Art Spotlight: Tintin "Explorers on the Moon"

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

Hey guys!! I am twitte_king, I am so happy that you like the Tintin model!! To thank you for your support, I would like to share some modeling and texturing tips for comic style involved in creating him in Blender!

I consider myself a CG generalist, with a strong passion in modeling! I didn’t start digital art until about 3 years ago, and I am learning new things every day. As an self-taught artist, I am still searching for my definitive style, and trying everything I fancy meanwhile! I really want to thank my girlfriend for inspiring and encouraging me in the pursuit of 3D art! Like many of you, I enjoy comics, animations, movies and video games! I am fascinated by all Pixar shorts and features as a Gen-Y kid, in retrospect, they really planted the seed of 3D art in my soul. My parents are not familiar with 3D, so I didn’t get a chance to learn this early on. Instead, I was into all sort of handcrafts since I was little; sewing, origami, sculpting and building everything with cardboard. These hobbies are great trainings for observational skills and understanding shapes and geometries in a logical chain of thought.

Tintin was one of the few western comics I read growing up in Hong Kong. The idea of creating this Tintin scene came to me when I was watching an interview with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson about their Animated Tintin movie. Remembering the awesome comic style-models I saw on Sketchfab, I told myself, “It’s time for someone bring Tintin to the 3D party!!” As a spontaneous project, I wanted to create a fast & manageable scene with Tintin as the focus and include 1-2 props. The space suited Tintin with the classic rocket on moon surface was ideal.

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Process

Here is a quick run-through of the theory behind the comic look. We shall first create the basic model, then create black outline with back face culling, Create the inner black lines with texture. You can work in either blender render or cycles, I chose the latter since I am more comfortable with its material setup and baking options.

First, I modeled the torso of the suit with a reference image. It was trivial since it’s made with cylinders. The rippling sleeve may seem daunting, but I made a base mesh in minutes with the help of modifiers. The more you use them, the more creative ways you can come up with using them!

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With this base mesh, I can adapt it into limbs by attaching palms or boots. The bonus of modeling with armature is that they are instantly posable by adding a few new bones.

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The spherical helmet should always be behind Tintin head, which was made by adding in a UV sphere, select all, flip normal. The effect is visible only after toggling the Backface Culling in the viewport.

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I modeled everything except the gun pouch and the green box, since they are on belts. I will model them after posing the character, for less hassle during posing.

It’s time to do the black outline, it’s been covered in another great article on Sketchfab! That one is where I learnt from!! Here’s a recap with a few extra tips If I may. Make sure you have enabled Backface Culling!

    1. Create a Black material as shown:image10
    2. Select your object (RMB) > enter edit mode (Tab) > select all vertices (A) > Duplicate (shift-D)> Snap it back at original position (RMB) > Assign the black material to the duplicate > Flip normals (space bar > type”flip normals”)

  1. With these black faces still selected; Scale on Normal (alt-S), until you are happy with the thickness of the outline.

Feel free to go in and tweak the Black Mesh! I did so for Tintin’s face, since the outline generated near Overhangs is not enough. By overhangs, I mean the bottom of the nose and ears, they are also outlined in the comic, we can’t compensate this with texture easily. The remedy is to push and pull the black mesh near those areas, so its curvature allows them to be visible.

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I tried 2 texturing approaches

First approach is for the spacesuit. I create materials of distinct color from the reference with the eyedropper function. This can be done conveniently with a node editor and image editor side by side. I love how flexible blender is for customizing my workspace efficient to the specific task at hand, that’s why I feel constrained in Maya sometimes.

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After assigning faces with their corresponding colors, I unwrapped the model and baked all materials into a single diffuse map. More about cycles baking here. The diffuse map was then edited externally with SketchBook Pro, I find its UI cleaner and more accessible with my Wacom tablet. The ruler tool is particularly useful, since we need to add all the inner black contour lines for the air tank etc.

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The second approach is to create texture internally in blender. Since the texture is rather simple comparing to usual PBR Characters, I also want to test if I can get away without unwrapping the model. Since most beginners I know are afraid of UV unwrapping let alone baking, and I hope to simplified the process when beginners are trying lowpoly stuff like this. The method was used on the head of Tintin, the fingers and the gun pouch. The belts were later created with curves.

As part of the test, I didn’t unwrap these meshes. I simply:

Select Object (RMB) > Toggle to Texture Paint Mode > Click Add simple UV > Click Add Paint Slot > click Diffuse Color. You should be able to paint directly on the mesh.

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Not many tutorials cover that fact that you can paint the texture in both 3d viewport and image editor of blender. Make sure you are in Texture Paint Mode in 3d viewport, and toggle the UV/Image Editor from default View Model to Paint Mode.

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Remember to SAVE your texture from time to time (Alt-S), because Blender has no auto-save function!!

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Here are the textures used in the character, it was a quick spontaneous exercise, so the UV is not the cleanest as I can get. Similar procedures were repeated for the rest of the scene.

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Sketchfab

Sketchfab has fit into this scene seamlessly. I made sure only my desired mesh are visible in the viewport, hit save and closed. Uploading my .blend to Sketchfab is fast and easy. The advantage of having textures means there’s no need to setup any color data. Sketchfab also detects the effect of all modifiers. One of my best feature is the Annotation, It help guides the audience around the scene.

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  1. Choose Shadeless instead lit in General Setting. image08
  2. Load the Textures in the Materials Setting. image05
  3. For the black and helmet materials, Choose Single Face rendering in Material Settingimage11
  4. The environment lighting option allow me to pick a nice backdrop of Milky Way. image04

So here you go, all the tips and tricks you need to bring your favorite comic character to life!! Tintin in on the moon waiting for you!! Feel free to share your thoughts, and drop a link to the awesome model you made!!

Find me at TwitterInstagram, Youtube, or my site!

Look forward to chatting with you guys!!

Happy Sketchfabing!!

Thank you, twitte_king! Link either your favorite cartoon Sketchfab scenes or even better, your own! Anything twitte_king didn’t cover? Leave your questions and comments below!

About the author

Seori Sachs

Community Person!


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