Concept:

For models that involve complicated hard surface shapes i often like to concept my models roughly in ZBrush (sculpting program). This way I can try ideas very quick in a 3D space and make sure that it will look good from all sides. Here are the very rough concepts for trying some ideas out:


As you may already see here I mostly decided for the last concept but I also used ideas from the other concepts. To make the concepts I used a very simple human body base mesh and then freely sculpted the shapes in without worrying to much about mesh density or sharpness.

After I made my mind, what are the coolest parts of these concepts, I made another concept that is much more defined. But still its very rough and smooth. Here is the limit reached, of course hard surfaces can also be sculpted in zbrush but that is a lot of work and to archive real clean hard edges is almost impossible.

 

To get some color in my concept I have made a screenshot of my sculpt, then put it in Photoshop and simply painted over it:

Now it can be seen how the design of the shapes will work with color. This color concept is far from the result, but it helped a lot in the process of the further design.

The sculpt can not only used as concept, it can also put into 3Dsmax for the actual hard surface modelling. With the sculpt in max you can model the high poly model around the Zbrush sculpt. This is very useful because high poly modeling is a lot of work and having the concept as 3D guideline can speedup the workflow a lot.

 

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