Ballistic Publishing's Dartiste: Character Modeling 2

May 24, 2007 1:03 am

Having no experience with the d’artiste master class book series, I was not sure exactly what to expect when the book landed on my doorstep. Upon flipping open the cover, however, I knew that this was something to get very excited about. This is a book by and for artists; every single page is loaded with full-color, breath-taking images and even the layout is beautifully done.

This book focuses on the work of three artists: Kevin Lanning, Timur Baysal and Zack Petroc, and so the book is divided by artist. Within each artist’s section is a gallery of their artwork and an autobiographical section on how they began in art, what their career has been like, and what tools they use. As a soon-to-be young professional, I truly enjoyed hearing in the artist’s own words what their experience has been like having a career as a digital artist, and their passion for their work comes through clearly even in their writing.

Within each artist’s section of the book, after this first gallery they present a few tutorials based off of their own artwork, ranging in subject and software package. It is important to keep in mind here that this book is titled as a Master Class – these tutorials are not click-by-click walkthroughs, but instead a detailed overview of each artist’s workflow. Even for those of us who don’t consider ourselves “masters” of modeling, these tutorials are packed with invaluable information; understanding the choices made and processes used by those who well deserve the title of master is the best way to learn and grow as an artist.



The tutorials are worth mentioning individually in this review because they are what set this book apart from being simply a gallery of images. Kevin Lanning presents three tutorials – “High-poly workflow”, “Low-poly workflow” and “Rip and process workflow”. Lanning’s pieces all come from his work as a Character and Creature Modeler for the Xbox 360 game Gears of War, and so his tutorials run through the process from concept art to in-game screenshots of Gears of War characters. For anyone trying to make the most out of low-polygon models, these tutorials are particularly revealing, and I enjoyed trying to pick apart the in-game images after reading what tricks have been used to make the model appear much more detailed than it was.

The next author, Timur Baysal, had tutorials that were entitled “Box Modeling” and “ZBrush and texturing”, and take the reader through the creation of a character he calls “Tut Mesh Amon”. The first tutorial starts the model as a literal box, and works it to a simple, low-poly model of a head. In the second tutorial he takes this model into ZBrush and goes all-out sculpting and painting the model. Baysal’s mastery of digital sculpting is so complete that he somehow makes this process look easy, and seeing the steps taken in the sculpting and texturing process were inspirational.

Petroc’s tutorials are similar, and are entitled “Character creation” and “Workarounds”. Petroc takes a full-body character from a low-poly mesh through to completion, describing methods for working with several different meshes at the same time, and methods for overcoming technological limitations. In all of these tutorials, while the process is described in terms of technical steps taken in modeling, the real focus is on character. The model may be, as in Petroc’s tutorial, an alien that eats sea-monkeys with tentacles that protrude from its head, but a strong level of sensitivity is still conveyed.



This emphasis on character can also be found at the end of each artist’s section in the Invited Artist Gallery. I found these sections particularly interesting as the artist wrote a blurb for each image, describing why he chose that piece for the gallery and in what ways he found it interesting. While many of the pieces are aesthetically similar to the artist’s own, it was clear that the focus here was on character and a wide variety of pieces and styles were brought in.


"Anendien" © Antje Darling (appearing on pg. 74)
Visit Antje's Renderosity Gallery


In a book entitled Character Modeling 2, it is nice to know what the authors focused equally between both character and modeling, demonstrating the technical skills needed for modeling, while maintaining the modeling process as a vehicle for conveying and revealing character.

Be sure to have a look at the book through the Book Previewer on the Ballistic Publishing website.

Limited Edition $145.00 (USD)  
Slip Cased $55.00 (USD)

For more information about the d'artiste series, as well as other publications from Ballistic, please visit their website.

 About Ballistic Publishing

Ballistic Publishing is the leading, award-winning, independent publisher of books for the digital arts industry. Dedicated to producing the highest quality publications celebrating the talents of digital artists worldwide, it is setting high standards in all areas of publishing from the quality of content, design and delivery to its responsiveness to the market. Ballistic Publishing shares a strong affiliation with the digital arts community through its sister organization The CGSociety (The Computer Graphics Society). Ballistic Publishing is based in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, with offices in Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) and Tampa (Florida, USA).

All supporting images are copyright, and used with permission from Ballistic Publishing.
All content and images cannot be copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission.

Jenna Hoffstein [bluevenus], is a recent college graduate who majored in studio art and has studied many different types of traditional media. She started pursuing an interest in computer graphics in high school, and this interest turned into a career as she now works as a 3D Artist for a computer game company in New England.

May 28, 2007 

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Article Comments

SpunkyMaMa ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 29 May 2007

I have the whole series, wonderful art!

kathym ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 29 May 2007

Wow - expensive - too expensive for a novice like myself - but the art looks cool. Though - not sure if its worth it just to look at the purdy pictures.

SpunkyMaMa ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 30 May 2007

Hey Kathy! You can borrow mine! Actually it is not just a investment for the artist alone as far as collectibilty but offers many tutorials and information not found elsewhere. :)

usslopez ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 01 June 2007

Funny you should have this on the front page, I happened to come across it the other day following a link on about WoW. This book is so cool and very insparational.

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