Crow Mask Doctor 3D project

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I recently felt inspired to make a crow-mask plague doctor type character. To complete this project, I used blender, photoshop, zBrush, and dDo. Of course, there’s much more work that could be done, but the focus of this project was the mask itself. I wanted to refresh my skills in porting texture from zBrush to Blender.

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First I collected some of my sketches and references, such as the ASMR (the phenomenon when you hear sounds that make your neck/head tingle) youtube channel Ephemeral Rift and his character “Dr. Corvus”.

I loaded up zBrush and sculpted out the shape of the mask. I then took it to blender and cleaned up the resulting geometry because zBrush hardly ever makes geometry that is clean and neat for polygonal modeling techniques.

After cleaning it up, I UV unwrapped the model (UV unwrapping is the process of taking all the 3D “faces” and pointing them to a 2D “painting” for colors and textures). I sent it back into zBrush and got the resolution high enough for me to sculpt in the little details like metal embossing, leather wrinkles, and stitching. I used zBrush’s multimap exporter tools to “extract” the detail off the high resolution model to map it to the low resolution final model.

Next, I took my extracted “maps” into a photoshop plugin called dDo (the legacy version is free, if you want it, scroll to the bottom of their page for the download). dDo is a collection of filters and preset textures that you can apply procedurally to your model to give it dust, scratches, spots, and other dirtyness. It helps create believable textures without spending as much time (good for studio productions under time constraints).

With my finished mask, I roughly modeled up a hat and some clothes to pose for a final render, which you can see above. I used Blender’s cycles rendering engine. I intend to model out an entire character to the same quality as the mask.

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Long Time, No See

Yo it’s been a bit. I’ve been busy working on school stuff and while I have been posting things, I seem to have neglected this blog. Let me catch you up (if you still follow me, that is).

First and foremost, I changed my logo recently after feedback that it looked “straight out of the ’70s” and “I wonder if this business card is current or if it’s ancient and I should toss it”.

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I also redesigned my Sachtberg characters, as I am working on redoing an animated storyboard (animatic) for a potential short film.

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I experimented with a new painting process which involves using a “Digital Maquette”. I use Blender Cycles to make a 3D render of the subject with lighting and materials. I then use this as reference for painting. It’s the same as making a maquette (miniature posed sculpture) out of clay. The results are good, but rendering the maquette takes almost as long to do as it takes to paint the final picture.

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Here is a sample of one of my render trials for a painting. I used spheres to gauge the lighting from all directions as well.

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Both of these paintings were completed using digital maquettes for perspective, lighting, and material reference. Yes I know it’s obnoxious that I continue to paint these characters but whatever. Read on to find out my thoughts on this subject.

I have made the decision to focus my character design work on creatures, animals, and humanoid animals. Personally I feel more interest in designing such characters as I believe humans are “boring”. Not to say I won’t design human characters any more, but they won’t be my “preferred area of work”. Humans are still artistically “beautiful”, and the human figure is a wonder of nature. However, I find it more entertaining to apply these human characteristics to something non-human, and to invent new species through all kinds of “Genetic combinations” and biological research and what not. My drive as an artist is to create a new world. I apply algorithms and research and extensive effort into new cultures, new histories, new ways of life. Perhaps a mockery of this world, or a reflection of what could be possible out there in the mess of universes. It may be my personal opinion, but I find animal characters fundamentally more interesting to look at- especially if human qualities are cleverly applied. In addition to creating sentient animal-people characters, I also think Artificial Intelligence a fascinating subject rich with designs to explore.

An interesting perspective to the question, “What is it to be human?”

FROM GREATNESS TO DUST update: My comic isn’t over, I’m just pulling back and reconsidering my approach to delivering the content. The comic page format looks nice, but it takes a long time to produce. The rule of comics is “show, don’t tell”, and I find this rule disappointing because it makes describing things deeply a challenge. I am aiming for a more “mixed media” approach- including comic formats, novel-like text with illustrations, and even animations. Keep your eyes out for the next release.