19 December 2021

The Hunter – Character Breakdown – Jean Zoudi

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Introduction

Hi! My name is Jean Zoudi, I’m a french 3D character artist. First of all, I would like to thank GamesArtist for the opportunity to talk about my work.
I try to work on personal projects whenever I have time to, I think it’s very important to experiment, develop skills, optimize workflow and I believe personal projects are the best way to do all of this while having fun!

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About the project

Bloodborne is in my opinion the greatest game ever made, it is a masterpiece both in terms of art and gameplay. Since the game came out 6 years ago, and after Bluepoint’s amazing remake of Demon’s Souls, I was wondering what
Bloodborne could look like if it was remade for next-gen consoles. I wanted to recreate iconic characters, Lady Maria and the Hunter came out to be the best match for this project. So I started off by creating “Lady Maria of the

Astral Clocktower” which you can find here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/aY2VJ2

And I moved on to the Hunter, Bloodborne’s main protagonist. Here’s how I approached this character’s creation.

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References

Every project starts with gathering references, obviously, the game was my main one, but I also used Andres Zambrano great fanart: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/gJyqwQ

I have Figma’s articulated miniature of the Hunter which came in handy to get every angle right.

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Blocking

This character has a lot of different clothes and straps, so I started off by creating a blockout for every object in the outfit, and I used Marvelous Designer for the loose clothes: The coat and the pants.

I never go too far in details in MD, I only use it as a base for my sculpt to get the main shapes and folds.

For the little chains, I went for the curve brushes in Zbrush, a tool I recommend using that lets you have good control over this kind of intricate meshes.
Every other clothes have been made in Zbrush with Extracts and hand-sculpting. The hard surface parts like the forearms protections, buttons or straps were modeled in Maya and imported in Zbrush.

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Sculpting

Once I get my blocking looking right, I start subdividing and sculpting secondary forms and folds. For this project, I wanted to have all the details directly in Zbrush, even if it’s not very optimized because it requires displaying a lot of polygons.

But it gave me a better idea of the final result before texturing. I always use layers when sculpting tertiary forms and details. For the clothing, I usually create a layer for the overall pattern (like leather or textile), another layer for the small folds, one for the stitches and a last one for the damages and wear. I didn’t spend too much time on the face because it will be hidden behind the scarf and the hat, so I just went for a generic face and some skin alphas.

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Baking/Texturing

Once the high poly is done, I exported everything from Zbrush to Maya, and started setting everything up for the baking (retopo the parts where Zremesher wasn’t enough, unwrapping everything, assigning materials to texture sets, etc)

After that, I imported the low poly in Substance Painter and baked my high poly on it. It was a bit time-consuming considering all the details in the high poly but it spared me some work on the texturing and I got nice mesh maps with lots of details, especially from the curvature which I use a lot in the texturing process.

The ornaments on the protections were added in Substance Painter with alphas I created in Photoshop.

I used Jasper Vick’s Blood smart material for the touches of blood on the character: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/A968KW
The head texturing was pretty straightforward, classic blue/red/yellow for the different tones, some layers to add contrast and color variation and I also painted a hair cap which will be useful for hair grooming later.

Hair grooming

At this stage, I imported my model and textures in UE5 to see if everything checks out. It can be a long back-and-forth process here, tweaking textures or modeling until it works nicely.

Once I was happy with the result, I started hair grooming using xGen in Maya. It was a rather simple haircut so it didn’t take too long. Since the face is mostly covered, I obviously just focused on the hair that would be visible in the final render.

Some guides tweaking and some modifiers (3 clumpings, 1 cut, 1 coil, 3 noise) later, I exported the hair as an Alembic Cache and imported it in UE5. I find this hair workflow truly amazing and it gives great real-time results.

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Rendering/Lighting

Then I just needed to make everything render nicely in UE. Epic Games provides awesome resources for artists, for example, I used Windwalker Echo’s eyes and skin shaders which I tweaked to match my needs. That saved me from doing lots of technical stuff I’m not as good as them at. https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/product/windwalker-echo-01

I wanted a small pedestal for the character to stand on, so I went for something reminiscent of the game: a portion of dark pavement with a puddle of blood.
Starting from a displacement map, I sculpted some rocks in ZBrush, textured it and added a plane for the blood.
The lighting is made of a key spotlight, a slight fill spotlight and two rim point lights.

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Conclusion

It was a really fun project to work on, I learned a lot and especially on the clothing creation. I’m happy to have been able to create two full characters in the the Bloodborne universe was an amazing experience to work with from Software’s designs as a base, they really are masters.

Thanks again to GamesArtist, and thanks for reading, I hope you liked this little insight into my work!