Making King Magni from World of Warcraft

Michael Robson, 3D Character Artist based in Curitiba, Brazil, breaks down his Magni King of Ironforge render. 

Hello, my name is Michael Robson and I’m a 3D character artist living in Curitiba, Brazil. In this breakdown, I’m going to take you through the process of creating Magni, King of Ironforge: a fantasy character from the World of Warcraft franchise.

My main goal for this project was to push my skills as a character artist while achieving the best results. This was also my first project rendered with Arnold.


Concept and References

References are your best friend! Always remember that. I organized this step by breaking it down into parts and topics. For example, I created a mood board on PureRef and then displayed the quality I wanted to achieve for my final piece. The board generally consisted of characters from movies, video games, and more. It wasn’t a direct reference for modelling, but it conveyed the qualities I wanted to achieve. The characters also referenced materials and textures for my asset anatomy (skin, leather, metals, and fur) for when I started modelling.




Blocking the Character

Starting with a basic primitive in ZBrush and using Dynamesh, I sculpted the character as a whole to get the general proportions and silhouettes. I wasn’t yet concerned with the details, so it was a simple rough draft. I also used Maya to model the props poly by poly.




Modeling Armor and Cloth 

After being satisfied with the overall look of the character block, I went into Maya to refine the details, remodel the pieces, and used clean meshes.

To make the cross leather on the under armor, I used a plugin for 3ds Max called “Weaver” which was created by Ivan Max. This tool saved me a ton of time and was easy to use. I modelled a clean quad mesh of the shape of the armor and used the plugin to create the cross leather.



For the scale mail on his arm, I created a tileable 3D pattern with Maya, duplicated it twice, used some deformers (like lattice), and then bent it to fir around his arm.





For the retopology, I exported a decimated version of the base mesh, sculpted the head in ZBrush, and then used Quad Draw.



Usually, the areas like the eyes, mouth, and nose are geometric, as they mimic the flow of the facial anatomy. 



Quick Tip #1: If you have a symmetrical mesh, retopo one side and then mirror to the other. For example, I always start sculpting a face symmetrically and after having a clean topology, I send it back to ZBrush to break that symmetry. I then work more on the sculpt to achieve a nicer look, and use the collected references to help me with the face.



After the retopology, it was time to unfold the UVs. My personal preference for this task was to use Maya, as the UV toolkit does the job well and it is easy to maneuver.



For this character, I split the face in multiple UVs to paint higher resolution maps, rendered closer shots, and organized my UVs based on materials

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