CG artist, Morten Frølich Jæger breaks down the key processes in the creation of his demon-inspired model, Qunari.
Earlier this year someone commented that I had never made a ZBrush demon before, so I thought it would be interesting to mix some fantasy elements with a face study and give it a try. I usually make sculpts of realistic people, and to be honest, a guy with horns is not as demon as it can get. Maybe next time I’ll try something a little more extreme.
During this Making Of article, I will cover everything from research and the sculpting process to lighting and rendering. To start with, I will talk about gathering references.
As with any project, reference is key. I often meet people who will actively refuse to use reference, but in my opinion it’s a necessity. I think some people feel like it’s cheating, but it’s just like looking at real life. The old masters never sculpted without having a live model. So first, I found as many useful references as I could from books and Google, especially in areas I’m unfamiliar with. Then I moved on to sculpting.
For this sculpt I started out with a basic sphere and used DynaMesh with a low resolution, in this case 64.
I then started blocking in the major shapes with the Clay Tubes brush, which was the brush I stuck with for most of the sculpting process. It’s great for giving a more traditional feel to your sculpt, especially when used with its default alpha.
The initial starting base for Qunari
The first attempt
I got as far as the image shown here, but for this sculpt I actually started over – because my first sculpt was, let’s just say, less than successful.
I think when you have moments like these it’s important to stay on top of it, and not let yourself get too disheartened. Everyone has bad days, but you just have to keep going. It’s also important not to get too attached to your work, and be able to let go when something just doesn’t look right to you.
The second time I focused more on the basic shapes and proportions instead of moving into details too fast.
The first attempts at sculpting the form
When I’d found the volumes I was satisfied with I started to refine the model more by putting more detail into the sculpt and increasing the resolution of the DynaMesh to 128.
I still mainly used the Clay Tubes brush and occasionally the DamStandard for making deeper groves.
I reached a point where I was happy with my volumes, so I attached the horns, which were made as a separate SubTool. I merged the 2 SubTools, and made them into 1 mesh with DynaMesh.
To make the horns blend in better, I used a little bit of the Inflate brush, making them look as if they had grown out of the head.
Refining the detail and adding the horns
Fixing the topology
I then fixed the bad DynaMesh topology with the new ZRemesher. It’s really amazing what results you can achieve even with just the default settings. All this was just one click! When you do this though, you have to re-project your details back onto the model. I essentially went from having 2 million polys to about 10,000. So, obviously, the new model can’t support details like fine wrinkles.
Retopologizing the model was easy, but reduced the number of polys
Refining the details
When I sculpt, I hardly ever use the Smooth brush. I feel it takes character away from a raw sculpt like this. Instead I try to smooth the surface using a smaller brush size.
After this I started refining the shapes and adding details like wrinkles and hair, finally touching up the volumes. At this stage I usually also start to add a bit of asymmetry to make it look less CG.
Adding wrinkles, fine detail and hair to the model
A little trick with regards to the eyes – usually when I sculpt eyes I make a deep hole where the pupil would be. If the eye color is darker, the hole is quite a lot deeper than when the sculpt has lighter eyes.
Adding a slight tilt to the head also gives the sculpt a little more life, which is important when you want to present your model. Too often I see models that are very well done, but are just in a default straight-on pose, with no real expression. This usually does a poor job at conveying the character’s personality, so try to avoid this.
The last thing is the pore detail. For this I used a custom brush just called Pores, which you can download for free at ZBrushCentral
Adding extra little details like pores and a head tilt to make the character more life-like