Art Spotlight: Elemental Series

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In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.

My name’s Rachel Cox, I’m from the UK and have just finished my final year studying Game Art Design and DeMontfort University in Leicester.

My ‘Elemental’ series was done as part of my final university submission, which was 19 weeks long. I set myself the task of modelling 3 higher-end game-ready characters/creatures which represented 3 of the 4 basic elements. I would have gone on to do a 4th if I had had the time to do so, however I’m a strong believer of quality of quantity.

I started with the initial concepts for each character, producing quick iterations to get my basic ideas down. As I wanted to spend as much time producing the models themselves – learning as much as I could and improving and developing my skills – I tried to spend as little as time possible on concepting, getting a well-grounded idea quickly that I could build on whilst producing the model itself.

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In order to refresh my mind and not burn myself out on redoing the same concept repeatedly, I went onto producing the base sculpts for each model, as this would give me something to concept over the top of, as well as help me consider posture, silhouette and consider the final poses for each character. In addition to this, because it was part of a university project, I wanted to show a base understanding of anatomy alongside a variety of body types.

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From here, I approached it as three separate character projects, going through the process of final concept iteration, sculpt in ZBrush, polypaint, retopologise using 3D Coat, unwrap, bake down the high poly in XNormal and then add additional textures using Photoshop, as well as touch-ups to complete the model. This started with the ‘Earth elemental’, which didn’t get to the final model’s standard until the week of the final deadline. The one thing you learn from doing a project like this is how quickly you improve over a short amount of time, which will give your characters a huge difference in their quality, but final touch up time will help solve that.

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The way I thought would be best to approach this was to focus on the models which I deemed more “difficult”, so I tackled the ‘fire elemental’ next, gathering a library of reference for the lava and doing multiple iterations on the rocks in order to get them to read right on the character.

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The ‘water elemental’ underwent the most design iterations in order to make it match the other two characters, as well as having more creative leeway when it came to the colours. The main inspirations came from different varieties of Siamese fighting fish, as well as looking at films like “Splice” for the silhouette and feel behind the design itself.

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They were all rigged and posed in 3Ds Max, with the lighting and final renders being produced in Marmoset Toolbag.

Earth Elemental
by Rachel Cox
on Sketchfab

Fire Elemental
by Rachel Cox
on Sketchfab

Water Elemental
by Rachel Cox
on Sketchfab

Because this project was 19 weeks I have a lot to say on this project, its progression and the changes throughout the design choices I made. You can follow my progression through this project, as well as post mortem on my website.

Thanks Rachel!

You will find Rachel’s work here on Sketchfab and on her portfolio website.

– Bart

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About the author

Bart Veldhuizen

Head of Community at Sketchfab. 3D Scanning enthusiast and Blenderhead. Running BlenderNation in my spare time.


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