I am Sergey Savchenko – it’s time for a design story with a difference!
If you’re wondering what I do for a living, my day job is best defined as one of the lead 3D-artists at Plarium. As darkness descends, I dabble in the unknown – in this particular instance creating a frightening female orc.
Would you believe it, my obsession with orcs began after watching the second Hobbit movie. I was desperate to create something that stylistically resembled the orcs from the movie. After CGHUB (rest in peace, my brother) announced that there would be a Make Your Own Orc contest, I realised that the orc within me needed to emerge and begin orking!
While pondering about this specific idea, I realised that something different was required. The typical, “Hi friends, I have created another generic orc with metal things and horned hats” simply wasn’t going to work in this case. The competition is way too fierce and you need something really special to stand a chance of winning.
For my concept, I opted for a female orc warrior. My idealised concept of a female orc warrior differs from the standard. I wasn’t interested in a blond-haired princess with 34DDs and killer-legs. What I wanted to create was a roughly shaped female character with a look and feel that says that I am here to kick your butt! It was important to me that this impression was generated from the get go.
I spent several nights compiling references on the net, mostly from the work done by Andrew Baker. If you recall, he was the concept genius behind many of the creatures from the Hobbit.
I expanded my work in this area by turning to Pinterest. It’s a fabulous resource for compiling all of your references and then checking them out from time to time.
When it comes to drawing, I’ll be the first to admit that my skills are somewhat lacking. I created the entire concept in Zbrush.
After I compiled everything, I quickly became aware that the final model would have the majority of the body open, so a realistic pose with all the required anatomical details would not be generated by rigging. What I did instead was to put the orc in the pose that I wanted and then, add all those accoutrements that I discussed earlier.
Next up, let’s discuss the weapons. I racked my brain as well as the Wiki for weapons, eventually settling on a flanged mace and battle-scythe. Being the consummate professional that I am, I proceeded to grab a mop and a small broom and do some posing in front of the mirror. (PS: I don’t have any pictures of that – they are way too embarrassing).
The pose that I was after was impressive and simple, and this is the idea that I came up with:
I spent a considerable period of time scrutinising female bodybuilders. The problem I found was that their bodies appeared to be dehydrated, and they are far too ripped. This is not the type of look that I was searching for. What I wanted was a stronger female, and a wilder look. If this meant that excess body fat would be required – so be it. I was not looking to create the picture perfect female bodybuilder.
Software tools alone were incapable of creating arms and weapons to anatomical proportions. I reached for my phone and pleaded with one of my colleagues to take several pictures of my limbs. I used these pictures as references for both muscle and skin.
Much of the design work that you need can be created with your hands. Take a look at the following images to better understand how I went about this process.
While I was mulling over the anatomical finesse of the lady orc, I also got thinking about her combat gear. I was determined to create an unusual set, so I disregarded the typical full armor that a foot soldier might wear. The end result that I got was something akin to a female chieftain – I doubt that such a concept is even possible anywhere that orcs inhabit.
Take a look at the picture above: the orc has a haircut with several bald spots, an iron tiara, a cape with golden runes, as well as bone armor on the back of the orc, and barbed wire around the legs and the rugs.
The next step required texturing and rendering. Personally, I prefer to render in Vray. An initial mesh of the body was approximately 30 million polygons. Therefore, baking displacement or other maps were not even considered. If you’re wondering about partial baking, it’s way too time intensive, and it’s really boring. After giving this issue careful thought, I opted for the brute force approach with hi-poly. I ran it through Decimation Master (keeping Uvs on in order to save the diffuse maps).
This contest was actually more about modelling than textures. That’s why I didn’t dabble too much in texture details.
After having seen this result, I opted to give the orc an additional layer of skin for added roughness. To do this, I used Nvidia Normal Map Filter plugin for Photoshop. Here’s how it works: the first step is to bake a Normal Map, and then you add a Metal Texture, followed by a baked Cavity Map.
Take a look at the below image to see the resulting changes that occurred with the Normal Map.
The lighting in this scene is rather simplistic. There are no extras and no secrets to speak of. Much the same is true for the materials. In this scene, we did it the old school way by using a backlight and a dome light with HDRI. Regarding the materials, premised on the overall concept of rough skin, the final material and brown skin concept turned out to be rather simple too.
After completing a thorough render, I saved multiple render-passes for a more flexible post-production. Then I checked all the elements that might require additional Photoshop work. After changing the shade, adding in a few spots on the skin, and then adding fiery particles to show my vast inner self, I was content.The lighting in this scene is rather simplistic. There are no extras and no secrets to speak of. Much the same is true for the materials. In this scene, we did it the old school way by using a backlight and a dome light with HDRI. Regarding the materials, premised on the overall concept of rough skin, the final material and brown skin concept turned out to be rather simple too.
I uploaded it to a number of CG forums, and a short while later rushed back to my everyday grind.
Thanks ever so much for taking the time to read my article and happy gaming to you all!