My immediate thought upon hearing the prompt “Red vs. Blue”, beyond the infamous machinima with the same name, was some kind of conflict between opposing groups. Many battle royale games feature bicolored teams; comic book battles are often depicted as opposing characters on red and blue backgrounds, gesturing across a dividing line. Therefore, I decided early on that I wanted to create two entities in a stand-off, and threw around a few ideas:
- Red = fire/evil, blue = peaceful/ice, in an epic battle
- Opposing characters rendered in two-color-palette challenges (often passed around art forums)
- Vase-from-one-angle, woman-from-the-other style graphic designs where one color forms one image intertwined with another
- Comic about red and blue flags creating arbitrary teams
I still wanted to tie my piece into some aspect of 3D, and the Extra Fabulous comic in particular had me considering what kinds of ‘teams’ 3D artists tend to form with very little basis, and I landed upon…
When thinking in the context of my artwork, I started visualizing icons for two major 3D modeling programs: ZBrush and Maya. The two programs tend to facilitate different approaches to working (ZBrush is better for organic sculpting whereas Maya lends itself to hard-surface sculpts). I’ve noticed that many of the 3D artists I’ve interacted with, myself included, tend to have a strong preference for one or the other; I happen to be a ZBrush devotee and struggle with Maya’s crashes and obfuscating UI. In investigating further, I realized that ZBrush’s logo is orange, not red, but I couldn’t shake such a meta idea (and I figured it was close enough!). So, that will be the basis of my first project: Red vs. Blue as the war of the 3D modeling philosophies.
Since my current learning objective is getting faster (and anatomically better) with character sculpts, I decided to create two busts representing the two programs. Both will be heavily stylized: the red (ZBrush) very organic and clay-like; the blue (Maya) done with a hard-surface, planar, almost low-poly look. I’ve been meaning to work on my anatomy skills, as well as try out techniques for creating both effects, so this is a great opportunity to investigate further. I’ve found them both to be visually easily identifiable, but I’m still unsure of how to actually emulate these real-world techniques digitally.
For the busts themselves, I drew my inspiration from real-world clay examples and from digital planar head sculpts. I’m trying to become more comfortable with creating artwork in rough, loose styles, and appreciate how both focus on capturing the main shapes and general likeness rather than getting lost in the details. The latter were mainly created for anatomy guidance, but I liked the larger flat areas and curved lines better than true low-poly pieces (they tend to be more uniform/blocky and lose the important defining lines of the head).
Since the concept of competing software is fairly abstract, I considered ways to tie it back to 3D, most iconically represented by a pair of (old-school) 3D glasses…which just so happen to contain red and blue lenses! I also thought of the visual effect of the glasses: shifted color channels (red and blue outlines). I wanted to incorporate both into my final piece, with characters wearing 3D glasses and a chromatic aberration effect added to the finished render in post. I had done a similar technique previously, but looked up a quick Photoshop tutorial for a refresher and it produced exactly what I wanted. I borrowed several default head sculpts from Maya’s Content Browser and started putting together the basics of my scene, which I can hopefully quickly replace with my own sculpts.
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