View Full Version : Character : Dream Painter

01 January 2008, 11:29 AM
Hello everyone, I finished up on my first pass on a new character model, and wanted to get some feedback while I'm doing optimization and what not. This is an original character, the dream painter. It is a whimsical character that flies to us at night and paints our dreams out of our memories. I really want to make sure I capture youth and innocence in this character.


And here is the mesh.

I am already unhappy with the hands, they will be the first thing I address.

This is just the first geometry hammered out, not finished yet. Any and all feedback would be great.

01 January 2008, 11:30 PM
Here is the first update.

I made some tweaks here and there, mostly in the face and hands.

The updated hand...

The updated face...

And the overall

I'm afraid to try to cut out too much of the geometry since I am for the most part happy with the shapes I have.

Here is the character's silhouette, in case anyone was curious.

01 January 2008, 11:34 PM
SheriffNotic very nice and clean model :)
You are going in the right direction,anyway it looks to me like she's wider in the chest area than she looks in the concept,might be me though..

oops looking at the silhouette,she looks perfect,sorry :)

01 January 2008, 01:26 AM
Ok, here is the final geometry. Since this is a portfolio piece, I think I'll keep the higher poly count. I could cut out some detail to save tris, but I would rather the model look nice with the slightly higher count.

Here are the images.

I'm working on the unwrap now, as well as a paint of the concept art so I make sure I have all of my colors worked out. I'll post those up soon.

01 January 2008, 06:31 AM
Ok, time for the next update. I'm currently working on the high poly sculpt in mudbox (look forward to an update on that soon) so I finished my character unwrap and threw some quick color flats on the model to make the high poly a bit easier.

I also took the opportunity to block out the hair (the previous hair geo was temporary) but I ran into some problems right away so I wanted to get some feedback from the communities. The first hair I painted was too realistic looking for the character, so I created a second hair texture. I think the second hair texture looks better, but still didn't match the style of the character. The third hair I made, while more in line with the stylized, painted feel of the character, Seems simplistic to me.

Any feedback or ideas for implementation would be greatly appreciated. All of the hair looks like this girl has never seen a brush before, that also bothers me a lot. Hair is definitely VERY WIP

And as I mentioned earlier, I have some quick color flats on her, so I wouldn't mind getting your opinions about the basic color palette I'm planning to use as well.

Thanks in advance for any feedback ^-^

01 January 2008, 03:57 PM
Nice design you got there and good translation to 3d. I personally prefer the first version of the hair, the only problem being that it's a bit too thin, it could do with more volume/less alpha... The last one doesn't do it at all for me I'm sorry to say, it looks a bit weird. If you want to go for a slightly painterly style I think you'll have to tweak the lighting a lot and/or add some self illumination. For some of the best examples of a non-photo realistic style, look at Zelda the Wind Waker and Eternal Sonata. There's also something about the face that looks a bit strange in the last image but that might just be the angle... It looks a bit long and a bit flat with bags under the eyes but that might just be the angle and shading. I look forward to seeing the next update!

01 January 2008, 05:08 AM
Ok, I've come up with some hair I am much happier with.

This hair looks much cleaner, and not nearly as wild, what do you think?

High Poly sculpt update tomorrow.

01 January 2008, 02:25 PM
Here take a look at this hair:
It has more volume and color fades from root to top.

Your character looks great, keep it up!

01 January 2008, 11:44 PM
That is looking better for sure. What you could try would be to give the hair more volume on the model itself. Instead of having a flat plane, having something along the likes of Kingdom Hearts that CGMonkey posted or maybe some sort of semi circular surface... thing. If possible, I'd like to see the model without so much shading, just turning up the self illumination would be enough. I look forward to the scuplt-update.

01 January 2008, 10:04 AM
@ CGmonkey - thanks, kingdom hearts models are great reference for the kind of look I'm going for. I made some changes to the hair (As can be seen below) fairly minor changes, darkened the roots and increased the size of the strands a bit.

@urgaffel - All of the new images of the model have a 50% self illumination, I hope that helps. I'm worried about sculpting out the hair too much, there aren't too many characters in Kingdom hearts with long hair, and I think that is part of the reason why. I don't want her hair to look too flat or sharp by relying on geometry. Speaking of the hair's geometry, the current hair isn't made of flat planes, but 4 planes that are shaped. I am definitely going to play with the hair some more, maybe I can find a balance between the two.

Now on to today's update!

I'm been playing in the mud, and here is the first pass. This is still one level shy of the really fine details, I'll be moving onto those tomorrow. I wanted to make a first pass to lay down the shapes and get a good feel for it. This is also my first Mudbox model I've done (Although I have a little bit of previous experience with zbrush) so any overall high poly modeling suggestions would be particularly appreciated. Also if there are any specific areas you would like to see a close up of, please feel free to ask.

I've been busy with other things as well, here is an update for her hair. Taking some suggestions I've gone and played with it a little.

And I've also made an adjustment to her color palette since I was getting some feedback that she was a bit too 'dark'.

So as usual, any feedback, suggestions, or whatever that you can think of, please let me know. Thanks again for viewing!

01 January 2008, 11:44 AM
I think the area between thumb end first finger on the hand is to long. The zBrush Model looks nice except of the hands - maybe you should add mor work here. Go on looks nice!

01 January 2008, 03:20 PM
I think the reason the face is bugging me is that it's a bit too long. Maybe if you scale it down a bit verticaly (squash it! :)) it might get rid of it... Might just be that her chin is a bit sharp though. I think it's most clearly seen in the Mudbox screenshot. Other than that, not much to say really, it's looking pretty good.

01 January 2008, 08:49 PM
@ ilegacy - Yeah, I'll do another pass on the hands for sure, good observation on the area between thumb and index finger, I'll address that in the next update I post.

@ urgaffel - Your feedback was really helpful. After you mentioned face length, I went back and took a look at the reference again, and then it just stuck out like a sore thumb! It's not that the whole face is too long as much as her forehead is WAY too big and her chin is too long. I like the eyes-nose-mouth proportions. So I corrected it, and here is the update.

Man do I love mudbox, I can correct the base geometry in max, then import the changes as a layer in mudbox. Quick and painless. It's a sweet piece of software, I'm definitely digg'n it more then zbrush. Tell me what you think of new face, should be closer to the ref.

01 January 2008, 11:58 PM
HighPoly GEO update (Smoothed everything out to cut down on the crazy folds) and a suggestion to flip the color palette, what do you think?

It will be time to start on the texture soon! excitement ^-^

01 January 2008, 05:02 PM
Hate to bother you at this point about anatomy, but her legs seem too far apart to me. That negative "keyhole" between her legs might be present when her legs are spread, but they don't seem angled enough to allow for that.

01 January 2008, 04:23 AM
@ RTBrain - I think that's true a lot of the time, but that depends a lot on the age and body type of the subject.

If the legs are thin enough and there is some width to the hips at all, the space can become quite visible even when the legs aren't spread at all. My character's body is sort of an exaggeration of the body type above. Younger then the ref above, but you'll notice I still gave the character some hips that facilitate the thin, separated legs. It might be exaggerated a little TOO much, but the space does match the original character drawings. I'm not sure it would be worth the extra work necessary to make a fairly minor change, I would have to adjust the low poly, high poly, then recreate my normals.

I am happy to hear everyone else's opinion, no one has mentioned it before but if it's really a big deal I will adjust it.

01 January 2008, 11:29 AM
You can adjust the mesh after you've baked the normals.

01 January 2008, 06:28 AM
I've been working on the textures for her, here is a WIP in Max. Not all areas have been touched yet, but you can get a feel for the style, esp in the face.

I have also been working on getting things going in Unreal 3, so here are some screenshots of the model in UT3. i have a preliminary glitter shader going that has been applied to her. The color of the sparkles are determined by pixel depth and the camera reflection vector and I place them through the specular channel with a Fresnel effect so only the edges get glitter.

Everything in unreal appears a bit muddy right now, I think it might be texture compression that's causing it.

Feedback and suggestions are of course always appreciated. Everything is WIP for texture so whatever you see, feel free to point it out.

01 January 2008, 07:55 AM
Been following your thread since you started it even though I haven't commented until now. Just a few things:

I like the concepts and I think the low-poly model is looking solid. One thing I especially liked about the design was the face; there was very little detail and not much definition of things like wrinkles or folds. This is good—it leads to cute, appealing characters, and you definitely pulled it off well.

That in mind, I think your high-poly model is letting you down. Your low-poly mesh captured that cute, soft look that the face, but there's much more detail in the high-poly and so it's turning out less cute and more... well, I'm sorry to say this, but a little creepy.

In my opinion, if you want to make the model look more like the concept and much more appealing, you should try doing these things:

- Soften any feature that gives you a sharp highlight or shadow in Mudbox.
The eyelids, the nasolabial folds, the lips, soften them all. The concept looks youthful and these will help the model look youthful. Softening the eyelids will also make her eyes look less sunken.

- Make the mouth a little narrower, but only a tiny bit.
Right now, the mouth looks sort of stretched horizontally in a slightly awkward fashion.

- Lower the upper eyelids.
She looks surprised because of how much eyeball we can see, and that makes the face look slightly odd.

Finally, and I hope you don't mind that I did this, here's a paintover illustrating the things I mentioned. Use your discretion in following all my advice, obviously, but try it out and see if it works!

01 January 2008, 10:36 AM
To add to what Swizzle said, maybe flattening the ears a bit towards the head might be a good idea too. Swizzle said pretty much all that's been on my mind but haven't been able to put my finger on :)

01 January 2008, 05:19 AM
@ Swizzle - That's a great paintover, It gave me a lot of ideas right away. I think your suggestions for the face are excellent and I plan to resclupt the whole face. Simplifying the nose and softening everything will be the main priorities.

@ urgaffel - She has some pretty big ears in the concept, although I have gotten some feedback about the ears in the past. I'll play with them and see if I can find a good compromise. I'll try to get some updates going in the next few days, OT at work makes it hard to get much done at night.

03 March 2008, 06:05 AM
Ok, I'm back to this project now, time to put on the final touches. Here is updates for the geo and hair before I go back to textures.

Lets see if I can get this one buttoned up quickly!

03 March 2008, 01:22 PM
I got distracted by an art test, but I'm back on track now. I also decided not to do as many forum updates. I was spending a decent amount of time just typing those up every night, so I figured a better use of my time would be to post a little less often and rely on my own judgment a bit more.

Here is an update for the diffuse. I did a complete re-unwrap after I changed the topology to spread out the texture space a little better. It was suggested by multiple people that I shoot for a Kingdom Hearts style for this piece and I happen to agree. I studied the KH models and scrutinized the textures a bit then went to town. All of these images are flat-shaded. I have some plans for an elaborate shader in UT3, but until I have that going, this should do fine. Crits are always welcome, I'll do a least another pass or two on this so I can clean up a few seams on the model, but anything that pops out or comes to mind, please let me know.

Edit - Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention, I made some design changes to the character. Mostly to simplify things a bit. What do you think?

High Quality version of the beauty shot image. (

Thanks again for the support from everyone. I really want to finish up this project and move to the next.

03 March 2008, 06:44 PM
It pains me to say but what a big improvement with this new style going! The textures are way more balanced now and not screaming like they were...

I would however like to see a little bit more fold detail/ maybe even a touch of stomach in the cloth on the lower half of the torso. That is really a good place to put some folds in.

Furthermore the yellow on white doesn't register that well since you got very little contrast in those two colours. Besides they fight about importance giving me a headache if I look to long at it :)

I would also add a little somehting on the shoes since they look kinda simple right now.

Fantastic work mate congrats on making this breakthrough!

04 April 2008, 10:31 PM
This looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better now! Great job! I second Matsman's comments.

I'd also recommend changing the lip color a little bit. It's the exact same as her costume's pink parts. I don't really like the ballooning pants (in general), but you actually made them look relatively believable. I'd still like to see some sort of pleats or something, though. Shoes definitely need something. The details on the ears could be a tad darker. The moons(?) coming off the ribbons could use a bit more work, too. The hard line on the shadow of the breast area might be softened a bit, too.

edit: The only other suggestions I have are as follows. You can still make even better use of your UV space by mirroring some areas. The arms, shoes, hat, sleeves, etc. can all be mirrored. Use this rule when laying out your UVs. If the detail NEEDS to be asymmetrical (usually helps on faces) do not mirror. If not, mirror! It also helps to consider whether both parts will be seen at the same time. If you're only going to see one side of the head (separate the face past the eyes) at a time, no one is likely to notice the mirroring. Also, make the most of the texture space you have. There should not be boring generic spots completely devoid of detail. Just a little bit of detail is needed and it will make the texture more finished than having simple gradients or blank spots. I hope that makes sense.

04 April 2008, 10:03 AM
@ Matsman - thanks for the feedback. I'm still adding a few little details into the texture, next update should have all of that done.

@ blacker - Mirroring is great as long as your not using a normal map. When you are, it depends on your engine and if the programmers were nice enough to reverse the normals on mirrored faces in the UVs. I'm using unreal, and I get the feeling that is not the case so I'm sticking to the current system. I would otherwise completely agree. I'm working on a shader in Unreal that doesn't use the normal map in the usual way, but still implements it for some other effects. See the following update. If I wasn't using that shader, I wouldn't need the normal map and thus wouldn't need to worry about mirrored UVs.


I still have some texture tweaking to do (I've done a little already) but I decided to take a quick break and set up my rotation system and shader in Unreal 3. Here is my shader WIP. It's actually almost where I want it to be, just a few tweaks here and there (just like the textures) so she's almost done. It uses two effects, one to give her some color around the edges of the model and a second to give her a glitter type effect. Unfortunately the glitter is pretty subtle and doesn't really show up from further away, so a close up view has also been included. The wire frames are in the video just to make sure I had that set up right in unreal as well, more a test of my own then a shader thing just fyi.

Dream Painter Shader Test AVI (

Any and all feedback, as always is greatly appriciated!

04 April 2008, 02:37 AM
looks like a character from NiGHTS... pretty cool though :)

04 April 2008, 01:37 PM
Unreal can handle mirrored uvs. Just look at Unreal Tournament and Gears of War and you'll see plenty of mirroring. Also, I wish you'd add a few segments to the big hat. It's the largest feature of the design but has fewer polygons than the shin by the look of it. It could do with a few more segments (and it shouldn't affect normalmaps, uvs or anything else if you're careful). Interesting shader, it will be fun to see more of it. Could you ealborate a bit on what you're using the normalmap for?

04 April 2008, 09:53 PM
Unreal is so anal about doing things in the right order and having every setting perfectly set, do you know if there are any special settings or steps necessary to use mirrored UVs ?

The normal map is used mostly to feed normal information into the Fresnel material expression. Without some sort of normal input, it returns some pretty useless results. It's also fed into the normal channel which effects things like Camera and Reflection Vectors. Since the model is unlit, it has no bearing on typical normal map usages like specular and bump information. I'm only using the Emissive channel, and blending all of the effects together manually.

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