Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

Yae Sakurain

In this article, Fox Renderfarm, the best render farm and cloud rendering services provider in the CG industry, will share with you a Maya tutorial about how to create a game character “Yae Sakurain” in ZBrush And Maya. This tutorial is written by 3d Artist Sakura.

This style is to use three-dimensional methods to achieve the artistic expression of two-dimensional visual style. So I chose the character Yae Sakurain in the game "Honkai Impact 3'. This is a challenge for me. This article is from looking for references in the early stage to the final model making.

This article will not describe too much technical skills, but hope to share the production process and some ideas from a design perspective.

Software used:

  • PureRef: Reference collation
  • Zbrush: Characters & costumes
  • Maya: Topology & UV
  • Xgen: Grooming
  • Mari: skin map
  • Substance Painter: texture map of other parts
  • Arnold: lighting material rendering


When I saw the design of the character Yae Sakura in the "Honkai Impact 3'', I was attracted by its design, personality and expressiveness. Its facial features and ears are a bit like a bunny girl, as well as color matching and body proportions.

Honkai Impact 3

Honkai Impact 3

Honkai Impact 3


The difference between reference and inspiration is that reference is based on having inspiration as a general direction guide, and then adding more. Collecting references helps guide oneself to find the right direction, and at the same time it is not easy to go wrong in the production process.

It is a more realistic style. At the same time, I also found a lot of references for Japanese kimonos and skirts, head styling, expressions, hair, etc.

The character requires a lot of refinement of key features to better show their ideas. This personal project took a lot more time to find references than my other projects.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya


Large stage and detailed stage

In the large-scale stage, I first built a basic structure in Maya. I like to start with the whole and grasp the overall proportional relationship to a certain extent. It can be seen that this role belongs to NPR. The characteristics of NPR mainly focus on styling design, large scale relationship and color, and the treatment of light and shadow.

If you do this directly, the direction is incorrect. And the structure on the model will be too flat. Especially using the PBR process, there is no cartoon material effect, such a model does not have enough features.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

So through the combination of these references, a rough proportion is formed in the mind and built in the software. In this way, we can slowly enter the detail stage with a holistic way of thinking, without chaos. Of course, you can find some models to fight together and adjust the shape to save some time. Various methods can be tried.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

In the detail stage, I will try my best to express the different characteristics of the model, and then the model can show some sense of hierarchy at this stage. This can predict some effects after the texture map is applied. But it does not mean that the model is finalized at this stage. After all, although this has a reference to the original painting, it is a secondary creation on this basis.

So if the texture map is not suitable, it will return to the model stage for adjustment. After the appearance is determined, the detail stage is also very important. In many cases, the comparison and level changes between models are presented by the characteristics of different shapes.

For example, the folds of the kimono, the embroidered patterns on the top, the shape of the skirt, the changes in the fold structure on the top, and how many different model structures are on the mask, sword, and rope. Observe the above features, analyze and disassemble them and make them all, if they are not good, you can delete them.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

For this project, I used Zbrush mainly to deal with some fabric and shoe models. Clothes and shoes do not need to be worn, but they are not completely unused. So some folds were added to make the model look authentic.

I didn't use Marvelous Designer for the clothes, because those things are not complicated, and almost all of them are made directly using ZBrush.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

After completing the topology in Maya, occasionally I will return to zbrush to adjust if I am unsatisfied, and repeatedly modify it back and forth. At the same time, in order to get more structural levels and details on the model, and to make some rhythmic distinctions between different models, the subdivision of the cloth is still given enough surface.

Primary and secondary and rhythm changes. This part needs to be finalized at the model stage. Regardless of whether it is clothing or props, I have made trade-offs as much as possible in the details of the relationship with the characters. After all, it can't be details, or no details. There will be a lack of rhythmic changes in the expressiveness of the entire styling. I used the appearance changes of clothing and skirts to break the overly flat outline of the entire model, and at the same time used props to reinforce this.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya


Mari and Substance Painter are used in the texture part. I first finished making the skin. Then the most important part begins, the production and color matching of other parts, as well as the material details. Of course it was done separately, for the same reason.

For the texture mapping of the components, observe the real photos made by others or analyze the logical hierarchical relationship between them. It can be done layer by layer, the important thing is to observe and disassemble and analyze. For example, have you tried to show some texture particles, dirt, thread ends, and high light reflections on the clothing?

In fact, to some extent, we need to have a certain understanding of the properties of the shader, whether you know how to use basecolor, metallic, roughness, normal, and sss textures. How do they affect each other? Basic knowledge is important.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

One of the more important reasons that problems exist is that there are too many details, and there is no planning in the early stages, resulting in details everywhere. One difficulty with this character is that the costumes are white. White is a color that is harder to produce effects. If you don't do it, the texture map of the entire costume will appear very thin, and doing too much will steal the attention of the character.

In the end, I chose to add some different types of embroidery effects to the white clothing, especially the cherry blossom pattern on the large sleeves, to ensure that it conforms to the cultural background. It’s easier to say, but I don’t know how many times I have tried repeatedly when I did it. The color matching is relatively good. The design of Yae Sakura has helped you to adjust the color matching in place, mainly controlling some parameters such as saturation.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

Grooming and lighting

After finishing most of the texture maps, I will try to set up a set of basic light sources in the scene, mainly for auxiliary hair test rendering.

These two are the core references:

Honkai Impact 3

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

Based on these two references, I found some other references. The final references are as below.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

First, solve the large structure and the direction of the hair with the larger main body. Then add some fine splits based on the big trend, and finally add some broken hairs and so on.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

It can be seen that the hairstyle and lighting still affect the facial emotion expression of the characters very much. Take a closer look at each of them.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

I try to grasp the characteristics of the role of Yae Sakura, such as the feature of her hair spreading to the ends, and the hierarchical relationship between bangs and temples. And the spread of the long hair rests behind the open styling. Because I didn't want this character to be too cartoonish, I looked for some realistic style references.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

Lighting rendering, first of all, I wanted to make it in the style of the first picture. After I have a foundation, I hope to express the feeling of sunlight on the hair and body in the fourth picture. At the same time, because there is a stronger light source in the scene, the overall light will be brighter. I found the second picture and the third picture to supplement. Of course, there are still many pictures to support. In order to better refine the views of this article, I have selected these four representative references.

Creating A Game Character “Yae Sakurain” In ZBrush And Maya

Yae Sakurain


The conceptual design and reference diagrams before making are very important. Basic software technical knowledge and design theories can help you improve your work. Details, proportions and composition are very important for perfect results. If you are looking for a cloud rendering service, why not try the fast and TPN-accredited cloud render farm, Fox Renderfarm, who offers a free $25 trial? Thanks for reading!

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