Realtime Character (Mads Mikkelsen as The Witcher)

I’m attempting to make a realtime character, which I’ve never done before, in the likeness of Mads Mikkelsen and turn him into The Witcher, because that was one of the theories/wishes many fans had before Henry Cavil taking the role.

I then looked to find some art that I remember seeing a few years back and wouldn’t you know it someone went ahead and made a 3D Mads as Witcher a few months back… and I thought I’d be the first… Oh well, since this is what I chose to do, I’m sticking with it, if we only did art that no one has ever done, there wouldn’t be much to do!

I’ll slowly work on this trying to learn as much as I can, going back and forth between anatomy studies as they become necessary, and other studies related to the realtime process.

Finally my goal is to have an anatomically correct model, with 100% likeness, fully armored, perfect retopology (ugh) and UV maps (ugh again) rigged to Epic Skeleton and hopefully animated even if it’s just a simple movement!

So buckle up buckaroos this is gonna be a long and wild ride!

Step 1. Gather References check!
Step 2. Base Mesh and Base Face Likeness check!
Step 3. Don’t lose hope and give up already… working on it!

I’m also recording most of my progress so I’ll be uploading some timelapses or walkthroughs on my YouTube Channel at some point.

(EDIT I already had a base mesh, I didn’t build it all from scratch. I just adjusted it and started working on the base face)

Step 3a: Altering the base mesh proportions and fixing the pose to an A pose. check!

Simply using a mask and rotating/moving stuff around. Altering the basic mesh to the rough body shape I want by using a move brush.

The reason I chose to use a base mesh was because I already know how to make a decent looking human but working on the proportions from simple shapes or even tracing over a reference would add more time to a really long project.

Because my main focus is to learn aspects of Real Time Characters and get better acquainted with retopo, uvs, textures, lighting/render etc, going over the the process of making a proportionally correct human from primitives was cut off entirely.

Don’t cut corners if you don’t know what you’re doing, learn how to do something first, then cut corners and save time once you have a decent foundation.

In my case, once I have a better understanding of the aforementioned processes and can do them faster, I’ll be making my next character from scratch, because proportions and anatomy takes years of learning and one should be doing them as often as possible in order to achieve the best results.
Also because it’s really fun making something from scratch, placing some rough bone shapes, doing some blocking for the muscles etc. It’s a fun thing to do but takes some time.

P.S. This is made in ZBrush so far, I’ll be using Blender for some other procedures, but everything I’ll be doing in ZBrush can be done in Blender too.

Haven’t updated this is in a while so here’s a little update (also I forgot to record my progress so don’t expect that timelapse I was talking about, I’ll make something else though)

So as you can see the base mesh now looks a lot more like Mikkelsen although it’s still a very low res base and no detailed work has been done on the face.
It’s crazy what you can do with (relatively) low res and how much it will help you out later on, take your time here, don’t rush to the details.
In Greece we say : whoever is in a hurry stumbles

Other than trying to get a base likeness I’m experimenting with some clothes prototypes.

Because this will be a real time character my approach is slightly different to my usual sculpture work where I didn’t really care about how I got the result as long as I got it.
The prototypes here are mainly for my reference and for experiments on how I can get the shapes I want, which is why they look so weird and the wrinkles and folds of the shirt are all over the place.

I will continue working on these clothes and trying to get a good base for them, and then I’ll move into adding some of the different parts of the clothes like zips, buckles and leather straps etc and then go back to the face and body and start adding detail there.

As an extra piece of challenge I’ll be doing a full anatomy sculpt of the body so I can hone my practical anatomy skills while at the same time I’m honing my theoretical anatomy skills through studying.

Haven’t touched this in months due to struggling with my motivation but I spent some time on it today.
I decided to go for the classic Witcher armor as the previous one I was attempting to do was a little bit more complex and had more parts to it.

My struggle with motivation probably has a lot to do with picking projects to work on that are far too complex, involve a lot of artistic skills that I have not yet mastered and take a lot of time to complete even when one has mastered those skills.
If I would pick smaller scale projects to do I would finish them, get that dopamine surge, and remain motivated to work on more stuff…

With that in mind I discarded my previous cloth/armor “sketches” and started working on the new and simple one.

Deleting my previous sketches wasn’t a big deal because I don’t invest too much time in making those sketches nor do I detail them until I’m sure about them and that’s why it’s important, whenever you’re working on a big project to not spent too much time and give too much detail on stuff you might want to change later on.

Here I’m following the same process of making some sketches for the clothing and armor and I also made a sketch of the hair and beard just to help me visualize the final result.

I’ve not yet done anything as far as detailing goes on the face and it still needs a lot of work to get the anatomy and proportions right, but I’m breaking this up in smaller pieces which is an important skill to develop on it’s own.

My plan on this going forward is to work on it even for 10 minutes each day (hoping I’ll get sucked in and work on it for more than that) and using whatever amount of time I can devote to it to make some progress no matter how little, even if that progress is to make decisions and sketches about the final design.

With that in mind, all I need to do tomorrow is take a few minutes to add some very basic geometry to represent the leather strips that hold the armor parts together.

Doing this little sketching today has helped me a lot getting back on track and finding my motivation, I think it was the sketch of the hair and beard especially that allowed me to visualize this better and have a clear end goal in mind.

TLDR/Note to future self:

Break things down in baby steps, “sketch” or mark things down that will help you visualize your end goal, ignore what’s too complex to do or have incomplete knowledge of and focus on what you can do and know how to do.
This way you’ll remain motivated enough to keep going and complete your knowledge in areas you’re lacking