Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in 3D, Featured, Gallery | 1 comment

After the Storm

After the Storm – Breakdown from Henning Sanden on Vimeo.

Journal entry,
Day 1 of the New Era.

They promised us peace. They promised us prosperity. They promised to keep us safe. They lied. They came from the darkness when we least expected them, taking everything. Men, children and women – all gone. I could have saved them, I could’ve saved them all, but I wasn’t strong enough.

I’m all that is left, save for the ruins of the old world.

The Project

This project took about 6 months off my time, working weekends and after school whenever I could. It started with a simple sketch in ZBrush, just playing around with forms. I originally intended to only make a bust, but as I went along, I decided to make a full body as well. I wanted to make a production ready asset, in terms of design, topology, uvs, textures and shading, and as such, I spent a lot of time on each step, trying to really polish it.

Eventually I realized that a simple asset wasn’t enough; I needed a story -something to get emotions across. At this point, I realized that the project would be twice as long as I initially intended. I started sketching out environments and thinking about what the final piece should be like. I went a lot back and forth between various types of environments, ranging from very high tech to almost tribal.

It’s a lot of fun to make a project like this with no clear direction in mind as you’ll end up somewhere unexpected. That said, it does take significantly longer, than if I’d had a proper concept sketch in the very beginning. I have no regrets though in that regard.


I started out in Zbrush with Zspheres, playing around with simple shapes, trying to make something interesting. I then proceeded to make another Zsphere model for the body, blending between the two models using the clay brushes. Once I was content with my design, I retopologized him in modo.

Once my retopo was done, I completely resculpted him in Zbrush, without projecting any details. This took a lot more time than if I’d projected, but I got a clean slate and the work always turns out better the second time you do it. Not a very production friendly work flow, but time wasn’t really an issue for me.

I then UV-mapped the character in modo and Zbrush, defining the seems in modo, bringing the model over to ZBrush via GoZ, using UV Master for the unfolding and finally bringing it all back into modo to organize the UVs in a clean manner.

Once I had proper uvs, I brought him into Mudbox to paint textures. I really enjoy working in mudbox, so this stage was a lot of fun as well. Getting the look I was going for was hard though. I did a lot of research into various animals and I eventually ended up giving him stripes. Once my textures were painted, I brought it into Photoshop to separate it into the various maps I needed, like specular, epidermal and so on.

I brought it all together in Maya, using Vray as my render engine. The skin shading was challenging, but after some time, I felt I got a decent grasp on the skin shader in Vray. After the look development stage, I started building the environment, using modo. I used the spaceship-modeling kit released by Luxology to make the buildings, which greatly sped up my modeling process. I brought the models into Maya using moma, the wonderful plugin for maya, which allows you to bring objects between modo to maya in a smooth way, similar to GoZ.

I lit and rendered it using area lights in Vray. The various passes were then brought into Photoshop where I tweaked the entire scene significantly, particularly in terms of the environment. I’ve put a render breakdown in the video as well.

I was fortunate enough to recieve a 3D Total Excellence Award for this piece.
It was added to the 3D Total Galleries as a result of this.


  • Andreas Lohmann

    Brilliant work Henning!