DIGITAL PUPPETS UK
In the world of animation and virtual avatars, creating realistic and stylized characters is an essential skill. My name is Antony Evans, I am the co-founder of Digital Puppets, an animation studio in the UK. I have worked as character designer for many years and recently worked with Vtuber company Taiyaki Studios as well as studios such as Disney, Warner Bros, and the BBC.
In this video I will share my insights and workflow for developing a stylized Snoop Dogg avatar. Leveraging tools like Character Creator 4 and ZBrush, I will run through the process of transforming a realistic base into a captivating cartoon version.
“One of the key advantages of Character Creator 4 is its ability to sculpt detail directly into the mesh. The software provides powerful sculpting tools that allowed me to add specific features and refine the character’s face to match the unique characteristics of Snoop Dogg. I could sculpt the shape of the nose, eyes, lips, and other facial elements with greater precision, resulting in a more accurate representation.”Antony Evans – Co-owner and Animator at Digital Puppets UK
Establishing a Realistic Base
To begin the character creation process, I started by acquiring a reference image and using this with the Headshot plugin for Character Creator 4. The image I used was from ArtStation and was actually a 3D render but was perfect for a front-on-image of his face. When working with Headshot a good image with even lighting is important to get the best results. With some tweaking using morphs and the Edit Mesh tool in iClone 8, I fine-tuned the character’s features, trying to achieve a close resemblance to Snoop Dogg.
I started the process by creating a realistic version, as this gives me a great base to create the cartoon version from. I can then test out exaggerating different features and trying different styles until I get the look I am after.
Creating a realistic base with unreal Mesh to Meta Human
In the video the next step was to try the same process of creating a realistic Snoop Dogg but using the Mesh-to-MetaHuman tool. I found that this did work really well, and the process of turning my mesh created in Character Creator 4 into a MetaHuman was easy to do.
It was only when It came to adjusting the mesh that I found that the MetaHuman editing tools were limited. I would have liked to have more control over the areas I could manipulate and be able to push them further than its limits. The final animation results in the Unreal Engine and with the MetaHuman were however impressive, but for my goal of turning the model into a stylized cartoon version – Character Creator allowed more options for me to achieve this.
Why I used Character creator instead of MetaHuman ?
In the video I go back to the CC4 base, this is because using tools like the Edit Mesh and the Sliders I had more control over editing the mesh. One of the other big advantages is the GoZ plugin which opens up all the sculpting tool available in ZBrush. Its in ZBrush I can really push and pull the mesh around and test out different looks for the stylised character.
Creating a Stylized character from CC4 realistic base
With our realistic base established in Character Creator 4, we embark on an exciting journey of stylization. Drawing inspiration from beloved Disney characters and other stylized designs, we explored how pushing and pulling mesh elements in ZBrush can transform our realistic base into a captivating and unique stylized character. We embrace the trial-and-error process, leveraging the flexibility of ZBrush to achieve diverse looks and evoke a specific style.
One of the key advantages of Character Creator 4 is its ability to sculpt detail directly into the mesh. The software provides powerful sculpting tools that allowed me to add specific features and refine the character’s face to match the unique characteristics of Snoop Dogg. I could sculpt the shape of the nose, eyes, lips, and other facial elements with greater precision, resulting in a more accurate representation.
Additionally, by using the GoZ integration, I could switch between Character Creator 4 and my preferred sculpting software with ease. This streamlined workflow enabled me to sculpt intricate details onto the mesh and achieve a higher level of realism, ensuring that the Snoop Dogg character closely resembled the real-life counterpart.
While the Mesh to Metahuman feature in Unreal Engine provided a solid starting point, Character Creator 4, along with the GoZ integration, offered a better way to sculpt fine detail into the mesh. The ability to directly manipulate the mesh and seamlessly transfer sculpted details between software packages significantly enhanced the level of customization and realism achievable in the character creation process.
Also, a great addition to CC4 is the new wrinkle map feature. Whether you are creating a realistic or stylized character, the additional wrinkle detail brings an extra level of life you your character designs. At the end of the video you can see these examples of different characters and you can use the different wrinkle map options to get the right look for your character.
Follow Digital Puppets:
Check out our Discord channel at https://discord.gg/28DNM9A94P So if you are a iClone, Unreal, Character Animator, LIVE2D user and you want advice or to share your work, come join us. We’re hoping it’s going to be an active community. Also, if you are an animator in general, join us too, tell us what programs you are using, we are always keen to learn about what others are doing and using
Taiyaki Studios :