In the latest entry of our Day in the Life series, we’re taking a closer look at the day-to-day work of Iuliia Marfina, one of our exceptionally talented 3D Character Artists. As a 3D Character Artist, Iuliia is responsible for crafting the character models seen in Magic Media’s game development projects.
3D Character art requires consistent collaboration with animators, producers, and QA and involves meticulous work. Iuliia’s role is critical for breathing life into the characters’ concepts and for the animation team’s work giving them movement.
3D modeling can be time-consuming work that requires long-term attention working on just one model, and for this reason, most of Iuliia’s day-to-day work is continuing work on yesterday’s 3D model. Depending on the project, as a 3D character artist, Iuliia reports her daily progress through either screenshots or a ticketing system to keep the team up to date.
Depending on the model’s stage of completion, however, creating full-cycle 3D models from concept to final version can be significantly more complex. Iuliia’s initial step is to create what’s called a white box, or WB, to help understand the correct proportions, before moving on to creating a high poly model, complete with clothing used in the reference material. At this point, Iuliia says it’s important to consider an approach to retopology for the model, the process of simplifying a high polygon model to make it easier and cleaner to work with. After the retopology process has been completed, the 3D model will be in a low polygon state and is ready to be used in-game after the final steps have been completed.
The next step involves creating the model’s UV layer, a flat representation of a 3D model that is used to map textures onto it, which happens to be Iuliia’s favorite stage of the 3D modeling process! Once a model has been UV wrapped, it’s ready to be textured to give it a tangible feel and detail.
Some of the biggest challenges of 3D character art Iuliia cites are understanding anatomy and overall skill, and these two aspects require a lot of investment to become proficient at. Realistic characters, in particular, can be challenging to work on considering that their proportions, anatomy, and scale need to be as accurate as possible.
High-quality 3D modeling work necessitates keeping a vigilant eye on the model from all angles. Compared to 2D work, where artists generally work with flat imagery, 3D art requires frequent checks from all angles. While a 3D model might look correct from its front elevation, it could be incorrect from different views.
With an art form as intricate as 3D modeling, it’s no surprise to hear that Iuliia uses a wide variety of tools in her work to create world-class 3D character art. Blender is used extensively, especially for the UV phase of 3D modeling. ZBrush and Marvelous Designer are particularly useful for the high polygon model phase, and 3D Coat is used for retopology. Blender’s use for retopology has been increasing, but 3D Coat is Iuliia’s preference based on her years of experience within the industry. For the final stage, texturing, Iuliia uses Substance 3D Painter or Adobe Photoshop, depending on her needs and the project itself.
At Magic Media we are veterans of the film, tv, gaming and entertainment industries, offering comprehensive gaming services for real-time VFX, cinematics, and more, as well as animation and full art services! We have a team of 3D character artists and our main goal is to to provide a one-stop solution for any project. We love nothing more than collaborating with creative minds, so drop us a line and let’s talk!