Merging realistic 3D scanned assets to create 3D concept art

Alienation – a hybrid future

As the world around us changes, for good
or for bad –we must adapt and survive.
Alienation is a 3D Concept Art project I
undertook to try something a little different.
Merging photorealistic 3D photogrammetry
scans, creative sculpting, and a bit
of imagination. The outcome was
better than I had hoped, so I decided
to share my workflow and show off
Alienation in detail to the 3D community.

1-main

Alienation – a hybrid future

As the world around us changes, for good or for bad –we must adapt and survive. Alienation is a 3D Concept Art project I undertook to try something a little different. Merging photorealistic 3D photogrammetry scans, creative sculpting, and a bit of imagination. The outcome was better than I had hoped, so I decided to share my workflow and show off Alienation in detail to the 3D community.

The 3D Scans

I have always found helpful and inspirational articles from talented artists around the world and if this article can help just one person, I’ll be extremely satisfied!
I chose two 3D scans to kick-start this project. I’m a massive fan of surrealist H.R Giger, I think this shines through in the final model but was also the main reason for choosing a Xenomorph Alien figurine scan as my ‘beast’. For the beauty, a full-body female scan in a very attractive pose to contradict the grotesque. I felt like, if these two got together and had a baby, that is what my model will represent.

Author and Creator Miriam Sarbu

3D generalist and all round creative geek, Miriam Sarbu shares her work flow on creating grotesque concept art from realistic photogrammetry assets.

Download the scans she used – for free until the end of March – links in the bottom of the post

2-alien-reference-scan

trial-2

The Approach

Having the posed and detailed female scan to start with, the overall process from start to finish lasted no more than two days. This is the first time I have worked on something other than a standard base-mesh made from Zspheres. It immediately had an impact on my time scale because in three seconds flat I’d just skipped at least two days of modeling a female in a nice pose and making it look natural and anatomically correct. Winning.

trial-1

As this piece is intended as a 3D Concept – and not a game character, I felt as though skipping the process of modeling a natural, anatomically correct female body was fine. To be honest, it actually helped me creatively. I found myself simply focusing on what I could do – not what I had to do first. Adding new elements, removing what didn’t work, tweaking here and there, having a two-day head start were all things that just let me get on with only focusing on the creative aspect of the project.

4

Starting the process

Getting into the process, I started the sculpting process by deforming the female scans head, roughly sizing it in relation to the Alien head and getting rid of the hair. Aliens don’t have hair in my opinion, maybe tentacles and stuff – but not a ponytail. Taking the Alien scans head and hiding the rest of the body was the next stage. I used ‘delete hidden’ to delete the body and merged the head with the female body. Then Dynamesh, Zremesh and projected the details on the highest subdivision of the resulting OBJ.

6-low

Jumping into adding the elements

Sculpting the texture of the skin and intricacies was probably the most time consuming part. I sculpted muscles, ligaments and veins over the entire female body. Again, easily done when the scan is of a high quality, you can practically see the muscles through the skin anyways. After this step I merged the Alien spine, ribs and tail into the female mesh. I used the same procedure as for the head to blend everything together. Afterwards I added an accessory, which was made using clay tubes and then preceded to add skin details. Sculpting the alphas, pores, imperfections, lesions and veins on different layers was a long process as you can expect.

5-low

Painting the map with poly paint layers in Zbrush is the easiest and most basic way to achieve a nice outcome. Next, playing about with the transparency levels on the different layers of textures really helped get just the right effect I was hoping for. Now – we bake it all in.

7

Baking maps

Baking a diffuse and normal map, then taking these into KeyShot to render a matte, gloss, ambient occlusion and a main pass was next. In Photoshop I composited these by layering them on top of each other and quickly tweaked the values to get everything how I liked.
My sculpture was never intended for rigging and was never going to be rigged. Starting with a posed scan I didn’t want to concern myself too much with poly count or the topology. To put it simply, it was great to just go wild and be creative without the restrictions. I kept the overall poly count below 100k as I didn’t want to wait an eternity for the render passes in KeyShot.

8-low

Results

As you can tell from this article so far – there are lots of advantages in using 3D photogrammetry scans for concept based art, and lots of other things for that matter. The only real downside I can tell you is that it’s quite time consuming not being able to work with symmetry. If I were to start from a scan base mesh for a game-ready character, I would require symmetry for the sculpting process, retopology in Topogun and the substance painting in Substance Painter.
But, overall, for a 3D Concept – the lack of symmetry gave the concept realism. Being able to merge various elements of scans and working on a posed mesh was very efficient. I didn’t have to concern myself with symmetry, being anatomically correct and making the pose look natural. This all helped speed up the process and let my creativity do the talking.

9-low

The approach

Having the posed and detailed female scan to start with, the overall process from start to finish lasted no more than two days. This is the first time I have worked on something other than a standard base-mesh made from Zspheres. It immediately had an impact on my time scale because in three seconds flat I’d just skipped at least two days of modeling a female in a nice pose and making it look natural and anatomically correct. Winning.

trial-2

trial-1

As this piece is intended as a 3D Concept – and not a game character, I felt as though skipping the process of modeling a natural, anatomically correct female body was fine. To be honest, it actually helped me creatively. I found myself simply focusing on what I could do – not what I had to do first. Adding new elements, removing what didn’t work, tweaking here and there, having a two-day head start were all things that just let me get on with only focusing on the creative aspect of the project.

Starting the process

Getting into the process, I started the sculpting process by deforming the female scans head, roughly sizing it in relation to the Alien head and getting rid of the hair. Aliens don’t have hair in my opinion, maybe tentacles and stuff – but not a ponytail. Taking the Alien scans head and hiding the rest of the body was the next stage. I used ‘delete hidden’ to delete the body and merged the head with the female body. Then Dynamesh, Zremesh and projected the details on the highest subdivision of the resulting OBJ.
4

Jumping into adding elements

Sculpting the texture of the skin and intricacies was probably the most time consuming part. I sculpted muscles, ligaments and veins over the entire female body. Again, easily done when the scan is of a high quality, you can practically see the muscles through the skin anyways. After this step I merged the Alien spine, ribs and tail into the female mesh. I used the same procedure as for the head to blend everything together. Afterwards I added an accessory, which was made using clay tubes and then preceded to add skin details. Sculpting the alphas, pores, imperfections, lesions and veins on different layers was a long process as you can expect.

6-low

7

Painting the map with poly paint layers in Zbrush is the easiest and most basic way to achieve a nice outcome. Next, playing about with the transparency levels on the different layers of textures really helped get just the right effect I was hoping for. Now – we bake it all in.

Baking maps

Baking a diffuse and normal map, then taking these into KeyShot to render a matte, gloss, ambient occlusion and a main pass was next. In Photoshop I composited these by layering them on top of each other and quickly tweaked the values to get everything how I liked.
My sculpt was never intended for rigging, so starting with a posed scan I didn’t want to concern myself too much with poly count or the topology. To put it simply, it was great to just go wild and be creative without the restrictions. I kept the overall poly count below 100k as I didn’t want to wait an eternity for the render passes in KeyShot.

8-low

9-low

Results of using 3D scans

As you can tell from this article so far – there are lots of advantages in using 3D photogrammetry scans for concept based art, and lots of other things for that matter. The only real downside I can tell you is that it’s quite time consuming not being able to work with symmetry. If I were to start from a scan base mesh for a game-ready character, I would require symmetry for the sculpting process, retopology in Topogun and the substance painting in Substance Painter.
But, overall, for a 3D Concept – the lack of symmetry gave the concept realism. Being able to merge various elements of scans and working on a posed mesh was very efficient. I didn’t have to concern myself with symmetry, being anatomically correct and making the pose look natural. This all helped speed up the process and let my creativity do the talking.
Check out my finished sculpt in the SketchFab viewer.

Download the female and alien scans below, try something yourself!
Available for free – only until the end of March! – Please note: this offer has now ended.

Download the female and alien scans below, try something yourself!
Available for free – only until the end of March! – Please note: this offer has now ended

 

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