Comicon Challenge: Tony Stark


Maya | Zbrush | Xnormal | CrazyBump | 3D Coat | Photoshop | Marmoset



In my final few months as a graduate student at Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, I joined the online game art community gameartisans.org in their annual Comicon Challenge. That year, the objective was to choose any existing super hero and recreate them at a different age. I entered and created Tony Stark, or Iron Man, re-imagined as an eleven year old. Staying true to the original character, I wanted to focus on his use of found objects and ability to invent new weapons and armor, as well as bring a sense of slightly stylized realism. My original plan was to create a caricature similar to Norman Rockwell, but it progressively evolved into the final character below.



I harvested quite a bit of reference images, since my goal was to create the Iron Man suit using found objects, in a middle-class family household.  Once I had the reference established, I created a base mesh using my profile and front sketches, and imported into ZBrush for detailing. This model had several individual pieces, which were all initially created in Maya and finished in ZBrush. Once the high poly character model was finished, I exported into 3D Coat for retopology. I found the program to work very well, though since then upgrades to ZBrush probably negate that extra step. I used Xnormal to bake normal maps for all of the props and model, and Photoshop and Crazybump for texture work. Simultaneously, I rigged the model to a dynamic pose, and brought it into Marmoset for game-engine renders.


One of the main challenges was the quick nature of the project, so I made the classic mistake of planning as I went along. In the beginning I was sure I was going to be able to create the entire suit, but as each day went by, I had to readjust the scope of the character. I also had some design decisions that had to be reconsidered, like the initial pair of roller blades Tony was going to wear. Since they seemed a bit anachronistic, I replaced them with oversized leather boots. Overall, I learned a great deal about the workflow between ZBrush and Maya.