Character Breakdown

Zhixin Li


Zhixin Li

Character Artist


Hello everyone, my name is Zhixin Li. I'm a 3D Character Artist working for Tencent.


The “Lord of the Rings” series is one of my favorite movies, and “Aragorn” fascinates me even more.

So I decided to use 3D to restore the image and temperament of Aragorn in the movie as much as possible.



Getty Images is a very good website where you can search for many high-definition stills and close-ups of actors. We need to find as many references as possible to help with later model production.


Here is a selection of the images found for Viggo Mortensen.


And many references to accessories like swords, rings, and arm guards.



  • ZBrush
  • Marvelous Designer
  • Maya
  • Substance 3D Painter
  • UE5


First, I made the character’s face in ZBrush, using the base model to modify and adjust the similarity, and gradually refined the skin texture.

For the skin texture, I used TextureXYZ Vface, and the detail is amazing.

Clothing & Accessories

I made all the fabric parts in Marvelous Designer.


When the completion level reaches 70-80%, I go into ZBrush to continue to refine the model, adding wrinkle details and damage effects.

Arm Guards

The pattern was a headache when making the arm guards because there was no high-definition material found.

I could only extract the blurry stills pattern in Photoshop and make it into a height map. Then apply and repair the pattern in ZBrush.


Gloves, coat, rings, necklaces, and other jewelry were made in ZBrush. Because they were relatively small, I didn’t make them very detailed.

The sword was also carved directly in ZBrush. Fortunately, I found a great pattern reference.


Lowpoly & UVs

Because this is my work, there is no limit on the number of faces in the model. I tried my best to show the details of the model in the low-model stage.



I worked on the texturing in Substance Painter. The color map of TextureXYZ Vface was used to optimize the similarity between skin color and character.


When making the textures of the clothing, I made a lot of dirty details to restore the dirty and old effect in the drama.



I used Maya XGEN for hair production. Aragorn’s hair has obvious characteristics, messy and greasy.

So to restore the effect, I went through several iterations and finally achieved a satisfactory effect.


In order to create a reference beard effect, I also made two layers of beard to distinguish the colors.


Lighting & Rendering

I’m using UE5 for rendering, and path tracing is a very useful feature. Compared to Lumen lighting, you can get a more realistic representation.


I chose the metahuman lighting from the UE store for the lighting scene, and I chose two of the scenes as the basis to modify the lighting according to my needs, which is very convenient.


I used UE’s Groom for the hair part, and it worked very well.

The result is a light and shadow effect that is close to that of a movie.


This is the general production process of this project, and I hope it can help you.

I will continue to work hard to make the next better character and look forward to it. Follow my Artstation account.