Archive | October 2010

Fall of Spartacus WIP Update #2

I have pretty much finished modeling on the character. I’ve done everything except the fine details such as skin pores, scars, fabric patterns etc. I’m holding off on that for two reasons.

Once I pose the character there will be some resculpting required. Fixing deformation caused by the posing process, as well as changes to the body based on the pose, such as muscles stretching and contracting.

The second reason is because I want to do the UV’s first. Which I am going to do after posing, as opposed to when he is in a T pose, because there may be stretching caused by the pose. During animation this would usually not matter because no one will notice, but in a still image like this, it may be very apparent. So I am posing the character first, then doing the UV’s. And then I am adding the fabric details etc, because in many cases, just using a texture as an alpha for creating fabric patters will let you create things in moments that would otherwise take hours upon hours to sculpt manually.

The hair is not in place yet. It will be done with alpha mapped planes after posing.

I have pretty much finished creating and adding detail work to the weapons to be featured in the scene.

I have also started work on the base for the character. I’m doing it as a typical model base, so it could be suitable for 3d printing as well as a beauty shot.

Originally I was planning to repurpose an old skeleton mesh I had created a few years ago for the base, just use the skull and various skeleton parts and copy it out to form the base. This actually worked pretty well, but ended up being very polygon heavy as I used over 50 skulls, and left me in a UVW hell. I could either just UV map one skull and copy it out, making all the skulls look the same, or I could make them all part of the same object and map every one of them. Neither option was very attractive.

So I chose to just sculpt the whole thing. I created basically just a big lump of clay, and decided to use the skulls I had copied around as a general guideline for my sculpt.

Rather than just a pile of skulls, I have decided to make the base more of an organic being. Kind of a character in itself. It’s going to be a large blob with skulls and heads and arms writhing under and poking through it’s “skin”.

Best reference I can think of off the top of my head is Envy from Full Metal Alchemist.

I must admit I’m kind of wondering what I have gotten myself into with this base. Just blocking in all the skulls took forever.  Thank the gods for the Decimation Master plugin for Zbrush. Every time I build up a skull, the polygons get stretched, but then I can just decimate and have a lower res mesh that keeps most of, if not all the detail, with a nice and even spread of polys. Saves me a lot of time that otherwise would have been spent retopologizing. In any case, I didn’t want to spend too much time on the base, but this looks like a bit of a project. But hopefully I’ll get a nice result in the end.


Fall of Spartacus: WIP Update #1

I started modeling the character. I’m not doing a lot of modeling in Max, since for this project I’m just doing an image, and polycount is not an issue, so I will be importing a higher subdivision level into max for the final render. This means that I can just focus on creating the different mesh pieces with enough geometry in right places for the sculpt. The actual sculpting phase will create all the detail geometry for me, which I will then import back. No need to spend time fiddling around in max to model it there.

The model ended up being about 7400 polygons unoptimized, didn’t delete the insides of eqipment etc. I never do this until after the sculpt is done, because I believe it is important that everything has thickness in Zbrush. Usually I would do the sculpt and the UV’s, then optimize the mesh before rigging. No need to optimize  for this image though.

I’ve finished building the base mesh for the character itself. Didn’t start weapons and environment just yet. Will finish basic detail sculpting and preliminary posing of the character before I do that.

I’m not too far into the sculpting phase yet. I did most of the body sculpt (didn’t add small details yet, skin pores, wrinkles, scars etc), and I’m about to start the equipment.

Quick note about the environment. I’m thinking I’m just going to model the pile of bones he is standing on, not the background. The background can just be a plane with an image on it. I’ll do the pile of bones like a base, so it’s suitable for a turnaround, or even a 3d print.


Fall of Spartacus: Concept 2

I’ve settled on the dimensions of my shot, with the thinking that it should work as a poster or box art, as opposed to a desktop background for example. So the height and width proportions will be basically the same as an A4 sheet. 

This is important to settle on, as it heavily influences the composition of the shot.

I wasn’t too happy about the results of my mockups, so I went back to the drawing board.

Changed the pose, to a more dramatic one, which changes the shot from a static one to more of an action shot. Added some foreground elements to add more depth to the shot and frame it better.

I feel like I’m getting close to what I want now.

Fall of Spartacus: Image Mockup

I did a quick mockup of my image, trying to see what my composition is going to be like. Just trying to decide on the camera angle, the position of the props and the lighting.

Character still very much WIP of course.

Fall of Spartacus concepts


This is the moodboard I put together for my project. I’m going to for a quite dark fantasy style.

I did some quick concepts for my image. Apologies in advance for my crappy painting. My wacom is broken, so I did all this with a mouse. ^^

Will be going for very classic Silver Age style comic book proportions.

At the point I’m doing the image, he will have been on the run from the roman leagion for over 6 months. I imagine he wouldn’t have a whole lot of equipment anymore, some broken, some discarded.

So I’m thinking he would have come full circle and returned to much the same kind of outfit he would have worn as a slave. 

So he has a basic loincloth, a shoulder armor piece with layered plates, plate armor shinguards and a fancy belt, leftovers from the armor he used to wear. He also wears an old roman legion cape to protect from wind and weather.

His weapons are standard shield and a gladius.

I did a couple of different concepts for my image. Trying to think of how to put together my color scheme and finding the right composition.

In this one I added a shield on the side to reflect the light, in order to create an additional light source.

I’m still going to change the composition a bit more. Bring the character closer and angle the perspective up some more, to create a more heroic look. But I’m sick of doing poorly drawn concepts, so I plan to do this with a 3d mock up, just using placeholders for the geometry, so I can better pre-visualize the final composition.


Warlock concept: Graav

A friend of mine is making his own game as a project, and I told him I’d do a character for him. I haven’t had much time to work on it as Uni work is taking up most of my time, however I did put together a quick concept and have the base mesh almost completed.

I call him “Graav”.

The concept behind the character was the idea that this guy isn’t a typical wizard character. He’s a strong fighter, who through a series of unfortunate incidents, has been chained to a magical artifact. Basically his heart has been torn out of his chest and impaled on the artifact, which floats inside a sentient eye, that is in turn, chained to his back.

I see him as more of a victim of his circumstances than an actual warlock. All that is keeping him alive is the black magic of the artifact, so he can’t destroy it as that would kill him. I would create the character as kind of an odd couple thing, with him being more of a good guy, that hates this magical sentient eye that basically keeps his heart and very life hostage as it taunts him, and gets him into all kinds of mischief.

Will post more once I finish building the model and start detailing it.


Fall of Spartacus: Project brief

My Character Studies module at Uni tasks me to design a character and create a beauty shot. Think promotional artwork or game cover, as opposed to a turnaround.

For my beauty shot, I am going to do a Gladiator themed image, loosely inspired by Spartacus.

Character profile: Spartacus

Spartacus was a Thracian slave that became a leader of the slaves in a major slave uprising against the Roman empire. 

There are many different accounts of Spartacus’ past, but what we will be going with for this story is Spartacus was a Thracian mercenary, who became a Roman soldier, only to end up as a prisoner and sold to a ludus (gladiator school) owned by Lentulus Batiatus, to be a gladiator.

Along with several other gladiators (most notably, a Gaul named Crixus, he stages an escape and plunders the region around Capua. The slaves then made a base camp by mount Vesuvius, and through several battles against Roman militia (the Roman legion was absent, tied up in wars elsewhere), earned the trust and respect of both slaves and farmers in the region, who joined them.

Alarmed by the defeat of the militia sent against the slave rebellion, the Roman Senate recalled several Roman Legions to fight the rebellion. What followed was a war that lasted for nearly 3 years, where the momentum changed several times, until Spartacus’ forces eventually were destroyed by a Roman legion under the command of Marcus Crassus.

Spartacus fate is unknown, as his body was never recovered, but it is widely believed that he perished in battle with his men during the slave rebellions last stand.

Image description:

Spartacus has lost everything: His wife, his freedom, most of his friends, and he is near the breaking point. But through battle, and almost perishing in the arena, he has come to terms with the fact that he has something to live for, the desire to earn his freedom once more, and take revenge on those who destroyed his life. 

This leads to a long and bloody conflict that eventually ends with a last stand from the desperate remains of the slave rebellion led by Spartacus.

The image will depict the deciding moment, where it becomes clear that it’s all going to end. That he has lost. As his friends and brothers in arms are falling all around him, as his army is being routed in their desperate last stand, Spartacus experiences a break in the action, and surveys the carnage around him. 

As the realization dawns on him that this is the end, he struggles with feelings of desperation and hopelessness. The ground seemingly shifts beneath his feet, and he finds himself standing on a pile of bones, while his life and the events that led to this moment flash in his mind, consumed by the fires of war that rage all around him This lasts but a moment before he snaps out of it, regains his determination and fights bravely until the end.

The emotions I will aim to capture with the image will be: Regret and desperation, with an undercurrent of grim determination.

Tools and workflow:

I will be using Zbrush, 3Ds Max and Photoshop for the creation of the image.

Since this character is just for the one image, after modeling the character in a T Pose for the purpose of getting proportions right, I plan to sculpt the final pose in Zbrush. As opposed to sculpting for a neutral pose, and then posing the character, actually sculpting the pose will allow me to do things with the model like detailed facial expression, and stretching and contorting of muscle.