Hello everyone! My name is Mania Carta (マニア.カレタ). I am a Blender artist based in Tokyo, Japan. I have worked in many game titles and productions, such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Fantasian, and Valkyrie Profile. I have been using Blender since Blender 2.8 was launched. From that moment, my adventure as a Blender artist started.
Blender is a beast production tool. If you touch it, you will be transported to another dimension where only the speed of creative freedom exists. I used to work with other tools, such as Maya, Zbrush, etc. But I was looking to do all that with one tool only, instead of jumping from one software to another, and Blender was my answer to that.
No matter which direction you take as an artist, whether it is character modeling, rigging, animation, compositing or VFX art, Blender will open all that for you and give you the right choice to make anything impossible possible. Plus, it's FREE.
Regarding the Dark Witch, I couldn’t have started well if it weren’t for my journey with Blender for I gained so many skills on it. I wanted to create something unique that had never been done with Blender before, and for that, I started to learn from master artists who used Autodesk, such as these two talented artists:
Then, I applied the knowledge and developed it properly in Blender.
The first Award I got from CG society was for Luna Lancaster, the Night Witch. It was a real-time character production using Eevee Engine.
From that moment, I decided to create dark witches for my story because I like everything dark and fantasy.
The beauty and aesthetic to make Luna came from the Korean culture and fashion style. By the way, they were shaped together, I wanted to create a beautiful witch but still mysterious and dark.
After that, I developed my skills in many directions, from character design and rigging to environment making, by making Ishtolia and Sister Friede, and especially when making cinematics in real-time.
Then, I decided to create the Dark Witch with a full cinematic production-look in real-time with Blender. What I then showcased is only a small part of what’s going to happen, and why Enix, the god of chaos, wanted to bring destruction to Linerma and all the Witches.
Regarding the process of making the Dark Witch, you may be familiar with it if you have used Lego when you were a kid. Well, I am such an artist that I really don’t have one direction to follow-up but already have the final image in my mind on what I want to make, like making Lego.
My main production tool was Blender, but I also used other tools to speed up the character-making, such as the Reallusion product, Zbrush, Substance, Marvelous Designer, Quixel, and Unreal. For Vatilia the Light Witch, my base character design was developed inside Character Creator using based topology but then I changed everything because I wanted her more beautiful. The Character Creator couldn’t give the Dark Witch that beauty so I made her in Blender instead for the final look.
INSIDE REALLUSION CHARACTER CREATOR
I will list below some of the making and breakdown on how I developed such a working style.
I gathered references of Korean women, culture, and fashion styles.
INSIDE MARVELOUS DESIGNER
I used Marvelous designer to make the clothes and costumes for the characters.
For rest of the work I used blender.
Using a basic shape and form to create a crescent shape, I used the multires modifier and started sculpting all the details.
Then, I baked the high-poly into low-polygon using Knald to get a clean normal map with curvature and channels that would be used later in Blender.
The necklace was really simple, using basic shapes, boolean and bevel modifiers. As for the chain, it was made using a simple curve modifier to shape the style.
For the glowing magic, it's a simple triangle shape with an array modifier.
I used texture XYZ to get details in the face. I combined some techniques to create the realism effect inside Eevee using basic shaders.
So, all the texturing and projection was done inside Blender.
The hair was done by using a particle system. This tool is very helpful to create any hairstyle. It needs to be developed more, especially when hiding specific spline hair and focusing on it like XGen (an instancing tool for making hair in Maya). But still it's very good to create realistic hair and hair cards.
The eye shaders are procedural and can be changed on the fly.
The power of Blender is the node shader editor. If you master it, you can create something you can’t expect.
I first wanted to make the Dark Witch using Cycles Render, but because I like real-time rendering, I wanted to take the risk to make the project in real-time using Eevee. It was challenging and fun at the same time.
To make realistic skin in Eevee, you should understand first how skin behaves with lighting.
Then, you have to learn how to make it realistic and in real-time.
Mask RGB and Displacement are important maps to create such realism aside from roughness and specularity, as it depends on where the light hits to make things shiny or matte.
This is the shader set-up I made for creating the realistic skin texture.
For the Visual effect that was created for Vatilia, I used shaders, particle systems, and some custom properties that I created to change them on the fly, from color, texture, etc.
I have learned this kind of technique from other Blender artists. You know the key to growth if you have passion in research, because art is like a puzzle.
This is the breakdown of how Luna the Dark Witch was made.
List of Blender Addons that were used in the project
- Dynamic Sky
- Quixel Bridge
- Hair Tool
- Zen UV
- AutoIK rigger
- Mira Tool
- Simply Cloth Pro
- Magic UV
Here are the final renders along with my other characters in this project.
The Night Witch, Luna Lancaster
The Abandoned Land of Madula
Vatilia the Light Witch
Antolia the Queen of Ice
The Released Witches
Saramia the Illusion Witch
Hubei The Wolf Witch
Dahoura the Spider Witch
Libra the Enchanted Witch
Nishtalia the Poison Witch
Hound the Dragon Witch
Thank you for giving me this kind of opportunity to share my experience and background as an artist to anyone who wants to move on to Blender. Making something free to everyone is something only geniuses can think of and Mr. Ton Roosendaal is one of them.
So thank you for making the impossible possible.
About the Artist
Maniacarta (マニア.カレタ), is a Blender artist, founder, and CEO of Sandstorm Studio, based in Tokyo. Her artwork and style are unique in 3D. She strives to create the best visual characters with Blender that have soul in real-time and that can be spread across the World.