This is “Cyber Elsa”, a character loosely based off of a fashion doll I used to own, and inspired by the KOS-MOS and Aigis figmas that sat beside her. This project was started in May, and has seen much iteration since. This is version 3 of 5, where I was going for a much more stylized form. She was rendered using ‘Mental Ray’ in 3DS Max 2012 using flat colors that I tweaked myself within the program. I used no external textures or normal maps, and the model came out to 20,000 tris.
Her hair was made by using the ‘Fibermesh’ tool in Zbrush (4R3) by bringing the amount of fibers down to a very small amount. The intention was to make hair that I’d be sure I could use in engine, as I don’t want to assume that every engine can simply use hair-and-fur.
Her armor was made by duplicating her body (in Zbrush) and pushing and pulling where needed. I find that it makes rapidly prototyping skin-tight gear very easy, as one can easily retopologize a part that looks like it may fit well. Since I was working without concept art, I simply stopped pulling when the piece appealed to me.
I tried to set a balance between light and dark, hard and organic, round and spiky. Her eyes were set to stand out (being electric blue in a sea of reds and grays). I rendered using ‘realistic lighting’ with a very unrealistic shader setup. It’s set for a cartoony game, where one can get away with coloring character in two to four shades of one color.
I chose Mental Ray over Ink and Paint because of how easy it is to tweak the contour shader to my liking in the Mental Ray material. The surface shader was set to react to where light hits it, so I could get real-time cartoon shadows. Some feedback I’ve received mentioned that the red was a little too strong and off-putting. I never really consider a piece totally complete, so it’s nice to receive feedback.
Rendering the video took about 2 hours and had no issues. Texturing took about an hour, but I was learning as I went along. If I wanted to recreate this effect on someone else’s model- it would only take about 2 minutes to show the entire process, and maybe 20 minutes to do a model this size.
I could model something like this in a day or two, given proper motivation.
I have an earlier prototype of her wearing rubber, animated self-illuminated textures and metal; it’s the same model, but it has a totally different feel.