Hi, everybody! My name is Denis Melenets and I live in Kharkiv. I am a 25 year-old 3D-designer at Plarium, a company full of incredibly bright, talented individuals. Today I would like to share the Spartan creation story with you.
The Concept and Idea
It all began when I was told to draw a Spartan warrior. These warriors presented a unique challenge as they were to be the first offensive Unit players would see in the game, so I wanted to ensure they looked impressive. Typical Spartan warriors were historically clad in less metal, but more leather and other materials. Like all of us, I’m a fan of the film ‘300’ and I gained a great deal of inspiration from the depiction of the Spartan warriors in the Zack Snyder film. I also came across many photos of real armor of the time, which further contributed to my vision of how our Spartans ought to look. Many of the useful figures I found came simply from digging around on Pinterest.
I had just two weeks to complete my vision, so in order to save some time I worked off the blank body of a previous Unit we’d worked on for the game.
From here I started working with 3ds Max, where I used a simple polygonal model to create a blank, to which I then added armor, helmet, bracers, and other military clothing inspired from the pictures I had found. Since I was planning to do the final design in Marvelous Designer, I sketched the skirt and cloak using polygons.
Once I had an idea of how my final model would look, I focused in on the details. Oftentimes I’ll do small sketches over the screenshots of the 3D models using the 3ds Max Viewport. I then increased the number of polygons, while ensuring I didn’t re-top the grid once again. UV mapping followed. This didn’t take a lot of time, but it was still important to avoid pulling and intercrossing.
After I had put each and every detail in individually using ZBrush, I began to sculpt. During this process, I made some interesting alphas for metal and leather.
Before sculpting, I usually make morph targets. I’ll sculpt with alphas and finally will slightly balance the morph with the brush, making the surface more interesting than it otherwise would be and leaving only a few plain areas. A few simple manipulations allowed me to get the details of the armor and shield down.
Transferring the Maps
I transferred both the normal map and the displacement map into ZBrush. For an example, see the pictures below. The critical value for the displacement map is the scale, so it’s extremely important not to minimize or maximize your model after transferring.
Once all the maps were prepared, I transferred the low-pole objects back to 3ds Max. At this stage, if you need an exact result, you shouldn’t input the original details, but rather the details from the first subdivision. These details will be slightly different, which will affect the final result. Personally, I try to make as many maps as possible as they will come in handy later when texturing. High map, Cavity map, AO – all of these will be needed in the future. To create these maps I used ZBrush and xNormal.
I simulated the cloak with the help of a wonderful app called Marvelous Designer 3. After I had put all the objects from the 3ds Max there, I created the cloak pattern. Naturally, more material makes for more folds and creases, which is exactly the effect I was looking for. Closer to the finish, I simulated the cloak once again, this time on the Spartan himself, just to make sure that my changes had had the right effect.
Texturing was the next stage. To create textures, I mostly used Mudbox. I like to texture with stencils, using just colors. With the help of ordinary textures, which I usually download from cgtexures.com, you can quickly and easily create useful alphas for ZBrush and Mudbox.
I then put the textures into 3ds Max, and customized the shaders for materials using VRay 3.0.
I created the skin using VRay Fast SSS2. The body was divided into three parts with different UV-coordinates. I then combined them into one material using Composite.
I used VRay Blend for the creation of the helmet. I think it’s an ideal material, because of the ability to customize it without having to constantly go back and edit it in Photoshop. I put the Diffuse and Reflection maps over the main material that I painted in Mudbox. I then created the black map for the Diffuse and the light one with the greenish tint for the Reflection.
Later, I created the secondary matte green material. Our Cavity map was used as its mask. It helped to emphasize the sculpting and made the helmet’s texture less plain. I then put mud all over it – just the dark-brown material, for which I had painted a certain map in Mudbox, and lastly I added the Ambient Occlusion.
Next, I put the TurboSmooth modifier over the model, using VRayDisplacementMod with prepared maps from ZBrush. The result is shown below.
The Setting of the Pose
I set the Spartan’s pose using the CAT. This really saves time. Simply adjust half of the skeleton to your character, copy it and reflect. Here you can save different versions of poses in the layers of animation.
I didn’t like the look of the legs on the renderers and so I decided to remodel them in ZBrush, this time taking the pose into careful consideration.
I used VRay Dome Light with HDRI-map and chose the map rotation angle. Next I added some VRay Plane Light with both warm light and an omni light from below.
The rendering gave me the idea to Spartan on a stone pedestal, which I ultimately did.
Now you know the story. The process of creation was pretty standard, but if this description was useful or interesting for you, then I’ve achieved my goal. Thank you for your attention and good luck creating!