Integrating figures in your paintings

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time I received the question if I could create some card art for Fantasy Flight Games's Arkham Horror LCG: Lost in time and Space. When I needed to work with figures I thought of integrating Adobe Fuse and Adobe Mixamo in my workflow.

Use time savers like Adobe's Fuse and Mixamo

Among other cards, I created the Vast Expanse card. The card features a detective in a unearthly and psychedelic world. 

This is how the original image looked like

With Adobe Fuse, I was able to create my own 3d character in a very quick and intuitive way.

The program itself is very straight forward. It has a clear workspace with your model in it to your left and options to adjust that model in the form of sliders and buttons on your right. You can chose to go through the different stages of creating a 3d model. From assembling the different body parts and customizing them, to finally adding clothing, textures and patterns on top.

Once finished, you can save and upload the figure to Adobe Mixamo with the 'Save to Mixamo' option in the right upper corner. Just name your character and Adobe Mixamo will pop-up in your web browser.

For this project I created my own custom character in Adobe's Fuse

With Adobe Mixamo, you can animate the 3d character in your web browser. The options are somewhat limited though so don't expect an online posing tool (read a little bit further to find out which program to use for that).
You can chose to work with one of the many standard characters or upload one yourself. Once loaded in the web browser, you can select animations from a quite extensive database.

A render option is not available but you can easily solve this by taking a print screen of your web browser and opening it in Photoshop. After all, we're not interested getting high quality renders but in finding interesting poses and correct proportions. It will give you a perfect starting point on which you can start painting.

...You can easily get distracted by the fun animations :-)...

Take it a little bit further

If you're looking for a program that allows for more animation capabilities, DAZ 3D could be a solution. It will allow you to pose a mannequin in very intuitive way by the use of controllers and sliders.

In the image below, I had to depict a girl fleeing from a horde of zombies. Because the girl was the focus point, posing her in DAZ 3D and rendering her in 3Ds Max allowed me to nail to down the proportions and perspective correctly. Once the pose was in place, I used photos to overlay the different body parts with textures and patterns.

Create your own databases

Make a database with figure renders and paintings. That way you can pick from it when working on other project as well. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a .PSD with different layers for each figure will do just fine.
Off course you're not limited to figures only, I have my own databases for plants, buildings, props,... too.

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