In Art Spotlight, we invite Sketchfab artists to talk about one of their designs.
Hey people! I’m Julien Kaspar, I live in Munich, Germany and am currently in an apprenticeship at the Liga 01 Computerfilmstudio. I spend a lot of my free time sculpting, modeling and painting characters and constantly working on improving myself and building my portfolio. Where I also pour a lot of time in are art related websites like Artstation, Pinterest, and various forums.
I’m constantly looking for inspirational artworks & artists, give feedback and from time to time come across an artwork thats so inspiring, beautiful, or something I really relate to that I just have to model it!
When I came across the beautiful artwork “Miss Seagull” by Mario Manzanares I scolled through the rest of the character exploration and really fell in love with one of his orignal sketches for the character!
All right, now onto the actual model!
My Creation Process
Almost everything while making this was done in Blender, just to let you know. I started out with sculpting with DynTopo, beginning with a sphere for the head and a sphere for the hair + two more quickly modeled eyes. I focused mainly on getting across the spirit of the concept while working on the shapes and expressions and to keep it rather stylised. Also because I was aiming for a cartoony/sketchy style I didn’t need to get into a lot of surface detail.
For the hair I got inspired by the sculptings of Vimal Kerketta and James W. Cain. (Look them up if you want! They got some great timelapses & tutorial stuff). All the sculpting was done pretty much just with the standard brushes like Draw, Crease, ClayStrips & Smooth. For the hair detail I mostly used the Draw & Crease bush with “Smooth Stroke” enabled. Then I added a few more loose strands of hair with the skin modifier. I also re-topologized the hair so I could sculpt with a higher polycount for crisper edges.
After that I set up a camera and posed the model. I also use a lot of add-ons for Blender like the amazing “SpeedSculpt” & “SpeedRetopo”. The additional “Sculpt Brushes” are also pretty helpful, though I don’t use them that often.
Once I was happy with the sculpt, I polypainted first in color but then decided I wanted to go with a black and white scheme instead. Seeing everything painted can give you a better perspective on the model as I went in to tweak the sculpt again, adjusting the eyes, mouth and jaw ’till I was happy with the result!
Any Blender people who are reading this might notice that I say (and write) polypaint instead of the original vertex paint. That’s because I’m using the experimental polypaint build by Nathan Vollmer! Seriously, check it out!! Even though it’s still in early development it’s a massive improvement!
The high res model was finished, so I set up some lights and basic diffuse-glossy materials in cycles until I had a nice render going. Nothing too complicated … a 3-point-lighting setup with 2 rim lights, a strong light on the right and a weaker one on the left. I also set the Light Paths to “Direct Light” so that I wouldn’t get any bounce light. This let’s it look a bit more clean and stylised. I rendered it, did a bit of composition in Photoshop and posted the final image online. And that was it for a while …
… but then some time later I finished my first model I made specifically for Sketchfab, Mask.
I wanted to do more! So I started to prep Miss Seagull for a Sketchfab upload. I used a lower resolution version of the hair and eyes and applied a decimate modifier to the head, to avoid uploading too many polygons. Then came the UVs!
The head, hair and eyes each got their own UV space with 2k resolution for head & hair and 512 for the eyes. The eyes were easily unwrapped but I did a Smart UV Project for the rest.
With enough bleeding over the seams that’s ok and it’s just for baking anyway.
So onwards with the baking!
First I weakened the 2 rim lights to make the model overall evenly lit from all perspectives, as I would add the 2 rim light back later in Sketchfab.
After that I baked each a normal map and a combined render. Sadly the render bake didn’t go so well on the decimated head mesh and caused a lot of artifacts. I did manage to paint them all out though with the draw, & blur brush in Texture Paint Mode. Maybe there’s a way to avoid the artifacts but I recommend a retopology if you have more detailed textures!
The last thing to add was an alpha map for the shoulders and neck. For the original image I did that with a mask in Photoshop but this time I painted a b/w map in Blender. Later I changed the black values to transparency values though.
I also painted in the reflections in the baked map of the eyes. Having all the objects and textures done I exported it all as png’s and obj’s and started to upload it to Sketchfab. I set up a material for each object with their textures plugged in and the emission set to 10 with the baked texture as the source, so that the baked lighting really comes through. For the rest of the lighting I set the environment to “studio_02” with a very low brightness and the two missing rim lights from before.
The background is the same I used for the original image.
And that’s it!
It’s not the most complicated process but it took some experimenting to get it done. The easiest step was setting everything up on Sketchfab once I had all the meshes & textures ready. It’s surprisingly simple and user friendly and I expected to run into more problems but nope … everything was good to go!
In recent years I saw many people uploading their models to Sketchfab and now that I tried it out I am wondering why It didn’t start sooner. It’s way cooler to showcase you 3D models in actual 3D instead of a 2D image!
A big thank you to everyone on Sketchfab who made this site so awesome and of course for giving me the opportunity to write here about it and to everyone for liking/sharing my work!
And to everyone who read through all this or just skipped to the end (sneaky sneaky), thank you toooo!
I hope it was insightful &/or fun to read and I’ll be back soon with some new stuff for ya! Cheers! Come find me at my ArtStation!