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Lead Character Artist Nabil Chequeiq brought a lot of talent and passion to his stylized 3D character project. Don’t miss out on this breakdown of Lady Mequa, a badas** character, which includes:

  1. Character Origin
  2. Accessories
  3. UVs
  4. Texture Details
  5. Hair
  6. Final Character

Hello, my name is Nabil Chequeiq, I’m originally from Morocco and I love 3D character art. For someone like me, it was hard to specialize in character art in Africa, especially since there’s no one to learn directly from, so I spent the last couple of years developing skills on my own. I moved to Canada to work at ReelFX, and now I’m based in Los Angeles where I am a Lead character artist at BRON Studios.

1. Character Origin

For this course, I chose to develop a 3D stylized character based on my own design. To start, I gathered references to capture the mood and personality of the character.

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Hannah told me to focus on shapes to form a better idea of my character. When working out the idea, I started playing with cylinders and other forms – I found them to be easy to manipulate as you have more control over them. The biggest problem here was to envision the final result in my head and try to transfer it into 3D. But Hannah helped me choose the most appropriate shape that would serve my design and ideas best.

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Enroll in Stylized Characters in 3D taught by Dreamworks Animation Digital Sculptor and Designer Hannah Kang.

2. Accessories

I wanted a lot of accessories for this character. I either created them in ZBrush and retopologized in Maya or made them from scratch directly in Maya. I’m a traditional box-modeler so if I want to start an asset in Maya, I choose a plain or a box with low resolution and then keep iterating as I go.

If I want to do something in ZBrush, I use a simple curve brush, then export the result into Maya with a plugin called Styx to add holes and edges. Styx is a really a good export-import tool that makes my life so much easier.

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Explore CGMA’s Creating Stylized Game Assets course taught by Senior Environment Artist Ashleigh Warner.

3. UVs

For UVs, I really like to utilize the UV tool in Maya 2018.

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The biggest challenge with UVs is to know where to put your seams, plus don’t forget to add holding edges to your geometry so that if you smooth the object you don’t have stretching textures.

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It took me some time to figure out the right places for my seams because I wanted to use Substance Painter for texturing instead of Mari. I had to be careful with the cuts.

4. Texture Details

For detailing, I used Substance Painter and Arnold (for rendering) and for the small cloth details, I used XGen’s hair generation system. Then, I applied a hair material with the same texture I have on the object to make the colors more uniform.

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For the leather, I looked for a lot of references on the internet to learn how the leather is made. After the research, I jumped to Substance Painter and began exploring and testing different custom and smart materials to match the real-life references.

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For the stitches and seams, I used a MultiTool Pack for Substance I found here. It’s really a good painter brush that has all the seems and stitches I needed for the project.

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Read “8 Steps to Create a 3D Stylized Viking Warrior” for a look at another strong female character.

5. Hair

I started using XGen only recently but I have found it really good and easy to work with. As a beginner, I don’t start directly in Maya and always use ZBrush to create my hair base. Then, I go to Maya to extract curves and convert them into guides.

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During the process, I faced a problem as I didn’t know how to give the hair multiple color gradients. What  I did is create separate groups and then give each group its own gradient with some variety which worked perfectly as I had more freedom in terms of colors and control. For those who want to learn XGen, I recommend Tarkan Sarim, he is a really good teacher.

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6. Final Character

Here is the final product!

Final Thoughts

  • Working with someone from the industry and having the chance to talk to this person is a really great experience, especially if you enjoy what this person does. Before CGMA, I didn’t have an established workflow, but during the course Stylized Characters in 3DHannah Kang showed us the way she works and I enjoyed it.
  • Now, every time I want to start a new project, I use the same workflow learned at CGMA. I recommend this class to everyone who wants to learn stylized character art.
  • For me, every project has its own challenges from defining shapes to rendering or material and I learn new things every time. A good way to test your character is to ask people for feedback and always try to work outside of your comfort zone to learn more and more.
  • During this particular project, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to talk to Hannah Kang and get feedback from her. And don’t be afraid of re-doing things!

LEARN MORE

CGMA provides comprehensive instruction for Art, Games, and VFX industries in a variety of courses for a range of students, from 2D and 3D artists looking to supplement their college studies to industry professionals looking to stay up to date on emerging trends and techniques in the field.

RELATED LINKS

Check out more of Nabil Chequeiq’s character work!

Enroll in Stylized Characters in 3D taught by Dreamworks Animation Digital Sculptor and Designer Hannah Kang.

Explore CGMA’s Creating Stylized Game Assets course taught by Senior Environment Artist Ashleigh Warner.

Read “8 Steps to Create a 3D Stylized Viking Warrior” for a look at another strong female character.