This character is based on a concept from Johan Grenier that I found a few months ago in an online d&d forum I think.
I loved how all the details made him so authentic and interesting and gave him his own characteristics and story, For example you could think about why he looks so grumpy or why on earth he carries around almost a whole kitchen?! And what about this tentacle... is it still alive? Why is he skewering it? And so on...
Below you can find a rather detailed description on how I approached this project if you’re interested.
First I made a very rough blockout in Maya. That, and the references I gathered, helped me to figure out what the objects, hanging on his backpack could be, which you can’t see on the concept. I tried different shapes and objects until I came up with the garlic and the soup ladle, which I think fit the character very well.
Another challenge were the ropes that tie the kitchen supplies together. You can’t really tell from the concept how they work so I had to find a solution that looks at least a bit believable.
I imported the meshes into ZBrush and started working on the shapes in more detail. I started with the body and worked my way to the smaller accessories. Especially all the wrinkles and stuff were a lot of fun. The ropes and knots I made in Maya though. For that I simply used four square arranged circles that I extruded along curves.
His clothing including the shoes I made using Marvelous Designer which I also used for the first time. For the chef hat I found a quite useful tutorial on YouTube that used a mushroom-shaped mesh as a sewing doll in Marvelous what really made things easier. Making the knots fort he apron was a bit tricky but after a while I got the hang of it.
So when I was happy with the clothes I imported them into Maya and made a retopology. For that I retopologized a flat version of the clothes and transferred the attributes later to the simulated mesh using the UVs.
After adding thickness I brought the mesh into ZBrush too to make an oversculpt and adjust some of the folds and shapes. The retopology for the body and the accessories I made in Maya again.
I exported all of the low- and highpoly meshes and named them properly so I won’t get any issues with baking by name later in Substance Painter. I reimported the few maps I baked in Toolbag back into Painter and started texturing.
The new feature to create masks based on object names really made my life easier with this one, since I didn’t had to select all UV shells one by one. I tried to match the texturing with the concept as good a s possible while adding some additional finer details.
I also wanted to make them a touch more realistic than the concept but still keep the stylized look. At this point it was a lot of back and forth, testing the textures in Toolbag and going back to Painter to adjust some details.
So when I was happy with the textures I spent some more time on the shading in Marmoset Toolbag and refining the look. Especially the skin took me some time. I also added a coat for the skin with a bit more glossiness to let it look a bit more sweaty. Furthermore I noticed that the inverted thickness map I baked in Substance Painter is very useful as a SSS mask in Marmoset.
Because I didn't want him to be a static statue I also put some time into rigging and animating him. Especially the backpack and tentacle were a big challenge regarding that. I modeled the tentacle not straight but in pose which made it really hard to get a fluent motion... one thing on my big list of things I learned and will approach different next time. Instead of modeling the tentacle again I decided to uncurl the posed tentacle and bring it into a straight pose and rig it once again. The tentacle’s mesh looked a bit messy then but in the final animation you can‘t see it anymore.
Another challenge were the clothes because I first had to get used to Marvelous. But that was only a matter of time. And of course, there are also a lot of tutorials which helped me to get the hang of it.
Since I had a deadline for this project, time management and planning were very important to me. Writing down a to-do-list for every week and marking milestones in my calendar really helped me regarding that. It also helped me a lot to stay motivated and to keep an eye on the big picture.
In conclusion I think this one was the project I had the most fun with by now. I love how this character turned out! And I learned so much during it. I got much deeper into Marmoset Toolbag 4 since I have used it only once before. And of course I learned a whole new software with Marvelous Designer which I think is always super exciting. Also I learned some simple tips and tricks that will make my life easier with future projects too. For example the ‚bake by name‘ option in Substance Painter which is essential to get a clean bake. Can’t believe I didn’t know it before…