How to Create a Stylized Overwatch Character in Zbrush – Echo Fanart

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Maro Valls stops by Stylizedstation.com to show us how he created his incredible stylized render of Echo. Using Zbrush, 3Ds Max and Marmoset.

In Closing

Hard Surface Modeling is a HUGE niche of modeling, with plenty of artists making full-time careers out of it. 

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Looking forward to seeing you in there!

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About the Artist:

Hello guys! My name is Maró Valls and I’m a 21 year old 3D artist from Barcelona.

Nowadays I’m on the last course of my Production and Design of Videogames degree. Currently I’m working as an intern in a new company called “The Breach Studios”, in Barcelona.

Since I was young, my passion was 3D but I haven’t been able to focus on this since I have started University. In my first year, I have focused more on 2D, creating some applications and 2D games.

However in the last 2 years, I decided that what I really want, is to be a 3D modeler, because I feel it’s my passion.

Every time I look at a 3D model or I play a videogame and I see the incredible environments and the characters… it makes me feel like I need to try to model it. After that feeling, I can’t help but take action. 

As a conclusion, I know if I want to do it I have to focus only on this. So I have started to watch a lot of videos, images, references, courses for Zbrush, 3dsMax…And I have started practicing, practicing and practicing….One of the best ways I learnt sculpting is by watching the Pixologic Zbrush summits,  you learn a lot of techniques from the best artists in the industry.

Now that you know a bit about me, we can talk about the processes of recreating the character:

As a challenge for myself and as a player of Overwatch,  I have decided to create the new character Echo, which at the moment doesn’t exist in the game, she only appears on the Ashe’s video “Reunion”( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKYVvPNhRR0).

Also I want to add that is the first time that I have created a big character like this, so if I can create a character like this by watching tutorials and having little 3D experience, you can do it too!

References

Since Echo only appears in one video, my main source of reference is the video itself. On top of that, I started searching images and some fan art on Google images, Pinterest or Artstation to try and get a better picture and idea of Echo. There are some concepts out there that really helped me visualize Echo and her main shapes.

With all this information, I have created a small moodboard with some images, and later I have drawn a small concept from front view, only to create the blockout.

Blocking Echo Out

First of all, A good portion of this model was done in partnership with a close friend that loves renders and VFX. You can see his portfolio here (https://www.artstation.com/paxillop).

Pau helped me with the blocking and some low poly props. He created a blockout with basic shapes based on my concept that I draw before. The blocking is useful for me because I can work on the main shapes and some proportions, later will change but it is a great starting point.

For the modeling I used 3ds Max, but you could use any other 3D program, like Blender, Maya or Cinema4D.

Sculpting

This is the biggest part of this project, where I spent days working.

The first step is to put the low poly mesh into the sculpting program, in this case, I used Zbrush.

Then, to work only with the body, I hide the rest of the bodyparts. The body is the most important shape of the model, that’s why it has to be perfect. This is where I decided to spend most of my time.

Now we can start sculpting the mesh of the body. To do this, I apply Dynamesh, which allows me to deform that mesh to extreme levels and remesh it at any time with a specific density.

From this, with the Move brush, Hpolish brush, flatten brush and Standard brush. I started with the hips and the chest. Then came the hard work, the silhouette.

TO give you an idea of my iterative process, heres a photo that shows the progress of the body until the end, start to finish.

In the final stage of sculpting, I did a retopology of the third body model with TopoGun, that helped me to maintain the shape and above all to smooth the curves of the hip that on the previous model never finished smooth.

TIP

Never go directly to high density meshes, always work with low polygon meshes. This will give you much more freedom to modify it and especially when you increase the density. Your main objective is to have something with a very smooth and polished finish. Another trick that I have seen that many professionals use are polygroups, in this case I have created polygroups on the faces that come together, to use the Polysh by features deformator, which will mark the corners even more.

Once this is done, for the detail of the holes that it has on the sides, I used 2 cylinders in subtractive mode(see in the image example below) and I applied LiveBoolean, this tool allows me to create holes, without breaking the mesh.

After all these steps, i have this result:

Sculpting Echo's Face

To create her face, I used a sphere with Dynamesh.

I started shaping the nose, the hole of the eyes, and the volume of the lips, once it had more or less the shape I wanted, I fit the helmet on her and I began to work in other parts of the body until the character was almost complete, ready to review and polish all the forms.

In these photos you see the first stages of the face and first iteration of the body.

To polish the face and create a final result face, I sharpen the nose a little, mark the lips more and put the eye spheres, among other details.

I know that the face is not exactly that of the video, but I preferred to put my personal touch to it. 

The helmet is modeled in Maya and subdivided with some loops on the edges to maintain the hard edges.

My big problems start on the proportions. Like most stylized characters, it looks super easy to do, because main proportions are exaggerated, but its not as easy as you think. There are a lot of complicated and subtle moving parts under the surface. Echo is no different.

As you can see on the image below, the torso part of the body works perfect, but the legs don’t work as well as my expectations, so I had to put more hours to this.

To mantain the loops of the low poly leg, I decided to use Dynamic subdivision in Zbrush and start moving vertices and edges with the Move tool. This allows me to have the shape of the leg and the good topology ready to be imported into a game.

As for Echo’s knees, there is really no images or information regarding them. It looks like Blizzard wants to keep some secrets to themselves. #freeEchosKnees

 I have to put my imagination to work and watch some more concepts or fanart of Echo. In the end, I choose to put some rounded piece in front to work as a knee and it works fine for me. The mystery remains.

Finally after some iterations, I find a shape I’m happy with, and has nice proportions. The iterations were a whole other problem. I tried 4 different iterations, and finally I did it with creative use of Booleans and primitive shapes in Zbrush

The feet are created in 3ds Max with basic polygons and some loops for create some smooth edges when subdivided.

Wing Creation

At first I told my friend Pau to create a wing block with a very basic shape so I could start with something better than a sphere or a cube.

After studying the wings, I thought it was a stretched form at the top and more wide at the end of it, but it really ISN’T.

After carefully inspecting Echo’s video frame by frame, I finally found a very valuable piece of information regarding the shape and style of her wings.

In this frame, you can see the wing is much wider than I first originally thought.

After close inspection, I noticed the wings heavily resemble that of a Queen Bee.

Then I started looking for references of bee and fly wings, and I found reference images that fit perfectly with the model.

With this new discovery, I created a new mesh base and started modeling it and adapting it to the character.

Texturing and UVs

For this character, I applied the materials directly to the mesh without doing all the UVS, because my main goal was not creating this ready to game, my goal was recreating this character and have a nice render that looks like other Overwatch characters.

In some cases, I did retopology and some uvs, for example, the articulations and the face.

The articulations have some blue neon light, which I created by handpainting these values into Substance Painter.

I applied the darker metal and the shine neon light effect with emissive textures. On the other side, the face has some type of Athena’s logotype. Looking at the face closely, you can see her face seems to be some sort of hologram or projection.

This was a fun challenge for Pau and I. To solve this, we decided to create a pixel texture to simulate the hologram texture and apply the logo as a simple diffuse texture. The end result looks like this:

Rendering

For the renders, I used Marmoset Toolbag.

It’s a good render engine and super easy to use. I created a simple scene with the posed character and I set up one directional light and two point lights to create more reflections on the metal of the body.

I chose an Orange background to emulate the orange & yellow tones of the Route 66 map from Overwatch for a better Integration with the final image.

For the background, I used a screenshot of realtime gameplay in Overwatch.

And that’s the final result.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t be afraid to ask! I will answer as soon as I can, i really love to answer questions or accept constructive critics of my works!

 

If you like this work, you can find more on my artstation:

 

www.artstation.com/vavi98

Or you can find me on Twitter:

@marovalls

 

Thanks for your time and attention!

Maró.

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