This astronaut character is one of many created for the growing internal portfolio for the Magic Media team. Our artists are always looking for ways to grow and challenge themselves. New pieces, new genres, and new techniques are a great way to explore and evolve as an artist. This character was created as part of a duo with the goal of space faring explorers or scouts. It was crafted in concept and roughs before being delivered in 2D and now into full 3D art. Soon, it will be rigged and ready for animation as it has already been integrated into Unreal Engine 5.
Concept Art and Inspiration
The initial sketches were varied. We weren’t too sure what type of explorers they were, which is why the early explorations drew from multiple sources.
Our artists integrated elements of street clothing and riot gear to give it a lived-in feel, a realistic space faring piece of equipment that might have been customized by these experienced void travellers. The slimmer suit took some visual clues from diving suits, giving it an even sleeker and streamlined appearance. This gave us a very exploratory and advanced feel, they don’t look very combat ready which was something we wanted to balance out. The purpose of the suits was emphasized with the shape of their helmets that imply a direction of movement. The helmets also value a wide cone of vision, which we took inspiration from cycling helmets as well as some medieval armour for shape.
This final 2D artwork doubled down on their exploratory purpose. However, we refused to neglect the potential for a violent encounter. The weapons are all pistols or sidearms, personal defence weapons, a last resort. The armoured elements were also given more place on the piece, showing a consideration for protection on key areas. The rest of the suit is clearly designed for movement and survival.
3D Art Renders and Unreal Engine 5 Integration
Once the concept and 2D art were completed, our 3D artists took over. ZBrush was mainly used for the hard armoured surfaces. Marvelous Designer was chosen for its excellent delivery of high-quality and realistic clothing. Autodesk Maya was used for the low poly geometry and unwrapping, RizomUV for obtaining the layout of the UV islands, and Substance Painter and Photoshop delivered the texture and some shaping.
Bringing this 2D piece into 3D art meant our artists pushing their knowledge of Marvelous to their limits! A lot of the model is a flexible fabric and executing it properly, integrating its pieces with the more rigid and hard surface pieces required a lot of detailing and adjustments. ZBrush was also great in this stage for sculpting and really giving it the feel of realistic material interacting with those tricky joint areas where it overlaps with the armour.
Making the move from 2D to 3D art can be tricky but our artists in both stages kept in close contact. The concept art and 2D stages were all designed with the future steps like 3D and rigging requirements in mind. So, as we entered the 3D space, there were only a few small adjustments required.
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