I feel a lot of the sharpness and detail on the face, and on other parts of the model, has been lost. And the model is still more high poly than I’d like. I had also been planning to model a white coat for the doctor but ended up not finishing this as I was very conscious of time constraints and wanted to keep moving forwards.

I tried using polypaint to texture the character but wasn’t confident or happy with the results so switched to regular UV mapping, something I have had enough experience with to be somewhat efficient in working on them.Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 18.23.25texture1.png

Even if my maps are quite messy it was organised enough to work with. If I had more time I would add more texture to the clothing through bump mapping and the like.

Once I added those opaque white glasses and did some lighting tests I think the character’s personality comes through a lot better.

I then used Advanced Skeleton to autorig the character, following this tutorial.

Ah, the joys of rigging.

Though I have worked a little with rigging and skin weights before I still wasn’t very confident in tackling the challenge, especially considering how short on time I felt. The hands and head were causing a lot of problems for me when skinning and eventually I got too stressed to work and passed the rig over to David who was able to clear up most of the issues.

Overall, I’m not very happy with this model. I don’t think it looks very good and I spent much too long making it, wasting weeks in ZBrush fiddling around with details that had no effect on the final model. But the important thing to remember is that this is the first character I have made by myself from scratch, and I have learned a lot in doing so. I look forward to improving upon these new skills in the future.

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