Character Breakdown

Ahmed Albastaki


Ahmed Albastaki

Senior Concept Artist


Hello, everyone! My name is Ahmed Albastaki, and I am a Senior Concept Artist at Goals. I am currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.
Originally, I am from a small island in the Middle East called Bahrain. I am currently studying Character Art full-time at Think Tank Online while working full-time as a Concept Artist.


My goal for creating this Character started nine years back when I was hired as a Concept Artist for the first gaming company in Bahrain, called Empire Studios.

While working there, I was mentored by two great mentors whom I consider great friends to this day: Fahad Alkhalifa and Mohammed Alkhalifa.

They had a significant influence on my art, introducing me to Blizzard Art and Joe Mad Art, and I got hooked immediately.
I wished for a long time to work on stylized projects, but most of the studios I worked with or projects demanded realistic art.

So, I took it as an opportunity (nine years later) to reintroduce this style again, but this time with Character Art instead of Concept Art.

I also want to thank my mentor Aaron Colman-Hayes and the Think Tank Staff (especially John Robertsson and Marty Hasslebach) for their continuous support during our studies.

Also, I want to thank my Art Director Filip Nordin Lybeck for allowing me to take some time off from work to focus on my studies.


As I mentioned earlier, the influence was always Blizzard Art and Joe Mad Art. I also wanted to add my own twist to it. While searching online for Moloch 3D Models, I found some interesting takes on the concept. I wanted to add my own twist and study what worked and what didn’t (in my opinion).

I purchased a course from, created by Pierrick Picaut, called Crimson Ronin – PBR Character Creation for Games, which helped me a lot.

The original concept is by the amazing Joe Mad and talented Baldi Konjin.


There is a specific artist named David Bolton whom I studied religiously. I remember going to his Artstation account regularly to study his Marmoset model, the decisions he took in every layer, how the high-poly model sculpt translated into a normal map, what colors he chose, why he shaded in this specific way, and how he tackled shapes.

This project is my first-ever attempt to do a game-ready Character from start to finish. So I had a lot of doubts, but I kept my mind focusing on whatever task at hand and letting the big picture work itself out.


I cannot emphasize how important planning is. This project is part of school work and is required to be done in five weeks, with a buffer of two weeks after that.

As you can see below, I like to use Miro or Figma for these kinds of projects, posting daily progress photos to keep my mind in check whenever doubts come, and I think I am not progressing. I just scroll back days earlier and feel a sense of progress.


Blocking Out

Started with Zbrush to get the general blockout. It is very important at this stage to have anatomy references. I start by focusing on big shapes, nailing the silhouette, and overall proportions. I keep everything at a fairly low poly count so it is much easier to modify and change.

I always tell myself quality before quantity. Get your model to the best shape possible with as low polygons as you can, then start adding more polygons. Focusing on big shapes first, and details will come later.

This phase might be the most important phase (artistically). If this is not well executed, no amount of clean topo or great textures will save you. So put the time needed to get the block out in a very good state; you can always modify and tweak later. But make sure to solve the big problems at this stage!



After getting my anatomy and forms to a 90% state, I moved to modeling. The reason for this is I always make room for improvement. Maybe after I add the clothing, I might think that the model looks short or tall, the arms look weird, the back is small, etc. I keep room for improvement.


I modeled the clothing and armor pieces on top of my initial sculpt. Also, I sometimes paused working on modeling and went back to update the sculpt of the body in Zbrush. It is always a back-and-forth kind of process.

I recommend leaving room for future adjustments.


Took my Maya model back to Zbrush. I made sure the models had clean topology for sculpting. I subdivided the models and added smaller and finer details.


Retopology had some great resources for head and body retopology, and on where to place the loops.
Below are the images that helped me tremendously.

I used Maya QuadDraw tool for retopology.

UV Unwrapping

For UVs, it is pretty straightforward. I used Maya UV tools.

Also, I tried to have the Headcover as much space as possible on the map as shown below.
And having the Head and Body on the same UV map but with different Materials.


As for materials, this is how I divided them:


Final Model Adjustments

I remember having issues with the normals when moving from Maya to Zbrush, so I had to go back to Maya to fix those, sometimes redoing it.

Naming everything properly. Preparing both the low-poly model and the high-poly model for baking.

Focusing on smaller details like small golden parts and teeth.


  • Baking – When I started baking in Substance Painter, I had some issues with the baking of some normal, AO, and curvature maps. So my mentor Aaron suggested I take them to Photoshop to manually fix them after I tried playing with the parameters of baking in SP and it was not giving me the desired result.
  • Texturing – Started with Diffuse map and utilized AO and Curvature bakes to get the desired Stylized look.

Then worked on Roughness and metalness maps.


I used Zbrush to pose the model. However, when I moved my model to Zbrush, it had some gaps in the triangles as you can see below.
After posing the model, I took it to Maya again and fixed the geometry, reassigned the materials and UVs. I ended with renaming also.



Imported my FBX to Marmoset Toolbag 4. Added my textures, and experimented with lighting and cameras.
And post-processing effects like sharpness. Finally, I redid the same process for the sword.



Coming from a Concept Art background, I have to say Game Art has a different set of challenges. An obvious example that comes to my mind immediately is; that in Concept Art, you can get away with a lot.

For example, you can hide some elements in fog, use loose brushes to define some edges, use photos to help you, etc. However, in Character Art, it is less forgiving.

In most cases, you have to create everything and have it as clear and as readable as possible, especially if it will be used in games and seen in different directions and moving.

I think Character Art – in my rough estimation – is 30% Art and 70% Technical work. I also recommend studying the style you want to nail.

There are lots of great artists and tutorials nowadays. And never skip the foundation work; I have done lots and lots of studies in 2D, which I think transferred well when I moved to 3D.

This project was challenging, I felt the growth pain. And I am truly thankful to Alfred from for reaching out to me.

I hope this helped you in any way. Good luck in your journeys!