Hello everyone, my name is Dzung Phung Dinh, founder of Thunder Cloud Studio – 3D animation & game art outsourcing company. I myself is an artist with 12 years of experience working in games, movies and advertising industry. Before Thundercloud, I have been working on projects of various scales from Xbox One title games at Rare UK and feature films at Double Negative London to various advertising commercial projects as 3D Art Director at The Color Club International.
Some might already know about my old project – Exparia (a making-of article on 80lv was published last year). It was well received and I see that our communities have a huge interested in UE4 in-depth technique of stylized look dev and rendering. Therefore I am pleased to write more about this topic, in particular, a case study – my latest project – Pisciasa. She is one of my OC collections (girls with mecha monsters series) and above all she is my entry for the recent contest by CubeBrush – ArtWar2.
In the process of doing each of my projects, I have been working non-stop to train myself in both artistic and technical skills. I have taken part in Inktober to train my 2D drawing skills, I have written some more tools & scripts to aid with 3d production at Thundercloud. I also found some more interesting shaders technique in UE4 that could benefit the way I do the stylized rendering. I learn many things in the past months since Exparia and I want to put all of my skills and experiences to the challenge in Artwar2 using my latest work – Pisiasa, so in this article, you will have a brief look through all the techniques and workflows I have developed for Pisciasa.
The biggest ambition of Pisciasa is the standard that I set myself to push the quality of the final 3d piece to look as close as possible to the 2d illustration concept. I want people unable to distinguish between the final 3D piece and its 2D concept work, thus improve the quality of the 3D in both art direction and production techniques. Once I can achieve this goal, then I would be confident that I can execute any of my 2D works into a decent stylized PBR work in UE4 without losing any of its feeling or artistic look in 2D.
Having experience from Exparia and my past projects, I know there are numerous of points I need to work on. First I need a more detail 2d concept so that I would know exactly what kind of look/visual goal I should aim for in UE4 as well as what kind of effects, stylized shaders I need to make in UE4.
The render quality of the final image in UE4 also needs to be improved, having a better shadow, better lighting, better AA, and details render etc.
Lastly, on top of all, I need a better planning and schedule to help me finishing Pisciasa before ARTWAR2 deadline. Which having a clear 2D concept as an art goal help me greatly in planning my production and vision the final result.
General view of workflow
The modeling & texturing workflows of Pisciasa are pretty basic and straightforward, for more detail of how I did the design and planning my modeling/texturing process you can visit the production breakdown article on CubeBrush blog which will be published soon by the time I am writing this, and process video below:
Fish modeling progress:
One notable point is that I improved my old base mesh for Pisciasa face & body model. I worked on my base meshes and articular topology and anatomy modeling over time after each one of my project cycle. Here are some images to demonstrate the features of Pisciasa base mesh, you can see how the topology in relation to deformation work during animation. If you are interested in Topology and edge flow for articular modeling (the relationship between Topology, anatomy, and joints position for best deformation result while animating). If you are interested in taking a deeper look into Pisciasa body, please go here.