Final high-poly sculpt
I went back into ZBrush to add the final accessories and details: her hair hammer, dripping fingers, fingernails, and tweaked rat familiar. I added some minor detailing like the seams on the corset and shoes, but ran out of time to do the full extent that I’d like. I plan to revisit this and re-bake the high-poly onto my existing Substance Painter project.
I probably spent the most time for this entire development project on a single element: converting UVs from Marvelous into low-poly geometry that can then be subdivided and projected later. I found an extremely useful tutorial by Laura Gallagher of Outgang that ran through a unique process of projecting the high-poly mesh back onto the low-poly, but it did result in some major issues when I tried to recreate my subdivision levels later. After quite a bit of frustration, I discovered that my issue lay with creating subdivs on ‘circular’ meshes (e.g. my skirt with no indicated start and end point for the high-poly geometry). ZBrush was automatically removing divisions starting from the incorrect polygon to disastrous results; I ended up resolving this by adding a split seam down the back of my meshes. I still ran into some issues adding thickness, where again the automatic subdiv tool was messing up divisions on the edges, but this clearly was something that I needed to resolve manually given more time.
I ended up doing nearly all of my texturing in Substance Painter using mainly pre-made fabric from Substance Source and layering on overlays, curvature masks, and hand-painted effects. I did create two sections manually in Photoshop: her shirt embroidery and skirt crochet. For the embroidery, I took my previously-made vectors and created height maps from them with the inner glow tool, and then masked off a shiny taffeta fabric to mimic raised embroidery. For the crochet, I simply sketched out a design using the radial tool in Photoshop, created a similar height map, and replicated it along the strip of the UVs where the crochet appears. Finally, I added some of the streaky brushstroke effect by layering on a creased fabric texture as a height map over all of the fabric parts.
I absolutely want to go back and create more of a hand-painted look manually, but this will do for now!
For my scene render, I went with Marmoset Toolbag, transferring all the files over and manually adding my exported Substance textures. The original concept art has a slightly cel-shaded look with a black outline on all elements. After investigating, there doesn’t seem to be any way to really create that effect within Marmoset (as opposed to Maya or Blender which have specific outline shaders). I ended up doing a hack-y workaround by inflating my original model slightly along the vertex normals in Maya, inverting the normals, applying a flat black material to this shell in Marmoset, and rendering with backfaces culled. This created exactly what I was hoping for: a black outline just on the edges of each component. The one downside is that the outline doesn’t scale when zooming, so it’s definitely too thick for a portrait shot, but matches the full-body concept quite well.
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].
Gallagher, L. (2020). How to export from Marvelous Designer to Zbrush (No Need for Manual Retopology). Available at: https://youtu.be/o_Q-N8CoyCU [Accessed: 1 January 2022].