‘Family Guy Fan-Art’ – Creating Real Cartoon Characters – Pete GTK Rabczuk
My name is Pete Rabczuk and currently, I’m a Character Artist at D3T.
I started in the games industry quite late having spent most of my life as a dispensing Optician. I decided to change careers and do what I love most. So I went back to University and got a degree in Visual Effects and Video Games. I now have 3 years’ experience as a professional Character Artist!
I am a huge fan of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. I have always wanted to create a very similar, hyper-real character.
Family guy is another one of my favorite shows and that’s where I decided to start and bring some of them to life.
Step One: Research
This is key and a good starting base. I look for real people who look similar to the Character I’m making. This offers the best reference points, e.g Peter Griffin. I searched for extremely obese males to get reference on fat deposits around the face and neck areas. I then researched the hair to see how it would fall on that type of head. I also looked to see if any other Artists had modelled Peter Griffin, sometimes its good to take a look to gather more inspiration and ideas.
Step Two: Sculpting
The programme I use to do all my sculpting is Zbrush.
To save a bit of time I reused an old head as a base mesh. I started blocking out general forms first on a very low-density mesh. And when I’m happy with the general forms, I usually add a couple of subdivisions to add more smaller but important forms.
I found that having good topology from the get go helps a lot when going into the smaller and finer detail. Thats why it is a good idea to plan geometry flow beforehand.
When I’m done with the smaller forms and happy with the overall look, I then move on to detailing the skin.
First I take a look at some good skin reference, there’s a website by Daniel Boschung that I’ve been using for years now. It’s still one of the best reference sites I have found to date, and I highly recommend you use it too! I also use a variety of different skin alphas and custom brushes, there are loads you can find online.
Step Three: Texturing
For all my texturing work I use Substance Painter.
Again, I go back and look for as many reference images possible. I use a lot of flat images to re-project the base color and then I paint on top.
Step Four: Hair XGen
With this particular project, I tried to balance between a real and cartoonish style.
It was a little harder for Peter, for the reference I looked for images of men with groomed hair.
Looking for reference for Meg was easier because her hair is straight.
Step five: Materials
I used Arnold Render and Arnold Material for these particular characters.
I’ve been using Arnold for some time now, so I usually have a some premade materials that I reuse now and then.
I always try and improve my set of materials and if I’m not sure about something and want to achieve a better result I usually look for tutorials online for the specific material.
For the skin and eyes material I watched tutorial by Arvid Schneider. I find him very easy to follow and usually gets straight to the point.
Step Six: Lighting, Rendering and Composition
I found lighting the most difficult. Bad lighting could make your art look very bad no matter how good the sculpt is.
I gathered alot of reference for the lighting, it’s much easier to achieve a more realistic result by using an actual reference than just freestyling and hoping for the best.
For my final step, I used Arnold render to render my images. One drawback I had was that my PC isn’t that powerful, 4K renders would take me days, so I had to drop the resolution to 2K.
Finally, I did a touch in photoshop. And there it was, the finished project.