Creating an Original Character From 2D Concept to 3D Model

Creating an Original Character From 2D Concept to 3D Model

Game artist Anaïs Watelot shares her process for creating a 3D model of the Egyptian goddess Bastet, encompassing a complete game-ready character creation workflow.

This article details the creation of an original character concept and model for a school project completed in two weeks. Anaïs Watelot, a junior game artist and graduate of Gaming Campus, chose to depict the Egyptian goddess Bastet as the Queen. The project involved research, 2D concept art, 3D modeling, retopology, and hand-painted texturing, culminating in a 3D-printed model. Join Anaïs on her journey from inspiration to final rendering, showcasing her skills and passion for game art and character creation.


Introduction

The goal of this school project was to create an original chess piece based on our chosen theme, completed within a timeframe of about 2 weeks. Opting to depict the Queen, I chose the theme of Egypt and created the goddess Bastet.

- You can find my socials at the end of the article -

Some of us had the opportunity for our chess pieces to be 3D printed by our teacher. As a game artist, I aimed for my work to be printable, which meant creating a character optimised for integration into a game engine while maintaining a high-poly version suitable for 3D printing. Another constraint was to design a pose that would ensure the character's balance during printing.

Software used

  • Initial 2D concept created using Procreate
  • 3D adaptation sculpted in ZBrush
  • Retopology made in Maya
  • Textures fully hand-painted in Procreate and Substance 3D Painter
  • Rendering done in Blender
  • 3D print in resin by my teacher (huge thanks to him)

Step 1: Research - 2D Concept Art

The inspiration comes from my passion for cats, influenced by Pop-culture and Japanese aesthetics, particularly the concept of cat girls. I aimed to embody female strength while infusing a whimsical touch with the cat head, drawing inspiration from the Egyptian goddess Bastet. To ensure authenticity and personalisation, I delved into research on Egyptian history and mythology, focusing on Bastet's unique characteristics. Then I put everything together in a large research and reference sheet using PureRef.

PureRef - Searching and references

Bastet is commonly depicted holding a musical instrument, the Sistrum, symbolizing her association with music and celebration. As both queen and goddess, I complemented her with a sceptre adorned with the Ankh symbol, representing eternal life and fertility. Using Procreate, I crafted a concept to visualise my character's appearance, ensuring that once posed, it would embody the essence of a chess Queen.

She needed to possess a proud and slender build, along with a strong yet feminine appearance, distinguishing her unmistakably as the Queen amidst the other chess pieces on the board.

Step 2: 3D Modeling

The 3D realisation in ZBrush was my favorite part. Witnessing my character and ideas take shape in three dimensions was truly satisfying.

However, modeling was not that easy. Certain elements from the 2D concept required modifications to suit the transition to 3D.

Initially, I created a blockout in an A-pose to maintain symmetry as long as possible for precision and efficiency. This blockout provided a visual representation of the character's overall shape and allowed me to ensure the proportions aligned with my concept.

I then refined the modeling by adding all the necessary details so that the 3D character was the most faithful to my 2D concept.

Zbrush - Adding details

I also had to constantly keep in mind that it would be printed in resin, so it was imperative to think about the character's pose to keep a good balance once printed. Therefore, for the posing, I gave movement to her skirt to allow her sceptre to rest against it, ensuring stability on three points on the ground. This also enhanced the strength of the sceptre. The counterweight was achieved with her left hand holding the Sistrum.

Step 3: Retopology - UV

Retopology was the biggest challenge in this project. I dedicated a lot of time and effort to make my character game-ready.

I manually made the entire retopology. The retopology mesh had to be well-optimised to be able to apply textures and to simulate integration into a game engine.

Before proceeding to Maya, I utilized Zremesher in ZBrush to create an initial retopology.

Once the retopology was completed in Maya, I returned to Zbrush to project the details of my High Poly model onto my Low Poly model and retain all the intricacies while optimising it for the game. For the UV mapping, I opted to create multiple boards to streamline the painting process later on.

Step 4: Hand-painted Textures

For the texturing, I made sure it was entirely done by hand. I greatly admire the texturing in games like League of Legends and Valorant by Riot, as well as Overwatch by Blizzard, and used them as references. I believe hand-painted textures provide a cartoonish aspect while maintaining a body shape that leans towards realism, which was the aesthetic I aimed for with my character.

Procreate - Fully Handpainted Textures

Initially, I used Substance 3D Painter to apply a base colour. After preparing the texture set with the base colour of my character, I switched to Procreate to hand-draw the textures directly onto the texture set. Finally, I returned to Substance 3D Painter to apply the textures to my model.

Step Bonus: 3D Printing

A few weeks later, I had the chance to see my 3D printed figurine by my teacher who did a magnificent job. Despite the finesse of the character and its accessories he managed to achieve a most accurate and faithful impression.

Final Thoughts

This project presented significant time and learning challenges. Designing and creating a character that is both Game-Ready and suitable for 3D printing in a short timeframe was challenging but a rewarding experience.

I learn a lot and I am proud of the final rendering, even while I recognise there is room for improvement. I really enjoyed reinterpreting the Egyptian goddess Bastet in my own style.

Final Results


Anaïs is a junior Game Artist living in France with a passion for creating characters, especially female figures, in both 2D and 3D, using digital and traditional methods. A cat lover and enthusiast of Japanese culture, Anaïs also enjoys photography and DIY crafting. To learn more about her work, you can find her social channels via her Rookies profile here.