I spent far too much time attempting to nail down my head sculpt for Laudna! The character has very unusual facial features, often described as ‘doll-like’ in her exaggerated eyes and mouth. My head anatomy is definitely improving as I create more of these, but I had to fight some of my instincts to get that slightly cartoon-y effect. Luckily, I think the final version straddles the uncanny valley in just the right place!
Head Retopo + XGen Prep
After experimenting with (read: banging my head against a wall) sculpted hair strands to very little success, I decided to create Laudna’s hair in XGen instead. Ultimately I’d like to create hair cards to make this character fully game-ready, but given my timeframe, I’ll need to settle for everything-but-the-hair in low-poly.
To prep my head for XGen, I first retopologized it by breaking up sections of my high-poly sculpt with polypaint and running groups-priority ZRemesher on it. A little manual tweaking later and I ended up with some decently good edgeloops, if potentially too high-poly geometry. I then subdivided my mesh a few times and projected the original high-poly mesh onto my low.
A single seam and a quick UV unwrap in Maya, and then a hairline density mask painted in ZBrush, and the head was ready for hair.
I definitely struggled with the hair in all aspects this time around. I had some experience with XGen before, but not for so complex a hairstyle with a stringy, wet-look. I first started by breaking down sections of the hair on the concept art to decide how to divide up my descriptions. Going into XGen, I set up my descriptions and started creating the different sections of hair.
By far the most difficult part was experimenting with different strand modifiers to get that greasy effect. I ended up layering quite a few clumps and adding some curl and noise modifiers so that each strand twists around itself. I don’t plan to do my final render in Maya, but I did experiment with the shaders just to better visualize my overall shapes. XGen proved to be the right tool for the job, as being able to continually tweak individual strands made it far easier for me to lay out the hair than in my initial ZBrush sculpt.
Friederichs, H. (2021). Laudna Character Portrait – Critical Role. [Image]. Available at: https://critrole.com/hype-check-out-our-official-campaign-3-character-art-by-hannah-friederichs-and-jrusar-art-by-clara-daly [Accessed: 4 November 2021].