Projekt : Valour

Hello comrades! I’m glad to announce the production of a single illustration in Blender by yours truly. I will be documenting it to the best of my ability through this thread, from research to concepting, modeling to final composition. First, I’m going to lay out my battleplan for you. This is an important step in any project and one that should be taken if the artist is serious about following through. Hopefully you’ll learn how to properly carry out any vision you might imagine. Feel free to use this list as a template for any of your projects. (and please, don’t re-make something eerily similar to mine, even though I’m providing all this info- do your own thing! Being unique is what keeps the creative community going :smiley: )

For my own reference, and your delighted perusal, here’s my working abstract/outline:

Title: Projekt Valour
Type: 3D illustration
Software: Blender, Photoshop (Texturing/post-post)
Availability: WILL be uploaded to blendswap afterward
Re-usability: Will focus on a singular shot, all assets are one-use, no rigging whatsoever, very messy
Dynamics: perhaps for cloth and smoke, might be easier to billboard semi-transparent textures though (and more predictable)
Polycount: High, not tens of millions, but whatever is needed. Very texture heavy too.
Orientation: Landscape, 16:9 (cinematic style)
Atmosphere/time period: I’m drawing my inspiration from a sort of Orwell 1984 style grunge with aesthetics similar to WW2, only with modern twist (assault rifle, robotics, etc)
Composition: Trying to stick to rule of thirds, with a foreground, mid, and back. Will be using defocused textures/proxy meshes in fore and back, to decrease time spent on modeling extra stuff (as well as render times)
Color Pallet: subdued browns, blues, and saturated reds/oranges with yellow mid tones. I’ll paint it out first, to give you all an idea of both color and composition.
Resolution: 4k at the least, nice thing about 3D is you can re-render to your hearts content.
Render Engine: Still under consideration- I love cycles, but internal is more manipulable pass-wise and has a predictable lighting system… I’m hesitant towards cycles because it bit me the last time I used it for a massive project. Might end up combining both in post.
Themes: Patriotism, nationalism, robots, drones, warfare, motion, action, advancement, chemicals, oxidation, propaganda, nostalgia, and… valour


  1. First gather as much flippin awesome reference and inspiration as I can.
  2. Draw out thumbnails of different layouts
  3. Silhouettes of character designs
  4. Paint a layout, which can be overlayed on the camera for nifty placement reference.
  5. Model model model model model
  6. UV unwrap
  7. Clay lighting, to check values
  8. Projection paint ALL THE THINGS
  9. Materials/shaders
  10. Setup motion blur
  11. Render layers, if needed, and composite
  12. ???
  13. Profit!!!

This is first and foremost an illustration, so modeling isn’t as essential as texturing. (I promise I will do my best to avoid wasting hours getting a perfect form on a barely-visible piece of geometry, and instead focus on the things that are actually visible) My goal is to construct this like I would a painting, instead of a character or environment.

And for the record, this isn’t a flaunt-fest, save that for finished projects. I’d rather get constructive feedback than, “ZOMG DUDE SO FLIPPIN LEGIT!!! SWAGGER OFF THE CHARTZ [megustaOnLSD.gif]” though that kind of thing is appreciated since it makes me laugh like a drunken walrus :stuck_out_tongue: So, that being said, I will be asking you gentlemen- and ladies (any women lurking around in the forums these days?) questions that will directly affect the outcome of the image. Be sure to weigh in if you think you can help me improve, and PLEASE contribute any reference or inspiration you think I might find useful. But remember, if it’s not helpful, inspiring, bloody hilarious or otherwise positive is it really worth taking the time to say? Please be respectful of others, and don’t light this thread on fire.

I’ll attach something eye-catching for a thumbnail…

Coming up next > Research, reference, and concept art dump. But for now… lunch. :spin:


The first thing you’ve got to understand is that an artist is only the sum of his mental library. The more things you have at your disposal the greater amount of forms and emotions you can integrate into your own artwork. So the most important step is gathering new reference and keeping track of it. (you can even make speed concept art using cut and paste with these if you aren’t too talented in the painting department). For this project I’m going to have two or three main sheets. Two are photos or real life things, and the other is entirely artists interpretations and concepts. These serve as both amazing inspiration as well as hard details you can slap onto your models to keep up the realism. This will give you a map of what things are influencing the final piece “OH that’s where he got that cool little detail or idea for that pose” Try, if you can, to keep away from straight replication. Intermix the little things and you’ll get something deliciously unique. I’m even going to put down some music that inspires me and relates well to the themes. (and stuff I’ll be listening to while I work)

Here’s my sheets so far, I put these on my second screen, and then flip through and zoom right in on various things I like. Your reference library- simplified :slight_smile:

Here’s the accompanying music playlist, which I may or may not have time to update as I go:

Older Photos:

Newer Photos:

Concept artists:

I might be a while since I’ve got to take some time to paint, but up next > Layout Thumbnails, and perhaps a few character sketches.

Alright I spent a couple hours drawing out 8 thumbs to test Composition and different environment ideas. Remember, these are rough on purpose, you don’t have to pay attention to the robot character or weapon yet, just the setting and the pose. Tell me which one you like the most! I’ve got them numbered for easy voting. If you like a robot from one, but the idea/composition of another, just say so! I’ll flesh out the top two with color and a full character/weapon combo.

  1. Just your standard Western style shot, very basic.
  2. Para-drop shot, shooting as he lands, scarf flapping behind him.
  3. This rotund robot prances across no-mans-land with his trusty heavy machine gun, dodging the shells as they land.
  4. His skinny friend lays down some covering fire from the safety of his sniper nest.

  1. This metalhead can’t get enough bullets, in his chassis or his auto-pistol. He fights relentlessly though his legs are critically damaged.
  2. Looks like this fellow has finally tracked you down, across the desert, but wants you alive for questioning.
  3. Propaganda poster for bringing civy models into the fray as cannon fodder.
  4. This model has two eyes, a rocket launcher, AND a motorcycle. He can take out tanks and dodge their incoming fire.

up next > Detailed character sketches/weapons

Some head concepts I drew up real quick. Again, some feedback as to people’s favorites would be appreciated. that’s all for today. Next I’ll make some hand and weapon sketches. :eyebrowlift2:

Amazing! so how did you make these? And I like the first one and the skullgas robot in particular.

Alright, thanks for the input! :slight_smile: Everything so far I’ve either compiled or sketched/painted in Photoshop CS6. Brush wise I use a crazy rotating triangular brush for the thumbnails, and a textured pencil brush for the heads. Just takes a bit of practice to get used to it.

A terrific thread, fusobotic! You seem to work very quickly, as well!

I couldn’t decide between thumbails #2 and #8. I feel #2 has a very energetic, dynamic feel to the composition, and a robot firing a big gun, with the muzzle adding lighting to the shot, will only enhance this energy. And #8 brings a different type of energy, not so much physical but emotional. Perhaps a strong feeling of unease or foreboding, where we’re unsure of his intentions. I also like that these two compositions fill the frame well.

I will admit that I also like the “skullgas” head, but it’s also not an uncommon look. I wouldn’t be unhappy with it, but I also like the “telescopic” and “drone” heads. I think designs which don’t base the robot’s vision on human vision are often quite interesting (ie not two eyes in the middle of the face).

I may have missed it, but is this illustration for a book cover, or perhaps just a stand alone illustration?

I am following this. Your sketches are very enticing ! I feel that, composition-wise, although the characters seem to be all doing something, you don’t hint at what they’re looking at, or who they’re firing at. To me it lacks context ! It could be something very simple, a blurry form in the background, barely suggested, a light source even.
That said, I like thumb n°4 the most (it’s not too cramped, not too wide, it gives additional room to fill with other elements or any kind of environment). Good continuation !


Compositionwise I favour thumbnails #3 and #8. They give a good storytelling. But I would suggest you add in some diagonals there. Your composition flows only vertically and horisontally now. You will improve dramatism by some diagonals. As far as the heads I really like the filthy hipster. He seems to be some type of a general of sorts maybe he is the badass from #8. Keep up to good work

Thanks for the responses everyone, you guys are awesome! Everything’s fluid at this point so I can make any changes at all.

@Candy I can mix any elements to make a superior combination, like the helmet and collar from skullgas and the head from telescopic. I’m kinda draw towards a one-eye approach especially since it’s catered towards sniper variants and is more retro in terms of style. Less human is what I’m leaning towards, though I want to intersperse WW2 details, like clothing and accessories to make a truly interesting contrast. This is just my own personal illustration, not commissioned. (on that note, I may drop out from this thread for days at a time since I’m still a full-time student). It’s supposed to be more cinematic, just as my preference, though I’m open to changing the orientation to portrait view.

@Hadriscus Hmmm, your suggestion makes me think a shot with two robots interacting would be something worth considering. Like two robots just conversing, sitting around after a battle, or prior to one in a trench somewhere. It would resemble some old WW2 photos I’ve seen.

@ignilibrium Thanks, I have been struggling trying to come up with interesting compositions since my experience is mostly in character designs. But I’m hoping to improve through practice, hence the thumbnails beforehand. I could probably do with some practice, maybe a couple studies taken from action/sci-fi movies would help. I was tempted to just straight up replicate some piece of concept art in 3D, because that would easy in terms of me not having to think up new designs, but the point of this is improvement on my end, so I decided not to.

One of the first ideas I had was having an old style render that resembled a military portrait, only with a robot instead of an actual human. For example (and I did three just because they’re so easy and fun to make):

just a simple paint over, after flipping the image. (the colors are a bit off in this one, should have sampled more)

This one is a bit resemblant of skullgas.

“Hey Jimmy, why the long face? The army’s fun! Aren’t you excited? TEeheheeheee”
Yes, alright, that one was just for fun, because I thought the original looked kinda creepy to begin with.

Ok, I’ll get back to normal concepts now (almost feels sacrilegious to paint over old military photos), I just wanted to know what you guys thought of having that sort of style render.

Alright, I wanted to offer up some improved/enlarged thumbnails, thanks to your contributions. I went with 3 and 8. If you don’t think they turned out too well, or the composition could use even more work, just say so, and I’ll scrap and do over (they only took like 30 min each, so it doesn’t matter).

I was going to try out number 2, but the perspective is hard to get right with paradrops, and it would have probably the largest environment to deal with. I went with number 3 and 8 instead.

With number 3, I changed the angle to be more diagonal (the horizon line is slanted and the shot is wider with a shorter lense). Next I added some missiles coming at the main character as a visible threat, and a compositional tool to point back at the character. I added some values just to give an idea of lighting. It would be more foreboding with a sunlight from the back, casting the front of the character in shadow. I also added some birds on perspective diagonals to give more panic (usually birds flying away is a sign of incoming danger).

I modified 8 in several ways. The focal point is still the face, but I’ve moved the character forward in the shot and off to the side, shortened the lens and added a few elements. The first and most obvious is an explosion or flaming wreckage defocused in the backdrop. The environment is night, so the lighting is VERY contrasted. The light from the guided rocket display illuminates the robotic face, and the fire gives rim lighting (as well as some reflections on polished surfaces). There is also subtle lighting from the moonlight on the left side. I have an idea for this character in particular, since he is a motorcyclist I’d like to give him a sort of casual army shirt that he’s rolled up to reveal his long, abnormal robotic arms (maybe a cigarette box tucked away in the sleeve roll). He would probably be wearing one of those Arabian scarves that desert soldiers like to sport (in order to protect his neck hydraulics from getting dusty during long rides of course… robots could care less about fashion :p) His head is tilted up slightly in satisfaction (though would it be more interesting if he were staring straight at the viewer?) I must admit I’m getting a little attached to this one. It would be a challenge but it would be brilliant if I could pull it off!

I know, I know- you guys want to see some more detailed stuff. Up next > arms, hands, and accessories!

Alright I’ve got some digital digits for you to weigh in on. I only have 5 to choose from this time, just because hands are difficult to make, let alone ones that are truly unique. Hopefully these aren’t too mediocre:

I might do some more detailed head schematics next.


I’ll take advantage of your openness for suggestions. :slight_smile:
What about… taking your first pic (next-to-last post), same perspective, setting, incoming missiles and all, except the character’s perched on the motorbike from your second pic, riding towards the camera, squatting, one hand holding a blaster and the other one still holding the handlebar, ready to let go and jump at or above the incoming missiles.

Cool hand designs by the way ! Why not make both hands different, one of wood, worked and ornate, the other one in a rough blend of iron and copper ?


Thanks Hadriscus! We’ll see… one hand is hard enough to model, but two different ones- that’s even tougher.

I don’t know anymore… it’s going to be tough for me to come up with all the details required for a full, original piece, especially since it’s a robot. I’m pretty seasoned when it comes to 3D (and can pretty well reproduce anything as long as I have designs to work from), but I’m still not where I’d like to be as a concept artist. W̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶o̶ ̶l̶e̶t̶ ̶d̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶I̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶w̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶h̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶m̶a̶d̶e̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶e̶x̶i̶s̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶c̶e̶p̶t̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶w̶e̶s̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶?̶ Made my own final concept.

Here’s the top two head designs fleshed out a bit- which one will it be? (I can probably finalize either, I kinda like the Skullgas):

The hookup coming out of his face is for power; it’s less vulnerable since the enemy has to be in his line of vision to damage it. Also, normally there’s a collar that comes up around his neck for additional protection.

Another option is just doing a portrait render of either. Since the detail in the head alone is pretty extensive.

what to do next > (waiting on your feedback)

PS- More inspiration:

Alright, I’m back after a few days of painting. I’ve finally nailed down a finished concept image for the illustration. I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out and I’ll be starting 3D work soon. What do you guys think of the color scheme/composition? It’s supposed to be a winter environment, maybe like the Russian front or something. The robot just got done putting down some sort of attack (hence the bloody knuckles and barrel smoke). I’ve left enough room for some reinterpretation and improvisation on my part in certain areas.

[final comp]

Here’s a process of the painting, kinda simple, but might interest any of you who are into concepting.


I like the concept image! I think it’s a good balance between a portrait and an environmental shot. You’ll be able to put as much detail into the character as you want without worry of it being. I’m really looking forward to seeing the modeling begin!

Thanks also for the GIF! I always enjoy seeing the process.

Nah you’re not letting anyone down. It has to be one of the most steady WIPs I’ve ever seen.
I agree with your choice for the first design, it has this typical WWII-style helmet that makes for a welcome change in surface design and texture, compared with rest of the body parts. About the composition : I’d crop out the top of the helmet and leave a little more room to the left so the elbow’s not too close to the border. Then again, try to thing of context ! The background can relay much information without too much work !

All the best,


Apologies mates, I’ve been occupied with schoolwork over the past few days. I finaly got some time to work on models though.

@Candy-man, thanks! I’ll try and update this a bit more often. Modeling is my element, so you should see a steady output now that I’ve got my concept sorted.

@Hadriscus Yeah, I’ll try and make the backdrop somewhat interesting, and mess with the camera placement once final renders come around.

First is the block in which shows the placement of everything but also gives base-meshes for sculpting. I gave it a little basic lighting and figured out my render settings.

I took several hours and sculpted out the head concept. I’ll be building new topology on top in order to give tighter hard surfaces and crisper fine details.

up next > finish head modeling and unwrap. :confused:

This is absolutely fantastic I love your work, I feel inspired to go and start my own project. :wink:

Amazing sculpting and very nice drawing skills. :slight_smile:
You are a great artist. keep it up.