Wolverine

Character Breakdown

Yin Shiuan

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Yin Shiuan

Senior 3D Artist

Introduction

Hi, I’m Hsieh, Yin-Hsuan (nickname Yin Shiuan), a Senior 3D Artist from Taipei, Taiwan.
I specialize in photoreal 3D assets and focus on creating believable 3D artwork. I also keep pushing myself to create high-quality, realistic characters.

Goals

Since I’ve been working in the gaming industry for a while, and the real-time technique has developed significantly, I really want to create a AAA-quality character for my personal project.

I plan to render my character inside Marmoset Toolbag and ensure that it is compatible with the UE5 Metahuman system and hair grooming system.

Software

  • Pureref
  • Blender
  • Maya
  • Wrap3D
  • ZBrush
  • Substance Designer
  • Substance Painter
  • Marmoset Toolbag
  • Unreal Engine 5

References

When I decided to work on this project, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine hadn’t revealed his appearance yet.

The only way I could find a reference was through screenshots from the filming set.

01_wolverine_ref

Modelling

I’ve decided to use a real-time workflow and engine for this project from the very beginning, and this character has to be integrated into Metahuman.

So, I started by playing around with Metahuman Creator first. In this phase, the likeness of the character is not crucial; we only need a base character without clothing.

02_wolverine_metahuman

Originally, I made Hugh’s face much younger than his current one. After the new movie trailer was released, I decided to make some adjustments so that the age matches the movie version more closely.

I then used Wrap3D and TexturingXYZ for the skin details. I recommend starting this process only after you’ve finished adjusting for likeness.

03_wolverine_zb1

All the base models of suits were created in Blender, and then details were sculpted inside ZBrush. I sculpted a base body first, ensuring that the suit will match the body more precisely.

Just make sure the joint positions are the same as the Metahuman body (if you want your character to be compatible with Metahuman).

Hair

The entire hair was made using Blender’s hair system. Since I plan to ensure that the hair is compatible with the UE5 hair grooming system, there won’t be any hair cards for this character.

However, I also want to render my character inside Marmoset Toolbag, which doesn’t support any hair system yet. I had to find a workaround for the hair.

In the end, I used regular polygon mesh with vertex color. By utilizing vertex color, I could achieve color variation without needing any UVs. I created my own custom geometry node for hair optimization.

After all the color variations were baked to vertex colors, I then exported it into Marmoset Toolbag.

04_wolverine_b3d_hair

UV

The Wolverine’s head model was reused from Metahuman, so I could just reuse the existing UV directly. The suit was assigned 3 different materials: the upper suit, the lower suit, and the hands with claws.

The hands/claws are quite important for Wolverine, so I decided to assign a separate material for them.

05_wolverine_b3d_uv

Texturing

For the texturing, I created a few different base materials in Substance Designer first, then used Substance Painter to finish all the rest of the texture.

I utilized TexturingXYZ as the base texture for the face, adjusting it in Substance Painter so that the result can be much closer to Hugh’s face.

06_wolverine_sp1

Material

Inside Marmoset Toolbag, for the Subsurface Scattering effect (SSS), I usually use “Volumetric Scattering.” This effect is not only used for skin but also for the suit as well (in the real world, a lot of materials have a slight SSS effect).

For the hair, since Marmoset Toolbag has no hair shader yet, I decided to use Vertex Color for albedo and use Volumetric Scattering again for the SSS effect.

For the peach fuzz material, instead of using “Volumetric Scattering,” I chose “Thin Surface” which gave me much nicer results.

Lighting & Rendering

The lighting is extremely simple. I just used one spotlight and one skylight. The crucial part is in the camera settings. By default, the camera tone mapping is set to Linear, which commonly produces overexposure in the highlight area.

For this project, I used the Heji mode with some adjustments to the settings.

Different tone mapping can give you a really different feeling; in my case, I feel that Heji mode with some settings can give me a much more natural look.

Post Effect

The overall rendering result from Marmoset Toolbag is pretty good for me, so I just did a little bit of color grading for it.

The color grading basically boosts the overall atmosphere.

08_wolverine_ps

Unreal Engine

Once everything was done, I started to update my original Metahuman to Wolverine.

Since I’m reusing Metahuman’s head for my Wolverine, I can simply re-import and replace the head skeletal mesh.

09_wolverine_ue5

One thing to keep in mind is that when the groom data gets updated, the GroomBinding Data also needs to be re-generated.

09_wolverine_ue5_groom

Conclusion

The real-time technique has now become quite mature, but at the same time, it also has a lot of room for growth. Marmoset Toolbag can provide really awesome real-time results.

I really hope that one day it can have a complete hair solution (hair strand/shader support) and also LUTs support. Unreal Engine is a very powerful real-time engine with almost unlimited potential.

There is still a lot of stuff I need to learn. I really enjoyed working on this project because I could push and see how far the real-time results I can achieve.