Character design tutorial: How to create a 3D brand mascot

The year is 2020, 15 years since Digit magazine became Digital Arts, and since then we've become acclaimed for our art tutorials (among other things.) Why not celebrate our big anniversary with brand new tutorials from the best and brightest out there, as put together to advance your digital design and illustration skills?

This tutorial is a character design run-through from sketch to 3D application as put together by Sergey Prokopchuk, creative director at Looma.

KLO is a gas station network, located in Kyiv, Ukraine. As a part of their brand communication, KLO introduced their own brand mascot, as based on the logo concept.

Our task at Looma was to create an attractive and functional character, maintaining the image recognition. The process included concept creation, 3d modelling, rigging and creation of series of key visuals.

Sergey uses Autodesk 3ds Max but his approach will work in Cinema 4D, Maya or any other 3D tool.

Step 1

Every character design starts from rough sketching. First, we have to define basic shapes – here our main logo is a round creature with multiple limbs.

To maintain the recognition we moved the sphere shape into the character’s tummy, and added six tentacles to make it functional.

At this step we don’t go too far with details, but we already have the overall look.

Always keep in mind the character’s build and dynamics that you want to give him.

Step 2

When you are happy with the basic design, it is time to test the character’s functionality. Put you hero in various poses, make him interacting with objects from different areas.

Probably you will need to adjust some shapes of the character while doing these tests. This step is vital when you prepare a character for animating further down the line.

Step 3

Next round is 3D modelling. I used Autodesk 3ds Max but any 3D tool is applicable. The perfect way to do it is to have a sketch of the front and side view of the character.

In this step we perfect the shapes and prepare the model for future animating.

Step 4

When you are happy with the 3d model, it's time to move to the rigging part. It is a very laborious and responsible part of the process.

Every polygon should be attached to the bones the right way to get the smooth movements. We usually say it this step is when the character 'comes alive'.

Step 5

The rig is ready and you can play with poses. Put you character in various situations, adding objects to the scene to create unique stories.

Step 6

You can create various kinds of clothing using software like Marvelous Designer. This will add more individuality to every image.

Step 7

When your scenes are ready it is time to work on materials and textures. At this step you must already have defined style with the illustrations.

We chose realistic textures and bright colours to contrast with the black silhouette.

Put the lights into the scene and make some renders.

Add final detailing by retouching your images and adjusting the light. We want every pixel to look perfect.

Step 8

When the character illustrations are prepared, they are ready to appear in promotional materials and other brand assets using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Follow Sergey and Looma on Behance:

Related: Create a realistic 3D character – without 3D software

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