Massimiliano Bianchini is a 3D artist from Italy. Like all incredible digital artists, he always spent his time drawing as a child. It was only recently that he decided to jump into the world of 3D and we couldn't be happier he made the decision and is sharing his workflow for Kratos | King of Midgard.


Gathering Reference

Gathering reference is one of the most important part when you start a new project. I’ve spent hours looking for references, more you have better is.

I use PureRef for display all my references, for this project I gathered like three hundred images. This is an example:

References collected for creating project

Modeling and Blockout stage

Blocking out the model is the key to achieve a good final look, you will define proportion and look of your model. This is why this part is so important.

In this phase I used ZBrush to keep playing with proportions working with rough mesh, no detail, only primary forms. I started creating an anatomical correct body, then layering on top of this the armor. Props and weapon made in the same way, in different Β Ztool files.

Blocking with Polygroups | Blocking

Modeling Secondary and Tertiary shapes

Once the blocking is done, I started gradually adding details. While I kept symmetry on the armor and other props, I started work without on the body.

You can record a layer with symmetry on so you can step back. Anatomy is fundamental, I used a lot of anatomical references, is necessary to study and understand each muscle, even watching video of muscles work.

This is how I get some of the details:

Head Study
Zbrush Tips 01
Zbrush Tips 02
Zbrush Tips 03

Retopology and UV

I like work with clean topology and subdivision levels, so once I finished the blocking I start creating mesh with correct topology with Zremesh or Quad Draw tool from Maya.

Eyes UVs

Texturing and Materials

All the texture was made with Substance Painter, skin texture was a base between a polypaint in ZBrush made with Texturing XYZ map and procedural/hand-painted texture on Substance.

For this I created a lots of smart material, usually I use a procedural base then a mix of hand-painted texture to get a more realistic look. When I’m creating a new smart material, I work with different different folder with separate channels(base/roughness/height) and if needed layering different kind of materials.

Substance Painter Viewport
Smart Materials avaiable on Artstation Marketplace

Shading and Lighting

When I have some base texture ready, I start creating the shaders and setting up different lights set and HDRI.For this project I used a filler HDRI with very low intensity, and other five area light(Key/Filler/Rim/Eyes Specular).

Here there’s how the skin shader looks like on the Hypershade, two aiStandard surface(ash and skin) mixed together.

Skin Shader NodeEditor
LookDev+HDRI

Grooming Development

Made with Maya Xgen, subdivided in three different Collection: Kratos, Mimir, Cloth. In each Collection I’ve got different description like eyebrows, beard, wink, moustache, peach fuzz and chest hair.

Kratos beard is made of two description instead of paint a color map, so I splitted in brown and white hair.

Xgen Guides+Modifiers (Beard)
Head

Final Compositing

The final stage, I added some layer in Photoshop. Like a background, some passes and a gloom effect on the Rim light side.

Photoshop Viewport

You can check out more of Massimilliano's work here, here and here.

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